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Indian Muslim

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    By Faraz Ahmad,

    Ever since it has come to light that the Special Investigative Team (SIT) of Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) has found substantial evidence to nail IB Deputy Director Rajendra Kumar in the Ishrat Jahan and other fake encounter cases of Gujarat during the period 2002-2004 including that of Sadiq Jamal Mehtar, a persistent campaign at the behest of the BJP is on to discredit the findings and label these as biased before these are examined by the rightful authority, the courts, guided by competent lawyers of both the prosecution as well as Defence.

    First the Headlines Today came up with the fantastic tapes about Ishrat Jahan just to buttress the charge that she was actually a terrorist and therefore by implication killing her in an encounter was justified. The purported tape was then run on several other Hindi channels and a couple of newspapers, both English but more widely the language newspapers ran front page stories of how Ishrat Jahan was actually a terrorist, implying thereby that the CBI trying to expose the nexus between the IB officer, the Gujarat Police and chief minister Narendra Modi and his then MoS Home Amit Shah was not just being unfair and unjustified, prejudiced by the Congress attempt to somehow implicate Hindu Hriday Samrat and BJP’s poster boy Narendrabhai but in effect positively unpatriotic and anti-national.

    The campaign started with the Headlines Today, whose ownership pattern raises questions about its reasons to carry items which tend to show the current UPA government in bad light. As for the Firstpost, it is the news portal extension of CNN-IBN of Rajdeep Sardesai and most of the pieces by its Editor Jagannathan as well as the selective highlighting of the reaction comments show how blatantly it is tilting towards the saffron brigade.

    The latest in the arsenal is Times of India Legal Editor Dhananjay Mahapatra’s piece on page 10 of the Times of India, July 1, 2013 titled ‘Stop fantasies creeping into Ishrat Jahan investigations, clearly imputing that the CBI-SIT investigators into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case were introducing fantasy into their probe when they indicated that both Modi (white beard) and Amit Shah (grey beard) were in the know of Ishrat Jahan encounter before hand. There are very few journalists for whom Former Law Minister and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, a legal luminary himself, has a good word. Dhananjay Mahapatra is among those select few. All those regularly attending Jaitley’s darbar know that most of the prominent members of that exclusive club also belong to the Times of India. Therefore when Dhananjay Mahapatra is making such a forceful nee blatant and unabashed defence of Narendrabhai, we know which BJP leader is marking up his score card to endear himself to BJP’s undeclared PM candidate.

    But in the process Dhananjay has taken it for granted that most present day readers must have forgotten or at best may have a very hazy idea of what transpired in the grand Hawala case of the 1990s in which not one accused was eventually indicted even though a whole range of politicians including several ministers of Narasimha Rao regime had to resign because their names also appeared in the Jain diaries, which led with L K Advani and not for an amount of Rs 25 lakh as Mahapatra has most graciously mentioned but Rs 65 lakhs. And through covering the courts for several years now Mahapatra must be aware that Justice Mohammad Shamim who discharged Advani for lack of evidence (and not acquitted) was properly looked after even after his retirement throughout the six years of NDA regime with all the ministerial perks including a bungalow at Feroze Shah Road and the attending paraphernalia and if I am not wrong he is still earning a “consultancy” allowance from a BJP enterprise called Greenfield or Urban Improvements Limited, which had a Jaitley stamp because throughout the NDA rule Jaitley’s nominee used to be appointed its government administrator.

    So if Justice Mohammad Shamim let off Advani it was no great feat of Ram Jethmalani as Mahapatra would have us believe. It was a quid pro quo. Besides, the credit for ensuring the debunking of the Jain diary as evidence goes more to the CBI than the great expert of criminal jurisprudence, Ram Jethmalani who always presented his arguments before an awestruck junior judicial officer in the lower courts with all the flourish. This reporter had witnessed and reported the lower court proceedings in the Antulay case of the 1980s which Jethmalani was arguing but lost totally by the time the matter reached the Supreme Court of India. The credit went to the CBI for saving Advani’s skin and in the CBI to the well known Delhi Police officer then in the CBI, Amod Kanth, who while investigating the Hawala case had noted in the file that the diary is not complete evidence and needs corroboration. Even a layman like me can tell you that once the prosecuting and probing agency raises doubts about the evidence collected Jethmalani arguments and Shamim’s discretions are a mere formality and that is why the apex court had pulled up the CBI. The legal eagles may also do well to recall that in most hawala cases the prosecution finds only chits of paper, backside of a cigarette wrapper or some other such flimsy material to arraign an accused.

    The CBI then argued that the corrboration can only be done by a Bombay-based Hawala dealer Amirbhai who was absconding and living then in Dubai. The CBI pleaded that it made all efforts to extradite Amirbhai but failed and since now there is no corroboration the evidence is insufficient to indict Advani and one the apex court accepted that the diary did not make sufficient case against Advani it had to accept it was also insufficient evidence against V C Shukla, Madhavrao Scindia, P Shiv Shankar, Sharad Yadav, Balram Jakhar, Madan Lal Khurana, Chahdury Devi Lal and many others. The basis on which Advani was discharged became the basis for similar discharge for others as well. So there is no need to poke fun at Kaali Dadhi and Safed Dadhi, as if Mahapatra is not aware of the kind of codes adopted by the Police fraternity.


    Faraz Ahmad a senior Delhi-based journalist, with leading English daily He can be contacted at

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    By Asma Anjum Khan


    This was how a dear friend teased me when I decided to use the Islamic veil for my outings. Of course, she was speaking only the half truth. It was a decision I made for myself as I felt happy about it. Contrary to the alleged reports of the Mullah Mafia forcing women to don a burqa , my decision to wrap the black garb around myself was a voluntary one. Sorry to disappoint my liberal and moderate friends.

    I arrived on the burqa scene after due deliberation and because I simply loved it. It was irresistible, this long and flying robe gives me a certain confidence to move around, perfect in satisfaction that, no one would dare throw a nasty look or a remark at me, or act smart.

    Can a Muslim woman not make her own choice in deciding to put on a hijab?

    I felt confident and free in my garb. Earlier when I didn't wear one, ( I never thought I would!) I was perennially concerned about my appearance and the way I would like to present myself before others. A Make up kit is something which I have always stayed away from. But there were other crucial questions. Are my sapphire ear studs analogous with my light azure sharara? Is my dupataa going well with my ensemble or is it a bit muted? And most importantly my crowning glory, Tangled I was! Have always had a hard time, keeping this tangled glory in place!

    But with the donning of the black abaya , all these questions were put to rest and I felt a rare calm in my being. The natural desire of a woman to look /appear beautiful/presentable for her immediate outside world, gave way to focusing on my inner virtues. The outward gave way to the inward progress and I felt a mysterious ecstasy, the moment the soft flowing robe engulfed my little being. It became my universe. [Not forgetting to add, I still worry about azure ear studs, but not so much!]

    Hailing from a middle class Muslim family consisting mostly of academicians, my choice didn't go down well with my immediate audience. No one, absolutely no one, in my family, paternal, maternal or the in- laws, used an abaya or burqa. I became the trend-setter. Feedback ranged from absolute shock, discomforting looks, weird commentary or a shrug of shoulders, from friends, relations and well wishers. You will die of heat, was the common rejoinder I got tired of hearing. My swift move to cotton cools instead of the nylon ones was wiser and a dampener on their free flowing and easily available teasing spirit. Even dear hubby, initially, didn't take to it very kindly, refusing to accompany me for outings....with a snobbish remark..."I don't have the courage to be seen with a burqa clad woman. My friends would think, I forced it on you".
    He feared. He was right.
    She must have been forced to wear this burqa!

    Why do people have to jump to this one and only conclusion ,the moment they see a woman clad in the black, that she must have been FORCED to wear it?

    Yeah, there may be instances where women might have undergone this ordeal but not always. We must try to be valiant enough to look at the other side of the story as well. The arguments can be done on both the sides, but as I am not a lawyer, I can only present my side of the story , as it exists.

    Public in general gives mixed reactions to burqa wearing women. But mostly I find them treating us with respect and I often get the first preferential spot in the queue, if the room is overcrowded with men and of course with great respect and sounds of “Sister, you go first,” kind of kind things, said to me.

    But the so called liberal fraternity doesn't take kindly to the veil. They are generally hostile and the common perception, even among them, is that a burqa wearing woman must be a backward illiterate female with little common sense. I face it almost on a regular basis. The judge on an influential renowned university panel 's remark after my winning all the three academic competitions , hands down, was telling enough.
    “I can’t believe you have done it!” She declared.
    The reference was to my being behind a black veil, all the while.

    I think it’s high time for those among us with the sobriquets of moderates and liberals, that it’s not always the Mullah! By saying so, you are insulting my intelligence and doubt my capability of comprehending things for myself and entirely on my own. There may be and there are increasing instances of women opting for Islamic veil, of their own free will, of their own accord. It’s their choice, made without any sort of compulsion . The Mullahs won't be able to make any moolah here, with us the educated Muslim women of today.

    By saying that the Mullahs force us to do so, you are also questioning my right to use an ensemble which fits as per my religious and ethical norms. It’s against their own liberal spirit.

    And as I cherish the concern of my well wishers for the deficiency of Vitamin D, due to the black robes drowning me into their yielding folds ,and disallowing any sun rays, let me tell them, I also have vitamin I.
    Hence in my place of dwelling I emerge out of my abaya and soak in the soft sunlight, to my heart's content. And if some liberal insists even now on my allegedly being forced to do it, I'd rather say, leave me alone.

    The supple touch of my soft abaya soothes my soul too. My veil gives me a delight indescribable in words, it gives me a confidence, I didn’t find earlier in my being , and most important of all, it defines me , it gives me my sense of a dignified identity and tells me who I am.
    A woman in black.

    Yes, it’s not always the Mullah!

    P.S.: I respect all the scholars whether they are called Mullah, Maulana ,Sant , Sadhu or Father or Priest. I have used the term Mullah here as it is this term our liberal friends use liberally to ridicule us and our practices.
    Asma Anjum Khan is Assistant Professor of English in Maharashtra.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Najeeb Jung, vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia here, has been named the Lt. Governor of Delhi, replacing Tejendra Khanna.

    According to a presidential announcement here Monday, former Delhi police commissioner K.K. Paul, the husband of Omita Paul, principal secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee, has been appointed Meghalaya governor. He replaces Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary.

    Lt. Gen. (retd) A.K. Singh will be the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in place of Lt. Gen (retd.) Bhopinder Singh.

    Virendra Kataria will be the new Lt. Governor of Puducherry, replacing Iqbal Singh.

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    By IANS,

    Kolkata : Lashing out at the West Bengal government for implicating some of its leaders in "false criminal cases", the Left Front Monday held the Trinamool Congress regime of Mamata Banerjee responsible for the polls being scheduled during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

    Left Front chairman Biman Bose, who was briefing media persons after a meeting of the combine's partners, said the booking of number of its leaders in the cases did not bode well for democracy.

    "Now we are seeing so many of our leaders being booked in false criminal cases...there is Forward Bloc's (Cooch Behar district secretary) Udayan Guha, South Dinajpur district secretary of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) Manabesh Chowdhury... so many more..," Bose said.

    "We have to raise this issue during our campaigning," said the CPI-M state committee secretary.

    Criticising the Trinamool Congress government for not taking the month of Ramadan into consideration earlier, Bose remarked that it falls upon the state government to see through the electoral process during the Muslim holy month.

    "When the elections were knocking on the door, now they have gone to the Supreme Court. Earlier, when July 10 was fixed tentatively as a polling day, the government got it shifted to July 11 citing Rath Yatra as the reason. Then July 21 was moved to July 22 because of the (Trinamool Congress') Shahid Diwas (Martyrs' Day). They should have taken Ramadan into account then, but they did not," said Bose.

    According to a Supreme Court order, the panchayat polls are slated for July 11, 15, 19, 22 and 25 while Ramadan begins from the second week of July.

    "They awoke after the Supreme Court verdict. If they had pointed out earlier, then this problem woudn't have arisen," noted Bose hours after the state government moved the apex court with the plea that the elections be re-scheduled in view of Ramadan.

    Political parties, including the Congress and Left Front, have expressed their displeasure over the scheduling the polls during Ramadan and blamed the Trinamool Congress government for it.

    "Now it is 100 percent their responsibility for holding the elections during Ramadan," said Bose.

    The veteran Marxist leader said had the government agreed to the May 10 directive of the Calcutta High Court, the polls would have ended by now.

    Calcutta High Court Justice Biswanath Sommader had May 10 ordered a three-phase panchayat polls with deployment of central armed police personnel. However, the state government termed the order "impractical, impossible to implement and unacceptable" and moved a division bench.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Najeeb Jung, who has been named the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, is an Indian Administrative Service officer who was planning for his retirement when he was named the vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi in 2009, an appointment he did not expect.

    Under his leadership the 92-year-old university has progressed from being seen as a "dressed up madrassa" to an acknowledged centre of modern and secular education, research and extra-curricular activities.

    He has presided over the opening of numerous new centres and departments in Jamia, from the cutting-edge Centre for Nano Sciences and Nanotechnology to the expansion of the International Studies Programmes under the Academy of International Studies, noticeably the Pakistan, China and Afghanistan studies programmes.

    He actively engaged scholars from Pakistan, and delivered a lecture at the Jinnah Institute, Islamabad, under the Distinguished Speakers' Series.

    During his tenure, Jamia became a training centre for athletes for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.

    Jung joined the IAS Madhya Pradesh cadre in 1973 and worked in various capacities in Madhya Pradesh and the central governments. He has worked in the energy sector, and was associated with the Asian Development Bank and Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Oxford University, before he was called to head the Jamia in New Delhi.

    He has headed or been nominated member to numerous committees appointed by the government. He headed the core committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to look into the state of higher education in the country and recommend changes.

    Recently, he was nominated to the National Institute of Disaster Management as a member and to the expert committee to consider backwardness of the states.

    His views on secularism and inter-faith dialogue have regularly appeared in mainstream newspapers.

    Jung did his schooling from St Columba's, New Delhi, and did his Masters in history from St Stephen's College, Delhi. He indulged extensively in theatre as part of the college's Shakespeare Society. He took to stage after more than 40 years when he acted in IPTA production Anarkali-Akbar-Salim in February 2011.

    A keen literary enthusiast, Jung extensively read from Ghalib and other Urdu poets while at Jamia.

    He has a wife and three daughters.

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    By TCN News,

    Mumbai: A condolence meeting was organised to condole the loss of life and property in Uttrakhand jointly by Urdu Markaz and Uttrakhand Literary and Cultural Forum. The speakers condoled the death of more than a thousand people and expressed grief on the loss of property worth billions of rupees.

    Speaking on this occasion Convener of Urdu Marathi Sahitya Forum Manohar Rangpise said that each & every Indian is with the people of Uttarakhand in this hour of grief. Social Activistl Ansari Mahmood Pervez said that the army has done a commendable job and that should be congratulated. He also said that the hilly areas and the hills should be protected otherwise the ecological balance will be disturbed.

    Editor of Urdu Daily Hindustan, Sarfaraz Arzu while expressing his deep sorrow over the natural calamity in Uttrakhand, said that if development activities in Uttrakhand are stopped then what will happen to the poor people of the state. He suggested that the government should construct special roads for pilgrims like the roads constructed by Japan for Buddhist pilgrims in India. Senior Journalist Wajiuddin while expressing his sorrow and deep anguish said that although the majority of the victims were non Muslims but Muslims have came forward to help their non-Muslim brethren which are a slap on the face of communal forces.

    President of Sir Syed Awareness Forum & Senior Faculty at Aligarh Muslim University, Dr. Shakeel Samdani said that the main issue before the nation is the ‘insensitiveness’ of the politicians, bureaucrats and big wigs of society. He said that during Gujarat riots a pregnant women was tortured brutally and her foetus was taken out, there after she was gang raped and burnt alive, regarding this a senior minister said in parliament that this sort of things are common, which was disgusting, this type of attitude & mindset is affecting the entire nation. Disasters, natural calamities, earthquakes, floods, etc occur every year in our country but politicians and bureaucrats have not taken any lesson.

    The tragedy of Uttrakhand will be forgotten within weeks and after some months as we people are suffering from ‘Amnesia’. He also expressed his surprise that a Chief Minister tried to promote & market himself as the most efficient administrator of the country by asserting that he and his officers evacuated 15,000 people within one single day which is a blatant lie. Dr. Samdani further said that had he been so efficient why he could not prevent communal disturbance in his state a decade ago. He also expressed his surprised over the criminal and inhuman acts by local goondas and other people. He said that unless the political class and the bureaucrats become sensitive and honest towards their duties, no drastic change can take place in our country. He congratulated Urdu Markaz and Uttrakhand Literary and Cultural Forum for organising this program to express their anguish and share the grief of the affected people.

    S.P. Chamola of Uttrakhand Mahasangh said that in Mumbai we should prepare a disaster management team for such type of disaster & the new generation should be encouraged to join such team. Co convener of Uttrakhand Literary and Cultural Forum Sumita Keswal said that due to environmental insensitiveness of people these things are occurring.

    The other speakers who spoke on this occasion were M.A Khalid, Farid Batatawala, Saeed Bhai, Mrs Sundaryal, Abdul Ahad and Ahmad Wasi. In the last a resolution was adopted in which the death of army personal was condoled. The meeting condemned the increase of black money which is being used for developing the tourism industry. The government was urged to take long term measures for preventing such type of disasters. The resolution also welcomed the initiative taken by Urdu Markaz and Uttrakhand literary forum. The program was conducted by Farid Khan and vote of thanks was proposed by the Director of Urdu Markaz Advocate Zubair Azmi, there after two minute silence was observed in memory of those killed in the disaster. The condolence meeting was attended by eminent social workers, media persons, literary personalities and social activists.

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    By Shaik Zakeer Hussain,,

    Bangalore: is not only one of the most popular websites reporting on Muslims in Sri Lanka, but also one of the top ten visited sites hosted on, a blogging platform which hosts over 60 million sites through its free service. Reporting news in Tamil, the site has managed to pull over 12 million visitors since it was started in 2009 by two expat engineer friends working in UAE.

    In this Interview to TCN’S Shaik Zakeer Hussain, founders Marzook Cassim and Uwais Mohideen talk about their popular website, Muslims in Sri Lanka and more.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    Why do you guys write in Tamil?

    Because that’s the language of our people.

    When you say ‘our people’, are you referring to Muslims in Sri Lanka as a whole or just Kattankudi?

    Most of the Muslims in Sri Lanka speak Tamil and in Kattankudi it is 100 percent.

    So most Muslims in Sri Lanka are originally from India then?

    Well, there are different opinions. Arabs migrated here for business purposes from Yemen and other parts of the Middle East and later some of them married to local people here, who were of Indian origin.

    Non-Muslim Indians?


    Tell me about your website, what exactly is it about?

    We had initiated a Yahoo group (Kattankudi) to discuss matters about our hometown and Muslims in Sri Lanka some years ago and in October 2009 we started as a website for reporting news on Muslims in the Kattankudi region. Later we expanded to the Eastern Province and National Muslim news due to high demand, now we publish news about Muslims in other parts of the world as well.

    And how big is your site now?

    When we started it was a small set up, but the expansion was beyond our expectation, we have 10 people in the team, including our editors Atheek Samsudeen and Risath Athamlebbe.

    We have a hit count of 20,000 to 25,000 per day. Initially, very few people were browsing the site, but as time went by, we started working with several social oriented journalists with us. This led to wider news coverage and more viewers got lured to the site. As there was a gap in Media reporting Muslim issues, people referred our site to friends and relatives.

    Our target is to expand coverage nationally and internationally

    Are these journalists working in other organisations?

    Yes! They are professional journalists working for national level media; they joined hands with us because of the social concern. We are a non-profit entity, journalists support us without financial benefits and we manage running expenses from ads we post for marginal rates.

    Great! How is the general situation of Muslims in Sri Lanka? Could you talk about that?

    Muslims in Sri Lanka are approximately 10% of the total population, we are the second minority. In the Eastern Province, where our town (Kattankudi) is situated, we have 3 districts, during the time of war between LTTE and Government; LTTE suppressed and attacked Muslims of the east. They organised ethnic cleansing and massacre of Muslims.

    In our town, in August 3rd, 1990 they attacked two Masjids while people were offering Isha prayer, 103 people were killed and several others wounded. This is just one example, there were hundreds of such incidents. Tigers supported Tamil civilians occupying our paddy lands; we still have land issues in Muslim areas. Northern Muslims were forcibly evicted from their homelands by LTTE.

    But what was the reason for LTTE's animosity towards Muslims, as Muslims in Sri Lanka are Tamils too?

    That’s a misconception. Muslims of Sri Lanka speak Tamil but they follow Islam. Tamils of Sri Lanka are primarily Hindus; we don’t call ourselves Tamils.

    LTTE saw our existence as a threat to them, as our community is dominating the business and agriculture sectors. LTTE was targeting our financial and land resources, almost all attacks on Muslims were concealed by pro LTTE media, voices of Muslims were suppressed in those days.

    And how did the government respond to this, as LTTE was fighting the government primarily.

    Government forces rescued and supported Muslims during the time, but as the war intensified, they could not do this in all occasions as considerable land area was in the control of LTTE. Still, after four years from the end of the war, Muslims of Sri Lanka are facing land and resettlement issues by Tamil political parties and high ranking Tamil Government officers.

    How does the majority Sinhalese population view and treat Muslims? Recently we saw the group Bodu Bala Sena calling for a ban on halal food system, women wearing Niqab and also stoned a Muslim owned store.

    This is a good question. At present this extremist movement is creating issues for Muslims, though Majority of Sinhalese are not supporting this, however, they are gathering support by spreading racist thoughts using false data.


    They put forward baseless allegations like Muslims are trying to capture the country and make it an Islamic country; they say that our religious supreme body - Jammiyathul Ulma in the name of collecting funds for Halal certification funds Jihad. They want a Government ban on slaughtering cattle for meat too.

    And how are Muslims responding to this?

    Jammiyathul Ulama and Muslim Council initiated talks at different levels, they even managed to discuss this with the President, but Muslim politicians supporting the Government kept their mouths shut, only a few opposition Muslim politicians spoke up in public. As a whole, Muslim Community is tolerating these racist attacks and is patient. They still believe that the Government will control this, though there is a strong belief that some powerful people within the Government are supporting these attacks.

    We see extremist movements in Sri Lanka and places like Myanmar led by Buddhist monks attacking Muslims, do you see any correlation?

    We do not see any correlation or tangible evidence for such connection. But, we do see that their actions are similar to Shiv Sena of India.

    Right. How well is the Muslim community integrated in the Sri Lankan society? Do they feel alienated or do they see themselves as part of the country?

    Our community is well integrated throughout the country, except in the Eastern Province. Our community lives with both Sinhala and Tamil communities, but mostly with Sinhalese. We have business establishments all over the country and those are targeted by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) now.

    We see this very often, most nations and people want an enemy to fight, with Sri Lanka it were the Tamils first and now it is Muslims. Would you agree?

    Well, it can be or may be. The Tamil separatist war is almost over and people believe that current attacks on Muslims are politically motivated.

    Right, the politicians want an issue to gain votes, so they polarize on Muslim issue.


    Usually we see religious and ethnic minorities getting a biased portrayal in the media, is that the same case in Sri Lanka? And how is the Muslim presence in the media there?

    To a considerable extent news is biased. Muslims are in the media, however, they cannot make much impact in decision making.

    Muslims are chronically discriminated in the Media as well as in all other sectors. It is very difficult to get higher positions. We do not have a daily newspaper / radio / TV Channel for Muslims.

    That is surprising, given that Muslims are 10% of the population. I mean no newspaper?

    Yes. There’s a weekly newspaper, but that’s about it.

    Could you shed some light on Muslim organisations or movements in the country, and are Muslims active and influential politically?

    All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ulama (ACJU) and Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, but these are religious and social bodies, they get less political support. There are numerous regional organisations, but these two are working at national level.

    Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and few other Muslim parties are part of the Government, but in the recent events, we do not see any of their influence working for the Community. Most Muslims vote for them, they give lot of election promises but forget them after assuming duties.

    How do Muslim youths view the current situation in Sri Lanka and how are they responding to it? Is there a general thinking among the youths?

    They are worried about the situation, as these attacks are happening daily, but they listen to the religious and social organisations and obey their decisions.

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    By Pervez Bari,,

    Bhopal: “We must not celebrate August 15, 1947 as Independence Day, when India gained freedom from the British rule, but should observe it as ‘Shok Diwas’ (Day of Mourning).

    The Britons before leaving India extracted their biggest revenge by dismembering the Indian Sub-continent into three fragments viz. India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan which later on went to become Bangladesh. The divide and rule policy was adopted by the Britons after the 1857 mutiny when Muslims and Hindus joined hands together to overthrow the foreign yolk but failed. In India both Hindus and Muslims had lived in peaceful co-existence since a very long time but Britons with their same divisive tendencies before being forced out of the country created such an environment that Muslims through Muhammad Ali Jinnah demanded a separate homeland and India was trifurcated”.

    Prof. Chander Prakash Jha, a noted historian, (seated 2nd from right) on the dais of the inaugural function of the 113th Orientation Course in Records Management for Departmental Records Officers which began at the National Archives of India, Regional Office in Bhopal on Monday.

    The above observations were made by Prof. Chander Prakash Jha of Rajasthan, a noted historian, who was the guest of honour, at the inaugural function of the five-day 113th Orientation Course in Records Management for Departmental Records Officers which began at the National Archives of India, Regional Office here on Monday.

    Prof. Jha asserted that the Kashmir and Tibet tangles are such in nature which would never be solved and neither there would ever be re-unification of India and Pakistan in future as visualised in some quarters.

    Earlier, Dr. M. A. Haque, Deputy Director in the National Archives of India, Headquarter New Delhi, who was the chief guest, while inaugurating the Orientation Course threw light on the history of record keeping and its management. He said that records are integral part of any organization. They are the wheels of administration. Records management establishes standards of good management in respect of creation, control, preservation and disposition of records. The records management play a vital role for the government of the day which is accountable to its people, he added.

    Dr. Haque said that the National Achieves of India, Regional Office, Bhopal came into existence on the basis of an agreement signed on 21 October 1953 between the Bhopal Government and the Government of India. All the records housed in the Central Records Office of the erstwhile Bhopal State which contain Mutiny Papers files relating to the Chamber of Princes and other subjects covering the years 1843 to 1949. These records are mainly couched in Persian and English.

    He said that the National Achieves of India, Regional Office, Bhopal came into existence on the basis of an agreement signed on 21 October 1953 between the Bhopal Government and the Government of India. All the records housed in the Central Records Office of the erstwhile Bhopal State which contain Mutiny Papers files relating to the Chamber of Princes and other subjects covering the years 1843 to 1949. These records are mainly couched in Persian and English.

    National Archives of India, New Delhi transferred 2008 bundles containing 2,51,000 files approx., as spare copies of Government of India records of various Ministries/ Departments of the Central Government for the years 1860-1938 for their safety and also to help facilitate the scholars of the adjoining states. Furthermore, the National Archives of India has also transferred 13,732 volumes of Gazettes of various states (inclusive years 1841-1971) for their permanent preservation, he informed.

    Dr. Haque said that apart from the above this office has also accessioned way back in 1984, a collection of private papers (inclusive years 1928-19781) received from Pandit Chatur Narayan Malaviya, ex-prime Minister of the erstwhile Bhopal State. Among these private papers three volumes on the ‘Monuments of Sanchi’ of Sir John Marshall are also found.

    Recently this Department has also started accommodating Microfilm Rolls of intrinsic historical value to be preserved as a second line of defense of records to serve as parallel archives for posterity. The Regional Office has also acquired a collection of books numbering about 3000 of historical and archival importance which are properly kept in our reference library to cater to the needs of scholars, officials and visitors, he added.

    This Correspondent, who was also guest of honour, while speaking on the occasion emphasized that proper care should be taken to ensure that even oral orders given by senior officers are brought into writing for the benefit of coming generations.

    Meanwhile, about two dozen Record Officers of Union and State Governments drawn from all over the state are participating in the Orientation Course.

    At the outset Mrs. Pranjana Sinha, Asstt. Director of Archives, National Archives of India, Regional Office Bhopal, welcomed the guests and delegates. Dr. Devendra Kumar Sharma from NAI Headquarters in New Delhi is the Course Co-ordinator of the Orientation Course. He conducted the proceedings with aplomb. In the end Archivist Muzaffar-e-Islam proposed a vote of thanks.

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    By TCN News,

    Aligarh: The Department of Geology, Aligarh Muslim University is organizing the XI Outreach Satellite-based Learning Programme Course on “basics of Remote Sensing, GIS and Global Navigation Satellite System” in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), ISRO, Dehradun for faculty members, research scholars, PG and UG students.

    Dr. LAK Rao, Chairman Department of Geology said that the course will be conducted from 5th August to 4th November 2013 and classes will be held in the Department of Geology from 4 pm to 5.30 pm from Monday to Friday. The course structure is spread into 4 modules of teaching on Remote Sensing and Digital Image Analysis, Global Navigation Satellite System, Geographic Information System, RS and GIS Applications

    He said that the certificate will be issued from the IIRS to the participants after completion of this course. Preference will be given to Research Scholars and PG/UG students working in the field of Remote Sensing and GIS.

    Dr. Rao said that those who are interested to take part in the XI Satellite Based Distance Learning Program may apply on prescribed forms available in the Office of the undersigned. Forms should be submitted in the Office of the undersigned during working hours on or before July 28, 2013.

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  • 07/02/13--00:51: Sudden Change of Heart
  • Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam,

    The BJP has issued a Vision Document regarding its policy on Indian Muslims. On the face of it the document looks like a radical reversal of the Sangh’s hostile policy of decades overnight. It is too good to believe. And it is not totally wrong.

    The BJP is right in saying that the vicious witchhunt against Muslim youth is more a fact of life in Congress-ruled states or a “secular” party-ruled state like UP than in BJP-ruled states. This is a fact to which Muslim organisations have drawn the attention of Union government and UPA Chairperson countless times without avail. The BJP is true to imply that Muslims have been betrayed by “secular” parties, including Congress.

    However, the question is whether Muslims should desert secular politics, secular Constitution and notionally secular parties and march into the BJP camp? Let us ask some questions and leave the answer to the voters.

    The BJP vision document is silent on why the Party has been trying to justify the cold-blooded murder of Ishrat Jehan and why her killers are being defended by the Party top brass. Nor there is any word on why Zakia Jaffery’s perfectly legitimate quest for justice is being thwarted by the Party.

    The BJP has also announced that it would take off the “terror tag” from Muslims. The question is, who the Party thinks it is to put a terror tag on Muslims in first place? And where did it get the authority to put a terror tag on any group of citizens, or to take it off, for that matter?

    The common understanding is that the Sangh has been embarrassed by a rash of exposures of its own members’ involvement in acts of terror. So blatantly caught in the act, the Sangh has no option but to keep quiet about other terrorists.

    If the Party is serious about protecting Muslims from communal violence it should not have been opposing Communal Violence (Protection and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill tooth and nail, even going to the extent of calling it anti-Hindu.

    So far the entire Sangh, including its political front, the BJP, has been fiercely opposed to any affirmative action to redress Muslim backwardness. It has been opposed to even the documentation of such backwardness, which explains its opposition to the Sachar Committee Report.

    In the light of its track record and its present action (like opposition to fixing responsibility for police atrocities against Muslims) its declaration of intent to empower Muslims sounds hollow.

    The initiative looks like a bait to catch Muslim votes in coming elections. A sudden change of heart is unconvincing.

    (Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam Chairman Institute of Objective Studies.)

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    By IANS,

    Thiruvananthapuram : After hard bargaining over ministerial posts created strains between them, relations between the Congress and the IUML - the two largest parties in Kerala's ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) - are again tense after a Congress leader's criticism.

    The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which has been a part of the UDF since 1985, was irate after state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala last week said it has been the history of the IUML to always demand extra.

    An hour after he made the statement at a party meeting, Chennithala sought to clarify that his comment had nothing to do with the present relations between the two parties, but he was just repeating what his predecessor said many years back.

    The very next day, IUML's top brass went into a huddle to discuss the issue and even considered boycotting the weekly cabinet meeting being held every Wednesday, before deciding against the abrupt move.

    "Everyone has self-respect and please do not be under the impression that the IUML does not have any other place to go. All in the UDF have equal responsibility towards the UDF dispensation.

    "The comments made by a few top Congress leaders (Aryadan Mohammed and K.Muraleedharan) were unwarranted...," said a peeved party general secretary K.P.A. Majeed.

    He said that they are again meeting on Thursday to take stock of the situation.

    Playing down the feud, UDF convenor P.P.Thankachen told reporters that there are no serious issues between the two parties.

    However, a Congress leader accused the IUML of resorting to its "time-tested pressure politics".

    "The IUML is now again playing its time tested pressure politics as they want their 'own' Malappuram district to be bifurcated and they are playing this new trick," said the Congress leader who did not wish to be identified.

    The relations between the two parties grew tense after the IUML held out for a fifth cabinet post for their party when the UDF government was formed in April 2012.

    In the 140 member Kerala assembly, the UDF has 73 seats with the Congress having 39 and the IUML 20 seats.

    Formed in Chennai in 1948, the IUML has always played a role in Kerala politics since then. In 1960, it joined hands with the Congress to form a government but in 1967, they jumped on to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) bandwagon.

    In 1970, they again switched sides, joining the government led by the Communist Party of India and the Congress.

    In 1980, when the UDF was formed under the leadership of K.Karunakaran, the IUML split with one faction joining the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front. However the two factions re-united in 1985 and have been in the UDF since then.

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    By IANS,

    Thiruvananthapuram : The Kerala government Tuesday expressed its gratitude to the Saudi government for extending, till Nov 4, its deadline for all expatriate workers to get their papers regularized for legally staying in the kingdom.

    The deadline was to expire Wednesday.

    Diaspora Minister K.C.Joseph told IANS that this news "made all of us so happy and we are hugely thankful to the Saudi government".

    "The Indian embassy (in Riyadh) was overloaded with the last minute work of getting all the papers ready and this extension has come as a blessing for all," he said.

    He said that even though the number of Indians who have now got ready to leave is 70,000, the number of Keralites among them is only around 7,000.

    "The biggest advantage overall if one looks into what has happened in Saudi Arabia is that this was an opportunity for all people who did not have the required papers to get them re-validated and as a result, many of our people there got back their passports from their earlier Saudi employers. Many passports were deposited at the Indian embassy," added Joseph.

    Early this year, the Saudi administration decided to implement the Nitaqat or Saudisation policy that makes it mandatory for all Saudi companies to reserve 10 percent of jobs for Saudi nationals.

    "We have now received queries from the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia for verification of the identities of 51 Keralites who, for several years, have been forced to stay there as they had no documents with them. We have handed over the verification to the respective collectors and once we report back to the embassy, they will get their new passports," said Joseph.

    He also thanked the numerous companies in Saudi Arabia which decided to conduct a job fair for all those whose papers have been rectified to give them a chance for a new job.

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    By TCN News,

    Mumbai: Markazul Ma’arif Education & Research (MMERC), world’s unique institution which teaches English language and modern communication skill to fresh madrasa graduates conducted its 18th Convocation today at MMERC, Jogeshwari (W), Mumbai.

    The function was presided by Mufti Azizur Rahman Fatehpuri, grand of Mufti of Maharashtra, while as the chief guest, Prof. Saood Alam Qasmi, Dean Faculty of Theology Aligarh Muslim University was present who delivered speech on education and appealed the MMERC graduates to apply wisdom along with education while in public and work as per priority of mass and religion.

    The ulama completing the two-year Diploma in English Language & Literature (DELL) course from MMERC were awarded certificates by the leaders of the city including Addl. Commissioner of Police Mumbai (East Zone) - Mr. Qaiser Khalid, Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax (Nagpur) – Dr Waseemur Rahman Qasmi, spiritual figure like Maul. Mohammad Yahya who is shaikhul Jamia of Darul Uloom Banskandi, Assam and local MLA Mr. Baldev Khosa.

    In the program the MMERC scholars delivered speeches on burning topics such as 'Equality and Justice in Islam'. Besides, there was a screen presentation of the welfare and educational activities being rendered by the NGO Markazul Ma'arif and Ajmal Foundation.

    MMERC was established in 1994 by a member of Ajmal family who is an eminent Islamic scholar and a present Lok Sabha MP, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal to prepare the graduates of madrasas with good English and communication skills so that they can meet modern needs and play a more influential role in society.

    Students who successfully complete the MMERC prescribed intensive language course, stand at par with graduates of English medium public schools and colleges. So far nearly 325 meritorious madrasa graduates, including 26 this year, have been trained by MMERC who are capable of writing articles, delivering lectures on Islam and comparative religion, teaching English and Arabic through English medium.

    Most of the successful students of MMERC have been placed at renowned organizations and magazines in India while several others have gone abroad such as USA, UK, RSA, KSA, UAE and in some other countries of the world and they have been working there with their primary duties as teachers, interpreters, translators, and speakers.

    MMERC has introduced a number of courses and programmes for the benefit of the community, such as Diploma in English Language & Literature (DELL) for Madrasa graduates.

    Research Training for those graduates of MMERC who are selected on merit after the completion of DELL course. Twenty 20 research theses on different important topics have already been produced by MMERC. MMERC also train some graduates for Dawah work. Dawah department has produced one hundred twenty recorded and written speeches this year.

    Eastern Crescent a unique English magazine is published from Markazul Ma'arif Education & Research Centre, as alternative media and peoples' choice. It is the first magazine published by ulama, especially those graduated at Deoband and trained at Markazul Ma'arif.

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    By Syed Ali Mujtaba,

    There are two points of reference in Ishrat Jahan’s alleged fake encounter case. The court has asked the CBI to file its charge sheet by July 4 on the first reference, whether the encounter was a fake and second all those gunned down were terrorists?

    This is a very interesting case that has all the ingredients of Bollywood potboilers like the movie Shootout at Wdala. This is because the forensic report has revealed that, those shot were from the range of 25 cm only. Now assuming that they were terrorist, as claimed by the police, the recovery of AK 47 from the encounter spot, raises the question why did they not open fire in their self-defence?

    The answer is they had no weapon to retaliate and it was a clear cut case of clod blooded murder. So, the first reference is well established that it was a fake encounter.

    The second reference, whether they are terrorists or not is something that needs investigation. The onus is to prove is on the investigators to prove those dead as guilty. The general perception is, all were innocent mistakenly take up and killed on the basis of misinformed report.

    The third point that needs to be investigated is the role of the IB officials who tipped the Gujarat police about Ishrat Jahan and co. From where he got the input and on whose behest they were killed. This is very sensitive issue as it involves political masters and at its thread reaches to Delhi and at that time both centre and state governments were ruled by the BJP.

    The last point in this puzzle the role of state leadership in giving orders to the police official to kill Ishrat Jahan and co. Obviously, it’s Gujarat Chief Minister Narendr Modi who holds the last pillar of this case.

    Will the buck stop at Gujrat Chief Ministers’s office and will the charges framed against him for his implicit complicity, is something that remains to be seen.

    The Ishrat Jahan encounter took place on 15 June 2004, and involved killings of four people on an empty road stretch between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat, by officers of the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch.

    The alleged terrorists were Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year old girl from Mumbai, and three men: Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar.

    The encounter was carried out by a team led by DIG D.G. Vanjara, who was later jailed for his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter of 2005.

    The police alleged that Ishrat and her associates were LeT operatives involved in a plot to assassinate the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

    An Ahmedabad Metropolitan court investigated the case and the Metropolitan Magistrate S P Tamang submitted its report in the metropolitan court Ahmedabad on 7 September 2009. It said the four persons were killed in police custody and implicated a number of top police officials.

    In the 243-page report, Tamang named K.R. Kaushik, who was then the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner, P.P. Pandey, who was then the chief of the Crime Branch, and another encounter specialist Tarun Barot, the then head of the DCB, D.G. Vanzara, among others.

    Tamang's report said the Crime Branch police kidnapped Ishrat and the others from Mumbai on 12 June 2004 and brought them to Ahmedabad. The four were killed on the night of 14 June in police custody, but the police claimed that an "encounter" took place the next morning on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

    Tamang said there was no evidence to link the victims with the terrorists outfit LeT. There was also nothing to indicate that they had come to Gujarat to kill Modi. The report said explosives, rifles and other weapons allegedly found in the car, and the weapons found on their person were all planted by the police.

    The Gujarat High Court stayed the Tamang report on 9 September 2009 but said that Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Court could use the report.

    The Gujarat State Government challenged the report of the metropolitan magistrate, saying that the accused policemen were not given an opportunity to present their side of the arguments. The case was thus taken to the Gujarat High Court.

    On 21 November 2011, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) submitted its report to Gujarat High Court saying it was staged encounter. The Court ordered that a complaint under Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder) to be filed against 20 policemen, including senior IPS officers, in this fake encounter.

    In June 2013, the Tehelka magazine published an expose that revealed that the CBI has in its possession an audio recording of a conversation between Gujarat's former Minister of State Praful Patel, senior IAS officer G C Murmu, and other top officials in a meeting called to chalk out a plan to safeguard the interests of the officers whose names could crop up in the investigation. The conversation was secretly recorded by a meeting attendee, Girish Laxman Singhal, one of the two accused police officers who have been arrested by the CBI in the case.

    The Gujarat government had faced strong criticism by human rights groups for anti-Muslim human rights violations, following the communal riots of 2002.

    During this period, there had been several police encounter deaths in the Gujarat, three of which have been attributed to attempts to kill Narendra Modi in retaliation for the alleged involvement of the state machinery in the riots of 2002.

    According to People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) , the Gujarat police did not follow normal procedures in their investigations. No FIR was lodged with the local area police station where the encounter occurred, no charge sheet, no inquest report, and no witness statement. No bullet marks or damage was observed on the road or surrounding area.

    The human rights activists have alleged that many of these alleged encounters actually happen in police custody. They claimed that there was a pattern that many of these encounters: they always took place in the wee hours of the morning in a deserted area, with no witnesses; a vigorous exchange of fire resulted in the deaths of all the terrorists, while the police received no injuries; and the diary of the accused was often recovered, and contained incriminating evidence.

    This case has come to a very critical stage. Will the court bring the culprits to justice all those involved in the fake encounter is something that’s being eagerly watched.

    The bottom line of this case is that the anti-Muslim program policy adopted by Gujarat Government after the ill-fated Godhara train tragedy continued beyond post Godhra communal riots in 2002, and Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case in 2004 is the case in point.


    Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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    By IANS,

    Bangalore : Congress leader Digvijaya Singh Tuesday claimed that the BJP might organise communal riots in Congress-ruled states in the hope of winning Lok Sabha elections due next year.

    The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) feels it cannot win the election without "communalising" the situation, he said addressing the general body meeting of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee here.

    Singh, recently appointed in-charge of Congress affairs in Karnataka, urged the party government in the state to be on vigil to put down attempts to create communal disturbance.

    In his address to the meeting, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah assured that his government would put down any attempts at creating communal disturbance in the state.

    The Congress returned to power in Karnataka on its own after nine years defeating the BJP in the May 5 assembly poll.

    This was Singh's first visit to the state after his appointment as party unit's in-charge.

    Singh, who is also Congress general secretary, said a panel would be set up to ensure coordination between the government and the party in the state.

    Setting up of such a panel has been sought by a section in Karnataka Congress which feels that Siddaramaiah was taking unilateral decisions to corner glory for himself at the cost of the party.

    Singh urged Siddaramaiah and the party to provide corruption-free administration and fulfil the promises made in the manifesto for the assembly election.

    This was essential if the Congress had to perform well in the Lok Sabha election, he said.

    Karnataka sends 28 members to the Lok Sabha and in the 2009 election the Congress had won just six with the BJP bagging 19 and Janata Dal-Secular three.

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    By IANS,

    Kolkata : The opposition Tuesday blamed the West Bengal government for the Supreme Court decision to hold panchayat elections in the state in five phases including during Ramadan.

    Dismissing the plea that holding the polls during Ramadan could affect Muslim voters, the apex court said it could not reschedule the elections due to non-availability of security forces before July 11.

    The Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) accused the Mamata Banerjee government of inconveniencing the Muslim population by holding the polls during Ramadan.

    "While polling during Ramadan will inconvenience the minority community, the only one to be blamed for this is the state government," West Bengal Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said.

    The state government had told the court that the polling dates coincided with Ramadan, which falls in the second week of July. But Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Ranjan Gogoi refused to modify the dates.

    CPI-M leader Mohammad Salim accused the Trinamool regime of playing to the gallery.

    "If it was really concerned about Muslims, then its lawyers would have raised the matter earlier before the court. But they failed to do that and made a hue and cry only before the public," said Salim.

    State BJP president Rahul Sinha welcomed the court's order.

    "While the BJP is accused of pursuing communal politics, the Trinamool and the Congress as well as the Left Front have proved that it's they who follow the politics of religion," said Sinha.

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    By TCN News,

    Lucknow: In the wake of the suspected invovlement of the Intelligence Bureau's special director, senior IPS officer Rajendra Kumar in the Ishrat Jahan fake encoutnter case, Rihai Manch (Forum for the Release of Innocent Muslims imprisoned in the name of Terrorism) has demanded awhite paper from the central govenrment on IB’s involvenment in all the terrorr cases in the country.

    Rihai Manch is on indefinite dharna outside the UP Assembly since May 20 demanding arrest of police officers involved in Khalid Mujahid's murder, issuing the RD Nimesh commission report and action report, and the immediate release of innocent Muslim youth imprisoned in the name of terrorism.

    The suspected involvement of senior IB officers in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case as given credence to the involvement of intelligence officials in terror cases and botched up investigations that often wrongly arrested Muslim youths. Family members of Khalid Mujahid and civil rights groups have been questioning the role of intelligence officials in Khalid and Tariq Qasmi’s arrest as well. Today Manch spokspersons demanded a white paper from the UPA government on the role of the IB.

    Khalid had died under mysterious circumstances on his way back from Faizabad near Ram Sanehi Ghat on May 18. He was declared brought dead by the doctors at district hospital in Barabanki. Later, on the complain of his uncle Zahir Alam Falahi, a case was registered against 42 police officers including former DGP Vikram Singh, ADG Brijlal and others who were on duty during the time of Khalid's arrest.

    Khalid along with Tariq Qasmi was arrested by Special Task Force (STF) on 20 December 2007 from Barabanki. Huge explosives were also shown as recovered from his possession. STF claimed that they were involved in the serial blasts which occurred in Gorakhpur, Faizabad and Lucknow. Later, Nimesh Commission was constituted headed by Justice R D Nimesh who in its report raised fingers over STF's claim about the place of arrest.

    Khalid’s family and civil right groups believe that he was murdered by police to protect those involved in his ‘wrongful’ arrest. Rihai Manch had been leading a sustained movement for justice for last 42 days. Several rights groups and individuals have expressed their support and took token participation in the demonstration.

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    By TCN News,

    Mumbai: Samajwadi Party MLA and city President of the party Abu Asim Azami has demaned that of the seized Rs 2500 be gcrore, Rs 2400 crore be given to build the incomeplete sea link bridge and the rest 100 crore be given to the Mumbai east ward, which has the largest slum population acccording to a study by Tata Institute of Social Sciences, with 77% popultion living in slums.

    The Income Tax Department and National Investigation Agency personnel on Monday night seized cash worth Rs 2,500 crore, and gold and diamond jewellery from four trucks outside the Mumbai Central railway station, here and detained 47 people.

    The seized consgiment were appeaerntly bound from Mumbai to Ahmedabad and other destinations by the Gujarat Mail train.

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    By Ras H. Siddiqui,,

    The San Francisco Bay Area, USA: The Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of Northern California (AMUAA) had the distinct pleasure of hosting a luncheon for Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah, the current Vice Chancellor of their alma mater on June 22 at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California. The Vice Chancellor was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Sabiha Shah at this occasion.

    Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, is an alumnus of St. Joseph’s College, Nainital, National Defense Academy, Khadakvasla, Defense Services Staff College, Wellington, Army War College, Mhow and National Defense College, New Delhi. He has held prestigious command, staff and instructional appointments in his unblemished career of 40 years in the Army.

    Lt. Gen. (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah

    He was appointed Deputy Chief of Army Staff on October 06, 2006. He became the Vice Chancellor of AMU on May 17, 2012. Besides being the VC of one of the most famous universities in South Asia, some of Shah Sahib’s other famous attributes are that he has been one of the most senior-level Muslim soldiers ever in the Indian Army and that he is also the older brother of famous Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah.

    For an introduction of the hosts in their own words, the “AMU Alumni Association of northern California consisting of the alumni of Aligarh Muslim University and its friends and supporters of the Aligarh movement was founded in 1996 as a secular, non-partisan, non-political organization serving the Educational, Social, Literacy and Cultural needs of the Community. It aims to keep alive Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's dream of ensuring equality for all and particularly the underprivileged through education, by supporting AMU and its students in their academic efforts, and by organizing events to highlight AMU's role in creating a modern India.”

    In their promotion of the event it was stated that “Vice Chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah, has affirmed his core mission of making AMU one of the top universities in India through pursuit of excellence in teaching and research.” This goal also happens to be close to the hearts of many AMU alumni in the US particularly those in the San Francisco area who have excelled in many fields and would like to see their old university present even better opportunities for future generations of AMU students.

    Nihal Khan presenting a plaque to Vice Chancellor, Zameer Uddin Shah

    The gathering started off with some networking and a fine brunch buffet in the Mughlai tradition. Before the formalities I had a chance to interact with the VC. We discussed the contributions of Aligarh alumni as leaders in other countries in the region, his brother’s efforts to boost the arts irrespective of borders and when I mentioned that I had visited my late father’s former place of Residence at AMU named Mumtaz House, he lamented that the current conditions of all the dormitories was not good and that he was seeking assistance in funding for their repair and upgrading. He also mentioned that he had invited the Aga Khan and Prince Charles to pay a visit to the campus.

    The formal event stated in the Aligarh tradition with the recitation from the Holy Quran by Afzal Khan. Emcee for the afternoon and local AMU luminary Dr. Shaheer Khan next said that this was the first time that the organization had hosted an AMU Vice Chancellor and welcomed the community present, some of whom had come from as far away as Sacramento and Davis. He also reminded everyone present of the coming Eid Milan party and Sir Syed Day on September 27th this year. He also thanked the donors who have supported the efforts of the Alumni Association and the Aligarh Education Endowment Fund (WWW.AEEF.US). He then introduced the Vice Chancellor who came to the stage and received a plaque on behalf of the association, presented by Nihal Khan. Mrs. Shahla Khan also presented a bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Sabiha Shah. That set the stage for the VC’s speech.

    Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah spoke for about 50 minutes and used a PowerPoint presentation. It is just not possible to incorporate all that he said in this single report so a few chosen highlights will have to suffice here. He was commanding in his delivery and exuded confidence from the beginning of his speech to the very end.

    Shaheer Khan moderating Q&A session

    He started off by thanking everyone for the honor and the wonderful gift. He said that the job of being a Vice Chancellor was a thankless one. “It is the toughest I have held,” he commented generating quite a few smiles in the audience; especially since he is a former military man. “I accepted the job as a mission,” he added. “My mission was to pull AMU out of the trough in which it has descended,” he said. He added that his mission (with Allah’s help) was to make AMU a top university in India within two years. He said that he was going to Insha’Allah turn the University around so that its graduates can meet the new demands of both the market and the nation.

    Lt. Gen. Shah said that he faced three immediate issues: Student indiscipline, intra-religious (not communal) and regional friction on campus, and lastly faculty infighting. He added that these problems were difficult but were not insurmountable. He said that he is looking to add more new and qualified faculty at AMU. Shah Sahib did take the opportunity to visit the campuses of both Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley during his short visit here.

    He said that he was a liberal Muslim and he wanted AMU to be a liberal-secular institution but primarily for the Muslims. “It is a secular institution, primarily for the Millat as Sir Syed wanted it, and we are going to keep it that way,” he said. He added that the focus should remain on “modern-scientific education," something that unfortunately was not being provided. He said that AMU needs to move beyond the blackboard and chalk era into the computer age. He added that the year 2020 will bring on the university centenary and the plan should be to make it a memorable one remembered all over the country since it is an institution of national importance. He also said that unfortunately the university had a setback on its minority character status and that he would focus on getting it restored.

    Mrs. Shahla Khan presenting a bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Sabiha Shah

    The Vice Chancellor said that foreign dignitary visits to the campus have dried up mainly due to its own fault. “It was the fault of the students misbehaving and rebelling against visitors but they do not know what colossal damage they did to our reputation.” He said that will have to change and that some important foreign dignitaries have already accepted his invitation to visit AMU when they visited India next.

    Lt. Gen. Shah dwelled a great deal on the need to improve the facilities at AMU especially the housing which is beginning to resemble a slum. He added that this was one of the main reasons why foreign student’s numbers have declined dramatically. He stressed the modernizing of the existing facilities and the building of new ones on campus especially for female students. The restoration of the horse riding club and adding a golf course at AMU were already on the cards. He said that AMU should produce well-rounded graduates.

    On entrance standards for AMU he said that all aspiring students should pass an entrance exam (not just for engineering and medical students). He also added that foreign languages, including Chinese and Hebrew need to be taught on campus. He also encouraged AMU students to consider training for and joining India’s defense services and said that he had already started working on required logistics where the students could be prepped for the competition. He also said that he would like to share students with other campuses like Jamia Millia and Jamia Hamdard, in areas where these universities excelled. "I would like to send students, who want to study mass communications to Jamia's AJK Mass Communication Research Centre and to Jamia Hamdard for training students for civil services and AMU can train students for the defense services," Shah said.

    Group Photograph with Lt. Gen. (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah.

    To conclude, Lt. Gen.(Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah expressed pride in Aligarh Muslim University Alumni all over the world and hoped that they could assist him in his mission to build the campus in whatever way they can. He mentioned the need for “Smart Class Rooms" equipped with modern teaching tools and asked for the help from alumni. He added that the Alumni's help will be appropriately acknowledged, and complete transparency will be maintained in financial matters. He also said that he was seeking additional assistance from the government and the Aga Khan Foundation for upgrading the campus infrastructure. The VC took questions after his speech and was presented a book on the Taj Mahal by author-photographer Maqsood Ul Haque. The event concluded with a presentation of Aligarh focused poetry by Khalid Siddiqui titled “Green Day”.

    On his way back to the airport, when asked by a young lady (Hani Khan) what the best part of his trip to the San Francisco Bay Area was, Shah Sahib responded “Interaction with the Alumni”

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    By Syed Ali Mujtaba,,

    Utrakhand, is the 27th state of India carved out of the Himalayan region and adjoining north-western districts of Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000. It’s a sacred place for the Hindus, as two of the most sacred rivers, the Ganga at Gangotri and the Yamuna at Yamunotri originate from Utrakhand. Along with it, temples like Badrinath and Kedarnath form the Chota Char Dham, for Hindu pilgrims to Utrakhand.

    In June 2013, the Himalayan region witnessed heavy rainfall that triggered devastating floods and landslides in Utrakhand. The floods left a trail of destruction, over 70,000 pilgrims and tourists were trapped in various places who were rescued. There was huge damage to the infrastructure and urban construction in the state.

    Various reasons are attributed to the tragedy. Some blame it on nature, other call it a manmade calamity waiting in the wings. Various suggestions are made to avoid such large scale destruction and to be better prepared for such eventuality next time.

    Reasons for Calamity:

    The forests of the region are an important reservoir of biodiversity; as they provide protection against soil erosion and increased flooding in the plains. One of the reasons for the Utrakhand tragedy is attributed to the extraction of forests resources of the region. The huge deforestation led to increased vulnerability to the floods and landslides that got exposed in the recent floods.

    The region’s other key resource is the water that flows from high glaciers and mountains to the plains. Currently, there is a mad rush to build run-of-the-river projects and dams across the region to generate hydro power. While dams are needed to meet energy requirements, building them is a construction-intensive activity. It involves blasting, excavation, debris dumping, movement of heavy machinery, diversion of forests and rivers.

    It was seen that poorly planned dams in Utrakhand which were constructed without paying heed to their environmental impact was one of the reasons why floods turned so devastating in the state.

    Since Utrakhand holds special place for the Hindus, a large number of the pilgrims make a beeline to the state. The monsoon season also coincides with the peak pilgrim season and people in large numbers from across the nation come to visit Hindu holy sites in the state. These places become overcrowded and their cumulative impact poses a threat to the environment of the region.

    It’s said that recent Utrakhand calamity was a classical case of how commercial interests can open the gates to disaster. Road construction activity to cater to the pilgrims and tourists went on unchecked. Apart from convenience and comfort, ever increasing economic opportunities in the vicinity of the roads encouraged people to settle down in the proximity of the roads, even if it implies being exposed to disaster risk. Increasing tourist and pilgrim traffic further exacerbated this tendency. The huge deluge of urban settlement in Utrakhand was because it was located in the disaster risk zone.

    The huge amount of urbanization going on in the fragile mountainous area without any consideration of the environmental impact aggravated the problem. The hotels and lodges in most of the cases come up in the most fragile areas of the state. The unplanned urban growth in Utrakhand is considered to be the key factors for magnifying the human tragedy in the state.

    The recent Utrakhand floods suggest that due to the given reasons, the risk-prone and ecologically fragile region of the state became vulnerable to the nature’s fury.

    Now, in its aftermath its required to build a strategy to prevent such disaster in the future. This strategy has to take into account the vulnerability of the region and the ways to protect its environment.

    First of all, the Himalayan states like Utrakhand should build a viable and sustainable forest-based economy. A common policy should be evolved to value the forests better for better use. This policy should include the voices and concerns of local communities, dependent on forests for their agriculture and basic needs. A comprehensive planning should be made centring on forests be used for building local economies.

    Then the strategy for water development must balance the opportunity for energy and threat to livelihood, particularly in the age of changing climate and hydrology. It is feared that the hydrology will be impacted because of climate change—and extreme events. In such case the hydro projects in Utrakhand should be reviewed and if needed even scrapped.

    The ecosystem-based tourism should be developed with safeguards and local benefits. There is need to promote homestead tourism, instead of hotel tourism, based on policy incentives. These incentives would include fiscal benefits provided to house-owners for providing tourist related facilities.

    There is need for an inventory of key pilgrimage sites in Utrakhand, with an understanding of its ecological capacity based on location and fragility. Then there is need to control the number of visitors to the important pilgrimage sites based on the carrying capacity estimates.

    There should be a ban on construction of roads for the movement of people within 10 km of the high-altitude pilgrimage areas. There should be areas marked as special zones, which are to be maintained with minimal human interference.

    There is need to build policies for sustainable urbanisation in the state. The towns need to be planned, particularly keeping in mind the rush of summer tourists.

    The Utrakhand flood teaches us that we must learn to build sustainable models for pilgrim-based tourism in the fragile regions of the country. There is a problem of pollution, litter and solid waste disposal in all the tourist sites.

    To control this, a tourism tax for entry into fragile ecosystems should be charged exponentially. An action plan to create facilities for tourists, particular facilities for sanitation and for garbage disposal should be made out of such revenue.

    There should be high parking charges in fragile areas of hill towns to restrict the number of vehicles and reduce pollution and congestion.

    Finally, in order to build local interest in these areas, rules to give communities living in the area advantage of the pilgrimage activities are framed and implemented vigorously.

    The recent Utrakhand foods bear resemblance to 2004 Tsunami the coastal regions of the east coast of India. In its wake a costal disaster management plan that was formulated for better preparedness in future. A similar proposal can be made for the preparation of disaster management plan for the hill regions particularly the Himalayan region of the country.

    These suggestions and more can come handy in checking the calamities like Utrakhand that has occurred due to cloud burst, heavy rains and causing unprecedented floods.


    Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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