Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bacha Khan – In remembrance

The irony of the latest atrocity at Bacha Khan University (BKU), Charsadda, is that it was enacted on the death anniversary (Jan 20) of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan. Every year, the day is commemorated to honour the undisputed apostle of peace, as well as his equally illustrious son, Wali Khan, who passed away on Jan 26, 2006.

In a peace conference, well-known scholars and experts from across Pakistan and Afghanistan were to deliver their papers on peace. A Pashto mushaira was meant to expound on Bacha Khan’s universal philosophy of love and tolerance.

Doubtless, this was the mission of the late Bacha Khan as he opened several Darul Afghania schools across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the British had forcefully kept the population under draconian laws like the FCR, besides regulations banning political activities. To Bacha Khan, as mentioned in his memoir My Life, My Struggle, education was a sacred tenet of Islam, which he quotes as a commandment of Allah. “Iqra” (read) was the first divine command to the unlettered Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Allah had meant to educate and thus humanise his people through the divine revelations of the Holy Quran.

The institution that bears the name of one of the preachers of non-violence is soaked in the blood of its students

His detractors wrongly paint him as a blind follower of Gandhi although he had a deep understanding of Islam being a religion of peace and forgiveness. He used Islamic and Pashto idioms to propagate the mission of non-violence. This philosophy was an article of faith for the non-violent Khudai Khitmatgar movement.

While Bacha Khan was struggling to humanise the violent tribal Pakhtuns into law-abiding citizens with his vision of peace and education, his mission was aborted by the British who considered the Pakhtuns unworthy of modern education. Historically, Pakhtuns excelled in warfare and prided themselves on being a martial race. As with their martial counterparts in the subcontinent like the Sikhs and Gurkhas, their chivalry was exploited by the British rulers, and they were used to good effect as war fodder and mercenaries for imperial exploits in the world, including the First World War and many other fronts.

During the independence movement, being a close ally of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian Congress, Bacha Khan motivated his people to wage a non-violent struggle instead of taking up arms: a novel chapter in the blood-soaked history of Pakhtuns. His followers, the Khudai Khidmatgars (servants of God), paid a heavy price with their lives as thousands were imprisoned and killed during this period.

Bacha Khan spent more time in prison (37 years) than Nelson Mendala, both during the British rule and the latter day Pakistani governments for demanding equal rights for his people. Mahatma Gandhi held Bacha Khan in high esteem. During his visit to Sadaryaab, the headquarters of Khudai Khidmatgars in Charsadda, Gandhi is quoted as telling the audience “Bacha Khan and Khudai Khidm-atgars deserve more credit than me and Congress, as Hindus belong to a comparatively non- martial race and taming the most violent people into peace-loving and law-abiding citizens was an incomparable achievement!”

Obviously the dawn of freedom had fewer choices for the great apostle of peace, despite his efforts, along with Gandhi, for reconciliation among the sparring Muslim League and Congress. Their mutual visits after eruption of the first-ever large-scale communal violence in Calcutta in 1946 and later in Bihar extinguished the fires of communal hatred and restored peace.

Bacha Khan and Gandhi’s desire for a prosperous and peaceful subcontinent did not materialise as the region was destined for partition. History is witness that the erstwhile NWFP witnessed very few incidents of communal violence as compared to Punjab and Bengal that were soaked in blood and unspeakable horror as the two nations celebrated the dawn of freedom.

“Non-violence is a power and has an army just like violence. But its weapon is preaching while the weapon of violence is the gun.”— Bacha Khan

The Congress ministry led by Dr Khan Sahib ensured that the fleeing Hindus and Sikhs were given protection and safe passage to their new homes across the border despite provocations and the belligerent politics of the subcontinent in 1947.

India became the first victim of intolerance when a RSS ideologue Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi at a prayer meeting at his ashram. Pakistan followed hounding and later arresting the towering leader of independence who stood for peace. This indeed was an inauspicious beginning for the two nation states, delivered in communal genocide despite the idealism of the founding fathers, Jinnah and Nehru respectively.

The subcontinent could never become peaceful as the two warring states waged three overt wars and indulged in mutual bellicosity resulting in many covert shenanigans. Their socio-economic indicators are far from enviable. The population is amongst the poorest, underfed, under clothed and suffering endemic diseases. Yet, the two states flaunt their latest weapons and gadgetry and nuclear arsenal for mutual destruction.

Bacha Khan’s prophetic words at Torkham, in 1980, at the beginning of the Afghan jihad, still ring loud and clear. He returned after three decades of self-exile from Afghanistan. The Soviets had spurned his efforts to roll back the invading Red Army, which Bacha Khan termed a recipe for disaster for the entire region during his visit to the Kremlin to meet Brezhnev.

His bewildered audience listened to his prophecy: “The blood that is now being shed in the name of religion shall soon engulf the entire subcontinent,” said the clairvoyant Pakhtun statesman, the bête noire of the Pakistani state for his secular ideals. “I can see rivers of blood flowing across Pakistan and when it reaches India it would be catastrophic for the entire region,” he added.

His perplexed audience questioned his logic. India was a world democracy with uninterrupted Congress rule which was considered secular. Why a bloodbath in India? they wondered. To this, his answer was, “I have seen the violent response of the Hindu bania in retaliation to the mullah’s provocation during the Partition riots. Violence shall not confine itself to geographical boundaries but will travel far and wide and would be impossible to extinguish.”

Bacha Khan motivated his people to wage a non-violent struggle instead of taking up arms; a novel chapter in the blood-soaked history of the Pakhtuns. His followers, the Khudai Khidmatgars (servants of God), paid a heavy price with their lives as thousands were imprisoned and killed during this period.

Bacha Khan had a valid point in his argument that has been proven right after several years. He could not have imagined that intolerance of the worst kind would unravel secular states like Iraq, Syria, Libya and even cross over into the Western nations who now do not know how to control the devil they unleashed to contain the Soviet Empire 30 years ago.

The non-state actors of the most virulent ideology is a product of a mostly Anglo-American policy having destabilised the world further through the thoughtless invasion of Iraq and the sponsoring of the subsequent violent uprising against previously secular Arab states, metamorphosing into a bigger evil, the militant Islamic State group, more lethal compared to their Taliban predecessors.

Bacha Khan’s birthplace, Charsadda, was also the fountain head of the Gandhara civilisation. It’s tainted red with blood of innocent young souls, where eager students were waiting to hear about the virtues of peace and tolerance in the BKU auditorium … their blood-soaked bodies bemoan the tragedy played out on their lives — in the cradle of pacifism. The symbol of peace and war is now etched on the psyche of the survivors of the horrific attack. The state of Pakistan has failed the Pakhtun nation once again.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, January 31st, 2016

People quick to condemn communalism, not caste discrimination: Meena Kandasamy speaks out

“I think this is a struggle is for all of us and we all have to take part in it,” she said
Anusha Puppala| Thursday, January 28, 2016 – 07:54
Image: Facebook/JAC for Social Justice – UoH

On Wednesday, prominent writer and rights activist Meena Kandaswamy joined the students of the University of Hyderabad as they continued their relay hunger strike. Since last Saturday, seven students have been shifted to the hospital by the police. Students, however, say that one set of students would replace each set shifted to the hospital by authorities.

Meena spoke to The News Minute on a range of issues concerning the rights of Dalits in India and the manner in which the debate around Rohith Vemula’s death has unfolded.

Most writers and activists addressed the students but you chose to join the hunger strike? Why?

Personally I don’t believe in fasts, hunger strikes and Gandhian methods of protest. I think somebody who is committing injustice should be starving.

The struggle that the students are waging in HCU is not a struggle only for the students of HCU, it’s not a struggle against one individual’s death. I think this is a struggle for all of us because all of us have been to universities, are going to universities.

I think this is a struggle is for all of us and we all have to take part in it.

In that sense, I came here to support the students and to participate in Chalo HCU on Monday, so I also felt like joining the students.

Do you think this agitation will get the same attention and support that the intolerance debate got from writers and activists?

There is a big problem but I’m not blaming everybody. I think it is a general problem that people are very quick to condemn Hindutva, saffornization, communalisation, religious problems and stand up for secularism but the same people are very silent about caste-related issues.

So I think there is a general tendency to be silent about caste, partly because of the denial, partly because of the refusal to accept that it is a reality and partly because of some privilege that people don’t want to engage in it. So I think when it’s a caste issue, absolutely, people will not come with the same vigorousness.

Do you think ‘The Urban Intelligentsia’ of the country would support the Dalit cause as they did it in other civil rights issues?

I don’t think that we have to judge a struggle based on how many celebrities endorsed it. I think this is a struggle on the ground. I have been seeing this protest for the past three days. I think the anger is very spontaneous and it’s not directed by any political force. It’s real genuine student anger.

I have been part of it because I have been in the academia and both my parents are also part of it. I have seen what caste can do, how caste can ruin peoples’ lives, how it can have devastating effect within the academia, so for me, it’s like a personal issue.

What are your thoughts on ‘saffornization of education’. Do you agree with allegations that centre is trying to discriminate against Dalit students?

I think what is happening is slightly larger than that. No doubt that mostly Dalit students are at the receiving end, but what is happening under this present government is a certain oppression and a hegemony of Hindi and Sanskrit.

In terms of the appointments that have been made without considering merit, the best example is the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan (to FTII). People who support the BJP and RSS get positions.

There is an effort to change the syllabus; all the courses on Vedic history, Vedic science, Vedic mathematics are trying to distort Indian history.

Students who do not feel alienated in the universities are only from upper castes, Brahmins and north Indian males. If you are from the south you feel alienated, if you are a minority you feel alienated, if you are from Tamil Nadu you will feel the same. But I do feel that this government is against Dalits.

What is your opinion on media coverage on Dalit issues or atrocities on Dalits?

This is a wake-up call for Indian media because if you look at the media just last year one Dalit Journalist Nagraj Koppula died. No one helped him financially for his medical needs. So there is no diversity in the newsroom as the newspaper industry is very much supported by the government with subsidies.

No government is telling them to employ Dalits, so the absence of Dalits in the media reflects on the kind stories of carried by the media houses.


Courtesy: The News Minute –

Who killed Rohith Vemula?

All those who are mute spectators of the processes under way to restore supremacist Brahmanic rule are responsible for his death

Protests in Hyderabad, Wednesday. (Source: AP)Protests in Hyderabad, Wednesday. (AP Photo)


Rohith Vemula, a 26-year-old Dalit PhD scholar at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU), in his suicide note, blamed none, friend or foe, providing the feed to his killers to claim their innocence. An aspirant to write one day like Carl Sagan exploring the universe with his flight of imagination, he was driven to the depths of his inner self, the torn self of a Dalit, in this caste-ridden land, by his tormentors, to conclude the futility of existing. His death should make it clear that suicide is not the killing of oneself; it is death by situation, which comprises of traditions, customs and institutions, that provide cover to the murderers.

Rohith’s situation survives in the form of a makeshift tent erected in an open arena of his university campus, in which he lived for 12 days along with four of his comrades after having been expelled from the hostel, and their struggle for self-respect that outlives him. It is depicted by his stinging letter of December 18 to the vice chancellor of the university, his lament to his friends that he did not have any money to treat them on his 27th birthday, which was a few days away, never to dawn, and his last call to his mother, which was ominously cut by him abruptly. This is enough to tear the veils, expose the murderous situation and possibly the murderers.

The details of the case are by now in the public domain. The alleged assault on one Nandanam Susheel Kumar, the president of the HCU unit of the ABVP, for which the five Dalit students, including Rohith, were punished, was never established. Rather, all the official inquiries, doctor’s testimony and the witnesses confirmed that it did not take place. Still, the Dalit students were punished. The curious flip-flop of the university administration that followed clearly indicates the full play of caste prejudices and the influence of extraneous forces, apart from the utter ineptitude of the administration.

The big twist to the incident came from a letter written by Bandaru Dattatreya, the minister of state for labour and employment in the Narendra Modi government, to Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani, branding the HCU as “a den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics” and demanding necessary action. In support, he wrote that the Ambedkar Students’ Association had protested against the hanging of Yakub Memon. The office of Irani, the controversial HRD minister, who perhaps assumed HRD to be “Hindutva resource development”, suggestively wrote to the VC as it did in response to an anonymous complaint against the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) at IIT Madras, which had led to its ban, triggering nationwide outrage. The manner in which it was followed up by as many as four letters from under secretary to joint secretary indicates the amount of pressure exerted on the VC for taking action against the students. It is this express support from the minister to the inherently casteist administration that led to the punishment, which was no less than capital punishment in the university context. How on earth can research scholars possibly exist without accessing hostels, administrative buildings, public places or talking to their fellow students? It did mean death to them as research scholars.

After their expulsion, the students lived in the open in the biting cold of Hyderabad and still the VC did not realise the gravity of his misdeed. On December 18, Rohith had written a stinging letter to him, accusing him of taking an unusual personal interest in the clash between the Dalit students and the ABVP. He sarcastically hinted at the plight of Dalit students at the HCU, asking the VC to provide poison and a rope to all Dalit students at the time of admission, and also make available a facility for euthanasia for students like him. The letter was alarming enough for any responsible person to take serious note of the state of mind of the student, who was driven to his wits’ end on account of continuing harassment and penury, as his stipend, with which he partly supported his mother and younger brother back home in Guntur, was stopped in July.

Curiously, on the one hand, the government is going gaga with the extravagant observation of the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar in one-upmanship with the Congress to woo Dalit votes. On the other, it seeks to curb the radical voices of Dalits on what Ambedkar stood for. Ambedkar risked emphasising higher education over elementary education because he saw that only the former can create critical thinking in people and moral strength to stand up against the free play of caste prejudices of dominant elements. The government is crushing these potential torch-bearers of Ambedkar in every possible manner while singing paeans to him.

As dissenting Muslim youth are easily branded as terrorists the world-over, Dalit-Adivasi youth are being stamped as extremists, casteists and anti-nationals. Indian jails are filled with such innocent youth incarcerated for years under vague charges like sedition and unlawful activities, etc. The BJP’s aggressive drive to saffronise institutions, particularly higher education institutions, portends that many more Rohiths will follow in the coming years.

All those who have been mute spectators of these vile processes under way to decimate the pluralistic structure of our country and restore supremacist Brahmanic rule are responsible along with the dramatis personae directly involved in this case.

Teltumbde is a writer and civil rights activist with the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai

Courtesy: The Indian Express:

Why BR Ambedkar’s three warnings in his last speech to the Constituent Assembly resonate even today

On November 25, 1949, he spoke of the need to give up the grammar of anarchy, to avoid hero-worship, and to work towards a social – not just a political – democracy.
BR Ambedkar  · Jan 26, 2016 · 02:30 pm
Why BR Ambedkar's three warnings in his last speech to the Constituent Assembly resonate even today

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Excerpts from the speech to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949

On 26th January 1950, India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain her independence or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future.

What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people.

In the invasion of Sindh by Mahommed-Bin-Kasim, the military commanders of King Dahar accepted bribes from the agents of Mahommed-Bin-Kasim and refused to fight on the side of their King. It was Jaichand who invited Mahommed Gohri to invade India and fight against Prithvi Raj and promised him the help of himself and the Solanki Kings. When Shivaji was fighting for the liberation of Hindus, the other Maratha noblemen and the Rajput Kings were fighting the battle on the side of Moghul Emperors. When the British were trying to destroy the Sikh Rulers, Gulab Singh, their principal commander sat silent and did not help to save the Sikh Kingdom. In 1857, when a large part of India had declared a war of independence against the British, the Sikhs stood and watched the event as silent spectators.

Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realisation of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost for ever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood.

On the 26th of January 1950, India would be a democratic country in the sense that India from that day would have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The same thought comes to my mind. What would happen to her democratic Constitution? Will she be able to maintain it or will she lose it again? This is the second thought that comes to my mind and makes me as anxious as the first.

Democratic system

It is not that India did not know what is Democracy. There was a time when India was studded with republics, and even where there were monarchies, they were either elected or limited. They were never absolute. It is not that India did not know Parliaments or parliamentary procedure.

A study of the Buddhist Bhikshu Sanghas discloses that not only there were Parliaments – for the Sanghas were nothing but Parliaments – but the Sanghas knew and observed all the rules of parliamentary procedure known to modern times. They had rules regarding seating arrangements, rules regarding Motions, Resolutions, Quorum, Whip, Counting of Votes, Voting by Ballot, Censure Motion, Regularisation, Res Judicata, etc. Although these rules of parliamentary procedure were applied by the Buddha to the meetings of the Sanghas, he must have borrowed them from the rules of the Political Assemblies functioning in the country in his time.

This democratic system India lost. Will she lose it a second time? I do not know. But it is quite possible in a country like India – where democracy from its long disuse must be regarded as something quite new – there is danger of democracy giving place to dictatorship. It is quite possible for this new born democracy to retain its form but give place to dictatorship in fact. If there is a landslide, the danger of the second possibility becoming actuality is much greater.

Three warnings

If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do?

The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.

The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions”. There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

The third thing we must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy.

Social democracy

What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy.

Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things. It would require a constable to enforce them.

We must begin by acknowledging the fact that there is complete absence of two things in Indian Society. One of these is equality. On the social plane, we have in India a society based on the principle of graded inequality which we have a society in which there are some who have immense wealth as against many who live in abject poverty.

On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which is Assembly has to laboriously built up.

The second thing we are wanting in is recognition of the principle of fraternity. What does fraternity mean? Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians – of Indians being one people. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life. It is a difficult thing to achieve. How difficult it is, can be realised from the story related by James Bryce in his volume on American Commonwealth about the United States of America.

The story is – I propose to recount it in the words of Bryce himself:

“Some years ago the American Protestant Episcopal Church was occupied at its triennial Convention in revising its liturgy. It was thought desirable to introduce among the short sentence prayers a prayer for the whole people, and an eminent New England divine proposed the words `O Lord, bless our nation’. Accepted one afternoon, on the spur of the moment, the sentence was brought up next day for reconsideration, when so many objections were raised by the laity to the word nation’ as importing too definite a recognition of national unity, that it was dropped, and instead there were adopted the words `O Lord, bless these United States.”

There was so little solidarity in the USA at the time when this incident occurred that the people of America did not think that they were a nation. If the people of the United States could not feel that they were a nation, how difficult it is for Indians to think that they are a nation?

A great delusion

I remember the days when politically minded Indians, resented the expression “the people of India”. They preferred the expression “the Indian nation.” I am of opinion that in believing that we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into several thousands of castes be a nation? The sooner we realise that we are not as yet a nation in the social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us. For then only we shall realise the necessity of becoming a nation and seriously think of ways and means of realising the goal. The realisation of this goal is going to be very difficult – far more difficult than it has been in the United States. The United States has no caste problem. In India there are castes. The castes are anti-national. In the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. But we must overcome all these difficulties if we wish to become a nation in reality. For fraternity can be a fact only when there is a nation. Without fraternity, equality and liberty will be no deeper than coats of paint.

These are my reflections about the tasks that lie ahead of us. They may not be very pleasant to some. But there can be no gainsaying that political power in this country has too long been the monopoly of a few and the many are only beasts of burden, but also beasts of prey. This monopoly has not merely deprived them of their chance of betterment, it has sapped them of what may be called the significance of life. These down-trodden classes are tired of being governed. They are impatient to govern themselves. This urge for self-realisation in the down-trodden classes must no be allowed to devolve into a class struggle or class war. It would lead to a division of the House. That would indeed be a day of disaster. For, as has been well said by Abraham Lincoln, a House divided against itself cannot stand very long. Therefore the sooner room is made for the realisation of their aspiration, the better for the few, the better for the country, the better for the maintenance for its independence and the better for the continuance of its democratic structure. This can only be done by the establishment of equality and fraternity in all spheres of life. That is why I have laid so much stresses on them.

I do not wish to weary the House any further. Independence is no doubt a matter of joy. But let us not forget that this independence has thrown on us great responsibilities. By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. If hereafter things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame except ourselves. There is great danger of things going wrong. Times are fast changing. People including our own are being moved by new ideologies. They are getting tired of Government by the people. They are prepared to have Governments for the people and are indifferent whether it is Government of the people and by the people. If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principle of Government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer Government for the people to Government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them. That is the only way to serve the country. I know of no better.



Malda Conflicts: Not a Communal Riot Between Two Communities

Preliminary observations of a fact finding team

 The violent conflict in Kaliachak of Malda on January 3 seems neither a religious feud nor an attack of one community over the other. The conflict raised at best was a handiwork of some anti-social elements present in the rally protesting against the police. It’s they who attacked the police station, and damaged some houses and shops. In the police firing one of them also got gunshot injury. The whole incident was a shameful and a condemned one and completely unjustifiable. However, such an incidence was used to spread hatred and misunderstanding between communities, which is equally condemnable.

It needs to be noted that protests against the remarks of Kamlesh Tiwari, leader of Hindu Mahasabha, about the Prophet Hazrat Muhammad was observed in many corners of the country, including in Araria, Forbesganj, Bessie (Purnia), Katihar etc. in Bihar. In the same regard, the January 3rd protests in Kaliachak, Malda was also organized. However, the way this conflict has been covered in the media especially in some electronic media, its quite disturbing and troublesome.

It was even after ten days of the conflict, that there was still some deliberate confusion with regard to the incident was being spread and a communal angle was being attached that a few members of Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS), an alied member of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), decided to visit the area to understand the reasons behind the conflict.

JJSS constituted a three-member team for the same which comprised of journalist-social activist Mr. Naseeruddin, Mr. Ashish Ranjan and Ms. Shohini Lahiri. The team was guided by Mr. Jishnu Roychowdhury from the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights(APDR). They reached Malda on the 16th of January and returned on 17thJanuary, 2016. The members had a talk with especially those people of the community who were said to be victimised. A summary of their observations and conclusions are being presented here.

Ranjeet Paswan, Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan

For Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan

Contact :  9973363664


25th January 2015 | प्रेस विज्ञप्ति

मालदा के कालियाचक की हिंसा : दो समुदायों के बीच का दंगा नहीं

कालियाचक के दौरे के बाद जन जागरण शक्ति संगठन की टीम की शुरुआती रिपोर्ट

मालदा के कालियाचक में हुई हिंसा, साम्‍प्रदायिक हिंसा नहीं दिखती है। इसे एक समुदाय का दूसरे समुदाय पर आक्रमण भी नहीं कहा जा सकता है। यह जुलूस में शामिल होने आए हजारों लोगों में से कुछ सौ अपराधिक प्रवृत्ति के लोगों का पुलिस प्रशासन पर हमला था। इसकी जद में एक समुदाय के कुछ घर और दुकान भी आ गए। गोली लगने से इस ही समुदाय का एक युवक जख्मी भी हुआ। पूरी घटना शर्मनाक और निंदनीय है| ऐसी घटनाओं का फायदा उठाकर  दो समुदायों के बीच नफरत और गलतफहमी पैदा की जा सकती है| यह राय मालदा के कालियाचक गई जन जागरण शक्ति संगठन(जेजेएसएस) की पड़ताल टीम की है।

हिन्दू महासभा के कथित नेता कमलेश तिवारी के पैगम्‍बर हजरत मोहम्‍मद के बारे में दिए गए विवादास्‍पद बयान का विरोध देश के कई कोने में हो रहा है| हाल ही में अररिया, फारबिसगंज, बैसी(पूर्णिया), कटिहार आदि जगहों पर भी विरोध हुए। इसी सिलसिले में मालदा के कालियाचक  में जनवरी को कई  संगठनों ने मिलकर एक विरोध सभा का आयोजन किया। इसी सभा के दौरानकालियाचक में हिंसा हुई। इस हिंसा को मीडिया खासकर इलेक्‍ट्रॉनिक मीडिया ने जिस रूप में पेश किया, वह काफी चिंताजनक दिख रहा है। इस पर जिस तरह की बातें हो रही हैं, वह भी काफीचिंताजनक हैं।

10 दिन बाद भी जब कालियाचक की घटना की व्याख्या साम्प्रदायिक शब्दावली में हो रही थी तब जन आंदोलनों का राष्ट्रीय समन्वय (एनएपीएम) से सम्बन्ध जन जागरण शक्ति संगठन (जेजेएसएस) ने तयकिया कि वहाँ जाकर देखा जाए कि आखिर क्या हुआ है? जेजेएसएस ने तीन लोगों की एक टीम वहां भेजी। इसमें पत्रकार और सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता नासिरूद्दीन, जेजेएसएस के आशीष रंजन और शोहिनीलाहिरी शामिल थे। मालदा में एसोसिएशन फॉर प्रोटेक्‍शन ऑफ डेमोक्रेटिक राइट्स (एपीडीआर) के जिशनू राय चौधरी ने इस टीम की मदद की। ये टीम 16 जनवरी को मालदा पहुंची और 17 को वापसआई।
टीम ने खासकर उन लोगों से ज्यादा बात की जिनके बारे में कहा जा रहा है कि हिंसा उनके खिलाफ हुई है| इन्होने जो देखा और पाया उसका संक्षेप में शुरुआती ब्योरा यहाँ पेश किया जा रहा है।

जन जागरण शक्ति संगठन की ओर से

रंजीत पासवान            कामायनी स्वामी           आशीष रंजन   

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15,000-strong ‘dharma sena’ in Uttar Pradesh readies for war with Islamic State

DASNA/RORI/MEERUT: From the outskirts of India’s capital to the Uttarakhand border, an outfit known as Hindu Swabhiman is raising and training what it calls a “dharma sena” to wage war against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), which it believes will occupy western UP by 2020. Its leaders claim there are already 15,000 “soldiers” who are ready to die to safeguard their faith.

A TOI team, over the course of a week, visited four such camps spread around the communally sensitive belt of western UP and found that the outfit has even enlisted child soldiers, some of them as young as eight years old. All were being taught to use swords and firearms. The leaders of the outfit, headquartered at a temple at Dasna in Ghaziabad district, claim their ranks are swelling by the week. Of the 50 known training camps, some are clandestine and others, like those at Bamheta and Rori, are openly teaching men and women, boys and girls, to be ready “for when the enemy strikes”.

There are three known training camps in Meerut city and five in Muzaffarnagar district alone.

A training session in progress at a camp. (TOI Photo Munish Kumar)

One of the Hindu Swabhiman’s leaders, Chetna Sharma, who is also a member of the VHP’s Durga Vahini, told TOI on Monday: “Our motto is simple — catch them young. We have over 50 training centres all over western UP. Our students are from ages eight to 30. We don’t give guns and swords to children straight away. For the first six months, we train them mentally. We teach them verses from the Gita. Hindus must not be afraid of death because we are reborn. The children here are fearless.” Seema Kumari (name changed), 8, said, “I am learning to fight because our mothers and elder sisters are threatened. I have to protect them as well as myself.”

The temple, where Swami Narsinghanand Saraswati lives, prohibits Muslims from entering

A nine-year-old boy echoed her sentiments.

‘Forced to take up arms as government’s failed’

Militant attacks on India provide ideologues of the Hindu Swabhiman an opportunity to indoctrinate young minds. Parminder Arya, an ex-serviceman who trains children at one of the Hindu Swabhiman camps in Rori village near Modinagar, said, “Our training is simple. We apprise youngsters about terrorist activities taking place in the country.”

‘We didn’t elect Modi PM to gift saris and shawls to Nawaz’

Pathankot, for instance, was a major issue discussed with these children, he said. “That is how they are made to understand the ugly face of Islamic fundamentalism which is a rising threat to us Hindus. I was posted in Kashmir during my Army days. Half the Indian Army is posted in the Kashmir valley and yet they could not prevent the exodus of the Kashmiri pandits. This is something we have to do on our own.”

All of this is happening under the nose of the administration. But IG Meerut Zone, Alok Sharma, confessed he had no idea of the operation. “We do not have any report on such activity taking place. I will certainly look into the matter,” he told TOI on Monday.

Anil Yadav, a former professional wrestler and martial artist who runs an akhara in Ghaziabad’s Bamheta village, said the “work” will not stop now, come what may.

“We run most of these camps as akharas and it is not illegal to do so. However, we prefer to run some camps in secret. We don’t want the police to shut them down. My students follow a strict regime and are trained in the martial arts. They are also trained in the use of firearms. Even if a child wants to learn how to use a gun, we teach them. Within six months, a student can branch out and start a training camp on his own. Within two years, we have trained 15,000 kids. Imagine what we can achieve in five.”

Swami Narsinghanand Saraswati, the Hindu ascetic whose ideology fuels the outfit’s work, stays in the temple where a board proclaims, “Yeh teerth Hinduon ka pavitra sthal hai. Musalmanon ka pravesh varjit hai. Aadesh Mahant Baba Narsinghanand Saraswati.” (This temple is a holy place of Hindus. Entry of Muslims is prohibited. By order of head priest Baba Narsinghanand Saraswati). Once known as Deepak Tyagi, Saraswati was a member of the Samajwadi Party till 1995 and was a “huge fan” of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Twenty years ago, after a woman from his community committed suicide over a sex racket, he changed his allegiance and became an ascetic.

Today, his hero is Veer Savarkar, who coined the term “Hindutva” in 1923. Kamlesh Tiwari, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha leader whose controversial remarks triggered riots in West Bengal’s Malda, was a student of Saraswati’s. Saraswati believes that the Darul Uloom in Deoband, UP, is the ideological fountainhead of the ISIS and “war has already begun”.

So intense is his hatred for the ISIS that Saraswati has no qualms in stating, “I think an extremist outfit, like the ISIS, should exist for the Hindus. The only answer to the ISIS is an HS — a Hindu State. We want to match their level of extremism and fight fire with fire. I don’t have the means to build an organization of that scale but with the help of Hindus, who believe in my cause, I will achieve it soon. We have pistols and they have rocket launchers. We need better weapons so that our army can be trained. That is how the ISIS got so big. Local business leaders helped them. Hindus from all over the country will help us too.”

Saraswati says they have started a mass contact programme. “We have been addressing two panchayats per month, on average. At the panchayats, I ask my Hindu lions to be brave and make sure they keep weapons with them at all times. During the Muzaffarnagar riots, we went to the ground and asked people to be armed. All these politicians, who claim credit for saving Hindus, are lying.”

He points to a slogan on the wall and reads, “Hindu Sheron, shaan se jeena hai toh shaan se marna seekho. (Hindu lions, if you want to live with pride then learn to die with pride). I am preparing my people for civil war. Neither the state government nor Narendra Modi can stop the civil war from coming. It is better to die fighting to protect our loved ones.”

Told about the Hindu Swabhiman’s reaction to Deoband, Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, vice-chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, said, “Our gates are open throughout the day. Anyone can come in and go out at will. Every syllabus and every academic discipline is an open book. Our institution is visited by one and all including IB officials, LIU (local intelligence unit), senior police and government officials. In the last 150 years of the history of this university, not once has any of its teachings come under criticism. It is an open challenge to any individual or agency to investigate in whatever way they want to, because we have nothing to hide. Regarding ISIS, whatever information we have about this organization, it is through media reports and nothing else.”