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Indian Muslim

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    Badruddin Ajmal slams Congress for not having a holistic approach towards minorities in Assam.

    By Abdul Gani, TwoCircles.net,

    Guwahati: Assam’s main opposition party All Indian United Democratic Front (AIUDF) which is all set to spread its wing in West Bengal for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls is not going to have an alliance with Congress at any cost. Party chief Badruddin Ajmal said that it will be like committing suicide if they join hands with Congress. He, however, said that door is open for any secular party for partnership.

    He also slammed the ruling party of not having a holistic approach towards the minority communities in the state. “We have taken an anti-Congress stand since the beginning and we will never compromise with our ideologies at any cost. Joining hands with Congress means killing ourselves with our own hands. Even if Sonia Gandhi approaches us, we will not change our stand,” Ajmal said.

    On the possible alliance with other parties, Ajmal said that his party is ready for any such development provided if the party believes in secularism. “Our door is open for any secular party—be it AGP, CPI (M), Samajwadi or anybody but never for BJP and Congress,” he added.

    On the alliance with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the centre and opposing Congress here in the state, Ajmal said that between UPA and National Democratic Alliance (NDA), they had to choose for UPA. “UPA does not mean Congress. There are other parties as well and comparatively they are more secular than NDA,” Ajmal said.

    Development of various minority communities will be main agenda of the party for the elections both in Assam and in West Bengal. AIUDF will contest from at least 14 seats from the neighbouring state besides 10 seats in Assam this time.

    “For the last 10 years or so the status of not just Muslims but all people belonging to the minority communities has been extremely pathetic both in Assam and Bengal. There is no any holistic approach from the government to work towards the uplift of the community. The huge amount of fund either goes back to centre or is misused by the ministers,” he said.

    The perfume baron also said of giving opportunity to the people of all communities to contest in the election for the party to bring a change in the image as many tagged the party as for Muslims only. “We will give minimum tickets to Muslims and majority will be given to the people of other backward classes who really deserves. Though some try to say that we are a Muslim based party but we are not. We have given opportunities to all the communities and this time we will do it more,” he said.

    The Dhubri MP further said that there will be no effect of Narendra Modi in Assam and criticized the Gujrat chief minister and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Modi for spending huge sum of money in the name of publicity and to try to win people with such means.

    In Assam the party is expected to contest Dhubri, Barpeta, Mangaldoi, Tezpur, Nagaon, Guwahati, Lakhimpur, Koliabor, Silchar, Karimganj, Dibrugarh and Kokrajhar seats while in West Bengal it will contest in Cooch Behar, Raiganj, Malda (North), Malda (South), Jangipur, Murshidabad, Burdwan, Krishnanagar, Basirhat, Joynagar, Uluberia, Srerampur, Diamond Harbour, and Balurghat constituencies.

    In the last assembly polls, it managed to win 18 seats and emerged as the largest opposition party in the state Assembly. Since its formation in 2006, AIUDF has not tied up with any political party but has been gaining strength with each election.


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    By Zaidul Haque, TwoCircles.net,

    Kolkata: If Muslims want to solve the problems of the community and demand development, the first thing they need to do is cast their votes in the coming parliamentary elections, said Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, President of Zakat Foundation of India and Member of Sachar committee.

    Dr Mahmood was speaking in a symposium on ‘Muslim Agenda (Before 2014 Elections)’ organized by Tahrik Foundation of Kolkata on December 1, at the St. Xavier’s College Auditorium.



    Dr Zafar Mahmood speaking in a symposium in Kolkata.

    Dr Mahmood said that the West Bengal CM Mamata Banarjee has no far done nothing substantial for the Muslims, except giving remuneration to the Imams and Muazzins.

    He alleged that rather than delivering on promises, WB government is leading a campaign in media to present them in good light.

    He said that MSDP funds are not utilized properly in the state and that no minority welfare schemes have been implemented properly.



    He pointed out that in many constituencies of the state, where Muslims are in majority, have been reserved for SCs/STs. He said that if Mamata Banerjee is really serious about minority welfare, she should work to see that SC/ST dominated seats should be reserved for them, but constituencies with Muslim majority should be made open for them.

    According to Dr Mahmood, increasing representation of Muslims can be a way forward for the development of the community. He pointed out that the Muslim population is about 13.8%, and hence proportionally there should be 77 MPs at least from the community. However, the real number is abysmally low at 27 in the current Parliament.



    Abu Talib Rahmani during the symposium.

    He also pointed out that while the annual budget for SC/STs are decided proportional to their populations, in contrast minority budget is negligible.

    He said that Muslims should tactilely choose to vote and support that party which keeps the minority’s interest as priority.

    Dr Mahmood, who was part of the Sachar Committee, also attacked the UPA II government for not delivering on Sachar Committee Report and Ranganath Misra Commission report, except amendments of the Central Wakf Act.



    He also mentioned about the failure of the central and UP government in controlling the Muzaffarnagar riot.

    Dr Zafor Mahmood also shows in the audience a power point presentation of the Muslim election agenda.

    Convener of the seminar Abu Talib Rahmani, Imam of Baker Hostel Niamat Hossain Habibi, Syed Imtiaz Hossain, Faisal Ali also spoke on the Muslim agenda.


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    By TCN News,

    Bhopal: While the country largely seems to be forgetting the tragedy of December 3, 1984 world’s worst industrial disaster of Bhopal, Harvard students and community organizations launched a 365 - day relay fast on its anniversary in support of survivors.

    A candlelight vigil and protest attended by several dozen people was organized at Harvard Square, Cambridge on Sunday to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the disaster. The goal of the fast is to draw attention to key survivor demands: clean-up of the contaminated site, medical relief and economic rehabilitation of all survivors, and prosecution of Dow Chemical, whose subsidiary Union Carbide's pesticide factory was the site of the 1984 disaster.

    Candlelight Vigil Video:

    About the Bhopal Gas Disaster:

    On the midnight of Dec. 3rd, 1984 in Bhopal, India, 27 tons of methyl isocyanate, a lethal gas, leaked from a pesticide plant owned by the Union Carbide Corporation, killing 8,000 people instantly, poisoning and blinding thousands. 29 years after the disaster, the death toll is above 25,000 and counting, while 150,000 people suffer from chronic, debilitating, exposure-related illnesses. In 1989, UC negotiated a secret deal with the Indian government paying about $400 for each victim. The deal was struck with no consultation with survivor groups and also vastly undercounted the people affected. In 2001 UC was acquired by Dow Chemical which has since refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the actions of its subsidiary.

    Sunday’s candlelight vigil and the relay fast was organized by students from the Harvard Kennedy School in coordination with the Association for India’s Development (AID) and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB).

    ICJB is an international coalition comprising of survivor groups and solidarity organizations committed to clean up, relief, rehabilitation and justice in Bhopal.

    Speaking on the occasion of the anniversary Harvard graduate student Mr. Shashank Shukla said “It is unacceptable that 29 years after the disaster people are still being exposed to dangerous toxins.” Mr. Shukla who has previously worked with the Supreme Court of India said that the coalition of groups is prepared to stand with survivors till justice is done in Bhopal. “The fast is both a means of expressing our collective outrage over what is happening in Bhopal as well as a vehicle to globally amplify the voices of the survivors”, he said.



    Leonid Chindelevitch, an ICJB volunteer said that Dow’s irresponsibility is setting a dangerous precedent for the future behavior of transnational corporations in India by showing that they can escape from being liable for social and environmental harm caused by their actions.

    While the situation on the ground in Bhopal is grim, Nitin Gujaran, an AID volunteer and a software engineer working in the area is hopeful that the 30th anniversary year will energize a global movement for justice in Bhopal as well as increase awareness about other such disasters. “Bhopal teaches us about what happens in a toxic industrial society which prioritizes profits above all else”, he said “It is a reminder that in some ways we all live in Bhopal”.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Politicians were among the first to cast their votes in the Delhi assembly elections Wednesday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit queued up at 10 a.m. to cast their votes at a booth in the high-profile New Delhi assembly constituency.

    Dikshit and Gandhi drove in to the Nirman Bhawan polling booth in a Range Rover.

    Bharatiya Janata Party MP Maneka Gandhi, who was already standing in the queue, was seen smiling at her sister-in-law Sonia Gandhi.

    -*-

    Enthusiastic AAP polling agents!

    Polling agents of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), making their debut in the Delhi assembly elections, were more enthusiastic compared to those from other established parties.

    AAP polling agents were the first to distribute slips and explain the voting process to electors outside the polling centres.

    Seen as a spoiler in the Delhi elections, the AAP is challenging the ruling Congress and main opposition BJP on the corruption plank.

    -*-

    No mobile phones please!

    Some voters who stood in queues at the polling booths went away when they were told they could not carry their mobile phones inside.

    The voters went back home or to their cars, left their phones behind and queued up again to cast their votes.

    Electors also took to the social media to complain about problems faced by them. Many were seen complaining that helpline numbers were not working.

    -*-

    Voters' list in Urdu

    Voters, specially in Muslim dominated areas, were pleasantly surprised when they found their names pasted outside each polling booth in Urdu as well. Usually the lists are only in Hindi and English.

    -*-

    Names not found on voters' lists

    Many voters returned dejected when they failed to find their names on the lists despite having valid voter identity cards. The presiding officers turned them away as the revised voters' lists did not mention their names.

    People complained on Twitter and Facebook and also tried to call helpline numbers which they said were not working.


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    By IANS,

    Ranchi : The Jharkhand unit of the BJP Wednesday is planning to hold a rally by the party's prime minister candidate Narendra Modi Dec 29 at a ground in Ranchi close to the village from which two accused in the Patna blasts hail.

    Two of the men arrested in connection with the blasts in Patna Oct 27, just ahead of a rally addressed by Modi, hail from Sihthiyo village, Ranchi.

    The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, having been denied permission by district authorities to hold a rally at the Morabadi grounds in the state capital, is now planning on a rally in Dhruva, very close to village Sihthiyo.

    The Morabadi grounds, district authorities have said, is booked between Dec 17 and Jan 3.

    "We await the response of the Ranchi administration to our request. If denied the Morabadi grounds, we will be forced to hold the rally at Dhurva, near Sihthiyo village. The Patna blasts ahead of the Modi rally were planned and executed by some youths of Sithityo village. We are concerned about security, and the Jharkhand government does not seem to have learned any lessons from the Patna blasts," Pradeep Sinha, Jharkhand BJP spokesperson, told IANS.

    Jharkhand police chief Rajeev Kumar, however, said there was no cause for worry as adequate security would be provided for the Modi rally.


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    By IANS,

    Dubai : The Indian community in Saudi Arabia has paid tributes to Urdu poet Muhammad Iqbal for his rich contribution to poetry and Islamic awareness in the world.

    A cultural evening "Mahfil-e-Iqbal" was organised by Tanzeem Hum Hindustani, a voluntary, non-profit and non-religious organisation of overseas Indians, the Arab News reported Wednesday.

    Expatriates from India, Pakistan and other countries attended the function.

    Pakistani poet Jawaid Akhtar Jawaid was the chief guest, while Akhtarul Islam Siddiqui, president of the Middle East Non-Resident Indian Association, was the keynote speaker.

    The experts said Iqbal's poetry, including the famous "Sare Jahan se Acchha", inspired people to rise against the tyranny of the British.

    Iqbal was born Nov 9, 1877, and died April 21, 1938. He is known for his literary work in both Urdu and Persian languages.


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    By TCN News,

    Moradabad: Without reservation the progress of Muslims is not possible and unless Muslims are given reservation in jobs and educational institutions the condition of Muslims will not improve, said renowned Dr. Shakeel Samdani, Professor of Law at the Aligarh Muslim University, while speaking on the topic “Reservation of Muslims is necessary in politics, education and governmental and nongovernmental jobs? What is the way out?” at Moradabad Muslim Degree College.

    He said that the Muslims of India can get reservation on the basis of social and educational backwardness as has been given to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes. If the Indian Muslims are given reservation on this basis and their separate quota is fixed in Mandal Commission then their position can change drastically. As far as the reservation for Dailt Muslims and Christians is concerned the matter is sub-judice and we will have to wait for the decision of the Apex Court. Dr. Samdani further said that the intention of Central Government as well as the majority of State Governments is not fair regarding the issue of reservation. Muslims should fight against this injustice and start agitation for reservation and force the political parties to concede their demands.



    .Dr. Shakeel Samdani giving extension lecture.

    Dr. Samdani addressing the youth and the students said that neither they are less capable nor they have less morale, but they need sincere persons who can guide them. If the parents and teachers inculcate the feeling of religious pride, honour and education in the young generation, they can achieve an honourable place in the country. The Muslim boys and girls want to get education but they are unable to get admission in government colleges. In private colleges the fee is so high that they cannot bear the cost of education. So the Muslims of North India must establish standard educational institutions like their brothers in South India. He also advised the parents and teachers to ‘sacrifice’ their comforts and luxuries for their children and students. In the last, Dr. Samdani requested the members of the management to start new courses especially BTC, B.Ed., MBA, technical and computer courses in their college.



    Sitting Anwar Latifi, Jameel Ahmad Khan, Dr. Shakeel Samdani and Mahfooz Ali.

    Anwar Latif, Assistant Manager of the college, while welcoming the guests said that discrimination on communal lines would weaken the country and the political parties must abstain themselves from such politics. In his Presidential Address, Principal of the College, Jameel Ahmad Khan said that it is the endeavour of the college to impart education along with tarbiyat as was the dream of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. He congratulated Dr. Shakeel Samdani for delivering a very informative and motivating lecture in the college. He further said that the students must also read history and posses good knowledge of current affairs.



    The program was conducted by Syed Mohd. Nawaz and the vote of thanks was proposed by Anwar Latifi. Several renowned persons and students participated in the programme.


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    Mahesh Bhatt, in an endeavour to find common ground between India and Pakistan, is all set to produce and present a play, Milne Do.

    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: Mahesh Bhatt, in an endeavour to find common ground between India and Pakistan, is all set to produce and present a play, Milne Do.

    A collaborative effort of theatre actors from India and Paksitan, the play — an intense love story between two culturally crossed individuals during times of abject hatred — is aimed at promoting the core message of 'Aman ki asha'.



    A scene from Bhatt’s earlier play Trial of Errors, where too Imran Zahid played the lead role.

    Actor Imran Zahid will be playing the lead along with an actress from Pakistan, who is yet to be finalized.

    Incidentally, Imran is also playing the lead in the theatre adaptation of Bhatt's Arth.

    Two bands — one each from India and Pakistan — will also perform live when the play tours cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore to begin with. Later, it will also travel to other cities of the two countries. While Pakistani band Laal has been confirmed, its Indian counterpart is yet to be finalized. Sources told us that Indian Ocean has been approached for the slot.

    "This play is still in conceptualization stages. A part of the story will be rehearsed in India and the other in Pakistan. However, we will stage the play together on stage," said Imran Zahid.

    Mahesh Bhatt said, "I have always maintained that a movie or a play can be a greater vehicle of peace than all the lectures we give. Any message, if communicated through storytelling, touches a chord. We are also trying to do the same. This play will be an emotional transaction between industries on both sides."

    This will be Mahesh Bhatt's fourth play after The Last Salute, Trial of Errors and Arth.

    Related:

    Mahesh Bhatt’s play ‘Trial of errors’ to explore ‘witch hunting’ of Muslim youth

    Wanted to raise the issue of hundreds of youths languishing in jail: Mahesh Bhatt


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    By SM Fasiullah,

    IIC-Hyderabad Secretary Tariq Muneer (MBA-IT) talks about the significance of an Islamic information centre during an interview with SM Fasiullah. He says: Social welfare initiatives particularly in a multi-cultural setup help in harmonizing various perspectives for a peaceful co-existence of people. In the Age of DNA there’s plenty of information on the internet which not only quenches thirst for knowledge of Netizens but also creates doubts and confuses them. The Islamic Information Centre (Hyderabad) answers queries on Islam, clears any misunderstanding about the religion, and works toward religious-harmony.

    What’s the point of motivation behind establishing IIC?

    Islamic Information Center (IIC) is a platform for all those who are in search to get clarification on their doubts pertaining to Islam. Unfortunately, Islam is one of the most misunderstood religions across the globe in our times. Media has often projected it as a religion of intolerance, violence and terrorism. In fact, Islam is a universal and an exceptionally peaceful religion.



    Tariq Muneer

    Misunderstandings do develop between people when they communicate. It is required to clear those misunderstandings for a better existence. People have been looking for someone to answer their queries about Islam. When they search on Internet they may not find specific answer or end up more confused.

    Through this Information Center, we are trying to remove those misconceptions, answer queries and bring forth the true facet of Islam before people. Islam teaches universal brotherhood, equality, tolerance and attainment of peace through submission to God.

    How the centre operates and whom it caters to?

    It is a one stop solution for all Islam related queries. The team here at IIC comprised of dedicated and qualified graduates and post-graduates having expertise in various domains including Comparative Religion.

    We are running a 14/6 (9AM-11PM) available call center answering queries in Hindi, Telugu and English languages. This is an all-India level call center with a toll free number 1800-2000-787. We also have a strong presence on Internet through our website and social networking sites.

    IIC caters to various segments of the society like media, academicians, corporate, research scholars, film industry and speakers/writers on Islam as an authentic source of information about Islam. Of late, we are organizing various indoor/outdoor events like inter-faith discussions, symposiums, visits to different religious centers like Ramakrishna Math (Hyderabad), Buddhist Temple, Gurudwara, Church, etc.

    In what way the centre is going to be beneficial for a pluralistic society?

    For a pluralistic society like India where many cultures and religions exist, there’s always a possibility of misunderstanding to develop. With its various activities IIC is trying to create an atmosphere of religious understanding, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence. We believe that better understating of religious values will reduce communal differences.

    What are common questions that urbanites pose about Islam?

    Some of the frequently asked questions about Islam are related to Islam and Terrorism, significance of Hijab/Purdah in Islam, and the concept of God in Islam. Unlike some mainstream religions like Hinduism and Christianity where there is polytheism and trinity respectively, Islam teaches monotheism. People also ask questions specific to festivals of Islam including Fasting (Ramadan) and Sacrifice (Bakrid).

    How’s the initial response to your work?

    The response is good, we receive around 500-600 calls every month. Since the beginning of operations (in past 7 months), we have successfully reached about 5 Lakh individuals through social networks. We receive calls not only from Hyderabad but also from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Noida, Delhi, Bangalore, etc. InshaAllah we are looking forward to calls from across the country.

    Any plans to take the concept to other cities within Andhra Pradesh?

    IIC is the initiative of city chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH). As JIH has a vast network of cadre throughout India, it is possible that more information centers may be established in different cities across India.


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    By Ram Puniyani,

    Those gripped by religious nationalism are unable to understand the regional-ethnic aspirations of the people. Many an ultra-nationalists of different hues also fall into this trap many a times. With formation of Indian nation the integration of regions like Himachal Pradesh, North Eastern States and Jammu& Kashmir created some challenging situations. Though in all these cases the challenges were met in different ways and are even now continuing to pose some issues of serious national concerns, but those related to Kashmir require some more pressing attention. Located in a strategic geographic area of great significance, the global powers have also added their own weight behind complicating the matters in Kashmir. Kashmir remains one of the most contentious issues between the two neighbors, Pakistan and India. In addition the communal forces in India have been making it a bone of contention all through.

    It is in this backdrop that when the BJP’s Prime ministerial aspirant, Narendra Modi gave a call for debating the article 370, a whole hell broke loose. His intention in saying ‘who it has benefited’ was to indicate that it is unnecessary and should be abolished. To buttress his point, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitly reiterated that abolition of article 370 is an integral part of agenda of Hindutva-RSS, BJP’s parent organization. Jaitly also went to uphold the stance taken by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of Bhartiya Jansangh, the predecessor of present BJP, that of complete and immediate integration of Kashmir into India. Jaitly also distorted the contemporary history and events by saying that ‘Nehruvian vision of a separate status has given rise to the aspirations for pre 1953 status, self rule and even Azadi. Many a TV debate participant on the issue have shown their ignorance about the status and content of Article 370 as such.

    It is true that in Kashmir today there are many tendencies, which vary from asking for total independence, Azadi to Autonomy. There will hardly be any popular support for debating or abolishing article 370 as such at broad layers. Difficult to say how many fall in which category, but a large number are for more autonomy, with article 370 in place.

    There is a complex history to the issue. As is well known Kashmir was one of the princely states without direct rule of the British. Dogra dynasty's King Hari Singh, who ruled Kashmir, refused to join the constituent assembly under the Cabinet mission plan. Eighty per cent population of J&K was Muslim. With India’s independence the Maharaja had two options, one to remain independent, two either to merge with India or with Pakistan. Maharaja was tending to remain independent. The Hindu leaders of Jammu supported Maharaja in this separatist plan. ‘J &K Rajya Hindu Sabha’ including the ones’ who later on joined Bharatiya Jana Sangh, vociferously argued that “a Hindu state, as Jammu and Kashmir claimed to be, should not merge its identity with secular India" (Kashmir, Balraj Puri, Orient Longman 1993, 5). The attack of Kabaili-Tribal, supported Pakistan military changed the whole scenario.

    After this attack the Maharaja due to his inability to protect the Kashmir requested the Indian Government to bail him out of this problem. Indian Govt. wanted the state to accede to India before it could send the armed forces to ward off the Pakistan's aggression. The accession treaty was signed with the provision of article 370. It was not a merger. India was to look after defense, currency, foreign affairs and communication while Kashmir was to have its own constitution, flag, Sadar-I-Riyasat and Prime Minister. Justifying this action Pt. Nehru in a broadcast to the Nation on Nov.2, 1947 said, “…Both the Kashmir Govt. and the National Conference pressed us to accept this accession and to send troops by air, but made condition that the accession would have to be considered by the people of Kashmir later when the peace and order were established…"(Nehru, CW, XVIII, 421). India approached the UN with a request to get the aggression vacated and to supervise in the process of plebiscite. Multiple factors operated here in due course of time and the holding of plebiscite got postponed sine die.

    With this another process began at home. Jana Sangh Chief Shyama Prasad Mookerjee's insistence, supported openly by the Jana Sangh and covertly by some bigwigs in Congress as well, asked for the total merger of Kashmir with India. At this point Nehru was under the external pressure of Jana Sangh and internal pressure from some of his colleagues in the cabinet to totally integrate Kashmir with India. Nehru pointed out "We have to be men of vision and there has to be a broad minded acceptance of facts in order to integrate (Kashmir, added) really. And real integration comes from mind and the heart and not of some clause, which you may impose, on other people. "

    Since then lots of water has flown down the Jhelum. The pressure of communal forces, the doubts raised in the minds of Sheikh Abdulla due to murder of Gandhi and rise of communal politics, led him to think whether he has done a right thing in deciding to accede to India. He wanted to be part of a secular polity, but communal teeth of the country started becoming more visible. His doubts and their articulation led to his arrest for 17 long years. And this is where the process of alienation of Kashmiri people began. This alienation was duly aided by Pakistan, in supplying arms to disgruntled youth. The matter got worst compounded with the entry of Al Qaeda elements in Kashmir in the decade of 1980s. These elements, whose US sponsored mission of defeating Russian army in Afghanistan was over and they were looking around for other areas for implementation of their mistaken notions of Jihad. They joined in and the earlier struggle in Kashmir, on the grounds of Kashmiriyat, was communalized by them. An atmosphere was created which made the Kashmir struggle as the distorted version of Jihad, undermining its Kashmiriyat. This is what led to targeting of Kashmiri Pundits. This gave a big handle to the communal elements in India to propagate the separatism of Muslims.

    The things started improving in the first decade of this century. Still the accumulated agony of Kashmiri youth started manifesting in ‘Stone thrower youth’ emerged along with a total disenchantment with the state of affairs prevailing in Kashmir. In the light of this the Central Government appointed a team of interlocutors. The recommendations of the group of interlocutors, Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M.Ansari (May 2012) in nut shell asked for rejection of the return to pre 1953 position, at the same time asking for measures for restore the autonomy of Kashmir. The team suggests that the parliament will not make any law for Kashmir unless it relates to the security, internal and external of the state. Significantly it gives the status of ‘special’ instead of ‘temporary’ to the article 370, which is the bone of contention for the ultra nationalists like the BJP. Very correctly the team says that the proportion of officers in the state should gradually be changed to increase the weight-age of the local officers. It also talks of creating regional councils with financial powers, and measures to promote cooperation across Line of Control (LoC) while talking of resuming dialogue with Huriyat and Pakistan both. The Government has been non committal about it so far. While the BJP has rejected them on the ground that it is a dilution of the accession of Kashmir to India. The separatists find it insufficient saying that there is no political settlement of the issue.

    While calling for debate around article 370, one needs to understand as what the Kashmiris want, a mere assertion from ultra nationalist tendencies will harm the process of healing of wounds and the march towards a better democratic process in the state. As Nehru pointed out, what is more important is to win the hearts and mind of people, the laws can follow. Integrating the people by considering their aspirations is what is the need of the hour, such outbursts are counterproductive for the people at large.

    --
    Response only to ram.puniyani@gmail.com


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi tweeted Thursday that he opposed the Communal Violence Bill and has written to the prime minister, urging him to seek wider consultation on the bill.

    "Communal Violence Bill is ill-conceived, poorly drafted and a recipe for disaster! My letter to PM opposing this bill," Modi wrote in his tweet.

    "Have urged the prime minister to seek wider consultation with the states and various stakeholders of the bill before proceeding any further on a bill like this," he said.

    "Political considerations and vote bank politics rather than genuine concerns are guiding the bill. The timing of the bill is also suspicious," added Modi.

    He also tweeted that the bill was a violation of the federal structure.

    "The bill is in clear violation of India's federal structure. Centre is busy forming laws on matters that are in the state list. If a legislation has to be implemented by the states, should it not be legislated by the states," said the Gujarat chief minister.

    "If implemented, the Communal Violence Bill would fragment society and increase violence. It will have results opposite of the stated objective," he said.

    The communal violence bill is likely to be taken up in the winter session of the parliament that begins Thursday.


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    By TCN News,

    Kozhikode: Research papers are invited for an academic seminar organized on the topic of “Versifying Sacred Love: Changing Trends in Panegyric Literature” organized by Samastha Kerala Sunni Student Federation (SKSSF) on January 20th, 2014 at University of Calicut.

    Theme:
    Spiritual Attraction towards sacred Personalities has been a key inspiration for producing countless qualified literary works in all languages through ages. Literature extolling Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has contributed to this genre called Panegyric in a big way. From highly celebrated poetical renderings in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Pushtu and other languages which are termed as culturally more Islamic to a number of literary expressions of prophetic love in most of international and regional languages, the panegyric literature on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would really amazing in its diversity in terms of styles, meanings, approaches, etc. Looking from the context of Malabar, the proposed seminar intends to add new dimensions in to an academic approach towards surveying, assessing, evaluating the changing trends in the panegyric literature in Arabic, English and Malayalam languages.

    Sub themes:
    Works on prophet (PBUH) in Malayalam literature
    Prophet (PBUH) in Indian English literature
    Panegyric literature in Indian Arab writings

    Submission of Papers
    Research papers on the selected sub themes are invited. The abstract should reach the Coordinator on or before 15 December 2013. The same can also be submitted through e- mail- skssfseminar@gmail.com. Full paper should be submitted on or before 10 January 2014.

    Dr. KT Jabir Hudawi,
    Secretary Academics, SKSSF state Committee
    Email - skssfseminar@gmail.com
    Mob: 9847513317, 9747318091


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    By Vinay Bhat, TwoCircles.net

    Linda Anouche a New York based anthropologist talks to Vinay Bhat about her upcoming documentary film Dreadlock Story which charts out the common cultural traits between Rastafaris in Jamaica and Hindus in India.

    Q. Tell us something about yourself
    Linda: I was born in France and have since the past few years ended up in New York. I am an Anthropologist, and I have always been interested working among communities whose cultural history has been misunderstood. Documentaries are a great way of exhibiting cultural aspects. They perfectly complement anthropology. I have enjoyed the process of making this documentary Dreadlock Story, even though documentary making takes a lot of research and effort, and especially patience and tact when it comes to rebellious and religious people.



    Q. What was your inspiration behind Dreadlock Story?
    Linda: I have lived in the past with the Jains in India and keep working on Indian religions. I have also stayed in Jamaica and therefore got deeply acquainted with Jamaican culture. I always knew the connection between Rastafari and Hinduism because it seemed so obvious when we quickly examine both of them. There is also a historical aspect of connection between the Africans and Indians in the Caribbean. Indians and Africans met in the plantations. From this meeting, a unique culture emerged to express the mode of resistance against British oppression. Dreadlocks were one of the features of this new culture. I wanted to use the dreadlocks, the matted hair, as a tool to talk about this historical artifact. I wanted to open the window of this historical page through the medium of hair. Also because I am a woman I am taking greater pleasure in depicting this Rasta culture in giving a voice to women who embrace it. There are a lot of sexist aspects within this as well. Historically though without the African and Indian women Rasta culture would maybe not have existed.

    DREADLOCKS STORY - Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign from Linda Aïnouche on Vimeo.

    Q. Tell me a little bit more about the history of Indians in the Caribbean.
    The British moved Indians from all over the subcontinent without any discrimination of religions into these plantations. About in Jamaica, the census reported Hindus, Muslims, Christians, one Jain, and no Sikh, which does not mean that none was there either. In Kingston, the late Professor Ajai Mansingh is the first one who studied the connection between the Rastas and Indian culture and wrote a book called ‘Home Away From Home: 150 years of Indian presence in Jamaica’ with his wife Laxmi Mansingh. She still lives in Kingston along with their son. I have done two very relevant interviews with both of them for the film. I find in my travels that many around the world know about the dreadlocks but are unaware of the connection between Rastas and Hindus. I find even the Jamaicans are not really unaware of their historical past. They are more akin to thinking of the connection with Africa but either through ignorance or their unwillingness to accept they do not associate themselves with Indian culture. This is normal in my mind. It is if I may say a human self-defense mechanism. Each of us takes all the credit for what we are convinced. At the same time, they speak about beliefs regarding Africa and notably Ethiopia while I speak about way of life turning to India. In certain ways, we do not even talk about the same thing!



    Q. Were there any things that did not turn the way you wished in the documentary?
    I spoke to everyone I wanted including Sadhus in India and Rastas in Jamaica, which was a very difficult job. I am pretty satisfied with the way things have turned out. So far, I have done my best to realize a feat with a very little budget. I have been working in 4 countries (India, Jamaica, France, USA) in 4 languages (Hindi, Jamaican Patois, French, English) with 4 local crews. Needless to say that my flexibility has been tested and sharpened.

    Q. Did you observe the practice of caste among the Hindus in the area?
    Linda: Most of the Indians in the Caribbean who have lived for generations have been forced to convert to Christianity. Also most of them who were brought to the Caribbean belonged to the same laboring classes. Due to this I have not observed the practice of caste at all.



    Q. When does the film release and what is your hope from the film?
    Linda: I am hoping it will release by the end of winter. There are many things that can come out from this film and it opens up other possibilities for me. But I am hopeful that it reaches as many people as possible and can educate them about the connections between Jamaican and Indian culture. I have been already invited by many universities and countries like India, Jamaica and even Italy. So I am hoping for the best.

    Q. Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers?
    Linda: In the coming days we will be launching a crowd funding campaign online to fund the post-production? For those who want to get involved they can take a look at Indiegogo – Dreadlocks Story (http://igg.me/p/590354/x/5402885)

    Also interested people can follow the film on www.dreadlockstory.com

    Linda Anouche can be contacted for questions at : dreadlockstory@gmail.com


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    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: Human Welfare Foundation - Vision-2016 has started a two day long review meet today at the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind headquarters in New Delhi. The meeting began with the inaugural address of CEO Rafik Ahmad in presence of Acting General Secretory HWF , KK Mammuni Moulvi .

    Vice Pressident of JIH Mohammad Jaffar, Ameer-e Halqa JIH Kerala T Arif Ali ,National Co ordinator Salimullah Khan and all other regional coordinators of Vision- 2016 programme are participating in this review meet and they will presente of their activity reports till now. Meeting was presided over by Vice Pressident of JIH Mohammad Jaffar.



    This workshop is reviewing the project development and introspection of projects current situation.

    Account Officer, P K Nofel and Administrative Officer, Mohd. Arif, Assitant Rizwan Rrafiqee , Zahoor Ahmadand all other regional coordinators and staffs of Vision-2016 are participating in the workshop.

    HWF is an umbrella body with several distinguished and experienced community leaders on its board of trustees, and more than 50 NGOs as its affiliates spread over 16 states, implementing more than 125 projects. Since 2006, HWF is carrying out its operations on path of their ten year plan called Vision 2016. HWF has concentration on four basic principles, which according to them, resonates a prosperous community. HWF carry’s out operations in the field of education, healthcare, livelihood, and protection of civil rights.


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    By TCN News,

    Aligarh: The Centre for Distance Education, Aligarh Muslim University organized a two-day an International Seminar on “Public Policies and Empowerment of Marginalized Section of the Society”, which was sponsored by ICSSR, New Delhi.

    The Inaugural session was presided over by Prof. A.R. Kidwai, Director, UGC Academic Staff College of AMU. Mr. Mohd. Adeeb, MP (Rajya Sabha) was the chief guest and the keynote address was delivered by Prof. Inon Beydha Likman from Indonesia.



    L-R: Dr. Nafees Ansari, Prof. AR Kidwai, Mr. Mohd. Adeeb, MP, Prof. Inon Beydha Lukman, Dr. Shamim and Dr. Ghufran at the International Seminar at Distance Education, AMU.

    Prof. Inon Beydha Lukman in her Keynote address highlighted the uses of and expectations from Information and Communication Technology. She also underlined the importance of ITC in making and implementing programmes for marginalized section. She elaborated on the digital divide that is widening among various sections in the world. She urged the policy makers to make focused study and suggest remedies to bridge the divide.

    In his presidential address, Prof. A. R. Kidwai exhorted the marginalized section, especially minorities to work hard with the spirit of sacrifice to bring about positive changes in their life. He cited an example of migrants of Makkah to Median who were freed from the clutches of misery and worked hard with sacrifice and devotion to rule over the world.

    Chief Guest, Mr. Mohd. Adeeb appreciated efforts of Director, CDE, Dr. Mohd. Nafess Ahmad Ansari for organizing seminars and workshops on relevant topics on regular intervals. The deliberations, he pointed out, would help policy makers to formulate plans and programmes keeping in view the specific needs of deprived segment of society.

    Earlier, Dr. Mohd. Nafees Ahmad Ansari accorded a warm welcome to the invited guests and delegates. He presented a brief description of the successes and achievements during last two years.

    Mr. Ghufran Ahmad, Coordinator of the Programme conducted the proceedings. He said that the state of unrest, violence, revolt and intolerance stemmed from inequality and injustice. He urged to make policies keeping in view the welfare of downtrodden and deprived segment of society. He warned that there would be no peace in society if we failed to address the grievances of all sections of society.

    The Convener of the Seminar, Dr. Mohd. Shamim proposed a vote of thanks.


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    By Ras H Siddiqui,

    Sacramento Valley, USA: The Sacramento Valley Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) held its 11th Annual Banquet and fundraiser at the McClellan Convention Center on Saturday, November 23rd drawing close to 1000 people.

    This year’s theme of “Faith in Freedom” resonated well within all age groups and faiths present as the lineup of speakers was impressive and the message conveyed stressed American inclusion while practicing our faith. Although we have to admit that listening to Mark Gonzales, Glenn Greenwald, Wajahat Ali and Mehdi Hasan all in the same evening can be a bit challenging from the idea absorption point of view, one has come to expect such an information overload from the largest annual event of its kind in Sacramento.



    Keynote Speaker Mehdi Hasan.

    The evening started with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Shaykh Refaat followed by its English translation by Mohamed Ali. CAIR Sacramento Valley President Wazhma Mojaddidi next welcomed everyone and highlighted the important work that CAIR has been doing to protect the civil liberties of all Americans while concentrating on the challenges faced by Muslims in particular. “CAIR will stand up,” she said and asked everyone to show their support by standing up. She said that if your teenage daughter is bullied at school, if a sister is told to take off her scarf to keep her job, when your relative is placed on a “No Fly List” for having a Muslim name similar to someone else, when an Imam at a local Mosque is questioned, when any minority community is hit with a hate crime, “CAIR will stand up.” She added that the stronger the attack, the taller CAIR will stand, to protect our rights.

    While dinner was about to be served California Assemblyman Ken Cooley offered his words of encouragement (great tie Ken, it was certainly a Red, White and Blue evening). Ken focused on the word “indivisible” in our American Pledge of Allegiance, a very profound thought for the evening since CAIR itself continues to pursue “Liberty and Justice for All”.

    A video of Mehdi Hasan’s speech at the Oxford Union was played as dinner continued and CAIR’s Fawzia Keval and Executive Director Basim Elkarra came to the stage to continue the program, announcing the names of the elected officials present plus the sponsors who made this event possible. Dignitaries on stage included Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada who conducted that segment and offered her support. Unfortunately it is not possible to name all of them or even the entire CAIR-Sacramento Valley team here, but we know who you are.



    Mehdi Hasan & Wajahat Ali in conversation.

    The Awards ceremony was next, presented by Wazhma Mojaddidi and Basim Elkarra and introduced by our first elected Muslim UC Regent Sadia Saifuddin, Phil Pasquini from the WRMEA and Gulshan Yousafzai from the MAS Social Services Foundation respectively. The recipient of this year’s CAIR Outstanding Youth Service Award was Ossama Kamel, the Fairness and Integrity Award went to journalist Ras Siddiqui and the Distinguished Service Award to the Ar-Razzaq Food Bank (Durriya Syed and Suzana Malik were there to accept).

    On stage next was activist, playwright and now Aljazeera TV personality Wajahat Ali who is no stranger to us here in northern California. His award winning play The Domestic Crusaders started him off and he has not stopped since. This writer has been reading his articles for years (his website is named with a goat in mind) and can vouch for the fact that he is possibly the most entertaining writer which our community has produced thus far. Wajahat is currently co-host of Al Jazeera America’s daily talk show, THE STREAM. He was honored last year as one of three Generation Change Leaders by then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Another fact about Wajahat is that in spite of being a serious long-time Muslim community activist, he has retained his sense of humor.

    Wajahat invited social entrepreneur, impact speaker, poet and Chicano Muslim Mark Gonzales to speak next. Mark stressed the need to wage beauty in times of terror. “We are a beautiful community with a wealth of culture,” he said. He added that there is beauty in our (Muslim) lives and traditions as he quoted from the Persian poet Hafiz, beautifully combining art, literature, history and the common quest for freedom which we all share.



    Elected Officials at CAIR Event.

    Next, a very interesting video address by political commentator, lawyer and columnist Glenn Greenwald cautioned everyone that the loss of civil liberties of American Muslims will also impact the rights of other Americans. He commended CAIR for defending our constitution and for upholding the rights of all communities in the process.

    Keynote speaker Mehdi Hasan from the UK was next introduced by Wajahat Ali as “The savior of Islam on YouTube”. If any of the readers here are not familiar with Mehdi Hasan’s work they could benefit from watching (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy9tNyp03M0) in which he argues that Islam is indeed a peaceful Religion at the Oxford Union. This clip already has over one million views and is highly recommended.

    Mehdi is currently a Political Director at the Huffington Post UK. He has recently been included in a list of 100 “most influential” Britons on Twitter and has won the “Media Personality of the Year” award at the 2013 Asian Media Awards. He also presents the “Head To Head” and “The Café” programs on Al Jazeera English. And in Sacramento for the first time as a keynote speaker (Thank you CAIR for bringing him here first), Hasan delivered an incredibly powerful speech on Islam’s relationship with the west.



    CAIR Officials and invited Guests.

    Focusing on the United States where he said that Muslims did not have to deal with the old colonial mindsets like many other countries, he shared the fact that it was Thomas Jefferson who held the first official Iftar dinner in this country (at the White House) and that the overlap present between Islamic principles and the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights could not be ignored. He said that US Muslims were the most integrated and modern members of the religion and that being citizens in a democracy certainly helps. Due to space constraints here one cannot go into the details of his amazing keynote but the core message to Muslims was that you belong here and need to become positive contributors to where you live in spite of difficulties you have faced.

    Since no organization, especially one as active as CAIR can function without resources, a fundraising segment conducted by Basim Elkarra followed. Here Basim was aided by Zahra Billoo from the CAIR- San Francisco Bay Area Chapter and Mehdi Hasan also pitched in. A conversation between Wajahat Ali and Mehdi Hasan followed as concluding remarks and a Dua (prayer) by Imam M.A. Azeez ended the event.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday denied relief to a Jamia Millia Islamia student against his expulsion for three years for misbehaving with a girl student.

    A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan dismissed the plea of Mohammad Monish, a first year under-graduate student, against a single judge bench's order asking the university to expel him for three years.

    "It is a serious issue. Considering his attitude towards the girl and also that he threatened to kill her, allowing him in the campus would be dangerous," the bench said while dismissing his plea.

    The single judge Oct 28 had modified the university's August order expelling him for an indefinite period, asking the university to expel him for three years.

    The university's disciplinary committee had in July 2013 recommended his expulsion on receipt of a complaint that he was harassing a girl student.

    The committee in its report said that he had been harassing the girl since long and using abusive and unparliamentary language. He also threatened to kill her if she refused his proposal, the report added.

    However, Monish claimed that he and the girl knew each other as they were in the same class and denied all the allegations of harassing her and threatening to kill her.


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    By Zaidul Haque, TwoCircles.net,

    Kolkata: The West Bengal unit of Welfare Party of India held a rally in Kolkata on December 2 to demand CBI enquiry of the death of social activist Aktar Hossain, who was leading a campaign against alcohol factory at Samsherganj of Murshidabad district.

    Speaking on the occasion State President of WPI Dr Raisuddin said that Akhtar was working at grass root for making people aware about ill effects of alcohol and hence vested interests got him eliminated.



    He said that liquor is prohibited in Islam as it leads to several evil deeds and we should refrain from it.

    A charter of demands was later read at the convention



    Mohammad Jalaluddin, Women wing of WPI Shajadi Parvin, Editor of the Bengali Weekly Dr Masiur Rahman also spoke on the occasion.

    (Photos: Sandip Saha)


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    By Hasnain Arij,

    Patna: When she grew up she started dreaming to become a doctor or engineer as her father wanted her to be. But no one knew a visit to Dargah when she was just a teenager would one day make her a Sufi singer.

    Alka Kamlapuri, now a famous teacher of sufi song, wanted to go on the path of Nusrat Fateh Ali just after listening only a few songs as...Allah hoo Allah hoo and Damadam mast qalandar.



    “We are purifying our soul our mind when we sink into a sufi song. It’s only the way to recharge our mind,” says 34-yr old Alka Kamlapuri. “In our day to day life we are hearing many songs but once we listen to a sufi song it feels breathing of our heart,” says she who has got many awards for her excellent performance like Bihar Sangeet Samaj, Patna, Jagriti Kala Manch, Patna and Jagriti Kala Manch, Patna, Sangam Kala Group, Delhi. But still her journey is going on.

    Her father Mr. Moti Laal Kamlapuri residing in Danapur area of Patna says when she watches Ganga from the terrace of our house she used to sing sufi songs. In here early stage her father was fed up. He thought that once she becomes a singer what will be her future in our society and culture. But now she is a married woman and living happily with her husband, Mr. Narayan, an officer in a national bank. She has two children and all are reading classical music.

    Poetry collections of Khayyaam, Mirza Ghalib, Daag Dehlvi all are available in Alka’s bookshelf. Now she is learning Urdu.

    However, she complains she has not got good environment for her here in Bihar.

    “We are not getting a perfect platform for our mission here in Bihar. Even after getting so many awards neither government nor private sector coming us to appreciate our work. We need funds, campus and a sound environment to enhance our feeling of sufi song,” says Alka shaking her hand with an Urdu magazine Baabe Khawaateen.

    Today she goes to Dargaah just for blessings and to listen to ragaas. At 34, Alka collects flowers from her garden every morning, lights agarbatti and then she sings Allah hoo Allah hoo...and late night she sings Chap tilak sab chhor di tu se nainaa milaaike...


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    By CM Paul, TwoCircles.net,

    The “Heart of a Murderer” is a documentary film scripted, shot, directed and co-produced by Catherine McGilvray. The film shot with real characters on actual locations in Madhya Pradesh and Kerala took four years to make. The film was an attention grabber at the recently held Jakarta International film festival. Eighteen years after Samunder Singh stabbed and murdered a Catholic nun, Sr. Rani Maria, the former prisoner who served 12-year jail term has been invited to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican.

    Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for Family, invited 40-year old Singh after the pope Francis expressed his desire to meet him. A Catholic priest who helped Singh while in jail to experience forgiveness, and a nun, the younger sister of the slain Rani Maria declared a Servant of God, the first major step toward canonization, in 2007, will accompany Singh.



    Samundar Singh

    The docufilm tells the story of a Hindu fanatic who kills a Christian missionary in Jabua district of Madhya Pradesh some 18 years ago. Her family forgives him, obtains his release from jail, accepts him as a son and brother with a sacred Hindu ceremony. What happens in the heart of a human being who has received unconditional forgiveness?

    A man on a train is looking out of the window. His name is Samundar Singh. The train is travelling across India, heading South, to Kerala. Samundar was once a convict. He had committed an awful crime. Through his voice and recollections, his story slowly unfolds.

    Central India, prison of Indore, year 2002. Samundar is serving a life sentence for having stabbed to death a young Franciscan missionary, sister Rani Maria. An elderly man, white-haired, barefooted and dressed as a sadhu, warmly embraces Samundar saying: “God has forgiven you”. This man, in spite of appearances, is Father Michael, a Christian Sannyasi, called Swami Sadanand by all.

    On the train, Samundar remembers how he was caught in the trap of religious fundamentalism, and how, abandoned by all his family and friends after the murder, he was forgiven and helped only by the family of his victim. He also remembers the day when, still in jail, he celebrated the rakshabandan, a Hindu rite in which a woman ties a bracelet (rakhi) around the wrist of a man, symbolizing the bond of sacred brotherhood. The woman who tied the bracelet was Selmy, Rani Maria’s sister. Selmy, a Christian nun, and Samundar, a Hindu, are now brother and sister.

    Rani Maria’s family had forgiven Samundar immediately. After the rakhi, with Swami’s help, they asked and obtained a pardon for Samundar. Samundar was released from jail after 12 years in 2006.

    Samundar is now a free man and lives in his native village. However, his wife had abandoned him while he was in prison and many in the community there barely tolerate him: some because he is a murderer, others because he now associates with the Christians. But Samundar is not afraid of them, nor does he take offence at their provocations.

    He visits his sister Selmy at the convent before starting his journey by train to Kerala, where he will meet Rani’s mother and brothers. The only thing that matters for him now is the love of his new family. The mother’s embrace will be for him the start of a new life. END

    (Fr. C.M. Paul, SDB is HoD, Mass Communication at Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati and can be contacted atcmpaul53@gmail.com )


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