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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sorry, I don't need a Muslim leadership in India, non-Muslim politicians do a better job

Even those who believed in the concept of Muslim (political) leadership and thought that it exists in India should have realised that this is nothing less than a myth.

Two recent incidents including the murder of a minor Muslim girl in a police station in Lakhimpur Kheri and the firing on Muslim villagers in Bihar's Forbesganj has exposed the so-called Muslim leadership.

Bihar has no dearth of Muslim leaders ranging from NCP's Tariq Anwar to Congress' Shakil Ahmad and Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi, who represents Kishanganj constituency in the Parliament. All of them remained silent though they represent opposition parties in the state.

Had they taken to streets or at least spoken on the issue, it would have raised their stature and their parties would also have got benefited. One could understand the predicament of JDU's Muslim leader or BJP's Shahnawaz Khan who also hails form Bihar, but who stopped the Muslim MPs, MLAs, MLCs et al.

Politicians love to politicise issues, even non-issues. So what stopped Ghani Khan Chaudhary's politican successor, Mausam Benazir Noor, the young MP from neighbouring West Bengal, to take up the issue. In fact, no Muslim leader in the country worth his salt felt for the victims.

It was Ram Vilas Paswan who went to Delhi and staged a 'dharna', then apprised the Prime Minister about the issue and also asked Rahul Gandhi to visit Araria district to take a stock of the situation. Still, the Muslim leadership kept mum.

While Mahesh Bhatt went to Patna to urge Nitish Kumar to take action and later also reached Delhi, Muslim politicians' shameless silence showed their character. Muslim leaders in Delhi also didn't speak on the issue. Had it not been Paswan, Bhatt, a few activists and websites, particularly, http://www.twocircles.net/, the issue wouldn't have reached as far.

I am sorry to say but Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi has been a letdown. The elderly politician puts all energy in writing columns in Urdu papers rather than roaring in the parliament, if not on the streets. The Muslim social groups and other organisations were also indifferent.

In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, a minor Muslim girl* was allegedly killed on the premises of police station. Though elections are drawing nearer and UP has seen a spurt in launch of new Muslim parties, there was absolute silence.

Jamat-e-Islami's Welfare Party, Dr Ayub's Peace Party, Ulema Council and other similar groups seemed to have forgotten even issuing statements. Even when most of the politicial parties and leaders [including BJP's firebrand leaders] had visited Lakhimpur Kheri, not a single delegation from any of these 'Muslim' parties visited the victim's family.

So what stopped them? Simply, they are not concerned. I don't go by the argument that many parties are propped up to divide the so-called Muslim vote. It is a mystery why none of these parties or leaders speak up when there is dire need for them to do so.

In the past also, we have seen that either it is on ideological ground or on the street, it is not the Muslim leaders who have taken up the cause of Muslims. So why this need for a Muslim leadership. It is a dangerous concept. We know as we have suffered it.

Time and again, Muslim voters have been cheated due to these so-called Muslim politicians. If there is a Muslim leadership, there should also be a Hindu leadership for Hindus. What is important that Muslim citizens understand that they must play an active part in the society and raise issues, not concerning Muslims alone, but others also.

With almost 60 Muslim MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, lot of issues pertaining to the community should have been redressed and resolved easily, but the reality is that this doesn't happen. In the last six decades Muslim electorate has been through all and must wisen up now.

Just that Congress can't keep Muslims hostage by instilling the sense of BJP, these Muslim politicians should also be dumped as they are simply wasting their positions. It is always better to send pro-active non-Muslim leaders to legislatures.

Call me a cynic or whatever, that's the truth. If there are any exceptions, please tell  me. Meanwhile, the moral is that Muslim voters should better avoid voting for such politicians, who just have Muslim-sounding names, as in reality they have neither vision nor voice.

[* The girl who was found dead in police station in Lakhimpur belonged to a Muslim family. Her name was Razia though in order to protect her identity, section of media persons changed the name to Sonam as she was a minor]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Clock Towers in India: The famous Chaubara in Bidar [Karnataka]

The Chaubara structure in Bidar (Karnataka)
Bidar is a historic town in Southern India and has a host of historical monuments. 

Though located in Karnataka, the district borders Andhra Pradesh and is quite close to Maharashtra.

As a result, Urdu, Marathi and Kannada are the major languages spoken here. It has been ruled by Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, then Hasan Gangu and Bahmani Sultans until it became a dominion of the Asif Jahi dynasty--under the Nizam of Hyderabad--till independence.

The chaubara is basically a watch tower cum clock tower. In olden days, from its top one could get a view of the entire town. The imposing cylindrical tower in the heart of the town attracts the new comes to the town. More so, as it is not much known outside.

Though Bidar has no dearth of historical monuments including the fort and the great madarsa established by Mahmood Gawan [the Mughal governor of Bijapur during Humayun's reign], it is still not a major tourist destination. Though there have been some efforts to clear encroachments around, no serious step has been taken to preserve this unique structure as yet.

Located just around 120 km from Hyderabad, Bidar's language also has a Deccani influence. The place is also well-known for the Bidri work. The fort was constructed in 1428 by Ahmad Wali who named it Ahmadabad-Bidar Fort.

For me right now it is the Chaubara [also written as Choubara] for which I have written the post. I have already mentioned by fascination about the clock towers of  unique shapes and sizes in India. But it is not just the clock tower, you must visit Bidar for the monuments that dot this ancient city.

Read my earlier post Clock Towers of Awadh (UP) And Father Built Clock Tower in Son's Memory

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Brutality in Bihar: Police firing kills four including pregnant woman in Forbesganj in Araria

Araria killings again show police's anti-poor mindset
Once again the ugly face of police was revealed in Forbesganj in Bihar's Araria district where policemen opened fire at villagers, killing four persons including a pregnant woman and a child.

The police force which is supposed to protect the citizens mostly acts as if it is a paid militia raised to serve the interests of the high and mighty.

In this case also, the firing was to serve the interests of a politician who owns a factory near Bhajanpur. That the victims were Muslims is another aspect.

But the truth is that often policemen turn trigger happy when they confront a crowd that comprises the poor. Anybody who is hapless and not well connected, gets the cops boot or bullet.

[See this shocking video* at Dainik Bhaskar's website which shows the policeman stomping over a body]Even more chilling was the sight of a home guard personnel, Sunil, stomping over a body, as if he was celebrating the murders in cold blood. The administration remained passive until the video footage was aired on TV channels.

The man was injured in firing and as he fell unconscious, he was lynched by the personnel. Sadly, the incident occurred in a district which is currently headed by a woman police official Garima Malik, who is currently posted as SP Araria.

In news reports, Malik seemed to justify the use of force. It is something that has happened innumerable times. Poor people are shot dead. The police officers then justify it by claiming that they acted to save themselves from the 'irate mob'.

This age-old mentality persists though the degree of contempt and violence towards poor is much higher in rural area where policemen have unchecked authority. As more information trickles it, its clear that the politician was on the spot and had a role in the incident.

It is a terrible reality that the uniformed men get salaries from the citizens to protect them and join the force with the oath to save them but strangely don't bat an eyelid while shedding their (citizen's) blood.

After every such incident, the officers claim that the mob had gone 'berserk' and had to be 'controlled'.

Ironically, no Chief Minister takes high moral ground. Police excesses are tolerated to absurd limits.

One expected that Nitish Kumar would have taken a strong action or at least condemned this indiscriminate killing by policemen. He would have earned respect for it.

It is really a shame that sixty years after independence, our force shoots 'protesters' and demonstrators. From Kashmir to Bihar, the situation remains the same. Cops get into a sort of frenzy and shoot from point blank range--mostly in heads, chests and not in the lower part.

The conflict at Forbesganj has some history. Here also land had been acquired long back. Recently, villagers had razed the boundary wall of a factory that was constructed recently and had blocked the only route to their village.

Forget rubber pellets, water cannons, tear gas or other measures of crowd control. There is a sort of glee with which policemen subject the poor to torture. Either it is Jammu and Kashmir or Bihar, police remain the same and their political masters appear indifferent towards such blatant display of policemen's barbarism.

Else one would have seen tough action against the culprits. It is this approach that lets the policemen get away with heinous crimes and as a result the incidents keep recurring in different parts of the country. Not supension or transfer, the guilty cops should be dismissed from service after a quick inquiry, in order to send a strong message to the rogue jawans.

Still, one hopes that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would take note of the serious human rights violation and take stringent action. Though a judicial inquiry has been announced, the need is to take quick action rather than wait for years for the outcome of the report and then expect its recommendations to be acted upon.

Read journalist Mumtaz Ahmad Falahi's report 'She came to see me, got six bullets in her head' from Bhajanpur village in Forbesganj (Araria) at Twocircles.Net. The second report is 'Police shot my brother from behind, then romped over hid body'.

On this blog the issue of policemen opening fire at innocent persons and targeting the poor has been raised repeatedly. Read the past stories:

1. Is the Indian police a force to safeguard the rich?
2. Extra-judicial killings: Ranvir's encounter in Uttarakhand
3. Police brutality: Truth of an encounter in Manipur and shocking photographs
4. Innocent Kuldeep gets bullet, Vandals get respect: What's wrong with our society?

[*The video is also available on youtube at this link]