Mumbai and Kashmir

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

INDIA/

A student lifts a placard as he and others line up to take part in a march for peace in Mumbai July 20, 2011. Students from the Antonio Da Silva high school marched through the streets of Mumbai to condemn the recent bomb attacks in the city. 

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

San Pablo (California)–The explosions in Mumbai last week (the 12th) killed twenty-one with over a hundred wounded in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai.  This event should have especial pithiness to Muslims in North America and elsewhere because, although still an overall minority, Delhi’s realm has the second largest Islamic population in the world whereas neighboring Pakistan is overwhelming Muslim.

Of course, the attack upon the Indian Parliament during the first year of this century by non-State actors with the ensuing near-nuclear confrontation that resulted was eventually diffused by the Pakistani Chief Executive despite the far right-wing Hindu chauvinist Government in the Indian Metropole.   Fortunately, at the time of the 2008 attacks upon Mumbai, India had a much more rational Centrist administration; so, the consternation within Bharat in 2008 was resolved more diplomatically than in 2001 over the issues arising around the State non-actors.

In 2008, it became evident that the roots of the attacks lay in the injustices within the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J. & K.).   Whether terrorism is the proper way to conduct insurgency is debatable because it targets civilian rather than military targets, but it is a tactic of asymmetrical warfare wherein the counter-insurgents have an advantage over their irregular opponents, and the rebels believe that terror equalizes the battlefield, and can even bring their fight deep within the Metropolis of the their oppressor, and away from their peripheral homeland.

There is chauvinism within India – and to a lesser extent – within Pakistan that an attack within the border of either is instigated in the capitol of the other.  This often ignores the considerable home-grown discontent within their very boundaries.  It is true that rogue elements within Rawalpindi’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) agency conduct aggressive foreign policy on their own initiative rather than in consultation with Islamabad.  Besides non-State actors, they have had allied out-of-control sub-State players in league with them in the 2001 and 2008 incidents, and might linger in the current incident, but it has not been Pakistani governmental policies to initiate these assaults!  Unfortunately, today Pakistan has a weak Government and is less likely to contain those elements than with their then strong Executive after the diffusion of the crisis in 2002.

Because of the “radical” right-wing and with their Indian media (those that are) sensationalist along with the Pakistani Center’s inability to contain their reprobate elements has caused a very dangerous bi-State situation.  Added to this, the “mercenary” Arab (especially Al’Quaeda’s) entrance into the Kashmiri cause for independence from the Af-Pak region, which has done more harm than good to the Kashmiris themselves, the greater area has become more explosive.

What happened last week is very dangerous indeed.  The Indians have taken a fortunate restraint until they can claim to have determined the guilty party and who – if any – were responsible for supporting them. 

I, personally, am most worried this will cause the fall of the rational (Indian) Congress ascendancy, and the subsequent  ascendance of the fascist-like BJP (the Bhartiya Janata Party), the political wing of the Hindu fundamentalist/casteist RSS (Rashtiya Swamsevak Sangh) who brought the world the assassination of M.K. Gandhi during his fast to end the slaughter ensuing the Partition of British India between the Muslims and Hindus, etc. just after the Independence of Pakistan and the Indian Union in the late 1940s.

I have many friends and colleagues on both sides of the LoC (Line of Control, the de facto frontier between the two South Asian neighbors in Kashmir).  During the last fortnight, I have been daily on my phone to the Gulf and Subcontinent to get my learned acquaintances perspectives.

So, far I have been receiving replies of little concern over the recent incident within that region.   Whatever, the Kashmir “problem” is the second most dangerous conflict that could lead to lead to a larger conflagration, must be solved!   I only hope my resident friends there are right and the (nuclearized) State-level danger will subside with calm heads prevailing.

If it does not, I will be following this further.

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Indian Muslims Demand Justice

February 5, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

2009-01-29T141712Z_01_DEL203_RTRMDNP_3_INDIA-MUSLIMS-PROTEST

A Muslim man says his evening prayers after a protest in New Delhi January 29, 2009. At least two thousand people rallied in New Delhi on Thursday to protest the killing of imprisonment of Muslims, saying innocent members of the community became targets after bomb attacks in India in recent years.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI: With parliamentary elections likely to be held in two-three months, the Indian Muslims have started raising their voice with a new aggressiveness and force. The past week was witness to their protesting against being targeted in fake encounters as “terrorists” and also holding a daylong convention demanding reservation in jobs and education. The message is simple and the timing appropriate. With Indian politics no longer dominated by a single party or only two/three major parties, the Muslims are strongly aware of the significance that their vote holds for numerous parties in the fray. They do not want to be sidelined or ignored any more. This has prompted them to raise their voice as and when needed with a new force rather than remain only mute spectators to ongoing political developments.

Displaying their anger and protest against innocent Muslims being falsely labeled as terrorists, at least 3,000 Muslims gathered in the capital city last week (January 29). They arrived on a train called the “Ulema Express,” which started from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday (January 28), with number of demonstrators increasing during the 700-kilometer journey to New Delhi. They marched from the railway station to Jantar Mantar area, near Indian Parliament, the main spot where demonstrators gather. The protestors carried banners which said: “Let the truth prevail, bring the innocents out of jail,” and “Give us security, not tears and blood.”

They demanded a judicial inquiry into the Batla House encounter in the capital city in September, in which two Muslims were killed, following which two were arrested. Azamgarh hit the headlines then, with it being claimed as hideout of the suspect terrorists. Several men from Azamgarh were arrested as suspects. Questioning these moves targeting Muslims, Maulana Amir Rashadi, a leader of Ulema council, which organized the rally, said: “We want fake encounters like Batla House to end, We want innocent Muslim youth who have been arrested by the police to be let off in two weeks.”

“We will intensify our agitation if false arrests and harassment continues,” Rashadi said.

The protestors shouted slogans: “We will not let another Batla House happen.” They are also angry at the Inspector M.C. Sharma, who died during the Batla House encounter, being honored. The government has rubbed salt into their wounds, by doing so, but there is nothing surprising about it, according to Rashadi. “It is normal in Indian politics. The government has many faces,” he said. “After killing so many of our promising youths and dumping many more in jail, what kind of security can they provide us and what kind of trust do they expect from us,” he asked.

“We want a judicial enquiry on the Batla House encounter. Innocent Muslims are being harassed by the authorities and are seen with suspicion by everyone. Muslims are the most patriotic of all, and we have proved our loyalty time and again. We are tired of being used as a votebank, and then backstabbed by the political parties,” Rashadi said.

“The government has failed to give us relief. The police of every state are hanging around in Azamgarh. The Congress- led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has engineered a plot against us. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government in Uttar Pradesh is competing with the UPA in killing Muslim youths,” Maulana Tahir Madani, also a leader of Ulema council, said.

Though initially several legislators, including Akbar Ahmed (BSP) from Azamgarh, Ilyas Azmi (BSP) and Abu Azmi (Samajwadi party) “promised to protect our boys and force the UPA to order a judicial probe in the encounter. But they did nothing,” Rashadi said. “All parties have played with our problems, but they have never tried to resolve them. We now intend to emerge as a political force to have our say in governance, and will put up candidates from Azamgarh and Lalganj in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Madani said.

The council had chartered the train. On this, Rashadi said: “We paid Rs 1.4 million to the railway and chartered the train. We paid Rs 300,000 as security money at Azamgarh railway station. The entire money came through donations.”

At the “National Convention on Muslim Reservation,” organized by Joint Committee of Muslim Organizations for Empowerment (JCMOE), the participants raised demand for at least 10 percent reservation for their community in jobs and education (February 1). Describing Indian Muslims almost as backward as Scheduled Caste (SC)/Scheduled Tribe (ST) and more backward than non-Muslim Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the Muslim leaders expressed hope that their demand would be met. It is hoped that the “convention will serve to accelerate achievement of our cherished goals in order to make the Muslim community a real partner in the development process, particularly to the benefit of its backward sections so that the economic, educational and social disparities that exist are reduced and national unity transformed into national fraternity, through justice and equality,” Syed Shahabuddin, former legislator and convener of JCMOE said.

With it being a hard reality that “Muslims have been consistently and universally underrepresented in all legislatures since 1950, on an average to extent of 50 percent measured by population,” Shahabuddin said: “Both systematic and electoral reforms are needed not only to give the minorities their due but also to make our democracy more representative.”

“Muslims’ unilateral demand is reservation, reservation, reservation,” which they have been making for very long, Saiyid Hamid, Chancellor Jamia Hamdard said. “The demand cannot be ignored for too long” nor “remain confined to paper,” he said. Countering critics describing reservation as “crutches,” Hamid said: “They forget that without reservation, the gap of inequality would only increase.”

Drawing attention to repeated “assurances” being given by politicians having been forgotten, Justice (retired) A.M. Ahmadi said: “This has led to confidence minority held in the majority being shaken.” He expressed the hope that those in power will not turn a “Nelson’s eye” to Muslims demand for reservation.

Voicing strong support and commitment to Muslims’ demand for reservation, Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers and Steel, Ram Vilas Paswan said: “There should also be reservation for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.” Paswan, who is also Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJSP) chief, drew attention to reservation accorded to Dalit Hindus being withdrawn following their conversion to either Christianity or Islam. Conversion does not spell any increase in their economic stature so there should be reservation for Dalit Muslims also, he said.

The left bloc leaders voiced support for Muslims’ demand for reservation, stating that India’s development was not possible by ignoring the Muslims. It was “unjust” to ignore Muslims’ demand for reservation, Debarata Biswas, general secretary, All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) said. The country will not progress without meeting their demand for reservation, Biswas said.  In a similar tone, A.B. Bardhan, general secretary, Communist Party of India (CPI) said that “development of the country” can never be complete by ignoring the concerns voiced by Muslims.

Several speakers pointed out that “creamy layers” within the Muslim community should not be granted reservation.

During its draft resolution, the JCMOE declared launching of the “National Movement for Muslim Reservation.” The resolution expressed “regret” at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 15-point program for welfare of minorities having “not been implemented in letter and spirit.” The resolution appealed to the Muslim community and all Muslim organizations for their “wholehearted participation in the movement, unitedly” for “realization of their common long-cherished goals of progress and development of justice and equality for all.” The resolution also requested politically active Muslim organizations to “advise and guide the Muslim electorate” in coming elections to extend their support “unitedly and massively” only to secular parties committed to reservation for Muslims and “field adequate number of Muslim candidates, acceptable to the community in all Muslim-winnable constituencies.”

Though there is no denying that Muslims are playing their role by drawing attention of national forces to issues concerning them, only speculations can be voiced on the actual impact this will have. It can only be hoped that importance given to them now is not forgotten soon after the political frenzy linked with parliamentary elections is over!

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