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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hindus fight to get justice for Muslims in Gujarat riots: The Great untold story of secular India

RB Sreekumar
If ten years after Gujarat riots, the issue continues to be at the centre stage of Indian politics and the judicial process is moving forward, even if slowly, credit is due to Indian society.

One must admit that it is mostly the non-Muslims, the secular Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Jains who have fought on behalf of Indian Muslims. Putting their lives in danger, they have fought for the minorities' rights and their justice.

It is an incredible story, if someone ever wrote it. Activists who painstakingly fought for victims, journalists who risked lives to do 'stings' and nail culprits, lawyers who have in trying times and braving social stigma [even threats] sided with victims.

Prashant Bhushan
If Gujarat riots were India's shame. The fight for justice is Independent India's glory. A large section disapproves of human rights activists. But mostly this right-leaning segment of middle-class forgets that societies in other countries also act similarly.

In Pakistan, human rights activists who speak and fight for Hindus, Ahmadiyyas or Christian minorities are disliked by a large section, seen as 'noise-makers' and abused on Twitter and Facebook.

It is not an easy job to side with the victim, a person of other community, and take a stand. Particularly, when the might of state is against you. Frankly, majority of Muslim community had no idea how to fight this battle. On every front, it is mostly the non-Muslim leadership that has stood by Gujarati Muslims.

Teesta Setalvad
It was Harsh Mander, who resigned from Indian Administrative Services (IAS) in wake of the riots, openly saying that his colleagues didn't do what was expected from them during the pogrom.

Till date, he has been fighting for relief and rehabilitation. Teesta Setalvad is a symbol of this amazing story. The communalists, the right-wing dislike her.

However, for poor Muslims she is a messiah. Yes, she spoke for the 'other'. You have to be a victim to realise how it feels when someone speaks for you.

How can we forgot Mukul Sinha, whose Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), has painstakingly collected vital evidences, records by scanning thousands of pages of documents, so that the culprits are today feeling the heat.

Rahul Sharma: Ordered firing that saved 300 Muslim  kids
And Prashant Bhushan. At every forum, he has taken up the cause of sufferers. The senior lawyer-activist has been a defender of civil rights and his commitment towards secularism, is surely amazing.

There aren't enough Muslim activists who can take the fight at this level [Of course, Shabnam Hashmi is there but who else?].

The 'intellectual' or common Muslim had little time to think of it or dare do it in Gujarat, let alone act for years in such a hostile atmosphere when section of bureaucracy, society and officials see activists as enemies of Gujarat.

All these are Hindus. How many can dare take on the system in such a way as RB Sreekumar did. The intelligence chief, he was an insider. Disgusted by what happened in Gujarat and driven by pure humanity and conviction, he has been at the forefront in the fight.

Nandita Das
Since 2002, at ever forum he has openly said what others suspected but couldn't have been established easily: about officers' laxity, alleged complicity and the politicians' role in letting the riots go on after Godhra train burning incident.

For many he is a maverick police officer. But IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt has risked his entire career at stake. He named Narendra Modi repeatedly. Even Muslim officers were obsequious and enjoyed plum postings a few years after the riots, content with the fruits of power.

It takes extraordinary courage to speak up when you are in the 'system'. Bhatt has no qualms. Many of these people are staunch Hindus and deeply religious. And yes, their religious beliefs give them the strength when they stand by Muslim Gujaratis.

Mallika Sarabhai
Exemplary commitment towards service was shown by several officials in 2002. Who won't be indebted to Rahul Sharma, the IPS officer, who ordered firing on the mob when rioters were on way to burn a madarsa where 300 children lived, in Bhavnagar.

Sharma later came up with information that showed politicians' nexus with rioters. The government acted against him, gave him charge-sheet. Satish Verma faced departmental harassment.

FIRs were filed against Bhatt. He was arrested as well. I don't know if any other country can have similar example of people in high offices taking such strong stand amidst the typhoon of hate and violence that had swept Gujarat then.

Sanjeev Bhatt
The figure of deaths in Gujarat was enormous. But it could have been even greater but for such brave men in uniform. The combined efforts have resulted in Supreme Court monitoring of cases, constituting the SIT, rapping government, all important steps.

Surely, it is wrong to squarely blame Gujarat or Gujaratis. Innumerable Gujarati Hindus are fighting this battle for the last decade. Their dream is a secular India, a secular Gujarat, for which they are all striving for.

Harsh Mander is a Sikh. Mallika Sarabhai belongs to a Jain family. Christian activists are also involved in this campaign to secure justice. Can we forget the contribution of Indian media that has shown its commitment towards secular India.

Harsh Mander
Artists also expressed their protest. Movies like Rahul Dholakia's Parzania that told the story of a Parsi family which lost its son as he had a Muslim-sounding name or Nandita Das' Firaaq shows the agony they underwent in the aftermath of the massacre.

Ashish Khetan, whose landmark Operation Kalank had established the role of Babu Bajrangi as well as the alleged go-ahead given to Bajrang Dal-VHP leaders in 2002. This is just an example. Innumerable journalists, activists and writers have done every bit to ensure that the wheels of justice move.

So that the society doesn't forget the horrors. When we talk of DG Vanzara, who is in jail for fake encounters, we see only one side of the picture. There are officers who didn't budge despite immense pressure.

Officers who we must salute. V K Gupta, Manoj Shashidhar, Narasimha Komar, Vivek Srivastava, M D Antani, Upendra Singh and Keshav Kumar led from the front and ensured that violence was controlled in their areas.

Mukul Sinha
Go anywhere in India, the respect Teesta Setalvad's name commands, is unbelievable. People have seen her act, speak and passionately fight for Muslims.

Criticising perpetrators of riots is fine for outsiders. It's very easy. But its not an ordinary task to speak for the victims when it is considered 'a moral sin', especially when you are part of the 'system' [bureaucracy] in the Gujarat.

Call it conscience, courage, honesty, humanity or sense of duty, these officers have done something rare. And there are many such officers who have defied the diktats and decided to act as per law.

Whether Gujarat is shining right now or not, whenever history of this period [200-2012] would be written in future, it will be due to these people that the next generations would see as heroes and they would not have to hang their heads in shame for the conduct of rioters.

Rajnish Rai
Honest officers, the courageous activists, the ordinary Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis who fought to ensure justice for their Muslim brethren.

It is this reason that entire Gujarat can't be condemned or defamed. There were no personal gains involved. All of them paid price and faced harassment.

Trolls & hate-filled anonymous cyber warriors con't understand these sentiments. The fighters are not 'pseudos', 'sickulars' or 'Congis', but humans. No wonder we are a mature democracy.

Despite the occasional failures, we can redeem ourselves, bounce back and set new standards. There is no fun fighting for yourself. Everybody does it. But what we have seen in a decade is something extraordinary. It sends the message that humanity and justice ultimately prevail.

This is a story of many heroes and it has a lesson for every society. Our salute to all the heroes. [There are many more activists, lawyers and journalists who played their part in this fight for justice. Some names mentioned above are just to give an indication about the nature of this fight.]

This was second part on the series on post-Godhra killings on this blog on the tenth anniversary of riots. Read first part here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reflections on Gujarat riots, post-Godhra killings and should the carnage be forgotten?

Mass Hysteria Was Seen IN Gujarat During The RIOTS
Gujarat riots, often termed as post-Godhra killings or the Gujarat Genocide, evoke extreme reactions.

Ten years have now elapsed since the unprecedented scale of mass murders and rapes, in which Muslims largely suffered, had shaken the country.

Whatever happened in Gujarat then was shocking not just by the scale of violence or the inaction of the State government.

Independent India has seen many riots in the past. Justice was denied to victims of riots in Delhi 1984, Meerut-Hashimpura-Maliana killings 1987 & Mumbai 1992-93 as well. These days it's fashionable to say, why talk about old wounds? And that one must forget the past? Is it? It is really important not to forget.

Let's see the reasons:

1. In Gujarat, for the first time, a mass hysteria was seen. The hate that was incited against minority Jews in Nazi Germany was seen in democratic India's Gujarat state. People were not ashamed. Middle-class, educated people participated in riots and looting.

2. Across the world, in failed and lawless states, an 'enemy' is invented and people's ire is directed towards it rather than focus on government's failures. This strategy suits the ruler. As aggressors feel the government is their, standing solidly by their side, they go out for the killing.

Its classic strategy to mobilise the people. It could be the 'immigrants' who are blamed for bringing their culture or snatching jobs or the wealthy minorities. However in 2002, the violence surpassed all previous standards.

3. It's not just the goons, the anti-socials and criminals, the unemployed and the employed, sudden start seeing a 'cause'. They unite behind the 'macho' leader. It makes them feels 'potent' to participate in murders and sexual violence. Rape is always about power. Psychologists agree that the 'high' is more about subjugation.

It brings out the worst, the beastly behaviour out of the society. After all, for years, people were fed on false notions like stories of Muslim aggression and their appeasement that inflamed the hidden hate. With police siding by the rioters. Abetted by leaders, Aided by police, it was the dance of death that left nearly 2,000 dead.

The cable TV revolution had occurred a few years ago. And hence the horrific killings were seen across the world. Even people within the 'Parivar' were astonished. Shanta Kumar condemned it, Vajpayee is learnt to have been upset, but was prevailed upon by the hard-liners' camp.

Of course, the rioters had no qualms. In later years, Tehelka's sting 'Operation Kalank' captured Babu Bajrangi's spine-chilling confessions. See the LINK.


SHAMEFUL ACTION 

VERSUS

REACTION THEORY


4. If a crime takes place, it is the law that should take action. Surely, the victim or his kin will be angry. But it is not that you identify the person on the basis of his caste or creed, and then go on murdering children belonging to his religion, burning people, killing by hundreds or raping their women.

Further, you shamelessly try to justify this. Even ten years later, most of the top leadership of BJP just does this. They repeat the 'action for reaction' theory for justification. Blame was pinned on all Muslims for doing the coach.  Isn't this utterly shameful.

5. Those who were termed conspirators of Godhra train compartment burning, were booked, even charged for Terrorism under the stringent POTA. Many were falsely implicated and later released. Others get sentenced for life and long years in prison. It was surely an unfortunate incident. Of course, state was proactive in this case.

6. But when it came to the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, police didn't register FIRs, witnesses were threatened, statements were not registered, investigation was shoddy, proper sections of IPC were not applied, evidences were concealed, the 'accused' were not 'identified'.

The killings in Gulbarg Society, Naroda Patiya, Best Bakery, Sardarpura and umpteen other massacres were conveniently buried. In rural areas of Gujarat, the situation was even worse and things didn't get reported for long. Muslims left en masse from towns and villages.

The prosecution seemed to have little interest in the cases. The situation was so bad that Supreme Court had to intervene and ponder over shifting the cases from Gujarat, as there was fear that justice would be subverted.

7. People talk of good governance now. What else can we expect. The first option was exploited and can't be replicated. Yes, there will be good governance wherever there is fear. Either it's during Emergency years or it is the Nazi Germany or dictators [other monarchs], there is an order visible on the street, not in democracy.

8. And where is justice? Even if all atrocities, injustice and oppression is forgotten, where is even the slightest remorse or even a healing touch? The victims were not given compensation. It took courts, human rights bodies and commissions to raise such issues.

The victims live in camps in extremely inhuman conditions. The leaders who talk of 'Sadbhavana' could also have focused on rehabilitation. Aren't they aware of the condition in Shah Alam Camp and similar other temporary shelters for victims.

9. None of the top BJP leaders or administrators visited the refugee camps to take a look at the face of the orphan kid or put a hand on the head of a girl whose family was suffered in the massacre. Nothing of that sort ever happened.

It was a pogrom that was aimed at teaching the minorities a lesson. Gujarat was for long known as RSS' lab for Hindutva. It is a different matter though that the reaction perhaps exceeded their own estimates.

10. The BJP leaders often talk of outsiders demonising Gujarat or insulting the state. These days one commonly hears about the 'campaign to defame the 5 crore Gujaratis'. But it is conveniently forgotten how, Muslims were demonised for years, even after the riots.

In speeches during election campaigns, there were shocking statements. The names of Sohrabuddin and ''Miyan'" Musharraf were taken to rouse popular feelings and to cleverly link them with the Indian Muslims. Hate was spread in a calculated manner.

11. For those who talk how Gujarat is being targeted, they should recall the way Muslims were targeted in speeches. This is all on record.

Like the speech in which burqa wearing women were targeted and made fun of, that whether they go to respond nature's call while wearing burqa. See the Link

12. For years after the riots, the fake encounters continued. Muslims were targeted routinely and killed or arrested. For rogue cops it was a wonderful idea to get accolades and medals. Today DG Vanzara and others of his ilk are in jail, proving how several of the state police officials were complicit in extra-judicial killings.

13. When it was sensed that the anti-Muslim posture can't go on and on infinitely, India saw the birth of a  leader who meant business and won't tolerate any injustice. International PR agencies were hired. The resurgent Gujarat was born. This article in Caravan magazine by Vinod K Jose tells how this branding took place. Read at this Link.

Gujarat and the Gujarati was now positioned as the 'victim'. If you say a word about riot victim's rehabilitation or justice, you were termed anti-Gujarat, accused of being pseudo secular, a person who unnecessarily talks about the ghosts when there were none and when the state had become a sort of utopia.

It was 'Gujarat's Asmita'. Not different from the Hitler's theory. Some decades back, MS Golwalkar had inked his thoughts about culture and minorities in Germany. It didn't take too long for a 'successful' trial that was made in Western India.

14. These days BJP leaders often say that another 'Gujarat' [carnage] can't happen. How are they so sure? Is it because they know the consequences now? Though justice is delayed, and often denied, the process even if slow, when initiates, begins to give sleepless nights to the aggressors.

It is not easy for the 'tainted' to get clean despite using all the resources, to absolve yourself of a shady past. Of late, Collectors-DMs and SPs get worried that if it law-and-order is not brought under control, they might be transferred or face the ire of judiciary. The leaders also fear that their could be action on them from the top.

15. The horrors that unfolded during the riots are too chilling to be recounted. The mini-stories 'Shah Alam camp ki rooheN' by Asghar Wajahad. One of the stories:

When night descends on Shah Alam camp, the children don't fall asleep. They wait for the spirits of their dead parents...Siraj asked his mother, 'how are you?', She looked happy. Now I am a spirit, a soul, nobody can set me afire...Siraj said, 'mother can I become like you?
Read the mini stories here.

It is wrong to think that such riots can't recur. The battle to secure justice for Gujarat riots is on. And it's not easy. As far as last few years in India are concerned, the pressure of activists, media and the understanding that riots will only bring a permanent taint on politicians, such incidents have reduced.

It could happen only because the victims, the civil society, the non-governmental organisations, the judiciary, the innumerable GUJARATIS who fought against the 'system', and kept the issues alive. One must salute them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Don't look at Government, Do it yourself: First Urdu Cartoon Website launched

First a great news for Urdu lovers, as also for those who love cartoons. A website that features cartoon strips in Urdu, Urdu Cartoon Kids, has been launched.

To give a sense to reader why it is so important for me is because despite nearly 150-200 million speakers in India and the fact that Urdu is an official language in Pakistan, there was hardly anything for kids in this segment on the internet.

For years we have heard Urdu speakers lament that the language is not linked to employment or it doesn't have resources. The truth is that no one stops you from doing anything. Hundreds of newspapers are published in Urdu and they are full of politics or other mundane news.

However, there is no focus on kids. They don't realise the importance of the young generation learning the language. Unless the kids gets comfortable with the script, there can't be a strong readership for Urdu or magazines in the coming generations. We don't have a magazine like 'MagicPot' that appeals to 3-7 year segment either.

Government in India established 16 Urdu Academies in India apart from NCPUL and some other institutions for promoting Urdu. Urdu speakers could have put pressure on them to take up such work. Alas, after the Khilauna ceased publication, even kids' magazines don't invest in cartoons, which are the first to attract children towards the written word.

Even more shocking is the fact that though Urdu has the status of official [or national] language is Pakistan, I didn't know of any cartoon site from the country either. Such gross neglect towards children is astonishing by any standards.

But blaming others is easy. What is more important is that you do the job and set standards. It's not easy but it's not impossible either. The website Urdu Kidz Cartoon has been launched. It will get enriched in the days to come.

Now children who surf the net, can read their favourite cartoons, the ones which we read in 70s, the decade of 80s or even the newer comic characters, in their mother tongue. Spread the word, friends. Such projects need your moral support.

Thank you Taemeer.com. A big thanks to Syed Mukarram Niyaz. I wish to thank each of the team members individually. Thank you Mr Syed Nomaan, Ms Andaleeb, Mr Arshad Jamal Hashami, Mr Jawed Nehal Hashami, Mr Shoaib Saeed Shobi, Mr Ejaz Obaid, Mr Syed Hyderabadi and Mr Sawood Ibn-e-Sayeed.

Netizens had put up old cartoon strips in Hindi [and English] that were published in Indrajal comics in the past, on blogs and sites. However, we hadn't seen such a passion among Urdu-walas till  now. Hope the creation of this website would awaken others as well.

Till now Urdu comics were not easily available in India. I am not aware about the situation in Pakistan though.

Just last month I had written the post 'No cartoons, comics in Urdu newspapers' on this blog and had written a post earlier also.

Within a month, I am witness to the birth of this website. Now it's our job to take the site ahead, in terms of suggestions, at least.

True to the catchline, a site for 'eight to eighty year old kids', as there is a child in every adult, this website fills an existing void. Of course, it is just the beginning. So what are you waiting for? Just logon to the UrduKidzCartoon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Political parties wooing Muslims in Uttar Pradesh elections: SP, Congress aggressively campaign, BJP reluctant, BSP cold

A NEW LOOK SP CAMPAIGN
Most of the political parties are wooing Muslims, who constitute 20% of the electorate in the state. It is not that other caste groups are not being wooed.

But as Muslims are a sizable chunk and spread across the state, there seems an effort to get their vote. Of course, there is a belief that the community votes 'en bloc'.

CONGRESS

Most parties are in this race to get a grab. Posters, banners, advertisements indicate Congress, which is naturally flush with funds, doing the best.

It simply urges electorate to vote them and give them a chance to rule UP after almost 22 years. Its advertisements talk about corruption in central schemes, forcible land acquisition during the BSP rule and issues like poor implementation of Central schemes.

Congress has no dearth of advertisements. In its banners, Muzaffar Ali makes a passionate poetic appeal, asking the voters to bring back UP on track, by supporting Rahul Gandhi. One of the such Urdu couplets, which I read:

 'Ye chiragh jaise lamhe yuuN hi raaigaaN na jayen
  Koi khwab dekh dalo, koi inquilab lao'

SAMAJWADI PARTY

The Samajwadi Party has turned hi-tech. Its campaign is quite sophisticated. Under Akhilesh Yadav, the party has done its best to shed the earlier image, and is now talking about progress to all sections of the society apart from rule of law and justice.

CAN CONGRESS CONNECT WITH THE COMMONER?
Its advertisements show 'elephant' gobbling public funds. The printed ads in Urdu newspapers are also about a bright future--clean roads, parks, stadiums et al.

Clearly, Mulayam Singh Yadav' son and his political heir wants to establish a rapport with the huge young population that is all set to vote in this election.

BSP...err

In sharp contrast, Mayawati's BSP seems to be disconnected with Muslims. It doesn't seem to be making any effort either. Advertisements are missing in Muslim localities. No Urdu pamphlets, advertisements for 'Muslim media' at all. In some constituencies, the contestants on their own have got publicity material printed for minorities.

It is learnt that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) believes the Muslims will do tactical voting, and if BSP's Muslim candidate is in a winning position, they will support it. Hence simply field more Muslims, and forget. Perhaps, this is wishful thinking, as Muslims don't seem enthusiastic about the party.
BJP: WE TOO ARE IN THE RACE

Though in the last election, there was a feeling that BSP is a good alternative even though it had no track record of major welfare steps for the minorities.

This time it seems an altogether different situation. The disenchantment is not about anti-incumbency alone. Muslims say party doesn't care about them at all.

BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY

Even BJP is appealing for a chance. The banners ask voters to support it, for effective law-and-order, and transparency in governance. The morale of BJP cadre is not too high.

Though it has nothing much to expect from Muslims, it hasn't ignored them either. 'Hindutva' is not an issue anymore in UP. Party now talks about development.
The Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid is no longer an issue here. In other states, this may stir passions, but having seen the rise and fall of BJP and its politics here, the voter has no interest in such 'siasat' now.

The party reminds voters that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is supposed to have a following among section of Muslims, was repeatedly elected from Lucknow. BJP is reluctant, yet seeking votes from Muslims.

Even though Uma Bharti's entry was expected to change the mood but except a few constituencies of Bundelkhand, there is no resurgence visible on the ground. She has not been able to make a difference as yet.

Apart from the mainstream parties, the new feature is that over half-a-dozen 'Muslim' parties are in the fray in UP elections. Peace Party has a presence across the state.

Its president Dr Ayub is a well-known face in UP now has put lot of effort in campaign. His candidates also seem quite enthusiastic though its not going to be easy for them to translate this 'response' into votes.

ELEPHANT ATE ALL FUNDS: SP
On the other hand, Ulema Council urges Muslims to vote for it, because it raised the issue about demonizing Azamgarh and the indiscriminate arrest of youths.

The banners with the symbol 'kettle' and couplets, are visible off and on. Other caste groups are also being wooed by the parties in their pockets of influence in similar manner.

Apart from Dalits, Brahmins, Yadavs, Jats, Kurmis, Lodhs, even much smaller castes ranging from Rajbhar to Nonia are all important in this election.

Here we just took a look at the language these parties are speaking to with Muslims. With just a couple of rounds of polling left, the stage is set for results, that will start pouring in on March 6.

Let's see whom the politically aware UP electorate is going to gift the power. Or will it be a hung Assembly, as predicted by several politicians and analysts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

India's Shia street: Passing by Shia Muslim localities in Lucknow

Urdu verses on Karbala on a hoarding at a haveli in Old Lucknow
Recently I had a chance to spent sometime in Shia dominated localities in Lucknow during a short trip.

Though Shias form a sizeable chunk of Muslim population in India, being a minority within a minority, their culture and traditions aren't too discernible to public eye.

Except the rituals during Muharram, there is little focus on the Shia sub-culture among the Indian Muslims.

Though I know many persons belonging to the Shia community, I had no close friend and as a result several aspects about them were not known to me before.

As the ruling family of Oudh was Shiite, the influence of the Shiasm was quite strong on the culture and traditions.

One may not agree entirely but several leading historians and writers ranging from Qurratul Ain Hyder to Amaresh Mishra [author of Lucknow: Fire of Grace] have termed the era of Nawabs of Awadh as a confluence of Brahmin-Shia ethos.

Though that period has passed long ago, Lucknow has dozens of Shia mohallas. And hence the Shia street is more visible in Lucknow. At other places, Moharram is observed for ten days or at the most 40 days every year.
A view of Shia college on the day of Eid-e-Zehra

But in Lucknow the mourning period stretches up to 2 months and eight days [68 days]. The 'Azadari' continues during this entire duration.

Even otherwise, the innumerable monuments and puts Lucknow in a different league as far as Indo-Islamic culture is concerned.

Here elegiac Urdu poetry reached new heights. Poets like Anees and Dabeer were masters of this art form [marsia] and composed long sorrowful verses on the tragedy at Karbala.

Apart from this not much is more to non-Muslims or even Muslims. Frankly, there is often a level of prejudice among Sunnis. However, there is much more to Shia culture in Lucknow. It is not just about Imambadas or the Ashura rituals.

Just a few observations:

1. A couple of months back when I had passed through Nakhas, I'd seen black flags atop all the houses. This time crimson flags were visible everywhere.
View of a street in Old Lucknow

It was Eid-e-Zehra. Though I was well aware about Eid-e-Ghadeer, I came to know about this festival [Eid-e-Zehra] for the first time. I saw colour spread on the streets also to express the .

2. Unlike other Muslim localities where one is used to seeing travel agents' advertisements about Haj and Umrah, here tour operators advertised other trips as well.

They included pilgrimage to places important for Shias that are located in Iran, Iraq, Syria et al.

3. Every few feet one could see posters or pamphets on the walls about a 'majlis'. Most of the posters were in Urdu but some in Hindi and even in Roman Urdu. Many shops had put up boards that 'sheerini' (sweets) for 'tabarruk' to be distributed during the 'majlis' are available.
Poster in Lucknow about Delhi issue

4. Shops were selling casettes and CDs of 'nauhas' [poetic genre about events that led to the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Husain AS and his companions at the battle in Karbala].

The posters announced arrival of new 'nauhas' and about facility of downloads on cellphones also. CDs and DVDs include that of marsias, salams, manqabats, nauhas et al.

5. The incident involving alleged police high-handedness at Karbala Jor Bagh [Delhi's Dargah Shah Mardan] seemed to have a strong reaction in Lucknow.

The walled city had billboards in abundance about the Sheila Dixit government's mishandling of the issue and Congress' anti-Shia stance. Another notable feature in Shia quarters is that many people are seen dressed in black.

6. Huge posters dotted the streets. There were long messages in Urdu from religious heads.

Also, photographs and life size images of the clerics were seen.
Posters in Walled Lucknow about 'majlis' and Eid-e-Zehra
7. Advertisements about Shia TV channels and websites were also seen.

A day [or two] later, there was again a clash between Shias and Sunnis, strange Lucknow phenomenon. The city has no history of Hindu-Muslim rioting except a communal clash. But this sectarian issue continues to take the form of street fights here.

It was after years of agitation that the processions of the sects were allowed. I have a feeling that if such law-and-order issues continue during the Azadari or Madah-e-Sahaba Juloos, the administration might be forced to restrict the processions once again.

After writing this post, I realised that I had now written a couple of posts on Shias:

1. Indian Shias: Poor political representation despite substantial population

2. Hidden Heritage: Coming across a Shia shrine in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh

3. Shias focus on acquiring more political clout

4. Shia-Sunni blackboards in Lucknow