Thursday, April 30, 2015

Legal activism among Indian Muslims: Need for consistent intervention, raising voice against oppression and fighting for the rights

Every vibrant community should have activists.

Activists are individuals who are passionate about certain thing or issues, keep track of them and raise voice when they find something wrong.

Indian Muslims are facing a plethora of social, educational and cultural issues.

There are laws but not all laws are implemented fairly. Hence, it is necessary that there are people who intervene and raise their voice in case of violation of rights.

While peaceful means of protests including demonstrations can have impact to an extent, our system of governance, especially, the bureaucratic maze is such that rules are ignored, misinterpreted and thrown out of the window, and gross injustice is meted out in daily lives.

Such is the situation that one leader may get arrested for a single wrong speech but others who have spent their lives in spreading communalism and mouthing venom haven't been touched by cops. The reason is that cases were filed in police stations (and courts) against the particular person, while few complaints were filed against others.

Recently, Advocate Shahid Ali filed a petition with the Election Commission against Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut for his comment that Muslims should be divested of the right to vote. This is a laudable step.

Ali, who heads United Muslim Front (UMF) plans to approach the Supreme Court too, seeking disqualification of Shiv Sena. If similar cases were filed in the past, the situation won't have deteriorated to such an extent, and many other politicians would have been reined in, long ago.

In fact, Ali has been making intervention in important cases, consistently. He has filed petitions in courts, got notices issued to those involved in human rights violations and has raised important issues concerning the community.

Next month, he would be organising a Mahapanchayat, to press for justice for victims of Hashimpura killings. Also, he went against UP government for not fulfilling their promises and against UGC for removing Arabic and Persian.

The point is that just one individual or organisation can't fight for everyone, and we shouldn't expect others to act on our behalf. People should understand that mere education is not enough, they should be ready to stand for their rights too. 

But this is easier said than done. The reason is people who dare to make intervention, are increasingly facing pressures from different quarters, especially, administration.

It is for this reason that lawyer-activists are more needed in the society. The advocates, because of their profession, knowledge of law, and standing in the society, can get things done much more easily, compared to others.

The officials too tread with caution, in fact, they are wary of taking on lawyers. Lawyers can intervene effectively by filing cases, issuing legal notices and fighting for the rights strongly.

Such action can check biased officials and policy-makers from going all out in implementing their agenda.

Injustice happens all around us. There are denials of facilities, services and amenities to people who are entitled to them. This keeps happening everywhere, all the time, either because of poor governance or biased actions of certain officials and policy makers.

The victims of the 'system' are among all the sections of the society. But the poor, the backward, dalit (SC), tribal (ST) and minority communities are more likely to face discrimination and denial to amenities. Hence, the need for lawyer-activists is increasingly being felt among the community. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

MIM performance in Aurangabad civic polls is yet another warning signal to Congress for neglecting Muslims, failure to redress their real issues

As results of the civic polls in Aurangabad began pouring in on Thursday, it became clear that All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is increasingly cornering Muslim votes in Maharashtra.

Final result (Total 113 seats)

BJP-SS win 51 
[Shiv Sena 28, BJP 23]
MIM 26
Congress 10
NCP 3, BSP 5, RPI 2, Others 16

The trends indicated that MIM was winning at 22-25 places, much ahead of Congress which was poised for victory in 10 wards in the municipal elections.

Though Shiv Sena-BJP combine [mahayuti] is way ahead and emerged victorious, MIM would be a strong block in the opposition. Trends indicate it could have around 25 members in the Aurangabad municipal corporation.

Congress has been routed in the election. The victory of MIM in so many wards at the cost of Congress will lead to fresh charge that MIM's entry divides the so-called secular votes, but the truth is that the party is becoming an option for Muslims outside Telangana too.

From Nanded to Mumbai, everywhere in Maharashtra, large number of Muslims have been voting for MIM. Why Muslims in Maharashtra are voting for MIM, even though they know that a division in non-BJP votes, would help the BJP.

he reason is quite simple. During the last 15 years of Congress-NCP rule, Muslims felt that the so-called secular parties didn't seem serious for the uplift of Muslims.

Congress' dilly-dallying on Muslim issues

From failing to implement Sri Krishna commission report on Mumbai riots to police excesses, refusing to help Muslim youths falsely accused in criminal cases, the Congress-NCP regime was no different for Muslims than the previous BJP regime.

Take the case of Muslim reservation in Maharashtra. If Congress wanted they could have brought the ordinance long ago. But it was just before the end of their term that they brought it.

And after a court order on Maratha-Muslim reservation, when the bill was brought afresh, the BJP government had come to the power and they went ahead with just reservation for Marathas (not Muslims).

In fact, while the Mumbai high court had stayed reservation, it had allowed 5% reservation to Muslims in educational institutes.

It was tenable and the BJP, as expected, didn't bring the bill in the house and only went ahead with Maratha reservation, but what about Congress?

Congress clearly took the decision with polls in sight, as it had realised there was strong anger against it. But the ploy didn't work.

Congress lost the voter. With MIM emerging as an alternative, Muslims who were most loyal to the Congress and kept supporting it for decades are now voting for MIM, despite the fact that it will consolidate BJP-Shiv Sena vote.

Views, apprehensions on MIM's emergence as an alternative and competitive communalism

While many Muslims talk about MIM as an alternative, there is also a section which feels that the Hyderabad-based party would get a few seats here and there, but its presence will damage Muslims in the long run, as there will be more competitive communal rhetoric.

But increasingly, many Muslims cite the example of Uttar Pradesh. Of late, one has routinely heard the following sentence:

"Even though there are 70 Muslim MLAs in the Assembly (mostly SP), none raised the issue of Muzaffarnagar riots, so what's the use of 70 silent legislators. Let's have just 5 or 10, but those who are not dumb, who will speak for the community and who won't have to look at their party leader before opening their mouths".

Congress will be the loser if MIM contests in other states

So there is a section among Muslims that wants MIM to contest elections in other states like UP and is inclined towards the party's style of politics. How far the MIM will go and how much it will help or harm the Muslim community, electorally, we can just speculate.

But, Congress will clearly be the loser. Similarly, other non-BJP parties that get Muslim votes will also feel the pinch. This will surely be advantageous to BJP. However, after decades of feeling cheated and denied basic development and focus on their issues, a lot of Muslims seem to be in a mood to try the alternatives.

They seem prepared to look beyond the fear that BJP will be benefited if Muslim vote gets divided. After all, BJP has been in power at the centre, and in many states for decades. Will Muslims vote for MIM only in selected states and cities that have large Muslim population, or this trend will pick up across India, has to be seen.


Check the links to read about the reasons Muslims in Maharashtra have been bitter about their experience with Congress. Maharashtra has just over 10% Muslims but 30% prisoners in jails are Muslims.

The false promises, the failure to act on Sri Krishna panel report, the police excesses in Mumbra and Dhule, the arrests, failure to take action against guilty policemen who implicated Muslims, killing of Mohsin Sheikh in Pune--the list is long and endless. Do read:

*Illegal detentions, excesses, police harassment in Maharashtra
*Arrogant, apathetic Congress bites the dust in Maharashtra
*Why Muslims not willing to vote for Congress anymore?
*No condemnation on Mohsin Sheikh's killing, no word of consolation by Mah CM

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wrestling in India: 'Kushti' craze draws thousands to watch wrestlers' fight

The scene was terrific. Wrestling enthusiasts had come from far and wide to watch the bouts.

Wrestling or 'Kushti', as it is commonly known as, is a sport loved by everyone in rural India.

No wonder, the atmosphere was electric in this dusty town in Bhind district in Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh.

The spectators were sitting on the ramparts of the old, crumbling fort.

They were on the temple premises, on the ground, on the roofs of the houses, on the tree branches and everywhere around. Nearly 200 bouts were held during the wrestling competition, for winners in three categories.

Two finals turned out to be draws. In the third event, Jamil Pahalwan defeated his rival and was declared winner. The event was held at the 'Chhainkur Wale Hanuman Mandir Temple' in Gohad (Bhind), MP. But this was no exception.

'Kushti' remains one of the favourite sports of Indians. More than cities, it is in towns and rural areas where people gather in large numbers of watch the fights. The 'pehelwans' get respect and rewards. Unfortunately, 'kushti' has been neglected in India.

[Photo courtesy: DainikBhaskar]

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Mamata Banerjee reins in VHP, stops Pravin Togadia's from entering West Bengal

Mamata Banerjee has done something which the self-styled secular Congress could never do--taking a tough stand against Praveen Togadia.

The TMC government in West Bengal had said that it would not allow the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) chief to enter West Bengal.

The government remained firm and Togadia was barred from entering the state. Also, West Bengal government detained nearly 300 VHP activists who were marching towards the venue of their meet in Kolkata.

Now the VHP leader is crying foul and is criticising the WB government. Left with no option, Togadia had to cancel his visit. Trinamool government should definitely be congratulated for taking the step.

While Togadia talks of right to free speech and says that his voice was muzzled. But the VHP leader is known for his inflammatory speeches, particularly, venomous and vitriolic words against Muslims and Christians.


He has delivered countless hate speeches that have injected poison in the minds of citizens, city after city, for decades. But Congress could never rein in Togadia and other such leaders of the Sangh Parivar.

In fact, when the party [Congress] was in power in most of the states, it never acted tough on hate speeches. Its leaders seemed indifferent. FIRs were seldom registered and arrests were totally out of question.

While MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi's was arrested after being booked for a hate speech, a similar hate speech by Togadia in Maharashtra didn't lead to his arrest [LINK]. Congress government registered FIR only after TV channels aired parts of the speech repeatedly.

SEE THIS ABP News Video: Why Togadia not arrested for his hate speech?

However, there was no arrest. In fact, in most cases, even if FIR was registered, Congress governments later withdrew them. This emboldened the lumpen elements. Congress leaders talk of secular ethos but such double standards have hurt the party.

However, they don't seem to learn any lesson. In UP, Samajwadi Party, which also claims to be secular, hasn't taken similar tough decisions.

SP continues to bar MIM leaders from addressing rallies but when it comes to VHP,  Hindu Vahini or Bajrang Dal, it allows them a free un.

For the moment, it is a laudable step on part of West  Bengal government. Just because a group or organisation has a large following, state governments can't succumb to their demands. Hope, Mamata Banerji.

1. LINK to Pravin Togadia hate speech. SEE
2. Link to Pravin Togadia entry banned READ
3. Why was Pravin Togadia not arrested till now CHECK