'Arre, we Muslims did not run to Pakistan… this country was ours, it is ours, it will stay ours… if we go, we will not go empty handed. We will take the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Qutb Minar. What will be left? That broken-down Ram temple in Ayodhya, the naked statues of Ajanta… Oh Hindustan, we are 25 crore, you are 100 crore, right? Okay, remove the police for 15 minutes and we'll show you who has more courage, more power.'
Akbaruddin Owaisi, 43 year old, who delivered this speech on December 22, 2011, in the town of Nirmal, Andhra Pradesh, is now in jail, pending trial on charges that include promoting enmity among different groups and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings.
A similar police case was made out against a certain 56-year-old Pravin Togadia after he had this to say in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district on March 6, 2011: "If today anyone demands a Pakistan on this land, the response will come from lakhs of villages, as it came from hundreds of Gujarati villages after Godhra… the security of Hindus in Srinagar is not Srinagar, it is the power of 100 crore Hindus across India."
As with Owaisi, oncologist Pravin Togadia's speech is mesmeric: A calm, gentle voice that gradually rises to a screaming crescendo; the eyes bulge with anger, the fore-finger waggles violently.
Confident democracies tend to disregard demagogues. But volatile, insecure India has clear laws against hate speech. The problem is it displays selective application of those laws. So, Owaisi, MLA and floor leader of his party, the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen, was arrested. Togadia, the president of the VHP, has never been. The latest case against Togadia - for another hate speech in Maharashtra's Nanded district on January 22, in reaction to Owaisi's rant - was reluctantly registered by the local police.
It is not strange that a hate-monger from the fringes - though I am no longer sure how fringe he is - of Hinduism escapes legal action in a state ruled by a supposedly secular coalition of the Congress and NCP. The coalition's time in power is marked by several hardline actions, including ignoring the virulence and violence of the Senas.
There are two reasons why the Congress-NCP coalition often makes a hard, turn right, an ideology that increasingly appears to focus on anti-Muslim acts. One, India's Grand Old Party knows the state is only a grasp away from its nakedly pro-Hindu rivals, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine, and so it prefers to kowtow rather than confront. Two, the society it governs and the government machinery it runs is gradually veering towards hardline Hinduism. This is how local officers arrested two college girls for 'liking' a comment against the Shiv Sena on Facebook. This is why police, aiming for the body, shot dead only Muslims during religious riots in the town of Dhule. Six policemen were arrested last week only after videos showed them vandalising Muslim property.
In Delhi, the Congress - aware that India is increasingly less disturbed by selective justice - pushed through the execution of a man for reasons allied with his religion. Mohammad Afzal Guru had to die to soothe India's "collective conscience", as the Supreme Court put it. That conscience does not appear to be particularly exercised by the unrepentant Tamil Hindu assassins of India's late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sikh assassin of the late Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
Police forces, whether in Congress-ruled AP, Maharashtra, Assam or Delhi, or BJP-ruled Gujarat or Karnataka, are increasingly communalised. This is illustrated not only by numerous partisan actions against minorities - during recent riots in small towns and terror investigations - but by a visible, creeping Hinduisation of police forces. In Mumbai, many patrol vans now carry images of Hindu deities; in Bangalore, policemen routinely report for work with vermilion on their foreheads.
Education syllabi in schools and colleges across BJP-ruled states have steadily been infused with right-wing ideologies. In Karnataka, new school text books are prepared in as much secrecy as shrouded Afzal Guru's hanging.
India's vocal public conscience unapologetically feeds hardline stances. There is no concern at the collective punishment meted out to the people of Muslim-majority Kashmir. As I write this, curfew continues in Kashmir, five days after Guru's hanging. An attack in New Delhi on protesting Kashmiri students, including women, by Bajrang Dal activists in the presence of police, found little resonance in the mass media.
Television channels, even those considered liberal, feel forced to take ever harder, 'nationalist' stances. As the editor of one national channel once told me: "What to do boss, this is what the public wants."
While there are certainly ill-winds ahead for a democracy that cannot tolerate peaceful protest and is selective about its conscience, there are portents of a storm-surge of greater hate ahead, enough to overwhelm the secular foundations of the republic.
The increasingly anti-Muslim tone of the evolving Hindu identity is finding an opposite response. On India's economic ladder, Muslims are near the bottom, roughly on a par with Dalits and tribals. "The Muslims of India seem to suffer from an unprecedented marginalisation process," write scholars Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurent Gayer in their new book, Muslims in Indian Cities. They are falling behind on economic, social and political indicators and are possessed of a siege mentality, which worsens whenever Muslims are arrested - often wrongly, as a slew of recent acquittals indicate - as terror suspects. In conversations I've had with some angry, young Muslims, they mock secularism for having failed them.
Like Hindus, many Muslims are susceptible to the call of warped, hardline religion, in this case the global brand called Salafism. One manifestation: The hordes that groped police woman and vandalised a martyrs memorial in Mumbai last August.
Many opponents of the BJP's prime ministerial hopeful, Narendra Modi, fear a remaking of secular India if he comes to power. That process has already begun.
Samar Halarnkar is a Bangalore-based journalist
The views expressed by the author are personal
* * *
February 25, 2013
REFLECTIONS ON TERROR AND SECULARISM
SHAIKH ZOAIB SALEEM
IT WAS WITH A FEW FRIENDS IN A HOSTEL OF A JOURNALISM INSTITUTE WHEN I FIRST WATCHED NEERAJ PANDEY’S REMARKABLE A WEDNESDAY (RELEASED IN 2008). ALL OF THEM WERE OVERWHELMED WITH ITS STORYLINE, CONCEPT AND PRESENTATION, SOMETHING THAT WAS NEVER EVER SO CLEARLY CONVEYED IN THE HISTORY OF INDIAN CINEMA. THE AWARD-WINNING MOVIE APPEALED PEOPLE’S SENTIMENTS AND TRIED TO AWAKEN THE “CITIZEN” UNDER THE WAKE OF RISING TERRORISM. MY FRIENDS SOUGHT MY REACTION TOO. I AGREED THAT IT WAS A GREAT MOVIE BUT WISHED TO QUESTION THE DIRECTOR, “WHY WERE THE TERRORISTS WHOM THE PROTAGONIST SUCCESSFULLY PLANS TO ELIMINATE WERE THOSE WITH MUSLIM NAMES?”
IN MY VIEW, THE ANSWER TO IT IS PRETTY CLEAR. THE MOVIE (OR POPULAR CULTURE) REFLECTS THE MINDSET OF THE SOCIETY. IN THIS CASE, THE MOVIE CLEARLY INDICATES WHAT MOST OF INDIANS THINK. THE OUTSTANDING MOVIE ALSO REINFORCED A DISTURBING STEREOTYPE – ALL MUSLIMS ARE NOT TERRORISTS BUT ALL TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS.
THIS MORNING, THE FIRST REACTION OF A SENIOR JOURNALIST, IN A CASUAL TALK ON THE RECENT HYDERABAD BLASTS, WAS THAT INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN (IM) COULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTACKS. HE WAS FULL OF CONFIDENCE UNTIL I ASKED HIM A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS.
IT IS BEYOND COMPREHENSION WHEN JOURNALISTS LAP UP THE INPUTS FROM ‘SOURCES’ ON TERROR ISSUES AND REPRESENT THEM VERBATIM, MOST OF THE TIMES. DESPITE NUMEROUS NEWSROOM LESSONS ON ‘ETHICS’ AND REMINDERS BY EDITORS THAT WE NEED TO CROSS VERIFY WHATEVER WE GET TO KNOW, MY FELLOW PROFESSIONALS FAIL TO ADHERE TO THIS BASIC RULE WHEN IT COMES TO TERROR ISSUES.
AFTER ALMOST EVERY TERROR ATTACK IN THE COUNTRY, COMMON PEOPLE ARE INFORMED BY THE ‘SOURCES’, THROUGH THE MEDIA THAT THE INITIAL PROBE IS POINTING TOWARDS INVOLVEMENT OF IM OR HARKAT-UL-JIHAD AL-ISLAMI (HUJI) OR SOME OTHER ‘ISLAMIST’ORGANIZATION. THE SAME WAS THE CASE WITH MALEGAON BLASTS OF 2006 AND 2008, THE 2007 SAMJHAUTA EXPRESS BLASTS, MECCA MASJID BLASTS AND THE AJMER SHARIF BLASTS. HOWEVER, LATER ON, THE INVESTIGATIONS POINTED TO INVOLVEMENT OF RIGHT WING EXTREMISTS (WHO DISLIKE ASSOCIATING THEMSELVES WITH A COLOUR!) IN THESE ATTACKS.
MEANWHILE, A SECTION OF THE MEDIA HAS SHOWN SOME COURAGE OF BEING THE MISFITS. ACCORDING TO A PROBE BY TEHELKA SWAMI ASEEMANAND’S 42-PAGE CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT DULY SIGNED BY HIM PROVES THE INVOLVEMENT OF RIGHT WINGS GROUPS IN ALL THESE BLASTS. ALSO, THE SAMJHAUTA EXPRESS CASE HAS AN OFFICER OF THE INDIAN ARMY AS THE ALLEGED MASTERMIND. MOREOVER, THERE IS NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE TO EVEN PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF IM. SHOCKINGLY AND SADLY, IN THIS AGE OF NEW MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY, OUR INTELLIGENCE FAILS TO EVEN COMPLETELY TRACK THE E-MAILS THAT ARE CLAIMED TO THE BEST PIECES OF EVIDENCE ON THE EXISTENCE OF IM. IN THIS MODERN ERA, WHERE ONE CAN BE ZEROED DOWN FOR CYBERCRIMES PRETTY QUICKLY, IT IS SHAMEFUL THAT OUR SECURITY AGENCIES HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO DETECT THE SENDERS OF THESE MAILS. SHALL WE BLINDLY BELIEVE SOME ‘SOURCES’ THEN? IN ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE NON-SERIOUS ATTITUDE OF OUR SECURITY AGENCIES, A US NATIONAL KENNETH HAYWOOD, FROM WHOSE IP ADDRESS EMAILS WERE SENT TO MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS MINUTES BEFORE THE AHMEDABAD BLASTS IN JULY
2008, MANAGED TO ESCAPE FROM THE COUNTRY. MANY PEOPLE RUBBISH THESE REFERENCES AS CONSPIRACY THEORIES, WHILE MANY OTHERS WILL CLAIM TO BE NEUTRAL BEING A PART OF A SECULAR COUNTRY. SECULAR ENOUGH NOT TO ASSOCIATE ANY TERROR ACT WITH ANY RELIGION. FAIR ENOUGH. BUT AGAIN AND AGAIN, WHENEVER ONE INITIATES THE DISCUSSION ON TERRORISM WITH LEARNED, SECULAR INDIANS, MOST OF THEM WILL TALK ABOUT IM, HUJI ONLY. ANOTHER TEST OF THIS SECULARISM. EVERYONE MUST ASK HIMSELF OR HERSELF IF S/HE HAS WRITTEN AN ESSAY IN SCHOOLDAYS ON DIWALI. THE ANSWER WOULD DEFINITELY BE POSITIVE. HOWEVER, THE REALITY OF OUR SECULARISM IS REFLECTED IN THE NEXT QUESTION. HAVE YOU WRITTEN SIMILAR ESSAYS ON ANY OF THE EIDS?
Protest Letter to the President of India on the Hanging of Afzal Guru
To, The Hon’ble President of India
We write to you in deep anguish, despair but in outrage as well. Afzal Guru was hanged on Saturday (9th February 2013) in secrecy. We have been told – after the hanging – that you rejected the mercy petition filed by Guru’s wife Tabassum, on 3rd February. We believe that you made a grave error in rejecting the mercy petition. If you had perused the trial records and the lengthy documentation put together over the years by lawyers and civil rights activists, or even the Supreme Court judgement which sentenced Afzal to death, you would have known, that his guilt was never established beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that the Court appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court) a lawyer in whom Afzal had expressed no faith; the fact that he went legally unrepresented from the time of his arrest till his so-called confession, the fact that the court asked him to either accept the lawyer appointed by the Court or cross examine the witness himself should surely have concerned you while considering his mercy petition.
His personal history of being a surrendered militant, of harassment and torture at the hands of STF, as well as his statement in open court that he had indeed helped Mohammad, one of the attackers on the Parliament, find a house and obtain a car, the same car used in the attack, *but* at the orders of his STF handlers, should have spurred a full-scale investigation into the allegations. The citizens of this country do not know if one was ordered at all. It is also a fact that the much-hyped investigation of the Parliament attack case and its prosecution resulted in two full acquittals and conviction of another for concealing knowledge of the crime. It was almost as if there was a need to at least ensure one death sentence so that the faith of the public / society in the efficacy of the prosecution and the judiciary and the Legislature which represented the ‘State” would not be shaken. Surely this was not a case where even the government of the day was convinced of the guilt of Afzal; but treated it like a case that was far too important for all accused to be acquitted. We must remind you sir that the Supreme Court threw out the confessions of both Afzal and Shaukat which obviously indicated that the investigation had been far from fair.
As in life, Afzal Guru was denied his legal rights in his death. Sir, every convict whose mercy petition has been rejected by the President, is entitled yet to a last resort. The convict has the constitutional right to file a judicial review or a delay petition, in the High Court and the Supreme Court, to seek commutation of the death sentence. There exists veritable case law to support a condemned convict’s right to appeal on grounds that pendency of death penalty for years causes suffering and torturous anxiety. We only cite the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, which in 1988 held that “Undue long delay in execution of the sentence of death will entitle the condemned person to approach this Court under Article 32”.
Under the law, Afzal Guru may have lived still despite your rejection of the mercy petition, had he, his family and lawyers been informed of the rejection of the mercy petition. But perhaps fearing precisely this, the state whose head you are, Sir, chose to execute him in secrecy. The killing was not a *fait accompli*– a natural culmination of the course of law, as it is being made out to be by the government and the media. In fact, Afzal Guru was cynically, callously and calculatedly denied access to judicial remedy that was due to him. His family was not informed, not only because our state has become unrecognizably cruel—which it has, but also because it did not want Afzal Guru to exercise his legal rights and possibly avert the execution. Informing the wife that her mercy petition had been rejected through speed post is a joke. What the state has done is not simply kill a convict. It has committed a fraud on the people by invalidating an entire body of jurisprudence and a category of rights inhering in our Constitution. And finally, the Indian state must explain why it displayed such urgency in executing Afzal before those others whose mercy petitions your office has earlier rejected.
Sd/ 1. Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association and 200 others.
Hyderabad Police harassing Muslim youths in the name of investigation
Demand to stop illegal and unauthorized investigation
Civil liberties Monitoring express its deep concern over the harassment of Muslim youths by Hyderabad police. It is a matter of distress that the life of Muslim youths of Hyderabad has become miserable. Hyderabad police is again following the same path and repeating the same mistake as committed in past due to which life hundreds of youths are spoiled.
Civil Liberties Monitoring committee has sent a memorandum to the commissioner of police Hyderabad stating ‘to stop harassing Muslim youths and don’t investigate bomb blasts cases in an illegal and unofficial manner’.
This committee in its memorandum to Police commissioner Mr Anurag Sharma clearly said that intention of Hyderabad police is unwarranted. Their mind is communal and ideology is based on Hindutva. Anti-Muslim attitude thus communal ism is deeply rooted. This type of notorious and insincere and corrupt police can’t be found anywhere in this country. That is why this committee demands you to keep Hyderabad police away from this investigation. Only fair investigation can curb real criminals of blasts, otherwise innocent Muslim will become scapegoat of this investigation.
This committee believes that Hyderabad bomb blasts has come as a blessing in disguise, because this is the period where total independence is granted to police which doesn’t come very often. At this time situation is so gloomy that even a constable can black mail a Muslim youth by pointing a finger of suspicion. By this they are warming their pockets. Due to this incident Inspectors, sub-inspectors related to SIT is living on cloud nine, in fact they are playing in lakhs. Innocent Muslims due to their fear are force to give them money; otherwise police will target them under terror charges, because due to their identity the stamp of terrorism can be put only on them.
But the truth is that real culprits of bomb blasts are well trained Hindutva terrorists and they are totally free, nobody is there to question them, and they are not answerable to anyone.
Targeting innocent Muslim youths has become a general exercise of Hyderabad police. At this juncture Hyderabad police is harassing innocent Muslim youths, and detaining them illegally. In fact in a way police has abducted some Muslim youths. Many youths are missing, and their relatives are worried.
If this interrogation and investigation would have been legal then CLMC wouldn’t have any objection. But all the procedures of interrogation followed by Hyderabad police are illegal and unofficial. As for these so-called interrogation private mobile phones, vehicles, and buildings are being used. The targets of this illegal and unofficial interrogation are educated and professional Muslim youths.
There are many who are trying to relive themselves from this harassment by offering money, so to protect their children from the stigma of terrorism. Muslims in fact is tolerating all this oppression silently. But CLMC want to remind Muslims that tolerating oppression silently is equal to assisting oppressor in its oppression. Silence will make you a criminal, but by raising voice against oppression you will get a chance to live a life with human dignity.
For all this oppression on Muslims CLMC hold congress Govt. and its chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy responsible, as they failed to provide protection to the minorities. Commissioner of police Anurag Sharma is also unable to carry out his professional duties in a fair manner.
CLMC on this occasion want to directly question chief minister as to why he has given permission to Hyderabad police to interfere in the probe which is supposed to be carried out by NIA?
CLMC demand Govt. to immediately release innocent Muslim youths, stop illegal investigation, and to handover the probe to NIA. Muslim leaders in congress should gather some consciousnesses to stop malafide practices of their party and the city police.
Lateef Mohammed Khan
* * * *
February 28, 2013
FORGOTTEN CITIZENS OF 2002
Victim Survivors of 2002 who are also IDPs (internally displaced persons) continue to languish in sub-human conditions eleven years after the state sponsored massacre which saw the brutal killings of over 2,000 members of the minority community and rendered thousands homeless.
A yearlong protest programme to demand dignified rehabilitation from the Gujarat government will be launched from Citizen’s Nagar, Bombay Hotel area from Thursday, February 28 2013, the eleventh anniversary of the pogrom. A detailed memorandum highlighting the many demands of the residents of Citizens Nagar, Faisal Park and Ekta Nagar will be released and submitted to the Gujarat government thereafter. Until these demands are met the protest will continue and extend to other rehabilitation colonies and IDPs living all over Gujarat. The memorandum will be accompanied by a detailed survey of 239 homes from these localities.
The Gujarat government has shown scant respect to the Millennium Development Goals for Gujaratis in general and particularly for the Victim Survivors of 2002. The CJP will assist IDP communities all over Gujarat throughout the state to ensure regularization of their lands and homes, the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, access to primary health and education.
Together we participated in the Remembrance Prayers today as also the launch for this campaign of theForgotten Citizens of Gujarat for Justice and Dignity. We stood in solidarity with our sisters and brothers, the forgotten citizens of 2002 at Citizens Nagar, Bombay Hotel even as a Brutal Story of Exclusion and Torture of the Mustifabhai Ismailbhai Patel family at Virangam continues in Gujarat today.
Threats and Exclusion faced by Muslim Hotelier in Viramgam, Gujarat (2013)
Background: A hotelier since 1986, Shri Patel is being brutally victimised since 24.5.2012 and his hotel, Jyoti Hotel that he has been successfully running for decades, has been closed since 9.2.2013. Threats from Dasrathbhai and Ajmalbhai Gohil (captured on CD) with relatives DD Barat, working as Upsachiv in "Pipo" department at Gandhinagar have made his life a living hell. Shri Patel has gone for court proceedings and a Court Commission was set up on 22.2.2013 after which the hotel has been legally restored to him. He went to open it thereafter but even as he did so within 20 minutes 15-20 men along with the Gohils threatened him. Viramgam rural police have refused to give him protection (Viramgam PSI Rathwa and DSP Gagandeep Gambhir). The Patels contacted DD Barat the influential relative from Sachivalayas who further threatened him, "why have you done the case? we are in government..." Shri Patel will speak to us all and distribute the CDs that show the vile behaviour of the criminals. Shri Patel had also suffered significant loss when Jyoti hotel had been attacked and the hotel destroyed in 2002.
Venue: Citizen’s Nagar, Bombay Hotel area, Danilimda
Delegation for Interfaith Dialogue and communal Harmony
We feel that it’s not enough to discuss about peace and communal harmony in seminars, debates and convention within limited space rather we believe that a peace activist shouldn’t ignore such a mass gathering. We usually remains busy with our traditional activism where we talk on these issues .we are living in a separate world, we gather in our own activist community rather we think now the time has come an discuss these utter important issues with the people who are outside from our activists world.
Why we Choose Kumb:
We think that kumb gathering is one of most important gatherings in our country where we can interact with the people of rest of the country, while feeling the responsibility to spread the message of love and communal harmony with the general people. If we will go there and talk about communal harmony definitely the positive result will come out otherwise this important field will use the communal forces.
For what we are going :
1. We will discuss on communal harmony with different groups.
2. We will distribute literature, booklets and pamphlets about miss conception between Hindus and Muslims and communal harmony.
3. Will organize shanti path(a special programee ,Prepared by prof.V.K Tripathi IIT Delhi (Sadbhav mission )
4: Sharm dan ,cleaning helping elders etc
Note: we are leaving on 16th febraury evening from Mazare Maulana Azad champion of communal harmony and on 17th feb morning we will be in Kumb. Where we stay in a cottage on the bank of Ganga River.
Will we ever know the truth behind the Godhra train incident? Will the higher courts delve deeper to unearth the truth? Will they prosecute and jail all those who lied on record in Judge Patel's court? Will they pass serious strictures against the judge himself?
So much has been left unanswered - BJP would never, and the Congress thinks it is too much of a hot potato to handle... There will just be a spectacle of tribunals, commissions, committees, questionable judgments and conclusions, there will be theories and counter-theories that reach diametrically opposite conclusions - but the truth?
What I'd like to see in public realm is:
Names and testimonies of all reservation holders of S-6 (only 4 of the 59 victims held a reserved seat, i.e., 68 berth-holders survived, some of them from within S-6)
Names and testimonies of S-6 travellers inside the coach sans reservation
Cross-tabulated with railway records and compensation claims paid.
Cellphone records of calls made from the train, the Godhra platform and Signal Falia for a period including 24 hours before and after as it'll answer many intriguing questions.
Testimonies of VHP/ BD/ BJP members who welcomed the karsevaks on the Godhra platform, and then presumably informed the police, the fire brigade and their top leadership about the breaking violence
Collation of all pictures clicked in the immediate aftermath at the venue, the hospital and inside the train to identify participants, witnesses and 'helpers'.
And most important - 'outing' of all intelligence reports filed, wireless messages transmitted and received before, during and after the incident.
For those who think that the issue has been settled by the judgment pronounced by Judge Patel, here is an eye-opener
Rakesh Sharma posted in Rakesh Sharma - Final Solution, other films, upcoming work and more
February 23, 2013
Condemnation of the bomb blasts in Hyderabad - Appeal for Succor to the affected, peace and Demand for Action
Civil Society Organizations Hyderabad
20-4-10, near Bus Station, Charminar, Hyderabad.
Sub: Condemnation of the barbaric terror strikes in Dilsukhnagar Hyderabad - Appeal for Succor to the affected, peace and Demand for Action.
We the undersigned representatives of Civil Society are deeply concerned and disturbed by the terror attacks at Dilsukhnagar in the evening hours of 21st February 2013. We unequivocally condemn these ghastly terror attacks targeting innocent peace loving people of Hyderabad. This is a heinous crime against Humanity. These terror attacks point to a very well thought out strategy to foment communal disturbances in the city and also to expand the poison of communalism to other parts of the country and to divert attention from miserable crucial issues.
Since time immemorial Hyderabad has been a strong foundation of peace and communal harmony; in such crises citizens of Hyderabad have applied their wisdom, shown restraint and maintained communal amity. We are still in the process of recuperating from many painful shocks and memories of the past. This is a moment of deep grief for all. We extend our sympathies to the bereaved families.
We appeal political leaders to refrain naming one particular person, community or organisation and allow Investigation Agencies to do their work. We also appeal to the citizens of Hyderabad to stand united, come forward to help the victims philanthropically in cash, kind and particularly blood donation directly at the hospitals where injured are in need; make all efforts to assist the authorities and cooperate with the government in law and order to arrest and defeat the conspirators in their nefarious mission.
We request the concerned authorities to immediately provide succor to the victims, to shed pre-conceived notions, unravel the conspiracy, expose the responsible elements; however high and mighty they may be, and prosecute them with immediate deterrent punishment to save secular fabric and peaceful atmosphere in society. Mother Teresa said: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”.
General Secretary, Sarvodaya Mandal, & Gandhi-king Foundation
The move by the Modi government to train manual scavengers in ‘karma kand’ is nothing but a cruel joke; that seeks to divert public attention away from crucial issues faced by the safai karmacharis.
Coming from a Chief Minister who had betrayed his anti-dalit mindset through his pronouncement that the job of a safai karmachari is a ‘experience in spirituality’, this ‘scheme’ not only goes against all tenets of Ambedkar who rejected Brahminical Hinduism, but also strikes at the very root of secular functioning of any government. In his book ‘Karmayog’ published in 2007 he wrote about the menial job of manual scavenging: “"I do not believe that they have been doing this job just to sustain their livelihood. Had this been so, they would not have continued with this type of job generation after generation…. At some point of time, somebody must have got the enlightenment that it is their (Valmikis') duty to work for the happiness of the entire society and the Gods; that they have to do this job bestowed upon them by Gods; and that this job of cleaning up should continue as an internal spiritual activity for centuries. This should have continued generation after generation. It is impossible to believe that their ancestors did not have the choice of adopting any other work or business."
Although he was forced to withdraw some 5000 copies of ‘Karmayog’ following the protest of Dalits in Tamil Nadu against this insulting reference in this book, he was unrepentant and reiterated the same view in a convention of over 9000 Safai Karmacharis in 2009. His statement during that convention was nothing short of ridiculous: “A priest cleans a temple every day before prayers; you also clean the city like a temple. You and the temple priest work alike.”
Gujarat still continues the inhuman and despicable practice of manual scavenging of human faces. It was only a few years back that the High Court of Gujarat had to come down heavily on the criminal practice of local government lowering valmiki safai karmacharis into clogged sewer lines, resulting in their deaths and irreparable damage to their health. But the guidelines of the High Court are still clandestinely violated by unscrupulous contractors. Narendra Modi and his government would never want to address these issues; since this would be tantamount to admitting the reality of a caste ridden society that conspires to keep the Dalits in their traditional roles subservient and inhuman slavery; in which the state is complicit.
To assume that providing training in ‘karma kand’ or vedic religious rituals would lead to any form of social reform is fallacious; no so called ‘upper castes’ would ever seek to have a Valmiki priest to solemn their marriages. Instead the hapless Dalits who fall prey (if any do, for livelihood considerations) to this gimmick would end up being the laughing stock of the Brahminical elite, who know fully well that their religious hegemony would not be challenged by this move. What we have to realize is that this political move seeks to undermine the very foundation of the Ambedkarite counter ideological resistance. In an astute political move Modi seeks to appease his OBC vote bank and pre-empt any Dalit resistance to his prime ministerial ambitions.