CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND: Mohammed Hashim’s confession is available with CNN-IBN.

21 08 2008

Mohammed Hashim's confession is available with CNN-IBN.

CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND: Mohammed Hashim’s confession is available with CNN-IBN.

New Delhi: That Pakistan trains terrorists and sends them across the border to Jammu and Kashmir is not news to India and the Indian intelligence agencies.

Now a militant owing allegiance to the Harkat-ul-Mujaihdeen has not just confessed to this but has also spoken about the Kashmir focus of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.

The confession of Mohammed Hashim alias Tarbish who reportedly infilitrated into India from Balochistan in Pakistan is available on tape to CNN IBN.

Hashim was arrested by the Indian army while attempting to cross over into Kashmir last month. During his five hour long interrogation, the militant revealed explosive designs of Pakistan.

Question: Do you get trained to infiltrate only into Kashmir or other palces in India as well?

Answer: We must go to Kashmir is what we are told by them. The focus is Kashmir. Even if we say we want to go to to Afghanistan, they say go to Kashmir, we need more people there.

On Pakistan’s intelligence ISI

Answer: The agency helps the tanzeemm a lit but not in front of everyone.

On trainees in terror camps

Answer: There are Arabs, Bangaladeshis, Pathans and Punjabis. People who speak all languages.

On the routes being taken to infiltrate

Answer: They are coming from Tutniyal side. Different routes are operated upon so if one gets caught others can carry out the mission

At the end of the interrogation, Hashim also shows how to assemble a bomb. His confession makes Pakistan’s sinister designs in Kashmir obvious.

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Colours of patriotism paint Jammu

21 08 2008

Source: Daiy pioneer

Kumar Uttam | Jammu

Tricolour in hand, protesters shout ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’

The sun is about to set on the city and the roundabout is deserted. A youth suddenly emerges from one of the bylanes, carrying a National Flag in his hand and shouting slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. Soon, the solitary protest at Kacchi Chhawani Chowk in ‘paralaysed’ Jammu turns into a mass frenzy as hundreds join him to express solidarity for a cause that has gone far beyond the Amarnath land row.

In fact, the Tricolour has united people in this winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir to fight the “neglect” they faced in the last 60 years. The controversy over allotment of a land plot to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board was a mere flashpoint. “We raised the Tricolour and were greeted with bullets. They (separatists) in Kashmir hoisted Pakistan’s flag and brought the Government to its knees. It will not be allowed to continue any more,” thunders Subhash Dogra, a protester.

Everyone in Jammu has suddenly turned leader, brushing aside allegations that “communal elements” are controlling the movement. “We are leaders in ourselves. Nobody is leading us. We are ready to face problems today to ensure a better future for the generations,” adds Gurpreet Singh, owner of a few taxis. Though he has been getting no business for 50 days, he is ready to bear the losses for “many more months” but not the humiliation at the hands of the Government.

Everyone in Jammu has just one complaint. “Kashmir wants freedom, we love our country. They got everything, we were left empty-handed,” people living in the Mishriwalla refugee camp on the Jammu-Akhnoor highway say.

A senior employee in the Divisional Commissioner’s office revealed more. “You don’t get promotions on time if you are not from the valley. Jammu has more population and area, but Kashmir gets better representation in all Government bodies and organisations. Jammu contributes the most to the State’s exchequer, but Kashmir reaps the benefits. Electricity dues are more in Kashmir, but Jammu faces power cuts,” he told The Pioneer.

The Amarnath controversy has come in handy for all those who nurse the “wound of neglect”. They are in no double minds — the Government revoked the allotment of the land to the shrine board for a Hindu yatra under pressure from the same separatists whom they have been appeasing since Independence.

“We have to restore the pride of Baba Amarnath and that of Jammu. We are not going to be defeated at the hands of the anti-nationals. We will be on the roads until the target is achieved,” says 80-year-old Anil Sharma, as he and his grandson Ankit raise slogan of ‘Bam Bam Bhole’ outside Sarwal police post in Rewari locality.

Police have lost public sympathy (they allegedly fired at peaceful protesters and manhandled many) and the Army faces a situation it never confronted before. “How can you expect us to fire at them or even wield a lathi when they come with a Tricolour in their hands and shout slogans in favour of us?” says an Armyman posted in the most sensitive Kacchi Chhawani Chowk of Jammu.

Jammu has been simmering for the last 60 years. It for the first time they have been heard.





Tricolour at 8 am, rebel flags at 4 pm Avijit Ghosh|

16 08 2008


Courtesy: Times of India Epaper

Avijit Ghosh|TNN


Srinagar: At exactly 8am, CRPF hoisted the Indian tricolour at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar on Independence Day. At 3.45pm, Lal Chowk wore a totally different look. Hundreds of slogan-shouting protesters swarmed the area and at 4pm planted the flags of Jamaat-e-Islami (which looks like the Pakistani flag) and the terrorist outfit, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, on top of the same tower where the Indian flag had been hoisted.

If one were to go by the symbolism of the spectacle at Lal Chowk, the Valley’s a l i e n at i o n from the Indian Union seemed complete. One of the slogans of the protesters drove the m e s s a g e home— “Jiyo, jiyo Pakistan, hum hain Pakistani.” Other slogans included “Islam Zindabad,” “Lad ke lenge azadi” and “Allah-u-Akbar.”

The crowds had a free hand through much of Friday. They were aggressive in their gestures, but did not resort to violence. Driving around the city, it was obvious that CRPF’s presence was vastly reduced, especially in old Srinagar area. Police too remained mere onlookers as the protesters kept jumping and screaming slogans at Lal Chowk for at least 20 minutes.
In the evening, there was news of police firing in the Habba Kadal area in which more than 20 protesters were injured. Between 8pm and 9pm, the city observed a blackout— rather was forced to do so as activists went around enforcing it at buildings where lights were switched on. What happened to the Indian national flag at Lal Chowk? Prabhakar Tripathi, the CRPF PRO, said the national flag was
taken off around 10.00am to protect it from rain. Apart from Lal Chowk, the national flag was also hoisted by governor N N Vohra at Bakshi Stadium.

In the afternoon after the namaz, the demonstrators spilled out into the streets from nooks and crannies of Srinagar. Many protesters carried black flags; a few wore black armbands. A majority of them were young—in the 15-30 age group. Women and children too marched in the procession raising slogans for “azadi’’.

Around 1pm in the Safa Kadal area, loudspeakers blared out from mosques, “humko chahiye azadi’’. A procession on M a u l a n a Azad Road a ro u n d 3.30pm had at least 5,000 p e o p l e. A ro u n d 2.45pm, before the namaz at Jamia Masjid in old S r i n a g a r town was over, a bunch of 15 women in burqas burned the tricolour.

T he women shouted: “Bharat teri maut aye, Millat aayee, Millat aayee.’’ When asked, one of them identified herself as a member of Dukhtaran-e-Millat, a pro-separatist women’s organization. Their action spurred the young. They danced shoulder to shoulder. And they shouted pro-Pakistan slogans at the top of their voices.

In his speech at the mosque, APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said the protests would continue till Monday. Which means shops will continue to remain closed. On Saturday, there is a ceremony called Rasm-e-Chahram (fourth day of mourning) at Pampore, about 15km from Srinagar, for Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who was killed in police firing. People from different parts of the state are expected to reach there, making it another massive gathering.





Sri Sri calls for peace

13 08 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008 New Delhi

Expressing deep concern over the continuing violence on the Amarnath land issue in Jammu and Kashmir, renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday appealed for peace in the state and urged people to exercise restraint.

Asking people not commit “blunder” by continuing with violent protests, the spiritual guru said, “the (state) government has committed a big mistake by first transferring the land to Amarnath Shrine Board and revoking the same later in face of protests.”

“Though people have the freedom to express their opinion and frustration, however violence is no solution,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the exponent of Art of Living, said in a release.

He appealed to people to adopt non-violent ways of protest and maintain communal harmony.

In his bid to find an effective solution to the imbroglio, the release said, he has been in constant touch with leaders of different groups. He also had a telephonic conversation with Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in this regard.

Source : New Delhi (PTI)

<<<<<<

Source: Various

Jammu (J&K): Renowned spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on 12th August held wide ranging discussions in Jammu with different sections of people from Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the Amarnath Shrine imbroglio.

Sri Sri arrived from Germany in the wee hours and met with the representatives of the 32 organisations that make up the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (AYSS), says a statement from Art of Living Bureau of Communication of The Art of Living International Centre (Bangalore).

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar discussing ways to resolve the Amarnath imbroglio with Muslim leaders in Jammu on Tuesday

He also met with the members of the Muslim Front Jammu, Bar Association, Sadhu Samaj, university professors and doctors. He gave a patient hearing to everyone and appealed for communal harmony and peace in the region. He assured them that justice would be done to them and asked them to be patient.

Advising against taking law into one’s own hands, Sri Sri said, “Dialogue is the only way to resolve the present crisis.” He added that in his interactions with the leaders in J&K, they have expressed that they also want a peaceful settlement of the issue.

“Jammu and Kashmir are like two eyes. If one is hurt, the other will also bleed,” he said. He termed the recent happening in J&K as most unfortunate. “The deep wounds and scars need to be healed fast,” he said. He asked the Centre to act fast and resolve the issue. Calling upon the administration to be impartial and give a human and healing touch, Sri Sri urged everyone not to harm women and children.

He underlined the need for the majority community to take responsibility of protecting the minority community. “Wherever Hindus are in majority, they need to protect the Muslims and vice versa,” he said.

Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar on wednesday said the civil society in Jammu and Kashmir should come forward for amicable resolution of the Amarnath land transfer issue.

“The civil society should come forward for resolution of the issue so that peace is restored in Jammu and Kashmir,” he told reporters after a meeting with hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his Hyderpora residence here.

He said efforts should be made to prevent the issue from being communalised and justice should be done to all.

Ravishankar is expected to meet chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Governor N N Vohra later today.

During the 15-minute meeting, Geelani said Muslims of Kashmir have never been against the Amarnath yatra and have been actively facilitating the annual Hindu pilgrimage for more than 125 years.





Playing into the hands of the jihadis B Raman

13 08 2008
Source: rediff.com

India is still reeling under the impact of three rounds of serial blasts in quick succession in Jaipur on May 13, 2008, in Bengaluru on July 25 and in Ahmedabad on July 26. The police have been unable to make much headway in the investigations into the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 11, 2006, in which 188 innocent civilians were killed and other terrorist strikes, which have followed one after the other in different parts of the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat have been as clueless in the face of this terrorism as the non-BJP ruled states.

There is a huge jihadi iceberg, which has been moving from state to state spreading death and destruction. We have not been able to locate this iceberg, trace its movement and destroy it. We don’t even know who are behind the so-called Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility for many of these terrorist strikes. They have had many failures in the form of unexploded improvised explosive devices — over 30 of them.

The conventional wisdom in investigation is that every failure by the terrorists takes the police one step closer to a successful identification of the terrorists responsible. Over 30 failures — over 20 of them in Surat in Gujarat — and yet we are as clueless as ever. Were these failed IEDs examined by a single team? What were their conclusions? No answer.

The so-called Indian Mujahideen [Images] had sent three e-mail messages claiming responsibility — two before the explosions took place and one after the explosion. It has been reported by The Hindu that one more message purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen has been received by a newspaper warning of terrorist strikes in Godhra in Gujarat where a group of Hindu pilgrims travelling in a railway compartment were burnt to death by a group of Muslim fanatics in February 2002, which provoked acts of retaliation by sections of the Hindus all over the state.

We take pride in the fact that we are a nation of high-class experts in information technology. And yet, we have not been able to make any break-through in our investigation through an examination of these messages.

It is agreed by all analysts that one of the objectives of the perpetrators of these blasts in different states of India outside Jammu and Kashmir [Images] was to create a divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. Fortunately — thanks to the prompt action by the concerned state administrations and to the good sense of the two communities — the terrorists have not succeeded in this objective.

But what the terrorists have failed to achieve so far in other parts of India through their repeated acts of terrorism, the Government of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party have achieved for them in Jammu and Kashmir — the government through its shockingly ham-handed handling of a sensitive issue and the BJP by its cynical exploitation of the communal tensions arising from the government’s mishandling for partisan political purposes with an eye on Hindu votes in the next elections, which are expected before next May.

Ham-handed handling of vital national security issues has become the defining characteristic of the Government of India. We have been seeing it again and again since the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 2006. Important decisions have been taken — whether relating to Pakistan or China or terrorism — without examining their implications for national security. Many sensitive issues have been handled in a shockingly inept manner — thereby giving the impression of its being a government of novices with very little understanding of such issues.

Nothing illustrated its ineptitude more dramatically than the casual manner in which it watched without intervening when the decision to transfer a plot of land to the ownership of a board for the maintenance of a Hindu shrine (Amarnath) in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley was taken by the local administration headed by the Congress party without a proper examination of its likely impact on Muslim public opinion and its likely exploitation by the Muslim radicals, and then when the leaders of the Muslim community protested against it, it was cancelled without examining its likely impact on Hindu public opinion in the Hindu-majority Jammu division of the state.

The agitation launched by the Hindus of Jammu against the cancellation could have been justified if they had kept it confined to demonstrations and protests. Instead of doing so, they used the agitation for indulging in deplorable acts such as trying to disrupt communications with the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and allegedly preventing the Muslim farmers of the valley from sending their produce of fruits to the rest of India for sale.

This was a dangerous turn in the agitation and was interpreted by many as an economic blockade of the Muslims in order to force them to concede the demands of the Hindus in relation to the transfer of the land. A similar situation was sought to be created in 1990 by the jihadis in the valley by preventing the fruit farmers and artisans from sending their produce to the rest of India for sale. The government of V P Singh, the then prime minister, immediately intervened and had their fruits etc flown from Srinagar [Images] to the rest of India at the government’s expense on special Indian Airlines flight. It also organised Kashmir trade fairs in Delhi [Images] and other parts of India and helped the Kashmiri farmers and artisans to bring their produce out for sale.

One would have expected the Government of India to have promptly acted in a similar manner to break the alleged blockade by the Hindus of Jammu. It did nothing of the sort. It kept fiddling as the situation went from bad to worse. Angered by government inaction, the fruit farmers, instigated by the Muslim radicals and jihadi terrorists, decided to take their produce to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir for sale. No government could have allowed this. The government’s efforts to stop this have led to instances of firing by the security forces on unruly mobs resulting in over 15 deaths.

One would have expected the BJP, which aspires to come to power in New Delhi after the next election, to exercise self-restraint and resist the urge to exploit the situation for partisan political purposes. The expectations have been belied. Its crude attempts to exploit the situation with an eye on the next election have added oil to fire and are threatening to take Jammu and Kashmir back to 1989, when the insurgency started. All the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism gains of recent years in the state face the danger of being wiped out by the government’s inept handling and the BJP’s cynical exploitation of it.

In the situation as it is developing in Jammu and Kashmir, nobody seems to be interested in the national interest and in protecting the lives, property and economic interests of its citizens — whatever their religion. Partisan political interests have taken precedence over national interests.

Public opinion should force the government and the BJP to wake up and prevent a slide back to 1989. Otherwise, the Indian Mujahideen, whoever is behind it, and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence will be having the last laugh.

B Raman





How to lose a war against insurgency ?

7 08 2008

Praveen Swami

Source: The Hindu


Orissa faces defeat at the hands of increasingly powerful Maoist groups.

Its leaders don’t seem to care.


Under the benign gaze of a bright silver statue of Bhimrao Ambedkar, improbable numbers of passengers were being packed in a battered jeep for the ride home in forest hamlets. Neither a month of horrific violence nor the annual week-long general strike called by Maoist guerrillas to commemorate the martyrdom of their comrades deterred thousands of Chitrakonda’s Adivasi residents from showing up at the weekly market. Chitrakonda in Orissa seemed strangely cheerful f or a place which, this summer, witnessed some of the most horrific violence ever recorded in India’s Maoist insurgency. Across the road, from the market, the police station didn’t even have a guard.

In mid-July, a 100-kg landmine ripped through a specially designed mine-proof truck, killing 17 policemen near Motu, on the southern fringes of the violence-scarred district of Malkangiri. Earlier, 38 Andhra Pradesh police personnel died when a boat ferrying them across the Balimela Dam’s reservoir, just a few minutes drive from Chitrakonda, was ambushed. The panicked personnel ran to one side of the boat to escape, causing it to tip over, and all those on board were drowned. .

India’s National Informatics Centre, with a virtual grasp of reality, counts Motu and Balimela — where the ravaged hull of the sunken boat has now been salvaged and dragged ashore — as tourism draws. Not surprisingly, though, visitors aren’t queuing up to sample the region’s delights.

“Kandahar,” policemen call the forests around a bombed-out culvert on the road to village MV79 — home to Hindu refugees from East Pakistan, who were rehabilitated in this place without a name. On their way back from an operation near MV49, where they hoped to gather evidence linking a local politician to the CPI-Maoist, the tired police personnel — some of whom had served in the violence-scarred region for over two years on end — failed to execute a mine search before crossing the bridge. Now, besieged police personnel at Motu village, at the end of the road that runs south through the district to the confluence of the Sileru and Sabari rivers, have renamed the landmarks: “Peshawar,” “Khyber Pass,” “Kabul.”

Just why have things come to this? Put simply, the Orissa police are outmanned and outgunned. In addition to a strength of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of military-trained supporters active in villages, the CPI-Maoist is believed to have at least two companies of forces active in the area. Six months ago, the CPI-Maoist harvested over 1,100 rifles and machine guns in a raid on police stations and armouries in and around the town of Nayagarh. Ill-armed and poorly trained police guards did not even bother to put up a fight.

In what the former Punjab Director-General of Police K.P.S. Gill calls a “war of small commanders,” ground-level leadership is key. But while the Malkangiri police ought to have 49 sub-inspectors to command their constables, just 17 are in place. Where they should have three Deputy Superintendents, they have just one. Superintendent of Police Satish Gajabhiye is also the sole officer of his rank in place — a stark contrast with Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab which have waged successful counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns.

On ground, the Malkangiri police’s offensive counter-insurgency capabilities are pathetic. They have five SOG sections, each with 20 personnel, backed by six companies of ill-trained local police — a total of 700 men to operate in 5,791 square km of some of the most dense, mountainous tropical forests in India. Backing them are four companies of the Central Reserve Police Force — well under 500 men. Dantewada, across the border in Chhattisgarh, is twice as large as Malkangiri but has eight times as many CRPF personnel.

Back in 2001, well before the CPI-Maoist established itself in Orissa, the State sanctioned plans to create three new police stations in Malkangiri. But just one of them has become functional, that too on an ad hoc basis, without a proper building or housing for its staff. At least two police stations, Paparmetla and Jodambo, are unconnected by road, and have no reliable means of communication — not even electricity. In addition, the district’s criminal justice system has collapsed. Inadequate investigation and the complete absence of modern forensic resources, combined with the fact that judges and prosecutors are afraid of reprisals, have made securing convictions of CPI-Maoist leaders next to impossible.

Early this year, a Malkangiri court released Salven Mukta, a Chhattisgarh resident thought to be responsible for at least 49 killings in the course of the CPI-Maoist’s brutal war with Salwa Judum vigilantes. His rapid acquittal startled observers, who note that his trial in Chhattisgarh is still under way. Last year, the police in Malkangiri arrested Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee member Srinivas Sriramaloo, along with a senior commander from Chhattisgarh, Madvi Sukal. Sriramaloo is now in a Medak jail — but Sukal, who was fortunate enough to face trial in Malkangiri, was released. He has, the police in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa say, gone on to lead several attacks against the informers the CPI-Maoists believe were responsible for the arrests.

Cases like these are depressingly common. Sariam Dora, code-named Santosh, was released from prison in July 2007, and is now a member of the CPI-Maoist’s Malkangiri district leadership. Katam Mala, acquitted in 2008, and Sapan Bala, released a year earlier, are already back on the district police’s wanted list.

All of this is symptomatic of a wider malaise. Last year, official data obtained by The Hindu shows, Orissa had just 10,839 armed police personnel instead of the 14,891 who should have been in place. It had 252 officers ranking from Deputy Superintendent to Senior Superintendent instead of the 304 needed, and only 4,542 inspectors instead of the 5,933 sanctioned. In 2005, the State was 12,000 personnel short of the sanctioned strength — a sanctioned strength based, it bears mention, on the three decades-old population data and no suggestion that an insurgency was brewing.

Last year, Orissa hired 6,000 cadets to fill the gap. It turned out, though, that its police training centre could process just 300 students at a time. Training was slashed from 12 months to six months— at which rate it would have taken a decade to complete the process — and meanwhile, untrained personnel were assigned to police stations. Earlier this year, the recruitments themselves were quashed, after credible allegations of corruption surfaced.

Bibhu Prasad Routray, a leading expert on Orissa’s Maoist insurgency, notes that while the State needs around 1,000 police stations, it has just 482. Most of these have neither proper infrastructure nor manpower. Even armed police contingents, which ought to constitute the cutting edge of the Orissa police’s counter-insurgency operations, are grossly underequipped. “For example,” Mr. Routray wrote earlier this year, “the 4th Battalion of the Orissa Armed Police located at Rourkela, close to the Orissa-Jharkhand border, stationed on a 143-acre plot of land, does not even have a boundary wall. The suggestion to erect a wall to protect the facility was made way back in November 2006. The battalion authorities are still awaiting approval of the Police Headquarters, after four subsequent reminders.”

Crack counter-insurgency force

Orissa is now focussing its energies on creating a crack counter-insurgency force, the Special Operations Group, modelled on Andhra Pradesh’s successful anti-naxalite police, the Greyhounds. It is unclear, though, whether what some critics call the ‘Rambo Model of Police Reform’ will work.

In Andhra Pradesh, the Greyhounds successes came in the context of thoroughgoing institutional reform of the police. Police stations were fortified to protect them from attack; incentives were introduced for the police to serve in troubled areas; and a massive programme of grass roots hiring was initiated. Critically, police intelligence was upgraded. Today’s Andhra Pradesh’s Special Intelligence Bureau has more direct-recruit Indian Police Service officers of the rank of SP than the Operations Directorate of the Intelligence Bureau, which handles all nationwide counter-terrorism intelligence. CPI-Maoist leaders have publicly acknowledged that the SIB’s intelligence capabilities were central to breaking the back of its campaign in Andhra Pradesh.

Just across the border in Chhattisgarh, there is evidence of how dangerous seeking shortcuts — instead of implementing proper police reforms — can be. Faced with a situation similar to that in Malkangiri, the State threw its weight behind the Salwa Judum militia. Not surprisingly, better-off Adivasi groups of Chhattisgarh dominated the vigilante organisation. Salwa Judum used to settle vendettas and feuds with the poorest tribes like the Koyas, who today make up the backbone of the CPI-Maoist in Malkangiri.

It will take more than policing, of course, to address the Maoist insurgency. As long as Malkangiri Adivasis continue to be excluded from economic development and are subjected to social discrimination, the conditions for violent protests will continue to exist.

Malkangiri, as the work of the eminent historian Biswamoy Pati teaches us, has a long history of rebellion. Back in 1879, the Koya rebels led by Tomma Dora rose in revolt against the authorities to protest slave labour and forcible extraction of supplies for the government. The rebels captured the Motu police station, and even annihilated a military detachment sent from Hyderabad to put down the uprising. In 1920-24, Adivasi unrest lent momentum to an uprising led by Alluri Sitarama Raju. And in 1942, Laxman Naiko led a massive movement for justice that is still in popular memory.

Orissa needs to provide justice if the Maoists in Malkangiri are to be defeated. But the fact is that Orissa has been evicted from Malkangiri, leaving the State government with no instrument with which it might deliver development and progress. Orissa’s political leadership seems to have neither the will nor the vision to win this war.





‘There’s no greater place to live as a human being than the subcontinent’

13 06 2008

Inset: Author Tarek Fateh

‘There’s no greater place to live as a human being than the subcontinent’

June 12, 2008

The Atelier Club in downtown Toronto was packed to capacity recently for the launch of Pakistan-born Tarek Fateh‘s book Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State.

Fateh’s book argues that Muslims have been force-fed lies about their history for over a millennium — not by Islam’s enemies, but by its imams.

‘Islam came to free humanity from the clutches of the clergy. Instead, the religion of peace has become a prisoner of war, held captive by the very priesthood it came to eliminate,’ Fateh, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, writes in his book.

In an exclusive interview Rediff India Abroad Senior Editor Ajit Jain, the prolific author, broadcaster and columnist pointed out that in India “Muslims, who are 12 per cent of that country’s population, thrive,” while “next door in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” which are Islamic States, “Muslims suffer.”

Through the book — written despite death threats against him — Fateh wants Muslims to understand that their future lies in “models that are based in India, South Africa and Canada.”

Many Muslims say Islam was supposed to be a way of life but it has become a dogma. That it has been politicised.

In some unfortunate way, it is correct. All the differences within the Muslim community, or the wars and the civil wars that have been fought, have never been about piety but about politics.

What is the solution to the increasingly political overtones to the perception of Islam?

We have to stand up to them (fundamentalists) and expose the ideology of hate. In the Indian context, this is the choice between Aurangzeb on the one side and Dara Shikoh on the other.

We know the catastrophe that happened after Aurangzeb weakened the whole of the subcontinent in his efforts to do what the Wahhabis (an ultra-conservative branch of Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia) are now doing. Aurangzeb killed his brother (Shikoh) who was the crown prince, because he (Shikoh) was very close to Hindus and Sikhs.

It is known historically how Dara Shikoh in the 16th century with the help of Hindu priests learnt Sanskrit and — again, with their help — he translated (50) Upanishads and the Bhagawad Gita into Persian, followed on what Akbar the great started, Din-e-Ilahi.

The entire thing became such a huge loss to India. Because of Aurangzeb and Islamic war, the whole country became feeble and the British were able to take over the country soon after his (Aurangzeb’s) death.

Wherever Islam has become synonymous with violence and hate, Muslims have suffered tremendously. Of course, non-Muslims have also died by the hundreds, but the main victims have always been Muslims.

The traditional orphans of the Iran monarchs or the Indians recognised this was politics. This was not seriously about religion. Religion was merely a tool that allowed them to stay in power, whether it is Saudis or ayatollahs or in the Indian context, Aurangzeb, we had catastrophes, and repression, and secular Muslims had to fight political battles against these fascists.

Also read: The average Indian Muslim wants room to survive

Image: Hundreds of Muslim faithful pray at a mosque in Toronto, Canada, September 14, 2001 for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC

‘Mosques have become places of politics’

June 12, 2008

You are making a distinction between such Muslims and secular Muslims.

About 50 to 60 per cent of the Muslim population is illiterate or semi-illiterate. They are not interested in political power. They barely exist, whether they are in Bihar or they are in Mauritius. They simply want to survive. This gain is for 1 to 2 per cent of the Muslim population. Through political power, they can send messages out.

Who are they?

Primarily the Saudi royal family, the ruling ayatollahs in Iran — some ayatollahs are in jails in Iran — and clerics everywhere.

Look at the structures of mosques in Toronto, or elsewhere in Canada. These are large properties. The imam is employed by the board and in many cases takes over the entire structures. I know one organisation that has a property worth $15 million accumulated by the congregation giving cash. Where does this money go? Anyone who controls that amount of money is in politics. He can manipulate lawmakers. He can buy memberships into political parties. He can hire buses and send them to demonstrations. This is what’s happening.

It is in the interest of these people to keep Islam politicised so that they can be self-appointed leaders who can communicate with the Western politicians. The ordinary Muslim who is driving a cab or (is) even a physician doesn’t have time for all this nonsense. These guys are taking advantage of it.

I have suggested, therefore, that donations given to religious institutions by Canadians shouldn’t be in cash but by cheques or credit cards. The money from outside comes in cheques anyway, except there’s no way for anybody finding out what’s happening in the mosques, as there’s no accountability of where this money goes.

There should be a maximum limit that an individual can donate in cash. He should give a cheque or a credit card, beyond that cash. The mosque will never accept that because it is then traceable.

Mosques have become places of politics, which is dangerous. Some mosques are openly defying their charters as charities because they indulge in politics. Every sermon is political because they invite politicians to speak and instead of looking after the affairs of the community and serving their spiritual needs, they [mosques] have become places of bargaining with political parties.

How do you distinguish between an Islamist and a Muslim?

An Islamist is someone who believes in invoking Islam for a political agenda. A Muslim, on the other hand, uses Islam as a moral compass for his betterment and the betterment of his family. An Islamist is also a Muslim but a Muslim is not an Islamist.

India’s first education minister, Abul Kalam Azad, a most respected statesman in the country, was not an Islamist. He was against Islamists. Similarly, there are many ayatollahs in Iran who are in jails — as they are not Islamists.

Also read: ‘Muslim fundamentalism simply has not played a significant role in Indian politics’

‘Saudi Arabia, sadly, is a racist State’

June 12, 2008

Some people say the Islamic world is divided into the privileged class of Saudis and ayatollahs and the ‘second class’ of ordinary Muslims.

It is more than that. The Saudi Muslim does consider a non-Arab Muslim as inferior. Saudi Arabia, sadly, is a racist State. It has salaries based on the colour of your skin, where an Indian Muslim is discriminated more than an Indian Hindu because a Hindu doesn’t pray five times a day but a Muslim does.

It is purely commercial and racial. There’s no element of spirituality. They have Kentucky Fried Chicken right around the house of god. It is an insult to the faith what the Saudis have done. And ayatollahs have become millionaires who are buying properties in Canada.

If you live in Pakistan, why should you care what the Saudis think of you?

Because I care what white people think of black people in the civil rights movement. It is an insult to me as a human being not to accept when racism, sectarianism and hatred of other human beings is being dressed up in my faith. It is an outrage.

Is Islamism confined within the borders of Saudi Arabia and Iran?

It is happening in Canada. It is happening because of Saudi money. The Islam of Indonesia, Malaysia or Bengal, Bihar, Punjab is different as the spiritual faith there is completely depoliticiced.

You go to any Muslim cemetery in Canada — you will not see a single tombstone. Why? This is a culture that celebrates the Taj Mahal, and in Canada we are not allowed to put a stone on the head of a child or a parent or a grandfather. Who decided that? The Saudi funded imams. This is contrary to all Islamic traditions. Go to any other country and you can see beautiful mausoleums, but here in Canada the imams, through Saudi influence, the city councils, have decreed that cemeteries here will have no tombstones. This is all Wahhabi influence.

In your book you discuss the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam and the United Nations’ human rights declaration.

The UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, enacted unanimously in 1948, allows freedom of choice of religion — which means no coercion (on) who should believe in what faith. In many Muslim countries, they have decreed that if you choose to convert from Islam to any other religion, you should be punished by death. Second is the equality of man and woman. Such laws cannot be created from the divine text.

So, we have these 57 countries, members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, who are controlled by the Saudis. Their head office is in Saudi Arabia. They fund the entire organisation. So, nobody can object to anything they want to do. They are principally involved in keeping the Muslim world in the era of darkness. Many Muslim States argue that the UN Declaration of Human Rights is part of the Judeo-Christian traditions and so it shouldn’t be applicable to the Muslim world. It is astonishing.

In my point of view you are walking into a territory that’s divine, reserved for god. Who is someone to tell me I am coming to your house and so you should convert your faith or I will kill you? That’s what’s happening because the moment a Muslim says that I think there’s a problem here and what should we do, they issue a fatwa to kill you.

They expelled (Bangladeshi writer) Taslima Nasrin after pressure from Kolkata Muslims. It is horrible. It is a disgrace not only for Muslims but also for the Indian government to have done that. That woman had to run away and that shows how sometimes non-Muslims also become complicit, saying what do we care if one Muslim kills another Muslim.

mage: An aerial view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Abdel Monaem Al-Keiyi/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: ‘Who is the ideological mastermind behind the new Taliban?’

Trying to make Pakistan into an Arab country is never going to work’ June 12, 2008

If Muslims can live in peace and harmony in India, why can’t they live in peace and harmony in Pakistan, a country supposedly created for them?

The movement for Pakistan was never by the people that comprise Pakistan today. The movement for Pakistan was essentially by upper class Muslims of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Right up to 1946, Balochistan and Sindh were not voting for the Muslim League. They were voting for the (Indian National) Congress party. Balochistan was an independent state and they declared their independence three days before India’s Independence. The coalition government headed by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy in Bengal was the result of Direct Action Day of August 16, 1945, which led to the massacre — actually genocide — of Hindus in Noakhali (now in Bangladesh). It happened when in fact Muslims and Hindus there lived happily for hundreds of years.

Why would a Muslim find living in Pakistan problematic?

Because the idea that some sort of an Islamic state has to be created can never function. It will result in failure when you set impossible targets from the first day. That is the problem. Pakistan as a secular country, like (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah said in his opening speech, never functioned. It resulted in the cleansing of all Hindus and Sikhs from Punjab.

Punjab is primarily 60 to 70 per cent of Pakistan. It was left completely wounded and destroyed. It is only now West Punjab is reconciling with its close links with East Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. It was a living organism that was cut into two.

India was so large that it managed to take those wounds but Pakistan, being comparatively a smaller country, its heritage was linked with northern India. You are trying to make Pakistan into an Arab country. It is never going to work.

Image: An Indian bus driver is embraced by a Pakistani after arriving at the Wagah border post, March 24, 2006. The first bus bringing Indian pilgrims arrived in Pakistan on way to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Photograph: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: Pakistan: Geopolitical epicentre of Islamist jihad

In the heartland of Punjab and Sindh, no one says a negative word about India’ June 12, 2008

Your thoughts on the India-Pakistan dynamics.

It is in the interest of the armed forces to continue to raise the bogey of an Indian threat to exploit the whole country. So, from 1954 they have dissolved the constitution, they have raped the country, they have created wars with India that nobody wanted. It is an open secret that what General Ayub Khan did in 1965 is exactly what Pervez Musharraf did in Kargil. There’s no evidence of India ever attacking Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are quite aware of this.

The fact is that the army can only keep control over a large share of Pakistan’s budget if it can continue to say that it is India that has its eyes on Pakistan and it will finish it off. That fear of India has been hammered to such a degree that it (the bogey of India) has been able to survive.

I believe the people of Pakistan are smart enough, and they have realised that their future is in friendship with India rather than Iran or Saudi Arabia. They have lived in these two countries. Indians and Pakistanis are treated in a shallow manner there.

When a Pakistani is visiting India, people won’t let you pay for your meal. The same is true when an Indian is visiting Pakistan. Canadian Sikhs are going to Pakistan to visit Nankana Sahib. They come back and say that they couldn’t believe it felt like home. In the heartland of Punjab and Sindh, you will not find anyone to say a negative word about India.

In India you might find people who are less aware of Pakistan but in Pakistan everybody knows that their brothers and sisters are Sikhs and Hindus who are on the other side of the border.

In my book I have stated my ancestors are Hindus. We migrated from Rajasthan to Punjab after a famine in early 1800 and we converted to Islam and our family settled there.

Despite different religion, people of Pakistan are smart and resilient. Sixty to 70 per cent of Pakistanis are Punjabis. So, as long as in Lahore and West Punjab there’s goodwill towards India, the army cannot continue to create this myth that India is going to attack Pakistan.

Do you think one day Pakistan and India will be like the European Union?

Absolutely. I am 100 per cent sure it will happen because of goodwill. It will happen because of the laws of nature, because we are one people. We have common cuisine, common culture, common language, common clothes, common sense of humour, common geography, common weather — except, some believe in Bhagwan, some believe in Khuda, some believe in Namokar Mantra, and some don’t believe in anything.

There’s no greater place on this earth to live as a human being than the subcontinent. India as a subcontinent is a marvel of god’s creation. There should never be a communal clash because so much of Islam and Hinduism have been together. We need to bring Kabir’s Bhakti movement back, which the British crushed in such a crafty manner that we were left paralysed.

Image: Indian and Pakistani flags at the Wagah border post. Photograph: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: ‘If the LoC is opened, more harm will be caused to Pakistan’