Friday, April 25, 2008

Harassment of Muslims acquires a new dimension

You just need to read the following instances to get an idea how an entire community is maligned by the State and its machinery through smart media manipulation: 1. Madhya Pradesh police claimed that terrorist camp was held near Choral in Malwa region. All national papers and electronic channels, as usual, accepted the claims. Local Hindi newspaper 'Prabhat Kiran' (and later other papers too) in Indore exposed the claims and told the real story that there was no camp ever held. The policemen had organised a 'live raid' and arms had been hidden by policemen themselves earlier, in order to later recover them and prove that they had caught anti-nationals who were planning a major strike. The police's story fell flat and the SP had to go on leave due to embarrassment but this truth about the fabricated story was never printed in national media. Channels ignored it. 2. A journalist, Nadeem Ahmad, who represented fortnightly English newspaper Milli Gazette, had gone to cover riots at Sarangpur in MP. His editor asked him to also go to the region and cover this issue. The police caught him for no fault of his. They didn't tell him reason for his arrest, kept him in confinement in police station in Khargone for 48 hrs and only when local papers published the news of police 'abducting' him, and his editor planned to file habeas corpus in Supreme Court, that he was forced to board a bus and sent back. He was not allowed to go to the places where he had to for reporting. Nadeem did have a beard. Was this his fault? He was told that there was suspicion that he was a SIMI activist, though he had his identification cards. Could they have dared stop a journalist of say, Dainik Jagran or Indian Express! Again this was not reported in mainstream media. 3. Some SIMI activists were caught near Indore. Soon police in every district were catching SIMI activists. Innocent guys who were not at all related were caught. They included professionals, whose careers and jobs have been jeopardised. Mind you, once caught for any section under IPC, but in the name of SIMI, a person is branded 'terrorist' by police and the media buys the story immediately. It's a different matter that the districts police forces were just doing that to show their performance in the state headed by a BJP government. Courts have started acquitting many of the accused as there were no charges at all. But who cares? Muslims are too afraid to speak up. Always expected to prove their patriotism, how can they speak for any person who has been branded a terrorist. Solely it was the Communist Party that did speak on the issue and said that it was an effort to communalise the situation in the election year, with an eye on vote. Cops are fetching money from those who are arrested and it's good extortion business. 4. Now those caught are mostly poor who have no connections. They don't have money or resources. And the jingoistic Bar Councils have decided that no lawyer would be allowed to fight their cases. A lawyer from Ujjain dared to go. But he was beaten up by a group of Hindutva organisation in the court, in the presence of police. Isn't it the end of road? 5. Now the story behind SIMI arrests is also political. The BJP MLA wanted to grab the grave yard land. He called the Chief Minister for 'bhumi puja' on this land but when he came and faced protest, the MLA was pulled up by CM for misleading him. The MLA was upset with the local Muslims and pressurised the police to arrest his 'opponents'. Scores were sent behind bars and the police claimed that they were all 'mischievous elements'. All in the name of democracy, justice and, in a free society, where the media is fair. But this also escaped the media in Delhi and Mumbai. What is the option for Muslims? Shouldn't media write on this major issue. How a police force could fake a terrorist camp? That's a serious matter and everybody needs to ponder over that. Of course, any member of a banned organisation like SIMI ought to be arrested and put behind bars. But not innocents (again I insist, poor) should be victimised by the state, police, lawyers, media and everybody. Read the report about journalist Nadeem Ahmad's arrest in Central Chronicle. [I generally avoid writing tales of such persecution and harassment on this blog, as I feel, all the time writing about such things, brings the 'victim complex'. And that there should be positive stories and more posts on harmony. But when things go so bad. What should one do?] Photos: Journalist Nadeem Ahmad

Monday, April 21, 2008

Great poets series: Zauq and his Urdu poetry

laaii hayaat aaye, qazaa le chalii chale
apnii khushii na aaye na apnii khushii chale

[hayaat=life, qazaa=death]

Sheikh Ibrahim Zauq (1789-1854) is among the classical masters of Urdu poetry whose couplets are oft-quoted in conversation and in writing, more than 150 years after his death.

Zauq is known for his absolute command on the language. Yet his poetry is simple and straight. For almost half-a-century, he remained associated with the Qila-e-Mualla (Royal Fort). Bahadur Shah Zafar was his disciple in poetry. In his life, Zauq was considered the greatest poet of the era, the Khaqaani of India.

Zauq was a contemporary of poets of the calibre of Ghalib and Momin in the golden age of Urdu poetry. But not even a single collection of his poetry could be published during his liftetime. He passed away in 1854. In a way, he was fortunate that he didn't see his beloved Delhi getting ravaged by the British after the struggle of 1857.

Selected couplets of Zauq:

ab to ghabraa ke ye kahte haiN ki mar jaayenge
mar ke bhii chain na paaya to kidhar jaayenge

aye Zauq! kisii hamdam-e-deriina ka milnaa
behtar hai mulaaqaat-e-Masiiha-o-Khizr se
[hamdam-e-deriina: old friend]

naaz hai gul ko nazaakat pe chaman meN aye dost
usne dekhe hii nahiiN naaz-o-nazaakat waale

agar ye jaante chun chun ke hamko toDenge
to gul kabhii na tamanna-e-rang-o-buu karte

moazzin marhabaa bar-vaqt bolaa
terii aavaaz Makke aur Madiine

sitam ko ham karam samjhe, jafaa ko ham vafaa samjhe
jo us par bhii na vo samjhe to us but se Khudaa samjhe

kahte haiN aaj Zauq jahaaN se guzar gayaa
kyaa khuub aadmii thaa Khudaa maGfirat kare

ham haiN aur saaya tere kuuche kii diivaaroN kaa
kaam jannat meN hai kyaa ham-se gunahgaaroN kaa

khil ke gul kuchh to bahaar apnii, sabaa, dikhlaa gaye
hasrat un GunchoN pe hai jo bin khile murjhaa gaye

Zauq's poetry is still as fresh and simple to us in 21st century as it was in the early part of 19th century. Read Zauq's ghazals in Hindi, Urdu and Roman scripts at Best Ghazals and Nazms.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The end of BJP in UP: Gets 1.35% votes in by-poll

Amid the blue hue that has swept UP, the humiliating defeat of BJP and its absolute marginalisation in the state has been totally overlooked.

In the three Assembly by-polls, the share of votes in Muradnagar, Colonelganj and Bilgram, the party has been extraordinary low. It could get just 1.35%, 3% and 5% votes in the elections, the results for which were announced two days back. The BSP won all the three constituences, as also the two Lok Sabha seats.

Surprisingly, the Lotus has wilted in the state where it emerged in the mid-80s pitting Hindus and Muslims against each other. And today it seems both Hindus and Muslims have forgotten this party in India's most populous state.

This is shocking for the party that it got such a low vote shate. And it has happened barely two decades after the Ram Mandir movement threw the country into communal flames. Clearly the electorate no longer considers BJP as a political option.

It was this state where the BJP had got 57 seats out of 85 at the height of Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir movement in 1989. And exactly twenty years after that, VP Singh' Mandal card has killed the BJP's genie.

It is now crystal clear that even the Brahmins have deserted the BJP. The OBCs were once a strong votebank and also section of Dalits. But that is an old story. Today, it's a reality that BJP has lost Uttar Pradesh.

Though it is also an irony that the party has reached this state at a time when it is believed the architect of Ayodhya movement, LK Advani has become politically 'touch-able' and hopes to become Prime Minister of India.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Maya Magic: BSP sweeps bypolls winning 2 Lok Sabha, 3 Assembly costituencies

The elephant's march continues. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) not only won both the Lok Sabha by-polls but also emerged victorious in the three Assembly constituencies were by-elections were held in Uttar Pradesh.

The counting began in the morning today and soon it was clear that Congress' prince Rahul Gandhi's whirlwind tours across the Hindi-Urdu heartland and his stays at the dwellings of Dalits, have failed to cut any ice with the electorate.

In Azamgarh, its maverick candidate Akbar Ahmad Dumpy won whiile BS Tiwari won the Khalilabad seat. Dumpy was once a close associate of Sanjay Gandhi. A turncoat, he had sometime back joined the BSP.

The party also won Bilgram (Hardoi), Karnalganj and Muradnagar seats--leaving the entire opposition raning from Congress to Samajwadi Party and the BJP stunned. Unstoppable Behenji!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Arrogant Congress leaders paving way for BJP

Three statements on the issue of price rise by UPA leaders show their arrogance:

First, Kamal Nath said that the food scarcity is because the poor are now eating twice a day and most people in country side are having meals both times which they never had in the past.

Then, Sharad Pawar said that the North Indians are now eating rice also while South Indians are eating more chapatis and due to this change in food habits, the situation has worsened.
And now comes Kapil Sibal's statement, saying that the 'government has no magic wand to control prices'. Why are you in governnment Mr Sibal, resign, if you can't do anything? And the industrialist-turn-politician Kamal Nath's statement reflects the same elitist mindset, blaming the poor for every wrong.
And Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar doesn't know perhaps that North Indians (people of MP, UP, Chhattisgarh and many other states) have been eating rice for centuries. Read the story at Sify site.

English dailies may not have carried the stories about such shameful statements but Hindi papers have splashed them and to the ordinary Indian who returns from the market every time with lesser vegetables annd grocery, these things will remain in the mind.

These ministers have no idea about how it feels when the LPG prices go up or the household goods prices soar. Of course, they know they can get their perks and pay increased whenever they want.

The arrogance is similar to the one displayed by BJP in the last election. When they kept claiming that India was 'shining'. Every advertisement of India Shining hurt the common man who is getting marginalised year after year.

The common citizen doesn't expect much from the politicians. But it becomes unbearable when they are ridiculed and mocked at. Congress needs to rein in its ministers, else it will have to pay heavily in the elections.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When Burqa gets Saffron Band: BJP and Muslims

The photo shows a veiled woman who has also got the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mahila Morcha's band tied around her head.

Just around 10 years ago it was extremely tough to find Muslims in BJP. Those who joined the BJP were looked down upon in the Muslim society.

A few years after demolition of Babri Masjid, particulary after 1995-96 Muslims slowly started getting into the party. Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had been forgotten, came back to the centre-stage so that the party could get more acceptability.

Many Muslim politicians joined it either due to lack of opportunity to rise in Congress or because they felt BJP is a much better option than Congress which had only exploited Muslims for half-a-century.

And when the party failed to prove its majority in parliament after a 13 day government, it again projected Vajpayee as a Mukhauta. More Muslims joined the party. Once aggressively anti-minorityism, the party also formed Alpasankhyak Morchas (minority wings) in all states.

And after the second failed attempt in 1998 when the NDA government lost by one vote, the attempts to reach out to Muslims also intensified. Remember the days when a group of Urdu poets was singing paens of BJP and Vajpayee.

Iftaars were organised. The days were gone when BJP had either a Sikandar Bakht or Arif Baig. Now it had so many Muslim leaders that in states there were fights over posts of Minority Commission, Waqf Board and Urdu Academies among BJP's Muslim politicians.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric was almost a thing of past. But still BJP never evoked the feeling of trust among Muslim masses. Their worst fears came true during the Gujarat carnage when the 'mascot' came off.

A couple of years down the line, many more Muslims have joined the party in the states at the karyakarta (worker) level.The RSS is almost ready to open its doors to the Muslims. Now you don't need to search for Muslims in any BJP meet.

In fact, 'daadhis', 'topis' and also 'burqas' have become common. Many Muslim workers say that Gujrat was an exception, after all, Congress didn't do anything during the Mumbai riots and the Ahmedabad riots of 1979 and all major riots in North India were during Congress regimes in the 80s, 70s and 60s.

Is it a convincing argumen. Only time will tell. But one thing is sure. BJP that was once a openly communal party, has understood the realities of modern India and almost become what the Congress was during the first decade after partition, when it was the sole personality of Jawaharlal Nehru that kept it from becoming a hardline right-wing party.

The BJP has shown crass opportunism by trying to get Muslims in its fold. Who can forget the promises of lakh of jobs for Urdu teachers by Vajpayee and other sops? In a pluralistic society like ours, it is unhealthy for a group of population to treat a party as pariah and for a national party to treat the Indian Muslims, who number more than 150 million, aloof.

There is definitely quite a lot wrong with its 'niyat' about Muslims. Didn't Rajnath Singh say that if the party came to power it will scrap all the pro-Muslim schemes of UPA (United Progressive Alliance). The party is still unsure how to deal with Muslims. It doesn't want to become a second Congress and lose its core Hindutva constituency.

The choice is for the BJP.

[Photo: It shows a Muslim woman in burqa with a Saffron band in the BJP's Sankalp Rally in Patna, Bihar]

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Best wishes on Hindu New Year from An Indian Muslim

Wishing all of you, a happy New Year on Gudi Padwa to all from An Indian Muslim.

Gudi Padwa, also known as Ugadi and Vishu, is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra, which falls on April 7 this year. This marks the beginning of Hindu New Year.

Also, Chaiti Chand is celebrated today. Please tell me if I am wrong anywhere. The Indian government's Calendar Comittee had agreed upon the Saka (Shaka) era and Chaitra 1 as the beginning of the New Year.

May the New Year bring prosperity to everybody and the nation. Also, let's make resolve for greater interaction among Hindus, Muslims and other sections of the society, and make efforts to reach out to the other and work for harmony in the society during the year.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Remembering PN Oak: The original Hindutva historian

Does the name of Professor Oak ring a bell? The 'historian' who used to make claims about Taj Mahal originally being a Hindu temple and similar other assertions about Qutub Minar and many other mosques.

That was the era when RSS didn't have historians, scientists, writers, journalists, doctors, academicians and other professionals in its fold. 
But Oak, was quite dedicated to his cause. He was mocked at, but he continued to publish his works, make such claims and write letters in newspapers.

Oak died sometime back. Not many tears were shed. Perhaps, because he had become irrelevant. Or may be, the Saffron brigade now had an army of able professionals to espouse its cause in every field, much more eloquently in TV cameras.

Still, one expected a few obituaries. Hardly any attention was paid to the demise of the original Hindutva Historian. The man who had founded the Institute for Writing Indian History, spent all his life, for the cause, especially in the era when Marxist historians dominated all institutions.

Ironicallly, the Indore-born Oak didn't get much attention in the era when such theories which were then considered wild are now heard quite attentively and are lapped up by the monster--live 24 hr news channels.

After all, Rupert Murdoch's Star News happily beams the stories about the evidence of existence of Ravana's air-craft repair centre in Sri Lanka, and mythology has gained more credence than science in our age, the era of the death of rationalism.

We have often heard that Saffronites dump the guys when they lose their utility. [Has anybody heard the name of 88 year old Balraj Madhok, the founder of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, for years and that he is still alive!].

I remember reading Oak's letters on the editorial pages of newspapers, sometimes with irritation and sometimes with an awe over his 'single-minded devotion to an almost lost cause in the early 80s".

Today RSS has no dearth of experts on any subject who can forcefully argue on any subject from astrology to zoology in accordance with Sangh's views. It pays these days to be on its side. In the era of PN Oak, it was neither lucrative nor glamorous, rather it invited trouble and the risk of getting branded as a 'crackpot' or Sangh historian unlike today.

Still, he was not missed much even among the rank and file of Sangh Parivar and media sympathetic to its cause. A website, Hindu Jagrati, did recall him as the lone fighter in an obit. Purushottam Nagesh Oak was 90 and died just a couple of days before the anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition. But one does feel bad for him. He was one of his own kind. Not like the hate-preachers and vitriolic Togadias of today.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nehru's newspapers Qaumi Awaz, National Herald shut down in Congress regime

On April 1, Qaumi Awaz, the Urdu daily from national capital, New Delhi, which was founded by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, brought out its last copy.

The masthead, the photo of which is shown on the top left, will be remembered for a long time. Till its last day of publication, the words :"Baani: Jawaharlal Nehru" (encircled in red for those who can't read Urdu)", were printed in the same manner.

National Herald has also closed down. The papers were earlier published from Lucknow and nearly a decade back, the Lucknow edition was closed Pandit Nehru, the great visionary, and founder of modern India, had established these papers.

Ironically, the newspapers closed despite all possible resistance and the fact that Qaumi Awaz still used to sell and had a good circulation though there was no money.

And it all happened when Congress-led UPA is in the office and Sonia Gandhi's intervention would have saved the papers.

The English daily could also have been revived (Qaumi Awaz was doing well). But the Congress leadership preferred to look askance though they had a responsibility also. The party is not short of funds. Forever I will miss the newspaper that was once largely circulated in entire North India.

The last day of the National Herald editorial titled 'Herald hopes for a better tomorrow". This newspaper was founded in September 1938 and after 70 years, closed down.

The papers could have been given to private hands, which could have run them efficiently. Many people were interested in running Qaumi Awaz and restart its Lucknow edition, specially in view of Roznama Sahara's success.

Even today one could get Qaumi Awaz' late city edition in most Indian cities that reached in the evening. Employees have been given VRS and the era of National Herald, Qaumi Awaz, Navjivan, has gone.

Today BJP, which always needed a mainstream English daily, has acquired a newspaper after years of effort (The Pioneer) to propogate its policies and the Congress simply lost its established papers. The Hindi version Navjeevan was closed long ago. But who could have convinced the party! They have lost UP but can anybody put sense in their head.

I still remember it was once used to be published from Mumbai and Hyderabad also. And had tremendous circulation in Awadh. Qaumi Awaz, the nationalist voice, that got revived under Mohan Chiraghi's stint as editor, ultimately became history.

Nehru's dreams had died long ago. His papers also died. Alas!

[The other photo shows Qaumi Awaz (encircled) on the newspaper stands]