August 17, 2008

Hindu bombers break myth; Two terrorist arrested

Posted in Hindutva tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:35 am by zarb

Hindu bombers break myth; Two terrorist arrested


Mumbai: Two Hindu “terrorists” were arrested today for allegedly planting bombs at theatres, prompting the Maharashtra chief minister to say this had shattered “the myth” that all bombers came from a particular community.

Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari, 50, and Mangesh Dinakar Nikam, 34, are accused of targeting shows of Ashutosh Gowariker’s film Jodhaa Akbar and a Marathi play that is a spoof on the Mahabharat. They are charged with two blasts that injured several people and an attempted bombing.

Police said the duo were members of the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Jana Jagruti Samiti, organisations involved in protesting “denigration” of Hindu religious icons as in, allegedly, M.F. Husain’s paintings.

“These (the bombings) were definitely terrorist acts as they were carried out by people motivated by an ideology,” said Hemant Karkare, chief of the anti-terrorist squad that nabbed the accused.

“The arrests? have broken the myth that persons belonging only to a particular community are involved (in blasts),” chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said.

Those arrested were produced before the Mazgaon court and sent to police custody till June 24.

According to information collected by the ATS, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti was formed by Dr Jayant Athawle in 2002. It has protested against three major issues ? paintings of Hindu deities by M F Hussain, the Marathi play Yada Kadachit now called Amhi Panchpute, and the movie Jodhaa Akbar.

“Their sphere of activities extends into the hinterland. While we do not have evidence to directly link them to the Bajrang Dal or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, they have protested together on occasions,” said Karkare, denying any link between the two accused and the Nanded blast and adding that all three were ‘clearly terrorist acts motivated by ideology’.

The ATS has indicated that more arrests are likely to follow in this case. “Gadkari and Nikam are full-time sevaks for Sanatan for the last three years. Their links with any terror outfit is yet to be established. Nikam taught Gadkari about bomb-making and one of the two bombs was manufactured within the premises of Sanatan Ashram,” said investigating officer B B Rathor. Nikam had provided a detonator and explosives to make the bomb.

The police got the clues from the number of the motorcycle used by the bombers. The licence number was entered in the log book of the Thane theatre’s parking lot. “We have got evidence of their involvement and are looking for at least half a dozen accused in this case,” said Param Bir Singh, additional commissioner of ATS.

Advertisements

Posted in Minorities, Riots tagged , , , , , , at 8:25 am by zarb

Bandh turns violent in Madhya Pradesh; 5 killed in Indore

 Friday, 04 July 2008:

Bhopal: At least five people were killed several injured as communal clashes erupted in many towns of Madhya Pradesh on Thursday during the BJP-VHP bandh over the Amarnath land deal in Jammu and Kashmir. Following incidents of communal flare-up, the police imposed curfew in Pandharinath, Chatripura, Malharganj and Khajrana localities of the city.

According to police sources, curfew was imposed in four areas of Indore after members of two communities indulged in violence. A violent mob also pelted stones at Khajrana police station damaging vehicles parked in the premises, an official said, adding police resorted to lathi-charge and used teargas shells to control the situation. Protestors also damaged a Reliance Fresh store at Janjeerwala square

Indore’s Inspector General of Police Anil Kumar said four people, killed in group clashes, were yet to be identified.

The situation was tense in old city areas of Bhopal where stone pelting and arson took place as pro- and anti-shutdown groups clashed, the police said.

Half a dozen vehicles were set on fire by a mob forcing the strike near a Bhopal cinema.

Violence erupted near old Bhopal’s bus stand area and adjacent localities when activists of the BJP, the Shiv Sena and the VHP forced the shopkeepers to down their shutters.

They beat up some shopkeepers and passers-by.

A trader in Satna area set himself afire after a mob allegedly looted his jewellery shop, beat him with sticks and threatened him if he reported the matter to the police.

“Bajrang Dal activists in main Satna market reached the jewellery shop of Heera Soni and asked him to close the shop. When he refused, they barged into the shop, looted some jewellery and beat him up,” Narendra Soni, the victim’s younger brother, told mediapersons.

“The activists also threatened him following which my brother out of fear set himself ablaze. The police also beat up my brother so that he does not report the matter to the higher authorities,” Narendra alleged.

Heera was taken to Satna district hospital where he breathed his last in the evening, the police said.

Clashes between people belonging to two communities also occurred in Shahjehanabad, Budhwara, Itwara and Karond in old Bhopal.

According to reports, rioting between the workers of the BJP and the VHP and some shopkeepers also took place in Jabalpur, Indore and Dhar. Several shops were damaged in Jabalpur.

Angry over the forced closure, some people threw stones at the shutdown supporters from the rooftops of their houses, triggering minor clashes in communally sensitive old Bhopal.

Authorities later deployed personnel from the Rapid Action Force (RAF) to control the situation.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that the guilty would not be spared.

“The violence was unfortunate and a thorough probe will be conducted. The situation in the state is completely under control,” he told mediapersons at his residence late Thursday evening.

In the state capital also witnessed scattered violence in many areas. Similarly, incidents of violence have also been reported from Jhabua, Satna, Sagar, Gwalior and Jabalpur. ,Section 144 has been imposed in Jhabua to control the situation, while in Satna a businessman put himself on fire even as protesters went on a rampage in other parts of the state.

Major highways that were temporarily blocked include the Agra-Delhi highway in Delhi and Western Express Highway in Mumbai. Many trains are also being targeted; Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express has been stopped near Agra.

The VHP is also taking an active part in the bandh. “The forest act issue is just an excuse,” VHP general secretary Venkatesh Abdeo said. “This is a conspiracy to stop the Amarnath pilgrimage. Tomorrow it will be Vaishnodevi and Tirupati.”

The severity of the bandh is especially strong in NDA ruled states. Major disruptions have been reported in Punjab, where BJP activists have took to the streets in Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

In many parts of MP, schools and colleges have been shutdown to prevent any untoward incident.

Amarnath row: Bandh hits normal life, 2 dead in Indore

Mumbai, July 3: The nationwide bandh called by BJP and VHP on the Amarnath land transfer row turned violent in Indore on Thursday leaving two persons killed while highways were blocked and trains stopped disrupting normal life in parts of the country.

The bandh evoked mixed response but Jammu region, the epicentre of protests since Tuesday, had no respite from violence when protesters set afire vehicles and fought pitched battles with police at several places. The bandh was called in protest against revocation of Amarnath land transfer.

Another 25 persons were injured on Thursday in Jammu region taking the total number of injured to nearly 100 while curfew remained in force for the third consecutive day in parts of the region.

Normal life was hit in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam and Jharkand where incidents of stone pelting and road blockade were reported prompting police to resort to lathicharge.

The bandh had little or no response in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Tripura. In Delhi, no untoward incident was reported but several arterial roads were blocked. Shops and business establishments remained closed in a few areas.

Curfew was imposed in four areas of Indore in Mahdya Pradesh after members of two communities indulged in violence.

A violent mob also pelted stones at Khajrana police station damaging vehicles parked in the premises, an official said, adding police canecharged and used teargas shells to control the situation. Protestors also damaged a Reliance Fresh store in Janjeerwala square

“Two persons have been killed in violence in Khajrana area while six others are injured,” Indore Collector Rakesh Shrivastava told reporters. One of the injured is reported to be in a serious condition.

As the situation turned violent in Indore, district administration imposed curfew in four areas including Muslim dominated Bombay Bazar and Mukeripura. Police have arrested five persons.

With the state BJP opting out in Gujarat, the bandh got a lukewarm response in the state.

Most of the business establishments, small shops and offices were functioning as usual in Ahmedabad while some malls and shopping centres remained closed.

Incidents of stone pelting and road blockades were reported in some parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai and in Thane. Five BEST buses were damaged in Mumbai’s suburban Kandivili areas in stone throwing by protesters, police said.

VHP supporters halted traffic on some key roads in Vakola, Malad and Borivilli areas in north-west Mumbai and in the northeastern suburb of Ghatkopar causing hardships to officergoers, police said, adding that the saffron activists were dispersed and vehicular movement restored.

Reports of stone pelting on state-owned buses came in Maharashtra’s Thane region where BJP and VHP workers forced show-owners to down shutters.

In Punjab, scores of BJP activists stopped the Howrah-Amritsar express in Ludhiana and stopped road traffic and forced closure of shops in certain parts of the state.

elhi-Bhopal Shatabdi express was stopped by BJP and VHP workers for about 30 minutes in the cantonment station in Agra where protesters got some markets shut and a section of lawyers owing allegiance to the saffron outfits boycotted courts.

In Left-ruled West Bengal, the bandh had little impact with public transport largely remaining unaffected. Some disruption in train schedules were reported in the Sealdah section as BJP workers squatted on tracks.

VHP bandh: Curfew imposed in Indore

Indore: Curfew was imposed in Bombay Bazar and Mukeripura areas of Indore on Thursday and Section 144 has been clamped in Khajrana area following violence during the bandh called by VHP over Amarnath land issue.

Police canecharged and used teargas shells to control the situation as members of two communities indulged in violence, Indore Superintendent of Police R K Choudhry said.

Heavy police force has been deployed in the areas to prevent further flare up, he said.

Meanwhile, protestors damaged a Reliance Fresh store in Janjeerwala square. Police have arrested five persons in this connection

 

Bharath Bandh: Saffron activists forced closure of shops, blocked roads

New Delhi: Normal life was hit in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra as saffron activists stopped trains, blocked roads and forced closure of shops in the wake of an all-India bandh called by BJP and VHP on the Amarnath land transfer issue.

In Left-ruled West Bengal, the bandh had little impact with public transport largely remaining unaffected. Some disruption in train schedules were reported in the Sealdah section as BJP workers squatted on tracks.

Roads were blocked and shops and business establishments remained closed in a few areas in Delhi. Protesters blocked the Delhi-Noida flyway and some arterial roads in east and central Delhi. NH 17 was also reportedly blocked in Udupi, Kundapur and Byndoor in Karnataka and Safron activist pelted stones on vehicles.

In Punjab, scores of BJP activists stopped the Howrah- Amritsar express in Ludhiana and stopped road traffic and forced closure of shops in certain parts of the state to protest revocation of the order on transfer of land to the shrine board by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi express was stopped by BJP and VHP workers for about half-and-hour in the cantonment station in Agra where protesters got some markets shut and a section of lawyers owing allegiance to the saffron outfits boycotted courts.

Shops and business establishments in several parts of Karnataka remained closed with Dakshina, Udupi, Mysore, Kodagu and Hubli-Dharwad regions being hit even as bus services were affected in certain areas.

The bandh, however, failed to evoke much response in Bangalore where government offices functioned normally and public transport plied as usual. The bandh is not being support by the BJP-ruled Karnataka government, officials said.

Incidents of stone pelting and road blockades were reported in some parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai. Five BEST buses were damaged in Mumbai’s suburban Kandivili areas in stone throwing by protesters, police said.

July 26, 2008

Communal Riots – 2005

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:49 pm by zarb

Communal Riots – 2005

By Asghar Ali Engineer

22 January 2006

Like 2004 the year 2005 was also comparatively less violent as far as communal riots are concerned. In fact it is Gujarat, which takes the cake. Perhaps for years to come nothing like Gujarat carnage is likely to take place. Communal carnage of the kind, which took place in Gujarat is not possible without active support of the state machinery. But that does not mean communal violence does not take place at all. It does.

One can put communal violence under two categories: 1) Communal violence which is carefully planned and executed with political or state support or at least with subtle state connivance. Such violence results in great losses of lives as well as properties. It goes on for a long period of time and is deliberately not controlled unless the stated goal is achieved. Anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Bhagalpur riots of 1989, Mumbai riots of 1992-93 and Gujarat riots of 2002 are its obvious examples.

2) Those riots which spontaneously break out on minor causes like dispute on land or money matters between two individuals or groups, knocking out somebody accidentally by car or scooter or construction of mosque or temple etc. Since these are unplanned and spontaneous clashes can be easily controlled, given little determination on the part of police. And in such riots few lives are lost or not much damage is done to properties.

The second category of riots takes place as a result of constant communal propaganda. It is important to note that absence of communal violence does not mean absence of communal propaganda. Communal propaganda goes on riots or no riots. Thus communal forces keep on poisoning the minds of people and keep on promoting animosity between the communities. And so skirmishes continue.

Communal Riots in 2005

It began with Vadodra, Gujarat on 4th February. Gujarat is highly communalised state today in India, thanks to BJP rule and Narendra Modi’s open hostility to Muslims. Trouble began when people in a marriage procession, accompanied by DJ and high power music system, allegedly beat up an auto-rickshaw driver passing on the same rout when he complained of traffic jam. The driver belonged to the minority community, ran away after being beaten up. Soon thereafter a mob came and pelted in stones. A posse of policemen rushed and lobbed four tear gas shells. About a dozen people including a policeman were injured. Four persons were arrested and police also seized the music system.

The rioting in Vadodra was followed by one in Jaunpur village Khetasarai on 4th February. Here it was result of dispute about a cemetery land. In this one woman was killed and 23 persons were injured. Communal tension mounted in the area subsequent to this incident. Violence erupted when some people hoisted saffron flag on the cemetery land when settlement process was on. Then people of one community set fire to two houses of another community. And in response to that people of another community set fire to one shop. Then PAC reinforcements were brought. The people of two communities gathered in large numbers and raised slogans against each other. The police arrested 23 persons from both the communities.

On 8th February communal violence broke out in Rajnandgaon of Chattisgarh. This was result of two girls having fled from their houses and two groups fought on that. Then firing began and then first 144 was clamped and then curfew in the area. There was no news, however, of any death.

Then it was turn of Azamgarh district on 9th February when dispute on distribution of kerosene in Diwali Khalsa village in which 12 persons were injured. Some people belonging to another community tried to enter the queue out of turn and situation went out of control. The police rushed to the spot and controlled the situation.

Again a village in Vadodra district witnessed communal clashes on 11th February when two cyclists belonging to different communities fought. Fifteen persons were injured including a leader of VHP. Many houses were also damaged. The police was keeping a vigil to keep control over the situation.

Next we see communal rioting in Nagazmangala town of Mandya district in Karnataka when an idol was taken from the temple and thrown on the road. However, no one knows who was the culprit. After the rouble broke out rioters, Hindus as well as Muslims went on a rampage in the town. It is said properties worth crores of rupees were destroyed. The police lobbed teargas shells and fired five rounds in the air.

Agra witnessed riots on 13th February in Tajganj near Tajmahal when someone from one community teased a girl from another community. Many houses were set afire after this incident and stoning on large scale started. The police maintained that since police inspector of Tajganj police station had gone out the rioting took such fierce form. He said there was incidence of firing also between two communities. Many illegal arms were found in the area.

Next it was Sanbhalnagar of Moradabad that communal violence erupted on the occasion of Moharram on 19th February. These are communally highly sensitive areas. Rioters resorted to firing in Sanbhalgarh. The police arrested 100 persons from both the communities.

On the same day Lucknow witnessed rioting between Shias and Sunnis in which 3 persons lost their lives and 40 were injured in the old city. Government announced compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs for every person died. 10 shops were looted. The trouble started with Muslims of one sect threw stones on Tazia procession of another sect. Many shops were set on fire. The Shia and Sunni leaders have appealed for peace. Later on 22nd February Banaras also saw sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis in which 24 persons were injured and when dispute started on Tazia procession due to falling of tree on the way. The curfew was imposed which continued even on the third day of incidents.

Dhar in M.P. also witnessed communal disturbances on 22nd February after an explosion and curfew was clamped. Curfew was clamped after stone throwing and setting fire to properties. Ten persons were injured including policemen. An auto rickshaw was set on fire near the bus stand.

Bhilwada, thanks to activities of Bajrang Dal and VHP, has become extremely sensitive town. On 13th March town became very tense after murder of a Bajrang Dal man. For three days curfew remained in force. In Naseerabad in Ajmer District experienced communal tension when a religious leader was injured in Chaprasi Mohallah.

In Mandal, in Bhilwada district more violence erupted on 8th April when some miscreants hoisted saffron flag on a mosque. Muslims were agitated and they filed FIR and the police promised to act against the culprits. Muslims then took out a silent procession and submitted a memorandum. Then in the evening a procession of Charbhujanath was taken out and it stopped near Lakhara chowk and lot of gulal (a coloured powder) was thrown around and at that time some stones were thrown by unknown people. No one knows who threw stones. All those who live around this chowk are Hindus and stones mainly came from the roofs of Hindu houses. It could be the conspiracy of those who were involved in hoisting saffron flag on mosque in the morning.

Immediately after this situation went out of control and 11 Muslim shops and two houses were burnt to ashes and two mazars (mausoleums) were uprooted and Madina Masjid was damaged and one motor cycle was set on fire. Then curfew was imposed at 7-30 p.m. but before it a person called Kanhaiyya Das, who was among the rioters was killed in police firing. The miscreants put his dead body outside a temple and spread rumor that some Muslims entered the temple and killed him.

The police who knew better registered an FIR under pressure from BJP, VHP and even some Congress politicians and it arrested 25 Muslims and beat them up mercilessly. In search operation for illicit arms in Muslim houses many women were also beaten up. Thus Muslims had to suffer financially and physically. In Mandal there were cordial relations between Hindus and Muslims but BJP-VHP combine do not like Hindu-Muslim unity.

Then in Kareda Tehsil suddenly one found flags on Hindu temples with 786 Muslim sacred symbol) inscribed on them and some animal bones. One can well understand who must have done it. Kareda markets remained closed for 72 hours. The Sangh Parivar fixed the responsibility of this on a sufi saint of Kareda Sailani Baba and described his centre as centre of Pak agents and smugglers and demanded his removal from there and threatened that if administration did not act then it will be converted into Gujarat. Communal tension continued there for many days.

Sailani Baba who has Hindu and Muslim disciples was subjected to thorough search but nothing incriminating was found there. And one who had desecrated the temples was nothing but a Shiv Sena activist Ramratan Jhanvar. The whole conspiracy was exposed and Hindus were stunned by such blatant act.

Holi is another occasion when communal skirmishes invariably take place in some communally sensitive areas. Three persons were killed and several others injured. In Balrampur U.P. people in Subhashnagar and Gandhinagar clashed and set fire to several shops. When the procession was passing through a religious place stoning began and clashes started. The police imposed curfew. Police has filed FIR against 52 persons and have arrested 35 so far.

In Rajasthan curfew had to be imposed in Sojat town in the Pali district on 27th March following clashes between two communities during a dance procession on the occasion of Holi. A dozen persons were injured in the clash. According to the police sources, the incident occurred on Saturday evening as a traditional Holi dance procession passed through a Muslim locality and suddenly both side started pelting stones at each other. Angry processionists went on rampage and shops in the area were set on fire. Seventeen persons were injured and 20 shops were set ablaze.

On 27th March Faizabad in U.P. too experienced communal disturbances when members of two communities clashed on the question of throwing colour by Holi revellers. Members of both communities fired on each other. Four persons were injured seriously and 12 shops were set ablaze. It is reported that during Holi revelries about 6 persons died in different parts of U.P. and 50 persons injured. Police said that in Ferozpur one person was shot dead and one died of fire burns. In Fatehgarh, Farrukhabad one person was shot dead.

On 31st March on the occasion of Rangpanchmi communal disturbances broke out in Sarangpur in Rajgadh district in Rajasthan. In these disturbances several people were injured in stone throwing and police has arrested 50 persons in this connection.

Bhilwara, Rajasthan, which has emerged as most sensitive town again witnessed communal clashes on 8th April when communal rioting took place in Mandal town of Bhilwada district. Muslims from villages in the district began to flee for safety. Trouble began when a saffron flag was hoisted on a mosque in Mandal on 8th April and violence broke out when a religious procession was in progress. In Karjalia village of Bhilwada district Muslims faced total boycott and they began to migrate from there when a RSS activist was murdered on March 1. Hindu activists fanned out in the area and called for a social boycott of Muslims. Some 19 families from the village migrated to other places. No one talks to Muslims and if someone does he has to pay a fine of Rs. 11,000. No Hindu shop sells them anything. Bhilwara has become Gujarat within Rajastan.

In these disturbances 10 persons were injured, 6 shops were set afire and three religious places were burnt down. Kanahiyalal Beragi was killed in police firing but police is trying to shift blame on someone else saying he was killed in firing from unlicensed weapon. Beragi’s family maintains that he was killed in police firing and unless police officer is arrested they will not perform last rites of Beragi.

On 19th April people of to communities clashed in Morshi Taluka of Amravati district in Maharashra in which one person was killed and two were injured. This was result of fight between two youths of two communities on a shop. According to collector of Amravati district many shops were set ablaze and looted. Two Autorickshaws and two motor cycles were also burnt down.

On 7th May a Hindu a 50-60 strong mob presumably belonging to Sangh Parivar attacked with lathis on Muslims who had gathered in Kamba in Bhivandi gathered there to pray at Jannatshahwale Baba’s mausoleum. Most of the Muslims were injured. They also upturned a rickshaw and beat up two motorcyclists. They claimed it is Samadhi of Nonathbaba and not Jannatshah Baba’s mausoleum. The dargah has 100 acre property and Sangh Parivar wants to grab the land.

Next Surat came under spell of communal violence on 16th May. Disturbances started after a minor collision between a Muslim Scooterist and a Hindu Kahar Autorickshawwala. Nadeem alias Kaliyo, the Scooterist was injured and shifted to civil hospital and his people came demanding compensation from Autorickshaw owner. An argument began and stoning and acid bulbs were thrown along with soda water bottles. Several people were injured. 27 persons were arrested in this connection. The mob also set fire to one rickshaw and two cycles. Rumours that Dhansukh Kahar was kidnapped and killed began doing rounds until he was found sleeping near the Tapti bank.

Dhar in M.P., another communally sensitive town came under bout of communal violence after some dispute between persons of two communities in which two persons died and 11 were injured. One Raju Bherivi was killed in these skirmishes. Then a Hindu mob armed with swords and other weapons went and killed one Muslim named Allah Noor. It was result of fight between children of two families, which assumed such grave proportions. Curfew had to be imposed on the town.

Badoda (Vadodra) witnessed another bout of communal violence in Mughalwada and this happened, according to the police, due to gamblers. It is gamblers who were interested in provoking violence to earn money. One gambler has been arrested in this connection. Police had to do lathicharge, had to throw teargas shells and open 8 rounds of fire in the air. In this firing one person i.e. Mohammad Saeed was killed. According to the police apart from gamblers, some politicians and media people also might have been involved.

Major Riot in Mau (U.P.)

Mau, in U.P., again a highly sensitive town and went up in flame in October on the occasion of Dasehra. Mau has significant population of Muslim weavers. It is primarily a weavers’ town. Unofficial figures of casualties after proper investigation stand at 14 dead in all and properties worth crores of rupees were reduced to ashes. Many shops were looted. Hospitals, schools and other properties belonging to minority community were totally destroyed.

The dispute started on the question of loudspeaker. Taravih prayers were going on in the mosque nearby due to month of Ramzan and in nearby Dasehra maidan loudspeaker was being used for songs. Some Muslims requested to stop it and Hindus, including one BJP leader agreed to it. But next day some activists of Hindu Yuva Vahini led by Yogi Aditya Nath objected and started playing loudspeaker again and some Muslim youth snatched the equipment. A Hindu Yuva Vahini leader fired and several Muslims were injured. This incited some Muslims to attack Hindus and loot their shops.

But next day the Hindu miscreants took over and killed, looted and set fore to Muslim properties and police looked on. A high police officer from Lucknow told me that it appears that Mulayam Singh government deliberately allowed this mayhem and pillage to balance what happened to Hindus on the first day to ward off BJP criticism. However, whatever the truth fact remains that Muslims suffered great loss of properties although casualties seem to be equal in both the communities.

The role of the media, particularly Hindi media, as usual, was far from satisfactory. It published inflammatory headlines about massacre of Hindus. One T.V. Channel also seems to have doctored a video about the independent M.L.A. Mukhtar Ansari as if he was provoking riots in presence of police bodyguards. The video clip showed only his gestures but there was no sound. All this shows media remains a part of the problem rather than part of solution. Unfortunately administration never takes any action against the media for spreading rumours and hatred.

While disturbances were going on in Mau, Agra once again witnessed communal skirmishes on 23rd October as a result of a small incident in which one woman was accused of theft in a cloth shop and the servant of the shop searched her bag under suspicion. This small incident led to communal clashes when other shopkeepers also joined in. Many anti-social elements suddenly appeared with firearms and began looting shops. Hundreds of people went up on their roofs and began stoning from there. This area around Jami Masjid in Agra is communally very sensitive.

On 20th December communal clashes took place between Hindus and Muslims in Vasundari village under Titwala police station. The clashes started on the question of digging earth. While some Muslims were digging earth, some Hindus attacked them with lathis, iron rods and pickaxes. Seven persons were injured. The injured were admitted to Sion Hospital, Mumbai. One Rohidas Pandurang Jadhav succumbed to his injuries and this led to further tension in the village. On hearing of Jadhav’s death many Muslim women fled from the village as many Muslim men had already been arrested. There was ongoing dispute between Zamir Nazir Pawle and Ganesh Haribhav Jadhav about digging the earth for brick kiln. His brick kiln was also destroyed.

Thus it will be seen that except for Mau riots in October 2005 all other riots were minor and result of small incidents here and there. Such violence is also result of constant hate propaganda by communal forces and regrettably governments of various states do not take any action against hate propaganda. And this propaganda helps communalists for planning major communal violence whenever needed as in Mau this year. It is only vigilance by the people and committed members of civil society that major clashes can be prevented.

The author is director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai. He may be contacted at csss@mtnl.net.in

June 30, 2008

Pity the Brahmins

Posted in Hindutva tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:10 am by zarb

tamilbrahmin.jpg

A signal achievement of the Indian elite in recent years has been to take caste, give it a fresh coat of paint, and repackage it as a struggle for equality.

The agitations in the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences and other such institutions were fine examples of this. Casteism is no longer in defensive denial the way it once was. (”Oh, caste? That was 50 years ago, now it barely exists.”) Today, it asserts that caste is killing the nation–but its victims are the upper castes. And the villains are the lower orders who crowd them out of the seats and jobs long held by those with merit in their genes.

This allows for a happy situation. You can practise casteism of a visceral kind–and feel noble about it. You are, after all, standing up for equal rights, calling for a caste-free society. Truth and justice are on your side. More importantly, so are the media.

Remember how the AIIMS agitation was covered?

The idea of “reverse discrimination” (read: the upper castes are suffering) is catching on. In a curious report on India, The Wall Street Journal, for instance, buys into this big time. It profiles one such upper caste victim of “reverse discrimination” with sympathy. (”Reversal of Fortunes Isolates India’s Brahmins,” Dec. 29, 2007.) “In today’s India,” it says, “high caste privileges are dwindling.” The father of the story’s protagonist is “more liberal” than his grandfather. After all, “he doesn’t expect lower-caste neighbors to take off their sandals in his presence.” Gee, that’s nice. They can keep their Guccis on.

A lot of this hinges, of course, on what we like to perceive as privilege and what we choose to see as discrimination. Like many others, the WSJ report reduces both to just one thing: quotas in education and jobs. No other form of it exists in this view. But it does in the real world. Dalit students are routinely humiliated and harassed at school. Many drop out because of this. They are seated separately in the classroom and at mid-day meals in countless schools across the country. This does not happen to those of “dwindling privileges.”

Students from the upper castes do not get slapped by the teacher for drinking water from the common pitcher. Nor is there much chance of acid being thrown on their faces in the village if they do well in studies. Nor are they segregated in hostels and in the dining rooms of the colleges they go to.

Discrimination dogs Dalit students at every turn, every level. As it does Dalits at workplace.

Yet, as Subodh Varma observes (The Times of India, December 12, 2006), their achievements in the face of such odds are impressive. Between 1961 and 2001, when literacy in the population as a whole doubled, it quadrupled among Dalits. Sure, that must be seen in the context of their starting from a very low base.

But it happened in the face of everyday adversity for millions. Yet, the impact of this feat in terms of their prosperity is very limited.

The WSJ story says “close to half of Brahmin households earn less than $100 (or Rs. 4,000) a month.” Fair enough. (The table the story runs itself shows that with Dalits that is over 90 per cent of households.) But the journalist seems unaware, for example, of the report of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, which says that 836 million Indians live on less than Rs.20, or 50 cents, a day. That is, about $15 a month. As many as 88 per cent of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (and many from the Other Backward Classes and Muslims) fall into that group. Of course, there are poor Brahmins and other upper caste people who suffer real poverty. But twisting that to argue “reverse discrimination,” as this WSJ story does, won’t wash.

More so when the story admits that, on average, “[Brahmins] are better educated and better paid than the rest of Indian people.”

Oddly enough, just two days before this piece, the WSJ ran a very good summary of the Khairlanji atrocity a year after it occurred. That story, from a different reporter, rightly suggests that the economic betterment and success of the Bhotmange family had stoked the jealousy of dominant caste neighbors in that Vidharbha village. But it ascribes that success to India’s “prolonged economic boom which has improved the lot of millions of the nation’s poorest, including Dalits.” This raises the question: were other, dominant caste groups not gaining from the “boom?” How come? Were Dalits the only “gainers?”

As Varma points out, 36 per cent of rural and 38 per cent of urban Dalits are below the poverty line. That’s against 23 per cent of rural and 27 per cent of urban India as a whole. (Official poverty stats are a fraud, but that’s another story.) More than a quarter of Dalits, mostly landless, get work for less than six months a year. If half their households earned even $50 a month, that would be a revolution.

Let us face it, though. Most of the Indian media share the WSJ’s “reverse discrimination” views. Take the recent Brahmin super-convention in Pune. Within this explicitly caste-based meeting were further surname-based conclaves that seated people by clan or sub-group. You don’t get more caste-focussed than that. None of this, though, was seen as odd by the media. Almost at the same time, there was another high-profile meeting on within the Marathas. That is, the dominant community of Maharashtra. The meeting flatly demanded caste-based quotas for themselves.

Again, not seen as unusual.

But Dalit meetings are always measured in caste, even racist, terms. This, although Dalits are not a caste but include people from hundreds of social groups that have suffered untouchability. The annual gathering in memory of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on December 6 in Mumbai has been written of with fear. The damage and risks the city has to stoically bear when the noisy mass gathers. The disruption of traffic. The threat to law and order. How a possible exodus looms of the gentle elite of Shivaji Park, in fear of the hordes about to disturb their sedate terrain. And of course, there’s the sanitation problem (never left unstated for it serves to reinforce the worst of caste prejudice and allows “us” to view “them” as unclean).

But back to the real world. How many upper caste men have had their eyes gouged out for marrying outside their caste? Ask young Chandrakant in Sategaon village of Nanded in Maharashtra why he thinks it happened to him last week. How many higher caste bastis have been torched and razed in land or other disputes? How many upper caste folk lose a limb or even their lives for daring to enter a temple?

How many Brahmins or Thakurs get beaten up, even burnt alive, for drawing water from the village well? How many from those whose “privileges are dwindling” have to walk four kilometres to fetch water? How many upper caste groups are forced to live on the outskirts of the village, locked into an eternal form of indigenous apartheid? Now that’s discrimination. But it is a kind that the WSJ reporter does not see, can never fathom.

In 2006, National Crime Records Bureau data tell us, atrocities against Dalits increased across a range of offences. Cases under the Protection of Civil Rights Act shot up by almost 40 per cent. Dalits were also hit by more murders, rapes and kidnapping than in 2005. Arson, robbery and dacoity directed against them –those went up too.

It’s good that the molestation or rape of foreign tourists (particularly in Rajasthan) is causing concern and sparking action. Not so good that Dalit and tribal women suffer the same and much worse on a colossal scale without getting a fraction of the importance the tourists do. The same Rajasthan saw an infamous rape case tossed out because in the judge’s view, an upper caste man was most unlikely to have raped a lower caste woman.

In the Kumher massacre which claimed 17 Dalit lives in that State, charges could not be framed for seven years. In a case involving a foreign tourist, a court handed down a guilty verdict in 14 days. For Dalits, 14 years would be lucky. Take contemporary Maharashtra, home to India’s richest. The attention given to the Mumbai molestation case–where 14 arrested men remained in jail for five days after being granted bail–stands out in sharp contrast to what has happened in Latur or Nanded. In the Latur rape case, the victim was a poor Muslim, in Nanded the young man who was ghoulishly blinded, a Dalit. The Latur case was close to being covered up but for the determination of the victim’s community.

The discrimination that pervades Dalit lives follows them after death too. They are denied the use of village graveyards. Dalits burying their dead in any place the upper castes object to could find the bodies of their loved ones torn out of the ground. Every year, more and more instances of all these and other atrocities enter official records. This never happens to the upper castes of “dwindling privileges.” The theorists of “reverse discrimination” are really upholders of perverse practice.

P. Sainath is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu, where this piece appears, and is the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought

Counter Punch Magazine

June 2, 2008

A report on bomb blast at the house of prominent RSS activist in Nanded, Maharashtra

Posted in Hindutva tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 5:32 pm by zarb

— By Dr Suresh Khairnar, Ahmad Kadar and Arvind Ghosh,

Secular Citizen’s Forum & PUCL, Nagpur, May 2006

Bomb blasts at the house of a RSS activist at Nanded on 6th April 2006 was not reported in any newspaper outside Nanded. We in Nagpur came to know about the blasts through a Mumbai based anti-communal activist Ram Puniyani who phoned to inform us of the incident & suggested that a fact finding team should immediatly visit Nanded to find out the facts.

We, three activists of Dharma Nirapeksha Nagarik Manch, Nagpur, Dr Suresh Khairnar, convener (DNNM, Nagpur and PUCL, Nagpur), Ahmad Kadar & Arvind Ghosh proceeded to Nanded on 22nd April 2006 morning at 10am & reached Nanded the same evening at 6pm. We reached the spot of the bomb blast immediately on reaching Nanded.

The house is located in Patbandhare Nagar in Taroda Budruk Upanagar, a densely populated area of Nanded. It is a posh two storied house of approx 3000sq ft built up area, now locked from outside by the police since the day of the blast. The name of the house prominently written on the wall was: Sri Laxmi Nrisinha. The name of the house owner written on the nameplate was Laxmanrao Rajkondwar, ex- executive engineer at Irrigation department. The man is a known RSS activist in the city. Two huge paintings adorned the walls of his house, one that of Lord Ram, another that of Hanuman. A Bajrangdal flag was flying high on the top of the house.

The first question that comes to mind is why should anyone indulge in the secret & sinister activity of making bombs in such a prominent house which can be identified even from a distance as the house owned by a Sangh Parivar person? The only plausible explanation seems to be that the prominent house of a respectable person is a good cover for such activities. Son’s business of selling crackers provided a double cover for manufacturing of bombs.

The neighbors we met were tight lipped & did not want to say much, except that on 6th April at about 1.30am they had woken up to an extremely loud noise and a powerful vibration under the impact of which their windows had opened automatically. When we asked the neighbor staying in the opposite house, how come he did not have even an inkling of the activities of his neighbor, he said you might stay opposite a neighbor for an entire life & yet may not know a thing about them. However he vouched that his neighbors were perfect gentlemen, religious & respectable people. He also told us that next to his house live a police constable who had reported about the blast to the nearby Bhagya Nagar police station.

Next we visited this police station at Bhagya Nagar, which is at a stone throwing distance from Rajkondwar’s house. The Policemen however refused to co-operate with us saying that Srikant Mahajan, PI, who is dealing with the case is not available. He was not reachable through his mobile either. Those who were present at the police station refused to divulge any information regarding the incident.

From the police station we proceeded to the house of Rajaram Wattamwar who is a local working president of Rashtra Seva Dal,a retired professor with socialist background. The first question he asked us was what was the motive of our fact-finding team? He strongly felt that the innocents should not be implicated in the incident & he hoped that this was what had brought us to Nanded. Laxman Rajkondwar according to him is a good man, a very religious & respectable man. He had gone to Shirdi with his wife, daughter-in law & granddaughter when the incident happened in his home. It must have been an accident etc.

The views of Rajaram Wattaram’s on the incident of bomb blast, who is also the president of an organization supposedly formed to expose Sangh Parivar shows the amount of communal bias among the Hindu community.

However he was good enough to provide us with the copies of the local newspapers of days immediately following the incident. He even helped us to contact the editors of some of the local newspapers. It is from theses newspapers as well as our visit to the office of Prajavani, a reputed local newspaper & interaction with its editor & the reporter dealing with the bomb blast incident that we could gather a fair amount of information about the bomb blasts.

On that fateful morning at 1.30am hearing the loud explosion & powerful vibration (which some mistakenly thought was an earthquake) people ran towards the house of Rajkondwar & saw smoke coming out of the house. The impact of the blast was so great that some of the doors & windows of the house had blown away to a distance of 50ft.Two boys were found dead on the spot & three were found seriously injured. One of the boys killed was Naresh Rajkondwar (age 29) the son of Laxman Rajkondwar the owner of the house. The second boy killed was Himansu Venkatesh Panse (age 31). Three persons seriously injured were 1) Yogesh Ravindra Deshpande (31), 2) Maruti Kishor Wagh (22) and 3) Gururaj Jayram Tupttewar (25). The sixth person who in spite of injury managed to escape was Rahul Pande. At first police & the press had declared that only 5 persons were present in the house at the time of the incident. It seems that after interrogation of the 3 injured persons they came to know about the escaped person Rahul Pande who managed to escape on a motorcycle, first to Umarkhed & then to Pusad for treatment of his injuries. He is reported to have told the doctors that he suffered the injuries due to a cylinder burst. He was later arrested from Pusad.

The story that was published in the next morning newspapers was that the blast occurred due to sudden bursting of crackers stored in the house as part of the family business. But doubts persisted, since if crackers catch fire there would normally be a series of bursts & not a single powerful blast as had happened in this case. Moreover the house did not catch fire as is expected in an accident involving crackers. The cracker theory was blasted on 7th April at 4pm when post mortem report was released. The report revealed that bomb parts were found and extracted from the bodies of the dead. The doubt that it must have been a bomb blast was further confirmed on the night of 7th April.

The police search of the house had continued the next day & it was at night that a live pipe bomb was discovered under a sofa along with bomb making materials. As per reports this bomb was taken to an open space out of the city & diffused with the help of an anti-bomb squad. “The blast was very powerful and only the concrete structure survived. Everything else in the house was destroyed. Both the bombs were powerful devices. The recovery of the second bomb and other preliminary investigations clearly show that people assembled in the house were preparing the bomb when the first one went off. We will know more about it only after we speak to the injured people,” said a police official.” It is also reported that after this discovery of the live bomb the houses of the injured in the bomb blast as well as some office bearers of RSS & Bajrang Dal were raided & some documents seized although police have not revealed any of these documents to the press or the public yet. It is also reported that the police has taken 4 people including Rahul Pande into custody. Himansu Panse is said to be the mastermind behind the whole project & Rahul Pande the technical expert.

A police investigating team has been formed under the leadership of Fhattsinh Patil, SP. Srikant Mahajan, Ramesh Bhurawar, Rajendra More, Gopinath Patil, Manikrao Perke & Wamane constitute other members of the team. A ‘Bombshodhak & Bombnashak pathak’ has also been formed which has been deputed to search live bombs & diffuse them. It has been reported that the workings of some of the Hindutwavadi organizations in the city are being investigated. Suryapratap Gupta IG, Nanded has confirmed that a live pipe bomb was found at the house of Laxman Rajkondwar and that all the accused are connected with Bajrang Dal. He has also gone on record saying Rajkondwar’s house was a center for manufacturing of bombs. However the police has maintained silence on the motive for the manufacturing of bombs at Rajkondwar’s house, wherefrom they acquired the material for making the bombs and if the perpetrators of the crime had nationwide connections.

Whereas one of the accused Rahul Pande is reported to have disclosed that the accident occurred due to a mistake in setting timings to the bomb, the police is yet to confirm officially if they were indeed engaged in the making of a bomb when it exploded. FIR has been lodged about unlawful and careless storage of crackers in a residential house against Laxman Rajkondwar, the owner of the house. However the most worrying fact that has been revealed is that the live bomb discovered under the sofa is an I.E.D type sophisticated bomb with timer & operated through remote control. A supplier of chemical material to colleges has been questioned in this regard. It is also reported the accused had been arrested during the Ayodhya Ram Mandir episode.

The police after the initial revelation is now keeping mum over the incident & have not revealed much even to the local press. They have instructed the press not to write much about the incident since that would affect the course of police investigation. This is perhaps the reason why practically nothing has appeared in the local newspapers after the first two days of the incident. No local paper has yet written editorial comments upon it. The local BJP MP Mr D.B Patil has given warning to the police not to harass activists of Sangh Parivar over the incident. Local Shiv Sena MLA Anusuatai Khedekar has also issued a similar warning. Bivagiya Sanghachalak Shamrao Jagirdar released a press statement saying that the young men engaged in the bomb making activity at Rajkondewar’s house were not connected with RSS. RSS does not believe in such activities & violence is against the ideology of RSS. He also assured the police of all assistance & co-operation but at the same time issued a warning against any atrocities on RSS activists during investigation.

State Bajrangdal chief Shankar Gaikwad said, “My local functionaries have told me that it was not a bomb explosion at all. Some crackers caught fire and resulted in the death of two and serious injuries to some others. But none of the dead was from the Bajrang Dal. State BJP spokesperson Vinod Tawde said: “We have heard nothing from the police so far. In any case, what does the Bajrang Dal’s involvement in this, if at all, have to do with us? We are an independent political party with an independent political agenda.”

To get a clearer picture of the incident of bomb blast at the house of a RSS man whose son & friends belonging to Bajrang Dal were engaged in bomb making, it would be necessary to give a brief description of the city of Nanded from the point of view of relations between different communities. Nanded is a city with a population of 8 lakhs out of which 1 lakh is Sikh. 2 lakhs Muslims, & the rest Hindus. It is a place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs due to it being the place of Samadhi of Guru Govind Singh. Nanded is in the region of Marathwada, which was part of the Nizam state before 1957 & hence has a history of Hindu-Muslim tension. Nanded since long is a communally sensitive district. It is agriculture based with very little industrialization & a lot of closed sugar mills. There is tension also between the Sikh & the Muslim communities. Recently there has been a case of elopement of a 17 year old Sikh Girl with a Muslim youth who also happened to be the brother of corporator Anwar Javed (NCP), as a result of which the two communities were in a mood of confrontation. The bomb blasts happened during these days of standoff between Sikhs & the Muslims. There is a rumor that is making its rounds in the city of Nanded that these people engaged in bomb making had plans to attack Muslim places of worship in the disguise of Sikhs & that turbans, beards & moustaches to be used during such intended attacks have been seized from the house of an accused.

However we have come to know from the police sources that police has seized maps of a few Mosques situated in nearby districts from the houses of the accused which give credence to the rumors.

This report remains inconclusive due to lack of availability of authentic information from the official sources, although there exist strong indications that deep communal conspiracies were being hatched by the Hindutwavadi forces in the city of Nanded. Implementation of these conspiracies have been temporarily aborted due to the accidental blast of a bomb while in the process of making, at the house of a prominent RSS activist of the city.