Thursday, December 25, 2014

Terrorist or 'Rebel': Bodo terrorists kill 70 in Assam, yet it is not 'Terrorism'

The heavily armed members of banned outfit, fired on unarmed women and children, killing at least 70 persons in cold blood, and yet this is not termed as a 'terrorist attack'!

This has happened once again in India. On Tuesday, as details began emerging--the death toll rising from 11 to 34, and later crossing 50, most of the TV channels avoided the story.

On certain English channels, it was visible in the scroll, but many 'national channels' had no time for it. For them, results of Jammu & Kashmir election, was the sole important story of the day.

Certain channels had changed their entire home page on the website for the day, and it had nothing except poll results. Such was the brutality that a kid was shot seven times. LINK

Of those dead, around 40 were women and children. Yet none of the major news groups termed it a 'terrorist attack' in plain words, despite the fact that NDFB(S) is also a banned outfit just like Naxals, SIMI or other such extremist outfits.

In fact, words used in morning newspapers on Wednesday, showed the attitude of Indian media towards such acts. Even word like militant, radical or extremist was avoided in the newspapers. For Hindi papers, they are 'Ugravadi' not 'Aatankvadi'. Strange.

Telegraph, which is published from Kolkata (West Bengal), a state neighbouring Assam, carried the news in brief on its front page. See news encircled in red on the left. That's how they treat such a massacre, despite the number of deaths!

The headlines were either 'Massacre in Assam' or 'Rebels kill 40', [not terrorists kill 40 or 70] forget bold headlines which are otherwise visible, along with photographs and adjoining stories of outrage. Why? Do you have any answer? Later, in follow-up stories, most papers termed it as 'Assam violence'.

Many papers didn't carry the news on front page. In fact, there have been incidents when one or two persons injured in a suspected extremist attack, has been enough to shake the nation, because of the hysteric round-the-clock coverage. So who is a terrorist and who is a militant or a rebel? Time for definition!


If gunshots don't make it a terror attack, then there is another example. Just three days ago, a blast in Manipur had killed three migrants. It wasn't a 'terrorist attack' either for TV channels and newspapers.

Clearly, if the perpetrator is a Maoist or a non-Muslim group, there there is no need for outrage. Numbers are just numbers. There is no outrage, nothing about modules, leaders of the outfit, its members, its aims, its past history and its 'threat to the nation'.

Dangerous Distinction: Indian media must introspect, be objective in reporting

It is very clear that our media indulges has double standards in covering incidents, depending on ethnicity or religion of the perpetrators.

Why else, one of the biggest massacres on Indian soil, in recent years, was simply hushed up?

Once incident in which no one is killed may be termed a 'terrorist attack' and another in which dozens are killed, could be simply hushed up or ignored.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, whether for TRP or because of biased mindsets, this is happening regularly.

It is poisoning the society. Certain incidents are blown up and panic is created by non-stop coverage while others are blacked out. Shouldn't journalists and media houses be objective and show the correct picture or at least adhere to a certain guideline and agree to using similar terms for similar acts of violence irrespective of perpetrating group and its ethnicity.

If one incident in which 70 persons are killed, is not termed terrorism and the story is not splashed on front page, and only particular incidents are treated as 'cases of terror', then, it is very dangerous game, as it is calculated game to condition minds, stuff biases in the minds of people and misinform the society. Isn't it?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Greatest sporting icons Muhammad Ali, Pele and Sobers: Heroes of an Indian sports lover; coincidence all three of them are black!

In a conversation with a friend over the greatest sports icons, I instantly took names of three names--Muhammad Ali, Pele and Sobers.

The names just came out without giving much thought. In fact, I later thought over it again, but I couldn't find anyone else who fits in this league.

When I and those in my generation (who were born in seventies and began appreciating sports in the 1980s), these three sports stars were already icons for decades. We grew up with elders talking about them and reading about their heroics.

For the sports crazy, it's an exhilarating thought, something not easy to explain, that one just feels happy with the thought we have lived in this era and have the honour to see the sports persons. All of them are now septuagenarians.

Icons--they are in an altogether different league, those who are simply incomparable with other players or sports stars. In other sports, like Tennis, you may have Rod Laver, Bill Tilden, Don Budge or the Jordans and Johnsons, in Basketball, but none of them come close to my idea of an icon.

You may personally love a McEnroe or Roger Federer or more, but icons are different. An icon is an sportsperson who not only enthralls the world but inspires entire generations with their actions, both on and off the field, and the mention of whose name evokes respect.

While Pele and Ali are great sportsmen, for the cricket crazy Gary Sobers evokes similar respect and passion.

In our childhood, we heard that there was the incomparable Sir Don [Bradman], who hit 29 centuries in 52 tests, with an average of over 99.

But it was Sobers, who was almost an equal legend, in the second half of the 20th century.

Garfield St Auburn Sobers excelled in every sphere of the game. He amassed over 8,000 runs in his test cricket with more than 200 wickets, apart from nearly 100 catches, and his impact on cricket world was tremendous. For ages, his 365* was the highest individual innings of a batsman.

And, in the twilight of his career, it was he alone who could score 254 and demolish Dennis Lille, who was in his prime. Boxing legend Ali had the guts to speak up and take a strong [and highly controversial in those days] stand on the Vietnam war.

It is a strange coincidence that all these three icons are black. In the era when Apartheid existed [till late 80s in South Africa], they were role models and heroes for youths and sports lovers across the world. Ali is now 72, Pele is 74, and Sobers, 78.

Like Ali, Sobers and Pele also played an important role in confronting the racial prejudices and the idea of White supremacy. Great men, inspirational figures and statesmen, there is no one close to them in the world of sports.

Long Live, Pele, Ali and Sobers, my heroes.

READ: Story of Muhammad Ali, how he became symbol of resistance and hero of the world

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Taliban are NOT HUMAN, surely NOT: Islamic world, leaders must stand up, go beyond condemnation to tackle the monsters and their ideology

The Taliban are NOT HUMAN.


Which ideology, belief or motivation can turn humans to become monsters and kill innocent children with such brutality.

They are not MUSLIMS
They are not HUMANS

The world must shun Taliban and their ideology.
Muslim world must stand up and take a decisive step.

Taliban are MONSTERS
Taliban are not HUMANS

Ulema, citizens, should say loud and clear, that all these groups are outside the pale of humanity and religion. After the attack in the school in Peshwar in Pakistan, that's the smallest first step which is needed. If this doesn't wake up everyone in Pakistan, against the Taliban, what else will?

Taliban MONSTERS. You have shamed us all. 

Media's excessive, hysteric coverage of Australia hostage crisis led to worldwide panic: Is one madman enough to scare us all?

The Australian hostage crisis was no doubt serious but the amount of coverage it was given--live reporting across the world, for nearly 14 hrs, created panic across the globe.

Is it fair? Is one madman or a criminal [and his actions] in a city [Sydney] enough to create scare in the entire world?

No one says that it was a minor incident. But it is also a fact that it is not the first such case. Hostage situations regularly take place in cities across the world.

The amount of live coverage and the publicity given to the incident, is astonishing. Aren't we terrorising ourselves?

Isn't it that any nutcase or delusional person or a hardcore criminal--who either wants attention or is lunatic, can now do a criminal act, and know that he would be able to create scare in the world for a day.

Media's high-pitched coverage across the world led to such a panic that everywhere people were discussing this incident. Even heads of states in other countries were being briefed about it, TV channels reported.

Aren't we giving too much attention and publicity to criminals and giving them ideas? Media must introspect. There are incidents of much bigger magnitude--in terms of abductions and deaths, but they were never played up in this manner.

Is it because it happened in Australia, and incidents in particular countries get more attention. Just like incidents in Africa, Latin America, East Asia are ignored! However, by any standards, the coverage was excessive.

Incidents of gunmen who have killed dozens in US in recent incidents, never got this much coverage. The Sydney siege and the manner in which media played up, is definitely disturbing. For the sake of eyeballs--for getting more viewers, an unfolding story is reported live and it creates paranoia all over.

Australia government, officials' role praiseworthy

The Australian government, officials and their people must be praised for their role. They dealt with the situation deftly.

Their maturity level was clearly visible. Australia's prime minister Tony Abott on TV said that it appeared to be the work of a 'politically motivated perpetrator', however, in India, a leading Hindi TV channel was translating it into 'Aatankwadi', even when not a single bullet had been fired.

The hashtag #illridewithyou on Twitter to show solidarity with Muslims, must be praised. It was no small gesture, given the kind of coverage and its possible backlash. We Salute you my Australian brothers and sisters for it. 

In comparison, in India, TV channels suspended other stories and throughout the day, aired it. In fact, a bomb blast in Manipur in which a person was killed and five were injured, was not even mentioned. See LINK

The world has definitely shrunk but in process, have our brains, especially of those in the media, shrunk too?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hindi shouldn't become India's national language, says eminent Hindi author in literary festival in Raipur

When renowned Hindi poet and author Ashok Vajpeyi, said that Hindi isn't India's national language and should not be one, the newspapers lapped it up and published the statement in a big way.

Vajpeyi, 73, was speaking at Raipur literary festival in Chhattisgarh.

He said what is not commonly spoken--the fact that Hindi is not Rashtriya Bhasha.

No wonder, some newspapers tried to sensationalise the statement.

Vajpeyi said that Hindi was never India's national language, but it was often termed as a national language.

"Nowhere in constitution, it is written that Hindi is national language", he was quoted in Patrika newspaper. Aajtak reported, "It is a foolish thought that why Hindi is not our national language. After all, why should it be the national language.

If Hindi has to be national language, then why not Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada--languages in which wonderful literature is being penned". [SEE LINKS of the reports HERE & HERE]

"India is not just a country but one of the most ancient and composite civilisations of the world. The beauty of India is in diversity", he was quoted. Dainik Bhaskar carried the story as a lead in the paper.

It quoted  him saying that when one language is made the sole national language, it becomes a 'tanashah' [dictator]. LINK

There are many languages in India and all of them should be celebrated."

Vajpeyi is a poet, intellectual and a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award for his poetry. He was also chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi. The Raipur Sahitya Sammelan concluded in Chhattisgarh recently.


What Vajpeyi said may shock many people in the Hindi heartland, but it is true. Hindi is an official language along with English [Rajbhasha, not Rashtriya bhasha], but not national language.

In fact, all the 20-odd languages listed in the eighth schedule have equal status in the country. The Gujarat High Court had also held that there is no national language in India. See another report in The Hindu and a blog post on IBN website.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bengaluru woman's race slur charge turns out to be fiction: She had attacked burqa clad women, then played the victim card

It is a sad story that how an educated and privileged woman, who is the daughter of an ex-MP, falsely claimed that she was racially abused but it turned out that she was the aggressor and her lie was exposed thanks to CCTV footage.

Rachel Sangliana's allegation that two women at a supermarket racially abused her, drew instant attention. The reason was that her allegation that she was targeted for her looks, struck a chord. There have been many incidents when people from North East, have been targeted.

Hence, it was taken seriously. Retired Supreme court judge, Markandeya Katju, who has a huge following on Facebook, also expressed concern. Rachel had claimed that the women told her that, 'We are Indians, you go to China", as per media reports.

She claimed that she was also assaulted. Outrage was expected and it happened. The incident had made headlines. Firstpost wrote, "The image of India's I-T capital Bangalore as 'one of the most cosmopolitan cities' has taken yet another hit..."

TV channels, newspapers were also quick to take up the issue. But the other side of the story came out soon. The supermarket staff testified that it was Rachel, who had used provocative language against the burqa clad women and told them to go to Pakistan.

Also, camera footage showed that the women didn't use racial slur, and it was she who did it. This was the reason, apparently, that she wasn't keen on filing an FIR earlier. But the later developments didn't lead to any outrage. In fact, it wasn't covered in media well.

Rachel Sangliana's father was police commissioner in Bangalore and also a member of parliament (MP) later. The burqa clad women's trolley had dashed her leg but the women had apologised. Still, she shouted, raised her hand at one of them and even asked them to go to Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Further, she made a false claim of being a victim of racist attack. While the incident shows how people who have connections, can play the 'victim' card, and create sensation. Thanks to technology (camera), the entire episode can be seen and other side of the story can be probed.

Else, the one who shouts and plays the 'victim' card well, gets away, despite being at fault. Hopefully, a proper police investigation will reveal the truth.

See links

1. CCTV footage shows Sangliana's daughter slapped first

2. Twist in tale: Bangalore cop's daughter told burkha clad woman to 'go back to Pakistan'

Monday, December 01, 2014

Media and national security: How Indian media views Burdwan, Manipur blasts differently

This post once again brings to fore the serious issue that how our media is now viewing incidents of similar nature, differently, and is creating scare in one situation while it completely ignores the other.

For weeks, in fact, two months, everyone on the national security beat in TV channels and newspapers, seem to be talking about Burdwan blast in West Bengal. 

It is being described as one of the biggest issues as far as law-and-order is concerned. Day after day, we see reports about it, the concerns expressed in this regard.

Top officials go to Burdwan [now Bardhaman], politicians take up the issue and media has made it a national security issue of such magnitude, which we haven't seen in the last  year or so. 

It's fine because that's the job of investigative agencies to look into anti-national activities. We all agree that such disruptive elements [like those involved in Burdwan blast] should be chased, caught and completely crushed

However, it is not that fanatic elements haven't died while making IEDs or bombs before in the country. From Bajrang Dal activists in Kanpur to Himanshu Panse's module in Nanded, Maharashtra, there has been a long list. None of these incidents in the past got as much media focus. 

Still, we must welcome the media's seriousness towards it. But, the recent blast in Manipur, remained off the media radar. In fact, after the incident, there was hardy any special stories, capsules or discussions in prime time. It was not even carried in the headlines by 'national' channels.

In one report on IBN Live website, the headline was 'Blast in Manipur kills one'. Read this short report at IBN website at this LINKThis incident was serious, especially, as it happened just before Prime Minister's visit to the region. 

In fact, this report in IBN didn't even mention that the 'person' who died was a child. It wasn't taken seriously, else the report could have been updated, as it happens later in online reports. Other papers, channels and agencies also didn't consider it worth reporting. 

It was a general report with no focus on the organisations or extremist groups involved in the incident. Prime time discussions weren't conducted. If TV has no time or finds little TRP on North East, newspapers could have covered the story properly. But no, there was no interest or focus.


Of course, nothing about modules, no suspects, no Terrorism angle, no name of terrorist or extremist outfits or worries about threat to India's security. There have been no follow-up stories either about this incident. Just one Hindi newspaper, Amar Ujala, on its website gave the news some importance. LINK

In fact, we hear nothing about arrests of suspects, which otherwise continues for days, nothing, just nothing. Silence. That's not the first. Of course, we know West Bengal will go to polls 2 yrs from now. We also see other developments. [Also, read the report in Asian Age]

But does it mean that media would take one incident so seriously that it would go on to demonise all Madarsas, and go to obscene levels of reporting. And in a similar other incident, there is hardly any effort to even report it, let alone talk about outfits, ideologies, local factors, law-and-order issues.

The factors are clear. Certain states and their demography, and presence of certain outfits in these regions, stir media more, than say, states that have outfits of different ideologies or even Naxals. The latter may commit even more heinous acts, but they aren't taken seriously. 

No wonder, media's credibility has hit rock bottom. But isn't this too worrying?

Monday, November 17, 2014

2.5 lakh votes polled, Congress candidate gets just 1,000: Where has Congress' traditional vote gone?


Isn't it shocking that more than 2.5 lakh voters exercise their franchise in an Assembly constituency and while the candidates who come first and second secured well over 1 lakh votes each, the Congress candidate who comes fourth gets just 1035 votes.

NCP candidate had got 1.23 lakh votes and Shiv Sena candidate got 1.17 lakh. Just 0.4% of the voters in the constituency chose Congress.The question comes naturally that where has Congress' traditional vote disappeared?

This happened in Kagal constituency in Maharashtra. But that's not the lone example.

Such trends were witnessed in many other seats in the recently held state elections in Maharashtra, which was seen as a traditional Congress' state.

I find it shocking because we all know there were [are] people who are traditional Congress voters.

Irrespective of their caste or community, they were staunch 'Congressi', and whenever they went to the polling booth, they simply pushed the button and voted for 'hand' [Congress symbol]. But it seems this breed has now vanished.


In the first part, we had analysed the reasons Muslims are angry with the Congress. The issues, which the community has with the party, especially, the long-standing grievances and party's failure to even give a patient hearing to Muslims, let alone take action.

But, it is not just about Muslims. It seems everybody is upset with the way Congress is functioning. During election campaign, it often happens, that on the eve of polling, it gets clear that only two candidates are in the race, and the remaining candidates are relegated to the background.

Still, if Congress' candidate gets just 1,000 votes, it shows how much ground Congress has lost. One after the other, the Rural voter, the Poor, the Dalits, the Tribals, the Minorities, all have left the Congress. 

Even the most committed traditional Congress voter seems getting disenchanted with the party. 

We earlier talked about Muslim dominated constituencies in Haryana, where Congress' Muslim candidates came 4th and 5th.

In Maharashtra too, there is a trend. It is not about Muslim voting for a 'Muslim candidate or a Muslim party'. In Aurangabad, there was clear Muslim support for MIM, and hence one can understand Congress' poor show.

In Aurangabad east, BJP's Atul Moreshwar Save's victory over Dr Abdul Ghaffar Qadri. Both got over 60,000 votes. But a veteran like Congress' Rajendra Darda got just over 20,000 votes. On Aurangabad central, Congress' MM Shaikh came 6th.

Shaikh got just 9,000 votes. Shiv Sena, BJP, NCP, MIM and even BSP candidates got more votes than the Congress. It is clear that Congress' core vote bank has diminished. At many Muslim majority constituencies, Muslims overwhelmingly voted for non-Muslim candidates of parties other than Congress.

In Mumbra, Jitendra Awhad is a popular man and hence the NCP candidate was favoured heavily by Muslim electorate, who didn't choose Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) or any other Muslim candidate from here.

Awhad got 86,000 votes and won by a huge margin from Mumbra. The Shiv Sena candidate came second with 38,000 votes. MIM and BJP came third and fourth. Congress' Muslim candidate Yasin Qureshi came 5th with just over 3,847 votes.


Many feel that the fall in Congress' vote share is a temporary phenomenon. The examples of Janata Party era [1977], the National Front's rise [1989] and the loss of Congress in late 90s, are given, to prove that Congress will again bounce back.

There may be some merit in this argument. Also, BJP's rise can't be permanent. But the fact is that BJP has expanded its voter base. On the other hand Congress has disenchanted its voters, due to a host of reasons.

From inaction to poor communication with its electorate, Congress has a lot to do to get back the 'connect' with the people. Congress' organisational structure has weakened across the country. In the sixties and seventies, the party had Indira Gandhi.

Congress had a charismatic leader like Rajiv Gandhi. After its defeat in the 90s, Sonia Gandhi rejuvenated the party. But today, its leaders don't inspire, don't instill any confidence, and that's the sad reality.

Party has lost its voters' confidence in large parts of the country. To reclaim it is a colossal task, and what Rahul Gandhi is doing about it> It is this situation which brings Congress candidates to just 1,000 votes in an Assembly election, less than its candidates used get in a municipal ward election.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Growing sectarianism among Indian Muslims: Trend of criticizing the 'other' sects, terming their practices as 'un-Islamic'


The growing sectarianism within Muslims, especially, the Sunnis in India, which I exerienced this year on Muharram, has left me deeply disturbed.

The sects and sub-sects existed earlier too. The Shia-Sunni conflict was no issue on the street anywhere in India, except in Lucknow.

In fact, people from all the sects, observed Muharram as per their own traditions. In the last couple of years, I had seen hardening of attitudes within Sunnis.

It seemed neither the Deobandis, nor the Barelvis, whom I knew, 'approve' of the way Muharram is observed. [See the TEN POINTS below]

Most of these people have less issues with people of other religions, but for their co-religionists [other sects], they have nothing but obsessive hatred.

Over the years, I had observed that criticism of other sects was getting more common in sects. But it's during Muharram, you see the ire so openly. This is really sad as it is one of the most syncretic traditions in India, in which all communities including non-Muslims, actively take part.

I see our shared culture in the way Muharram is observed in India. The manner in which non-Muslims take part in Ashura, show the basic nature of the people the land--respect for all religions, coexistence and communal harmony.

This year, I realised the extent of sectarian hate that has penetrated the Muslim society in India too. In fact, over the years, it has steadily grown. This is all the more ironic that even after seeing the situation in neighbouring country, no lesson has been learnt.

Now let me give you just two examples:

A. A newspaper posts pictures of Shias performing 'maatam' during the mourning procession, on its Facebook page, where its news links are shared. Within hours, there was a deluge of comments on the post of the paper.

Young Muslim boys and girls recklessly commenting--criticising, condemning and straight terming it as 'un-Islamic'. There was rage and hate in their language. The zeal to run down the 'other' was sickening. People adhering to other religions made few comments, and they weren't harsh.

B. The moment a person talked about 'Muharram' within a Muslim group-forum on internet, there were angry comments, terming 'Shias as non-Muslim', or all those taking part in 'Akhada or carrying Tazia as 'outside the pale of Islam'.

For two days, I kept commenting and replying until I realised that one just can't talk to them. Even to most civilised comments, there were angry responses from people who were just not ready to listen to anything.

As I have earlier also pointed out. the hate was especially for 'other sects' within Islam. No issues with non-Muslims, of course. That's also a unique phenomenon. But if minds are closed in such a way, I don't have much hopes at all, on that front too.
The procession of Tazias in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, Central India


1. FIRST problem with such people is that they instantly term any practice or tradition that has been observed for centuries, as 'un-Islamic'. There is no trace of tolerance.

The basic point is that when you belong to sect X, why do you expect member of sect Y to behave like you? Do they expect you to behave like them? But there is no answer to any such questions.

2. If you try to reason, the next line is straight, 'all those doing this [either mourning or taking Tazias] are 'non-Muslims'. Now, if you are all 'Ulema' and all are armed with the power to issue 'fatwa' terming any fellow Muslim as 'non-Muslim, then you should surely have no business with them. They are not Muslims, so ignore them. Why think about them?


3. Perhaps, the 'anger' is more because you feel that 'they follow your religion (Muslim) and are acting otherwise'. But who decides what is correct or incorrect. Everyone has their own interpretations. Mostly, one learns things from traditions and elders of the family.

It is like the religion you are born in. You talk of your tradition, but it may be just 200 years old. The other tradition, which you see as 'corrupted Islam' may be 1,200 years old. Who will decide who is correct or incorrect.


4. If you feel they are incorrect and you want to reform them or turn them like you, it is also impossible. Just because they too would want the same. And by straight starting with contemptuous talk, branding them as 'un-Islamic' and 'outside pale of Islam', how do you even expect to start a decent dialogue!

Then, whom it helps? You just satisfy your ego, by recklessly commenting on others, because you feel just your sect is right and you are the truly guided. Isn't it? Because your comments won't help anyone, at all. They just increase the hate and widen the gulf.


5. In fact, the minds are so closed that they are not willing to even listen. They instantly believe that a person who is walking with a Tazia, is performing idolatory, or someone who is hurting himself, is not a Muslim.

To you, your faith and beliefs, to them theirs--is the Islamic philosophy. Isn't it? Is it permissible in Islam to judge a fellow Muslim's 'iman' and term him as 'Muslim or non-Muslim'? Who the hell are you?


6. This passion is not visible elsewhere. There are hardly such activism when larger values of liberty and justice are at stake in one or the other country. These are the basic Islamic values but there are no such passion visible then.

7. Why the sudden passion and madness when it comes to Muharram or a few other practices during other festivals. What's the source of this joy which you derive from critizing and badmouthing people of other sects?
Tazias lined up in Dharmpuri, a small town in predominantly tribal Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh, India


8. Who gave you the authority? A person who is truly religious would rather be concerned about his own actions and worry about whether God is pleased with him, rather than casting aspersions on others.

For over a 1,000 years, major Islamic Ulema, never passed such judgments even on sects that bordered on heresy. Why every Tom, Dick and Harry has become a champion in terming any other sect-walla as 'non-Muslim'. Earlier, too the sects were there.

But the people were then tolerant and there was no question of opposing others' practices. If they personally didn't follow something, they joined or simply stayed away, remaining silent. But now, it's objecting and terming others 'non-Muslim', which is disgusting.


9. Many are dismissive of the 'rustic' or 'backward' looking rituals. The reality is that these traditions have evolved over centuries of co-existence and confluence of cultures--the strength of Islam, but your narrow-minded vision just can't see it.

For many, it smacks of a bad image of Islam. That's even a bigger joke. If the majority among us really had such worries about the image of Islam, no Western media or anything else [which you blame] would have tarnished our image to this extent.


10. It is this madness--'Only I am Right, all others are Wrong', which is responsible for this situation. And all these are now supposedly educated but acting like the trolls on Internet. Seeing how people get hostile and make it difficult to even engage with them, is simply painful.

The bigotry, the sectarian intolerance and the madness to expect others to act the way it should happen in your view--it's utterly disgusting and moronic. Frankly, now I don't know which sect I belong to, and I am not joking.

The reason is that I am a Sunni, but for me Muharram symbolises Imam Husain's sacrifice. If such is the level of discord, I wish to be known as a sect-less Muslim. In the concluding line, I hope that better sense will prevail someday. But will it?

[Note: While Shias take out 'Alams', the Tazias are mostly brought out by Sunnis and often Hindus. Among Sunnis, official position in sub-sects may be against it now, but the lower middle class, those of artisan class and the poor participate actively in Muharram. Also, there are certain caste groups too who observe Muharram more fervently]

SEE EARLIER POST: Muharram traditions, pictures of Ashura from Central India

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Muharram in India: Mourning for Imam Husain's martyrdom, Ashura traditions in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh


India is a vast country and Muharram is observed across the length and breadth of the nation.

Not just Muslims, Hindus too take part in Muharram. In fact, Muharram reflects local culture in each state and region of the country.

From district to district, the shapes and forms of Tazias, the rituals differ. However, the passion remains same among Muslims and Hindus.

Muharram in small cities, towns

Generally, photographs from major cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Hyderabad are seen in newspapers and media. In major cities in Central India like Jabalpur, Bhopal, Raipur, Indore, Bilaspur and Gwalior, Muharram is observed on a big scale.

Khargone, MP
In Bhopal alone, nearly 700 Tazias are taken out on Yaum-e-Ashura--the 10th of Islamic month of Muharram.

But this post deals with Muharram observances in smaller towns in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The reason is that from these places photographs don't generally reach the people, as media ignores small towns.

On the left is the photograph of Tazias in Panna, a small town in Madhya Pradesh.

The Tazias are quite high and the shape is also unique. The second photo shows a Tazia in Khargone, a tribal dominated region in South Eastern MP.

Imam Husain's horse, Zul-Jinah, is often seen on tazias. Here, its size is quite big.

Sarkari Tazia, Indore
Sarkari Tazia

The next photograph shows the 'Sarkari Tazia' in Indore. It is brought out from the era when Holkar was a princely state.

The person accompanying the Tazia is seen wearing the traditional Maratha dress and the headgear.

Sarkari Tazias are brought out in dozens of cities in MP and Chhattisgarh, It is an old tradition.

It dates backs to the era of princely states, when Muharram was observed under state patronage.

Though the Rajas and Nawabs are no more, these Tazias continue to be brought out with the same enthuiasm.

Mostly Sunnis, Hindus take out Taziyas

For many, who aren't aware, it needs to be clarified that Shias take out 'Alams' and perform the 'maatam' viz. beating their chests to express their grief over the martyrdom of Imam Husain.

Begamganj, MP
Sunnis and Hindus take out Tazias. In MP, 'sawaris' or persons who are possessed, are also a distinct feature of the Ashura.

Hindus, especially, women go to the 'sawari' and make their wishes. Also, they seek the 'sawari's blessings.

Irrespective of religion, the kids are made to bow their head and walk under the Tazia.

It is considered auspicious by the devotees.The mourners chant 'Ya Husain'. Urdu verses are played on loud speakers.

Those addressing the gatherings during the procession, rue that they weren't there during the battle, to fight along side the Imam.

Many people walk barefoot towards the local Karbala. Shias whiplash themselves and show their devotion.

Kunkuri, Chhattisgarh

Sherbet is also distributed on the way to the local Karbala [at the water body] in each town.

In the procession, there are also Akhadas where youth show their acrobatics.Also, traditional Indian martial arts are displayed. Those in procession recite elegiac verses.

On the right is the photograph of fireworks at Begamganj town in Raisen district in central MP.

On the eve of 10th of Islamic month of Muharram, there is a display of such fireworks at many places.

People also walk on fire or burning coal, to show their devotion. The fifth photograph shows a tazia being taken away on a cycle-rickshaw.

Chhindwara, MP

This is the photo from Kunkuri in remote Chhattisgarh. The children also accompany the tazia.

Interestingly, most of the people who build tazia, and work for days to complete it, belong to lower-middle class or poor section of the society.

They save hard earned money to build the tazia, because of their devotion and the sense of tradition.

A tazia is a replica of Imam Husain's 'rauza' or tomb.  Muharram is observed to commemorate Imam Husain, his family and companion's martyrdom.


On the right is a boy dressed as tiger in Chhindwara in MP. This is also an aspect of Muharram observance in central India and Maharashtra. Many families praying for child, take a vow that if the kid is born, they would turn him into 'Husain's sher (tiger)'.

Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh

The practice continues till date. Similarly, there are many other associated traditions that vary from regions to region.

First, the treachery and later the brutality with which Husain, his family and companions including children, were killed, shocked the Islamic world.

Husain was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. The battle of Karbala took place nearly fourteen centuries ago in Iraq.

Bhilai, Chhattisgarh
Husain stood for principles. He refused to swear allegiance to the tyrant Yazid who was turning Caliphate into a hereditary rule.

Centuries have passed but the tragedy continues to inspire people and gives them the courage to stand for truth.

On the left is the photograph of a procession of Tazias in Bhilai in Chhattisgarh. There is a long line of brightly lit Tazias, which move around in the town before immersion.

The big photograph shows Guru Nanak Jayanti procession passing on the same street, where a Tazia procession is also moving.

This photo is from Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh. Read posts on Muharram traditions published on this blog in the past.


1. Muharram observed in India: Photos from Western, Southern and Eastern India.

2. Most famous Urdu, Persian verses, poetry on the message behind Husain's sacrifice. SEE THE LINK

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Why Muslims don't want to vote for Congress, not even willing to consider party as second or third option?


After Congress' loss in Haryana and Maharashtra, which was not unexpected, a lot of things were analysed but an important aspect was not mentioned.

I don't see anyone discussing the trend of Muslims' voting pattern--not considering Congress even as second or third option. Did you notice the recent voting trend in Haryana? More than 52% Muslims voted for INLD, 27% to other parties and JUST 16% MUSLIMS voted for Congress in Haryana.

We will delve into the statistics, the trend, reasons and implications too. But do remember that this happened in Haryana, not a state like Maharashtra where Muslims have severe issues with Congress or UP-Bihar.

In states like Haryana, Rajasthan, MP, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Muslims are considered traditional Congress voters. But if just one in six Muslims are voting for the Congress, it is not ordinary.

This is alarming for the party, as even after BJP's victory in Lok Sabha, and the supposed feeling among large sections that Muslims tend to vote for Congress to keep BJP away from power, the minorities didn't vote enthusiastically for Congress.

First, let's see the Muslim majority constituencies in Haryana, from where Muslim contestants got elected to the Assembly. The trend is same at all these seats. It seemed Muslims didn't want to vote for Congress, at all.


In Ferozepur Jhirka, most of the Muslim electorate didn't even think of voting for Congress candidate, who faced the humiliation of coming fifth, after two independents who got more votes than him.
Imagine, this is not UP where there are many parties like SP, BSP, RLD, Peace Party, Ulema Council et al.

Still, such is the situation! INLD's Naseem Ahmed won the seat by securing 40,000 votes.

Independent M Khan came second with 37,000 votes, followed by another independent Aman Ahmed who got 18,000 votes. BJP's Alam too got 16,540 votes. Congress' Azad Mohammad got just 15,943 votes.


In Punahana, such was the disenchantment with Congress that its candidate was no where in the race. While Independent Raees Khan got 34,000 votes, INLD's M Ilyas came second with 31,000 votes.

Even BJP's Iqbal Bhai got double the number of votes secured by Congress' Muslim candidate. Iqbal got 25,135 votes while Congress' Subhan Khan got 12,809 votes to come fourth.


In Nuh, INLD's Zakir Hussain won the election.

He convincingy defeated the Congress candidate, getting more than double the votes polled by him.

Hussain got 64,000 votes whilge Congress' Aftab Ahmed secured merely 31,000 votes.

Clearly, this is a major trend. If it is happening in a state like Haryana, you can imagine, how serious is Muslims' disenchantment with Congress.

Also, we will discuss Maharashtra in later posts. But this is pan-Indian phenomenon. There are several reasons. The two seats to MIM in Maharashtra got excessive focus in the media.

Reality is Muslims will vote for anyone other than Congress--from INLD to SP-BSP, AAP [as in last Delhi elections] or even Independents. It is not about going for a Muslim party because of choice, but because of 'majboori'.

In the surrounding din [MIM win], the trends like the
heightened disenchantment of Muslims with Congress were not analysed properly.

What about Sachar panel, Caste-based reservation demand, prison population!

1. Muslims voted for any party or candidate other than Congress. For the last 10 years, UPA was in government, but did it act on Sachar panel's recommendations. Congress did nothing about the Communal violence bill.

2. The presidential ordinance that bars Muslim and Christian Dalits from reservations was enforced during Congress rule, and despite vehement protests and demands to bring these communities in the ambit of caste reservations, UPA didn't act in 10 years.

3. Did it do anything about the fact that more than 35% inmates in jails in Maharashtra were Muslim, a vast number among them, under-trial prisoners. It gave the impression that it is pro-Muslim, but it shied from taking any step that would be seen as 'appeasement'.

4. It fell in a 'secular trap'. Congress has lost Dalits in UP-Bihar-MP-Chhattisgarh and many other states. It also lost tribal vote. Muslims are now forced to vote for it in exceptional circumstances, only in a few states.

5. They don't at all think of the party in UP. However, Congress refuses to learn. It feels Muslims will keep on voting for it. It forgets that Muslims want nothing, just basic respect and a bit of listening and action on their just demands.

6. The most basic thing is to ensure that there is no communal riot and the expectation that government would take action against those involved in excesses, torture or violation of human rights. On the contrary, there are killings--firing on the chest, riots, and yet, no stern action.

CONGRESS-ruled states were WORSE than BJP-ruled STATES IN tackling COMMUNAL RIOTS, KILLINGS in last couple of years

7. Congress talks of Gujarat carnage, which Muslims haven't forgotten, but it easily forgets that in the last couple of years, the worst killings of Muslims took place during Congress regimes, which haven't been forgotten either.

8. Assam repeatedly burnt and the horrific killings in BTAD, led to nationwide outrage but Congress couldn't stop it timely. No action was taken against Chief Minister. The same had happened earlier in Gopalgarh killings in Rajasthan. No action was taken against CM.

9. In Maharashtra, the Dhule killings, were treated as non-issue by ruling Congress. Just that we can't forget. The issue of non-implementing Sri Krishna panel report of Mumbai riots, has been repeatedly mentioned on this blog.

10. Once again, I would have to say that the situation in Maharashtra was such that Congress' mis-rule have now prepared the Muslims for the worst situations. Jo hoga jhelengu but you go now. In 1992-93, the Mumbai riots were during Congress regime, not Sena-BJP rule.

Lastly, I am not at all a BJP fan. But if you [Congress] are sincere, do introspect, accept your failures and work to ensure for providing a life of safety and dignity to people, who vote to you to power. You feel Muslims have no option, because if they vote for non-Congress candidate, their vote will get wasted.

Ok, we will waste the vote, but won't give it to you*. That's perhaps, lot of us feel today. 


If you want to understand the context, the reasons for anger,desperation and disgust among Muslims, you should read these posts. 

[Percent of Muslims who voted for Congress obtained through CSDS survey. Published in Indian Express.]
[*Congress will get vote when it acts like Congress, work on the ideology of a real centrist party, as per the aspirations of the early leaders. More on this later]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Diwali celebrations in Sindh and other regions of Pakistan: Communal Harmony Project-23

On the left is the official message by Government of Sindh, Pakistan in the leading newspaper 'Dawn'.

It wishes 'Happy Diwali' to all, along with the Nazm [poetry] titled, 'Diwali ki raat, Khushiyo.n ki barsaat'.

The advertisement carries photographs of PPP leaders, which most of us identify.

It also has names of Mahesh Kumar Chawla, who is Minister for Information Technology (IT) in Sindh government, and Giyan Chand Israni, Minister for Minorities.

The message also has a Nazm [poem or verse] on Diwali, which reads:

Diwali ki Raat, Khushiyo.n ki Barsaat

aai divali khushiyaa.n le kar
sang apne ummeede.n le kar

khushi ka samaa baandhe aai diwaali
is tehvaar ki har adaa hai niraali

diwaali ki raat hai behad hasee.n
khush hote hain voh jo hote hain ghamgee.n

divaali le kar aai hai aman ka paigam
ye tehvaar hai dil walo.n ka inaam

diye jalaao divali manaao
mohabbat ki shab ko pyaar se manao

Thanks to social media, we get to know more about what happens in our neighbouring country.

First, YLH [Yasser Latif Hamdani], mentioned the advertisement on his facebook post.

Subsequently, I logged on to Dawn's website and saw the epaper.

Shiraz Hassan clicked the photograph along with the report which was published in Dawn.

The nice photograph shows children at a temple in Rawalpindi, one of the big cities of Pakistan.

It is the Krishna temple. You can see photograph it on the Dawn's website AT THIS LINK.

Earlier too, this blog has carried posts about Hindu festivities in Pakistan.

You can see the picture below--Muslim League leaders in Pakistan seeing 'aashirwad' from couple posing as Bhagwans. This post was published on the blog a few years ago. CLICK TO SEE

But, it is due to the advent of social media, that we get to know better about our neighbouring country. Not just Sind, but from other regions too, you get to see reports.

Else, one mostly gets to find bad or negative news and through loud anchors on TV channels.

It may be true in Pakistan too when it comes to reporting stories regarding India.

TRPs can be obtained not just by creating hysteria but also through the positive stories.

My problem with the mainstream media is that good news is not covered.

Why mainstream media doesn't show such stories? When 300 fishermen are released, it doesn't make big news on TV. CLICK TO READ.

An example is that when a person is killed in a country and the reporter writes it, 'Hindu killed in X country' or 'Muslim killed in Y country', it is pure bigotry. Unless and until, the person is killed just because of his religion.

Or when in border firing media tells only one side of the story i.e. the number of persons killed in your own country, not by the firing of your country's troops and the others' casualties.

For knowing the complete picture, you have to see international newspapers or websites.

Just like bad news, good news also should be given coverage.

Now watch Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif joining Hindu community in Diwali celebrations.

Apart from the photograph, do watch his message. The link to the video is HERE.

RAM KATHA IN PAKISTAN: Celebrating Diwali in Peshawar

Watch the video HERE


1. Greetings on Diwali: Jashn-e-Chiraagha.n mubarak

2. An Indian Muslim celebrates Diwali in an alien land, remembers childhood

3. Pakistan ministers celebrate Diwali

4. Diwali celebrations: Crackers, fireworks and nostalgia

5. Meri taraf se happy Diwali: Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan PM

For more photos of Diwali celebrations in Pakistan, CHECK THIS LINK

Monday, October 20, 2014

Arrogant, apathetic Congress bites the dust in Maharashtra, finally

The rout that had begun with Congress' losing to Narendra Modi-led BJP in the general elections, continues. The party has lost Maharashtra and Haryana.

The writing was clear on the wall. People were fed up with the party and its arrogant leaders. The disdain towards the people.

Who could forgive the ruling alliance whose leaders can say, 'Shall I urinate in dams to fill them, if there is not enough water".

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had said this when he was told that a farmer was sitting on fast for 55 days, demanding water for irrigation. [See link: Should I urinate to fill the dams?] Such language, such arrogance. And you expect people to vote for you! He was not alone.

The body language, the way the party leaders behaved--it was all nauseating. From late Vilasrao Deshmukh to Ashok Chavan, either it was the controversial tour to Taj Hotel post 9/11 with movie-wallahs or the corruption in Adarsh society, they showed extreme callousness towards people.

Some people talk about Prithviraj Chavan's supposedly clean image. But he too failed to rise to the occasion whenever he was needed to speak, intervene or act. Remember the death of techie Mohsin Sadiq Sheikh! [Link: No public condemnation from CM]

The image was not just that of a corrupt but also an insensitive, inactive government. Clearly, people had enough of this government, and for too long. But the loss of Maharashtra will hurt Congress at the national level, as the state elected Congress consistently, since independence.

It has been after several successive terms that the party has finally been voted out of power here. 
The BJP was the alliance partner when Shiv Sena had formed the government in Maharashtra in 1995.

But this is the first time that the BJP has got such a mandate in Maharashtra. It has fallen short of majority but is now in a position to form the government. The emergence of All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) shows how Muslims had lost faith in Congress-NCP alliance.

In fact, Muslims voted for AIMIM and SP, wherever its candidates had a slight chance. 
After all, Congress in Maharashtra had acted in a bizarre manner for over a decade. It ruled arrogantly and cared least for the most basic demands of the community.

Forget the charge of appeasement, the party didn't care the least for Muslims. They probably felt that Muslims have no other option, and hence, they would vote for Congress anyhow. Muslims number around 10-11% in Maharashtra, but the number of Muslims lodged in jails in state, hovered between 35-40%. All this happened during this regime.

Indifference, Injustice

Illegal detentions, midnight swoops were conducted routinely. [See link: Mumbrai midnight raid and humilitation] There was hardly any action in cases of blatant human rights violation and tortures in police custody. The killing of a software professional in Pune, didn't stir the government.

Just because media has taken congisance of the hate crime, there was some activity later. Still, the promise of job to the victim's family didn't materialise. Dhule firing in which innocent persons were shot at point blank range, was treated as a routine incident. [Link: Dhule firing and killings]

In fact, whenever there were atrocities on Muslims or other backward sections, the Congress government wasn't seen taking a tough action, anywhere. To many people, it was bizarre, as they believed Congress to be pro-Muslim.

Lies, broken promises on implementing Srikrishna Commission report [Mumbai riots]

They forgot that this party and its chief minister Sudhakarrao Naik was at the helm, when nearly 2,000 people were killed in Mumbai riots in 1992-93. The Sri Krishna Commission indicted politicians and top police officers for the massacre.

But despite promising that the panel's recommendations will be implemented, the party went back on its promise. Never, it appeared to be intending to take any action. Probably because their own men were involved in the massacre.

What else could be the reason for shielding them. Not IPS officers, even constables who fired on those praying in the mosque, were saved, at every step. The lies, broken promises, the extreme indifference of the government towards minority issues, was simply unbelievable.

Putting obstacles in releasing youths framed in Malegaon blast case

In courts, at every step, administration and prosecution tried to put obstacles in the process to to release those Muslim youths who had been implicated falsely by investigating agencies earlier. It was state-sponsored communalism at its best.

In fact, the Congress regime had made it so tough that probably Muslims can brave any other regime in Maharashtra. The bureaucracy didn't work. It was a perennial problem for students of Urdu medium schools that they never got textbooks on time.

The truth is that if one starts remembering the grievances, there is no end. It was same for Dalits, Backwards, other communities too. The administration was going from bad to worse. Can a government get even worse than this? I doubt.  

Secularism, the biggest joke

The biggest joke was that it was a 'secular government'. All of us have seen how secular they were all these years. And with elections over, the 'secular' NCP was the first to extend outside support to the 'un-secular Shiv Sena'.

Some ask me, you don't understand, it's BJP victory. No, for me it is Congress loss, finally. If you are a slave to any party for decades, its your choice. Can you tell me the steps they took for your uplift or any other positive contribution.

Losing an election doesn't mean the end of the world. Let's see, in opposition, what they will do. How many of these leaders will go to streets, work among people, raise their issues, and help them in sorting out their problems. Still you can mourn, its your right. I feel better with their rout.

Good riddance.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When person abusing your faith turns out to be a co-religionist: Social media's illusions and internet crimes

The person abuses your faith online, posts objectionable messages and shares photographs that are so inflammatory that it is not proper to describe them.

You get angry and disturbed. You may write angry comments to him, argue, tell him to stop or shut up.

But did you ever imagine that he also belongs to your own faith? And that he is still doing it because he had a purpose!

May be, he has certain psychological issues or wants to defame someone and hence assumed a false identity.

So he is using it to post objectionable things to defame that person. Did  you consider this option?

And when you know the truth, do you realise you were unnecessarily spending energies and were getting mad at 'people of other religion'. That's the online world.

On internet, especially, social media, there is no dearth of people who suffer from 'attention deficit disorder' or who just love to 'irk others'. Such mischief-makers feel its a prank but don't they realise consequences!

For them, perhaps, it's a spectacle to watch when others keep fighting on their Facebook wall over a photo or message, as they themselves watch with glee, and perhaps pat themselves on their back for making others fight.

Man who caused communal riots, arrested

This is a real story and has lessons for all. A morphed photograph was circulated on social media by a person, which led to riot.

Then, there was a second round of rioting. There were deaths during the violence and the victims were both Hindu and Muslim.

The person who was behind the post, used a Hindu ID to post against Muslims, and then used Muslim ID to circulate messages against Hindus. For weeks, the entire town remained on edge.

The man used a BJP leader's ID on Facebook to post, anti-Muslim message. It is so easy in those days, you can create a leader's page or fan page yourself. But that's criminal act.

The law-and-order situation was such that police from adjoining places had to be called. There was widening communal divide and tension.


Finally, the police and cyber experts, managed to trace him. It was found that he was ordinary youth. He was Nitesh Verma, a simply, guy next door--who was doing post-graduation in computer applications (PDGCA).

On internet, he used 'Hindu ID to abuse Muslims' and 'Muslim ID to abuse Hindus'. Why he did it? The investigators found that he had very few friends. He didn't come out of his house. He lacked self-confidence.

*On July 2, he used Naved Khan's id to post photo that hurt Hindu sentiments
*On July 19, he hacked Anurag Soni's id to upload photos that hurt Muslims
*On July 30, he hacked Altaf Abbai's photo and posted BJP leader's photo to make hateful comments against Muslims
*Earlier, he  had hacked Sagar Verma's id to upload objectionable content

His brother had committed suicide and he blamed certain youths of the locality. He was angry with them and as he felt he was not strong enough to take on them, he planned 'the revenge' in this way. He thought he would hack their IDs or create their fake IDs for spreading messages that would hurt them badly.

The results were too serious: Communal violence and deaths. Verma is in jail now. It can be any one, a Nitesh Verma or a Naeem Khan. Just that we need to learn the lessons right from this episode. Cyber safety, understanding online behaviour and the need for spreading awareness about it.

One hopes that in coming years, people will learn cyber etiquette. However, what one must do right now. First, stop getting irritated.

If the posts are incendiary, 'report' the person. You can also ignore or block them on Facebook. If there is a fear that communal harmony can be disrupted, inform the authorities. They generally take care of the rest.


1. Youth behind inflammatory messages, posts arrested
2. Nav Bharat Times report on communal violence, curfew, death
3. Riot leaves one dead, six injured in Khandwa over Facebook comment

[This happened just a few months back--in July/August 2014]