Friday, April 24, 2009

The thing called 'secularism': Part-I

The Parable:

Once upon a time, the all powerful deity of a land wanted to create a perfect forest, different from others, where everybody would be equal, and there would be no food chain, and so everybody would be happy, an "ideal forest". He created a forest, and named it (for the lack of a better name) Dandakaaranya. In that forest, the Lion and the Deer, the Tiger and the Cow all lived peacefully, feeding upon the food provided by the creater deity. They all loved him and respected him for creating them and giving them such a jolly time.

Then one day, a company of foxes wandered into the forest from elsewhere and begged the deity to live there. They said they were tired of travelling and being hunted by humans. They said they wanted to live out the rest of their lives peacefully, and share their vast knowledge of the world with the idyllic inmates of this vast forest. The diety accepted their request and everybody was happy--the foxes because they found a new home, and other animals because now they had someone new to talk to.

But after a few days, the foxes slowly began murmuring among themselves. The food provided by the diety was not as good as raw meat that they wanted. Actually, they stopped in this forest mostly because they wanted to eat tasty meat of the Deer, the Cow, and the Rabbit. The murmur quickly grew into loud arguments and even dissent and rebellion. The leader then thought for a while, and he got an idea.

One night, he led a few of his followers and hunted a couple of nice tasty Rabbits. Then they invited their friends the Tigers for lunch the next day. There was a lot of celebration and dance and song. The Tigers were amazed at the number of songs and the number of languages the foxes knew and the they felt they were strangely rustic. They wanted to be like the Foxes-- dance like them, sing like them, talk like them.

Then the leader of the Tigers went upto his counterpart and wanted to know how they had got to be so intelligent and smart. The leader of Foxes came forward and offered them the raw meat of the two Rabbits and told them that raw meat has unmatched qualities and it was what made them so intelligent. The Tigers recognised the two Rabbits as the young sons of their good friend and neighbour, the Rabbit, but they were too preoccupied with becoming smarter. So each of them ate a piece of the Rabbit.

As the raw meat and blood went down their food pipe, the Tigers began to feel strangely new and strong sensations. They began to think they are the actual masters of the forest. The deity had got it all wrong. He was really holding them back. They just had to reach out and grab the respectful position they deserved. But this feeling quickly faded away as they swallowed the piece of meat they were chewing. They wanted more.

On their request, the Foxes magnanimously ran out and brought two more Rabbits, freshly hunted. These tasted even better, but this was clearly not enough... they wanted more. They felt an unknown hunger. Some were snarling at the Foxes, and some arguing with each other, and yet some others were looking hither and thither, to see if they can try their hand at this thing called hunting.

And one of them, who could not hold himself ran wild and attacked his friend the Cow, who was peacefully grazing. The stunned Cow sprang aside and stared at him in a new light--his long sharp canines, his tongue red with stains of fresh blood, his strong paws with razor sharp claws, and a murderous intention in his eyes, all made his friend look, well, not friendly at all, to say the least. The Cow was scared to death, and did the only thing it could. It prayed to the deity.

The deity appeared and he was furious and sad. His own creation, the Tiger was behaving in a such a shameful way. And he chided the Tiger for this unspeakable, unprecedented, and decrepit act. But the Tiger did not back down. He said that its in the nature of a Tiger to desire and eat raw flesh and that the Deity had been wrong to try to change the nature of things in the Universe. He said that if the deity believed that all the animals in the forest were equal, then he should also respect the right to food of every animal. And the food of the Tiger were of course other smaller animals. He said that this was a universally accepted fact and this was what happening in other forests in the world.

The deity was taken aback. He knew that the Tiger was right. His experiment had horribly gone wrong. If he punished the Tiger, it would only increase his anger and resentment. If he left the Tiger alone, he would surely kill the Cow. If he pushed the reset button and started it all over again, it would be accepting that the whole "ideal forest" thingy was a sham. All the options were leading to breaking of the fundamental principles on which Dandakaaranya was created.

And the deity, crushed by the utter failure of his experiment, vanished into nothingness forever and with him vanished the beautiful forest of Dandakaaranya.

to be contd...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to dissect a deceptive news report?

Pure logic. It helps. Really does.

Atleast in matters of courts and Committees formed by Judges, newspapers dont want to publish blatant lies. So they impart their own spin that makes the article look like a proper rebuttal to a casual reader of the paper, but without violating what essentially is the truth.

Here is an example of how to spot such an innocuous, yet malicious article, and dissect it--

The article itself appeared in Hindustan Times. Follow the link to the article and give it only a cursory read for the full effect, and come back to this page.

A blog reader and avid commenter 'Incognito' performs the honour on Sandeep's blog with precision as follows:

Came across the report in Hindustan Times linked by Sudhir above on another blog. This was my comment-

Surprising that it took them one full week to cook up this.

First they lay the ground work by pasting this -
“The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing major cases of 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots on Tuesday slammed reports that riots witnesses were tutored to give false evidence for exaggeration of the situation, by activists and organisations helping the victims. ”

1. The word they use is - “anti-Muslim Gujarat riots”.

How does then one account for the death of around 300 Hindus if riots were ‘anti-Muslim’ ?

2. Then ‘Gujarat riots’. Attempt to tie Gujarat to riots.

So a phrase ‘riots that occured in Gujarat in 2002‘ that would have conveyed the correct meaning was manipulated to “2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots ” to implant in the mind of the reader that -

(a) riots of 2002 were anti-Muslim.
(b) There was no ’cause’ to the riots. It spontaneously happened. No relation to Godhra incident.
(c) Gujarat and riots go together.

3. Next- ‘SIT… slammed reports…’
Whereas rest of the report show that SIT members have not denied what was reported earlier.

So ’slammed’ is meant to give a wrong impression that SIT themselves have denied what was reported earlier as findings of the team.

4. And they conclude with- “…by activists and organisations helping the victims. ”

Whatever else you read, mind you, these activists and their organisations were helping the victims.

With this introductory paragraph implanting plenty of contrary-to-truth suggestions in the minds of the reader, they start their report.

Then comes - “The SIT rebuttal followed the alleged leak of its report recently, …”

5. The ‘SIT rebuttal’.

In case the ‘SIT …slammed reports…’ phrase of first para failed to make an impression on you, to reinforce it, is “SIT rebuttal”.

However, in the rest of the report one does not find SIT rebutting anything, only attempting to deflect the reporter.

6. Further, “alleged leak”.

It is only ‘alleged’, implying that truth is something different.
Second, ‘leak’. conveying the idea of untrustworthiness of source.

Thus the ‘reports’ in the first line becomes ‘alleged leaks’ in the second.

Next, this is the best that they could find among what SIT told them- ““The findings of the report have concentrated on the investigations into the cases and it was not our business to indulge in the blame game and level allegations,” a senior SIT official said.”

7. Far from denying what was reported earlier, far from ‘rebutting’, far from ’slamming’, SIT makes a neutral statement, indicating that it was not their business to blame anyone.

No negation of what was reported earlier as findings of the team.

This is what is trumpeted as ’slamming’ ‘rebuttal’ .

Next- “The SIT response to the reported leak came on a day, when the Supreme Court termed the leak as a “betrayal of the faith reposed in those to whom the report was allowed access”.”

So, that was not, after all, an ‘alleged’ or even a ‘reported’ leak.
For the Supreme Court to make such an observation, the leak had to be true.

8. So here we have these fellows attempting to suggest that the earlier report was not based on facts by adding ‘alleged’ and ‘reported’ to ‘leaks’ knowing fully well that the earlier report was based on authentic information.

9. Despite this, the next para tries again to cast aspersions on the veracity of the earlier report by using the words- ‘claimed’, ‘alleged’.

And then- “Asked about the leaked contents of the report, the SIT chief, R. K. Raghavan told Hindustan Times that he could not confirm whether the leaked contents were true.”

10. So where Court and SIT chief is involved, it is straight- the reports were based on leaked contents. not ‘allegedly’ , not ‘claimed’, not ‘reported’, but exactly on ‘leaked contents’.

11. This is the second quote from SIT that they have given which again does not deny the truth in the earlier report.

Is this what is trumpeted as ’slamming’, rebuttal’ ?

The third quote from SIT goes- ““I am answerable only to the Supreme Court. The alleged reported leaks appear to be inspired by dubious motives. I cannot confirm such claims. The act is highly condemnable,” Raghavan said. ”

Again, no denial of what was reported.

Further, by saying “I am answerable only to the Supreme Court.”, Raghavan tells the reporter that he is not intereseted in answering any question put by the reporter.

The rest of the quote reveals discontinuity, as when number of replies are clubbed together. It indicates the possibility that the quote is a contructed one from replies to different questions.

And then one more attempt to cast aspersion of the report-”The SIT sources said the alleged leaks appear to have been based on statements of state police officials and “cannot be termed as findings of the report.” ”

It is ‘SIT sources’ this time, not Raghavan. It could be anyone from the guy who supplied tea to the SIT to the sweeper who cleaned SIT office premises, since the ’source’ is able to only speculate that the ‘leaks appear to have been based on statements of police officials’.

And what all of this unequivocally confirms is that the earlier report was very much based on the SIT report.

Despite this and contrary to facts, the Hindustan Times headlines claim- “Gujarat riots witnesses not tutored: SIT”

When did SIT say that or anything at all to that effect ?

The intention behind this is that a person who casually glances through the news headlines will get the totally wrong impression that ‘Gujarat riots witnesses were not tutored’. And that SIT itself says so.

Next, if he glances at the first two paras, he will only reinforce this wrong impression.

The rest of the report is more of suggestions and insinuations rather than honest reporting.

As many people have the habit of glancing through the headlines, and maybe the first two paras, these tactics are very succesful in spreading misinformation and lies.

The headline, first para and the first line of the second para that cathces the eye of the casual glancer is carefully designed to mislead and misinform.

No wonder these master liars as are found in editorial dens indulge freely in such detestable tactics.

The question is, how does a newspaper such as this that has rather decent circulation get away with this kind of blatant deception ?

Don’t its subscribers deserve truthful reports ?

Why should the newspaper misinform its subscriber who pays him ?

Isn’t it akin to ‘biting the hand that feeds’ ?

Ok. Maybe, there is another ‘hand’ that is feeding these deceptive monsters more than what the subscribers can.

That would explain.

Nevertheless, there are sufficient grounds to file a case of ‘Cheating’ and make these monsters and the ‘hand’s behind them pay for their crimes.

Aah! So that is how it is done. I must confess that this sort of thing is new to me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More Truth about Godhra (and Teesta)

Godhra riot witnesses got Rs 1 lakh each

Navin Upadhyay | New Delhi

Gujarat-based NGO processed payment from CPM relief fund

A controversial Gujarat-based NGO was instrumental in organising payment of Rs 1 lakh each to as many as ten witnesses in various post-Godhra riot cases. The money came from the CPI(M) relief fund and was distributed months before the witnesses deposed in the courts, five years after the clashes took place. Four other eyewitnesses received Rs 50,000 each.

The revelation comes in the backdrop of reports that a host of Gujarat riot case victims were misled into signing affidavits giving false information at the behest of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an NGO headed by social activist Teesta Setalvad.

Incidentally, those who were both victims and eyewitnesses received Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 while the victims got mere Rs 5,000 each. This has raised eyebrows over the selection of beneficiaries and the purpose of paying a disproportionately large sum to the eyewitnesses before the trial.

Chief Coordinator of CJP Rais Khan told The Pioneer that he had submitted the name of beneficiaries to the CPI(M) on instruction from Teesta Setalvad. “Setalvad identified the people and I merely followed her instruction and forwarded the list to CPI (M),” Khan said.

When contacted, Setalvad said she was present at the function on an invitation from the CPI(M) and had nothing to do with fund raising. “It was CPI(M) money and I was a mere guest at the function,” she claimed.

Yasin Naimudin Ansari, one of the eyewitnesses who got one lakh rupees, told The Pioneer on phone from Ahmedabad that he was approached by someone from Teesta Setalvad's organisation. "I vaguely remember this. But I don't remember the name of the person," he said.

The function took place in Ahmedabad on August 26, 2007 and the witnesses were handed out demand drafts by CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat, Teesta Setalvad and Rais Khan.

Brinda Karat admitted that the CPI(M) had raised the money, adding that as far the party was concerned it was giving relief to the victims. "Our party is not involved in any court cases involving Gujarat riots, and for us, distributing relief was merely a humanitarian gesture," she said.

Not disputing that she had taken the help of local NGOs to identify the victims, Brinda said, "We had received a lot of applications and money was distributed in different phases."

The 14 DDs (Nos 567540 to 567554 all dated 01/08/2007) were handed over to these witnesses by Teesta, Brinda and Rais Khan. Seven DDs were payable at Ahmedabad and seven at Baroda. Interestingly, one of the recipients is Yasmin Banu Sheikh, the estranged wife of Zahira Sheikh's brother Nafitullah.

The Pioneer is in possession of letters written by beneficiaries thanking Brinda, Teesta and Rais Khan for the payment.

Yasmin Banu Ismailbhai Shaikh (aunt of Zahira) of Baroda, who received Rs 50,000 (DD No 567552 dated August 1, 2007). Yasmin is a complainant in case No. 114/04 at Baroda. It is interesting to note that, when no substance was found in her complaint, she was directed to face lie detection test by the court and ever since she has not appeared in the court.

Among the recipients are four Best Bakery case witnesses and nine are appearing as witnesses in Ahmedabad-related Naroda Patia, Shahpur, Khanpur and other 2002 riot cases.

The information has been gleaned through a string of petitions under the Right to Information Act by one H Jhaveri from various agencies, including banks.

The four Best Bakery case witnesses are:

Sailun Hasan Khan Pathan of Ahmedabad who was paid Rs 1 lakh; Tufel Ahmed Habibullah Siddiqui of Baroda who received 50,000; Sehjad Khan Hasan Khan Pathan of Baroda who was paid Rs 50,000 and Rais Khan Amin Khan Pathan of Baroda who too got Rs 50,000.

There are nine witnesses relating to Ahmedabad riots who are testifying in local riot cases. All of them were given Rs 1 lakh and they are: 1.Kureshabibi Harunbhai Ghori of Baroda, witness in case No. 11/02 registered in Khanpur Police Station.

2. Husenabibi Gulambhai Shaikh, also of Baroda and witness in case No. 11/02 filed in Khanpur police station.

3. Rasidabanu Yusufkhan Pathan of Ahmedabad, witness in 2002 riots cases.

4. Fatimabanu Babubhai Saiyyed of Ahmedabad and witness in Case No. 100/02 registered in Shahpur Police Station.

5. Badurnnisha Mohd Ismail Shaikh of Ahmedabad, witness in Case No. 49/03 of Shahpur Police Station.

6. Mohd Khalid Saiyyed Ali Saiyyed of Ahmedabad, witness in Naroda-Patiya case. His first application was registered on March 7, 2008 and second on May 29, 2008.

7. Mohd Yasin Naimuddin Ansari of Ahmedabad, witness in 2002 riots cases.

8.Shaikh Azharuddin Imamuddin of Ahmedabad. During 2002 riots he was injured. At that time he was 10 years.

9. Sarjahah Kausar Ali Shaikh of Baroda. No details available.

List of Victims who were paid Rs 5,000 on 11/10/2007.

Mohammed Rafiq Abukar Pathan , Aslamkhan Anwarkhan Pathan, Pathan Saiyedkhan Ahmedkhan, Imtiyazhhan Saiyedkhan Pathan, Rashidkhan A. Pathan, Sairaben Salimbhai Sanghi, Ashraf Sikandarbhai Sanghi.


What is the difference between a Pogrom and a Riot?

Instead of providing dictionary definitions, let me provide practical examples. Read below for what a Pogrom is like.

When a big tree fell

Kanchan Gupta

Manmohan Singh and Congress suffer from selective amnesia as they rake up the 2002 Gujarat violence to malign the BJP. But even if they choose to forget the 1984 pogrom that left more than 4,000 Sikhs dead, the story remains fresh in the minds of many, among them survivors waiting for justice for 25 years

Caught on the wrong foot over the brazen manner in which it tried to absolve Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar of the serious charges that have been levelled against them by survivors of the 1984 pogrom that resulted in the slaughter of 4, 733 Sikhs, the Congress has struck back at its principal political adversary, the BJP, by once again raising the bogey of the 2002 post-Godhra violence in Gujarat.

Addressing a Press conference in Mumbai on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who would like people to believe that he was “not informed, not consulted, over the CBI’s clean chit to Jagdish Tytler” although that is an impossibility, has said, “Nor will I be found wringing my hands in frustration while one of my Chief Ministers condones a pogrom targeted at minorities.”

Ironically, even as the Prime Minister was seeking to resurrect the Gujarat ‘pogrom’ and remind people of the ‘atrocities’ committed against Muslims, the Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court and headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan submitted its report, refuting the allegations that have sustained the myth-making aimed at demonising Mr Narendra Modi and tarring the BJP’s image.

The SIT’s report shows Mr Singh’s description of the Gujarat violence as a “pogrom targeted at minorities” is as fanciful as his denial of any knowledge about the CBI exonerating those who are accused of leading murderous mobs during the 1984 violence, planned and executed by Congress ‘leaders’ to avenge the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi. Noted writer and veteran journalist Khushwant Singh, recalling those terrible days of 1984, told the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry, set up by the BJP-led NDA Government, that the hideous bloodletting left him “feeling like a Jew in Nazi Germany”.

It is possible that Mr Manmohan Singh has no memories of that massacre; selective amnesia is a disease from which too-clever-by-half politicians tend to suffer. It is also possible that he and his patrons in the Congress believe that by pretending nothing of note happened in 1984, those born after Congress mobs ran amok on the streets of Delhi, garlanding Sikhs with burning tyres, can be persuaded to vote for a party which claims to stand against the BJP’s ‘divisive politics’.

Such sanctimonious self-righteousness is best avoided by the Congress, not least because its then president — and India’s Prime Minister — Rajiv Gandhi had no qualms about justifying the carnage. “Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji,” Rajiv Gandhi said on November 19, 1984, even as thousands of families grieved for their loved ones killed by Congress hoodlums, “We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed India had been shaken. But when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.” Some riots? Only natural? Shake a little?

Of course, Mr Singh would claim no knowledge of any of this. Perhaps he would even insist that he was “not informed, not consulted” by Rajiv Gandhi, or, for that matter, the mobs that bayed for blood (and feasted on it) for four days before someone called the Army in.

Twenty-five years is a long time. Public memory is notoriously short and it is unlikely those who have attained the right to vote in these 25 years would know what the protest against the Congress deciding to give party tickets to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar is all about. It would, therefore, be in order to recall the chain of events lest we be persuaded to believe that nothing of consequence happened by a Prime Minister who spends sleepless nights worrying about a terror suspect held in distant Australia but blithely disowns responsibility for the shocking attempt to whitewash the crimes of his party and its ‘leaders’ committed against thousands at home.

So, here is the story, briefly told, of how more than 4,000 Sikh men, women and children were slaughtered; in Delhi alone, 2,733 Sikhs were burned alive, butchered or beaten to death. Women were raped while their terrified families pleaded for mercy, little or none of which was shown by the Congress goons. In one of the numerous such incidents, a woman was gang-raped in front of her 17-year-old son; before leaving, the marauders torched the boy.

For three days and four nights the killing and pillaging continued without the police, the civil administration and the Union Government, which was then in direct charge of Delhi, lifting a finger in admonishment. The Congress was in power and could have prevented the violence, but the then Prime Minister, his Home Minister, indeed the entire Council of Ministers, twiddled their thumbs.

Even as stray dogs gorged on charred corpses and wailing women, clutching children too frightened to cry, fled mobs armed with iron rods, staves and gallons of kerosene, AIR and Doordarshan kept on broadcasting blood-curdling slogans like ‘Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge’ (We shall avenge blood with blood) raised by Congress workers grieving over their dear departed leader.

In mid-morning on October 31, 1984, Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh guards posted at her home. Her death was ‘officially’ confirmed at 6 pm, after due diligence had been exercised to ensure Rajiv Gandhi’s succession. By then, reports of stray incidents of violence against Sikhs, including the stoning of President Zail Singh’s car, had started trickling in at various police stations.

By the morning of November 1, hordes of men were on the rampage in south, east and west Delhi. They were armed with iron rods and carried old tyres and jerry cans filled with kerosene and petrol. Owners of petrol pumps and kerosene stores, beneficiaries of Congress largesse, provided petrol and kerosene free of cost. Some of the men went around on scooters and motorcycles, marking Sikh houses and business establishments with chalk for easy identification. They had been provided with electoral rolls to make their task easier.

By late afternoon that day, hundreds of taxis, trucks and shops owned by Sikhs had been set ablaze. By early evening, the murder, loot and rape began in right earnest. The worst butchery took place in Block 32 of Trilokpuri, a resettlement colony in east Delhi. The police either participated in the violence or merely watched from the sidelines.

Curfew was declared in south and central Delhi at 4 pm, and in east and west Delhi at 6 pm on November 1. But there was no attempt to enforce it. PV Narasimha Rao, the then Home Minister, remained unmoved by cries for help. In his affidavit to the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry, Lt-Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, decorated hero of the 1971 India-Pakistan war, said, “The Home Minister was grossly negligent in his approach, which clearly reflected his connivance with perpetrators of the heinous crimes being committed against the Sikhs.”

The first deployment of the Army took place around 6 pm on November 1 in south and central Delhi, which were comparatively unaffected, but in the absence of navigators, which should have been provided by the police and the civil authorities, the jawans found themselves lost in unfamiliar roads and avenues.

The Army was deployed in east and west Delhi in the afternoon of November 2, more than 24 hours after the killings began. But, here, too, the jawans were at a loss because there were no navigators to show them the way through byzantine lanes.

In any event, there was little the Army could have done: Magistrates were ‘not available’ to give permission to fire on the mobs. This mandatory requirement was kept pending till Mrs Indira Gandhi’s funeral was over. By then, 1,026 Sikhs had been killed in east Delhi. Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were among Congress ‘leaders’ who, witnesses said, incited and led mobs. Both deny the allegation, but the evidence is overwhelming.

A report on the pogrom, jointly prepared by the PUCL and PUDR and published under the title, Who Are the Guilty? names both of them along with others. The report quotes well-known journalist Sudip Mazumdar: “The Police Commissioner, SC Tandon was briefing the Press (about 10 Indian reporters and five foreign journalists) in his office on November 6, at 5 pm. A reporter asked him to comment on the large number of complaints about local Congress MPs and lightweights trying to pressure the police to get their men released. The Police Commissioner totally denied the allegation… Just as he finished uttering these words, Jagdish Tytler, Congress MP from Sadar constituency, barged into the Police Commissioner’s office along with three other followers and on the top of his voice demanded, ‘What is this Mr Tandon? You still have not done what I asked you to do?’ The reporters were amused, the Police Commissioner embarrassed. Tytler kept on shouting and a reporter asked the Police Commissioner to ask that ‘shouting man’ to wait outside since a Press conference was on. Tytler shouted at the reporter, ‘This is more important.’ The reporter told the Police Commissioner that if Tytler wanted to sit in the office he would be welcome, but a lot of questions regarding his involvement would also be asked and he was welcome to hear them. Tytler was fuming…”

The slaughter was not limited to Delhi, though. Sikhs were killed in Gurgaon, Kanpur, Bokaro, Indore and many other towns and cities in States ruled by the Congress. In a replay of the mayhem in Delhi, 26 Sikh soldiers were pulled out of trains and killed.

After quenching their thirst for blood, the mobs retreated to savour their ‘revenge’. The flames died and the winter air blew away the stench of death. Rajiv Gandhi’s Government issued a statement placing the death toll at 425!

Demands for a judicial inquiry were stonewalled by Rajiv Gandhi. Human rights organisations petitioned the courts; the Government said courts were not empowered to order inquiries. Meanwhile, Rajiv Gandhi dissolved the Lok Sabha and went for an early election, which the Congress swept by using the ‘sympathy card’ and launching a vitriolic hate campaign.

Once in office, Rajiv Gandhi was desperate for a breakthrough in Punjab. He mollycoddled Akali leader Sant Harchand Singh Longowal into agreeing to sign a peace accord with him. Sant Longowal listed a set of pre-conditions; one of them was the setting up of a judicial commission to inquire into the pogrom.

Thus was born the Ranganath Misra Commission of Inquiry, which took on the job of crafting a report that would suggest extra-terrestrials were to be blamed for whatever had happened. Worse, submissions and affidavits were passed on to those accused of leading the mobs; some of these documents were later recovered from the house of Sajjan Kumar. Gag orders were issued, preventing the Press from reporting in-camera proceedings of the Commission.

For full six months, Rajiv Gandhi refused to make public the Ranganath Misra Commission’s report. When it was tabled in Parliament, the report was found to be an amazing travesty of the truth; neither were the guilty men of 1984 named, now was responsibility fixed.

Subsequently, nine commissions and committees were set up to get to the truth, but they were either disbanded midway or not allowed access to documents and evidence. India had to wait for the report of the Nanavati Commission for an approximate version of the real story.

Justice Nanavati’s report said, “The Commission considers it safe to record its finding that there is credible evidence against Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs.” This is not an indictment, Mr Manmohan Singh and his Government decided, so why bother about it? Four years later they remain unrepentant, their attitude remains unchanged.

Two thousand seven hundred and thirty-three men, women and children killed in Delhi, another 2,000 killed elsewhere, scores of women raped, property worth crores of rupees looted or sacked. Families devastated forever, survivors scarred for the rest of their lives.

But the Congress doesn’t care!
So this is what a pogrom looks like.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Post-Godhra caricatures

For reasons altogether distantly connected, during a certain point of time in 2007, people suddenly became aware of what happened in 2002. Gory incidents of unimaginable precedence (burnings, rapes of pregnant women, mass graves,etc) were attributed to a certain group they called 'hindu-fundamentalists'.

Lets see what they were supposed to have done:

1) The poster-boy of Post-Godhra riots, Qutubuddin Ansar, the young tailor of Ahmedabad was literally the poster boy for all ‘secular’ newspapers and journals. His bruised face and folded hands still haunt our memory.

2) And then of course, there was the pregnant woman named Kausar Banu who was gangraped by a mob and then whose foetus was gouged out by sharp weapons.

3) The dumping of dead bodies into a well by rioteers at Naroda Patiya

4) Police botching up investigation into the killing of British nationals, who were on a visit to Gujarat and unfortunately got caught in the riots.

5) Zarina Mansuri, a 30-year-old Muslim woman who was brutally hacked to death and later burnt to ashes by a mob in the Naroda Patiya massacre of February 28, 2002.

The rape of one Shabana (15), which Anisha, her friend is said to have witnessed.

7) And finally, Zahira Sheikh, the key witness in Best Bakery case in which 12 Muslims and 2 others were burnt alive in the premises of the bakery by Hindus.

Now lets see what happened with all these characters actually:

1) ‘Secularists’ sent Mr. Ansar to Kolkata and made a big issue of migration.
Within few weeks, he came back to Ahmedabad, his home, and nobody has reported as to why he chose to resettle in Ahmedabad if it was ‘unsafe for Muslims’.

2) A Special Investigative Team (SIT) formed on the orders of Hon'ble Chief Justice of India found no truth in this matter. In fact the SIT observed “It is clear from the report that the horrendous allegations made by the NGO [Citizens for Peace and Justice] were false. Cyclostyled affidavits were supplied by a social activist and the allegations made in them were untrue…"
3) same as above.

4) same as above.

5) The woman Zarina Mansuri was not even alive at the time of riots. She had died of tuberculosis (TB) some four months earlier.

6) Yunus’s deposition said: “This, again, is wrong. Anisha had witnessed nothing like that that day. "We, along with several others, were hiding on the same terrace of a house in Gangotarinagar at that time and none of us had seen anything like that.”

7) Well, Ms. Z.Shaikh not only turned hostile (she was charged with lying to the court and was served a 1 year sentence), she actually asked the court to look into the bank transactions of a very very interesting woman.

Now, I must reveal an important player in the game, someone connected to all the above incidents in some form or other-- Teesta Setalvad. She heads an NGO called Citizens for Peace and Justice and she is the wife of some 'Javed Anand' (Ahem!).

And now I must direct the readers to Sandeep's blog just to illustrate the magnitude of that woman's treachery to the nation:
"...Teesta was the only person that went after Narendra Modi with singleminded determination almost every single day for at least 3 years. A measure of success of her brazen activism is the Supreme Court’s premature pronouncement of Modi as the “modern day Nero.” The SIT report clearly shows some of the dubious and outright illegal methods she followed in her quest for “justice” (sic):
  • Tutoring witnesses
  • Filing false affidavits
  • Lying openly
  • Manufacturing tales of incidents that didn’t actually occur
  • Threatening witnesses and aides who didn’t “obey” her
In other words, she didn’t have a case. But she got away with it for some time not because she was good at it but because she was hysterically vocal about it, and assumed that those who were with her were as ethically decrepit as she was.

However, Teesta’s spurious activism has done significant damage: it spawned off an entire cottage industry built on the edifice of falsehood. This cottage industry was awash with tons of funds because it was able to convince idiots abroad that the “fight for justice” was genuine. On the more dangerous side, some of these were well-intentioned idiots but others were active traitors. Gujarat was the perfect opportunity. Also, her sisters-in-crime like Arundhati Roy spun kilometres of yarn based on the
Ripped Foetus Theory postulated by Teesta. Indeed, the theory holds a mirror to Teesta’s macabre imagination: I mean, she could’ve simply said: Kausar Banu’s head was severed or some such thing. But Teesta’s sadisitic mental imagery stretches it to: Kausar Banu was gangraped by a mob, who then gouged out the foetus with sharp weapons. No, don’t try to visualize that. Writing it was horrible enough for me."

Enough said. The case is closed. But then again, as Yoda might say,"Cure who can, the disease called Skepticism?"

Update-1: For all those misty-eyed post-modern humanists groping for a ray of hope to hang on to in this lost battle against Hindu Fundamentalism, the most dangerous threat in the universe, here is a rebuttal by the NGO Citizens of Peace and Justice.

Update-2: Happiness is ephimeral (or I can actually say, Satyameva Jayate). The original report is actually, true.

Some Naizam Titbits

Now that I wrote something on Hyderabad, the history monster in me woke up, and a simple google search (wonder why others dont get such facts themselves) revealed these:
1) No less than 200,000 muslim men were recruited as Razakars to counter any attempt by the local Hindu population (which was then more than 90%) to stage an internal rebellion.

2) In August 1919, Osmania University was founded to impart higher education in Urdu medium to Muslims and Urdu speaking Hindus in Telangana. When Mohammed Ali Jinnah, father of Islamic State of Pakistan (Islamic Pure State) visited the university, he addressed the students as "my Muslim students," ignoring Hindus among the students.

3) During Milad-un-Nabi celebrations of 1937, Prof. Maulvi Nazarul Hassan Gilani openly admonished the Muslims for their failure to convert Hindus to Islam by saying, "I am pained to see the inertness amongst Muslims, when there exist still 22 million ‘Dung Worshippers’ in this country (Hyderabad State)."

4) It is reported that the Nizam purposefully delayed any formal decision on the future of Hyderabad state and in the meanwhile, received arms supplies from Pakistan and from the Portuguese administration based in Goa. In addition, additional arms supplies were received via air drops from Australian arms trader Sidney Cotton.

5) The commander of the Hyderabad State Army, Major General El Edroos, was an Arab. A foreign man was the leader of our army just 60 years ago. For that matter, Nizams of the Asaf Jahi dynasty were Iraqis, the Qutub Shahi dynasty (which ruled Hyderabad before Nizams) was Turkish, and the Bahmani Sultans (who ruled TelangaNa before Qutub Shahi dynasty; there was no Hyderabad then) was Tajik-Persian (even heard of Tajikistan, fellows?). Around 600 years of foreign rule. But do we dare to celebrate 18th September as our Independence Day? (More on this in the next post).

6) "Operation Polo": Indian losses were 66 killed and 97 wounded. The losses suffered by Hyderbad state forces and volunteers combined were 1,863 killed and 3,558 captured (Take that you "£$"%^&*). 122 members of the Hyderbad sate forces were also wounded. It is said that on Marathwada front of the battle, Patel had all the Razakars lie on the road and had his Battletanks run over them. This is was one of main incidents that demoralized the Hyderabad state into capitulation. Yes. We were different then (Hindus, not Humanists).

7) In the following weeks after Operation Polo, the state erupted in widespread communal violence. 50,000 people may have died in the reprisals that followed the invasion.

8) Old names of some places whose named got changed in the Nizam Era:
a) Adilabad - Edlavaada
b) Nizamabad - Indur/Indrapuri
c) Karim Nagar - Elagandala
d) Mahaboob Nagar (distt) - Palamoor
e) Mahaboob Nagar (town) - Manukota
f) Medak - Metuku
g) Hyderabad - Bhagyanagaram.
9) Qasim Rizvi was the founder member and president of an organisation called "Majlis-Ittehadul-Muslimeen". Rings any bells? Yes. It is indeed the same political party MIM (which now calls itself All-India MIM) led by the Owasis today. You will be interested to know that though the constitution was changed, the views of the organisation havent changed. More on it in the next post.

10) Finally, this pic of our glorious Razakar holy-warriors holding three lowly mean upto-no-good 'dung worshippers' to deal with at their convenience. They were lazy Hyderabadis, you see :) Just look at their proud faces oozing accomplishment. Wonder what the others were doing in the Godavari Delta at that time....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Osmania Biscuit XVI--Part III:Of Martand Rao, Osmania Biscuit, and the Richest Man in the world

continued from part-II

Osman Ali Khan Siddiqui, the last and most famous Nizam (ruler) of the princely state of Hyderabad, was the Richest Man in the Whole World at that time, the Richest Asian Ever in the recorded history, and the 5th Richest Man Ever in the recorded history. His entourage of the rolls royces, his buildings, jewels and queens, and most importantly, the fact that he was the only Indian ruler allowed under the British Rule to have his own currency--simply too grand to behold. Naizam, or the territory ruled by Nizam, covered almost the whole of TelangaNa, some part of Maharashtra, and some of Karnataka.

But all was not well. The Nizams who had their origins in Arabian Peninsula (Kurdistan, Iraq) treated the local Hindus like second grade citizens in their own land. Very few administrative posts were reserved for them and they could not rise above a particular level. The state languages were Urdu and Farsi and were mandatory. Telugu, Marathi and Kannada suffered unparalleled neglect. In fact, many schools did not even bother to teach them.

The most conspicuous aspect of Nizam rule however, were the Razakars, a private army led by Qasim Rizvi, a supporter of Nizam. They instilled terror and wrecked havoc wherever they went. Loots, rapes, murders, kidnappings. And they are still hailed by some in the old-city as religious warriors, heroes, lengends. They wanted Hyderabad to be a separate country. And when talks with Sardar Patel failed, he launched ‘Operation Polo’, to annex Hyderabad state into the Indian Union. In the meanwhile, as a blackmailing tactic, Razakars started a campaign of terror of unknown precedence. Several areas were burnt, looted, pillaged. Women raped, children massacred… to force Sardar Patel into withdrawing his advancing forces.

But then, all of a sudden, within days of launching Operation Polo, Nizam surrendered and Hyderabad was liberated from Nizam’s rule and integrated into the Indian Union.

A very rarely told legend from the old city states how it happened--
A young muslim working in a bakery, unable to digest all this violence upon his Hindu neighbours, wanted all of this to stop and the only way that he knew was to appeal to the taste-buds of the Nizam. It was well-known that Nizam had a penchant for new tastes and different dishes. He wanted to make a new kind of biscuit, one that could appeal so much to Nizam that he should put an end to all this terror at once. But the already available karachi biscuit was a hot favorite of Nizam and he knew that he had stiff competetion to beat.

But he didn’t give up easily. After thinking about it day and night, he suddenly got up from his bed around midnight. He had came up with a solution. It seemed so obvious to him. He went to his bakery with his young assistant and started working frantically as the violence continued unabated outside. After a couple of hours, as he removed the tray from the traditional bhatti oven, he knew he had done it. But as he was about to take it to the palace, he was hit by a stray bullet in his leg. So his young assistant volunteered to take it to the Nizam in his stead. And so it was that the boy carried his treasure in a paper cover riding his bicycle as fast as his legs could manage it.

He reached the palace gate panting, showed what he had, and the smell of the warm biscuits brought by a known face instantly alerted the guard and they allowed him to pass without question. And he ran into the palace like a man chased by hounds and collapsed just outside the royal room, where the Nizam used to come for breakfast. His outstretched hand still holding the paper cover. The maids recognised his purpose and promptly carried the paper cover over to the Nizam’s breakfast table. It is said that along with the biscuits, the cover also contained a letter addressed to him in High-Persian praising his benevolence and delcaring that if he liked the biscuit, it would be named after him and his name will live in this land forever. In return, it begged him to stop the Razakar violence. Moved by the taste of the biscuit and the high ethics of the baker, he indeed put a stop to violence and surrendered himself.

Jumman Miya, who was silent till now, wiping off tears from his eyes with his sleeves, slowly said that it was he who had carried the Osmania Biscuits on the rusty bicycle and ran through the palace. Not a day passes when he doesn’t regret that it was his men who had indulged in such bloodshed. Nevertheless, those of his kind who think back nostalgically of those good old days of Nizam are still many. This saddens him even more.

And Tubelightla Srinivas, who was returning home a lot wiser and a lot older, finally made an attempt to understand why Lingam Yadav likes Osmania Biscuit.

It is true that many cultures and religions together make up the unique culture of Hyderabad. But it is not wise to believe that things have been this way since a long time. And it is even more foolish to believe that things will continue to remain this way in future. Having a liking to some artefact should not blind one from the times and conditions in which the object was made. Unless we grow older by studying the lives of our ancestors, it is difficult for this new breed of peaceniks to understand what I am trying to say. But the bitter truth is, unless and until each of our families experiences a personal loss, we cannot unite against those cults which explicitly ask their followers for complete obliteration of others.

Osmania Biscuit XVI--Part II:Of Martand Rao, Osmania Biscuit, and the Richest Man in the world

continued from part-I

Tubelightla Srinivas did not know about either Martand Rao or The Richest Man in the World. He did know about Osmania Biscuit though, mainly because Lingam Yadav was so busy popularising it. Srinivas was in his own world. His parents having migrated from a Coastal district of A.P., promptly found employment in the secretariat (dont ask me how). He was biologically slightly elder than Lingam, but historically too young. He didnt have any idea of either Hyderabad (since he grew up with mostly kids whose parents had migrated, like his), or of his native place (since his parents thought it would be unimportant in Hyderabad).

So what did happen on that casual evening during the usual unscheduled power cut?

Under the dull 'kandil' light, the scene begins with Lingam savouring an Osmania Biscuit and his usual gang of jobless people awaiting with baited breath for another chronicle of his. In the meanwhile, sporting his thick round glasses (called ’soda-buddi’), a striped full shirt, a local-tailor stitched trousers and a wide grin that revealed a slightly creamish dentition, in strode Srinivas (or ‘Tube’ as he was called here). As he was about to go after buying half a kg of idli rava, he thought it would be a good idea to add his 2 paise to the ongoing discussion about Nizam, and blurted out “Without Nizam, you wouldn’t be eating this Osmania Biscuit Lingam. You know, we owe a lot to Nizam's rule, now that I think about it.”

And there was silence.

Everyone was staring at him. Then Lingam finally opened his mouth and asked as a matter-of-fact “Do you even know what you are talking about?”

Tube just stood there blankly staring from face to face. He wasn’t expecting this sort of reaction and much less prepared for it. He nervously raised his eyebrows and made a half-hearted attempt at adjusting his soda-buddi glasses.

Lingam heaved a deep sigh and looking downwards, he slowly began his narration (of I presnet my own version here in English)--
In Hyderabad, there lived a man named Martand Rao. For a single beedi, he used to walk from his home in Shah-Ali Banda to our home in Gowliguda Chaman and after having a smoke (when my grandfather was not at home-- He was really scared of my grandfather catching him stealing his treasure), he used to go to Secunderabad to see his close relatives-- A good part of 30 kilometres is my guess. Everyone used to wonder at this extremely simple, white jhubba and puna-pant clad man walking his heart out for simple pleasures. He had no money (nor did he want it), no job (nor did he try for it), and no wife (he wasn’t interested). All because he was technically, well, insane.

Most of the time, Martand Rao was calm and composed. He had great affection for his sister, my Ajji, and his nephew, my father. My Grandfather also humoured to his innocence by talking really sweetly to him. The only time his nostrils flared, his eyes reddened, his body shook with rage, and he showed all signs of insanity was when someone uttered the words ‘Razakars‘, ‘Nizam’ or even ‘muslims‘.

True, the terror inflicted by Razakars was not just a passable phenomenon in the long history of TelangaNa. But there was something more to it. While as a teenager, he was returning home from a nearby shop, he was caught suddenly in Razakar violence and bullets rained everywhere. One of the bullets hit him, and Ajji says the bullet went “aar-paar” just above his ear, but my father corrected it saying that it grazed his skull. But the damage was done. A young life, full of promise was, laid waste. He was condemned to a long life of insanity, his potential crushed under the ambition of a very very Powerful Man. A man known, simply, as Nizam.

to be continued...