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    By IANS,

    Jammu : The R.C. Gandhi commission probing the Aug 9, 2013 communal violence in Kishtwar town of Jammu region has given a clean chit to the then minister of state for home Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo.

    Kichloo, a legislator from Kishtwar assembly constituency in the 87-member legislative assembly, had resigned from the state cabinet following the administration's failure to control the communal violence in Kishtwar Aug 9 in which three people were killed and over 150 shops and houses gutted by rioters.

    In its interim report submitted to the state government here Friday evening, the R.C. Gandhi commission has held that Kichloo had been a victim rather than an accused of the communal flare-up in Kishtwar.

    The commission has held the district administration, including the deputy inspector general of police (DIG), superintendent of police and others in the civil administration responsible for their failure to act promptly to stop the violence.

    Kichloo had resigned in August this year and said he did not want to interfere with the functioning of the commission that would ultimately prove his innocence in the incident.

    Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has decided to re-induct Kichloo into the state cabinet following the clean chit given to him by the commission, according to sources in the government.

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    By Indranil Banerjie, IANS,

    The recent hanging of Bangladeshi war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah has galvanised a powerful pan South Asian Islamist network stretching from Dhaka to Peshawar.

    Quader Mollah, known in Bangladesh as "Mirpurer Koshai" or the "Butcher of Mirpur", was formally indicted on five counts of murder involving the killing of 344 civilians in 1971 and was sentenced to death by a specially constituted war crimes tribunal. His execution was carried out in Dhaka Jail on the night of Dec 12 after his appeal to the country's Supreme Court was rejected.

    While his execution sparked spontaneous celebrations by thousands of Bangladeshis who came out on the streets waving the national flag and cheering the execution, Quader Mollah's supporters belonging to the hard-line Islamist organisation, the Jamaat-e-Islami, launched a series of street attacks across the country killing at least 30 innocent civilians in a span of just three days.

    The Jamaat, in a message on its website, warned that the ruling "Awami League will have to pay for each drop of Abdul Qader Mollah's blood". But more than Awami League supporters, it was ordinary Bangladeshis who have been butchered by Jamaat supporters since Mollah's hanging.

    The Islamist protests against the execution were not confined to Bangladesh but erupted in Pakistan and Kashmir as well where the Jamaat-e-Islami and its allies are equally well entrenched. The Jamaat-e-Islami was founded by the late Islamic ideologue Maulana Abul Ala Maududi in Lahore in 1941.

    The execution of Mollah in Dhaka was seen as a direct attack on the Jamaat and its allies throughout South Asia.

    In Srinagar, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, led by former Kashmiri Jamaat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, offered funeral prayers for Mollah and issued a statement strongly condemning the execution, calling it "a heinous murder... politically motivated and against all norms".

    "There is no denying that Jamaat-e-Islami activists in Bangladesh are being subjected to political vengeance for their love for Pakistan and Islam and India is playing a detrimental role in it," Geelani later added.

    The Jamaat refrain across the subcontinent was the same: according to their leaders Quader Mollah was innocent but had been hanged by the Awami League government for political reasons.

    Asiya Andrabi, head of the Kashmiri women's militant organisation, Dukhteran-e-Millat, said Quader Mollah had been hanged for trying to "uphold the cause of Islam and Pakistan". She argued that the fall of Dhaka Dec 16, 1971, was the result of a conspiracy hatched by India. Addressing a function in Srinagar, Andrabi said that Dec 16 (Bangladesh's Independence Day) is "the blackest day for whole Ummah".

    The loudest protests emerged from Pakistan where the National Assembly passed a resolution introduced by the Jamaat-e-Islami condemning the hanging. Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan described the execution as a "judicial murder".

    In Peshawar, Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, issued a statement claiming that Mollah was innocent and that the charges levelled against him were false.

    Pakistan's The Nation newspaper reported that the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), angered by the execution of Mollah, has threatened to attack the Bangladesh high commission in Islamabad.

    The Pakistani response evoked violent protests in Bangladesh and the return of the supporters of the war crimes tribunals on to the streets of Dhaka. At the forefront of the protests is the Ganajagoran Mancha, which has been demanding the death sentence for all 1971 war criminals.

    "These people were killers and slaughtered thousands of our countrymen in 1971," explained activist Paula Aziz.

    "We are not a bloodthirsty lot but we want them to be given the ultimate punishment under Bangladesh law, which is hanging," she added.

    The street protestors in Dhaka burnt Imran Khan's effigy and demanded that Dhaka suspend diplomatic ties with Islamabad until it apologised for its stance on the execution of Mollah. Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed joined the protests by condemning Pakistan for meddling in her country's internal affairs.

    The Ganajagoran Macnha, the Awami League and a host of other patriotic Bangladeshi organisations are vehemently opposed to the Jamaat-e-Islami, which had actively worked against the creation of Bangladesh and supported the Pakistan Army in its brutal crackdown against pro-Independence activists and sympathisers during the 1971 liberation struggle.

    Abdul Quader Mollah was a key activist of the Jamaat and chief of a secret death squad, who had slaughtered more than 300 of his countrymen during 1971.

    The anti-Jamaat chorus in Bangladesh did little to cow down the party and activists of its students' wing, the Chhattra Shibir, continued their rampage across the country killing scores of people and vandalising property worth millions of takas.

    The formidable spread of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh and beyond, despite a relatively small popular support base, is attributed to its enormous financial clout and global Islamist linkages.

    Professor Abul Barkat of Dhaka University in a research paper, 'Economic power base of Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh', has pointed out that the Jamaat is pursuing its "aim of capturing state power by using religion as a pretext through a well-organised economic power-based political process".

    Today, an estimated 125 secret terrorist units, 231 NGOs, trusts and societies as well as a number of major corporate entities support the Jamaat in Bangladesh. The organisation receives substantial donation from abroad and from domestic sources. The Jamaat controls banks, IT companies, hospitals, newspapers, coaching centres, transport companies and other key enterprises. As a result, despite a small popular base and the presence of strong secular elements in the Bangladesh polity, the Jamaat is able to exert disproportionate influence in the country's politics and sustain a large mass of street fighters.

    Barkat's account of the Islamist economic machinery in Bangladesh is worrying. "The estimated amount of annual net profit generated by these enterprises would be US $ 280 million," he writes.

    "At least 10 percent of their net profits are being used to finance the Islamist political organisation, which is sufficient to fund the salary of 500,000 full-timers in Islamic fundamentalist politics," states Barkat.

    Frances Harrison, a former BBC journalist in her study titled "Political Islam & the Elections in Bangladesh", has pointed out that "the Islamic forces at play in Bangladeshi politics have a strength that goes beyond mere electoral achievement... Some Islamic NGOs and madrasa have received funds from the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait".

    "The influence of the Afghan war was clearly seen as Bangladeshi fighters returned home from jihad in the late Eighties and some went on to form militant groups. Today the spread of internet and mobile phone technology in Bangladesh is playing a greater role in connecting some individuals to radical Islamic ideology abroad," states Harrison.

    The Jamaat in Bangladesh is linked to a number of other even more extremist Islamist organisations like the Hefazat-e-Islami, HuJi (Harkat ul Jihad Al Islami) and others. The Islamists view Bangladesh as the weakest link in the South Asian chain and perhaps believe that they can first seize power here.

    The hanging of Abdul Qauder Mollah has come as a huge setback, hence the rage.

    (21.12.2013 - Indranil Banerjie is a writer and commentator on strategic issues. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at

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  • 12/21/13--03:00: PM releases music album
  • By IANS,

    New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday released "Headwaters", a new music album of popular sarod players Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan.

    According to a statement from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the prime minister released the album in the presence of sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, father of Amaan and Ayaan, at his official residence here.

    Times Music has released the album. In 2010, Manmohan Singh released Ustad Amjad Ali Khan's album "Sarod Symphony" and another one, "We Believe in Now" by musician-singer Usha Uthup. In 2005, he also released an album of devotional songs by late singer Jagjit Singh.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : A court here Saturday sent two suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives to police custody till Jan 3 after police said that they are required for questioning to trace other accused.

    Allowing the police plea, Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash handed over the custody of the Hafeez Rashid and Mohammad Shahid to police till Jan 3.

    Rashid, 30, was arrested from Nuh district in Haryana Monday night. His name surfaced after police interrogated Mohammad Shahid, another LeT suspect arrested by a special cell of Delhi Police Dec 9 from Choti Mewli village in the district. Both were imams of a village mosque.

    The two were produced before the court after expiry of their police custody.

    Police told court that both of the accused were planning to carry out terror strikes. During investigation, it was revealed that duo were in touch with Pakistan-based LeT commander Javed Baluchi through mobile phones.

    To unearth the entire conspiracy, police sought extension of their custody by 13 days for questioning.

    However, accused's counsel M. S. Khan opposed the plea.

    A police officer has said Rashid was providing logistics to Shahid to prepare for a terror attack in north India.

    Police has booked them under various charges dealing with criminal conspiracy and terrorism.

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    By TCN News,

    Aligarh: On the occasion of International Day for Minorities, a symposium on the 'Rights of minorities and our Responsibilities' was organised by the Minority Welfare Department of Aligarh at Collect orate auditorium.

    Speaking on this occasion, Chief Guest of the program MLA Zafar Alam, said that due to the shortage of standard educational institutions, Muslims are lagging behind in educational field. A fund has been provided by the government to open a school in Bhojpura area of the city. Besides this the government has started many welfare schemes for the minorities but due to the cold response by the official missionary the required benefit is not reaching to the poor.

    Brochure being released by Dr. Shakeel Samdani, Zafar Alam, D.M. and C.D.O.

    Law faculty at the Aligarh Muslim University, Dr. Shakeel Samdani said that the Muslims must involve themselves in community work and force the government machinery to implement the welfare schemes launched by the central as well as state government. They must devote their time, energy and money for the upliftment of the community.

    He said that although the Muslims are the largest minority among minorities they are not getting the benefit in that proportion. Other minorities, especially Christians and Sikhs are the largest beneficiaries of the government welfare schemes, this is proved by the statistics available. Dr. Samdani further said that it is the duty of the state to provide education in the mother tongue but legally speaking, nobody can open an Urdu medium school in U.P. This should be stopped and the legal hurdle should be removed.

    Expert of minority issues, Dr. Mohibul Haq of the Dept. of Political Science, AMU said that the International Minority Day is the day when we have to discuss the government's attitude towards minorities and critically analyse the implementation of government sponsored welfare schemes in the state. He said that justice with minorities is the constitutional right of minorities and it is the duty of the state to restore their rights to them. He further said that the state government should open standard school on the patter of Navodaya Vidyalaya in Muslim dominated area of Aligarh.

    Senior faculty of AMU, Prof. Afzal Ahmad said that International Minority Day is the day for introspection for the minorities. Chief Development Officer, Shamim Ahmad, while explaining the welfare schemes of the government, said that in Aligarh district preferential treatment is being given to the schemes relating to education and health.

    Presiding over the symposium, District Magistrate, Rajeev Rautela said that the government sponsored schemes will be implemented on priority basis and the progress of 15 point program will be reviewed every month and for that purpose more public representative will be co-opted. The D.M. also informed the audience that Aligarh is on top in implementing government schemes which can be verified form the official website of the government.

    In this symposium Osmand Charles, Jassu Sherwani, Ajju Ishaq, Mahanagar President Samajwadi Party, Dr. Masood Ahmad, Secretary U.P. Rabita Committee, Ahmad Saeed, Ghulzar Ahmad, Syed Sajid Hasan, Alias Jonny Bhai expressed their views. On this occasion a brochure of government schemes issued by Minority Welfare and Waqf Department was released by the dignitaries sitting on the dais.

    In the last beneficiaries under marriage and sickness schemes were provided cheques.

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    By TCN News,

    Chennai: Halal India, one of the leading Halal certification body in the World, has certified the World’s first Halal HIB vaccine: KR BIOLOGICAL Pte Ltd (Global Vacc al-shifa HIB Vaccine as its brand Name).

    This was surprising as the world was not aware that the current HIB, vaccine which is a pharmaceutically critical vaccine, for Muslim children was still using pork components in the vaccine manufacture. Pork components were used at the fermentation stage of the organism. There are so many critical ingredients used in the pharma product including pork. GlobalVacc Al-Shifa HIB vaccine for babies has removed the pork components and make sure all the ingredients used were Halal compliant.

    Halal India auditor Mr. Abdul Hannan and shariah auditor has visited the premises of the world largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India at Pune inspected the factory and verified it as halal after exhaustive due diligence. There are no non Halal ingredients used in the HIB vaccine. Halal India shariah Board has given a fatwa about the GlobalVacc Al-Shifa HIB vaccine for Muslim babies, is halal.

    KR Biological Director, Mr. Ragu has supported and co-developed the process for it to being Halal compliant, from the manufacturing plant to the raw materials They also working on other Halal compliant vaccines for the Muslim population which are under development, like the Meningitis ACWY135 vaccine, HPV vaccine, Rotavirus vaccine, Polio vaccine, Typhoid vaccine and many more.

    Regarding Global Vacc Alshifa HIB Vaccine brand owner MR. Ragu Talks about the Halal Process

    To integrate this Halal concept into vaccines was always a challenge because a lot of Pharma companies look at bottom lines and would not consider going the extra mile in sourcing for ingredients which are Halal.

    To combine the scientific aspect and the Halal effect was laborious and required the assistance of a Pharma giant who would believe that this was always possible. It required a lot of research on the suitability of the vaccine to be made Halal and of course to get the right Auditors who also happen to be scientists, like Mr Hannan, a trained microbiologists who understood the raw sciences and the Halal perspectives. We are very proud to announce the first Halal vaccine for Muslim children and our first step in giving the world Halal Vaccines.

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    By IANS,

    Srinagar : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday denied he had shift from his Ganderbal constituency during 2014 assembly elections.

    "Who said I have decided not to contest from Ganderbal?" he told media persons on the sidelines of a function here on the recent statement by his uncle and senior National Conference (NC) leader Mustafa Kamal that Abdullah would contest from Sonawar constituency in Srinagar in 2014.

    "Dr.Mustafa Kamal can speak about Hazratbal assembly constituency which he represents. I am the elected representative from Ganderbal and I am authorized to speak on that behalf. Elections to the state assembly are still almost one year away. We shall talk about them when the time comes," he said.

    Intense political speculations had been triggered by Mustafa Kamal's statement made earlier this week that Omar Abdullah had decided not to seek re-election from Ganderbal, from where the Abdullahs have been contesting since 1975.

    His grandfather and NC founder, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah fought two elections from Ganderbal in 1975 and 1977, while his father Farooq Abdullah fought and won from Ganderbal in 1983, 1987 and 1996.

    Omar Abdullah himself lost elections from Ganderbal in 2002 to People's Democratic Party's Qazi Muhammad Afzal, but defeated Afzal in 2008.

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    By Special Correspondent,

    Kozhikode: The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) central committee which was successful in collecting 35 Lakh Rupees for Muzaffarnagar riot victims is yet to spend a single penny from it; that too in a situation, where reports have started coming out of already over 40 children losing their lives succumbing to the lack of basic amenities in the relief camps in the chilling climate of December. Many of them are in a critical situation and the numbers of deaths are expected to go beyond that because this is only an official version.

    The fund collected has been deposited in the account of IUML National Committee, from which any transactions can be carried out only on the nod of cabinet minister E Ahmed. Top leaders of IUML at the national level on query from the IUMl workers have admitted to this lapse and replied saying that Central Committee is yet to decide about the funds collected by them.

    Over this issue, there have been serious criticisms against National President E Ahmed from within the League circles in Kerala because they accuse him of having vested interests behind this serious lapse. They say that earlier too there were similar cases where the fund collected was not used for a long period and then later got diverted and misused for private interests [Assam riots relief collection and so on are examples].
    Some of the party insiders allege that the IUML National Committee had earlier collected a huge amount from Tamil Nadu and Kerala for Tsunami Relief, but practically did little. The second case is with regards to Assam riot relief, where they allegedly even sold out the clothes collected for relief in a bulk manner within Kerala and was caught red handed by locals in Mananthavadi, Wayanad District.

    Taking into consideration these rebel voices within the party circles IUML national committee has decided to convene a meeting over this issue at Kozhikode on 23 December. But the rebel voices within League believe that this is another version of a political gimmick played by Ahmed and Co.
    They say that after this meeting there is every chance that E Ahmed and Co will arrange a truck of relief materials to be sent from Kozhikode to Muzaffarnagar camps just to water down the strong protests raised within the League circles. And they say if that happens, nothing further would take place and the fund would stay frozen in the account for long and would get misused for private interest in future.

    Sensing the resentment, party is trying to speed up the process. Khorrum Anis Omer, Delhi State President & National Secretary of IUML, has invited volunteers through Facebook, and is trying to present as if the process of sending relief material is underway.

    Dissident voices within League say, they raised this issue not just over humanitarian concerns to Muzaffaragar victims but to cleanse the leadership which has a sole motto of misusing the party base for earning money.

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    By Saiyed Danish,,

    New Delhi: In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dated December 18, 2013, a group of Muslim MPs protested the brutal lathicharge on Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims who had taken out a march in Delhi on December 11, 2013 demanding their inclusion into SC list.

    The letter mentions that a lot of people from different walks of life had protested at Jantar Mantar accompanied by Arch Bishops, Bishops, Fathers, Nuns and many Muslim leaders from all parts of the country demanding the reply of the Government of India to the Supreme Court query on the Writ Petition No 184/2004, which was pending for more than 8 years.

    [TCN file photo]

    Extending their support these MPs, 10 in total, urged the prime minister to intervene. “We couldn’t raise the issue in both the houses due to frequent disruptions and adjournments. Many of us raised the issue in both the houses since 2004 but could not get the reply form the Government to the Court,” reads the letter.

    The letter argues that deletion of Para 3 of 1950s Presidential order by appropriate means is part of issue. Extending SC status to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled caste origin by responding to the Apex Court’s query without further dogging is Constitutionally Justified and “we endorse their demand and seek your assurance by filing reply to the Supreme Court.

    A copy of the same letter which has been signed by dignitaries like Anwar Ali Ansari, Hussain Dilwai, A.S. Maleehabadi, Shafique Rehman Burq, Sabir Ali, M. AbdurRahman, Shariq Sharifuddin, Mohammad Shafi, were also sent to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Minority Affairs.


    Dalit Christians and Muslims demand reservation, get lathicharge and water cannons

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    By Jasim Mohammad,

    India Islamic Culture Centre (IICC) is a well-known focal point and a land mark in Delhi. There are chances that if anyone visits it, he will rub shoulders with who is who of Indian Muslims. It is a centre where intellectuals, writers, politicians, artist and all the other creative people meet. There is a history behind its establishment which also indicates the Indian government’s desire to harmonies the social and political sector of the country.

    It may be recalled that the end of 14th Hijra was an important event in the history of the Muslims world. India is the home of Muslims too and population-wise it is second largest Muslim concentrated country in the world. Hence, no doubt large scale celebrations were held in India too on the completion of 14th Hijra. Being a democratic country, the government of India also took keen interest in the celebration on various levels. It formed a high level Committee under Chairmanship of the Vice-President of India Justice M. Hidaytullah which did a commendable job and organized a number of events highlighting the importance of the occasion. Even the then Prime Minister of India Smt. Indira Gandhi released a commemorative stamp on it on 3rd November, 1980. Some other programmes like an international seminar on “Islamic Contribution to the Culture and Civilization of the World, with special reference to India and an International Qiraat Competition were also held.

    [TCN file photo]

    During the centenary celebrations, some eminent persons in national capital, New Delhi, Opined for the need of a centre to highlight Islamic Culture. Some of the old boys of the Aligarh Muslim University and many renowned personalities played a positive role in establishing the centre.

    India Islamic Culture Centre was registered as a “Society” in April 1981. Original signatories to the Memorandum of Association of the Society (IICC) were Janab Hakeem Abdul Hameed as the first President, Mufti Atiqur Rehman as Vice-President, Mr. Badr-ud-din Tyabji, ICS as Director, Mr. Syed S. Shafi, Joint Director, Chaudhary Mohd Arif, secretary, Mr. MWK Yusufzai as Treasurer and Begum Abida Ahmad as member.

    The government of India allotted a land on Lodhi Road measuring approx. 8000 meters to IICC and the Institute of Islamic studies donated Rs. 10,5000 towards the cost of land. The department of Culture of Government of India granted Rs. 10 Lacs towards building construction. After the approval of buildings plan by the New Delhi Municipal Council, the construction of the present building of IICC began in January, 1996.

    Mrs. Indira Gandhi paid much attention to the establishment of IICC as she was convinced that the centre will promote communal harmony and understanding among the followers of different religions and thus will be helpful for the national integration. It was Mrs. Gandhi who laid the foundation stone of IICC on 24th August 1984.

    In 1994, a new Board of Trustee was elected under the chairmanship of Begum Abida Ahmad. Mr. Mohd Fazal a member of the Planning Commission of that time became the first Director General of IICC. Afterwards Mr. Moosa Raza, former secretary to the government of India took over as Director General. For further strengthening its financial position, IICC obtained sanction under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 1976 and registration under 80 G (5) (VI) of Income Tax Act 1961.

    After its establishment and becoming fully functional IICC began a new chapter of service to the community and nation. One of its prime aims was and is presenting principles and concept of Islam in its true form and highlights the contribution of Islamic Culture in the Indian civilization as a contributory factor.

    With the passage of time, IICC galloped to excellence. During the present administration, led by Sirajuddin Quraishi IICC registered new achievements and has done much for the benefit of the students of economically weaker sections and its plans to establish vocational colleges may become a boon for the community. Sirajuddin Quraishi not only devoted his time but paid attention to improve the things through his personal contacts. He succeeded in making IICC viable for Muslim masses too.

    Though the centre is being admired for its architectural beauty and hospitality but the centre is yet to meet the expectations of its founders. For fulfilling the dreams of the founders the IICC should take up some more important steps.

    It is suggested that it should promote India’s composite culture and undertake projects to highlight it we must note that the present era is of media and if the centre began publishing a monthly magazine on its activities, it will not only become document of the activities but the public as well as policy makers will remain aware about it. Presently the condition of the Coffee House is much poor which urgently needs improvement. Meeting of the IICC members should be called bi-annually to discuss the activities of centre and also to analyse Muslim problems.

    IICC may institute awards to people who make achievement which will not only encourage them but also will provide an opportunity to centre itself for using their talents. Making young people aware about Islamic teaching is the need of time.

    IICC should take upon itself the task of promotion of educational and culture advancement of Muslims of India. Large number of businessmen is associated with the Centre and the centre may constitute a Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Audit and publishing its yearly report is must for removing any misunderstanding. Regular audit of all the expenditure incurred by centre should be undertaken. Conditions of hostels require improvement and dormitories should be contracted for staying divers and gunmen who often accompany the members.

    There is a need to promote younger generation and younger member of the centre. It is not the demand of the present era but also necessary for making them assure about Islamic heritage, culture and social contributions of the IICC takes up the promotion of youngest then the centre will become more meaningful and viable.

    IICC has travelled a lot and still has to go to miles. It is the time when its administration and all concerned people ponder over its growth and progress and review its functioning it is necessary because we are only its trustee and have to pass on it to next generation. History will record that the centre has given much to the Indian composite culture or just, the negative. What historian will document is in our hands. So it is time for all of us to review the situation and act and act fast.

    (Author is editor of The Aligarh Movement monthly. He can be reached at

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    The occasion was the calendar launch with paintings from school students from both countries.

    By Staff Reporter,

    New Delhi: India International Centre played host to intellectuals from India and Pakistan on the occasion of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak friendship initiative on December 21, organized by Mission Bhartiyam from India and The Catalyst from Pakistan.

    It was also the occasion of the release of calendars with paintings made by school kids on Indo-Pak amity themes.

    Eminent journalists, writers and students who have been associated with raising the issue of diplomatic hurdles which come in the way of friendship between the two countries, shared their experiences.

    Eminent persons who participated were Padma Shri Dr. D.S. Rana (Chairperson of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi), Sh. Pankaj Singh (Eminent Hindi Poet, and writer), Sonya Fatah (A Pakistani filmmaker and Journalist and columnist with Times of India), Jawed Naqvi (Delihi-based correspondent of DAWN newspaper in Pakistan), Satya Paul (a veteran peace activist who has worked with Lala Lajpat Rai and secretary at Servants of People organization) and Ms. Mohini Giri (Chairperson Guild of Service and War Widows Association).

    Dr. D.S. Rana talked about that how peace is our requirement and how his own experience was when he travelled to Pakistan and found no difference. He described how Sir Ganga Ram who was a civil engineer by profession established a hospital and several other buildings in Lahore and then came to India and established the hospital here in 1954.

    Jawed Naqvi said that it is important to decide who you want to befriend in the first place. Both the countries have picked up wrong things from each other. He also hinted at the problems of religious extremism that poses a great threat to peace on both sides of the border.

    Sonya Fatah said that we need to find new ways to circumvent the air of hostility created by the political agendas on either side of the border. She also talked about the humane aspect of the problem which is all the more appalling.

    Satya Pal, a veteran for Indo-Pak peace efforts, has taken part in many initiatives. One of these is the South Asian University. He also said that a South Asian Peace Conference will be held in Delhi in the last week of December, 2013.

    Pankaj Singh shared some very interesting and heartwarming personal experiences with the audience. He said that it was ironical that Indians and Pakistanis living in other nations form strong bonds of friendship but always keep some reservations back home.

    There was also a Pakistani student studying in South Asian University (Delhi), Kulsum Khan who shared her experience of living in India. She talked about the similarities in several respects. She talked about how she has been warmly received in India.

    The three students from India whose paintings were selected to be included in calendar were also present. They talked about the concept of their paintings and the importance of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

    Aarti Bose, a school girl who had received award for her painting said metaphorically, “We want India and Pakistan to be friends together so that could play and walk together in the same park,” which was applauded by the distinguished panel.

    “Aaghaz-e-Dosti believes that peace is an important and necessary thing and it is in fact very common among all of us regardless of our identity on behalf of nation, religion and caste. It is a natural requirement of living beings. Flowing towards and with the peace activities is natural and required for human development,” said Ravi Nitesh, Petroleum Engineer and Mission Bharatiyam chief.

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    By Shaik Kazeer Hussain,,

    Bangalore: At the end of the screening of 'Yaadhum' at Chennai's Roja Muthiah Research Library last month, Mina Swaminathan, a pioneer educationist walked up to Kombai S. Anwar and said that she wanted to apologize to him. Anwar, who was feeling ecstatic that his labour of love, was released after four years of painstaking research and struggle says, he was "taken aback" that such a distinguished and elderly person, wanted to apologize to him.

    When he asked, somewhat embarrassingly the reason for her feeling vindicated, Swaminathan replied that she always spoke to him in Urdu, whenever she met him, despite him telling her that, he did not speak the language and today after watching the film, she had realized that not every Muslim spoke Urdu and that there is something called the Tamil Muslim, who shares the same history and language as she does. Swaminathan, who has witnessed the unfolding of terrible tragedies during the partition, said that she now felt "contended."

    Kombai S. Anwar

    "We need to break this stereotyping of Muslim image among people, I want to tell that ours is a highly decentralized, diversified community, with different history and culture," says Anwar, whose documentary Yaadhum, which means “all” or “everything,” in Tamil, traces the history and cultural identity of Tamil speaking Muslims in the state and beyond.

    He says Islam came to South India, way before it made its presence in the North; Anwar points to the fledgling spice trade that existed between the Arabs and the Indians in the south and asserts that Islam in south is as contemporary as Arabia. He quotes Prof. PJ Cherian from his film, and says that trade not only brings goods, but also brings in different ideas, technology and new thinking. He says that contrary to popular belief that the natives were forcefully converted to Islam, the evolution of the community was gradual and has a completely different facet to it and it is these phases and appearances that Yaadhum brings to light.

    In the film, Prof M.G.S. Narayanan, Director General, Centre for Heritage Studies, Govt. of Kerala, for example cites one very interesting historical fact, where the Mapilla Muslims, under the leadership of Kunjali Marakkar, who were the Muslim naval chiefs of the Zamorin king of Kerala, were able to successfully stall the invasion of Malabar by the Portuguese for over a century. He says that there was a law which was passed by the Zamorin that at-least one member of the fisherman families in Calicut must get converted to Islam, because the Hindus were reluctant to go to the sea, and the Portuguese were the naval superpower of the time.

    Yaadhum, which is Anwar's journey in search of his Tamil Muslim roots and identity takes him and in turn us, from the Vaishnavite pilgrimage town of Alwartirunagari to Kayalpattinam to Pulicat and many other historical places, bringing in great stories and pieces of history of Muslim relations and their progression through the ages.

    A former freelance journalist and photographer, S. Anwar found his true calling in documenting history and film making and has in the past made short films on the Big Temple at Thanjavur, commissioned by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). In the film, Anwar as a voiceover narrator says that, “While ‘who am I’ is never a question that bothered me during my growing-up years, it became quite important to me and to countless other Muslims, especially in these increasingly troubled times.”

    Film trailer:

    For Anwar those troubled times, came in the form of the 1998 Coimbatore bombings and the communal riots that followed it. Though the event shook him mentally, but it was reading Tariq Ali's 'Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree' that made him ponder over the "Islam and Muslims that he saw around him, and the Islamic society that the book talks about, which is that of tolerance and openness". A series of seminars and writings on the local history followed, until he later realized that, there is a tremendous amount of distortion of Muslim history and that a film, if not completely erase it, but at least could abate the misconceptions surrounding the community and its history.

    The documentary is the first of the three part series that he has planned, the next two parts will among others, and focus on the Tamil Muslim diaspora, which he says is in great number. Having received great appreciation and recognition for the work in Tamil Nadu, he now plans to screen the documentary in cities and towns across the country and abroad, and is currently in talks with few universities.

    Anwar says that Yaadhum has made him reflect, that, like the Muslims of the past, who lived assuming multiple identities, without those identities coming in to conflict, with either their religious believes or their inhabited milieu, he too, has multiple identities. He says his identity is not only that of a Muslim, but also that of a Tamil and many others, and like the old Tamil adage goes, 'Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir' - The world is mine, all are my kinsmen.

    The film can be bought

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    By TCN News,

    Aligarh: The Aligarh Muslim University has been ranked 50 among top 100 institutions of higher learning in BRICS (the group of newly developed and industrialized countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

    In a study made by the Times Higher Education, UK for the year 2014, ten Indian institutions of higher learning have made to the ranking of institutions of BRICS and emerging economies, out of which 6 are IITs.

    Punjab University is at the top amongst Indian universities, with rank 13, while Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi holds 57th position.

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    By IANS,

    Mumbai : Soha Ali Khan, currently busy promoting her forthcoming film "Mr Joe B. Carvalho", describes her brother and actor Saif as a genuine nawab.

    Saif was anointed the 10th Nawab of Pataudi after the death of his father and former India cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan in 2011.

    When asked about the personality traits of her brother in real life, Soha said: "He is very special, and Saif was born a prince.”

    “He was born in 1970 and in 1971 (under the 26th Amendment to the Constitution) all the princely titles were abolished. So, he was actually a prince for a year,” she said.

    "Maybe because of that, his style and his taste is so different. Even when he has lunch during shoots, he has a table, table-cloth - he is a genuine nawab," she added.

    Soha, who is active in films for about a decade and did films like "Rang De Basanti" and "Mumbai Meri Jaan", says she has shed the girl-next-door image in the comedy, "Mr Joe B. Carvalho", directed by Samir Tewari.

    "It's a comedy film and I got an opportunity to do action and cabaret - so it was fun for me. All this while I have done more of the girl-next-door kind of a role, but in this film I have come out of that image," said the 35-year-old.

    In the film, which is coming out Jan 3, Soha has teamed up with Arshad Warsi.

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    By IANS,

    Muzaffarnagar/Shamli (Uttar Pradesh): Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Sunday paid a surprise visit to camps housing victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots and urged them to return to their homes.

    Interacting with inmates at the relief camps in Malakpur area of Shamli, he said that by not returning to their homes and staying put in the relief camps set up by the state government they were inadvertently helping those who instigated the mob violence.

    "In such a situation where you fear to go back home you are helping the perpetrators of the crimes for what they did to you," he observed.

    Gandhi was, however, told by the camp inmates that they were not ready to go back home as they feared being targeted by the people of the other community. In his interactions with the riot victims at the Khurgan camp, he met with similar reactions to his request that they go back.

    Congress general secretary and state in charge Madhusudan Mistry, who accompanied Gandhi, accused the Akhilesh Yadav government of failing to not only provide security to the people or take action against rioters but also alleged that the state had miserably failed to provide food, water, sanitation facilities and warm clothings for people, specially women and children living in the camps.

    More than 3,500 people continue to live in these camps set up after the Muzaffarnagar riots three months back that left more than 63 people dead and over 43,000 homeless.

    The state government has come under heavy fire from the opposition and the courts for pathetic living conditions in the relief camps, a claim it vehemently denies.

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    By staff reporter

    New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was established in 2009 and subsequently it took over the investigations of blasts occurred in Malegaon 2008, Ajmer, Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Margaon in Goa and Samjhauta express blasts. Initially it got little success in arresting alleged right-wing terrorists who were behind these blasts. In 2010-2011, NIA had intensified its investigation and arrested some accused including Swami Aseemanand. With Aseemanand’s arrest NIA cracked Malegaon 2006 blast case. NIA claimed that right wing alleged terrorists were responsible for the Malegaon 2006 blast near a masjid that killed 37 people.

    NIA has done a commendable job in the last 2 years by apprehending number of high profile so called alleged terrorists. The newly formed National Investigation Agency (NIA) has successfully spread its tentacles in all the states and also in the nearby Asian countries. It has arrested many alleged terrorists from Bihar, M.P., Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

    Even the gulf state has extended vital information to the NIA related to the alleged terrorists of Indian origin who are living in their country.

    Saudi Arabia and Nepal have helped NIA in arresting and deporting alleged terrorist Zabiuddin Ansari@Abu Jindal, Fasih Mahmood, Abdul Karim @Tunda, Ahmed Siddibappa @Yasin Bhatkal, Akhtar @Haddi . These arrests have proved to be its biggest achievement. NIA has claimed that with these arrests they have averted major blasts which could have resulted into multiple deaths.

    Despite such success in arresting alleged terrorists from across the border neither NIA nor any other security or intelligence agency have since last 5 years got any clue about 8 right-wing terrorists that figure in its most-wanted list. The details of these accused are:

    Name Allegation Reward/Notice
    Amit Amit was allegedly involved in seditious activity by causing explosions aboard the Samjhauta Express in Panipat district, Haryana in 2007, which resulted in several deaths and injuries. NIA has announced cash reward of Rs. 500,000. LOC against him has been issued by Bureau of Immigration.
    Jay Prakash Prakash was allegedly involved in a bomb explosion at Margao, Goa and the planting of an improvised explosive device (IED) at Sancoale, Goa. Red Corner Notice issued.
    Praveen Limkar Limkar was allegedly involved in a bomb explosion at Margao, Goa and the planting of an improvised explosive device (IED) at Sancoale, Goa. Red Corner Notice issued.
    Ram Chandra Kalsangra Kalsangra was allegedly involved in seditious activity by causing explosions aboard the Samjhauta Express in Panipat district, Haryana in 2007, which resulted in several deaths and injuries. NIA has announced cash reward of Rs. 1 million. Red Corner Notice issued.
    Rudra Patil Patil was allegedly involved in a bomb explosion at Margao, Goa and the planting of an improvised explosive device (IED) at Sancoale, Goa. Red Corner Notice issued.
    Sandeep Dange Dange was allegedly involved in seditious activity by causing explosions aboard the Samjhauta Express in Panipat district, Haryana in 2007, which resulted in several deaths and injuries. NIA has announced cash reward of Rs. 1 million. Red Corner Notice issued.
    Suresh Nair Nair allegedly caused a bomb explosion at the Dargah of Ajmer Sharif. NIA has announced cash reward of Rs. 200,000

    These accused still appear on the wanted list of NIA since last 5 years or so. NIA and other agencies are clueless about their whereabouts. Are they hiding in Pakistan or Nepal? Why Intelligence agencies don’t get to them? If they are in India who is helping them to hide? Who is providing them money and other necessary help?

    If Delhi police can arrest influential and widely supported Narayan Sai then why these above mentioned wanted accused not be arrested and brought to justice. It seems either intelligence and security agencies are going slow on them or they are falling short in apprehending them.

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    By IANS,

    Kolkata: Attacking the Mamata Banerjee government, veteran CPI-M leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Sunday accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of having a tacit understanding with the BJP for the upcoming general elections.

    The former chief minister also charged his successor Banerjee with using money and muscle power to stifle people's voices.

    "Law and order has been steadily deteriorating, woman are getting abducted and killed and this government is using money and muscle power to stifle the voices that protest," said the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader at a rally in Chinsurah of Hooghly district.

    Claiming that the Trinamool had an "undisclosed" understanding with Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, Bhattacharjee said: "Holding Trinamool's hands the BJP wants to spread its wings in Bengal, but we cannot allow that."

    He also rubbished the state government's claims of making rapid strides in the sphere of development and accused the regime of wasting money on organising festivals and other events.

    "This government is being run like a club. Money meant for building schools and hospitals are being utilized to give donations to clubs and organise festivals. Instead of indulging in festivals, the government should focus on development," said Bhattacharjee.

    He also iterated his party's demand for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the Saradha chit scam- the state's biggest financial scandal.

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    By Staff Reporter,

    Jhansi: National Confederation of Dalits Organiztion (NACDOR), the National Platform of the Dalits in India, which has been working in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, launched Bundelkhand Vikas Adhikar Yatra (BVAY) (Bundelkhand March for Right to Development) from 21st December 2013 at Jhansi.

    “The yatra will travel to 500 villages of the Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and would culminate the same in Jhansi on 24th January 2014,” said Mr. Ashok Bharti, Chairman, NACDOR, while addressing a press conference in Jhansi. Mr. Bharti also informed that BVAY will instil confidence, glory and dignity among the people of Bundelkhand enabling them to take lead in setting the development agenda of the Bundelkhand.

    While speaking to the journalists, Mr. Bharti informed that the Bundelkhand Vikas Adhikar Yatra will gather demands, aspirations and expectations of the masses of Bundelkhand, especially those of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women and other vulnerable sections, to prepare Bundelkhand Vikas Ghoshnapatra (Bundelkhand Development Manifesto), which will be presented to the different political parties for their acceptance at the time of culmination of yatra on 24th January 2014 in Jhansi. Mr. Bharti hoped that this Bundelkhand Vikash Ghoshnapatra (Bundelkhand Development Manifesto) will request all political parties active in Bundelkhand to consider this seriously to untidily address the backwardness of the Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

    Further, addressing to the press conference, NACDOR representatives Ashok Kumar Sinha informed that a team of 25 bicyclists will travel and create awareness among in villages about importance of planning processes in local self-governance as well. Mr. Sinha said Bundelkhand region need urgent attention by diversified stakeholders for regaining its glory of older times. Mr. Sinha informed that Hon’ble State Minister of Rural Development, Mr. Pradeep Jain Aditya, will flag off Bundelkhand Vikas Adhikar Yatra and addressed the gathering.

    Mr. Mukund, Regional Coordinator, NACDOR briefed Media about NACDOR’s intervention in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Mr. Mastram Ghose, District Coordinator, NACDOR, Teekamgarh and Mr. Balram Ahirwar, NACDOR representative, Jhansi also participated in the press conference.

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    Hindu Priests and locals unanimously condemn the attack

    By Staff Reporter,

    Ayodhya: Mohammad Danish, a 22 yr old youth from the Rohtas district Bihar was murdered by unidentified assailants around 7 p.m. on Friday, December 20 when the latter entered an ancient Muslim shrine and broke by breaking an outer wall. The shrine is believed to be housing the graves of Prophet Shis.

    During the attack the youth wailed which attracted the locals to the mosque. When they reached the mosque, they found him severely wounded and took him to the hospital where he was declared dead, say the locals.

    Later, the site was visited by the district administration which repaired the damaged part of the shrine. The body of the deceased was immediately sent for post-mortem. As of now, a large number of police personnel has been deployed in the area.

    The superintendent of police in Ayodhya has ensured a detailed probe into the matter. “Some people have been detained for questioning and damaging the shrine,” he told the media.

    The slain was a student of Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) at Shree Paramhans Shikshan Prashikshan PG College in Ayodhya. He lived at Jinnati Mosque near the shrine and worked as a muezzin (the one who calls for prayers) for the mosque.

    Meanwhile, the unfortunate attack on the shrine and the subsequent death of the youth was sharply condemned by several Hindu saints of the ancient religious town as they appealed to both communities to maintain peace and calm.

    Yugal Kishor Sharan Shastri, a priest and social activist in Ayodhya who is associated with Awam Ka Cinema told a news-portal IndiaTomorrow, “It is a conspiracy of the right-wing forces to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the region but the patience of the local people is commendable.”

    “I condemn the incident completely. Muslims and Hindus have a history of living peacefully here and the shrine holds a secular importance so it has hurt the sentiment of both Hindus and Muslims,” said Acharya Satyendra Das, chief priest of makeshift Ram Janmabhoomi temple.

    Condemning the incident, Mahant Udar Das, president of Kabir Math in Ayodhya said: “It may be a conspiracy to gain political mileage. I appeal to both Hindu and Muslim brothers to maintain calm and peace.”

    Naga Damodar Das, priest of Hanumangarhi, has been quoted by the same portal as saying: “I don’t like violence any way. Even 1992 riots had pained me. People from both communities must treat it gently.”

    [Photo Courtesy:]

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    By Dr. Syed Ahmed for,

    Imphal: The Manipur State Minorities Commission (MSMC) observed Minorities Rights Day on December 20 at Maharaja Chandrakirti Auditorium, Imphal.

    The function was attended by Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh, Chairperson A. Halim Chowdhury, IAS (Retd.), Minister (Agriculture & Fisheries) Md. Abdul Nasir, Parliamentary Secretary (MOBC & SC and Sc. & Tech.) Md. Amin Shah, MLA and Chairman of Wakf Board, Manipur Md. Fajur Rahim, MLA Paonam Brojen, Chief Secretary P.C. Lawmkunga, IAS, and Members of MSMC Prof. M.S. Ningomba and Rev. N. Devendra Singh as Chief Guest, President and Guests of Honour.

    Giving the key-note address, Secretary of MSMC Prof. Abdul Hakim Shah stated the significance of the day. He said it was on December 18 in 1992 that 192 member nations approved the UN Declaration on Minority Rights which states that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Religions and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for their promotion of that identity.” In 1992 the National Commission for Minorities Act was passed and the National Commission for Minorities was instituted. Since then the nation has been observing Minorities Rights Day. In Manipur the MSMC was instituted in 2004. In 2010 the State Assembly passed the Manipur State Minorities Commission Act and made the Commission a statutory body. The Commission has been protecting and safeguarding the rights of minorities in the State, Shah added.

    Due to some inconveniences the Commission could not observe the Minorities Rights Day on Dec. 18, Shah further said.

    Addressing the gathering, Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh assured that the State Government would protect the rights of the minorities and also take up all possible steps to ensure full benefits of all the welfare schemes to them. The Constitution of India outlines and protects the rights of every citizen of this country. No one can discriminate the rights of the minorities. The State Government will not spare any individual who poses threat to the unity and integrity of the state by inciting communal tension. Befitting actions will be rewarded to the individual who commit the act. In Manipur the different communities have been co-existing in peace and harmony, Singh added.

    He further said that the officials of the State Minorities Commission and other intellectuals working for the development of minorities should come up with concrete suggestions to improve their condition. That way the Government can understand the grievances of the minorities. We would readily consider the suggestions and try to put into practice, he added.

    He also said that the Chief Secretary of the State, P.C. Lawmkunga has been advised to monitor the welfare schemes taken up the Directorate of MOBC & SC for the minorities. If possible the Directorate of MOBC & SC will be bifurcated.

    He also informed that any cash incentive awarded under the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs including students' scholarship would be directly transferred to the respective beneficiary's bank account. The system of direct cash handling has been stopped to check malpractices. So the beneficiaries of Post and Pre-Metric Scholarship Scheme of the State should open their own personal bank accounts. The money will be disbursed directly through the bank accounts of the students, he added.

    Chairperson of MSMC, A Halim Choudhury requested the State Government to increase the number of staff of the State Minorities Commission for its smooth functioning. He also said that the minority communities in the remote areas of the State need to be given proper awareness on various aspects of development. However shortage of funds hindered the Commission in giving awareness to the minorities in the remote areas of the State.

    Project Director of Minorities and Other Backward Classes Economic Development Society (MOBEDS), Md. Salauddin Khan gave the highlights of the programmes and schemes taken up by the Directorate of MOBC & SC for the welfare of the minorities of the State.

    The observance function was attended by representatives of different minority communities and Government officials.

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