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Indian Muslim

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    By Kaleem Kawaja,

    There was a time prior to independence in 1947 that the Court of Aligarh Muslim University - its top governing body - comprised of the top Muslim elite in the nation. The then British-Indian government appointed select elite Muslims from across the country to the AMU Court largely as a recognition of their contribution to AMU and to the spread of education in the Muslim community. But times have changed and with changing times more and more categories of representation and number of members have been aded to this select body. Today there are nearly 200 members in the AMU Court representing more than half a dozen categories.

    A Muslim Parliament?: Meeting of AMU Court in progress on June 12, 2013.

    In earlier years the objective of the Court members was to provide direct or indirect financial support to AMU and to use their influence with the British-Indian government to get resources to AMU with a view to improving the educational status of the Muslim community. Many a nawabs and rajas and other distinguished and well educated Muslims were members of the AMU Court. But now a sizeable number of Muslim politicians, wannabe politicians, some of them even rabblerousers, and political maulanas vie and campaign every year to become members of the AMU Court.

    Gone is the emphasis on noblese-oblige, creed of devotion to AMU's welfare and desire to contribute to maintaining AMU as a high quality educational institution, as the salient criteria for becoming members of this august body. Now it is the rough and tumble of political wrangling, canvassing, and influence peddling to get elected to the Court. Now whenever a Muslim in north India acquires some public recognition or makes a certain amount of money, no matter what his/her occupation, regardless of his/her contribution to AMU or level of education, they start aspiring to become a member of the AMU Court.

    Recently on a visit to my hometown in U.P. a well to do Muslim businessman who has made good money in the leather trade, but whose educational qualifications are dismal, told me that he was campaigning to become a member of AMU Court. When I asked him why he wants to do that because he does not have much interest in education or AMU, he told me that now the AMU Court has become a sort of parliament of Muslims, especially north Indian Muslims. Interest in education of Muslim community or AMU is not necessarily a factor.

    Indeed many political parties with hardly any interest in the educational welfare of the Muslim community (eg BJP), use their influence to place some of their Muslim members in the AMU Court. Also some other aspiring Court members are busy in rabblerousing to become popular in the community and use it as a path. Quite a few are movie actors and TV personalities with hardly any interest in the education of Muslims or AMU.

    This is not a good trend since while many Court members are distinguished individuals who are working to improve AMU and education, many other Court members do nothing to help AMU or the education of the Muslim community in any way. They only attend the twice yearly Court meetings to further their social contacts and to feel good that they have arrived at a certain social ladder. In the bi-annual Court meetings they never say a word or make any suggestions.

    It is time that the leaders of the AMU and Muslim community turn the clock back, reduce the number of Court members, make the criteria for selection stringent and objective to ensure that only distinguished and dedicated Muslims with real interest in furthering AMU and education in the Muslim community are selected to this august body. Also the functioning of the AMU Court should be scrutinized to ensure that it does not function as a social or political club or parliament of Muslims, but as a constructive body working hard for the educational uplift of AMU and the Muslim community at large.

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    By TCN News,

    Lucknow: Why is government afraid in exposing intelligence agencies’ alleged involvement in terror investigations’ goof ups, asked Rihai Manch.

    For 24 days now, Rihai Manch (Forum for the Release of Innocent Muslims imprisoned in the name of Terrorism) is on indefinite dharna outside the UP Assembly outside the Uttar Pradesh Assembly demanding arrest of police officers involved in Khalid Mujahid's murder, issuing the RD Nimesh commission report, and the immediate release of innocent Muslim youth imprisoned in the name of terrorism.

    Chairman of the Rihai Manch Advocate Mohamamd Shoaib alleged that the way Home Secretary is trying to mediate between CBI and IB in order to save IB officials involved in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case in the name of upholding the moral of the intelligence agencies, only proves the connivance of state machinery in terror attacks and witch hunting of Muslim youths. He accused the government of trying to protect police officials involved in fabrication of terror charges against Muslim youths, and executing fake encounters.

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

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

    Rihai Manch is leading a sustained demonstration against the UP government demanding actions on its poll promise of releasing innocent youths languishing in jails in fabricated terror charges. On Friday the demonstration completed 24 days.

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    By IANS,

    Patna : Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi refused to meet Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Saturday despite a request amid tensions in Bihar's ruling coalition, sources in both parties said.

    A source close to the chief minister said Nitish Kumar had invited Sushil Modi and Road Construction Minister Nand Kishore Yadav of the BJP to discuss with him political situation.

    Yadav, who is also the state convenor of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), admitted that he and Modi were invited by Nitish Kumar for discussions.

    "We told him that it is better to approach the BJP national leaders," Yadav said.

    According to BJP leaders close to Sushil Modi, he had expressed his inability to discuss the issue of Janata Dal-United's stand over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who Nitish Kumar detests politically.

    Till recently, Sushil Kumar Modi was considered not only close to Nitish Kumar but was a vocal supporter of alliance with the JD-U. But he has changed his attitude in favour of the rising Narendra Modi.

    BJP ministers in Bihar did not attend office the past two days.

    Nitish Kumar Thursday described the situation in the alliance as "difficult".

    He has come out publicly against Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial choice of the BJP, which heads the NDA.

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    By Amulya Ganguli, IANS,

    An old joke about surgery - the operation is successful, but the patient is dead - can be applied to the latest rumpus in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party managed to push Narendra Modi some distance towards his coveted goal of being the prime ministerial candidate. But, in the process, the party itself and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by it have taken a number of crippling blows.

    These include L.K. Advani's self-inflicted wounds when he first peevishly resigned from all party posts after Modi's nomination as chief of the campaign committee for the 2014 elections, and then meekly accepted a stern fatwa from the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) to withdraw the resignations.

    The tragi-comic vaudeville in Goa and Delhi, which saw a demonstration by a so-called Hindu sena before Advani's residence in the national capital, must have been a cause of considerable solace to a beleaguered Congress, which has been further embarrassed by the extension of the coal scam to include Naveen Jindal.

    Yet, the turmoil was not unwarranted. Only the wilfully blind would not have seen it coming. It must have long been obvious to all in the saffron ranks that Modi's elevation will not be a smooth affair. Modi himself must have known it. But, as the only "strong" character in a party of second-rank leaders after Atal Bihari Vajpayee's retirement, the Gujarat chief minister had little difficulty in goading "provincials" like Rajnath Singh - to use BJP M.P. Jaswant Singh's description of the party president - and rootless wonders like Arun Jaitley to have his way.

    Perhaps, the BJP leaders were also aware about what may happen if Modi's ambition is thwarted. It wasn't long ago that he boycotted the party conclaves in protest against the appointment of a small-time rival of his in Gujarat, Sanjay Joshi, to the party's national executive.

    At that time of his skirmishes with Joshi and the latter's supporter, the then party chief Nitin Gadkari, the future campaign chief of the BJP had stayed away from the party's campaigns in UP, Punjab and Goa. It was only after Joshi resigned that Modi piped down, but not before Bihar's deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP, said that no one had the right to "hijack" the party.

    This time, too, Advani's humiliating retreat after yet another successful "hijacking" by Modi must have convinced the purported Hindu hriday samrat of his clout in the party. But, in the present coalition era, being numero uno is not enough, as it was in Indira Gandhi's time.

    Now, it is the conciliatory skills of an amiable leader that are the prime requisites. In the BJP, only Vajpayee had the talent. That was why he could head a coalition of 24 parties - a record which is unlikely to be broken. If the Janata Dal-United leaves the NDA, the alliance will comprise only three members, all of them with a sectarian bias - the Hindu-dominated BJP and Shiv Sena, and the Sikh-dominated Akali Dal.

    That Modi should be the cause of this shrinkage is not surprising. It was the 2002 Gujarat riots, when he played the role of a "modern-day Nero", according to the Supreme Court, which led to the departure of the Telugu Desam, Lok Janshakti Party, National Conference, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and others from the NDA. Not only that, Vajpayee held the riots responsible for the BJP's defeat in 2004.

    Then, the anti-Christian riots in Odisha in 2008 made the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) break its ties with the BJP. At about the same time, the Trinamool Congress walked away from the BJP because it realised that a continued tie-up with it would come in the way of weaning away Muslim votes from the Left in West Bengal.

    The same perception is evidently behind the Janata Dal-United's uneasiness about remaining in the NDA. Its misgivings must have increased after its defeat by a huge margin in the Maharajganj byelection at the hands of the Janata Dal-United's main rival in Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Nitish Kumar's fear apparently is that each day that he remains in the BJP's company will induce more and more Muslims to switch their loyalty to the RJD.

    It was relatively safe for him to do so as long as moderates like Vajpayee and a reformed hardliner like Advani were at the BJP's helm. But Modi is different. For all his emphasis on development, Modi's adamant refusal to apologise for the riots is not without significance, for he is fully aware that his USP is the perception among communal-minded Hindus - his main support base - that he can teach the minorities a lesson - if the need arises.

    The need to sustain this image also explains his refusal to wear a Muslim skull cap during a 'sadbhavna' (goodwill) rally which was meant to boost social harmony. It will be a dicey proposition, therefore, for Nitish Kumar to risk his future in an alliance where Modi will be the dominant figure.

    Consequently, the NDA's break-up will lead to a new configuration of the political forces whose contours are unclear at the moment.

    (15-06-2013-Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at

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    By IANS,

    Patna : Bihar's ruling coalition took another hit Saturday as the BJP told Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to resign and seek a fresh mandate if he decides to break the alliance.

    BJP minister Chandra Mohan Rai told the media that the 2010 mandate in Bihar was for the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the BJP to govern the state jointly.

    "Nitish Kumar should resign as chief minister because people of the state gave the mandate to the NDA (National Democratic Alliance)," he said.

    Another BJP leader and MP Hukumdeo Narain Yadav too made the same demand. "Nitish Kumar should resign and go for fresh elections (if the alliance breaks)."

    The BJP demand came amid mounting tensions in the Bihar coalition following Nitish Kumar's objection to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi being projected as the prime ministerial candidate.

    Modi's growing status in the BJP has not helped matters, with the Gujarat leader's supporters in the Bihar BJP gunning for Nitish Kumar.

    The war of words is widely expected to lead to the snapping of 17 years of BJP-JD-U alliance.

    Earlier Saturday, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi refused to meet Nitish Kumar, saying the issue of Narendra Modi needed to be taken up with the BJP national leadership.

    A source close to the chief minister said Nitish Kumar had invited Sushil Modi and Road Construction Minister Nand Kishore Yadav of the BJP to discuss the political situation.

    Yadav, also the state convenor of the NDA, admitted that he and Sushil Modi were invited by Nitish Kumar for discussions.

    Till recently, Sushil Modi was considered not only close to Nitish Kumar but was an enthusiastic backer of alliance with the JD-U. He has changed his attitude.

    BJP ministers in Bihar did not attend office the past two days.

    JD-U leader and Bihar Education Minister P.K. Shahi reiterated that the BJP should clear its stand on Narendra Modi, who the party has named chief of the election campaign committee.

    "It is not possible for JD-U to be part of an alliance under the leadership of Narendra Modi," Shahi said after meeting the chief minister.

    Nitish Kumar Thursday described the political situation in Bihar as "difficult".

    All eyes are now on JD-U president Shard Yadav, who arrives here Saturday night and will hold meetings with Nitish Kumar and other party leaders.

    One JD-U leader told IANS that the party had decided to snap its alliance with the BJP and that a formal announcement would be made Sunday.

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    rakhio ghalib mujhe is talkh nawai se muaaf
    Aaj kuchh dard mere dil mein siwa hota hai

    By H.A.S. Jafri

    Having been associated with AMU, a nerve center of Muslims all over the world, for more than forty five years I most regularly follow the news and views about the Institution on various networks. I have, however, refrained from active participation for reasons more than one. For one who has been associated with the University administration in any capacity at any given time, with his intervention the debate becomes personal and the main issues are lost. For people who are hurt or aggrieved for some reason or for no reason such intervention provides an opportunity to come out with their pent up anger.

    Aligarh Muslim University

    We the Muslims of India particularly those associated with AMU are in effect innocent, get resentful or joyous over small things. Those who are outside and well settled in life in most of the cases they are sincere. But for people within or around the Campus the less said the better. Tears have rolled down my eyes on several occasions to find that for smallest things or favors people who have gained everything from this Institution and whose generations are still getting benefited can not only ignore the Institutional interest, can ignite fire or harm the Institution for their smallest gains. Just a peep in the past may help us understand the present better.

    1965 is considered responsible for most if not all the present ailments of Aligarh Muslim University. Not delving into the history I would, however, submit that 1965 was only an aberration and the most crucial year in the history of Aligarh Muslim University has been 1947.

    With the partition of the country the elite class amongst Muslims migrated to the other side and this had wide ranging and everlasting effect on Aligarh Muslim University in ways more than one. The vacuum created at the academic level had to be filled in with due care that Aligarh may not lose its identity and the purpose for which the University had come into existence. The result was that the second rate amongst Muslim intelligentsia came to occupy the top positions. And by the very logic if some second rate person is at the top he would not get first rate persons who may over shadow him down the line. And so set in the traditions of politicking favoritism nepotism and sycophancy. The brilliant down the line got frustrated and left the place giving in way to unemployed less qualified persons sitting on the fence. And the tradition continued uninterrupted till a bureaucrat Vice Chancellor who by training was in favor of continuity and opposed to the demand of rotation of Headship initially brought in rotation of headship amongst the teaching Departments. This did have some effect but by this time the malice had been so deep rooted that it was not possible to get out of the traditions of favoritism, nepotism and sycophancy. It can only be hoped that the new generation may not tolerate it for long.

    In addition to affecting the recruitment policy the partition had another very serious effect on the life at Aligarh Muslim University at the social and cultural level. The elite amongst the teachers and students who left the country were mostly from highly cultured and sophisticated class. The gaps were filled in by the people from the less developed and also rural areas some of them lacking family traditions and sophistication. They did try to absorb themselves in the new environs and continued with the tradition of three piece suit or Sherwani. Beneath of the meticulous dress could not, however, be changed. And so started the tradition of ragging in place of dignified Introduction and many other connected evils.

    As far as the functioning in the University is concerned it has been observed over the years that all Vice Chancellors have come with good and noble intentions with ideas and plans to improve the functioning of this nerve center of Muslims of India. Who would not wish that out of more than three hundred odd universities leaving aside Jamia Millia Islamia which was conferred the status of Central University much later and Jamia Hamdard which is still a Deemed University, Aligarh Muslim University, though not constitutionally, are meant to provide education to the educationally backward and beleaguered community of Muslims in India emerges as a Center of Excellence not only to help out the Muslims but to project as Nation’s Pride throughout the world. The hundred million dollar question remains if the ‘inhabitants’ of the land who do not feel tired saying the same hundred times allow that to happen.

    And we shall revert back here to the first paragraph of this long note that for our smallest gains not only that we would not bother about the Institutional interests we would not hesitate to ignite fire, all our lip service notwithstanding. And it is the students’ not only here but everywhere in all educational institution who are used to foment trouble be it 1965 or 2013. Average student is career conscious and does not easily fall prey and criminals are easily identifiable particularly if left alone and so the search goes on for a group not much interested in studies and have career prospects only in politics. That is why when there is no organized student group, the mentors feel restless. The trend is unending and we can only pray for the Institution to be saved of its well-wishers. The demand for Students Union is raised in the name of democratic functioning and as a forum to protect and project student interests. A poser here may not be out of place. Has anyone ever seen a Student Union leader dying or even getting injured in police firing necessitated by student agitation? It is always the innocent who out of curiosity come out or happen to pass through that route.

    The note has become very lengthy but there is lot more to write. It shall, however, be better if many things are left unwritten. Apologies in the end if this note has hurt someone even inadvertently.

    H.A.S. Jafri is Retd. Professor of Political Science, AMU, Aligarh. This article first appeared at mailing list AMUNetwork

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    By Subhashini Ali

    Immediately after winning the state assembly elections in 2012, leader of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Mulayam Singh Yadav, lost no time in thanking the Muslim voters of the state for having contributed the most towards his party’s electoral victory. He has repeated his sense of gratitude on several occasions since then and has vowed that the government led by his son, Akhilesh Yadav, would go the extra mile to redress the Muslims’ grievances and see that their demands for justice in all spheres are met.


    Today, 15 months since the SP government took office, however, Muslims in UP are disillusioned and angry. Pratapgarh, Mathura, Gonda and most seriously, Faizabad, have all witnessed attacks on the minority community, and everywhere the state police has played abettor to those indulging in arson, loot and violence. Everywhere it is the Muslims who have suffered the loss of property and lives. There has been little effort made by the state government to punish either rioters or the officials responsible. It was only in response to the Faizabad incidents that the government acted.

    Subhashini Ali (in white sari) in Rihai Manch's dharna for justice in Khalid Mujahid's killing.

    One may note that the incidents of rioting and arson took place in Faizabad on October 12, 2012, and continued unabated for three hours. They then started spreading to the nearby areas. Two persons were killed and more than 100 shops burnt along with a newspaper press and a mosque. Senior officers rushed to Faizabad from Lucknow and reported that the police and administrative officers had switched off their mobiles and refused to obey orders. As a result, one superintendent of police (SP), one inspector and two magistrates were suspended. On this May 26, however, all of them were reinstated without any explanation whatsoever.

    However, it is the way in which the SP government has been responding to the issue of ‘terror suspects’ that is creating the maximum amount of anger and resentment among the Muslims on the one hand. On the other hand, it has been giving the BJP a handle to accentuate the communal polarisation in the state.

    In its election manifesto, the SP had promised to release all the innocent Muslims under arrest in jails. This was a strange and controversial assurance but it did create hope among a large numbers of people who were concerned and agitated by the wholesale arrests of young Muslim men from Uttar Pradesh, especially from Azamgarh, whenever a bomb blast occurred --- not only in the state but also outside. For several months after assuming office, the government did nothing to redeem this promise and then, when it did act, it approached the High Court in November 2012, in a most ineffective manner that was bound to fail. The court responded with very sarcastic comments saying, “Should terrorists be given the Padma Shri?” etc, which were widely publicised and even more widely utilised by the BJP. Instead of learning a lesson from this, the state government filed an unsustainable affidavit in the district court of Bara Banki in April, appealing for the release of Tariq Qasmi (accused in a number of ‘terror’ cases). Later, the state government approached the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on June 6, 2013 in a similar manner, requesting the withdrawal of several cases in “the public interest and maintenance of communal harmony.” But, not surprisingly, this was rejected by the court on June 7 and has been referred to a larger bench.


    There is good reason to believe that the attempts by the UP government to live up to its poll promise, are not meeting with any success by design. They are meant to satisfy the Muslim sentiments without outraging others. It is another thing that they are failing on both counts. What contributes to this questioning of the government’s motives is the fact that if it were sincere, there were two instances in which the government could have acted in order to undo the past injustices without subverting the rule of law.

    In the first place, there are at least nine young men, all belonging to Kanpur, who have been acquitted by the High Court of charges of rioting, murder and terrorist activities, after having spent between eight and ten years in jail in the state. In February 2013, Prakash Karat and Subhashini Ali met the UP chief minister and gave him a memorandum demanding compensation and rehabilitation for them and also action against all officers and personnel responsible for framing them, torturing them and obtaining forced confessions from them. The government has not responded so far, which is incomprehensible. Here is a government that has been promising to release from jails the innocent youth accused in terror cases but is not rendering justice to those who have been acquitted in the cases involving acts of terror.

    In the second instance, the government could and should have accepted the recommendations of the Nimesh commission of enquiry that had been set up by the previous state government and whose report the present government received in August 2012, but has chosen to keep it under wraps till today.

    The commission, headed by a High Court judge, R D Nimesh, was constituted in 2008 by the BSP government in response to huge protests against the perceived injustice done to two ‘terror’ accused, Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasmi. Both these young men were arrested, allegedly by the Special Task Force (STF), from near their homes in Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts on December 16 and 12, 2007, respectively. Their arrests were witnessed by hundreds of people and the first information reports (FIRs) were launched in police stations in both cases on that date. When there was no information available as to their whereabouts, some people belonging to the Lok Shahi Party started a dharna in Lucknow and its leader threatened to commit suicide onDecember 23. On December 22, the state police announced that they had arrested both the men along with a large amount of explosives etc from outside Bara Banki station early that morning. They were accused of bomb blasts in Gorakhpur etc and sent to jail.

    The protests, however, continued and the BSP government responded by announcing the Nimesh commission of enquiry. The commission interviewed hundreds of people --- eye witnesses from Jaunpur and Azamgarh, family members of the accused, the accused themselves, the police and administrative personnel involved in their arrests and framing of charges, and members of the judiciary and jail administration. Its report ran into more than 200 pages and was submitted to the state government in August 2012.

    It was then that the SP government could have immediately made the report public; it could have placed it before the state assembly where it could have been debated and then accepted; and it could have used it as the basis to secure the release of the two young accused. After all, when the case of young Kashmiri who had been wrongfully confined in jail in Delhi on charges of terrorist activity was raised in the Rajya Sabha by Brinda Karat, leaders of all parties, including the BJP, demanded justice, compensation and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the SP government did nothing at all with the report.


    Some months ago, the Nimesh commission report was leaked and is now widely available. The report, in its findings, accepts that both Tariq and Khalid were arrested from Azamgarh and Jaunpur on December 12 and 16, respectively, and that they were beaten and tortured. Justice Nimesh says while it is clear that those who apprehended, beat and tortured the two men belonged to the state police, it is not possible to name them. But they could certainly be punished after an enquiry had been conducted by the state government. Justice Nimesh goes on to say that it seems highly unlikely that Tariq and Khalid could have been apprehended from Bara Banki railway station on December 22 while they were in possession of explosive material, as has been alleged by the police. He then gives several suggestions such as setting up of special courts to try cases involving terrorist acts which should complete the trial within two years; videography of the interrogation process; etc.

    Why should the state government have kept the report out of the public domain when its conclusions and recommendations were very cautious and logical? The only reason can be that the government wanted to protect the police, administrative and judicial personnel involved, even at the cost of unforgivable denial of justice that has assumed a horrible dimension of late.

    On May 18, when Tariq and Khalid were being brought back to Lucknow from the Faizabad court under police escort, Khalid felt unwell in Bara Banki. He was taken to the district hospital and was shortly declared dead. His death in custody has aroused a storm of protest and raised several questions. The post mortem report has not answered any of these questions, since it gives the cause of death as being uncertain, but states that his face was swollen and dark, there were blood stains near his nose and his finger nails were blackish. Also surprising is the fact that while he was wearing kurta pyjama that day in the court, his dead body was dressed in a vest and a track pant. Soon after his death, his uncle lodged an FIR in the Bara Banki Kotwali, accusing all the officers involved in his arrest --- including a former DGP, ADG and several senior officers --- as being part of a conspiracy to kill him. The following day, the Rihai Manch, an organisation of human rights activists, started an indefinite dharna in Lucknow demanding the arrests of the police personnel named in the FIR and also government acceptance of the Nimesh commission report. The dharna was addressed by various leaders of Left parties, mass organisations, human rights groups and also Muslim organisations.

    The chief minister made a statement the next day saying that Khalid had died a natural death. But, mysteriously, after another day passed, the nine police personnel escorting Khalid and Tariq were suspended and a compensation of six lakhs was announced for his family. This was turned down by his mother and uncle. These actions of the state government, while they have done nothing to assuage the anger have, once again, become part of the BJP campaign.

    Most unfortunately, on May 19, some lawyers of Faizabad, who claimed to speak on behalf of the entire legal fraternity, attacked the lawyers who were defending Tariq Qasmi and one of them was badly injured while the offices of all of them were destroyed. The district administration took no action at all in spite of its assurances, and the affected lawyers were carrying on with their work while sitting on the ground. This shameful incident has not been condemned by any political party other than the CPI(M).

    Ten days after Khalid’s death, the state cabinet discussed the Nimesh commission report, ‘accepted’ its recommendations and announced that it would place the report in the next assembly session with an action taken report (ATR).

    Interestingly, it was during this period that the ‘hate speech’ case against Varun Gandhi was withdrawn after all the witnesses, including senior government officials, turned hostile. Open allegations of the Samajwadi Party’s complicity have been made and a minister, Riaz Ahmed, whose constituency falls under Varun Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency, is alleged to have struck a deal with him --- that the case would be withdrawn in return for support in the assembly election. As it has been!

    In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election which is round the corner, the state has, once again, been converted into a communal tinder-box. This will benefit no party other than the BJP. What is even more unfortunate is the fact that the terrible miscarriage of justice that has blighted so many young lives and ruined the future of so many women and children, is not being addressed at all. While a doctor of Indian origin in Australia, Dr. Mohamed Haneef, is compensated by a government that tenders an unqualified, public apology for having confined him wrongfully for 12 days, Indian citizens wait for justice from their own governments in despair and rage. This is a situation in which secular and Left forces must intervene, otherwise communal organisations of all hues will have a field day. The CPI(M) in Faizabad took the initiative and organised a well-attended hall meeting which was addressed by Professor Prabhat Patnaik and Subhashini Ali. Such programmes must be organised throughout the state.

    Subhashini Ali is a former MP and leader of CPI(M). This article first appeared in People’s Democracy.

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    By IANS,

    Patna : RJD chief Lalu Prasad Saturday said that Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) was on the verge of breaking up as over 50 of its legislators were set to join the BJP.

    And for a change, Lalu Prasad launched a scathing attack against JD-U, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and JD-U president Sharad Yadav instead of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his favourite target.

    "The JD-U will break and more than 50 of its legislators will join the BJP soon," he told the media here.

    Lalu Prasad ruled out a split in his own Rashtriya Janata Dal.

    The RJD leader said Nitish Kumar was trying to end the alliance with the BJP only to woo Muslim voters.

    He questioned Nitish Kumar's silence during the 2002 riots in Gujarat when the latter was a cabinet minister in the NDA government.

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    By Dr. Syed Ahmed,,

    Imphal: The Manipur unit of Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) is organizing free Unani treatment camps in the large Muslim concentrated areas of Imphal under the Clinical Pilot Project (Unani). One such free treatment camp was organized at the ground of the Bare Jame Masjid at Minuthong Golapati, in Imphal, on June 15, 2013.

    The one-day camp gave free health check-up and treatment to around 300 Muslim patients, including women and children. A team of doctors and nurses attended the patients with great care and concern. Medicines were also distributed.

    CCRUM comes under the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. The head office is at Jawaharlal Nehru Anusandhan Bhavan, Janakpuri, in New Delhi. The State unit of CCRUM is at present attached to the office building of the Regional Research Institute of Homeopathy (RRIH) at New Checkon Tribal Colony in Imphal East District.

    One of the doctors at the camp, Dr. Majid Ali informed that the State unit of CCRUM has been organizing such free treatment camps in many parts of the Imphal areas over the last few months under the Clinical Pilot Project (Unani) to promote the Unani System of treatment. “Unani is not very popular in the North-Eastern region of India. In order to promote Unani system in this region Central Government had opened the State unit of CCRUM two years back in Thoubal district. Later the office had to be shifted to Imphal considering the insecure law and order situation is Thoubal,” Ali added.

    Ali, who hails from Delhi, further said there are at present six State Unani Centres, all under National Rural Health Mission (NHRM). CCRUM is the only Central unit working in the State, Ali added.

    “In these free Unani treatment camps our team of doctors treat various diseases, namely skin diseases like vitiligo, eczema, psoriasis, etc., digestive disorders like acid peptic disease, indigestion, dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, respiratory disorders like bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, etc., muscxulo-skeletal disorders like arthritis and osteoporosis, neurological disorders like senile dementia, paresis, etc., cardio-vascular disorders like hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, etc., life style and metabolic disorders like obesity, gout, diabetes mellitus, hyper-lipidemia, etc. and some of the common sexual disorders,” Ali added.

    Another doctor at the camp, Dr. Islam Ansari said, “This time we have selected some of the large Muslim inhabited areas of Imphal city, like Minuthong Golapati, Mana Ingkhol, Hafiz Hatta, Entakulla, etc. These areas are densely populated. Most of these people come from the remote villages to earn their livelihood here. They are poor, illiterate and least concerned about their health. Even though these areas come under the Imphal Municipal area the health centres are not working effectively.”

    Maolana Atabuddin, a resident of Minuthong Golapati who came for treatment at the camp, said, “The Muslim localities in and around Imphal city need such free health camp. Majority of the Muslims in our locality are poor and they do not have adequate money to invest in treatment. They are unaware of the health schemes that the Government provides as they are mostly illiterate. Government has also failed to provide proper health care facilities in this area.”

    “I completed my Alim course from a madrasa in mainland India. I am familiar with Unani system of treatment. However, the system is not so popular here. Such free treatment camps will help in popularizing the system,” Atabuddin added.

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    By TCN News,

    Aligarh: The Aligarh Muslim University Hockey Club is organizing a two-week Hockey Coaching Camp for school students (boys) of AMU and Aligarh district. The camp will commence from June 19 and will conclude on July 2, 2013.

    Dr. Mohammad Shoaib Zaheer, President, Hockey Club said that the objective behind organizing this camp is to nurture young talent and prepare them to become state and national level players. He urged the school boys to join the camp in large numbers and register their presence at the University Hockey Ground at 4:30 pm.

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    By TCN News,

    Lucknow: Effigy of current IB chief Asif Ibrahim was burnt today as RIhai Manch reiterated its pledge to fight for justice for Muslim youths arrested on fabricated terror charges.

    Rihai Manch (Forum for the Release of Innocent Muslims imprisoned in the name of Terrorism) is on indefinite dharna outside the UP Assembly outside the Uttar Pradesh Assembly demanding arrest of police officers involved in Khalid Mujahid's murder, issuing the RD Nimesh commission report, and the immediate release of innocent Muslim youth imprisoned in the name of terrorism.

    The Manch today completed the 25 days of indefinite demonstration and reiterated their pledge to continue the protest till their demands are met.

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

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

    Rihai Manch is leading a sustained demonstration against the UP government demanding actions on its poll promise of releasing innocent youths languishing in jails in fabricated terror charges. On Friday the demonstration completed 24 days.

    Several rights groups and individuals have also expressed their solidarity with the Manch demonstration and on different days made token participation.

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    By IANS,

    Patna: Dalit Muslims marched here Sunday in support of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's likely decision to end his party's alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    Hundreds of Dalit Muslims took part in the march under the banner of Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj.

    "We support Nitish Kumar for his daring move to oppose the BJP and its likely prime ministerial candidate, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi," said Mahtab Ansari, a member of the Mahaj.

    Mahaj's two leaders - Ali Anwar Ansari and Saleem Perwej - are considered close to Nitish Kumar. Ali Anwar is a JD-U Rajya Sabha member and Perwej is a JD-U legislator.

    The JD-U is expected to formally end its alliance with the BJP Sunday.

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    By IANS,

    Kolkata: The CPI-M Sunday said it will try to unify non-Congress and non-BJP parties in order to provide alternative policies to the country.

    "Right now there is a process of political churning, a process of political alignment and realignment is going on," party leader Sitaram Yechury told the media here.

    "What shape it will take is a future thing, but what we want is unification of non-Congress and non-BJP parties for providing alternative policies which the country needs," he added.

    He ridiculed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's call for a Federal Front.

    "A front is not formed by merely announcing it. We have seen such experiments in the past, and they are neither sustainable nor do they inspire people's confidence.

    "May be it's a ploy to divert attention from her government's shortcomings or to enhance her importance in national politics," Yechury said.

    He said there were two streams of Left in the country -- Communist Left and Socialist Left.

    "If these two unite, we can become a potent political force," he said.

    "The Left parties are meeting in Delhi in July. We will not only discuss alternative policies with non-Congress non-BJP parties but will announce our policies," Yechury added.

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    By IANS,

    Mumbai: Fifteen Hindu students were among 350 awarded academic scholarships by a Muslim NGO, Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra (Arshad Madani) here Sunday.

    Awarding the scholarships, Maulana Azad Financial Corporation (MAFC) chairman Amin Patel said that education is the only solution for the upliftment of Muslims who are even more backward than the Backward Classes, as described by the Sachar Committee in its report of 2006.

    JUEM-AM legal aid cell chief Gulzar Azmi said this is the fourth year since the NGO has been giving scholarships to non-Muslim students. The scholarship amounts range between Rs.1,000-Rs.10,000, and is usually sufficient to cover school fees.

    "This year, we disbursed around two million rupees to needy students studying in Class VI to Junior College, Class XII. The figure of scholarships awarded also keeps on increasing depending on the number of applications we get every year," Azmi said.

    JUEM-AM president Maulana M. Ahsan Azmi said that since its inception in 1919, the NGO has shied away from making any kind of religious discrimination while helping the society.

    "During the pre-Independence era, we fought the British and the advocates of a separate Pakistan. Now, we are present around the country to provide emergency assistance to anybody, whether Muslim or non-Muslim," Maulana Azmi said.

    "There are many secular trusts and NGOs which readily provide help to needy Muslim students in the country. In its humble way, the JUEM-AM attempts to reciprocate the noble gesture," he added.

    The JUEM-AM is also at the forefront of providing free legal aid to over 300 innocent Muslims who have been arrested for alleged involvement in terrorist incidents around the country.

    After studying in-depth the case of the victims, its panel of lawyers fights for them and secures their release on bail or acquittal.

    One such prominent case was the 26/11 terror attack co-accused Faheem Ansari, who was acquitted after his case was fought by the JUEM-AM legal team, and some others accused in the Malegaon 2006 blasts case.

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    By Imran Khan, IANS,

    Patna: Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) ended its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP Sunday after days of simmering tensions, marking a major split in the country's main opposition grouping.

    In a bitter end to weeks of feuding, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told Governor D.Y. Patil to sack all the 11 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers in his government for not working and vowed to prove his majority in the assembly Wednesday.

    Simultaneously, JD-U president Sharad Yadav announced he was quitting as convenor of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

    "We are not responsible for ending the alliance. We are pushed to this situation so as not to compromise with our basic principles," Nitish Kumar said here. "We don't care for the repercussions, we are not worried."

    The JD-U, one of the oldest allies of the BJP, is the 14th party to desert the NDA, which was born in 1998 and ruled India for six years under the leadership of the now ailing Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

    "The JD-U is formally out of NDA and we have ended our alliance with the BJP," Yadav told a press conference also attended by Nitish Kumar.

    Both stated they would not dilute the party's "basic principles" -- a political euphemism to mean they would never accept a BJP seemingly led by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

    The JD-U's departure forced BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi to demand Nitish Kumar's resignation while Sushma Swaraj called the divorce "sad and unfortunate".

    The fissures between the BJP and JD-U were triggered by Nitish Kumar's opposition to Narendra Modi and the BJP decision to make the Gujarat strongman its public face in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

    “We were forced to end our alliance with the BJP in view of some latest development that put us in a difficult situation and so as not to compromise with our basic principles,” Yadav said.

    He sought to draw a line between a Modi-driven BJP and BJP stars Vajpayee and L.K. Advani, pointing out that the JD-U alliance with the NDA was based on a national agenda forged during the Vajpayee-Advani era.

    ”Now it seems the BJP is trying to bring controversial issues like the Ram temple into its agenda," he said, referring to the raging temple row of Ayodhya that the BJP had put on the backburner for years.

    The BJP hit back. Sushil Modi asked Nitish Kumar to resign on moral grounds.

    "He was elected as head of the NDA in Bihar when he was made the chief minister. Now that he is no more an NDA leader, he has no moral right to continue."

    Sushil Modi, once considered close to Nitish Kumar, said the JD-U decision was "a black letter day".

    In Kanpur, BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said his party won't go back on the decision to make Narendra Modi its election campaign chief.

    "Whatever decision has been taken on Narendra Modi, we will not go back at any cost, whether the NDA alliance breaks once or 10 times."

    However, BJP chief Rajnath Singh was more guarded in his reaction, even as he defended the decision to elevate Narendra Modi.

    "Why did the JD-U snap ties (with the BJP)? What was our mistake? They have disintegrated our emotional relationship of 17 years," he said, while addressing the BJP's youth convention in New Delhi.

    "To be successful in the general elections, we have made Narendra Modi the chief of the election campaign committee. Is that my mistake? Every political party creates a campaign committee for any elections. Was the JD-U angered just by this and snapped such old ties?" he said.

    Earlier Sunday, Nitish Kumar met the governor and said he wanted all BJP ministers out of his ministry as they had stopped attending office.

    "This situation cannot continue. Ministers are meant to work. Such a situation is not acceptable," he said, adding he had called for a special session of the assembly Wednesday to prove his majority.

    The JD-U has 118 seats in the 243-member assembly, only four short of majority, while the BJP has 91 members. There are six independents in the assembly while the Congress has four members.

    The BJP has accused the JD-U of trying to poach its legislators.

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    By IANS,

    Jaipur: Tension prevailed at a town in Rajasthan's Rajsamand district Sunday after communal clashes left over a dozen people, including a policeman, injured, police said.

    According to police, clashes broke out in Rajnagar town Saturday night following a dispute between two groups of youths.

    "Two youths fired at another youth from a different community. It led to stone pelting and incidents of arson," a police officer said.

    The officer added that for over two hours, people from the two communities hurled stones at each other at different places in the town.

    "Some people blocked National Highway-8 and burnt tyres and two motorcycles. People from another group hurled stones at houses in a colony, smashing window panes," said the officer, adding that a dozen people were left injured in the clashes.

    "We deployed heavy police force in the town today (Sunday). The administration also clamped section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure banning unlawful assembly of people. We have detained some people from both the communities," said the officer.

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    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: The Social Democratic Party of India, (SDPI), has deplored the pressure being built up by the Intelligence Bureau, (IB), top ups to bail out their Special Director Rajender Kumar around whom the CBI, (Central Bureau of Investigation), noose is tightening of being involved in the conspiracy of liquidating Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices, in a fake encounter near Ahmadabad on June 15, 2004.

    SDPI national president A. Sayeed in a statement termed it as shameful of the reported running of IB Director to complain to the Prime Minister Office, (PMO), following the summons issued to IB Special Director Rajendra Kumar by the CBI while relying on the familiar old story of ‘investigation will hit the morale of the IB’. Similarly, the way Union Home Secretary is reportedly trying to mediate between CBI and IB in order to save IB officials involved in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case in the name of upholding the moral of the intelligence agencies is deplorable. It only goes to prove the connivance of state machinery in terror attacks and witch hunting of Muslim youths. It seems as though a blanket immunity from any scrutiny and accountability is the only guarantee of IB morale, he said.

    The statement said that the CBI director Ranjit Sinha has reportedly claimed that the agency has sufficient evidence against Intelligence Bureau special director Rajendra Kumar for his alleged involvement in the 2004 fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan and four others, who were said to be involved in an assassination attempt on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

    Sayeed lamented that after not getting positive response from the PMO the IB has enlisted the support of discredited ‘journalists’ to plant stories to dispel theories of involvement of Rajender Kumar in the fake encounter. The IB using the pliant sections of the media has got the 24-hour news channel “Headlines Today” aired tapes of telephone conversations between alleged key operatives involved in the supposed assassination plot to eliminate Narendra Modi. The tapes have not been authenticated and the timing of revelations are also questionable, he charged.

    Sayeed wondered as to why are these tapes have been leaked to the press selectively now when investigators are closing in on Rajender Kumar; why have these tapes not been placed before magistrate Tamang whose enquiry in 2009 concluded that Ishrat and others were killed in cold blood and as to why were the tapes not placed before the SIT in 2011, which similarly reached the conclusion that the encounter had been staged?

    He said that the IB cannot hide behind its flagging morale and continue to remain unaccountable to the Indian people. It cannot pretend to be above the law of the land and try to scuttle the interrogation of the Special Director IB. It must be answerable to these questions.

    Meanwhile, Sayeed said the State is knowingly prosecuting the innocent Muslim youths on terror charges. Some investigative journalists worth their salt have unearthed internal documents from more than half a dozen anti-terror agencies that show that the State has been knowingly prosecuting innocent Muslims for terror cases and keeping away the evidence of their innocence from the courts and these youths are languishing in jails for years.

    He said that such cases against innocent Muslim youth are not isolated one but it has become a general trend nowadays. It is whose agenda against these Muslim youths, Sayeed said.

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  • 06/16/13--09:11: Modi versus Mahatma
  • India is caught between the communalism and obscurantism of the BJP and political bankruptcy of the Congress.

    By Aijaz Zaka Syed

    Otto Von Bismarck described politics as the art of the possible. After months of breathless anticipation and speculation, the BJP has finally thrown its lot behind Narendra Modi, opening the door to infinitely interesting possibilities. The high-stake Lal Krishna Advani resignation drama stealing his former protégé’s thunder and the subsequent climb down may just be the beginning.

    This isn’t merely about an unsavoury tug-of-war within the saffron family. The Gujarat chief minister’s nomination as leader of the BJP’s 2014 poll campaign and by implication its prime ministerial candidate marks a defining turning point for India’s vibrant democracy and is set to transform the country’s political landscape.

    Advani, marginalized.

    It is a testament to Modi’s cutthroat approach to politics and everything elsethat he sees no compunction in turning on his own mentor and godfather to get what he wants. He has split the party that he dreams of leading to power next year down in the middle. And even before taking power in Delhi, the Gujarat leader has managed to polarise and divide the nation like no other politician ever has, not to mention the notoriety that has come India’s way in the past 11 years thanks to Gujarat. And the Dear Leader hasn’t even begun. You hardly need the third eye of a Nostradamus to divine what lies in store for India if it eventually gets Prime Minister Modi.

    Call it poetic justice or whatever that Advani, who along with former prime minister Vajpayee founded the BJP and its earlier avatar Jan Sangh building it from a scratch, has been felled by the monster that he helped create. Indeed, more than Vajpayee, the once benign, smiling face of Hindutva, it is Advani’s groundwork and rabblerousing with clever campaigns like the Ayodhya yatra that helped the party catapult itself from a 2-member marginalised outfit to power in Delhi.

    To see the architect of the BJP divested of leadership and eminence in his own party and upstaged by his own protégé at this stage in his life therefore is rather edifying. It is a telling comment not just on the fickle nature of political fortunes but the uncertainty of life itself.

    The irony of ironies, when Vajpayee, scandalized by the brazenness with which Modi presided over the 3-month long carnage in 2002, wanted to fire the chief minister, it was Advani who bailed him out. And now his life-long dream of leading India has come crashing down to the ground thanks to the man groomed by him who has now replaced him in the good books of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the powerful ideological parent and boss of the BJP and its many other fellow travellers. The Sangh, seen as the inspiration behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, has been for the past seven decades working to paint this amazing land distinguished by its diversity in one overpowering hue of saffron.

    By foisting someone like Modi on the BJP and making Advani fall in line, the Sangh, whose visceral hatred of Muslims remains its golden guiding principle, has once again demonstrated who really calls the shots and controls the party that could take the reins of the great democracy next year.

    Whether Modi will ultimately get to Delhi or not, India will never be the same again. Doubtless, by picking someone who is seen and shunned around the world as the architect of the 2002 pogrom that killed around 3000 people as its leader, the BJP has taken a huge gamble.

    The principal opposition party hasn’t merely thrown the gauntlet to a battered and bruised Congress and allies like Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar who have baulked at the idea of a tainted man leading the nation. It has challenged the very idea of India and all that is essential to the wellbeing of the country as a pluralistic and democratic nation.

    It is not as if the rough and tumble world of Indian politics hasn’t seen tainted men in power before. Indeed, India has had more than its share of corrupt, criminal and communal elements. From state assemblies to parliament, you come across them in all shapes and sizes in all parties.

    Advani himself went on to become the Home Minister and Deputy Premier despite the role he and other leading lights of the saffron brotherhood played in the Babri Masjid episode and the bloody upheavals that followed.

    And for all its claims of championing inclusive, secular politics, the Congress has seen thousands of organised riots and conflagrations targeting Muslims and other religious minorities since it took charge of the country after Independence.

    Who can forget what happened to the Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 and elsewhere in the country after Indira Gandhi’s assassination? Three decades on, the community that once took pride in being the defender of India and the Hindus, is still awaiting justice.

    There is a critical difference though. The Congress has repeatedly apologised for 1984. And by picking up Dr Singh for the top job in the land it has tried to atone for its sins in its own way although nothing can recompense for lives lost and permanent scars on the soul. Under Sonia Gandhi, the party has also tried to distance itself from characters like Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar.

    On the other hand, we have Modi and his party who remain singularly unrepentant and proud of what happened in Gujarat in 2002. In fact, instead of censuring Modi and holding him to account, the BJP has chosen to reward and anoint him as its leader for 2014.

    A party bereft of ideas sees Modi as its saviour, argues Shiv Visvanathan inThe Hindu. In fact, he goes on to suggest that “a Modi can only rise in an India bereft of ideas, a country content to play with old clichés like development, governance, security as if they were freshly minted currency. Modi is a hybrid created out of an updated Swadeshi (nationalistic) rhetoric which now manifests itself as a technocratic and corporate, and a loose World Bank vocabulary we call governance.”

    In an editorial, The Hindu itself notes that “Modi has so far been a deeply divisive figure and the Advani episode has revived all the doubts about his ability to lead an India distinguished by its diversity.”

    If this is the best the BJP, one of the country’s two main parties, could come up with as its leadership choice for India, there is a real cause for concern for the billion-strong nation.

    What is more disconcerting is the fact that you do not see anyone in this vast land and colourful, diverse democracy who could offer a credible alternative to check this frightening, all-conquering onward march of fascism complete with a Hitler like figure heading it. The scam-tainted and directionless Congress is mortified and paralysed, like a rabbit caught in the headlights, to mount a credible and coherent defence against the challenge.

    While its coy Italian-born president remains as distant as ever and the befuddled Dr Singh counts his last few days in power, Rahul Gandhi, the party’s third generation dynastic hope, has been running away from the fight. You just cannot imagine him getting down and dirty to take on a mean and murderous opponent spoiling for a fight to the finish. And no one else in the Congress is audacious enough to take the initiative.

    Meanwhile a bewildered nation awaits its fate and the ‘second coming’ of the colossus. Somehow one finds it still hard to believe that a country that calls Gandhi the Father of the Nation could end up electing someone who personifies everything that militates and goes against everything that Gandhi and the architects of this amazing nation believed in.

    Between Modi and Advani and the toxic communalism and obscurantism of the BJP and political bankruptcy of the Congress, India deserves better. In the end, one hopes, commonsense will prevail and the nation will choose Gandhi’s view of India over that of his assassins.

    Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Gulf based commentator. Email:

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    By IANS,

    Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has called upon foreign pilgrims to postpone their Haj plans this year due to ongoing expansion work at Makkah's Grand Mosque, Xinhua reported.

    According to Arab News, this was highlighted through a series of announcements through the Holy Quran television channel from Makkah, the government advised pilgrims intending to perform Haj and Umrah this year to postpone their plans to the Grand Mosque.

    The unprecedented move aims at preventing congestion and stampedes as well as ensuring the safety of pilgrimages.

    The call came after the government's decision to reduce the number of foreign pilgrims by 20 per cent and domestic pilgrims by 50 per cent this year. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh has backed the measure, saying that it was taken in public interest.

    According to official figure, 3.161 million pilgrims preformed Haj last year; if the illegal Haj pilgrims are taken into account, the figure could be around 4 million.

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    By IANS,

    Patna : A day after its 17-year-old alliance with the JD-U ended, an angry BJP Monday decided to expose the "doublespeak" of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over Narendra Modi by distributing CDs of an old video in which he praised the Gujarat Chief Minister.

    Nitish Kumar, however, made light of the the threat, contending these were comments at official events, where it is the protocol not to attack political adversaries.

    "We will expose the doublespeak of Nitish Kumar by distributing CDs of an old video in which Nitish Kumar praised Modi during his visit to Gujarat in 2003, a year after the Gujarat riots," senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi told media persons here Monday.

    "These CDs will be distributed among people in rural as well as in urban areas. People will come to know the doublespeak and double face of Nitish Kumar over Modi," he said.

    Soon after JD-U ended its alliance with BJP Sunday afternoon, the BJP released a speech in which Nitish Kumar as a railway minister praised Modi as a potential national leader and a development-oriented politician. "I hope that Narendra Modi will not be limited to Gujarat after some time. The country needs his services," Nitish Kumar reportedly then said.

    Defending himself, Nitish Kumar said: "I had to go for a lot of government events. At government events, you don't push your party's opinions or agenda. That is not protocol. It is protocol that at these events, you don't attack each other or make public complaints."

    Nitish Kumar has been opposing Narendra Modi since 2010 and last month clearly made it clear that JD-U will not accept him as prime ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

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