Monday, December 29, 2008

Democracy triumphs in J&K, India

The People of J&K have proved once again that they are freedom loving people having a strong faith in democracy and sovereignty of our country by participating and exercising their franchise by casting 61.5 per cent votes in the recent assembly elections despite threats from a few separatist elements like Syed Ali Shah Geelani. It is actually a mandate by the Kashmiri people about J&K being an intergal part of India.

The Kashmiris understood the trouble makers who wanted to mislead and exploit them and are successful now in their determination to rule the state - an inseparable part of our country - by a well attended democratic process. The separatists have been shown the door.

The people of J&K and their leaders who took part in the elections and helped in conducting elections in a peaceful way deserve all praise and congratulations.


It is shocking that the US backed Israel has attacked Gaza Strip killing more than 250 people and injuring 400 in one of the bloodiest air assaults and the world is helpless in putting an end to the 60-year old Israel-Palestinian conflict and such atrocities on human beings.

What is the use of the world body United Nations Organisation if it remains a silent spectator to the brutalities of this high magnitude without responding to it? The US and Israel are “terrorist” countries like Pakistan.

Our country should be very careful in dealing with these undependable countries and should condemn the mayhem perpetrated by Israel on the Palestinians.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A rejoinder to the article of Ms. Barkha Dutt

Ms. Barkha knows pretty well that the Muslim opinion in the country has taken on a hostile tone against the Mumbai terror attacks to the extent of denying burial in local Muslim graveyard to the dead Pakistani terrorists. It was their spontaneous decision in Mumbai.

Muslims are a part and parcel of the whole country which has rallied round to condemn the terrorists and their instigators from across the borders who aided and abetted them.

Muslims have suffered as much if not more as members of other religious communities in terror attacks. Muslims consider and must consider all as a single human community.

Muslims feel that Mr. A.R. Antulay should not have expressed the kind of views he did on the murder of Mr. Hemant Karkare which were criticised by almost all political leaders and the print and visual media.

It should be clear to all that Mr. Antulay is a long time Congress leader and definitely not a leader representing the Muslim community even though he was the union minister for minority affairs. It is for him and the Congress to decide on his controversial statement to which there is criticism from all including the Muslims.

Why should Ms. Barkha call him a Muslim politician? If he is a Muslim politician, Mr. Shanawaz Hussain and Mr. Naqvi of the BJP are also Muslim politicians. The Muslims of the country cannot and should not be blamed for the blunder of a Muslim who is in this or that party.

Ms. Barkha should also remember that in our secular and democratic country Muslims who are in different parties may be silent because of their inability to highlight their points but they are with the entire nation in echoing its stand and are ready to sacrifice for its protection. Their leaders are in different parties and they belong to all religions.

Indian Muslims want our country to teach a lesson by all possible ways to the terrorists and their supporters in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Let Ms. Barkha also not be under the impression that one or two Muslim leaders who raise emotional issues without trying to do anything for the economic and educational development of the Muslim community are their representatives. Even Mr. Antulay is a Muslim ofcourse and he is the minister for minority affairs also but not the leader endorsed by the Indian Muslim community. It is painful to see Ms. Barkha saying so many things on communal lines and thereby dividing the people.

I again repeat that Indian Muslims are in different parties like the people of other religious communities and therefore the views of one or two Muslim leaders living in the Hindi belt cannot be considered as their leaders. India is a big country with about 15 crores of Muslims. Can not the Congress or the BJP or any other party stand be their stand?

No national issue should be viewed or commented on communal lines.


Antulay must go
Barkha Dutt
If there is anything more tragic than India's Muslims having to vouch for their nationalism in the aftermath of every terrorist strike, it is the insane utterances of some of their self-appointed saviours.By the time you read this, A R Antulay's resignation as Minority Affairs Minister would have most likely been accepted by the Prime Minister. (If it hasn't, it should be.) But the damage would have been done.Antulay's reckless suggestion that a wider conspiracy claimed the life of police officer
Hemant Karkare has played right into the hands of fellow loonies on the other side of the border who claim that 'Hindu Zionists' plotted the attacks in Bombay. His demands for an independent probe to examine whether the Malegaon investigations may have cost Karkare his life only embarrass India and give Islamabad the wriggle room it is seeking.And worst of all, his comments will only reinforce the nonsense spouted by the small radical fringe within the community. The young conspiracy theorists who come to television talk shows holding posters blaming the CIA/Mossad for the terror attacks will now feel emboldened to manufacture more imaginary enemies. This is not the first time that Antulay has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was his complicity in a major corruption scam involving cement licences or his grandstanding promises on bringing the Kohinoor back to India, the former Maharashtra chief minister has long had a reputation for being a bit of a loose cannon. But his statements this time go well beyond regular political fallibilities.The worry is not so much whether the world will now view the Bombay outrage in a different light. Independent American intelligence points to the same conclusion as the official Indian position on the role of groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). The Russians have spoken about clear links between underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim and the attacks. And Pakistan's own newspapers have run hard-hitting stories from inside Qasab's village with confessional accounts from his parents on their terrorist son.The embarrassment of a Union Minister speaking out of sync aside, India doesn't really need to worry about any serious diplomatic fall-out. The real damage of Antulay's remarks is within and on home turf. With one careless 30-second sound byte he has caricatured the response of the Indian Muslim. He has spawned a pool of other headline hunters who are falling over themselves to issue press releases in agreement. Former IFS officer Syed Shahabuddin is among those who congratulated him for "speaking the unspeakable".A section of the Urdu press is now arguing that demanding an investigation into the death of an officer probing Hindu radical groups is entirely legitimate. Online polls apparently show that their readers agree. Some Muslim intellectuals have argued that the minister's remarks have played into an already existing panic among ordinary Muslims and should not be confused with prejudice. They say that fearful minorities who view the police with suspicion saw Karkare as a hero and his abrupt end left them stunned and even more scared. But frankly all of these rationalisations are just self-destructive and perpetuate the worst sort of stereotypes about us as a people. At a time when India should have stood united, Antulay's remarks have pushed the debate along an unfortunate Hindu-Muslim faultline. His comments are designed to pull at our religious equilibrium. And as a Muslim politician he has committed that all-too-familiar crime yet again: he is hell bent on keeping his people locked into ghettos (some real, some imaginary) of victimhood. But why are we all so surprised? Before ten men with guns struck Bombay we saw the blatant politicisation of the terror debate in how both the Batla House encounter and the Malegaon blasts probe were debated by the Congress and the BJP. Both parties made faulty assumptions about votebanks as they constantly calibrated their public positions. Antulay's remarks are just an extension of the same brand of cynical politics. And those of his cabinet colleagues who are unwilling to take a clear position on his remarks are just as culpable. If there is one lesson we should have learnt in these past two weeks, it is that the process of law has to settle investigations - however contentious and sensitive they may be - and not politicians. Yes, there may be a genuine cause of mistrust between the people and India's police force. But the answer to that simply cannot be that political agendas are used to set the course for police action. For Antulay to suggest by innuendo that Karkare's own men may have led him to his death is outrageous and unacceptable. Scurrilous allegations cannot be confused with the need for genuine police reform. That a Union Minister would dare to do that is frightening. Antulay's real betrayal is that he has let down his own people. Yet again, the Indian Muslim has been pushed into a corner of clarifications. Mercifully, groups like Javed Akhtar's Muslims for Secular Democracy have broken the lazy assumptions of a Muslim monolith by demanding Antulay's resignation and dismissing his remarks as "ridiculous nonsense". But is it fair that at a time of national crisis a minister and Member of Parliament should push his own community on the defensive? Does he not owe them better than to stereotype them in the worst possible manner? AR Antulay owes an apology: to the Congress, to his community and to the country. He can no longer continue as minister. And if he does, it's a good reason to wear black bands in protest again. Because remember, it is controversies like this one that undo our secularism. Antulay must go.