The Global Digest


“Concern over Human Rights Violations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT)"

Mar 26, 2015

Photo of military attack on foot march occurred on 15 March, 2015

“Concern over Human Rights Violations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT): Urge to take necessary measure to withdraw BGB( Border Guard Bangladesh) 51 Battalion Base from Jatna mohan Karbari para village and Sashimohan Karbari para village site, and due investigation into incident of brutal attack on Jumma peace foot March held on 15 March 2015”.

We, the indigenous Jumma people living in Korea, on the 44th Anniversary of independence of our country (The people’s Republic of Bangladesh), express our grave concern over the recent attack by Bangladesh army and police on a Jumma mass which was conducting a peaceful foot march on 15 March in Dighinala under Khagrachari district of the CHT to demand for withdrawal of headquarter of the BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) 51 battalion, and arrangement of due rehabilitation of 21 families which were evicted from their homestead because construction of the said military establishment. It has been reported that 12 unarmed Jummas including female college student were arrested on the spot and 8 others were seriously injured due to attack and indiscriminate physical assault of police and army personnel.

Media report ( and other reliable sources also confirmed that the security forces also filed criminal charges with law enforcement agencies against 800 Jummas with definitely mentioning name 56 persons. Continuous military operation and illegal arrest are being conducted and local Jummas are continued to face harassment.

The demand of Jumma people of the local community of Dighinala for the withdrawal of BGB 51 Battalion base from Jatna mohan Karbari para village and Sashimohan Karbari para village is not a recent issue. The land on which Jatna mohan Karbari para village and Sashimohan Karbari para village situated, and later the BGB forcefully occupied by dint of government administrative order are customarily owned and permanently inhabited by Chakma indigenous community for decades, who were first evicted from their original homestead in 1960 owing to submersion by water of Kaptai dam that has been constructed by the then Pakistani government on Karnafuly River in Kaptai under Rangamati , the heart of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.

Retrospectively, on the 11th of June 2014, BGB, along with police also have opened fire on the villagers of Sashi Mohan para village and Jatnamohan Karbari para village in Dighinala,Khagrachari of the Chittagong hill Tracts who were mostly women and were holding oral protest demonstration against force land acquirement by BGB. As many as 3 villagers had been hit by bullets and 18 women got physical injuries. 21families of the villages had to take refuge in Babuchara High School building following the incident. Since the government administrative authority did not take any measure for their rehabilitation they are still living in the school building in sub-human condition.

We noticed that l and grabbing usually occurred with a process of communal attacks on the Jumma dwellers followed by implication of criminal charges and legal-harassment. The army, BGB and other law enforcement authorities have always been involved with land grabbing, sexual harassment and rape of Jumma women, illegal arrest, torture and extrajudicial killing of the Jummas human rights defenders, massacre on the Jumma villages and all form of human rights violation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts since 1980. This incident is not exceptional one.

Jumma peoples’ Network–Korea (JPNK) urges the government of Bangladesh to take necessary step to 1) Withdraw BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) 51 Battalion Base from Jatna mohan Karbari para and Sashimohan Karbari para village site and transfer it to other place where no Jummas or Bengali will victimize of eviction due to military infrastructure construction 2) Rehabilitate 21 Jumma families of Jatna mohan Karbari para and Sashimohan Karbari para village in their own homestead with due compensation 3) Withdraw and discharge all of the criminal prosecutions brought against Jumma villagers following the incident of 11 June 2014 and 15 March 2015 4) Unconditional release for Jummas arrested on 15 March, 2015 5) Stop the military harassment though home-search and intimidation

On behalf of the department of information and publicity Jumma Peoples’ Network-Korea (JPNK)

International Women Day Celebrations with 60 min. Mock drill of Self Defence Service Or Be Safe & Celebrate-International Women Day.

Special Contribution
By Rakesh Manchanda

Delhi celebrated the International Women Day with middle class coming out in parks in large numbers organised with their RWAs for Police officers giving the first hand lessons to women participants on self defense and overcoming the gender fear to remain equal with constitutional provisions like Article14&15(3). Police in any democratic country continues to be the first `street smart` agent to protect the Human Rights of a common man. Take any problem from stolen mobile, snatched handbags, to a missing passport, to jumping of traffic rights, to denial of home loan by bankers, to murder, to rape we just cannot jump and ignore the police network in a civil society.

There are majority of honest cops still in police system or perhaps Delhi Police today is fighting hard to build a new image with a new peoples friendly makeup. Delhi Police Dress up for a better image on International Women day is not coincidence. This joint activity is reported as a weekly get together with an informal Jansunvai-Peoples Parliament where Police comes to RWAs and gets gelled up with a learning task like Self defence. Sample one such 60 minute gathering in Hargovind Enclave Park behind Gurudwara where young and elderly women participated and enjoyed the fun and interaction. Paritosh Mathur recipient of the Samaj Ratan Delhi Award along with his team and another black belt and Delhi Ratan Awardee Naresh Sharma took pains to sketch confidence and courage. Interactive intervals in the drill are helpful as the participants are told to forget their age and gender, remain calm and focus only on achieving the best from the drill.

At Hargovind Enclave Park

After the drill on marshal arts by Paritosh Mathur a AAP activist the Anand Vihar SHO along with his team addressed the incident of the participants that ranged from chain snatching and robbery on the road side near the daily work routes. Police, Public, Politician and Parliament all 4 Ps are inseparable. Before a new system is born the labour pain and bleeding is absolutely normal. PTI during old 49 days AAP rule reported that lower level police officials were with AAP. Two former top government officials, including a bureaucrat, was asked then to help the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi realise its promise of ‘swaraj’ and monitor the anti-corruption helpline for the people at a token salary Re 1/- each. Former Delhi Police joint commissioner N. Dilip Kumar, who was to monitor the AAP government’s anti- corruption helpline to nab bribe takers, also agreed to draw Rs. 1 per month as ‘symbolic amount’. AK-67 in its new avatar-2 has still to send similar Governance vibrations at ground zero. In any situation Police still avoids to register the FIR like chain snatching and eve teasing as the first incidence report. Why ?

To protect the `anarchy of the system` under the good governance mask mask and to earn bribe as profit out of this situation. Many policemen off the record claim having paid 50 lac to get posted on the station of their choice and auction of police station posting is an open secret. A police officer in East Delhi with request not to be named tells how the lower police wallas have to be on duty at times for more then 18 hours without a replacement. People`s backing of law and monitoring of police in the need-supply engagement is a must for a safe Delhi. If laws are applied correctly fast justice supported by distribution of wealth generated can deliver more work as a team. This shall ensure lesser Police to Public conflicts. Better governance with no `Politician-Police politics` and no protests is possible. Politicians at large must stop nursing the governance of 1% people by using police as a tool of extortion during conflict management.

Only constructive participation of people, more decent jobs, safe roads and effective laws with speed justice can stop police misplaced politics. Logically discipline must start at the bottom and maintained at the top was the agreement after the drill by Anand Vihar SHO-Arjun Singh. Another Policeman from Anand Vihar gave quick guidelines for Parents, children and Homemakers with the points on Do`s and Don`ts. Inspector Arjun Singh is seen requesting the women participants to download the HIMMAT aaps in aneroid mobile which he claims can start recoding the event by a victim in any emergency by just shaking the mobile. 'Himmat', a mobile application of Delhi Police that will allow women to send a distress call to Police Control Room and their relatives in case of any emergency is already delivering results claimed SHO-Arjun Singh. Outsourcing help by people protest should be allowed only when in emergency needs external blood which means when there is a police and hospital deadlock and the government institute refuses to deliver support.

Women Helplines No in Delhi remain-1091/181. What supp Helpline No for women safety is 8800001091.

Delhi Government `funda` of Swaraj stands a future test. People including women need to be self dependent. Getting united on common issues after understanding the `unity` of their own `body organs` can holistically help the women participants in recognising their unused power from self to society. Active participation of people including women can help bring a change and bring police under new future collective control of both Delhi State and Central Government of India for `Seva` and betterment.

Did Hindus never eat beef?

Special Contribution
By BR Ambedkar

Cattle slaughter in India

To the question whether the Hindus ever ate beef, every Touchable Hindu, whether he is a Brahmin or a non-Brahmin, will say ‘no, never’. In a certain sense, he is right. From times no Hindu has eaten beef. If this is all that the Touchable Hindu wants to convey by his answer there need be no quarrel over it. But when the learned Brahmins argue that the Hindus not only never ate beef but they always held the cow to be sacred and were always opposed to the killing of the cow, it is impossible to accept their view.

What is the evidence in support of the construction that the Hindus never ate beef and were opposed to the killing of the cow? There are two series of references in the Rig Veda on which reliance is placed. In one of these, the cow is spoken of as Aghnya. They are Rig Veda 1.164, 27; IV.1.6; V 82-8; V11.69. 71; X.87. Aghnya means ‘one who does not deserve to be killed’. From this, it is argued that this was a prohibition against the killing of the cow and that since the Vedas are the final authority in the matter of religion, it is concluded that the Aryans could not have killed the cows, much less could they have eaten beef. In another series of references the cow is spoken of as sacred. They are Rig Veda V1.28.1.8. and VIII, 101. 15. In these verses the cow is addressed as Mother of Rudras, the Daughter of Vasus, the Sister of the Adityas and the Centre of Nectar. Another reference on the subject is in Rig Veda VIII. 101. 16 where the cow is called Devi (Goddess). Raliance is also placed on certain passages in the Brahmanas and Sutras.

There are two passages in the Satapatha Brahmana which relate to animal sacrifice and beef-eating. One is at and reads as follows: "He (the Adhvaryu) then makes him enter the hall. Let him not eat (the flesh) of either the cow or the ox, for the cow and the ox doubtless support everything here on earth. The gods spoke, ‘verily, the cow and the ox support everything here; come, let us bestow on the cow and the ox whatever vigour belonged to other species (of animals); and therefore the cow and the ox eat most Hence were one to eat (the flesh) of an ox or a cow, there would be, as it were, an eating of everything, or, as it were, a going to the end (or, to destruction)... Let him therefore not eat (the flesh) of the cow and the ox."

The other passage is at 1, 2, 3, 6. It speaks against animal sacrifice on ethical grounds. A similar statement is contained in the Apastambha Dharma Sutra at 1, 5, 17, 29. Apastambha lays a general embargo on the eating of cow’s flesh. Such is the evidence in support of the contention that the Hindus never ate beef. What conclusion can be drawn from this evidence?

So far as the evidence from the Rig Veda is concerned the conclusion is based on a misreading and misunderstanding of the texts. The adjective Aghnya applied to the cow in the Rig Veda means a cow that was yielding milk and therefore not fit for being killed. That the cow is venerated in the Rig Veda is of course true. But this regard and veneration of the cow are only to be expected from an agricultural community like the Indo-Aryans. This application of the utility of the cow did not prevent the Aryan from killing the cow for purposes of food. Indeed, the cow was killed because the cow was regarded as sacred. As observed by Mr. Kane: "It was not that the cow was not sacred in Vedic times, it was because of her sacredness that it is ordained in the Vajasaneyi Samhita that beef should be eaten." (Dharma Shastra Vichar in Marathi, p. 180).

That the Aryans of the Rig Veda did kill cows for purposes of food and ate beef is abundantly clear from the Rig Veda itself. In Rig Veda (X. 86.14) Indra says: ‘They cook for one 15 plus twenty oxen". The Rig Veda (X.91.14) says that for Agni were sacrificed horses, bulls, oxen, barren cows and rams. From the Rig Veda (X.72.6) it appears that the cow was killed with a sword or axe.

As to the testimony of the Satapatha Bramhana, can it be said to be conclusive? Obviously, it cannot be. For there are passages in the other Bramhanas which give a different opinion. To give only one instance. Among the Kamyashtis set forth in the Taittiriya Bramhana, not only the sacrifice of oxen and cows is laid down, but we are even told what kind and description of oxen and cows are to be offered to what deities. Thus, a dwarf ox is to be chosen for sacrifice to Vishnu; a drooping horned bull with a blaze on the forehead to Indra as the destroyer of Vritra, a black cow to Pushan, a red cow to Rudra, and so on. The Taittiriya Bramhana notes another sacrifice called Panchasaradiya-seva, the most important element of which was the immolation of seventeen five-year old humpless, dwraf bulls, and as many dwarf heifers under three year old.

As against the statement of the Apastamba Dharma Sutra, the following points may be noted. First is the contrary statement contained in that very Sutra. At 15, 14, 29, the Sutra says: "The cow and the bull are sacred and therefore should be eaten". The second is the prescription of Madhuparka contained in the Grahya Sutras.

Among the Aryans the etiquette for receiving important guests had become settled into custom and had become a ceremony. The most important offering was Madhuparka. A detailed description regarding Madhuparka are to be found in the various Grahya Sutras. According to most of the Grahya Sutras there are six persons who have a right to be served with Madhuparka namely, (1) Ritwija or the Brahmin called to perform a sacrifice, (2) Acharya, the teacher, (3) The bridegroom (4) The King (5) The Snatak, the student who has just finished his studies at the Gurukul and (6) Any person who is dear to the host. Some add Atithi to this list. Except in the case of Ritvija, King and Acharya, Madhuparka is to be offered to the rest once in a year. To the Ritvija, King and Acharya it is to be offered each time they come.

What was this Madhuparka made of? There is divergence about the substances mixed in offering Madhuparka. and (13.10) prescribe a mixture of honey and curds or clarified butter and curds. Others like prescribe a mixture of three (curds, honey and butter). (13.11-12) states the view of some that those three may be mixed or five (those three with fried yava grain and barley)., 12, 10-12 give the option of mixing three of five (curds, honey, ghee, water and ground grain). The Kausika Sutra (92) speaks of nine kinds of mixtures, viz., Brahma (honey and curds). Aindra (of payasa), Saurnya (curds and ghee), Pausna (ghee and mantha), Sarasvata (milk and ghee), Mausala (wine and ghee, this being used only in Sautramanai and Rajasuya sacrifices), Parivrajaka (sesame oil and oil cake). The Madhava gr.l.9.22 says that the Veda declares that the Madhuparka must not be without flesh and so it recommends that if the cow is let loose, goat’s meat or payasa (rice cooked in milk) may be offered; the 1.13, 14 says that other meat should be offered; (1.2,51-54) says that when the cow is let off, the flesh of a goat or ram may be offered or some forest flesh (of a deer, etc.) may be offered, as there can be no Madhuparka without flesh or if one is unable to offer flesh one may cook ground grains. Thus the essential element in Madhuparka is flesh and particularly cow’s flesh. The killing of cow for the guest had grown to such an extent that the guest came to be called ‘Go-ghna’ which means the killer of the cow. To avoid this slaughter of the cows the Ashvateyana Grahya Sutra (1.24.25) suggests that the cow should be let loose when the guest comes so as to escape the rule of etiquette. Thirdly, reference may be made to the ritual relating to disposal of the dead to counter the testimony of the Apastamba Dharma Sutra. The Sutra says (Kane’s vol. II, Part I, p. 545.):

1. He should then put the following (sacrificial) implements (on the dead body) 2. Into the right hand the (spoon called) Guhu. 3. Into the left the (other spoon called) Upabhrit. 4. On his right side the wooden sacrificial sword called Sphya, on his left side the Agnihotrahavani (i.e., the laddle with which the Agnihotra oblations are sacrified). 5. On his chest the (big sacrificial laddle called) Dhruva. On his head the dishes. On his teeth the pressing stones. 6. On the two sides of his nose, the two smaller sacrificial laddles called Sruvas. 7. Or, if there is only one (Sruva), breaking it (in two pieces).

8. On his two ears the two Prasitraharanas (i.e, the vessels into which the portion of the sacrificial food belonging to the Brahmin) is put 9. Or, if there is only one (Prasitraharana), breaking it (in two pieces). 10. On his belly the (vessel called) Patri. 11. And the cup into which the cut-off portion (of the sacrificial food) are put. 12. On his secret parts the (staff called) Samy. 13. On his thighs two kindling woods. 14. On his legs the mortar and the pestle. 15. On his feet the two baskets. 16. Or, if there is only one (basket), breaking it in two pieces.

17. Those of the implements which have a hollow (into which liquids can be poured) are filled with sprinkled butter. 18. The son (of the deceased person) should take the under and the upper mill-stone for himself. 19. And the implements made of copper, iron and earthenware. 20. Taking out the omentum of the she-animal he should cover therewith the head and the mouth (of the dead person) with the verse, ‘But on the armour (which will protect thee) against Agni, by that which comes from the cows.’ (Rig Veda. X. 16.7). 21. Taking out the kidneys of the animal he should lay them into the hands (of the dead body) with the verse, escape the two hounds, the sons of Sarma (Rig Veda X 14.10) the right kidney into the right hand and the left into the left hand. 22. The heart of the animals he puts on the heart of the deceased.

23. And two lumps of flour or rice according to some teachers. 24. Only if there are no kidneys according to some teachers. 25. Having distributed the whole (animal), limb by limb (placing its different limbs on the corresponding limbs of the deceased) and having covered it with its hide, he recites when the Pranita water is carried forward (the verse), ‘Agni do not overturn this cup,’ (Rig Veda, X. 16.8). 26. Bending his left knee he should sacrifice Yugya oblation into the Dakshina fire with the formulas ‘To Agni Svaha, to Kama Svaha, to the world Svaha, to Anumati Svaha’. 27. A fifth (oblation) on the chest of the deceased with the formula ‘from this one verily thou hast been born. May he now be born out of thee. To the heaven worlds Svaha.’ "

From the above passage quoted from the Ashvalayan Grahya Sutra it is clear that among the ancient Indo-Aryans when a person died, an animal had to be killed and the parts of the animal were placed on the appropriate parts of the dead body before the dead body was burned.

Such is the state of the evidence on the subject of cow-killing and beef-eating. Which part of it is to be accepted as true? The correct view is that the testimony of the Satapatha Brahmana and the Apastamba Dharma Sutra in so far as it supports the view that Hindus were against cow-killing and beef-eating, are merely exhortations against the excesses of cow-killing and not prohibitions against cow-killing. Indeed the exhortations prove that cow-killing and eating of beef had become a common practice. That notwithstanding these exhortations cow-killing and beef-eating continued. That most often they fell on deaf ears is proved by the conduct of Yajnavalkya, the great Rishi of the Aryans. The first passage quoted above from the Satapatha Brahmana was really addressed to Yajnavalkya as an exhortation. How did Yajnavalkya respond? After listening to the exhortation this is what Yajnavalkya said: " I, for one, eat it, provided that it is tender."

That the Hindus at one time did kill cows and did eat beef is proved abundantly by the description of the Yajnas given in the Buddhist Sutras which relate to periods much later than the Vedas and the Brahmanas. The scale on which the slaughter of cows and animals took place was colossal. It is not possible to give a total of such slaughter on all accounts committed by the Brahmins in the name of religion. Some idea of the extent of this slaughter can, however, be had from references to it in the Buddhist literature. As an illustration, reference may be made to the Kutadanta Sutta in which Buddha preached against the performance of animal sacrifices to Brahmin Kutadanta. Buddha, though speaking in a tone of sarcastic travesty, gives a good idea of the practices and rituals of the Vedic sacrifices when he said:

"And further, O Brahmin, at that sacrifice neither were any oxen slain, neither goats, nor fowls, nor fatted pigs, nor were any kind of living creatures put to death. No trees were cut down to be used as posts, no Darbha grasses mown to stress around the sacrificial spot. And the slaves and messengers and workmen there employed were driven neither by rods nor fear, nor carried on their work weeping with tears upon their faces."

Kutadanta, on the other hand, in thanking Buddha for his conversion gives an idea of the magnitude of the slaughter of animals which took place at such sacrifices when he says: "I, even I betake myself to the venerable Gotama as my guide, to the Doctrine and the Order. May the venerable One accept me as a disciple, as one who, from this day forth, as long as life endures, has taken him as his guide. And I myself, O, Gotama, will have the seven hundred bulls, and the seven hundred steers, and the seven hundred heifers, and the seven hundred goats, and the seven hundred rams set free. To them I grant their life. Let them eat grass and drink fresh water and may cool breezes waft around them."

In the Samyuta Nikaya (111,1-9) we have another description of a Yajna performed by Pasenadi, king of Kosala. It is said that five hundred bulls, five hundred calves and many heifers, goats and rams were led to the pillar to be sacrificed. With this evidence no one can doubt that there was a time when Hindus, both Brahmins and non-Brahmins, ate not only flesh but also beef.

[B. R. Ambedkar, ‘Did the Hindus never eat beef?’ in The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, vol. 7, (Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, 1990, first edition 1948) pp. 323-328.] [Compiled by Shamsul Islam] [This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2010 on page no. 9]

Condemn the Dastardly Attack on Com. Govind Pansare

Feb 17, 2015

Govind Pansare

Following the dastardly attack on Com. Govind Pansare and his wife four trade union centres associated with various left organisations have issued a joint statement.

We condemn the dastardly attack on Com. Govind Pansare and his wife in Kolhapur yesterday. Com. Pansare, a veteran CPI leader and also a long time leader of the AITUC in Kolhapur and in Maharashtra was always known for his progressive and outspoken scientific views. His book on Shivaji is one of the best known short expositions of the Maratha King from an objective and scientific historic viewpoint as opposed to the jingoistic communal colour given by the Hindutva brigade. He has worked tirelessly for the trade unions in the Western and Southern part of the state of Maharashtra both as a responsible office bearer of various unions and as a respectred senior advocate in the Labour and Industrial Courts.

Of late, though 78 years of age, he continues to be active in politics. He was at the forefront of the struggle against toll tax in Kolhapur since the past six months. About 15 days ago he gave a talk at the Shivaji University in which he exposed the real thinking of Nathuram Godse and showed how there was nothing to glorify there. This was not liked by a section of the audience. About a week ago he gave a talk about the 26/11 incident in Mumbai where he made certain remarks about the ATS chief Hemant Karkare which were also not liked by a section of the audience. That signifies Com. Govind Pansare. He was never one to shy away from courting controversy if the truth demanded it.

Yesterday, as he and his wife got home from their morning walk, while some celebrated with crackers over a world cup match, the shooters used that sound as a cover to shoot them. This is in continuation of a spate of incidents against minorities and social activists in Modi's reign. It is clear that the worms are crawling out of the wood work to bask in the sun of Hindutva which invigorates neo-liberal policies everywhere.

Com. Govind Pansare is in hospital in Kolhapur having been shot in the neck and chest while he wife suffered a head injury. Our wishes go out to both his wife and him and his family and friends at this critical time. There have already been a spate of demonstrations all over the country to condemn this shooting of Com. Pansare. We call upon all democratic and progressive forces to come out in force to condemn this shooting. The shooters must be apprehended and brought to book. The Modi Government's and Phadnavis Government's apathy and, at least implicit, collusion in such incidents has to end. We call upon the working class to take a lead in organising all the democraticc and progressive forces against such fascist trends prevalent in India today.

Bring the shooters of the Pansare's to book immediately! Down with Hindutva Fascism! Long Live Working Class Unity!

Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary, AICCTU B. Pradeep, General Secretary, IFTU Gautam Mody, General Secretary, NTUI Sanjay Singhvi, General Secretary, TUCI

THAILAND: Two-year anniversary of conviction of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk amidst ongoing constriction of freedom of expression

Jan 29, 2015

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

On 23 January 2013 the Criminal Court in Bangkok convicted Somyot Prueksakasemsuk of two violations of Article 112 of the Criminal Code. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender. The Court found Somyot guilty on both charges, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison in this case, as well as to one year in prison in relation to a prior case.

Over two years have passed since Somyot’s conviction. He has been behind bars for a total of 1370 days since his arrest on 30 April 2011. This is 1370 days too long. Somyot was held for six months of pre-trial detention, and after beginning in 12 November 2011, the hearings in his trial continued until 3 May 2012, and the decision was read on 23 January 2013. The Appeal Court upheld the original decision on 19 September 2014. At present, Somyot is further appealing his verdict to the Supreme Court. Since he was first arrested and placed behind bars, like the majority of detainees under Article 112, Somyot has been consistently denied bail, despite 16 bail applications being submitted. The Asian Human Rights Commission calls for the immediate release of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all others imprisoned for exercising their freedom of expression.

Article 112 of the Criminal Code stipulates that, “Whoever, defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” Although this measure has been part of the Criminal Code since its last revision in 1957, there has been an exponential increase in the number of complaints filed since the 19 September 2006 coup; this increase has been further multiplied following the 22 May 2014 coup.

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender in Thailand. From 2007 until his arrest, he was the editor of Voice of Taksin magazine. In Somyot’s case, the Article 112 charges stemmed from allegedly allowing two articles with anti-monarchy content to be published in Voice of Taksin magazine. The prosecution argued that his work in printing, distributing and disseminating two issues of the magazine which contained content deemed to violate Article 112 was itself an equal violation of the law. As in other lese majeste cases, the Court’s decision turned on the issue of intention. In the abbreviated decision released on 23 January 2013, the Court offered this interpretation of Somyot’s guilt: “The two Khom Khwam Kit articles in Voice of Taksin did not refer to the names of individuals in the content. But were written with an intention to link incidents in the past. When these incidents in the past are linked, it is possible to identify that (the unnamed individual) refers to King Bhumipol Adulyadej. The content of the articles is insulting, defamatory, and threatening to the king. Publishing, distributing, and disseminating the articles is therefore with the intention to insult, defame, and threaten the king.” The implication of the Criminal Court’s argument here is that anyone involved in the editing, publishing, disseminating, or distribution of material that is judged to have the intention to defame, insult, or threaten the monarchy, is criminally liable.

At the time of the initial decision, the Asian Human Rights Commission warned that it was an ominous warning to anyone involved in publishing, distributing or selling print or other media (AHRC-STM-027-2013). What made the conviction particularly important was that it demonstrated how the enforcement and interpretation of Article 112 was both uneven and highly political. Writers and publishers would not know that they have crossed the invisible line demarcated by the law until the police knock on their doors to take them away. The decision heralded the creation of an atmosphere of fear and a new set of limitations on the free expression and circulation of ideas, particularly those deemed to be critical or dissident. Two years after the decision, and eight months after the 22 May 2014 coup by the National Council for Peace and Order, this atmosphere of fear has been consolidated.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls for the immediate release of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all other individuals facing charges or convicted of violating Article 112 and related laws. Until this happens, the AHRC will continue to closely follow all other cases of alleged violations of Article 112 and encourages all others concerned with human rights and justice in Thailand to do so as well.

Modi Sarkaar is Company Sarkaar & anti-Poor: Any Changes to Land Act unacceptable

Modi Sarkaar

Blaming the Opposition for non- functioning of the Parliament, NDA government is planning to bring an amendment to the “Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Transparency in Land Acquisition Act, 2013”. As per the newsreports, the sources in PMO say, that the government can't wait and it means business and for that they need to bring in Ordinances on crucial issues. It is on expected line since, the time NDA government has come to power on various occasions its Ministers Shri Arun Jaitley, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Shri Piyush Goyal and others have advocated for bringing amendments to the new Act.

Amendments to Fulfill Corporate Agenda

We strongly oppose this move and believe that this government is completely anti-poor and is only interested in pushing forward the corporate agenda. It is a Ambani-Adani Sarkaar – a Company Sarkaar, which is out to sell the democratic rights of the people and democratic traditions of law making in the Parliament in the name of business. We all know that the new Act has been framed after consulting all the stake holders and over a period of seven years after going through two Parliamentary Standing committees (2007 & 2009), both headed by senior BJP leaders, Shri Kalyan Singh and Smt. Sumitra Mahajan. Mr. Modi has displayed least patience for the parliamentary traditions and often remained silent on the key issues concerning the nation and blamed opposition for non-functioing of the Parliament. Matters concerning the lives of millions of the farmers in this country can't and shouldn't be decided by mere Ordinance. These are matters of grave importance and need thorough debate and discussion in this democracy. In 2009, Gujarat Government under Mr. Modi had brought in an Ordinance to enact Special Investment region Act, 2009. The Gujarat Special Investment Region Act was directly to facilitate large scale land acquisitions by developing 13 SIRs and 4 industrial areas centered on manufacturing.

New Act - Response to Social Unrest in the Country

This move by Modi Sarkaar is completely unconstitutional and undemoratic. The new Act was a response to the Colonial Land Acquisition Act, 1894 which resulted in massive forcible land acquisition without any resettlement and rehabilitation, drastically affecting not only people who lose their land, but also those who lose their livelihood. These forced land acquisitions led to massive protests in places like Nandigram, Singur, Kalinganagar, Kakrapalli, Bhatta Parsaul, where many people died. For years, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Niyamgiri Suraksha Parishad, Anti SEZ protests in Raigarh, Jhajhar had been demanding a repeal of the colonial act and enactment of a new development planning act marking people's participation and provisions for livelihood based R&R. Finally, we have an Act, passed by last Parliament and rules for which have been notified by NDA government in August 2014. The new Act has not even been fully implemented in earnest by either State or Central government, but a climate has been created by corporate houses and Modi Sarkaar that the new land act is an impediment to the developmental needs of the country.

Section 105, Consent and SIA Clause

The news that it is imperative that government bring in an Ordinance to deal with matters arising out of the Section 105 of the Act. We believe, it is not only misleading but again obfuscating what the Act mandates. As per the Act, the government was to bring a Notification in the Parliament in year 2014 to extend the provisions of the compensation and R&R to the people affected by land acquisition carried through the 13 central acts, as mentioned in Fourth Schedule. Rather than doing so, it is also proposing to make amendments to two of the key provisions, 'consent' and 'Social Impact Assessment' of the new Act. These two provisions are central to addressing the issue of 'forced land acquisition' and 'resulting impoverishment” to the communities. It remains a fact that intense struggles are going on in various states across the country around the issues related to land acquisition, displacement, development plans and projects. The farmers, fish workers, labourers, artisans, facing uprootment from not just their socio-cultural environs but also livelihoods, are compelled to get united and raise their voices against unjust displacement pushed by Modi Sarkaar. Non-violent, peaceful and democratic organizations and their alliances are questioning forcible acquisition of land and everything attached to land, including minerals, ground water, as well as habitats, tree cover and common property resources that result in pauperization, more often, without rehabilitation.

We Will Oppose ! Any move to amend the new Act will be opposed by the people's movements. 20,000 people gathered on December 2nd on the streets of Delhi and we will mobilise against any forcible land acquisitions and attempts at making changes to the new act all over the country. Mr. Modi must prove that his government is not a Company Sarkaar, but Janta Sarkaar by implementing the 2013 Act and making no amendments to the ACT. We urge all the members of the opposition parties to intervene not let Modi Sarkaar get away with this anti people move.

Medha Patkar, Yogini Khanolkar, Meera - Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara - Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava - Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe - NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah & Ramakrishnan Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh - NAPM, UP; Sister Celia - Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai - Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant - Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Sujato Bhadra, NAPM West Bengal; B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar and Kanika Sharma – NAPM, Delhi For details contact : 9818905316 | email :

Politics ,Profit with No Jobs of `Ghar Wapsi`. Or No Jobs by Modi Team only `Ghar Wapse`.

Special Contribution
By Rakesh Manchanda

Simple way in which human being differs from animals is their advance mode of home sharing. Ancient home canvas of ritual exchange established caring, customs, trades and food. Home coming is natural. Even an animal needs a home. Spirit to share a safe roof enabled our ancestors to formulate a survival kit and standardize a home coming-`Ghar Wapse` concept. Jobs are essential for survival and cannot be separated. Home is a sweet gathering of joy, happiness and sharing of wealth earned but it needs sustained income to run a home.

Good Governance or copy of Pakistan/Taliban Governance : Children want to enjoy holidays for all festivals Diwali, Eid or Christmas. What is common on 25th.December celebrations? It is Christmas and is the birthday of Ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpee. Pakistan proudly puts it as a holiday less because of Global Christmas festival but because of Birthday of Mohammed Jinnah. Schools for all by 2015 as `internationally committed` by several world leaders including our Hon.PM. Modi team wants children to attend school on Christmas Day and write an essay on Good Governance Day. Instead of fighting poverty as pre-election promise, Modi team is now fighting for re-conversions by using bribes.

Modi team must stop attacking their own home like Nazis and Talibans and stop copying Pakistan Governance habits of compromise. Plan that Modi Team has sincerely launched after getting elected is religious `re-conversions` using `Ghar Wapsi` tag which was never a pre- election Modi promise. With no clear cut jobs, why politicians (instead of religious heads) are allowed to promote religion? Excuse of Modi supporters remains that all `other` religions are a problem as shown in the self explanatory RSS pamphlet.

Religion and re-conversion can never be a catalyst to fight poverty. Religion gives team work opportunity for better society but it is never one of the best collective `stand alone` system to provide survival via jobs. Why Re-Conversion is Modi`s survival strategy : On global platform Modi supporters are realising fast that winning elections on mere false promises can never shape PM Modi as an achiever. Conversion was never the pre-election promise of Modi. Why Time Magazine chose to name collectively Ebola Caretakers ? Even when Modi fans and readers of Time magazine have voted for him ? It is collective team versus one man who stands promising but never delivers. Misuse of power by Modi team is natural. When Pradhan Sevak cum Chowkidar-PM Modi says vote me (BJP regional faces) on my honest `single` credentials then why he runs away from the conversion issue. How can BJP remain a different party ? When116 corrupt Congress leaders crossed over to join BJP for tickets in Lok Sabha Polls.

There is no clear Modi Road map to provide schools and generate jobs and remove poverty. Only visible work left for BJP MPs, MLAs and Corporaters and politicians with criminal background is to flame up religious emotions to fetch votes for greed and power. In his Calcutta speech RSS Chief Bhagwat says stop us if you dare and bring a law against conversions. “We want our loot maal (robbed items) back. So why should any person object to Ghar Wapsi.” Uncomfortable truth which RSS chief hides is why BJP has failed to give jobs to millions unemployed. A short cut on Ghar Wapsi` is justified by Modi Team with competitive edge on other religions and with Pakistan style of Governance. Let us see how ?

Addressing a convention organised in Bhopal as part of the golden jubilee year celebrations of the VHP, Praveen Togadia alleged that conversions to Christianity and Islam, by force or by offering allurements, had made Hindus feel unsafe so VHP will ensure that population of Hindus in the country increases from 82 per cent to 100 per cent. ISIS fighters' and Taliban belief that "all religions who agree with democracy have to die" while according to VHP leader Ashok singhal the world wars are fought due to Christians and Muslims. If Muslims and Christians are a problem as pointed by BJP speakers then by this rational thinking why countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and several African nations dominated by a single religion in majority are still a poor. What about Buddhism that was born in India but has roots in several other countries of Asia?

Religion is an essential collective support tradition for masses also for a moral support. Religion had never dared to fix government `freebies` for its followers. Understanding re-conversions-Modi style via bribes and open deals supported by government is breaking the modern progressive fabric. Where is the money for re-conversions coming from? If there are one lakh conversion in a year then the support deals require 100,000x500,000=… ?? Rupees. Raising a tag of `Ghar Wapsi` only for poor minority is cheating. Mentioning poor as `robed goods` by RSS is an insult to humanity. If a `Ghar` or a Home for shelter cannot be given to millions then the Modi team must atleast give dignified opportunity for a job to all.

(About Author : Has worked in India and several countries as Director Executive and is now monitoring the historical people movement for a Swaraj.)

Saemaul training for foreign students in Korea

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Dec 7, 2014

At the Saemaul training

Saemaul training for foreign students in Korea held at the Korea Saemaul Undong Center from November 6 to 8, 2014. Literally, Saemaul means community movement. Saemaul is development force of Korean economic, especially, rural development for national development and economic development. According to Yi Kyoungwon, Saemaul is mainly focus on farming and agriculture sector. In addition, President Park Chunghee said Saemaul is a moral support. Saemaul is not an aid, just sharing idea and spirit.

In 1950s, Korea was a hopeless country. At the Koreans war, two millions people were killed, more than 3 million were injured, and 10 million were separated with their families. Korean per capita income was 65 USD, one of lowest in the world. The reasons of South Korean poor were colonized, structure problem, corruption and so on. Civil war is always destroyed country’s resources, no way to growth.

President Park Chunghee initiated Saemaul Undong on April 22, 1970. He used Saemaul Undong against poverty in Korea. Villagers selected Saemaul leader each village by themselves, democratically, who are dedicated and an active person. Government supports only those thing villager can’t effort by themselves, example cement and steel bar, the rest are done by villager themselves. It is also a sense of ownership. There is a clear cut guild line for delivering government assistance, so no room for corruption. And there is a condition only those villages success can awarded next government’s support. The idea is to encourage work hard and competition among villages, otherwise, it was abandon villages who failed to do so. Usually, government support was on October to start work villagers during winter time. Moreover, women have special role, because women are more eager to overcome poverty.

There are 10 major Saemaul Environment Projects. 1) Expansion and pavement of village entry roads, 2) expansion and pavement of village inroad, 3) cleaning villages and improvement of streams, 4) building public laundry facilities, 5) building public wells, 6) modernizing roofs (rice straw roofs to tile or slat roofs), 7) modernizing fences (mud fences to brick or cement fences), 8) building bridges, 9) improving water systems, 10) building compost fields.

President Park as a pilot for Korean economic development, and Korean people are engine, using 5 years plan an economic development. Subsequently, South Korea improved significantly by 1980 with per capital income 1000 USD, by 1990 with 10000 USD and by 2013 with 24000 USD. Now, South Korea becomes aid recipient to a donor country. Income is main issue for poverty reduction, said Jeong Hyeok. In fact, before industrialization in the world, only 0% growth, after industrialization it was growth, at the same time, wide gap of income in the world. South Korea growth is a historical growth. The growth of the country is depending on an institution and policy, a must. Koreans are also zeal in education. In oversea, Saemaul projects are ongoing in 16 villages in 8 countries.


By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
Nov 23, 2014

Victims buried site of gruesome Maguindanao massacre

ANSAN, South Korea- November 23, 2009 was the darkest day of the 58 innocent victims and their immediate families of “Maguindanao Massacre” also known as Ampatuan Massacre. The worst killings of mediamen in the history that shocked the world occured in Maguindanao province, Ampatuan town in Mindanao, Philippines. Today, it is already five years or 1,825 days since the brutal Maguindanao massacre happened by which the principal suspects are still not convicted for the crime they intentionally manufactured. Unexpectedly, 58 people were mercilessly gunned down in a broad daylight including 32 journalists who were just part of the convoy when the target (Esmael Mangudadatu) was about to file his Certificate of Candidacy (COC), 15 of the helpless victims were women and 4 of them were allegedly raped, buried in a deep pit excavated with a backhoe in the top of a hill together with the victims' vehicles.

Ampatuan is a large family in Maguindanao who ruled the poor province in southern part of Mindanao as well as the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Andal Ampatuan Sr. was then the governor, his oldest son Zaldy as Governor of ARMM and his youngest son Andal Jr. was incumbent Mayor when the violent killings of 58 people took place. They have become oppressors against their political foes and owned great number of mansions and estates in Maguindanao as well as luxurious vehicles, they also have private armies and armaments which shockingky found in their several mansions and billions of accounts in several banks. Ampatuans have become feared and dreadful politicians in the province of Maguindanao and they have become law to themselves and promote their own dynasty and government, thus the law and justice never prevail and will never be fair and just under Ampatuan rule.

According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), the hopeful conviction of the worst killings in the world, Ampatuan massacre case will be before the end of President Aquino's regime which will be on 2016. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima explained that there are 300 witnesses who are set to be manifested by the defense, granted by Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes of Quezon City Reginal Trial Court Branch 221. De Lima added that the almost five year-old case is already taking too long in the sense that it is really difficult to prosecute as the case involves to many victims, accused and witnesses while some others are still at large.

Despite of the testimony of Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki, one of the suspects and a close relative of the Ampatuans and turned out to be a prime witness who had enough knowledge and participation before the horrific massacre occured, he testified underoath that Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. was the one who personally shot the mediaman Jimmy Pala and Genalyn Mangudadatu the wife of Bulusan then Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu who run for Governor in 2010. He was very fearful when he testified before the court that on November 20, 2009, Mayor Ampatuan Jr. personally talked him about the evil plot and by November 23 of the same year at 8:00 in the morning, he was fetched by the mayor to proceed to the place where the ambush would be made. Sangki also saw the helpless victims who were personally shot by Andal Jr. in the sensitive parts of the body in order for them to be utterly killed. Sangki, at the same time also heard that former Police Director Sukarno Dicay called Andal Jr. at that time informing the latter that they already blocked the victims and convoy. He also personally saw Dicay beating the victims and confiscated all cell phones and cameras. While he was testifying before the court Andal Jr. also known as Datu Unsay was hearing him feeling uneasy and worrying.

On the other hand, skilled assassin aka Abdul shockingly admitted that he killed not less than 100 people in the past by the order of then Mayor Zaldy Ampatuan, also one of the suspects in Maguindanao Massacre. Abdul also personally attested in the TV interview that Ampatuan clan sent him to school from grade 4 up to third year high school and at the same time was trained in Indonesia with some thirty teenagers to kill Ampatuan's political enemies beginning at the age of 12, he stressed out that all of these killings were instructed by a confidant of the Ampatuans. Abdul is presently in jail and talked everything about Ampatuan's commands since he was still a hired killer. He also attested that he killed three Ampatuans' political adversaries in Comelec Office in Manila where the victims were dead on the spot while another was dead on arrival. Manila Police however confirmed his testimony that Attorney Felix Ridazan, Gamad and Arkanan Makapagis were ambushed in the said place on November 2002. One of his unforgettable evil deeds was when he brutally massacred three groups of tribal people and families including children who refused to give up their possessions or property to Ampatuans.

According to National statistics and Coordination Board, Maguindanao is the third poorest province in Mindanao, Ampatuans who ruled the poverty-stricken province owned more than 20 mansions, seven of these can be found in Maguindanao itself where house of the older Ampatuan with his wives and children are built, they have 14 mansions in Davao city and another two in Metro Manilalocated in Alabang and Makati areas using dummies. Moreover, they likewise own several busineses like gasoline stations and pawnshops and many others and posessed allege billion of cash, as stated on Police report and in comformity with Ampatuan relatives it can be reached up to three billion pesos in cash despite of poverty and many people are suffering of foods in the impoverished province.

Meanwhile, the families of the murdered victims of brutal killings are disgusted and anguished for the slowness of the case and five years since the trial began, not one of the murderers had been convicted until today. Just last year, one of the victims son, Alejandro Reblando Jr. whose murdered father was Manila Bulletin reporter was still holding to President Aquino's promise that justice would be served before his governance ends on 2016.

In addition to this, just last year during the 4th year anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre the casualties' families were able to file and emailed the case to the UN Human Rights Commitee (UNHRC). They asked the UN body to persuade the Philippine government to indemnify each of them for the deaths of the family breadwinners for their rights. One of the widows of the slain Journalists said, " we have been rejected by the Philippine government so we asked the help of the UNHRC."


Special Contribution
By Irfan Engineer

Maulana Maududi

Muslim votes in post partition India have traditionally been mobilised by the politicians on three tropes – security, religio-cultural identities and fair share of Muslims. The recent victory of two All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MLAs in Maharashtra Assembly elections held in October 2014 shows that Muslim votes could be mobilized on a fourth trope in the times when Hindu Nationalists are aggressively asserting themselves – that of counter assertion aiming at communal unity to take on the Hindu Nationalists. These tropes have been pursued through three different strategies – 1) withdrawal from electoral politics, 2) joining political parties not dominated by Muslims and 3) forming Muslim dominated parties. Political strategies Maulana Maududi, just before migrating to Pakistan, said that efforts of the Muslims to pursue their rights would invite prejudices of the Hindus. Hence, his recommendation was, to try to persuade Muslim community to keep its distance from government and administration, and assure the Hindu nationalists that there was no competing Muslim nationalism. This, according to the Maulana was the only way to remove the extraordinary prejudices that the majority had against Islam. For communal nationalists, there is either hegemony or subjugation, no middle ground of living peacefully together as equals. Maulana Maududi soon migrated to Pakistan and the Jamat-e-Islami that he established did not participate in electoral politics. However Maulana’s advice was not much of use to Muslims facing various challenges in their daily existence.

During the Constituent Assembly debates, initially representatives of Muslim League strongly demanded separate electorates, but after partition their voices weakened. The dominant discourse during the discussion employed by the members coming from non-minority community and even by some from minority communities was that minorities can survive only on the goodwill of the majority (and therefore accept only those “rights” which the majority is willing to “grant” to the minority). The minority community which chose India as their country of domicile and nationality rather than Pakistan were implicitly reminded that if they were unhappy with the rights “granted” to them by the “majority”, they could chose Pakistan. Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, an organization of the Deobandi Ulemas had always opposed Pakistan. The Jamiat supported the Congress led freedom struggle whole heartedly hoping that Muslims would be free to practice their religion and would be at liberty to follow Muslim Personal Law. The Deobandi Ulema believed that despite different religions, Indian nationalism was shared and composite. The Jamiat perceived the threat to Muslim cultural identity from the Britishers rather than non-Muslim fellow Indians. Congress’s creed of secular nationalism and idea of India assured them in this respect. Jamiat was not interested in negotiating fair share of power of the Muslim community in the political arrangement and their concerns were limited to preserving Muslim Personal Law. For Jinnah and other Muslim nationalists on the other hand, a fair share of the Muslim community in political arrangement was their objective even while they were open to modernity. The Deobandi Ulemas were eager to carve out religio-cultural space and unite the community to defend that space even though they accepted that all Indians constituted a political community. Jinnah and Muslim nationalists on the other hand wanted Muslims to be an exclusive political community and a separate nation state for the community.

With Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad at the helm in post Independence India, Muslims felt reassured and enthusiastically supported the Congress. Security, after the post partition riots subsided, was not yet a major concern worrying Muslim leaders. Discourse of “minorities could survive only on the goodwill of the majority” dominated. Hence, seeking fair share for Muslim community in the social, economic and political affairs was unthinkable by the community overwhelmingly comprising of artisans, labourers, landless and backward classes left behind after the partition. The Jamiat and Muslim political leaders mobilised the community behind the Congress on the trope of religio-cultural identity on three issues. These three issues were – non interference in Muslim Personal Law (MPL) by the Indian state, promotion of Urdu language and warding off any threat to minority character of Aligarh Muslim University. In 1980s another issue became prominent symbol of religio-cultural identity – defence of Babri Masjid, which however was demolished in 1992. The leadership was less inclined to work for educational achievements and economic advancement of the community. Reclaiming religio-cultural space needed to harp on a glorious past of the community – contribution of Muslim rulers towards India’s greatness and achievements like Taj Mahal and contribution of the community during freedom struggle. However, the leadership also needed to overcome the challenge of rich diversity within the community, not only sectarian based, but also in terms of that of caste based biradaries, language, cultural traditions, customary practices and even ethnic diversity. MPL is not codified law applicable to all Muslims uniformly. Priests of different Muslim sects and maslaqs (schools of jurisprudence) implement the law differently. The leadership nevertheless mobilized the community around the issue of non-interference by the state in MPL.

The Muslim leadership within the Congress party was oblivious to the fact that carving out a cultural space for themselves by emphasising cultural differences between Muslims and non-Muslims helped the Hindu nationalists, who were otherwise marginalised for their non-participation in the freedom movement and their role in assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The Hindu nationalists could play on apprehensions in the people that carving out religio-cultural space would promote separatist tendencies. In fact, assurance of religio-cultural freedom drew the Deobandi Ulemas towards the concept of composite Indian nationalism; and to oppose partition and communal nationalism of Muslim League. Muslim League had instrumentalist view towards culture. Their objective was not to preserve religio-cultural space but to use culture to redefine essentially a religious community as political community and to demand its “due” share in any political arrangement. The Hindu nationalists played on the fears and exaggerated the threats portraying Muslims as inherently having separatist tendencies, that they would be loyal to Pakistan and practice polygamy to over populate the Hindus in India and convert it into an Islamic state. The Congress Party was unwilling and unable to counter such gross misrepresentations. The growing feeling of insecurity among the minority would benefit Congress as it would compel Muslims to rally them behind it. The Congress Party did not work for extending equal opportunities to the Muslims in education, bank loans, in public employment, government contracts etc and to include Muslims in welfare schemes as equal citizens. It is only after the Sachar Commission Report in 2006 that some very minor steps were taken to formulate some welfare schemes to include minorities. However, it was more of tom toming and less benefits to the community with very poor record of implementation by the bureaucrats. After the Jabalpur Riots in 1961, Muslim faith in Congress received first jolt. Despite Nehru’s intervention, the violence engulfed many. For the Muslim leadership reclaiming their religio-cultural space, Jabalpur riots were a warning which they chose to ignore. In the 1952 elections, Congress Muslim candidates polled 64%, 72%, 56% and 57% of the votes polled by all Muslim candidates in Bihar, UP, WB and India respectively. In the 1957 elections, Congress Muslim candidates polled 65%, 58%, 51% and 52% of the votes polled by all Muslim candidates in the same states and in India respectively. In the 1962 elections, Congress Muslim candidates polled 52%, 47%, 52% and 52% of the votes polled by all Muslim candidates in the said states and India respectively. In the 1967 elections, the Muslim votes in favour of Congress declined drastically the those states to 39%, 36%, 47% and 40% in India. With the anti-Congress mood growing in the country in the late 1960s and Congress on decline the Muslim votes too declined as is evident from the above percentages of Muslim votes polled by Congress in the three states with higher percentage of Muslims. Muslim voters were drifting away from the Congress, as the Party had utterly failed in ensuring security to Muslims on one hand and in including Muslims in governance and ensuring their fair share. Their emphasis was only on ensuring religio-cultural space as demanded by the patriarchal Deobandi Ulemas. Satanic Verses – a novel by Salman Rushdie was banned, Judgement of the Supreme Court in the Shahbano case was overturned through an enactment by the Parliament are some of the instances of political mobilization on the trope of religio-cultural space.

The consequences of mobilizing the community assertively and almost exclusively on the trope religio-cultural space were telling. Hindu nationalists could proclaim such an assertion as a threat to “Hindu culture” and therefore justified using violence to “curtail” anti-national Muslims and their appeasers – the Congress. They could din in prejudices against Muslims through their networks and prejudices led to exclusion of Muslims and increased discrimination. The community experienced decline in their economic status. Hindu nationalists used communal violence to put in place what Paul Brass calls institutionalised riot system which helped them mobilize non-Muslims across caste and region and politically consolidate Hindus progressively on the trope of nationalism – a Savarkarian project. The decade of 1980 saw communal violence in most towns with Muslim population of 10% or more, starting from Godhara in 1981 and culminating with Bhagalpur in 1989. After the demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992, the Muslim voters by and large deserted Congress as the demolition signified that the Party could not even secure the religio-cultural space. The Backward Muslims While the Deobandi Ulemas defined religio-cultural space around the issue of MPL, status of Urdu and minority character of Aligarh Muslim University, the concept of cultural space of the backward classes among Muslims who constituted more than 85% of the community was different. Their notion of religio-cultural space was based on their experiences of social oppression on the lines of caste based hierarchy. While Islam promised them equality and justice, they were denied equality in status by the Ashraf Muslims – converts from upper castes or those who believed they had royal blood. Political-cultural space for the Ajlaf (low caste converts), also referred to as Pasmanda (backwards) identified culturally with their Hindu counterparts. Islam and their biradari culture were both their inheritance. Ali Anwar from Bihar, Shabbir Ansari from Maharasthra and other leaders were sponsored by regional parties. The pasmandas were mobilized on the issue of social inclusion and social justice. The issue of Urdu did not appeal to them much. Neither was minority character of a far away university when their children were struggling to get themselves admitted into a neighbourhood school, nor the Wahabi-Deobandi family code. Their focus was livelihood and education. In the South, particularly in Tamil Nadu and rural areas of Karnataka and Telangana, the Muslims identified with their Dravidian identity and with the social justice movements.

The security trope

The Muslim voters after the demolition of Babri Masjid drifted away from Congress as it utterly failed in securing the religio-cultural space. In 1990s, the trope of security had precedence over the trope of religio-cultural space. The Samajwadi Party in UP, Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar and other regional parties mobilized the community on the trope of security. Witness that the Muslim political leadership did not respond to many Supreme Court Judgments as their religio-cultural space was slowly being encroached upon. E.g. the judgment of Supreme Court that AMU is a university established by state legislation and therefore cannot be an educational institution established by minority went unprotected vociferously. Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen were given visa, this generated some debate in TV studios but not on streets. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 which was passed by the Parliament to overturn the Shahbano judgment was interpreted by the Supreme Court to ensure even better regime of maintenance for a divorced Muslim Woman by her former husband and the judgment went unprotested. We could list several issues wherein the religio-cultural space that was being defended by the Deobandi Ulemas was encroached upon and went unprotected in 1990s. The 15 year rule of RJD in Bihar was practically free from communal riots. During Mulayam Singh’s Chief Ministership too the intensity and frequency of communal violence went down drastically. However, the Samajwadi Party as well as the RJD found it convenient to negotiate with the Ashraf leadership as spokespersons for the entire community. Muslims in their imagination meant a homogenous religio-cultural community. Such a conception was inbuilt in the M-Y alliance propounded by them. Mulayam Singh even went to the extent of announcing Friday as weekly holiday for Muslim students in school but the circular was quickly withdrawn after the members of the community too protested.

The issue of security too did not mean reparations for the past violence but prevention and control of future violence. Reparation would not only guarantee security but deterrence on one hand and justice to the victims on the other hand. However, reparations would mean punishing the guilty and there were substantial number of them from the caste that supported them. What was necessary to guarantee security was a more accountable and inclusive system and regime that was blind and neutral to cultural preferences of not only the Muslims, but all citizens within the Constitutional framework. ....(In the next part we will examine the assertion of Muslim youth, their aspirations and significance of the MIM’s victory in Maharashtra)
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