Thursday, March 26, 2020

Terrorism in India: 17 policemen killed in deadliest attack in Chhattisgarh this year


17 policemen were killed in one of the most deadliest attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in India.

This incident occurred in Sukma district on March 21, 2020. The Maoists had ambushed the police party.

Perched on the hills, they shot the policemen. Naxalites later escaped with AK 47 rifles and several other weapons.

The police had got information about Maoists gathering in the area. Hence, a huge posse comprosing DRG, STF and COBRA jawans, was seent from Dornapal camp towards Kasalpad forests on way to Elmagunda.

The security personnel planned to take Naxals by surprise. However, the latter had also got info about the jawans' movement and ambushed the security personnel. Initially, the police officials claimed that the policemen were missing.

Later, a special team was sent and the bodies of the martyred jawans were brought to the district headquarters. Maoists later displayed the weapons looted in the attack and issued a statement in this regard. Chhattisgarh is among the worst affected state when it comes to left-wing terrorism. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Islamophobia in Indian media, hate spread through TV channels: Is the media's right-wing Hindutva shift irreversible?



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Is the Indian media's right-wing shift irreversible?

The question was actually raised on Twitter, in a discussion. Baba Glocal asked, "Do you guys think the genocidal brand of Rwanda Radio journalism will survive even after BJP loses the center?".

He further wrote, "The people who they are catering to remains the same, even if BJP doesn’t get the majority. (Lack of) funding is the only way to stop them".

TV CHANNELS HAVE DIVIDED THE SOCIETY

I don't think even after BJP gets weakened a bit in future, there will be a major change. The society has been deeply divided and the communal poison has permeated everywhere sphere--no longer the urban and rural divide exists, Islamophobia has now swept the country.

Besides, there is no strong will to fight these people, ideologically, by any of the opposition parties and hence in the absence of any such movement, more and more people in society getting affected with time and turning right-wing, getting converted to the Hindutva cause through channels, daily dose on Whatsapp, Facebook and all other medium including print.

WHERE IS THE OPPOSITION'S WILL TO TAKE ON HATE-PEDDLERS?

Common people can fight up to a level but it needs groups and cadre for example youth wings of parties, the support of party organizations in legal cases against owners-anchors and public naming-shaming of channels-owners who indulge in hate but the entire ecosystem is now ultra right-wing.

If the core right-wing vote for 15-18%, sustained propaganda on a daily basis over the years has led to this figure going up, probably, past 25% and even more. Such is the situation that leave Muslims aside, every 'secular party' and particularly,Congress and its leaders are hated by a large section.

They can suffer but can't even think of not voting the BJP. All these debates on TV channels, the clips of the shows, are later shared on social media. The 'IT cells' often edit and make them even more 'lethal' for the society.

HOW TO FIGHT THE TV CHANNELS' TOXICITY, HATE

The fight is not easy. This needs planned work, taking to the streets, demos as well, apart from ideological support, serious efforts to fight, counter propaganda, not just stop core right-wing base grow but get them see reality, especially, those who just see 'Muslim appeasement' & 'population growth'.

It is an unprecedented situation, for example even if 10,000 farmers commit suicide, there is no tear for them in this society, no major movement or 'anger in society' narrative, because papers-media that work from cities, don't make it an issue.

This is the scenario when most of the farmers belong to the majority community. Failing economy or even banks' collapse is immaterial too. Then comes the idea that can a grip on funding of these channels, affect their business!

Funding not as big an issue here as in the West, because media always made losses here but businessmen needed it for power and to bargain with government. Spending is controlled as mostly there are debates, not much in-depth reporting or specials that need money, resources and dedication.

Even if a few channels are reined in, most of them would continue doing it on particular days, issues and keep raising controversial things. Also, the infiltration in media is such that the ideology is now difficult to remove.

READ: World must wake up, TV channels spreading Nazi-level hate against Muslims in India

The 'hate is now around us' and not dependent on TV alone. There are 'warriors' who issue threats to people or even go to bizarre levels like call to boycott entire community. Emergency steps are required and real tough action on part of State can only stop it. And, this is highly unlikely.

One factor that will come in way of any change is the composition of the newsrooms--people who form an overwhelming majority of the editorial positions in the channels, and there is no major difference in it, over decades.

There is no serious attempt to give representation to communities, groups in newsrooms. Diversity is just not an issue. So what? Though it's all gloomy, still, it is necessary to do our bit and fight as much as possible.

There is need to name and shame owners, their main brands, and telling the entire world about how the owners are acting like genocidal maniacs and what monsters they have created.

Legal ways, activism, social movement and 'halla bol' on channels are also to be used along with these options. TV has definitely harmed the nation. It has created prejudices, deepened hate and widened the existing fault lines. Further, it has demonized Muslims and has hurt the nation more than our real enemies could have done.

A national movement for harmony that stresses on the need to remain united in the best interests of the 'desh' (country) is the need of the hour. For this, some of the celebrities need to show conviction and millions of people who believe in harmony, would have to support it. This is also a possible way to deal with the situation.

[PS: There are some other ways too but everything can't be part of a blog post]

Saturday, March 07, 2020

The history of communal riots in Aligarh, Hyderabad and Meerut: How violence stopped and intensity, frequency of killings came down


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The recent horrific killings in Delhi have once again brought alive memories of the brutality during communal riots in several cities in India, in the past.

Historically, cities that saw communal riots had a similar pattern and the victim's grievances were also similar.

The police or provincial armed constabulary i.e. PAC (in case of UP) were accused of high-handedness and allegations of complicity with the right-wing leaders in the local towns.

The cities that were once most affected include Aligarh, Hyderabad and Meerut (apart from Kanpur and Ahmedabad). From the decade of 1960s till 1980s and even later, these cities remained vulnerable to such killings, though situation improved later.

In the case of Aligarh, there were several factors. The role of traders belonging to a small community (Baraseni Vaishya) has been the most significant factor and discussed in several studies. Unfortunately, it is not remembered or even talked about now.

No analysis or any serious understanding is possible unless this aspect is remembered. As this is a post, I would not delve into the detail and the readers can themselves get a fair idea. The intensity and frequency of riots came down after major changes in the town.

KK Navman, a right-wing leader, was known for his inflammatory speeches and statements. After the eighties, BSP emerged as a power in the district and the electoral alliances (the Muslim support for the party in civic election or assembly or parliament), also had its affect on the local society.

The rise of in Muslim population--from around 33% after independence, it crossed 40% (due to migration from rural areas and nearby villages) was also a factor in this change. The Dalit population too doubled in Aligarh in terms of percentage.

And, the result was that Aligarh was no longer a city that was witnessing riots (unlike past when it was a regular occurrence). Having suffered repeatedly, Muslims are aware of their vulnerability (due to hostile officials and police), hence, behave more maturely and act responsibly in areas where they are strong.

This is also reflected in the way that cities that are Muslim majority don't witness communal riots--either it is cities like Rampur or Burhanpur, or regions of West Bengal around Murshidabad or Mewat.

Ultimately, the issue is lack of representation of Muslims in police--a community that accounts for nearly 15% of population, is hardly visible in the forces. For more, read other posts on the issue viz. How communal killings can be stopped and Had Congress been tough on rioters in 1992-93, Gujarat pogrom won't have taken place.

[Image: Courtesy, Indian Express, screenshot of paper's front page]

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

How to manage public opinion, create perception despite recession in India: BJP, Indian Economy and WhatsApp narrative


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It is interesting that how BJP successfully sets the social media narrative through WhatsApp and Facebook.

An example that would reveal how it works. I met this guy at the BSNL office.

He was worried over his personal issues, started talking to me on his own, about lay offs, privatization, future of LIC and a lot more.

Also, he said govt unable to control but later said, 'look at Pakistan, they've to mortgage all, even roads, we're much better'.

He was explaining to me that in India, we're yet to sell railways but in Pakistan even 'roads sold' to keep the country's economy afloat'. Must have picked up from channels.

So this comparison always makes people content, 'unse behtar hain', without stepping foot out of India. This is the super narrative--comparison has to be with Pakistan, look at how others have sunk & we are still not doing badly.

Even within locality it happens, people are sometimes more jealous about neighbour's accomplishment. So playing on these emotions. Truly amazing. 'Unke yahan to kuchh bacha hi nahi, sadak tak bech di, bhooke mar rahe hain, Chin ki khairat par pal rahe hain...'

These are just the kind of things that people want to believe & take pride in the fact that our enemy is starving, let's forget our pain, be happy. Pak obsession, Nationalism! With 400 million Indians on WhatsApp getting videos, posts about our achievements by such comparisons, you can well sense why BJP and its narrative works.

Add, communal polarization, anger against internal enemies--Urban Naxals, TT gang & see how it works. 300 seats again. It keeps citizens 'satisfied', there is the feeling of 'self-respect', gets sense of Hindu pride and that he elected a strong government. This is a model that has worked well. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Delhi killings: Can communal violence, orchestrated riots, anti-Muslim pogroms ever be stopped in India?


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Delhi is in flames--nearly 20 persons have been killed, hundreds injured, settlements burnt and mob marches on the streets shouting slogans.

It all happened in Delhi, when the security was high, Donald Trump was visiting, yet, police failed to stop the rioters. The photographs and videos of youths taking pride in the attacks, arson and killings, are all over social media.

But this is just one in the series of such communal killings India has witnessed for decades. Delhi is the national capital, hence, we see more images. But the total failure of political class, the lack of will on part of opposition leaders and role of police show how law-and-order crumbled and this is the story of every riot in India.

Indian Express report on the front page on February 26,2020, had the headline ''Mob, courtesy Delhi police". It said, 'Right under the police nose, men with rods, sticks assault, set homes ablaze, check ID cards, smash CCTVs..."

The question once again stares us in the face: Can such killings, violence ever stop in India?

We often see how cops choose not to act, remains mute spectators or there are allegations how they side with mobs. One of the most important factors it the lack of Muslims and other minority communities in the police. The share of minorities in police is barely 5%.

If there are 12-15% Muslims in Delhi, but you don't have even 2% in Delhi police, it is a clear lack of representation of the society. *When riots are engineered or mobs are out on streets, its impact is visible, most clearly.

There are videos of attacks on mosques and madarsas, people forced to take off pants, journalists allowed to go when it was found that they were from the majority community. But many would still make false equivalence, justify. They will use one example or two to claim that it was not a pogrom or mass killings that had the nod of the authorities, rather, a clash.

When you work in a society or serve it, you have to be representative of the society, at least, there should be some attempt to act fair, appear fair. If not 12%, at least get 5-6% minorities! But no, there is no discussion on the subject, in fact, the figures are no longer made public. May be less than 2% now in Delhi

In reports of numerous commissions on communal killings, role of police has been criticised. When even in national capital, people have to approach High Court to get police to let ambulances carry victims, you see how deep is the rot. Nothing will work until police is inclusive.

Police is the arm of the State on the ground--the most visible and potent symbol of power on the street. You want to keep it as such, reform is not the intention, never, no government is keen on in. Besides, narrative is created in such a fashion that if there were no police, then majority would have been in trouble!

Further, there is no accountability, action. Political class has no interest in stopping killings, it helps them. After every riot, the politician who made hate speeches or got accused of orchestrating the riot, gains in stature--that's the irony of India.

Communal riots continue because politicians benefit, role of society as well

When riots begin, there is always the call to bring Army. This is because army is seen as more neutral and that its arrival does scare the rioter who can't take all the liberty, which otherwise he gets.

But, the Army is never called timely because public posturing apart, leaders too come from the same society & many of them want to 'teach lesson to other community'--basically the same inherent violent streak in our society where riots, bloodbath is not an aberration.

Violence is just a 'tamasha' (sic) in this society, it doesn't really bother or upset masses. For politicians, it helps them achieve the status of a masculine big leader. Publicly everyone won't say it but message goes--'this leader can bring them on their knees'. That's reality.

It was after the killings during Rath Yatra that LK Advani became 'the leader'. It was after 2002 that Modi conquered hearts of the majority. And earlier SS supremo too got respect for this reason. So that's the tried and tested formula in our politics.

What can be worse in a society when you know the politicians are aware of the benefits of killings--Count bodies, conquer hearts! And why should any politician one bother about law-and-order! For riots, politicians don't go to jails in India, our judiciary is known for letting these cases continue for decades.

No jail terms, it's perfect system. Riots, killings ensure rewards. 24 people were shot dead dead in UP only recently. Large sections of society felt it was the 'tough message' that was needed and as the monk's rule was giving competition in hardline Hindutva, the competitor had to strike back andshow he can get it done in national capital.

The figure of deaths, the scale of violence. All this could have been stopped much earlier but no one bothered. BJP leaders' role well-known. Aam Aadmi Party did nothing. And, Congress leaders! Nothing. All are responsible for this bloodbath.

Shouldn't Opposition leaders have reached President House last night, sat in front of it when Delhi was burning? This is a question even committed voters of these parties and supporters are asking. In the worlds biggest democracy, no system works and nothing could save Delhi. Innocents perished, property destroyed and dreams died.

[Photo: Front page of Indian Express]
Tweets also available at @indscribe
LINK: Percentage of Muslims in Police in States

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hindu wedding held in a century-old mosque, the masjid committee supports bride's family, hosts event: Communal Harmony Project-53

Anju and Bindu tied the knot as priest chanted the mantra and all the rituals were performed. 

The unique thing was that it was a Hindu wedding but was held on the premises of a mosque. 

The Cheravally Muslim Jamath mosque, which is nearly a century old, came to the family's help as the bride's family needed support and financial assistance for the event. 

"After the death of husband Ashokan two years ago, Bindu has been struggling with financial liabilities and was staying at a rented house with her three children. As she was struggling to source money to conduct daughter Anju's wedding, her neighbour, a Jamaath secretary, suggested she approach the Jamaath committee", reports The Week

"Bindu did not worry about religious differences when she sought help, and the Jamaath committee was open to assistance. One of the members offered to bear the wedding expenses. Believers, who came for Friday prayers last week, were informed about this and they too lent their support". 

Also, read this report in The Hindu: "The bride had lost her father a couple of years ago. As the family lacked resources to conduct the wedding, Ms. Anju’s mother sought the help of the mosque committee."

“She came to my house seeking help for conducting the marriage. She gave a letter, which I presented to the Jamaath committee. We decided to help the family conduct the marriage,” said Nujumudeen Alummoottil, secretary, Cheravally Muslim Jamaath Committee.

[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


Muslim parents arrange Hindu daughter's marriage in the temple: Communal Harmony Project-52


Rajeshwari and Vishnu got married in a temple in Kasargod in the presence of Rajeshwari's parents--Abdullah and Khadeeja.

Strange it may sound but Rajeshwari lived at the home of Abdullah and Khadeeja after her parents' death. 

They raised her just like her parents and as she became an adult, the marriage was solemnised. 

She was barely 7-8 years ago when she came to this house and now, 15 years later, when she is 22, she was married off. 

To Abdullah's three sons, he was a sister. After they got marriage proposal, the family made proper visit and then accepted it. Vishnu is son of Balachandran and Jayanthi.

Abdullah's elderly mother was also present in the ceremony. Not just the families, their relatives and local residents but local councillor, BJP leader and several other political representatives attended the event. 

There are several such stories of communal harmony that one finds in every city. On this website too, we have posted several such incidents--foster parents raising adopted son or daughter on the kid's religion and later marrying off. 

Photo, news courtesy: Mathrubhumi

[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

Myths about Indian Muslims' backwardness: Muslims moving forward, striving to achieve despite discrimination and lack of government jobs


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Call it the impact of propaganda, conditioning or bias, some people feel that Muslims are mostly poor in India.

They feel that barely a fraction of Muslims are educated and also live under the impression that the community is not making any progress at all.

That day I decided to make a mental note of Muslims I was going to come across, not those who're in 'our circle' [like us], but random meeting, coming across in journey, public place, gathering...waiting in a clinic, at a party, those whom I met for the first time.

I felt it would educate me also and would be 'informative;, an experience, as we must also know what kind of works, professions, people are into, what sort of ways to earn their living.

#WhatMuslimsdo

The first person I met was going to another city for sale of 'chikan embroidery goods' in an exhibition that runs for months, was taking 12 employees, even cook, as they stay for the period. It was interesting conversation as we talked at length during train journey.

The second was a man who deals in sale of tyres, mostly trucks, and not just new but old and recycled too. The third is a youth whose job fascinated me most--maintenance of backhoe machines, excavators, equipment used in mining, a big team under him in a neighbouring state

The fourth person has an has agency of newspapers and magazines that he runs in a metro near his city, goes 20 km everyday in the morning, returns at night, doesn't seem to be earning big but was quite happy with his job.

Next, a youth who conducts speech therapy, helps youths who stammer and stutter. Very interesting jobs and great insight about works, careers. Then, a guy I met, who works for a medical company, covers 3 states and earns well though he is constantly on the move.

A bakery shop owner, a woman who has got teaching job and is shifting to other city with kids. A man working with a caterer, supervisory work. The tenth, a guy doing project work for students, couldn't talk much. Long list. An aphrodisiac seller too, very interesting guy

Widely travelled person, hailing from Allahabad, has relatives in Lucknow and Bhopal, has seen almost every important town in different states, cautioned that one should never go to quacks or buy 'shilajit', as it is always fake. I promised him that I would never buy 'shilajit'.

Then, a guy in hardware business who unlike other traders [who say terrible, too bad], didn't complain and said business was okay. May be, hardware not as affected or he is lucky or more patient. Poverty cuts across all sections of the society and there are poor, unemployed in all..

..sections, communities. A community less in govt jobs, naturally tries harder elsewhere. See how people trying to earn a living, how they strive, how hard or innovative some are. But on the other hand, often people form opinions, inherit prejudices and don't even try to find out.

This is just a short thread, in fact, interaction with the people, one can write posts on them, it gives insight about society. I met the man who deals in glass work and also sells very high quality small mirrors, the sort of mirrors which you would like to buy immediately.

Statistically, there has been separate posts about how Indian Muslims are improving on social indicators, and have even done much better than several other communities. Besides, social evils ranging from female foeticide to dowry deaths are least among Muslims. This post was about the need to get rid of assumptions and see reality on the ground.

There are crores of Indian Muslims--over 200 million i.e. 20 crore. There must be a lot more, those running pan shops, eateries, hotels, lawyers, those selling roadside biryani, dealing in computer parts, working as pharmacists, security personnel, software engineers, advertisers, architects, journalists, those in transport, hospitality, government or private jobs, writers, poets, technicians, drivers, artisans, farmers, scrap dealers, teachers, sell chicken or run mutton shops, entrepreneurs, salesmen or running small-scalle industrial units.

So, my advice--shun your prejudices, learn about Indian Muslims.