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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Celebrating Eid in Awadh

The Gomti is overflowing. It's a beautiful sight from above the bridge near Dollygunge.

I don't remember having seen the river flowing at this height in the last twenty years. It was always a stream.

The lush greenery on both sides of the bank catches one's eyes and for a moment it takes you away from the posters and placards of Bahujan Samaj Party that dot the entire landscape.

It's so striking that with every change of regime, the flags of new party eclipse the flags of the losing  party.

Vehicles bear small flags of BSP on the bonnet, as the cops won't stop them. At the gate of Nadwatul Ulama, a huge billboard photographs of Mayawati and Akhilesh Das, greet me. In Aminabad and Hazratganj it's tough to walk due to the crowd ahead of Id.

I haven't been able to sight the moon yet, though one can perhaps sight many moons on the streets of Lucknow. It is cloudy today. Chaand will not be visible today, I feel.

Though Maulanas are out on the roofs, armed with their binoculars, to spot moon, it seems that Idul Fitr will be celebrated on Thursday. I have just bought evening papers and was taking a glance while riding the rickshaw, one of them informs me about the death of MIM leader Sultan Owaisi in Hyderabad.

I am passing by Hanuman Setu. I suddenly remember Lucknow's dearest poet Majaz. The weather is fine due to the drizzle. Have bought a few books from Danish Mahal and Minoo and Dinshaw. Right now I am blogging from a relative's place. Have been unable to blog for a while and that's why it's taking time for comments to appear on this blog.

Though elections are still away, the political temperature is high. BSP nominee from Lucknow constituency Akhish Das is campaigning as if the polls are going to be held tomorrow. Hopefully regular blogging will resume by next week.

Till then, Id Mubarak to all of you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Muslims against Terrorism: Branding community & communalisation of society


It's going to be a long post. First, two instances:

*When hundreds of Muslims gathered at Nagpara in Mumbai to give 'bad-duaa' to terrorists, it was not reported anywhere. It was an extraordinary event and doesn't happen anywhere. Soon after Delhi serial blasts, the Mumbai Muslims gave this 'curse'. Muslims prayed to Allah to punish those responsible for the bombings. There were Ulema and even politicians apart from ordinary Muslims. They did it on their own. Why there was no report?

*The photo on the left shows Muslims protesting against terror, condemning terrorists and signing with their blood to take every step to wipe out terror. This happened in Delhi. But how many papers published it?

Poor Chhamman Miyan doesn't know that you need to hold candle-light vigils, wear a better dress and inform cameramen in advance that you plan to hold a demo. People will keep saying Muslims don't condemn. This is the scene of Delhi. At Jantar Mantar, your protest doesnt' catch eyes, how protests in Bharuch or Birbhum will ever get reported.

Now let's get to the subject:

"Then, what's that which is driving these educated youths who have a career ahead of them...towards terrorism", asked the NDTV anchor. [To their credit, NDTV and CNN-IBN are the most balanced channels compared to Hindi news channels]

She appeared genuinely perturbed. The panelists included Javed Akhtar and Mushirul Hasan. That's the question many are raising today. Interestingly, it is Akhtar who is the most obvious choice on such panels not the ordinary Muslim professional, trader or entrepreneur.

But shouldn't she be knowing this? Everybody must ponder. After all, these are the same Muslims on which Indian leaders were so proud of until recently. At all international fora they proclaimed that not a single person from India is involved with global terrorism.

Don't brand a community

So, if a few Muslims guys--2, 5 or may be 10, have been arrested, suddenly the entire community is under scanner. How does that happen? I also want answer for that. And mind you, these are suspects, not convicts.

If they are terrorists just because police have said it, please, for God sake, abolish courts as there is no use for a judicial system then. Police can do anything it wants. As a citizen of this secular and democratic nation, we must strive for ensuring that constitution is followed and the rule of the law is upheld. I don't want to go back in the past and recount lot of things but just let me write a few things to put it in perspective.

There can be grievances

I start by again saying that even if there is grievance, nothing justifies mindless destruction and bombings. But when these so-called Mujahideen didn't exist, there was still POTA. Why we needed it then? We all know it was used against Muslims.

So many people still languish in jail. When there was nothing like 'Islamic terrorism' in India, why there was such anger against Muslims that Babri Masjid was demolished? The then Prime Minister made a false promise to the nation of re-building the mosque which he didn't keep.

Those who demolished the mosque are yet to get sentence or the famous 1-day sentence for Kalyan Singh but those who put posters to condemn the demolition, were even booked under TADA and POTA. In case of Mumbai riots, the same happened. Rioters rarely get any sentence.

Let's leave all that. Even forget the state-administered genocide in Gujarat. Let's talk about the man, Babu Bajrangi, who openly said that he tore apart a pregnant woman's stomach and wrenched the foetus out. Now I just want to know why this man is not called a terrorist. I don't want his religion to be affixed to it. But he is a terrorist.

<>Babu Bajrangi was not booked for any crime. Why? This is the height of injustice. Hasn't the middle-class become insensitive on such things.

Need for Liberal Hindu to speak

It has become 'accepted' that Muslims are fundamentalists and Hindus are liberal. It is a fashion to say that though there are liberals and fanatics in all communities. Though Muslims have been living in India for over 13 centuries, sections of our so-called intelligentsia look at America and import concepts like 'madarsas breed terrorism' from the West.

There is no sensitivity else there was no mention of the word 'Islamic terrorism'. When every Muslim, every Aalam, leading Ulema keep saying that this is not jihad. Can't you call it self-styled Jihadi, if you have to use this term at all cost.

Do Indian Muslims protest when 'bhumi pujan' is held at every official function? In fact, I won't mind if this nation becomes a Hindu nation. But right now our constitution calls it a secular country. In any case, there should be law-and-order and not two different set of rules.

I criticise Imam Bukhari on this blog, though he is much mild compared to his father. But the moment he visited Azamgarh and gave a speech, he was booked. A case of sedition was registered against him on the complaint of a lawyer in Rajasthan. He may have defended a terror suspect, but let's not be swayed by hysteria. He is still a suspect. There should not be double standards.

One person is termed anti-nation for a speech reported in the paper. The same Hindi papers of North India, who had become partners of Sangh Parivar and always referred to masjid as 'dhaancha'. The other person commits most gruesome crimes but it seems there is no law, state and machinery that can act against him.

Why the channels don't run a campaign for the arrest of Babu Bajrangi? When Muslims in India shunned Islamic leadership to elect Hindu leaders, it is also the responsibility of Hindus as elder brothers to take care of Muslims and protect them.

Just when Muslims are expected to come to the streets and condemn blasts, many expect liberal Hindus and civil society to also speak up and get people like Bajrangi sent behind bars. This will prove the resilience of our democratic set up.

Let's be critical of ourselves.
Let's try to find reasons.
Let's not generalise.
Let's not brand the whole community and fight communalisation of all sorts.
Let's introspect, try to build bridges with other communities rather than calling them names, as it will only lead to further disengagement and distance between communities which is unhealthy.
Hindus must fight Hindu lumpens and Muslims must fight Muslim communalism.
[This post was in continuation to the earlier post: Terrorism and Bomb Blasts: Hindus, Muslims, Communalism and other issues]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Terrorism & Bomb Blasts in India: Hindus, Muslims, Communalism and other issues

It's tough to write a post after any terror strike as it has become a regular occurrence in this country and clearly we [India] are the worst victims of terrorism in the world.

Which country has faced so many serial blasts in most of its big cities in just a matter of few years? Having said this we must realise that those who die in blasts are human beings, who belong to various faiths.

If Hari Chand died in the recent blasts and Laxmi Kant is battling for life, there was Qasim also who died in the Delhi bomb blasts and Mohammad Farooq is in hospital. Terror has no religion and those who kill innocents are doing the most despicable act.

Whether there are blasts in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Jaipur or in Muslim congregations in Ajmer, Hyderabad and Malegaon, it is the ordinary Indians, the breadwinners for their families who have died. Unfortunately this also gets communalised at times.

It is the biggest task for Indian police and security agencies to track down the killers. If everytime they catch the real SIMI operatives, how come they don't prevent the next attack. And strangely after every terror strike, the very next day the police comes out with a couple of new names. Suddenly, portraits are out and shown on channels.

If they were not aware about the strikes, how they suddenly get sure about these new masterminds? Gujarat police had recently claimed that they had caught the accused and busted the entire SIMI core group that was responsible for all major terror strikes in India recently. So how come Delhi was targeted?

In newspapers' columns and at websites & blogs, an unusual psyhological pressure is being put on Muslims to come out and condemn, as if they are involved in this. Muslims do condemn a lot but they don't have the PR expertise to do it.

They keep holding programmes, dharnas and staging protests but they don't get reported. Shall the go and drag reporters to the mosque and make them watch what is said in 'duaa' after the Namaaz, to show it on TV.

The fascist BJP says that it is appeasement that is responsible for this situation. This is a cunning way to portray the Muslim community as sympathisers of terror and ensure polarisation for its electoral benefit.

It is a criminal act to say that due to Muslim vote, the police are unable to act on SIMI. Do they mean that Muslims don't want terrorists to be arrested. Even in countries that don't have Muslim population living for more than a century, a main politican party can't speak in such irresponsible manner.

The police do go wherever they wish, catch anybody and arrest them. Who stops the police? In cases of terrorism, the suspects don't even get bail easily and police have ample time to interrogate. Now even the lawyers refuse to fight for any terror suspect even before trial. Still, if they are unable to arrest the culprits, its their failure.

In fact, it is the Muslims who are most affected by such terror strikes and wish the most that these terrorists get arrested. Muslims would be the happiest if the real perpetrators are brought to book at the earliest.

After every blast, it is Muslim who face further problems at the workplace and has trouble in finding a house on rent. The poor Muslims have the toughest time in getting employment. The Indian Muslim faces himself in a strange situation.

He wants to know who is causing these blasts and prays to God that these terror strikes should stop and the perpetrators be sent to prison for their lifetime. It is ironical that several News channels lose all sense of propriety.

One-sided reports that are often manufactured with the tacit leakage (or planting) of certain officials are beamed. News of Muslims donating blood at Delhi hospital doesn't get adequate coverage. However, there are stories about how politicians have been soft on SIMI because of higher Muslim percentage in UP.

All our life we have seen the same thing. I need not remind you that until recently we had our leaders and senior journalists making claims that no Indian was involved in terrorism and that Indian Muslims were not affected by this phenomenon.

Still, there was the similar psychological onus on Indian Muslims to 'come clean'. Muslims were then also the target and branded as the 'appeased lot'. It was not terrorism then rather it used to be MF Husain painting nude goddess, singing of Vande Mataram or any other such issue for which Muslims were asked to come out and prover their patriotism by condemnation and other means.

When there were no such issues, suddenly there was so much consciousness about medieval history that everybody had begun to appear an expert on past. The fundamentals were then up in arms against Muslim for 'atrocities' committed by Babar and Aurangzeb.

The Babri Masjid was ultimately razed. But much before that there was the charge of Muslims being 'pro-Pakistani'. The grouse was that Muslims favoured Pakistani cricket team. That they were fifth columnists.

I mean, if it is not terrorism, it can be any other thing for which Muslims would be put in the dock and hounded. It can be 'madarsas' or 'producing more kids' ...
There were then editorial page articles on 'Need for liberal Muslim to speak'. The Darul Uloom Deoband that produced tens of thousands of freedom fighters for this country, but it recently held anti-terrorism conference.

And not once, it held it across the country. But still you are asked to speak up. For the last two days I have been receiving abusive emails from people whom I don't know and the messages on my blog that are filled with hate for Muslims. I get such messages all the time and that's the reason I have moderated the comments posts.

Every couple of months I have to write such a post and then a new guy comes to the blog and posts kiddish questions or accuses all Muslims of bad things and I am expected to come clear. To whom and for what?

Indian Muslims have no guilt but are made to believe that it is all their fault. Even in case of the Nuclear-deal, there was a hullabaloo that Indian Muslims were opposed to it. Then also I wrote a post that ordinary Muslims are with the national interest.

Even Muslim leaders said that. Indian Muslims don't have a Muslim leadership that can organise mass protests and candle light vigils for the consumption of someone's eye. Indian Muslims don't have Muslim networks or organisations and they have full faith in Hindu leaders of various parties.

During the recent shrine board controversy, it was said that Muslims don't speak up and I posted a photo on this blog. Do we all need to get cassettes and set up loudspeakers on top of our houses, blaring the same things daily?

Communalising terror is the worst thing. Unfortunately the media and politicians are responsible for that to a large extent, as RSS has permeated every section of society.

Muslims are as much victims of terrorism as anybody. Perhaps more. So the need is for government and agencies to act and let's educated people retaliate wherever there are attempts to disrupt harmony, rather than blaming each other all the time.

If someone has to answer for this bloodbath, it has to be the police, the highly-paid officials of Indian security agenies, the ministers who get fat salaries apart from all sorts of allowances. It is surely not the 150 million Muslims of India.

Terror is a common enemy for all of us. There is another post on the same subject. Yaamyn has summed it up well. It is also an emotional outburst. Read it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Islamic scholar, leader Warith Deen Mohammed passes away

With the demise of Imam Warith Deen Mohammad, Islamic world has lost a great leader and thinker.

When he had taken over as head of the Nation of Islam (NOI) after the death of Elijah Mohammad in 1975, it was still an organisation known for racism against Whites (and Jews) and aggressive black nationalism apart from the unique doctrine of Master Fard that spoke of UFO and an evil scientist's failed experiment leading to birth of Whites.

But Imam Warith Deen Mohammad showed great spirit of reconciliation and oversaw the transformation of the organisation from a radical separatist group to an accommodating group and its merger into mainstream American society. All this he accomplishes in his lifetime.

Many who live outside America and aren't much aware of the Black nationalism and the Nation of Islam (NOI). Some of us came to know about these historical struggles through the Autobiography of Malcolm X and the stories of Mohammad Ali. In 1975, Warith Deen Mohammad became the Supreme Minister of NOI.

It was not an easy task to give a new direction to the movement but he succeeded in it. Soon after taking charge he dissolved the militaristic security wing of the NOI, and later the NOI itself. An inter-faith activist, a humanist and a widely respected man who led the African-American Muslim community, he was the first Muslim to address the American Senate and also address 100,000 persons at Vatican along side Pope John Paul II.

As a spiritual and religious statesman, he attended conferences and worked for building bridges with other communities. In his role as a leader for Black Muslims, he built institutions & schools, worked for their economic independence and also held workshops and organised seminars of inter-faith dialoague.

Imam Waris was born as Wallace D Mohammad in 1933.Throughout his life, he indefatigably worked for forging harmonious relations within Muslim communities and outside. Despite the fact that he headed American Muslim Society, he avoided any show of stregnth. Just a few years back, he had embraced Louis Farrakhan, who now heads the NOI.

Though his mainstream media didn't give proper coverage to his death (September 9, 2008) and his legacy, tributes and mourning messages poured from across the world. International Jewish Committee recalled him as 'Champion of Interfaith Understanding'. Jewish and Christian groups mourned his death and so does the Islamic world.

Monday, September 08, 2008

My morning cuppas in Hyderabad: Idle walks & Ideal mornings

I haven't taken a long leave for quite sometime and in such moments I fondly recall my days in Hyderabad: the leisurely walks, the morning cuppa and the hours spent poring over newspapers.

For me there can't be a better start to the day than having lots of newspapers and ensconcing oneself on a chair in the back of a cafe/chai-khana and simply whiling away time. Especially when one doesn't have to go to the office, have no compulsion to pick up cell phone calls or send emails and just no engagements.

The mornings were really ideal during my stay in Hyderabad last time. Getting up early in the morning I would saunter towards the local chai-khana run by a Isamili Muslim. A huge photo of Agha Khan smilingly welcomed me to the place. I prefer the humble chai-khana because you get to see all kind of people around you including the milkman boy, the working class, students and the weirdos. Of course, not to forget the traditional 'fakirs' of Hyderabad in all sorts of green garbs.

The teenager who sells papers flashes a wide smile. He knows I buy many papers and quickly gives me half-a-dozen. There are so many I can get in Hyderabad: Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle, Times of India and the Hindu. It is a City that has a very vibrant Urdu press and papers like Siasat, Munsif, Etemaad apart from Roznama Sahara and Rahnuma-e-Deccan.

Most interesting aspect about Urdu papers was to read the diametrically opposite views of a report published in two Urdu papers. Siasat and Etemaad are into a bitter rivarly and it's an experience (more for a journo) to read their reports on functions organised by the other group as also the political views.

...the cup is full of tea. It's huge by any standards. It's not the 'cut chai' that you get above the Vindhyas. I enjoy the aroma and first take a glance at papers, just the headlines. Next, I read the news that interests me while sipping the tea.

Now it's tough to dislodge me for at least an hour. Half of the tables are empty and nobody bothers if I keep occupying the place. The boy asks me, whether I need 'Maska Biscuit'. 'What's that"...I ask him to get round ones, he puts them in a saucer and leaves them. They are not great, but okay. I dip one in the tea, and try to eat, an old habit which I can't give up.

...I look at the clock on the wall. Feel it's time to leave. Pay Rs 5 for the tea and another Rs 4 for the biscuits and walk on, with my papers. There is not much traffic and I keep walking, passing by a park and enter Owaisipura, a densely populated locality.Trying to see the real Hyderabad.

I spot a temple. The architecture is different from the North Indian temples. I wish I had a camera. Though I can take a snap from my cell phone camera but I am feeling too lazy and that's why I wanna feel that...a camera would have been better...pictures from cell phone aren't that good...

I see a guy selling dosa on a cycle. 'Dosa kitne ka hai'. 'Paanch Rupaye'. I'm flabbergasted. I take two dosas. As he packs it, I ask for sambhar. He says that they give only chutneys with dosa. Oh...I felt a bit disappointed. I am used to dosa with sambar, which we get in North India.

Now my next stop is a small hotel. It is also a chai-khana. Unlike North Indian tea-shops, eateries and chai-khanas, here there is much more neatness. I hardly smoke but its holiday and I think...ek aadh kash ho hi jaye...

I get the cigarette. I give him Rs 10 note and ask for two Wills, as I am not sure of the cost any more. I don't want him to know that I am unaware of the price. A Telugu song is playing on the radio.
The words, I don't understand, but the tune I like. Chik Buk...Chik Buk....that's what I only remember now about the song. I finish a dosa. The tea has arrived. I am smoking after a long time but I like it. Now I go through editorial pages....

...the tea tastes great. I wonder what tea leaves they use. It's almost the same standard tea. Neither it's too sugary not too light or hard, just perfect combination of everything. A guy who had just entered the 'cafe' and takes one of my paper without asking me.

I don't mind. I am in a state of bliss. Too generous. I don't even look at him angrily. I go back to the papers. Read the Deccan Chronicle's pullout. It's interesting. Much more than the Times of India and Hindu.

I try my hand at the cross word. It's tough or I am losing my vocabulary. I don't care. I write a few couplets on the paper. Now I have nothing left to do. I finish the tea here also and get up. Stand by the guy's side but he doesn't understand. 'These are my papers', I say politely. He appears shocked though he shouldn't be.

He is a local and must be regular to this place and knowing that the hotel doesn't subscribe to these papers. He reluctantly gives me back the newspaper. I walk on, reading the posters on the walls, stop at the gate of a mosque to read the interesting Urdu posters about 'Solidarity with the Palestine', the launch of a 'Insaf Party' and also announcements about religious functions.

It's almost two hours since I walked out of home. I must get back, everybody would be worried. I wanted to go ahead but I am also tired now. I pass through a narrow lane...the women are busy in domestic chores in their houses and ....pan shops are open but unlike North India, the teenagers don't crowd them...

...reading signboards and name plates outside houses, I go back home. Now I will finish the other dosa with the few news items which I saved for reading later and then enjoy a nap till noon. I have no work yaar....May be I will read the novels which I brought with me in the afternoon....abhi to pura din baaqi hai...shaam ko Paradise ki biryani and a visit to shops near Char Minar....

...that was eight-ten months back. But again I am longing for a similar holiday. It may sound boring to many but for someone like me, it's the ideal holiday. I am too lazy, aren't I?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Communal Vs Secular Comics: Amar Chitra Katha & other children's comic strips in India

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You may laugh at the mere mention of 'communal comics'. But cartoons and comics are to be taken seriously as they play an important role in shaping the minds of children.

I was reading Tehelka's last issue where Nisha Susan did a review of Delhi-based academician Nandini Chandra's book 'The Classic popular: Amar Chitra Katha', when I thought of writing a post. And that's not the only book on this subject*.

In her book Chandra writes that Uncle Pai remains an avuncular man with a sincere interest in education but the ideological underpinnings of ACK bear much closer scrutiny. In her book Chandra writes that the comics conflated the Hindu with the national ...and that the comics combine relatively innoncuous text with far more troubling visuals like the bearded Muslim and the dark-skinned persons in the majority of 600-odd titles...

Now my own thoughts on this:


Firstly, I did read a few Amar Chitra Katha comics in my childhood. And I have absolutely no problem with a publisher only printing comics on Hindu culture, as I grew up as much on Khilauna (Urdu) and Champak, as much as Nandan, which focused on Hindu mythology.

I loved Nandan and I owe a lot to these magazine. It was Nandan that introduced me to the fascinating Hindu mythology. Nandan chiefly borrowed from Hinduism and avoided Islam but there was nothing that would unsettle a Muslim kid let alone offend his sensibilities.

Similarly, Chandamama, which I loved, was also a magazine that focused on Hindu mythology and the stories of Hindu gods abound. And it was brilliant. On the pages of Nandan and Chandamama, I discovered the world of Rishis, Vidyadhars, Kapaliks, Asuras et al.

Naturally it is wrong to expect that every thing in India would be straight out of Manmohan Desai's Bollywood idealism where in every story you would also find a Muslim and Sikh or Christian.

Even if there is no Muslim character or stories focusing on Islamic festivals, you can't fault the comics or the kids' magazines but what is certainly wrong is depicting a community in wrong light and doing that cleverly.

Of course, I remember that as a kid I did feel a sense of loss ['not exactly belonging the way'] when there were special issues on Diwali and Holi in all children's magazine and not even a story on Id, let alone a congratulatory message 'PaathakoN ko shubhkaamna.

There are a few exceptions, a couple of stories on Ramzan and Id in my 12-years of files of Champak. But I am pretty okay with that. Apart from Champak, Nandan, Chanda Mama, there were Kutkut, Parag, Bal Bharti, Balak and a host of other magazines.

The rest of the Comic world was quite secular though. In the 80s, there was the terrific Ram-Rahim Double Secret Agent series and the Rajan Iqbal series in comics apart from Rajan-Iqbal pocket books. Pran's world of Chacha Chaudhary, Billu, Raman, Pinky and others apart from Ankur, were all secular.

Even in Lambu Motu and Fauladi Singh series, the artists like Jugal Kishore, ensured that whenever religion was mentioned, there was a display of all four symbols. Not everybody can realise how good you feel unless you belong to a minority, at these apparently small things.

But that's the reason I remember Jugal Kishore and the writer, Ashwini alias Ashu. These artists gave the feeling that you belonged. That you were not absolutely out. In the Western countries, an effort is made to ensure that comics don't give the impression that a particular race or religion is shown in poor light.

So when we used to get books and comics from the neighbourhood library where they were available from 25 paise to 50 paise (later Re 1), Diamond Comics was the first choice for me, followed by Manoj, Indrajal and then Prabhat, Tulsi and others.

After reading the above mentioned article, I thought and suddenly realised that I hardly ever rented an Amar Chitra Katha, which of course I read if I found it at a friend's place. Why?

The foremost reason was that I was well acquainted with Hindu mythology due to children's magazines and in the ACK only there was art, less of text.

Apart from them there were historical figures, which didn't interest me naturally at that age. But I do remember that a couple of times I felt that they didn't draw Muslim characters properly. Often, the jaws and the facial expressions of these characters and their aggressive posture gave a negative shade.

I clearly remember that Diamond Comics' famous comic 'Mama Bhanja aur Mughal Khandan' had the Mama telling the Bhatija the illustrated story of Mughals but there was objetivity and not a faint communal tinge.

It was of course history and whatever wrong kings like Aurangzeb did was depicted just like the feats of others. But no hints, no sly suggestions, no dark portrayals or generalization. So that was the difference.

No wonder, now I find, that out of 500-odd ACKs, there were hardly five or six on Muslims, that too because they felt their ideology was getting too obvious. So you have a Razia Sultana, an Akbar, Jehangir, Shahjehan and an usual choice Balban. May be a few others.

Even by RSS standards, there were many who can easily qualify and there are many Muslim heroes. At least, Rahim, Jaisi, Ashfaqullah Khan, Havildar Abdul Hamid etc. Even by normal standards the list can be quite long from Amir Khusro to Abul Kalam Azad and Abdul Ghaffar Khan or say a Ghalib, but none of them could ever make it to Amar Chitra Katha.

On a level, you feel it's better to ignore such things. But the subtly work! I found that there are other researchers who felt the same. Just like the TV serials--Ramayana and Mahabharata, that were in a way responsible for the impetus to the BJP's Ram Mandir movement, these comics also perhaps conditioned the minds of urban kids and teens who were living in Nehruvian era of 60s to usher them to a new commual era of 70s and 80s, where Muslim was suddenly the aggressive creature.

Now coming to another book. Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia*. The writers Lawrence A Babb and Susan Wadley say, "In the Makers of Modern India series, there are no Maulana Azad, Asaf Ali, Hakim Ajmal Khan or Dr Zakir Husain..."

But is that surprising that till very late there was no issue for Gandhi, but yes, one devoted to VD Savarkar. He further writes, "Anand Math is full of anti-Muslim sentiments where revolutionaries look forward to the day when they will break the mosque and raise the temple of Radha Madhav in its place and yet this novel is featured quite early in the series".

Was Sangh ideology at work, cleverly giving the message that the Muslims are the bad people?

"In Amar Chitra Katha (86) featuring the novel Anand Math, the heroic Hindu Bengali freedom fighters do battle with the evil British officers who command highly stylized but Muslim-looking troops!".....Strange isn't it!