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    By IANS,

    Srinagar : A Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) trooper was killed and another critically injured Monday in a guerrilla attack in summer capital Srinagar, police said.

    Separatist guerrillas shot at CISF troopers near Naaz cinema building in Srinagar city in the morning.

    "One of the injured CISF troopers died while being shifted to the hospital and the other has been admitted to hospital with critical bullet injuries," a senior police officer told IANS.

    Panic gripped the area with shopkeepers and pedestrians running helter skelter after the firing incident.

    Senior police and paramilitary officials reached the spot.

    The CISF troopers were reportedly buying vegetables outside the Naaz cinema building situated less than a kilometer from city centre Lal Chowk when the attack took place.

    With the outbreak of separatist violence in Kashmir, Naaz cinema shut its operations in the beginning of 1990.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Monday said some "prominent political parties" were to be blamed for the recent violence in Muzaffarnagar.

    "It looks at present that in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, some prominent political parties are making dangerous efforts to mislead the public and spoil communal harmony," Akhilesh Yadav said at the National Integration Council (NIC) meet here.

    "There is an attempt to polarise people in the state," he said, without naming any party.

    At least 48 people were killed in communal clashes that broke out in Muzaffarnagar Sep 7.

    Yadav also said that hate material on social media needed to be controlled.

    "There is no effective mechanism at present to stop hate material on social media. Service providers should have capacity to identify people who send such material," he added.

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  • 09/23/13--04:37: Narendra Modi skips NIC meet
  • By IANS,

    New Delhi : Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Monday skipped the National Integration Council (NIC) meet here called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to curb hate propaganda and deal with incidents of communal violence.

    The meeting was attended by the chief ministers of various states, leaders of various political parties and chairpersons of national commissions, among others.

    The meeting, coming against the backdrop of the Sep 7 riots in Muzaffarnagar of western Uttar Pradesh which left over 40 people dead and thousands displaced, also discussed issues related to security of women and the weaker sections of society.

    The use of social media by certain sections in fanning violence also came up for deliberations.

    The Muzaffarnagar violence was sparked off after fake videos were put up on social media, according to police reports.

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    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: The Centre for Culture, Media & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia in collaboration with UNDP, Afghanistan is organizing a Training Programme on “Communication Strategies for Legal Awareness for Senior Governments Officials of Afghanistan” from September 23 to October 04, 2013.

    Prof. Biswajit Das, Director, Centre for Culture, Media & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia delivered the Introductory Remarks of the programme in the Inaugural Session on September 23, 2013. On this occasion, Prof. S.M. Sajid, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia delivered the Inaugural Address.

    As part of the programme, a Lecture on “Communication, Strategies and Policies” was delivered by Prof. Gita Bamezai.

    The rest of the programme will consist of lectures, interactive sessions, film screenings, group exercises, etc.

    The valedictory session of the training programme is scheduled to be held on October 4, 2013 at 10 AM in Tagore Hall, Dayar-I-Mir Taqi Mir, Jamia Millia Islamia.

    Prof. Shahid Ashraf, Registrar, Jamia Millia Islamia shall deliver the Valedictory Address and distribute certificates to the participants.

    The details of the programme may be obtained from the following link:

    ( )

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    By Pervez Bari,,

    Bhopal: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government in Madhya Pradesh in order to put up a secular image at the time of Assembly elections which are round the corner has taken two steps consciously.

    The BJP Government with strategy of elections to state legislative assembly weighing heavily on its mind allotted 6.44 acres of land, virtually free of cost while not only waiving off premium to the tune of Rs.13.75 crores but also exempted from the annual lease rent of Rs.27 lakh, for the satellite campus of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) at Bhopal. Prior to this a few days back it appointed Anthony JC D’Sa, a Christian, as the Chief Secretary to the State government.

    These gestures of the BJP government towards minorities, Muslims in the name of promoting Urdu, and appointing a Christian as Chief Secretary is being seen here by political observers to bring them closer to the party fold and put up a secular image before the state legislative assembly elections which are very close by and are due by November end this year. The decisions have been taken at the fag end of the BJP ministry tenure just before the model code of conduct comes into force once the schedule for elections is declared. The BJP is desperately trying to extend its lease and make a hat-trick by offering sops to many others to keep the faction-ridden Congress out of power for the third time in-a-row.

    After much dilly-dallying

    It is after much dilly-dallying the State government waived off the premium but also exempted from annual lease rent. Now, only a token annual rent of Re. 1 per year would be payable on the 6.44 acres of plot allotted to MANUU’s satellite campus in Bhopal at Peepalner village about 12kms on the outskirts of the city. The decision to this effect was taken at the cabinet meeting of Madhya Pradesh Government chaired by the state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday last.

    Madhya Pradesh Higher Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma after the cabinet clearance of land to MANUU Bhopal regional centre said: "Maulana Azad National Urdu University is a central university. We have cleared the proposal on receipt of their application for the purpose. The land allotment is cleared for the promotion of Urdu." He explained that since the state government had started Atal Bihari Hindi and Baudh universities land was allotted to them free of cost and now free land has been allotted to MANUU after receiving request from it, though no request for land was received from the Central government.

    It may be pointed out here that while the Indira Gandhi National Open University and the School of Planning and Architecture were given land by the Madhya Pradesh government within five months of applying for it, it has taken seven years for MANUU to get the same. All three institutions come under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

    It may be mentioned here that MANUU applied for land for its regional centre at Bhopal in 2008 and in 2010 after overcoming various procedural hurdles and roadblocks 6.44 acres of land was earmarked at Peepalner village on the outskirts of Bhopal. It took another two years when on October 30, 2012 this piece of land was allotted on the precondition that a sum of Rs.13.75 crore as premium and Rs.27.5 lakh as annual rent had to be deposited before taking over its possession.

    With no funds allocated to MANUU for the purchase of land and a demand of an exorbitant premium and annual lease rent by the state government, it thereby applied for a waiver citing the examples of other Central institutions in the State namely IGNOU, School of Planning and Architecture, Sanskrit Vidya Sansthan.

    Case of partiality and disparity

    It may be noted here that it was a clear case of partiality and disparity, on one hand the State Govt. in allotting land free of cost to some institutions of the same ministry for same purpose while on other hand it was asking a very huge amount for a small piece of land (6.4 acres) from MANUU, only because of its beneficiaries being the most deprived minority i.e. Muslims.

    Here it must be borne in mind that UGC (Union Grant Commission) had allocated Rs.120.55 crores to MANUU for the development of all its 13 satellite campuses across the country. If this amount is divided equally amongst the 13 campuses then each one of them would get less than Rs.10 crores. This amount alone would have been even less than the premium and the annual rent demanded by the state government. If the Urdu university had some how managed from its resources to fulfil the demand then it would have left with no funds for developing infra-structure for B.Ed. College, Polytechnic, ITI, model schools etc. for which the UGC had allocated the funds. At present the University has established a Regional Centre and B.Ed. College at Bhopal, which are being run from rented buildings for last so many years.

    A section of the media, especially a vernacular daily and a leading national English daily, played a crucial role as they highlighted prominently the biased approach of the state BJP government in keeping in limbo for several years in allocating land to MANUU while granting land to other Central institutions in the state within months of their applications.

    Prof. Mohammad Miyan, MANUU Vice Chancellor

    The real hero

    However, the real hero in the saga of land allotment to MANUU is its Bhopal Regional Director Dr. Mohammad Ahsan, who ran from pillar to past along with his aides Dr. Mohammad Sadat Khan, Dr. Saheel Mohammad Khan and others, to get the work done. Dr. Ahsan and his aides made innumerable rounds of Vallabh Bhavan, the state secretariat, at each level in the process of allotment in last five years and many a times faced humiliation when Secretaries and Principal secretaries to the State Government refused to meet them after kept waiting for several hours.

    The functionaries of MANUU lied low while keeping their ego buried fathom deep and bore the brunt of the bureaucracy as they strived relentlessly for a big cause so that the coming generations could benefit most. It is said that it was a bureaucratic ploy of levelling such high premium and annual rent to deprive MANUU of the required land so that no satellite campus could come up in Bhopal. It will not be out of context to state here that once even a top bureaucrat reportedly passed a sarcastic remark saying as to who invited you (MANUU) to Bhopal while he was handling the case of this land allotment. It is the political leadership which checkmated the bureaucracy, though to harvest political gains, and saved the day for MANUU campus at Bhopal.

    MANUU Vice Chancellor Prof. Mohammad Miyan and its Bhopal Regional Director Dr. Mohammad Ahsan have thanked Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the state Revenue & Rehabilitation Minister Karan Singh Verma for allotting the land free of cost for promotion of Urdu language.

    According to Dr. Ahsan when the Bhopal satellite campus starts working full-fledged then it would become the fourth satellite campus of the country. At present MANUU is running courses in ITI, Polytechnic, B.Ed. and M.Ed. and aims at opening schools and colleges for girls. While no fee is charged for its ITI and polytechnic courses, the MANUU charges only Rs.4,500/- as annual fee for the B.Ed. course. The MANUU was established in 1998 by an Act of Parliament, as a Central University with an All India jurisdiction. The mandate and objective of the University, as per the Act, is to provide higher, technical and vocational education through Urdu medium and to provide focus on women education, he added.

    Christian Chief Secretary

    Meanwhile, in a deft move a few days back the BJP Government announced the appointment of Additional Chief Secretary Anthony JC D’Sa, a Christian, as Chief Secretary in place of his predecessor R. Parashuram, who is retiring in an over a week’s time on September 30. This unpredictable step was taken by the government while superseding senior Additional Chief Secretary IS Dani, who is known for his RSS background. A leader of the RSS had lobbied in favour of Dani but that was not enough to neutralise the support of the bureaucrats given to D’sa, who is said to be close to the Union minister Kamalnath. The bureaucrats did not want Dani to become chief secretary and that is why certain officers, who were close to chief minister, lobbied against Dani.

    Dani, who is considered to be a stickler for rules, had not approved certain files coming from chief minister’s secretariat in the recent past. In several cases, Dani used to approve files coming from CM secretariat only after confirming about them from chief minister. This had made certain officers at CM secretariat, who are known to be powerful, annoyed. The outgoing chief secretary R. Parashuram was also said to be in favour of D’sa as his successor. This led to Dani not becoming chief secretary, although he was senior to D’sa. Not only this, Dani has been sent to Academy of Administration, known to be a loop line posting.

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    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: The All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, umbrella body of Indian Muslim organisations, today condemned the terrorist attacks in Peshawara and Nairobi.

    Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, President of AIMMM, said in a statement here that the terrorist attacks on innocents in a church in Peshawar and a commercial mall in Nairobi are worst examples of anti-Islamic behaviour which deserve to be condemned and resisted by all possible means.

    "These crimes by fringe groups working at the behest of powers in their respective regions and beyond, are simple terror which in no way is sanctioned by Islam or has the consent of Muslims anywhere in the world. These fringe groups are neo-Kharijites which feed on the senseless overt and covert wars on Islam and Muslims waged by Israel, the US and their allies," he added.

    Dr Khan said, the only legitimate Jihad is against invading and occupying armies while attacking innocent civilians is a plain and simple criminal act against Islam and humanity.

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    By IANS,

    Thiruvananthapuram : The Communist Party of India-Marxist Monday flayed the move by Muslim organisations in the state to appeal to the Supreme Court to allow minor Muslim girls to marry.

    The Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India had Sunday slammed the decision of the Muslim organisations to approach the Supreme Court with a plea to allow marriage of minor Muslim girls.

    The leaders of the nine organisations met in Kozhikode Friday, and nominated K. Bapu Musaliyar as the chairman and Indian Union Muslim League leader C.P. Mayin Haji as the convenor of a newly-formed samiti (collective) to approach the apex court.

    Addressing reporters here Monday, CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan put the blame for the whole issue on the Indian Union Muslim League (a party in coalition with the ruling Congress in the state) for this move.

    "The IUML is expecting to ride on (the wave of) communal consolidation through this, and it is nothing but a political move ahead of the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls," Vijayan said.

    Leader of opposition in the state assembly V.S. Achuthanandan lambasted the IUML, saying he found it disgusting and could not bring himself to even speak of the matter, for the demand was that the age for being legally married be lowered from the present 18 years not just to 16, but to 14.

    "It is better not to speak of their culture," Achuthanandan said.

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    By IANS,

    Dubai : An Indian national who was abducted in Oman last week was rescued by police Monday. Three people have been arrested in this connection.

    Mohammed Haneefa, an expatriate from the south Indian state of Kerala, was abducted from Sohar, 200 km north of Oman's capital Muscat, by a gang of masked men last week.

    A Royal Oman Police (ROP) special team freed the abducted man in an early morning raid Monday, the Times Of Oman reported.

    “At around 3 a.m. Monday, one of the patrolling vehicles of the special team formed by the police to rescue Haneefa found him and his abductors in a farm,” the report quoted Yousuf Salim, a social worker, as saying.

    “Police sprang into action and freed Haneefa from the clutches of the abductors," he added.

    The Urdu-speaking gang reportedly made a number of calls to Haneefa's family in Kerala after abducting him, demanding ransom money.

    The gang reportedly kept demanding Pakistani rupees 500,000 as ransom for freeing Haneefa and set a 48-hour deadline ending Sunday.

    "If we failed to raise the money, they claimed that they will kill Haneefa,” a family member said.

    The ransom calls were made from internet phones.

    The family had reportedly transferred Pakistani rupees 50,000 to a bank account number, given by the gang, through Western Union from Saudi Arabia.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : In a thinly veiled reference to Narendra Modi, BJP's prime minister candidate for the 2014 general elections, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Monday said the people of India want progress, but not at the cost of communal amity.

    Alongside good governance and progress, there is need to strengthen a culture wherein India's plurality and diversity are vibrantly represented, Nitish Kumar said at the meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) in the national capital.

    The Bihar chief minister voiced concern over the frequency and magnitude of religious processions, which are "sometimes given innovative names like yatra and parikrama".

    He also flagged the issue of low representation of minorities in police and armed forces, and the need for their overall social, educational and economic upliftment.

    Communal riots are the "acid test of neutrality and objectivity" of the police and law-enforcing authorities, he said.

    "What happened at Muzaffarnagar (in Uttar Pradesh) is a matter of deep concern. We cannot allow this violence to spread all over the country. Some forces fan the fire of communal tensions in order to polarise the situation in their favour. This kind of political thinking completely stuns me," he said.

    "Communal amity, social harmony and inclusive growth are the foundation of a progressive India. Until we strengthen the tapestry of communal amity and social harmony, we cannot have economic development on an enduring basis. We will need to adopt an inclusive approach to all sections of our people," he said.

    "For communal amity, all of us have to be vigilant against those seeking to unravel this national consensus... all political parties have a crucial role in this scenario," Nitish Kumar said.

    "The police force has to be trained to develop a mindset which enables them to rise above caste, creed or religion in situations of conflict and violence. Those perpetrating communal violence should be investigated and booked under the most stringent provisions of law and put to speedy trial," he said.

    He said his government had decided to raise anti-riot battalions in each district, and said tackling situations of communal conflict required a nuanced approach and orientation of the police force.

    "A multi-party democracy invariably leads to competitive politics aimed at cornering a larger share of votes. But we must ask whether it should necessarily lead to a passionate pursuit of a divisive agenda. Doing so may deliver short gains for some, but it eventually leads to the weakening of the basic premise of our nation itself," Nitish Kumar said, adding that whenever there was communal violence, more often than not, the anti-social elements drew strength from collusion with the political class.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Punjab Monday urged the National Integration Council (NIC) to address the failure of the system in punishing those guilty of the 1984 massacre of Sikhs, after the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

    Asserting that such punishment would prove the greatest confidence building measure, the state representative at the meeting here underlined the need to ensure justice in the aftermath of communal violence.

    Representing Punjab in the NIC meeting, Punjab Information and Public Relations Minister Bikram Singh Majithia said failure to punish those guilty of the 1984 massacre of Sikhs in the national capital and rewarding killers with high office was not the best way to promote peace, harmony and national integration.

    "The failure of the system to deliver justice even after 30 long years has caused deep resentment and led to a dangerous alienation," he said.

    Majithia said Punjab was one of few states where no communal or caste riots have taken place after the post-partition trauma of 1947.

    Emphasising the need to use social media for promoting national integration and tackling hate propaganda, Majithia said that the government must encourage citizens, especially youth, to use the social media in the right manner.

    Recalling the unparalleled sacrifice of martyrs like Bhagat Singh and a number of other great freedom fighters from Punjab, Majithia said: "Why do we find no Indians in India? We only find Hindus or Muslims, Sikhs or Christians, Brahmins or Dalits, upper castes or lower castes."

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah Monday expressed concern over use of social media to foment communal trouble in the state.

    Though Karnataka has maintained communal harmony, "the number of communal tensions in the current year continues to be an area of concern", he said in his speech, read out by state Home Minister K.J. George, at the National Integration Council meeting here.

    "The major issues have been the use of social media to foment trouble in the sensitive areas with a view to disturb the communal harmony. Some groups have been engaging in transmitting bulk SMSes to mobilise people and opinion on such issues," he said.

    However, Siddaramaiah did not suggest any step or imposition of curbs to prevent misuse of social media.

    He said since the Congress government came to power this year there had been "steady decline in the number of communal incidents and tension reported".

    The Congress wrested power from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the May 5 assembly elections and formed the government May 13 with Siddaramaiah as chief minister.

    "The cases of moral policing are being closely monitored at the highest level to ensure that communal clashes do not occur as a consequence," the chief minister said.

    On tackling terror threats, he urged the central government to be "more pro-active" in providing assistance to states to tackle them, "especially those funded and supported by external forces."

    "In my opinion, there is also a strong need for greater degree of co-ordination between central and state intelligence agencies," he said.

    Siddaramaiah said to tackle "the issue of growth of religious fundamentalism and terrorism" in Karnataka, the Internal Security Division of the state police department "has been strengthened to develop operational capability through trained and dedicated counter-terror teams".

    The state has also set up the Karnataka State Industrial Security Force to secure the vital installations in the state.

    "This unit is also being merged with the Internal Security Division," Siddaramaiah said.

    He said there "is a drastic reduction in the crimes against women during 2013 when compared to the previous years".

    The crimes against SC/STs (the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) in the state "have drastically come down in 2013 as compared to the previous three years", Siddaramaiah said.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The government would soon bring an anti-communal violence bill, Home Minister Sushulkumar Shinde said Monday after the proposed legislation was discussed at the National Integration Council meeting here.

    "The bill was discussed... We will bring it soon," said Shinde.

    "There were some corrections suggested," Shinde said about the bill that has been hanging fire for some years.

    A group of Muslim leaders, who recently met the prime minister over communal violence incidents across India, had stressed the need for a bill to effectively deal with the issue.

    The NIC meet came in the backdrop of the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar, in western Uttar Pradesh, in which over 40 people were killed and around 40,000 displaced.

    Shinde said the riots were discussed during the NIC meet.

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    By IANS,

    Muzaffarnagar : Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav faced a hostile crowd of riot victims in Muzaffarnagar when he visited relief camps Monday.

    Yadav, uncle of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, barely managed to request people to maintain communal harmony.

    Soon after landing at the makeshift helipad in Chandan Lal National Inter College in Kandhla, Yadav left for Eidgah where he met the riot victims.

    There was no public address system in place for the minister to address the crowd. The restless crowd raised slogans, accusing the minister of arriving to merely pay "lip-service".

    The minister made a quick retreat, leaving for Jogiya Kheda after talking to reporters and ulemas (Muslim clerics). He assured them that the guilty would be brought to book.

    The minister told the clerics that the state government stood with them and was deeply saddened by the riots. Asked to comment on the alleged role of his ministerial colleague Mohammad Azam Khan in the riots, Yadav only said: "Khan is a pious and clean man."

    He also alleged that there was a political conspiracy behind the "sting operation" conducted by a television channel which showed Azam Khan, the state's minorities welfare minister, allegedly giving instructions to police officials at the time of the riots.

    The PWD minister assured riot victims that arrangements would be made for their rehabilitation.

    Forty eight people were killed in communal clashes and riots in Muzaffarnagar Sep 7 and more than 43,000 displaced.

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    By Soroor Ahmed,,

    It would not be wholly appropriate to state that the Jatland of western Uttar Pradesh always remained free of communal violence and that everything was hunky-dory till the recent riots. Some media analyses created confusion; so things should be seen in proper light.At the same time, it may be true that perhaps never before the riots spread so fast in the rural areas of Jat heartland as this time.

    One of the most infamous communal riots took place on August 13, 1980, that is on the Eid day, when police opened fire on 50,000 strong namazis in the Eidgah after a pig strayed inside it. More than 100 people died in firing and stampede. The violence continued till November in which over 400 people were officially killed, while unofficial toll was put at 2,500.

    Though initially Muslims did retaliate on Dalits as the pig belonged to the nearby slum the riots took a Hindu Muslim turn. The Provincial Armed Contabulary (PAC), a special police force of the state which has sizeable Jat representation, earned a lot of notoriety for its role in the riots.

    As the riots took place after the return to power of Indira Gandhi in January the same year to be followed soon by the election of V P Singh as the new chief minister it was then interpreted by the media-pundits that the collapse of Muslim-Jat political alliance woven by the then Bharatiya Lok Dal leader, Charan Singh, might have aggravated the situation. While Jats remained loyal to Charan Singh––who served as the prime minister of the country between July and December 1979––Muslim votes largely shifted to Indira Gandhi-led Congress in the Lok Sabha poll held at the fag end of 1979.

    The Moradabad riots was followed by a series of incidents of communal violence in western UP, the most prominent one in Aligarh, which had in fact witnessed riots in 1978 and 1979, when the Jat leader, Charan Singh, was the Home Minister of the country. The May 1979 violence in Aligarh was different because it took place on Aligarh Muslim University campus area.

    The situation in west UP remained tense and uneasy almost throughout 1980s. In May 1987 it was the turn of Meerut to explode. The Hashimpura and Maliana (both in Meerut) massacres of Muslims by PAC are still fresh in the mind of many people. In Hashimpura alone 42 Muslim youths were picked up during curfew hours, taken to a remote place and shot dead by PAC. Their bodies were then thrown into a canal. Almost similar was the case in Maliana.

    As these places were only a few kilometres away from the outer boundary of the national capital the walled city area of Delhi too witnessed communal tension and clashes then.

    Incidentally, the BJP had only two MPs all over the country in 1987 yet the Jatland saw horrible incident of riots.

    Moradabad, Aligarh and the adjoining areas have a history of communal trouble even in 19th century and after partition. So to say that they were oasis of peace would be an exaggeration.
    Ironically, it was during the same V P Singh era in late 1980s that a new alliance of MAJGAR was floated. The acronym stood for Muslim, Ahir (Yadav), Jat, Gujjar and Rajput. This alliance played a key role to make V P Singh the prime minister in late 1989. MAJGAR withered away after the implementation of Mandal Commission in August 1990 and subsequent developments, which led to the collapse of the V P Singh government.

    Jat-Muslim relationships have come under strain in the past with both the communities voting for different parties, especially during the Ram Janambhoomi movement years. What is ironical is that the region witnessed more big communal violence in early and mid-1980s when the BJP was weakest and much less in immediate pre- and post-Babri Masjid demolition years when the saffron party was really strong. Aligarh, however, remained a troubled spot after Babri Masjid demolition too while clashes and tension were reported in Moradabad, Agra etc. But then they were not very big riots.

    In spite of communal violence in several western UP towns in 1980s the Jat-Muslim relationship in many rural areas remained more or less cordial, though at times attempts were made to disturb it. They both have a sizeable population in the region.

    However, what is different this time is that those interested in vitiating the situation in the rural areas had succeeded.

    Political contradictions notwithstanding, there are many who see a ray of hope of situation fast returning to normalcy. If the region could remain largely peaceful after the demolition of Babri Masjid––in spite of such a bloody 1980s––it can be hoped that sanity may soon return. But then that is possible only when the vested interests are kept away.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday stressed on the responsibility of states to deal promptly and strictly with sectarian violence and the need to check social media's misuse to foment trouble.

    Addressing the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting here in the aftermath of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, that claimed 50 lives, the prime minister said one should not try and politicise communal riots but act against those inciting communal violence, no matter how powerful they are.

    "The government should use full force to act against those responsible for riots however powerful they may be and to whichever party they may belong," he said.

    The NIC later passed a resolution to that effect.

    Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government would soon bring in an anti-communal violence bill.

    The NIC meeting saw several chief ministers raise concerns over misuse of social media to spread hatred and rumours.

    The meeting was marked by a walkout by Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu in protest against the move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.

    A number of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states' chief ministers, including the party's prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, did not attend the meeting.

    "Modi should have come," said Shinde.

    The others from the BJP who did not attend the meeting were Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

    Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who attacked her Uttar Pradesh counterpart Akhilesh Yadav over the Muzaffarnagar violence, also did not attend the meeting. Her speech was read out by a state minister. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik of Odisha were also not present.

    Referring to the fake video that was allegedly used to fan the Muzaffarnagar riots, the prime minister said: "We must find a way to stop misuse of social media."

    "We cannot let anti-national forces misuse social media. Social media is about expressing opinions freely and we need to maintain that sense of freedom."

    He said that last year the social media was used to cause panic by threatening violence against people of the northeast.

    Shinde said: "We are eager to ban social media but it is not easy."

    The prime minister appealed to the political parties not to politicise the issue of riots.

    "It is important to ensure that the local administration not only acts swiftly to prevent incidents from taking bigger shape but ensures punishment to the guilty at the earliest," he said.

    He added that anti-national forces were using minor incidents for communal disharmony. "We are determined to control these forces. States need to take prompt action to control small incidents that could flare up."

    The prime minister also raised the issue of rising crimes against women and said that changing the laws was not sufficient. Social change is the need of the hour.

    "A nation can progress only when women can go to public places without fear. It is a shame that women are not treated properly."

    Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Maharashtra's Prithviraj Chavan, Assam's Tarun Gogoi, Haryana's Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Meghalaya's Mukul Sangma were among those who raised concerns over misuse of social media.

    Shinde said no society could progress without respecting women.

    The meeting also saw senior BJP leader L.K. Advani and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar greet each other cordially. This was the first meeting between the two leaders since the Janata Dal-United broke off from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

    The meeting was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and several union ministers and NIC members.

    Akhilesh Yadav alleged that some political parties were behind the Muzaffarnagar violence.

    "It looks that in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, some prominent political parties are making dangerous efforts to mislead the public and spoil communal harmony," Yadav said.

    Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad told mediapersons that "fascist and communal forces want to engineer riots on a big scale" with an eye to the general elections.

    Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that NIC meetings should be held every year. The last NIC meeting was held in 2011.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The National Integration Council Monday resolved to deal with all those indulging in communal violence promptly under the law.

    A resolution passed by the NIC said it will protect the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and women from such acts, a statement said.

    The council will take "all measures to preserve, sustain and strengthen the harmonious relationship between all communities and enable all citizens to lead their lives in freedom as equal citizens with dignity and honour", the resolution said.

    "The government and all stakeholders shall take all measures for resolving differences and disputes among the people within the framework of law and institutions set up thereunder in order to strengthen our secular and pluralistic society," said the resolution.

    The NIC also resolved to condemn the repeated atrocities on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and take stringent action on the perpetrators of such crimes.

    The council also resolved to eradicate manual scavenging and other forms of undignified labour.

    The NIC also condemned incidents like sexual abuse, molestation and violent attacks on women.

    The meeting resolved to safeguard women's "right of movement in the public space at any time of the day or night".

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday called for a unified approach to thwart the designs of communal elements and appealed to political parties to desist from dividing communities for votes.

    Addressing the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting here, Omar Abdullah impressed upon the people of all communities to jointly preserve and promote peaceful co-existence of multiple religions, pluralistic ethos and varied cultures.

    "We should take a lead in promoting the feeling of oneness and respect for each other. It is the bounden duty of all of us to uphold the fundamentals of the constitution and bridge the trust deficit among different communities to promote national integration," he said.

    Referring to the recent communal clash in Kishtwar in the state, the chief minister said that before the 2008 state assembly polls efforts had been made to use the communal card and after the recent violence in Kishtwar attempts were made to spread trouble to other parts of Jammu but his government brought the situation under control.

    He said various measures were taken to restore confidence of the different communities.

    Omar Abdullah mentioned the cases of communal incidents in Jammu and Kashmir and northeastern states being treated separately in the NIC agenda and questioned: "Why are you treating us separately?"

    His query was addressed to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. In response to this, Shinde said that this would be kept in mind and rectified in future.

    The chief minister said the state has the lowest reported cases of crime against women.

    "This is largely due to the moral values and cultural ethos of the society and efforts of the state administration," he said.

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    By Irfan Engineer

    Year after year there are major riots in the country. Yet the UPA is sitting over Communal and targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill! How many lives must be lost before the UPA Govt. wakes up to the reality that special situations require special laws? There have been more than 40,000 casualties since the year 1950 in Hindu-Muslim riots alone. Yet, hardly any foot soldier has been punished and the conspirators, abettors and orchestrators of the riots climb up the political ladder and become ministers and chief ministers instead of finding them behind bars.

    When security of all Indians is threatened through bomb blasts, the response of the state is to immediately come with special laws like TADA, POTA and UAPA. Security forces are given free hand to target innocent members of minority communities with impunity under protection of laws like Disturbed Areas Act and AFSPA. When women are sexually assaulted, the response of the state is to issue an ordinance (and rightly so), which if implemented in right spirit, could ensure that offenders would be brought to justice. However, when security of minorities is under threat, they are advised to behave better and forget the incident in the interest of “national integration” and “peace”. Poor relief for survivors of riots, negligible compensation to a few survivors, reluctance to bring riot entrepreneurs to justice, and worsening condition of riot survivors encourages the riot entrepreneurs to orchestrate, plan and execute even larger and more vicious riots. Riot entrepreneurs are acquiring more and more capability to inflict larger casualty in shorter duration, whether or not they are in power. Lack of will to legislate a special law to ensure access to justice and right to reparations for riot survivors is viewed by the riot entrepreneurs as an enabling environment to orchestrate riots and a politically desirable goal.

    Last year, (in the year 2012) the country witnessed major riots in Bodo areas of Assam state, UP witnessed 9 riots – Kosi Kalan and Pratapgarh (both in Mathura), two in Gaziabad, Sitapur, Bareilly, two in Faizabad and Bijnor. Maharashtra witnessed communal riots in Pachora, Buldhana, Raver (Jalgaon) and Akot. In Andhra Pradesh, communal riots occurred in Sangareddy and Hyderabad. In Gujarat, communal clashes broke out in Vadodra and Damnagar (Amreli). This year too had witnessed several riots in Dhule (Maharashtra), Nawada (Bihar) Kishtwar (Jammu), UP, and other states. Given the election year, the riots are becoming more frequent and larger in scale with the Kishtwar and Muzaffarnagar acquiring national attention. Every election, a few members of minority communities must be killed to ensure a few more seats for communal parties. On the one hand Narendra Modi is pretending to confine his election campaign supposedly on the issue of development and good governance, while the other fraternal organisations of the Sangh Parivar like VHP are busy looking for issues to polarize the electorate and to politically mobilize the diverse Hindu communities and attempt to convert them into a political community and vote bank. The 84 kosi parikrama during election time when there was no religious tradition by the VHP is a case in point. Sangh Parivar has used communal violence as a policy instrument to widen its base and strengthen its organisation.

    The Muzaffarnagar Riots

    According to the Times of India (TOI) dated 17/9/13, on August 27, there was a minor scuffle in Kawaal village of Muzaffarnagar between Shahnawaz and Gaurav over crossing of motorbike and bicycle, when Shahnawaz allegedly slapped Gaurav. Gaurav mobilized his accomplices and killed Shahnawaz. People witnessing the incident caught hold of Sachin and Gaurav among those involved in killing Shahnawaz and they were in turn beaten to death. The version of Jats as reported in the TOI was that locals gathered during the incident and in the melee some Muslim by mistake stabbed Shahnawaz. The Jat version does not seem very credible, but it is for the police to investigate, if at all they investigate impartially and thoroughly without any fear or favour.

    A fake video of some other incident which the police say was recorded two years ago in Pakistan was circulated through social networking sites and mobile phones purporting it to be video of the incident of killing Gaurav and Sachin. The fake video allegedly circulated by BJP MLAs seemed to have evoked a lot of revulsion and consequent urge to take revenge. Interestingly, Jats were not first to react to the incident. It was the Sainis who traditionally are supporters of BJP, took lead in reacting to the killing of Gaurav and Sachin and mobilised the Jats. A BSP leader and other politicians mobilized Muslims for a meeting on 30th August. Four BJP MLAs organised Jat Mahapanchayat. The Mahapanchayat was attended by thousands of Jats armed with guns, swords and other lethal weapons in spite of ban on assembly. How the police allowed them to assemble with arms in spite of orders prohibiting assembly is for the police to explain. In all three Mahapanchayats were organised and inciting speeches were given. Allegedly provocative slogans were in the air during the Jat Mahapanchayats and one of them reportedly were “Musalman ke do hi sthan – Pakistan ya qabristan”. The rest is history as they say.

    Several houses burnt, more than 40,000 in relief camps, 43 killed according to affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the UP Govt. One TOI report dated 15-9-13 quoted doctors conducting post mortem on 53 bodies were shocked by the brutality with which the murders were carried out, including mutation of female genitals. The web edition of the Daily Bhaskar (Anwar & Khan, 2013) reports “Scores of women, including minor girls, were raped, gang-raped and sexually assaulted in Lisarh, Lank, Bahawadi, Hasanpur, Mohammadpur, Baghpat and many other small villages of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Panipat districts of Uttar Pradesh. The rape took place when the people were leaving their villages to save their lives and honour, say victims.” The police, as usual, were mute spectators while all the violence and burning was happening, even as the survivors were desperately crying for help. This is criminal negligence on the part of the police and administration in allowing the Jat Mahapanchayats and inciting speeches. The BJP leaders used the three murders over an inconsequential issue to incite communal passions and violence for electoral gains and the Samajwadi Party seems to have played along to gain electorally too.

    Concerns and issues

    The rioters usually act on a doctrine of collective culpability of the community in any wrongdoing by any member of the “other” community. They have borrowed this doctrine of primitive times when any violation of taboo by any member of the rival tribe could be attributed to every member of that tribe in the nature of collective guilt and could be avenged by collectively punishing entire tribe or any member of the tribe. It is a primitive and barbarous way of thinking to impute guilt to someone for the action of another. Collectives do not have moral faults, since they don’t make moral choices and cannot be ascribed moral responsibility. Thus every member of Muslim community is culpable for the perceived offence allegedly committed by any of them, even in the distant past – namely demolition of Hindu temples. A collective punishment in the form of communal riots is handed down in order to deepen and polarize communal identities within members of both communities. With the polarization, they would be permanently in conflict with each other and larger numbers of the majority community could be mobilized more easily in this “war”. When will communal forces overcome this primitive instinct?

    Collective Punishments, cultural nationalism and authoritarian state

    Collective punishments are calculatedly inflicted by communal forces to obliterate the multiple identities within every individual that makes her unique. For example, this author is a Gujarati ashraf,/em> Muslim born in and domicile of Maharashtra, a male, Indian, advocate, influenced by liberal left ideology, loving books etc. etc. Individuals make sense of their world through these identities. They sometimes consciously transcend some of these primordial and acquired identities. It is on this edifice of individual having multiple identities that the concept of citizenship is based. Citizens are invested with liberties and rights that enable them to live these multiple identities and still be treated equally disregarding their identities and ideologies that they chose to follow, so long as they are not in conflict with laws of the land. The communal forces target particular community to make given primordial identity salient in the individual marginalizing others. For example, if Muslims are targeted only because of their religion, this author’s all other identities (like Gujarati, domicile of Maharashtra, male, ashraf, following liberal left ideology and book loving) become inconsequential except the fact that he is Muslim, which otherwise may not be salient in him. However, large scale violence does not only obliterate multiple identities within the targeted community. It marginalizes multiple identities even within the members of the community on whose behalf the violence is perpetrated, and brings to salience mirror identity within them for fear of violent reprisals.

    By targeting Muslim community, communal forces want to make Hindu identity salient within members of their community, and in the process, marginalizing say for example caste, regional, ethnic, gender, professional, neighbourhood based and hobby based identities. Through this process, the religious Hindu is converted into a political Hindu requiring authoritarian cultural state privileging certain religion and suppressing others. Thus Jats and Muslims, which communities shared the regional culture, dialect, traditions, value systems, now fear each other. It is because of these shared culture and traditions that Charan Singh could politically mobilise the two communities together to vote for his party RLD. The Muzaffarnagar riots have divided the two communities Jat Muslims and Jat Hindus deepening communal identities within them and marginalizing their shared regional and caste identity. The Jat Muslims will now have to live with, and become more of “Muslims” seeking communal solidarity of the Syeds and Pathans of the region and likewise Jats will have to seek communal solidarity, unity and identity with the Sainis and the Hindu upper castes. How this process plays out in future remains to be seen. However, this process leaves space only for communal forces on both sides to flourish – RSS and Sangh Parivar, including the BJP in an election year on one hand and Majlises, Jamiats and Mushawarats on the other hand, who become arbiters of Muslim votes. The Hindu Jats will now be subjected to communal propaganda like “all terrorists are Muslims”, that “Muslims are pro-Pakistanis and anti-nationals” etc.

    Spread of communalism in rural areas

    Even if theatre of communal riots had already shifted to rural areas from urban areas, for example in Bhagalpur, Nellie, Gujarat and BTAD, they were more of extension of urban based conflict. However, the theatre of violence this time in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Meerut is predominantly rural. The large scale displacement cause by the violence in Muzaffarnagar is unprecedented for UP with survivors stating they will never be able to return to their villages again. This is a dangerous and worrisome trend. The brutality reflects the revulsion caused by the circulation of fake video and the likelihood of hatred that will be premised on the revulsion on long term basis unless there is effective intervention strategy from secular and democratic forces to reconcile the communities.

    Women’s bodies continue to be the battleground on which communal violence played out. The Jat Mahapanchayats emerge as strengthened and hegemonic force. What does this mean for Jat women, already facing several Talibani restrictions like the one on possession of mobile phones, restrictions on their dresses, choice of male friends and the timings and localities in which the restrictions would operate. The male-female ratio is highly skewed and women excluded from inheritance in practice. Women’s organizations were struggling for equality and inclusion. Strengthening of Jat Mahapanchayats and Majlises, Jamiats and Mushawarats would push the achievement of the struggle of these women’s organisations how many years behind is to be seen. There are already reports of women being pulled out of educational institutions, particularly Muslim girls against their desires due to communalization and consequent security issues for women. The riots were according to one report, started with sexual harassment of a woman, though the TOI report dated 17-9-13 denies any such sexual harassment.

    How far the caste based voting pattern is affected and how far Hindu votes consolidate across all castes in UP and outside the state is another issue of concern. For communal polarization would help poll campaigners for Modi. In this communally charged atmosphere, the voters suspend their judgments even more and prone be misled by Modi’s campaign managers’ exaggerated and even false claims. Better performance in UP for BJP is crucial for Modi’s PM ambitions. BJP is the biggest beneficiary of the Muzaffarnagar riots making itself popular among the Jats. BJP is incessantly attacking Samajwadi Party, hoping to displace BSP as the principal opposition party. However, that chance seems too too remote.

    For the secular and democratic forces, the main concern is ensuring organisation of relief camps, that compensation reaches the victims, reconciliation and rehabilitation and peace with justice. Secular democratic forces have learnt to force the Govt. to bring the guilty to justice. Exposing the design of communal forces and making people of India accept individual liberties, equality and social justice for all citizens of India irrespective of their religion is urgent priority. To ensure justice, we will have to demand with renewed vigour legislation on Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill be enacted immediately.

    Irfan Engineer is associated with Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai.

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    By Shamsul Islam,

    Last week ended in the horrible bloodshed of innocent people in two separate and faraway parts of the world, Nairobi and Peshawar, the blood of innocent children, women and men was spilled for none of their fault. However, in both the carnages, the perpetrators came from organizations linked to Talibaan and Al-Qaeda. They claim to represent true Islam and avenge the wrongs done to Muslims by the West and its allies.

    Peshawar in Pakistan is a historic city where stands one of the oldest churches in the (Indian) sub-continent, All Saints Anglican Church. This historic Church built in 1883 inside the Kohati Gate within the walled city of Peshawar is part of the Parish of the Church of Pakistan. It is an impressive and architecturally unique place of worship with minarets and a dome that bears a striking synthesis of Saracenic architecture; a combination of Mughal & British designs.

    This historic Church draws large number of worshippers and tourists on every Sunday when prayer is held. On September 22, 2013 when hundreds of worshippers were coming out of the Church two suicide bombers exploded bombs strapped to their bodies. The explosions instantly killed around 80 worshippers and onlookers including 37 women & 7 children and more than 150 people were wounded, most of them critically. It may raise the death toll to more than 100.

    The group, Jandullah (Soldiers of God), a terrorist group once financed by Pakistan Army and linked to Pakistani Taliban admitted that it carried out the bombing. Ahmad Marwat, the Jundullah spokesman said that his organization “carried out the suicide bombings at Peshawar church,” and “will continue to strike foreigners and non-Muslims until drone attacks stop.”

    According to press reports large number of friends and relatives of victims gathered outside the Church and denounced the Pakistan government for not being able to control terrorist activities in the country. Protests were held in all major cities of Pakistan in which thousands participated.

    At Nairobi, capital of Kenya and the largest city in the country was targetted by another terrorist group Al-Shabab (the Youth) based in Somalia and linked to Al-Qaeda again. A group of well-armed terrorists entered a popular upscale shopping mall on Saturday (September 21, 2013) afternoon throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. Till Sunday, more than 70 innocent visitors to the mall had been killed and around 200 people had been injured. It is believed that a large number of visitors to the mall were under the captivity of the armed bandits so number of casualties is bound to rise. Shockingly, at the time of attack a programme focussed on children was being held and the death toll of children is feared to be very high. The victims were not only Kenyans. French, Dutch, South African, Indian, Australian, British and Canadian visitors also lost lives. Shedding of blood of innocent children, male and females continued through Monday.

    Prominent Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor who was attending a literary festival in Nairobi and visiting the mall too became victim of this terrorist attack and died on the spot. His poetry represented African voice against western imperialism, its stooges in Africa and militarism. He symbolized fight against apartheid.

    According to press reports Al-Shabab defended this gruesome carnage holding that it was carried out the attack in response to Kenyan military operations against Muslims in Somalia.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron called it “an absolutely sickening and despicable attack of appalling brutality”. US President Barack Obama was quick to call Kenyan President Kenyatta to express condolences and promised “US support for Kenya's efforts to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice”.

    These gestures are welcome but we need to ask them: Is not it a fact that West created Talibaan and helped Al-Qaeda to grow in face of rising secular challenge to the Western exploitation and hegemony in areas populated by Muslims in 1970s. The Jihadi Islam was created and nurtured by the Western intelligence agencies to counter socialist and nationalist movements in ‘Islamic world’.[i] If predecessors of David Cameron & Barack Obama had not created these monsters and helped them to grow world could be a better place today. The Western hypocrisy continues even today. Alex Lantier writing on World Socialist Web Site on September 23, 2013 said, “The horror of the Westgate attack underscores the criminal character of the support offered by the United States government and its allies to Al Qaeda-linked opposition militias in Syria. These forces have carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks in that country, according to US officials, killing large numbers of innocent civilians”.

    However, despite this de-humanised and questionable parentage, the criminals of Jandullah and Al-Shabab cannot be absolved of their diabolical crimes against humanity. These gangs of criminals defend their acts arguing that they are fighting to ‘Save Islam/Muslims’ from Christian/non-Muslim adversaries. Their grouse is that in the name of fighting terrorism the West is targeting all Muslims and see what these self-appointed guardians of Islam are doing. They are killing and maiming innocent people who have nothing to do with rulers of any creed or hue. Thus there is no difference between these two.

    They want to kill non-Muslims. It’s idiotic to think that bombs and bullets are programmed to first verify from the victims his/her religion before striking. They forget that on this earth almost everywhere people professing different religions stay and work together. Both at Peshawar and Nairobi they have put to death number of Muslims.

    And how do they justify killing of a renowned atheist poet in Nairobi? He did not believe in Christian God or any other God. The fact is that they choose soft targets; the common people. By such acts these terrorists do not weaken the West but help the latter to behave in a more draconian manner.

    These terrorist swear by the name of Allah, the God. We are told that Allah loves children but these soldiers of Allah have no remorse in killing children. These terrorists believe that fight is between Muslims & others. What about persons like Noam Chomsky (and millions others like him) who have spent life time in opposing West’s criminal designs. And what about Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey etc. who have worked for generations as foot-soldiers of the West? The fight against Western Imperialism requires unity of all suffering people. By indulging in mindless theocratic violence these Jihadi terrorists are only further dividing the people. They are the best friends of the West.

    For Jihaadi terrorists, it is difficult to comprehend that human civilization did not start with the advent of Islam. It developed through millions of years. There were conflicts but synthesis was the rule and Islam too developed as synthesis of many cultures and religions. Also, no religion can claim that its followers make a monolithic whole. Islam versus others or any similar call by any religion is a hoax propagated by all kinds of Fascists. May God give such elements some common sense to understand complexity of human society!

    This spate of theocratic violence against common people once again reminds us of prophetic words of Dr John Joseph, Bishop of Faisalabad (Jhang) in Pakistan. He shot himself to death on May 6, 1998, while leading a protest march against Blasphemy Laws in the Sahiwal (Montgomery) town of Pakistan. Six days before he sacrificed his life at the altar of bigotry being indulged in the name of Islam in Pakistan, Bishop John Joseph wrote an open letter to his friends world over. In his letter, the Bishop underlined the fact that religious bigotry is created and nourished by the rulers but once it is able to settle down it turns into a monster capable of consuming the creators. But the heaviest price is paid by common people. He warned that we should not believe that blood-thirsty cult of religious violence will go away by itself or rulers who created and fanned it would like to see its end. He pleaded that “each one of us has to get involved and play our role”. We have not learnt any lesson from Dr. John Joseph’s martyrdom. Unfortunately, we the commoners have become mere spectators. If we wish to challenge the theocratic violence we need to become activists to unmask the criminals who spill blood in the name of religion.


    Shamsul Islam is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science of Satyawati College, University of Delhi.

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    By TCN News,

    Kandhamal justice and Karnataka rising persecution of Christians raised; call for SC rights to Dalit Christians.

    [The following is the text of the Statement by All India Christian Council Secretary General Dr. John Dayal in the meeting of the National Integration Council, held on 23rd September 2013 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi and presided over by the Prime Minister, Dr. Man Mohan Singh. Dr. Dayal called for the enactment of a Communal and Targetted Violence Prevention Act. He also called for fresh investigation and trial of murder cases in Kandhamal in 2008, and Scheduled Caste rights for Dalit Christians. Dr. Dayal brought to the attention of the Prime Minister and the NIC the rising trend of persecution of Christians in the rural areas of Karnataka in recent months].

    Honourable Prime Minister, Honourable Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Honourable Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and other Members.

    Greetings from my community and my organisation, the All India Christian Council, which was founded in 1998 in the wake of large-scale persecution of our community in several parts of the community at the hands of misguided fringe elements of a militant right wing fundamentalist and hyper-nationalist organisation that seeks to convert this secular democracy into some sort of a mono culture theocracy.

    Thank you, Prime Minister, Sir, for convening this meeting, but after such a long gap. A meeting of the NIC, of course, is not a panacea for the violence against, and general persecution of, religious minorities, Dalits, Tribals and other marginalised people. But frequent meetings – at least once a year would be the bare minimum – would send a signal to the victim groups that the nation at large, present here in the presence of the leaders of the Union and State governments, had not forgotten them, was deeply concerned about them, and was determined to end their trauma and restore them to a life of peace and happiness.

    In recent days, I have once again witnessed the aftermath of targetted mass violence. I was part of a Fact Finding group organised by the Centre for Policy Analysis, which a week ago visited Muzaffarnagar, and in particular its villages, make-shift refugee camps, burnt out mosques and its despairing people. Earlier, at a People’s Tribunal in Bangalore, victims and witnesses told us of the widespread persecution of Christians in the villages of Karnataka since 2008, attacks on small and home churches and the molestation of women, which was continuing.

    Muzaffarnagar and Kandhamal, Odisha, in 2008 have striking parallels – the spread of violence to the villages through a sustained hate campaign carried out by extremist political vested interest, and the involvement of politicians.

    Anti-Christian violence is also visible in Andhra, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and specially Madhya Pradesh. Karnataka is now reporting an anti Christian acts of violence every third day. In all cases, the police look on passively, or was itself complicit in the violence. Senior officers chose to remain deaf to the warnings of growing communalism and tension, and imminence of violence.

    Both Kandhamal, 2008, and Muzaffarnagar, 2013, saw large scale attacks on places of religious worship in the villages. There was massive internal displacement, with village upon village purged of all presence of the minority communities. Police and governance systems were found wanting before, during and after the violence. In both cases conditions in refugee camps were dismal and inhuman. And in both cases, killers and fomenters of violence roamed about free, taming both victim and police.

    Kandhamal has also seen a gross miscarriage of justice and extremely tardy and incomplete rehabilitation and reparations. In 32 of the murder cases – the total according to the survivors is more than 100 – there have been only two convictions. An MLA accused in nine of these cases and convicted in one is roaming free on bail in a highly questionable judicial decision.

    It is no surprise therefore to go through the agenda of this meeting of the NIC, and learn from it that there has been a steady rise in recent years in the number of communal violence cases, and the number of dead and injured. We learn there were 640 cases of actual violence and 716 of communal tension in 2012, which left 2012 killed and 2,129 injured across the country. In the nine months of 2013, we have already seen almost 490 cases of violence and 433 cases of tension, with 152 injured. These are including the separate figures given for Assam and the North East. These figures do not reflect the cases of anti Christian violence. The police for their own reasons do not register them under the “communal” heading.

    These call for urgent action. Short term response from the government and long term correctives which have still not been put into place after more than six decades of experience with communal violence need to be devised and activated,


    1. The long-term solution is to have a comprehensive and effective Act against Communal and Targetted Violence, which favours the victim and has a national Code to standardize the current Relief, Rehabilitation and Reparation. Impunity must end, and officials must be held accountable. I was part of the last exercise under the National Advisory Council to formulate such a Bill. I was a witness when the draft Bill was targetted and all but destroyed in the last meeting of the NIC by some States and political leaders. The Union government did not intervene at any stage to disclose its mind. Civil society feels this Bill is imperative if communal violence and its aftermath are to be averted, and victims rehabilitated with human dignity. The Bill was not against any particular community. Nor was it meant to encroach on federal values. With the protection of victim at the centre, and as the reason, of its theme and jurisdiction, Civil Society is willing to listen to governments and other stakeholders to device an acceptable version of the Communal and Targetted Violence [Relief, Rehabilitation and Reparation Bill] which is implementable and which will punish the guilty and hold police and civil officials responsible for their actions, or their failure to act.

    It is also important that:

    2. The guilty are arrested, including those who were part of the hate campaign by spreading rumours an false information through posters, word of mouth and social media

    3. Government identify and prosecute and stop those involved in communalizing and radicalizing innocent people, specially in the villages by perverted concepts of identity formation.

    4. Government Provide adequate and well equipped and well trained police with arms and communication equipment and transport in communally sensitive villages. There must be some code of postings to ensure that police are biased in favour of their own community.

    5. Government ensure Rapid action police at block level

    6. Government hold village panchayat leaders culpable for communal violence in their region, and hold block and district senior officers of the police and administration, similarly, responsible for the occurrence of communal violence.

    7. At the state and national level, police reforms and training continue to be a work in progress, and progress is exceedingly slow. Ensure commensurate presence of minority and marginalised in police forces.

    8. In Muzaffarnagar, ensure government takes over all relief camps and makes them humane with adequate security, medical relief especially for women and children including newborn babies, with adequate provisions and sanitation. The survivors must understand they are under the government’s protection and care.

    9. Ensure that detailed FIRs are registered and the crimes investigated painstakingly with adequate modern forensic scientific methodology, supervised by senior police officers, and tried in special courts so that justice is swift. There must be witness protection in place.

    10. Every internally displaced person must be resettled in his or her home village with a sense of security and compensated adequately to rebuild his and her home and life. If required, employment must be provided. Special care must be taken for the rehabilitation of women victims of gender violence.

    11. In Karnataka and other states, ensure that violence against Home churches, Pastors and others is registered and investigated as an act of communal violence.

    12. In Kandhamal, ensure fresh investigation of all murder cases by trained investigating officers, followed by fresh trials of these cases. Witness protection systems must be put into place to reassure victims and survivors. Government must also help survivors rebuild their lives, and provide jobs to those now forced to work in distant places as casual labour.

    The Christian community has been distressed at the government attitude to their demand that Dalit Christians be given the same rights as are given to Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh Dalits. In affirmative action, there cannot be any discrimination on basis of religion. Government must issue an ordinance to remove Article 341 Paragraph 3 as soon as possible.

    Government must also ensure an end to the so called Freedom of Religion Acts in some states which encourage extremist and fundamentalist elements to harass, torment and persecute innocent Christians.

    Thank you


    John Dayal

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