Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sunderlal Patwa had presided over worst communal riots in MP's history

Former MP chief minister Sunderlal Patwa who passed away in Bhopal, was a veteran politician who had started his political life with Jan Sangh.

Known for his simplicity, Patwa, belonged to the generation of early Jan Sangh leaders who struggled for decades and fought Congress hegemony for long,before they managed to attain power.

After death everything is 'sanitised', it seems. In obituaries writers and journalists have written about Patwa-ji.

But the fact that he presided over the worst communal riots in MP, is nowhere mentioned. It's time for euologies! 

But along with positive aspects, other important facts can't be ignored.

 No one seems to remember that during Sundarlal Patwa regime Bhopal and Ujjain saw the most deadly communal riots in state's history in which hundreds perished..

The year was 1992-93. Centre dismissed Patwa government. Many people in those days hinted at Congress hand. But the fact remains that MP had never seen such devastation and killings in riots.

Till then Bhopal was an island of peace and there was never a riot in this city. The official figure of deaths in Bhopal riot was nearly 150. 

Yes, blame Congress elements' involvement or BJP workers' role but how this fact gets ignored...not even in passing mention amid the glowing tributes for the 'saint politician'. 

Responsibility of Rajiv Gandhi 1984, Sudhakar Rao Naik 1992, Modi 2002...Praise is fine but to whitewash everything? No. You may be powerful and may rule but it doesn't mean that everything will be whitewashed. 

Riot taint remains.

Patwa didn't like 'outsider' Narendra Modi's interference. Patwa resented  Modi's style of functioning when latter was charge of MP affairs. Ensured 'Aghoshit boycott' by the local BJP, says this report

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

PV Narasimha Rao: Man who presided over Babri Masjid demolition and Congress' downfall, severed Muslims' relationship with party

PV Narasimha Rao, the former prime minister of India, was the man who presided over demolition of Babri Masjid.

The blame goes to Rao for not taking any action when it was known to him that lakhs of Kar Sewaks had reached Ayodhya.

Already, he had been informed about the conspiracy to demolish the ancient mosque.

When the mosque was attacked, Narasimha Rao remained incommunicado and didn't take steps to protect the mosque.

World's biggest democracy had turned into a mobocracy. In Ayodhya--the place where there can't be any Yuddha [war], lumpens who claimed to be Ram bhakts were destroying ideals of Lord Rama.

Kalyan Singh's BJP government in Lucknow was backing the Kar Sewaks. It had blessings from Narasimha Rao, India's Prime Minister, from Delhi. For hours on December 6 1992, Ayodhya saw the brazen assault on the religious structure as well as India's secular fabric and its ethos.

1. Rao chose to remain silent. UP government had given assurance to court that there would be no harm to Babri Masjid. However, Congress government at the Centre kept its eyes close while the world watched--through BBC and other foreign channels, how the mosque was demolished in broad daylight.

2. Later, when mosque was razed and a temporary Ram Temple was built over the debris of the mosque, Rao decided to speak. On Doordarshan, he addressed the nation with a grave face, saying that mosque would be rebuilt.

3. Rao's promise to build mosque again, was another lie. Soon riots broke out across the country.

In Congress-ruled Maharashtra, the rioting was worst. However, there was no effort to control it, neither Sudhakar Rao Naik's Congress government was dismissed.

4. In two rounds of communal riots police didn't act tough against the rioters even  as nearly 1,500-2,000 persons were killed.

Mumbai was burning. The role of Shiv Sena cadre in this period is well documented. Muslims were getting killed and remember it was Congress government in Delhi that remained oblivious to the plight of the Muslims. The police officers who were involved in violence were never prosecuted.

Maharashtra state [Congress government] put obstacles at every step to ensure that victims of Mumbai massacre never got justice. Sri Krishna Commission report was thrown in dustbin and its recommendations were not implemented.

5. No wonder, Rao is seen as the architect of demolition and anti-Muslim violence. The man ensured that whatever little regard Indian Muslims had for Congress, was now a thing of past. If there was any option anywhere, Muslims would vote for that party.


Muslims lost whatever trust some old-timers had in the party.

Dalits were already abandoning it with the rise of BSP. December 6, 1992 is the day Indian Muslims felt helpless across the country.

It was similar to what Sikhs had felt in Delhi in 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm.

This is history, it can't be erased. Congress again came back to power, formed governments.

But the fact remains that it has lost its connect with Muslims. And, it is unlikely for Muslims to return to Congress sooner in future.

Indian Muslims are searching for alternatives, the search is on. 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Bekal Utsahi too bids adieu: Famous Urdu poet was named 'Utsahi' by first PM Jawaharlal Nehru

Famous Urdu poet Bekal Utsahi is no more.

He was undergoing treatment in a Delhi hospital where he passed away on December 3.

Bekal Utsahi was 87. He belonged to Balrampur (UP).

An ambassador of communal harmony, ganga-jamni culture, Bekal Utsahi used the Purbi language and expressions from Awadhi, Hindi and Braj in his poetry.

Apart from Ghazals and Nazms, he also wrote dohas and 'geet'. Mohammad Shafi, who later became 'Bekal' belonged to a Zamindar family.

He had interest in poetry from an early age and wrote rebellious poetry during the British rule.

One of his couplets:

Azm mohkam ho to hoti hain balaae.n paspaa
Kitne tuufaa.n palaT deta hai saahil tanha

He went to jail. For almost seven decades, he wrote poetry. He attended Mushairas across the world. Bekal was widely respected and was listened with respect in Kavi Sammelans too.

Apart from literature, he was also active in other fields. He was a member of Rajya Sabha [Upper house of Parliament]. Government of India honoured him with 'Padma Sri'.

How Bekal Warsi became Bekal Utsahi

Seeing his passion while reciting his poetry, first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had termed him 'Utsahi' [Utsah=Enthusiasm]. In the mushaira, Bekal was reciting the verse 'Kisan Bharat Ka'.

Nehru was impressed with his poetry. Hence, 'Utsahi' became a part of his name since then. And, Bekal Warsi became Bekal Utsahi.

Sample his couplets:

Bech de apni aan, apni zabaan, apna zameer
Phir tere haath mein sone ke niwaale honge


Kal raat unko dekha thaa Urdu libas me
Koi ye kah raha tha ki agla chunaao hai


Ulajh rahe hain bohat log meri shohrat se
Kisi ko yuu.n to koi mujhse ikhtelaaf na tha


Ek din aisa bhi aayega honT honT paimaane honge
Mandir masjid kuchh nahiiN honge ghar-ghar mein maikhane honge


Dharm mera Islam, bharat janam sthan
Wazu karoo.n Ajmer mein, Kashi mein snaan

Bekal wrote Hamd, Naat and in other genres too. He rendered poetry in his inimitable style. In the last mushaira at Lal Quila, he had said, "it could be my last presence here".

In his own words:

Sunahri sarzamii.n meri, rupahla aasamaa.n mera
Magar ab tak nahiiN samjha, Thikaana hai kahaaN meraa

[Photo courtesy: Edition December 4 2016, Mumbai]

Friday, November 25, 2016

Muslims gift land for temple construction project in Rajasthan: Communal Harmony Project-34

In another example of communal harmony, Muslims in a Rajasthan village gave away over 1.5 bigha land for a temple.

This has appened in Kolida, a village, near Sikar town. The chunk of land was gifted to Hindu community for temple construction project.

The deputy sapranch, Mohammad Ishaq, came to know that the Hindu community that was planning extension of temple and didn't have land availabale in the vicinity.

Ishaq told other members of the Muslim community in the village about it. Everyone agreed and it was unanimously decided that the part of the chunk of land that belongs to the graveyard would be gifted to the Hindu community for the project.

The temple was adjoining the graveyard land in the same village. Initially, it was a small temple. Later, the villagers began construction and the extension required more land. The Hindu community has thanked Muslims for the gesture.

There have been incidents in the past when people have given away land to other community.

Earlier too Hindus have donated land for construction of mosque or for grave yard, and Muslims have also donated land for temple construction.

However, the difference is that in Kolida [Rajasthan], it was not a person's individual decision.

It was community decision and it was land of the local Musslims. They felt that their Hindu brethren needed land and it was the right thing to do.

Overwhelmed, the members of the Hindu community in the town, have thanked and felicitated Muslims for their decision. See photo below.


1. Muslims voluntarily hand over land to Hindus for temple [Hindi report in Scroll/Satyagraha]
2. Muslims donate land in Rajasthan in Sikar for temple construction [Hindi report in Jansatta]
3. Report in Twocircles.Net [Hindi]
4. Photo courtesy [Pradesh18network]

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now.

This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project

#Communalharmony #Communalharmonyproject #India

Monday, November 21, 2016

Over hundred thousand mourners gather in this central Indian town 40 days after Ashura

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Every year lakhs gather at Husain Tekri, the famous shrine in Jaora in central India, forty days after Ashura.

This year too, devotees from all over India, including Shias, Sunnis and also members of other communities reached Jaora town in Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh.

It is one of the biggest gatherings on Chahallum anywhere in the sub-continent. Hundreds of thousands take part in the rituals every year [40 days after the tenth of Islamic month of Muharram].

Lakhs attend the Chahallum rituals in this town every year. People come from as far as Kashmir and from Deccan, from Uttar Pradesh and Bengal, and even from other countries. The photos are taken by Mustafa Vilayati.

This 19th century shrine was built during the reign of former Nawabs of Jaora, a princely state in British India. Over the years, it has emerged as a major town for Shias in India, because of the scale of the Muharram and Chehallum rituals.

While Arbaeen in Middle East draws attention, this huge gathering in a small town in India generally fails to make it to the headlines. For more information about the rituals, read a post on this blog published last year.

READ: Lakhs take part in Chehallum rituals in Jaora

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vidisha riot controlled, curfew relaxed, peace returns: Lessons for Madhya Pradesh government from the violence

The rioting in Vidisha has been controlled.

Curfew has been relaxed and the situation is getting back to normalcy.

After arson, violence and hooliganism, peace has returned to the town.

But these pictures will haunt the administration and citizens for long.

A row escalated because the police didn't take prompt action, say citizens. Later, a person was killed due to the conflict.

The person belonged to Bajrang Dal. Those accused of murder were arrested.

The arrests were necessary and were made promptly. However, soon the Bajrang Dal cadre took to streets in the city, which sends none other than Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to Parliament.

From evening violence begins. People run with patients from hospital. There is arson. Vehicles, shops are set on fire. Houses were attacked. People were injured but fortunately no fatality.

Yet police remains mute spectator. The next day, violence escalates.

The rioters are on the streets.

But police turn askance, not even acting against them or even asking them to go away.

How can rioters get so emboldened?

Had the images not been splashed in local media and a strong police force not rushed to Vidisha, the situation may not have been controlled.

Vidisha was represented by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the past. MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan won election from here, repeatedly. It became his home constituency.

Hence, Vidisha has a special place in MP politics. Yet, the shoddy manner in which police acted, leaves many questions. Mercifully, the riot didn't spread and the violence stopped.

But has the police
and  the administration learnt anything from the riot?

The photographs published in local newspapers, questioning the role of police when the mob was on the streets, must lead to serious introspection. See caption in photo on the left.

It was published in local newspaper, which said that police turned away its face when rioters were on the streets. The picture was taken at Ramlila Road.

"If only police had been a little more stern, situation won't have worsened", caption reads.

The other photograph on the right shows rioters walking with the police.

After the suspensions of top officials in Betul and Jhabua, is the police reluctant to act against right-wing activists?

The State government's entire security establishment--Police Headquarters and Home department, need to send a strong message. If policemen are under pressure and scared of taking action, it is a potentially dangerous situation.

It's time to deal with it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nehruvian era over but somewhere flowers still rain on first PM's statue: Reasons right-wing hates Jawaharlal Nehru

Nehru passed away over fifty years ago.

A Kashmiri Pandit whose family had settled in UP, Nehru was indeed a charismatic personality.

Generations of kids grew up on the story of 'Chacha Nehru'.

But Nehruvian India underwent major changes in the last few decades.

In recent years, there have been growing voices against Nehru's vision, policies and his 'Westernised' outlook.

Though attempts to malign his personality have been going on for decades.

And, doesn't it sound bad calling Nehru, a Kashmiri Pandit leader, bringing his stature down! But if Sheikh Abdullah was Kashmiri Muslim leader, and when Nehru is attacked so much, can we take this liberty for a while?

India's first PM belonged to the KP community, which indeed suffered and had to leave its homeland after militancy began. But it is not felt required to mention that Nehru [and many other leaders of freedom movement--Saprus, Katjus, Kauls], belonged to this community.

And, whether we like it or not, whether it suits our political positions or not, truth is that Nehru's stature and following among the Indian masses, at the time of independence was far ahead of any other leader. Ram Rajya Parishad, Hindu Mahasabha and Jana Sangh didn't have public support then.

When abusing, targeting and engaging in character assassination of Nehru, by floating 'stories' about his life or morphing photographs has become a fashion, this fact too needs to be stressed upon. They were all committed to values of secularism--something which is anathema to Nehru-baiters.

They feel India could have been a Hindu nation, long back, had Nehru not been at the helm for all those years. Nehru is credited for establishing major institutions. Critics, of course, feel that he was more an idealist and romantic leader, rather than a pragmatic politician.

They blame him for a lot--from partition to the Kashmir problem, from our slow progress to the Chinese invasion. They are entitled to their views. We must listen to each other and agree to disagree. Nehru was and will always remain our first PM. You can't erase this piece of history.

On Children's Day, the enthusiasm has been slightly less in recent years. Reasons are obvious. However, in schools [many private schools] there were celebrations. The statues were garlanded. This is a photograph of flowers raining on Nehru statue in Madhya Pradesh. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

BJP won election on development plank but doesn't know anything except divisive politics!

The BJP came to power on the development plank.

It had fought the Lok Sabha election, claiming that its slogan was, 'Sabka sath, Sabka vikas'.

It meant that the party had claimed voters' support for an inclusive growth and developmental model.

But, as soon as it came to power, it steadily got back to divisive politics.

You may claim otherwise but it seems that the BJP can't do without raising issues that divide society.

Senior journalist Dilip C Mandal, in a Facebook post, wrote:

Issues BJP govt likes, wants you to discuss--Pakistan, Triple Talaq, Uniform Civil Code, Cow, Muslims, Army, Communalism et al. On TV channels, 90% debates will be on these subjects.

Issues that irk BJP and it doesn't want focus on them include--Inflation, Illiteracy, Corruption, Unemployment, Farmers suicides, poor state of health education, casteism, crimes against Dalits ands other backward sections, etc. Channels won't talk about them.

In fact, he suggests that TV channels are also part of the game: one group takes 'secular' position, the other takes 'non-secular' position, which not just divide society but shift focus from the real issues.

It seems that BJP is yet to learn that it is not just a political party but that it wins elections in states and at the Centre, and it needs to govern, to administer, to run the country.

Call me a critic. Yes, I am not a BJP fan. But why is your focus not on development. You lose Delhi and you go after Arvind Kejriwal and his party, in such a cheap manner that doesn't behove a national party.

Every few months there would be a state election and the strategy to win poll is nothing but to 'divide' voter. Hence, development is left behind somewhere. Barely two more years you have.

You hope to polarise, divide and exploit patritotic feelings to win again in 2019. But, be realistic. Ask yourself, what have you done on developmental front. Where is inclusive development?

If only the focus was right, you could have won admirers from the opposite camp also. But it seems that you are yet to learn any other method--apart from communal divisions an controversial issues, to stay afloat in politics.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Pakistani Muslim leaders participate in Hindus' religious celebrations: Will you call it 'Hindu appeasement' in Pakistan?

Now, would you call it 'Hindu appeasement' in Pakistan?

The leader of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) performs Hindu rituals while participating in Diwali celebrations of Hindu community.

The man is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is the chief of Pakistan People's Party (PPP). He, along with other PPP leaders [Sherry Rahman is also visible], took part in Hindu community's religious events in Sindh.

No need to 'appease', everywhere in the world politicians meet citizens of all faiths

During Diwali celebrations, there was puja and other religious rituals including offering the scared water to sivalinga. Zardari participatd in it.

Not just PPP, other parties including Muslim League also takes part in the Hindu religious celebrations in Pakistan. In Pakistan, Hindus are not a big minority. Their votes don't matter too much.

But across the world, leaders take care of minorities too. In India, we see outrage when a Hindu leader attends an 'iftaar' or wears a 'topi' [skullcap]. All these are courtesies and part of sharing culture when we live together.

Indian Muslims or no Muslim would ask a Hindu to perform the Islamic rituals like Namaz or Roza. Indian Hindu leaders also won't expect Muslims to perform any Hindu rituals like puja or aarti.

But there are certain common points. You go and meet each other, wish the minorities. You also take part in their festivals and it depends, if you like, you can even take part in their celebrations and rituals.


One must be a human first. However, when hate consumes mind, people ignore logic and civilities. There are just charges, counter-charges and fail to even appreciate that others can also be liberal or accommodating.

That's what bigotry is all about. However, it is important that we realise that truth is not what we see through channels. On the ground, people are still much more humane, accommodating, close to each other and take part in each others' festivities.



1. Politicians' iftaar angers right-wingers: Is there a world beyond the word 'appeasement' in India?

2. Tilak, Topi in Indian politics: People don't want Hindu politicians to wear skullcap or Muslim leaders to sport 'tilak' or perform Puja

3. Diwali celebrations in Sindh and other regions of Pakistan

Friday, November 04, 2016

Turning a citizen into 'terrorist' without trial: Role of Dainik Bhaskar, section of Hindi media in turning 'aaropi' into 'aatanki'

Role of a section of Hindi media in turning 'aaropi' [suspect or accused] into 'criminal' or 'terrorist' even before completion of trial and judgment, is something that has affected a large number of under-trials.

If someone is guilty of crime or terrorism, stern action is definitely needed. 

The person must be booked under harsh laws and all evidences should be gathered to get him convicted.

But, if you term someone 'aatanki' or 'apradhi' i.e. 'terrorist' or 'criminal', even before the trial has been completed--it makes a mockery of justice and the entire system.

Sadly, this has been happening in India for years now. In North India and Central India, the situation is even more acute. Certain newspapers [more than TV channels] are involved in this dirty practice.

READ: Who needs the courts when we have the media? [News Laundry report]

Violating Law of the Land

In central India, Dainik Bhaskar leads this trend. The law of the land says that a person is innocent till held guilty by the courts.

However, Dainik Bhaskar seems to have a right to call anyone terrorist even before trial is over. So police says, 'accused' but the paper terms it 'terrorist', which affects investigation.

Double standards

Aseemanand or Sandeep Dange may be accused in cases of bomb blasts but are not termed 'aatanki'. But the same newspaper terms even those Muslim youths 'aatanki, who face no blast or terror charge.

Just if there is accusation of association with a banned outfit, the Muslim youth is promptly termed 'aatanki'.  This is not the word police use after arrest. But newspaper creates scare and brands arrestd person.

Who is 'terror accused'?

Anyone who is involved in unlawful activities and association with banned outfits is booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

It is registered against suspected Maoists, suspected ULFA cadre and those with suspected SIMI [Islamist] links, right-wing [Hindutva] groups. There are dozens of organisations banned in India.

READ: Campaign against Dainik Jagran for communal, biased reporting

Apart from them, members of outfits that are not banned are booked under the law. Many of them are not members of any outlawed groups but are caught for explosion, blasts or other terror-related acts.

None of them is termed 'aatanki'. However, among most newspapers, Dainik Bhaskar seems to have the 'power', an extra-constitutional power to name anyone 'terrorist' as per its discretion.

Irresponsible reporting affects, destroys families

When someone is judged a criminal or terrorist, it leads to entire society turning away from the person's family. It affects court cases and also entire life.

Families are destroyed because of irresponsible reporting. It is unfortunate that there has not been a serious action against newspapers that act as courts and assume the role of judges.

READ: Campaign against Dainik Jagran for communal, biased reporting

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sectarianism hurting Indian Muslims: Milli Council convention urges Muslims to shun sectarian differences, unite

The Milli Council's convention that was held in Bhopal, gave a call to Muslims to shun their sectarian differences.

"All attempts are being made to blow up minor sectarian issues and create greater conflict between Islamic sects", read the first line of the resolution passed in the two day conclave.

"The sectarian issues are hurting Muslims in a big way and they are being used to weaken the community, at a time when communal elements are trying their best to muzzle the voice and trample upon the rights of the minorities".

The Milli Council's meet agreed upon the point to bring leaders, clergymen, politicians and other heads together and run a 'Karwaan' in different states.

The aim is to defeat the grand design to divide Muslims by raising sectarian issues. Resolutions were also passed regarding the stand against any attempt to push Uniform Civil Code and against changes in history and educational policies.

"This is a fascist conspiracy. The aim is that Muslims fight among themselves, their energies directed towards finding faults with other sects and in process turning their eyes from the real attack on their constitutional rights".

This was the 18th conclave of the All India Milli Council, which is a platform of Muslim clergy, leaders and intelligentsia. Nearly, 250 delegates from all over India attended the event, which was held in Imperial Sabre hotel in  Bhopal. 

Gujarat massacre mastermind Babu Bajrangi gets bail 14th time: Where is the anger, media coverage, outrage?

Once again, Babu Bajrangi, has managed to get the bail.

Not first or second, it is 14th time that the convicted criminal has secured bail from the court.

Where is the outrage? 

Now, who is Babu Bajrangi. Not an ordinary criminal but someone who has been sentenced to life for committing one of the most grisly massacres in India.

As many as 97 persons were killed in the massacre in Ahmedabad during the Gujarat 2002 pogrom.

The man who had admitted on camera that he had raped, killed and set afire Muslim men and women.  Bajrangi was convicted in the Naroda Patiya killings and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

But, both Maya Kodnani and Bajrangi have been getting bails and are able to come out of jail on parole.

Sanjay Dutt, despite facing trial in TADA case, managed to get released on bail and parole too.
Similarly, terror accused--Asimanand and other co-accused also managed to get bail. Of course, there was no hue and cry.

When was the outrage seen? It was in the case of Shahabuddin, as if the unthinkable had happened and heavens had fallen. Clearly, law is not blind or emotionless. The names matter. The faces  matter.

If a face is close to a ruling party, then a crime of any magnitude would be pardoned. Isn't it?

LINK: Bajrangi gets relief, obtains bail from Court

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tragedy of Assamese Muslims: How Indian citizens are dubbed foreigners in their own country, face harassment in Assam

Advocate Aman Wadud highlighted the plight of Assamese Muslims in a series of Tweets, that went viral on Wednesday.

Apart from riots and ethnic cleansing, Muslims in Assam are also battling extreme prejudices and systematic persecution.

Wadud and the organization Myfacts fought for Moinal Mollah, a Assamese Muslim, whose name was put in 'D-category' .

In the series of tweets, the lawyer writes how being a Muslim in Assam 'is a constant struggle to survive violence, persecution, discrimination and harassment'.

The burden of proving that you are an Indian citizen, rests on the victim.

There are lakhs of Muslims facing this challenge. It took a year before Mollah could get legal reprieve and was accepted as an Indian citizen. But there are tens of thousands who don't have the money to fight cases.

Do read:

1. Being a Muslim in Assam is a constant struggle to survive violence, persecution, discrimination and multi-facet harassment.

2. Cyclic targeted killings are only one aspect of constant persecution. Administration has many other ways to harass and persecute Muslims.

3. Several lakhs Muslims in Assam are facing brutal persecution in the name of 'D' or Doubtful voters and Reference cases.

4. Citizenship of Muslims is doubted by the state and they are forced to go through rigorous trial without any prior investigation.

5. In 1997, Election Commission of India marked more the 3,70,000 people as 'D'voters, mostly Muslims but also included Bengali Hindus, Koch Rajbangshi, Nepali and others.

6. The Process of identification is dubious and it is alleged that lower officials of ECI were asked to mark at least 20 voters as 'D'in each village.

7. Ideally Election officers should mark 'D' in voters list before name of a person who fails to provide citizenship documents during survey.

8. But Election officers rarely follow due process and marks a person as ‘Doubtful’ voters arbitrarily without seeking and checking documents

9. When a person is marked as 'D' voter, he/she cannot vote, his name is deducted from PDS benefit list. And most of the D voters are poor.
10. Women consist of more than 60% of total D voters. PDS benefits are life line for many. Once you are D voter, that life line is also gone

Indigenous Assamese Muslims facing existential crisis

11. ‘D’ can be deleted from voters' list by Foreigners Tribunal if held as Indian. D voters are sent to FT to determine whether they are Indian or not.

12. Another tool used mainly against Muslims is “Reference Case”(similar to charge-sheet) A Reference case is sent against a suspected citizen.

13. There is Border Police Department of Assam Police, Border Police has its presence in all Police Station across Assam.

14. Border Police is supposed to survey villages and if a person cannot produce documents on demand of police, he should be given time to submit documents.

15. If the person cannot submit  citizenship documents he is marked as “suspected citizen” by Border Police.

British law meant for enemies, used against own citizens

16. A suspected citizen is charge-sheeted or a Reference Case is send 2 Foreigners Tribunal. FT send notice to“suspected citizen to appear before it.

17. The modus operandi of Police is to mark a person as suspected citizen, and Reference Case with out asking 4 any documents or any investigation whatsoever.

18. Foreigners Tribunal is governed by Foreigners Act 1946, where the burden of proof lies on the opposite party or the ‘suspected citizen.'

19. Foreigners Act finds its roots in Foreigners Ordinance 1939 which was enacted to deal with war emergency situation during world war II.

20. Foreigners Act 1946, was passed by British Parliament for expulsion of foreigners mainly from Axis countries.

21. The colonial Act which was enacted for expulsion of enemies is now imposed on poor and illiterate citizen to prove their citizenship.
22. So if a poor and illiterate citizen don’t appear before the Tribunal,he/she can be held a ‘foreigner’ ex-parte. Which happens in 95% cases.

23. In 2012 the Assam govt published white paper on foreigners issue. It says 88192 cases were disposed between 1998 and 2012 by Tribunals.

24. Out of 88192 cases only 6590 were declared as foreigners i.e.93% of 'D' voters & ‘suspected citizens’ hv proved their Indian nationality.

25.When 93% poor and illiterate people marked as Suspected Citizen can prove citizenship.IT says all about investigation which marked them “suspected citizen.”

95% declared foreigners by 'ex-parte judgments; 55,000 till last two months

26. In 2015 Assam Police put a list of 7K ‘un-traced foreigners’ on public domain.The list has ‘un-traced foreigners’ from 13 districts of Assam.

27. Out of 13 districts, 3 districts provided the information regarding ‘manner of judgment’ i.e. ex- parte or contested.

28. Mangaldoi district data reveals that out of 208 declared foreigners only 1 person contested, remaining ninety nine. As many as fifty two percent people declared foreigner ex-parte.

29. More than 95% people declared as Foreigners are declared by ex-parte judgment. Till two months ago 55,000 people have been declared foreigner.

30. Once declared a foreigner,one might hv 2 spend rest of life in detention,without a Parole, if the FT order is not set aside by HC and SC

Victims don't have money to fight court cases

31. Forget about the Supreme Court, majority people declared as foreigner are too poor to even approach High court.

32. There are many Indian citizens damned as foreigners are languishing in detention camps. They might breathe their last in detention.

33. Just because a person is held  a foreigner by exp-parte judgment doesn’t mean he is foreigner. The Moinal Mollah case is classic example.

34. Mollah and parents wr marked “D” voters in 1997.His parents were sent notice by erstwhile IMDT. They appeared & wr held Indian citizens.

35. Moinal Mollah ws sent notice much later by Foreigners Tribunal.He appeared thrice, but because of ill advice of his lawyer he stopped appearing

Victim's petition was dismissed thrice, long legal battle brought him justice

36. Moinal Mollah was held a foreigner by ex-parte judgement. He came to know two years later that he has been held a foreigner.

37. Moinal Mollah approached Gauhati High Court, his petition was dismissed thrice. He was arrested on 05-09-2013 and sent to detention camp

38. Mollah had only one option- Supreme Court. He was too poor to approach Hon'ble SC. Our org MYFACTS helped him to approach Supreme Court.

39. By order dated 12.07.16 Honble SC gave Mollah an opportunity to file written statement before Foreigners Tribunal , Barpeta, Assam.

40. On 3rd August,2016, Moinal Mollah was released from Goalpara detention camp after being detained for almost three years.

41. On the blessed day of 14th October 2016, Foreigners Tribunal Barpeta held Moinal Mollah an Indian citizen by birth. He is no more a foreigner now.

42. COPY of the judgment that held Moinal Mollah an Indian citizen. We took up this case pro-bono. It took more than a year of hard work.                                              

43. Moinal Mollah’s case is a classic example which proves that just because a person is held foreigner by Tribunal, does not mean he is one.

44. There are thousands of Moinal Mollahs. Many languishing in detention camp without a parole. Some will breathe their last in detention

How Indian born termed 'foreigner: How can State treat our own citizens so mercilessly?

45. Mollah was detention for 3 years leaving behind wife and three daughters. Two of his younger brothers didn’t marry because he was in detention.

46. In the HC we are fighting case of a couple Hunti Ali and Rabia. They held as foreigners on frivolous ground. In detention for 8 months now.

47. Hunti Ali and Rabia Begum has three sons, all stays with relatives now after parent's arrest. Elder one only 13 dropped out of school.

48. Every Indian Citizen held as “foreigner” has similar heart wrenching stories to tell. IF this don’t outrage us, wonder what exactly will.

49. After dealing with scores of cases I can say with all conviction that majority people held as “foreigner” are genuine Indian citizens.

The tweets were made through the handle MuslimVoicesIndia: @MuslimVoicesIn
Advocate Aman Wadud tweets at @AmanWadud 

[The book Assam's Doubtful Citizens can be obtained from Pharos Media]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shameful: Right-wing Hindu group desecrate Lord Rama photo to cause communal riot in Gulbarga, six arrested

When six persons were arrested for alleged desecration of Lord Rama's photograph in a banner, the police were in for a shock.

The arrested persons were Hindu and they had links with the right-wing group Ram Sene [also spelt, Ram Sena].

This incident occurred in Shahbad in Gulbarga recently. Superintendent of Police (SP) N Sasikumar said that the aim was to create communal tension.

He said that those arrested told police that they were associated with Ram Sena.

The incident took place after the arrest of a youth for posting anti-Muslim content on social media. His arrest angered with the right-wing groups and a conspiracy was hatched to create communal tension.

Hence, the accsued themselves desecrated Lord Rama's photograph in the Vijaya Dashami banner, so that the blame could be put on Muslims, which would have led to communal tension.

Not the first incident

This is not the first such incident. A Pakistani flag was hoisted in Bijapur in Karnataka in 2012 After the incident, right-wing groups went on rampage.

However, all fizzled out when Ram Sena workers were arrested. Those arrested were mebers of the group's Sindgi unit. They had hosited flag in the campus of the town tehsildar in early hours.

But during inquiry it was found that a two-wheeler was seen on the wee hours at the office. On the basis of that, the two-wheeler owner and his accomplices were identified and taken in custody. They revealed the names of the other accomplices too.

Besides, there have been similar incidents in other parts of the country too. Clearly, the aim is to foment trouble and create divide between Hindus and Muslims. But the question is, 'How people get so indoctrinated that they could commit such acts?".


*Ram Sena men arrested in Gulbarga for throwing cow dung at banner
*Six arrested in Karnataka for desecration, six arrested

Photo courtesy:

Monday, October 24, 2016

Firing at Chief Minister's chopper, bomb blasts, helipad attacked, yet it won't be called Terrorism!

It was the biggest news of the day. A chief minister was fired at, just when he was about to get out of the chopper.

Armed terrorists began firing at the helipad. Bombs were also set off the same day in the State.

Still, did you watch the news as lead on TV channels. Was it given due importance?

"Suspected militants opened gunfire as he was getting out of helicopter", said this report, quoting CID officials. There were four ministers and two MLAs too in the helicopter. Manipur CM's helicopter ambushed, reports Scroll.

"A jawan of the Manipur Rifles was injured in the firing which took place when the chief minister stepped out of the helicopter and was being greeted by government officials", it further said.

The audacity of the attackers could be gauged from the fact that security was already beefed up in Ukhrul as CM was to reach there to inaugurate the developmental projects.

The militants attacked the helipad where CM Okram Ibobi Singh's chopper was scheduled to land in Ukhrul in Manipur, reported International Business Times (IBT).

The newspaper reported that several policemen were hurt in firing between militants and security forces, and the CM escaped unhurt. India Reserve Battalion jawans were also injured in IED blasts elsewhere in the State, on the same day.

In reports, words like 'unidentified gunmen' or 'militants' were used. Nowhere the word terror was found--neither on websites of major newspaper, nor on TV channels which carried these reports.

How headlines were sanitized [no use of word 'Terrorist']:

1. Helipad attacked after Manipur CM’s chopper takes off.
2. Manipur CM escapes ambush. 
3. CM Okram Ibobi escapes unhurt as militants open fire.

[See link, link and link]

NSCN(IM) is a banned outfit, just like other outfits which can't operate under Indian law.

However, its cadre is mostly called 'gunman', 'rebel', 'shooter' or 'outlaw', but not 'terrorist'. This is the same with ULFA, Bodo and Maoists too. The attacks may be brazen but they never fall in 'Terrorism' criterion in Indian media. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Terror in the name of Cow: Muslim man killed in police custody in Jharkhand, state remains soft on cow vigilantes

Cow vigilantes continue to spread terror across the country.

Minhaj Ansari, 22, is the latest victim of this form of terrorism.

Ansari wasn't killed for consuming or carrying meat.

He was murdered as he had shared 'objectionable photographs' of a calf on WhatsApp.

It was no offence. No FIR was registered. In any case, no court or system is needed when cow vigilantes come into the picture.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sonu Singh informed police and soon plain-clothed personnel picked up the 22-year-old Ansari.

He was allegedly tortured in illegal detention and later died in police custody--a clear case of cop-cow vigilantes' nexus which has emerged in most parts of North India.

READCow vigilantes' terror is the new form of right-wing extremism in India

The photograph above shows Ansari with his daughter. Now he is no more. Policemen initially tried to pass it off as a case of 'natural death'. There were attempts to hush up the case.

This horrific incident took place in Dighari in Jamtara district.

The post-mortem report later clearly suggested that there were injury marks.

The police station in-charge has not been arrested till now.

Sonu Singh hasn't been caught in this case either.Justice eludes the family.

Ansari's death sparked off protests.  Initially, individuals and some determined activists took up the case. 'National media' mostly ignored it.

READFood fascism, attacks on Muslims by cow vigilantes

An exception was Indian Express, which carried the reports. Clearly, it is a case of law-and-order collapse in the Eastern state. Cow vigilantism has reached a critical stage in the country.

It seems that anyone can be lynched anywhere. Could be an armyman's father or a truck driver, a trader or a driver, a factory worker or a minor boy.

In BJP ruled Jharkhand, cow vigilantes had earlier hanged two Muslims including a minor too. [Read about the Latehar tragedy at this link]

That incident had occurred in Latehar earlier this year.

The two--Mazloom Ansari, 35, and Inmtiaz, 12, were hanged by a tree publicly.

However, even after the latest incident in Jamtar, 'mainstream' media hasn't been vocal till date.

READ: Sakshi Maharaj should start campaign with top beef export companies in India

Not a single report of 'Jungle-Raj in Jharkhand' has appeared in headlines in the newspapers. It seems that killings over anything related to cow, have become a normal practice, and there is little outrage.

Killings continue despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rebuke to 'Gau Rakshaks'

The killings seem to have a 'sanction' in several states. Else,  how could administration act in such bizarre and partisan manner.

In a speech recently, PM Modi had said that in every state the police chief should ensure that self-styled cow vigilantes' dossiers are prepared to keep a check on those who commit crimes and claim to be 'Gau Rakshaks' i.e. Cow protectors.

Nothing is visible on the ground, till now.

*[Death in custody over calf photo, autopsy reveals torture]

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Shivraj Chouhan govt 'forgets' Muslim martyrs: Media reports force officials to wake up, accept 'mistake', promise to rectify the error

The Madhya Pradesh government built a huge memorial in memory of its brave soldiers but forgot the Muslim martyrs.

Param Vir Chakra Abdul Hamid and Brigadier Usman whose tales of valour are known to everybody in the country, were 'forgotten'.

Madhya Pradesh government sayss that while there are many war memorials in the country, it is the first memorial that commemorates the tales of bravery of Indian soldiers. Journalist Alok Pandey's report in Hindi newspaper Patrika [see above].

However, the Culture department of the MP government didn't provide a space to these legendary figures of Indian army. The 'Shaurya Smarak' has been built by MP government on a vast land at Arera Hills.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially, came to Bhopal, to inaugurate the memorial. After newspaper reports mentioned how these great martyrs did not find a place in the gallery of great soldiers, the MP government accepted the 'mistake'.

Such an innocent error! No tale of brave men of Indian army is complete without a mention of 'Naushera ka Sher' Brigadeir Usman and Abdul Hamid. The latter had single-handedly destroyed the 'famed' Patton tanks of Pakistan.

Patrika, the mass circulated Hindi newspaper, carried the story as lead on its front page. Subsequently, Culture department Principal Secretary (PS) Manoj Srivastava admitted the mistake and said that the mistake would be corrected.

Muslim artists perform Ram Lila in Lucknow: Communal Harmony Project-33

Communal harmony is not a term that's just used in books or speeches.

It the spirit of this country, even if people ignore numerous incidents around themselves.

The photograph on the left can give you an indication.

Lucknow is known for its communal harmony and composite culture.

Ram Lila is annually held in Bakhshi Ka Talab locality here and it has mostly Muslim artists.

Either it is Sabir Khan who is the director and has also played roles in the Ram Leela in the past or Safaraz Khan, audience simply love them for their unique presentation.

The Ram Lila brings to fore the life of Lord Rama on the stage. But apart from the Bakhshi ka Talab event, there are other Ram Lilas that too have Muslim characters and Muslims among organisers-patrons.

The convenor of the Lucknow Ramlila Association says that the biggest of all--Ram Lila at Aishbagh in Lucknow, is unimaginable without the partcipation of Shamsur Rahman Naved. Lucknow is known for its communal harmony.

But all over the country, Ram Lilas are staged with Muslims as organisers, artists, audiences and supporters. In Mewat region too, it is part of the culture. Either in Punhana or Tavdu, Muslim artists--musicians, actors, take part in the presentation. Photo courtesy, Hindi daily Patrika []

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project

#communalharmony #communalharmonyproject #india

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

When a leading Deobandi scholar supported 'Tazia', Muharram rituals

Can you imagine a Deobandi scholar supporting the practice of 'Tazia-dari' or performing rituals during Muharram?

Unimaginable, isn't it? Maulan Ashraf Ali Thanvi was passing by rural part of Northern Rajasthan that falls in Mewat region.

He reached a Muslim hamlet where most people had little awareness about religion.

They neither prayed, not could recite Quranic verses. Maulana Thanvi, a leading light of Deoband, asked them if they organised any event. "We have a platform, which is called Imam Husain Ka Chabutra. Here Tazia is kept during Muharram", came the reply.

"If a person who can read arrives, the Shahadatnama is read out here". Maulana Thanvi told them to ensure that the rituals were performed with more zeal and urged them to call 'Aalims' from outside during Muharram, for 'taqreer' [discourses].

After leaving the place, his companions who were quite surprised, asked him that how come Maulana Thanvi who always opposed these rituals, encouraged the locals and told them to continue the 'Azadari' [Tazia, Ashura related] rituals.

Maulana Thanvi replied, "these people have no link with Islam, except Imam Husain's name. If I discourage them at this point, there is little chance that there association with the religion would remain and they may turn towards irtidad.

However, if they continue the practices and call clerics from outside, the link would remain and they may learn basics of Islam too viz.prayers, fasting et al. Hence, it was important, to tell them to continue the practices", he said.

Clearly, it was his tact--hikmat. If he had begun with denouncing them, calling them ignorant or branding them as non-Muslims, it wouldn't have helped at all. Unfortunately, today, it has become a norm for people to call fellow Muslims, 'mushrik', without even realising that it is not permissible an one doesn't have the authority to pass such judgments.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Stop judging fellow Muslims: Criticizing other sects, targeting their beliefs, itch to raise objections on Muharram rituals

The Islamic month of Muharram has begun. With this, the annual ritual to criticise the practice of mourning and 'maatam' is also being witnessed.

On social media, there is a flood of messages through SMS, WhatsApp and social media posts, calling mourning and maatam [self-flagellation] as un-Islamic, wrong and backward practices.

This is a matter of belief--mourning the martyrdom of Prophet's grandson and his family in the battle of Karbala.

Shias perform 'maatam' to express their grief at the tragic events. Many Sunnis too mourn*, though they don't perform maatam.

Worse, people use abusive terms for those who perform these rituals.

What do you gain by questioning their practices or condemning them? They are a different sect and they have their own beliefs-traditions.

It hurts them when they are constantly targeted. How upset we [Muslims] feel when questions are raised on Qurbani during Eid-uz-Zuha [act of slaughter termed violent], and there is criticism of the practice by many non-Muslims.

It is unrealistic to expect that everyone will act as per your beliefs. And who are you to decide who is 'Muslim' and who is 'outside pale of Islam'. If you are a believer you should be humble and worry if you are on right path, rather than targeting-abusing others.

Weird: Expecting others to be like you!

Who has the authority to issue certificates of 'Islamic' and 'un-Islamic' behaviour? It is absolutely between God and the individual.

Besides, it is irrational to expect that everyone will behave just like you and adhere to religion exactly in the way, you have seen in your family or grown accustomed to.

Those who object to Muharram practices and call them 'wrong', 'cheap' or 'un-Islamic', should better introspect about their own thinking. When your ways are questioned, you get upset and get ready to pick up fight, don't you?

The sectarian itch prompts you to brand others, blame others. In recent years, this bug has bitten a huge populace. The arguments, counter-arguments and you get another reason to feel special--you are expert 'sectarianist'.

Obsession with sectarianism

"We must correct them, islaah is needed", is the standard answer. Really! So there is nothing else to correct--from social issues to educational matters, from language to character, and why not start it from your house?

The belief is that only we are right and others are wrong, is troublesome. Isn't it better to focus on improving oneself and one's family? Also, there are counter-arguments that Shias practice 'tabarra' and abuse the first three Caliphs.

Ask if you have ever heard anyone do it publicly and there is no response. The belief that all Shias do that is also strange. And, if someone does something in their homes, what will you do? Isn't this plain-hate?

How different is it from the right-wing extremists who presume that beef is cooked in a house and kill Akhlaq. Isn't this hypocrisy? The same majoritarian communalism towards a minority within your society!

When sects are different, why do you judge them?

It is a strange disease [most of us suffer] to target anyone who is not like 'us'--the us is what we have seen growing up in family or neighbourhood. You're are just not aware of the kind of cultural, sectarian and social differences, that exist across the world.

This is totally irrational and also against the basic tehzeeb [manners, decency] of living in a society. Everyone can't be like you. Still, if you insist on calling them names, then forget talk about Ummah and unity among Muslim sects.

In fact, a strange passion overcomes people when it comes to sectarianism. Sane people get into a totally different mode, writing posts after posts, dozens of comments, as if this is the biggest issue on the planet.

Sects are a reality, accept it

Sects are a reality. Not just Barelvi-Deobandi, but Ismaili to Bohra, and so on. When it comes to interpretations and 'hadith', people go as per their own sect's interpretation, terming other 'hadith' as zaeef or ignoring it.

For nearly 1300 years there were Muslim aalims who never so easily branded other as 'non-Muslims'. Aga Khan was in fact considered one of the major leader of Indian Muslims till Partition.

Many prominent leaders of Muslim community were Shia, Ismaili, even Mehdavia and those belonging to the other sects. There was less objection to others' practices and minor differences were ignored.

But in recent decades, it has become a favourite pastime to do tanqeed [criticism] and target others. People strongly feel what they feel, calling them that they are on wrong path, all the time, doesn't help at all.

READ: Either Barelvi or Deobandi. Difficult to be 'simply Muslim' amid growing sectarianism

[*The processions are taken out by Sunnis and Shias on Muharram. Shias carry 'Alams' and perform maatam. Tazias are mostly carried by Sunnis and also some Hindus. However, many urbane people dismiss Tazias as Hindu influence and look down upon even those Sunnis who take part in this rituals]

Friday, September 30, 2016

'Either Deobandi or Barelvi': Difficult to be simply Muslim amid growing sectarianism

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

More than the Shia-Sunni sectarian differences, these days you hear about Barelvi-Deobandi schism.

The Sunnis, who form a majority of population among Indian Muslims, are seen as 'Either Deobandi or Barelvi'.

There are many non-Muslims who claim to have studied Deobandi and Barelvi sects, and have emerged as experts lately.

The truth is that the nuances and the nature of beliefs is such that they can't understand them. It is not easy to comprehend the complexities, similarities and differences, especially, for an outsider. Damn confusing, I must say. Worse, it is the sweeping generalisation, and nomenclature that has compounded the problem.

*Those who are not Deobandis, are all considered Barelvis.
*And those who are not Barelvis, are all termed Deobandis.

But the reality is not as simple. There is a huge Muslim population that may not fit in this caterogization, the identity is often thrust on them even though these terms are of recent origin, in the long history of Islam.

I'm writing this post after witnessing the huge amount of energy spent on social media by certain Muslims and also non-Muslim experts of Islam in recent times.  Initially it may be difficult reading but do read till the end, especially from point 7-10, and the concluding text.

1. Categorising someone is so simple. Let me first start with those Muslims who don't subscribe to Deobandi school of thought. By default this population is termed Barelvi but many of them may not have even heard of Ala Hazrat [Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi], let alone visited his shrine or have any special regard for him. 

2. Similarly, many non-Deobandis feel that anyone who is against visiting Dargahs, is a Deobandi [or Wahabi]. This is also untrue. Deobandi beliefs are seen more in sync with the Salafis who rule the Saudi Arabia.

However, it is the Ahl-e-Hadith sect in India, which has spread more in recent decades, and it represents the Salafis here. As rituals vary from region to region and even family to family, it ironically comes to the point that what one has seen in his household, is 'true' for the person.

3. Your parents didn't follow a ritual, so you believe that the other person who performs it, is not on right path. Those with some interest in discussions or debates get particular Hadith, that suits their own view, rather having a deep study or a broad view, awareness about all aspects, Islamic injunctions, real knowledge of Ahadiths. In the past I have seen, that people casually term a fellow Muslim, 'non-believer' just because he wears an amulet. But that shows immaturity and rigidity.

4. Many from both the sides may even be on the same page when it comes to women--issues like women going to a grave yard, but would still brand the other group and term something as an 'undesirable practice'. In fact, this is endless.

5. From participating in a 'Milad' to going to a 'Urs', any practice may be condemned. But if you belong to a sect that opposes it and yet it is your family tradition, you justify it.

6. Similarly, the counter-charge would be that the particular sect is trying to lessen the love for Prophet. With the Saud family's hold and the manner in which heritage has been destroyed in Arab, it makes for a strong argument. The Khanqahis [associated with Dargahs] are also considered as Barelvis by default.

7. Though there are Sufis whose love for Hazrat Ali reaches the stage where they are termed close to Shia doctrine, there also Pirs and Sufis who are now close to Deobandi beliefs. Of later, we have been hearing it too often that Barelvis are more liberal or accommodating.

8. But, when it comes to the sole Muslim public event--Muharram, both Deobandis and Barelvi stand on it, is known, not favourable. The mourning procession on the day of Yaum-e-Ashurah is generally 'believed' to be taken out by the Shias. But in North India, mostly Sunnis take out Tazias.

While Shias take 'alam' and perform 'maatam', it is only Sunnis or some Hindus who take out 'Tazias' or organise the 'akhadas'.

Shias don't take out Tazias. Now, all these Sunni Muslims are termed 'Barelvis'.

9. But Imam Ahmad Raza Khan's stand was quite harsh on these practices.

He opposed them, issued fatwas and his followers are also against these Muharram observances.

So who are these people who are on streets during Ashura?

Of course, Muslims--the Sunni Muslims, in fact, the ordinary Muslims, who mourn the killing of their Prophet's grandson and his family at Karbala. Unfortunately, it's so easy to compartmentalise and categorise!

Of course, they are Muslims, ordinary Muslims.

10. The Barelvis dislike them. The Deobandi too, who is more urbane, decides that these people are 'non-believers' or 'corrupt'. The 'elite' [moneyed] declare that these practices are not in sync with their sophisticated lifestyle and terms them as 'jaahil' [ignorant].

Even more recent phenomenon is that a section of 'elite Shia' are also seen avoiding self-flagellation or attending the mourning processions where blood is shed. Is it like elite Hindus these days who often claim that they don't play Holi like the louts and use flowers instead of colours!

Despite Islamic injunctions to avoid judging others, it has become routine to call the 'other', 'unbeliever' just because his/her sect is different. And there lies the real tragedy. Somewhere in between, may come the Tablighi Jamat enthusiast.

If he finds you are not inclined to go with them, they might look down upon you as someone of 'lesser faith'. This is all internecine Sunni differences. We haven't touched Shias as yet. 

--Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi was born in 1856
--Darul Uloom Deoband was established in 1866. Maulana Qasim Nanutvi was born in 1833
--Tablighi Jamat movement started in 1926


The sectarian bug hurts the community.

Some people openly write on invitation cards that a person of other sect [in case he might have got the card by mistake because the sender wasn't aware of his sect], must not attend the wedding ceremony.

In many parts of the country, the grave yards are now separate for those belonging to these two different sects.

In real life and on social media [after debates], people shun old friends just because they discover that the other person performs a particular ritual or has a different take on certain things.

Again, it is the same obsession to turn everyone like yourself. To prove your point, you may bring your citations or examples, the other person also has his own.

What exactly is this sort of obsession and silly arguments over traditions and practices?

Not just Quran and Hadith, but innumerable other examples are given and this adds to more bitterness--the idea and the effort is just to bring the other person to your own position on each issue, every ritual.

Even more interesting is the lack of knowledge. As few read Quran along with the translation, and even few have gone through the Hadis [Hadith], the arguments are for the sake of argument and the aim is to somehow prove the other person wrong, as only your sect should be on right path.

In order to win argument, they ultimately go to the cleric of their own sect or search on internet--from websites favourable to your sect to videos on YouTube. Why all this effort? Ego trip, what else?  Aim should be to learn more, pray that we don't falter, worry about own mistakes and sins, rather than focusing on others and proving them wrong.

In the era of social media boom, when you find forwarded posts by friends and relatives on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, on every festival and observance--asking you to either shun or embrace some ritual, in order to fall in line, how do you cope? How much you can ignore.

It is damn irritating. Imagine, there are cities where people fear to go to a new mosque where they haven't gone before, because the way they offer prayer may incur wrath of the sect that controls the mosque.

In this backdrop, I am asking, is it possible to be 'Simply Muslim'? I ask this question myself, often. Still there is a vast majority of Muslims--simple Muslims, who are still not afflicted with this sectarian bug. However, the pace at which the sectarianism is growing, is worrying.

UPDATE: This article was written a few years ago. Now it seems that a lot of Muslims have realised that futility of endless discussions over sects & excessive focus on differences in schools of thought. On social media, there are some sectarian-minded people but on the other hand, a huge population that gives a call to shun sectarianism. This has more to do with rise in Hindutva extremism & lynchings.