IAMC Weekly News Digest – April 4th, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Digest


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Indian American Muslim Council celebrates 2011 Cricket World Cup Victory

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011, The Indian American Muslim Council (http://iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguard India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, joins the Nation in rejoicing at the Indian Cricket Team’s success in bringing home the World Cup.

“All of us are tremendously proud at the stellar performance of our Cricket Team’s Performance. The years of hard work has finally paid off. I congratulate the entire Indian Cricket Team,” said Shaheen Khateeb, President, IAMC.

Indian American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation.

Contact Information

Shaheen Khateeb
phone: 1-800-839-7270
email: info@iamc.com

6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053


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SIT questions former Guj minister in Zakia’s complaint (Apr 1, 2011, IBN)

Zakia had approached the apex court after the Gujarat High Court refused on November 3, 2007 to give any direction and asked her to seek redressal before the magistrate’s court. She had alleged that between February and May 2002 there was a “deliberate and intentional failure” of the state government to protect the life and property of innocents.

In her complaint she further alleged that Modi and 62 others, including his cabinet colleagues, police officials and senior bureaucrats aided and abetted the riots which left over 1,000 people dead across the state.

In connection with Zakia’s complaint, SIT has already recorded statements of Modi and number of persons named in her complaint which include, former minister of state for Home Gordhan Zadafia, former BJP MLA from Lunawada Kalu Malivad and sitting MLA from Mehsana Anil Patel, former IPS officer R B Sreekumar, social activist Teesta Setalvad, IG Shivanand Jha, some other senior police officers and political leaders.



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‘Development is fine, but 2002 ghost will linger’ (Apr 1, 2011, Indian Express)

Describing Chief Minister Narendra Modi as “an uncorrupt and a very effective administrator under whom Gujarat is progressing well”, Gujarat-origin British economist and politician Lord Meghnad Desai said on Thursday that the BJP strongman’s prime ministerial aspirations could only be realised if he “comes to terms with what happened in 2002”. “It is not impossible for Modi to be a good man but he can be prime minister only if he comes to terms with what happened in 2002. It does not mean that people should forget what happened under him in 2002,” Lord Desai said. “No amount of development can condone the events of 2002,” he added.

In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, Desai, who was here on Thursday to deliver the convocation address at the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), said one should never forget gross injustice unless there was proper reconciliation, adding it was not happening unfortunately. “Getting justice in India is very difficult if you are a victim of the powerful,” said Desai, adding that “it again does not mean that we should forget injustice”.

Claiming that justice had not been done even in 1984 Sikh massacre cases in Delhi and killings of Muslims in Mumbai during post-Babri demolition riots in 1993 when Sharad Pawar was chief minister, the noted economist said it was shameful that Indian political system had forgotten these incidents. “Forgetting injustice is very difficult and there can’t be one-sided forgetfulness,” he said.

On the recent appeal by Gujarat-origin cleric Maulana Ghulam Muhammed Vastanvi that Muslims should leave behind the 2002 riots and move on, Desai said the issue of forgiveness arose only when there was a demand for it from the side of those considered guilty. “Let people from the other side come forward and say sorry for their guilt but unfortunately that has not happened,” he said.

Pointing out that so far no one has found any evidence to get Modi convicted under law, the British politician said: “Modi as well as BJP have still to explain whether events of 2002 in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat were justified as a reaction to what happened in Godhra, or do they think it was a failure of law and order?” “If Modi and BJP felt that post-Godhra killings were right and a revenge for Godhra, they should come out and say so openly,” Desai said.



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Jamal fake encounter haunts Gujarat (Mar 5, 2011, Milli Gazette)

After the fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Tulsi Prajapati and Ishrat Jahan, one more fake encounter case now haunts Gujarat government. The Gujarat high court on 16 February asked police to produce documents related to Sadiq Jamal Mehtar fake encounter case.

Sadiq was killed by a police team led by DG Vanjara in January 2003. The court has asked the state if Sadiq was a LeT operative and had planned to target Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2002. After Sadiq’s alleged encounter, police had claimed that he was on a mission to target Narendra Modi, Advani, Pravin Togadia and had links with Pakistan-based LeT.

Sadiq was earlier arrested in November 2002 in a gambling case and was later released. The court sought an explanation from the police as to how the police could let him go even when he was spotted with revolver at a public meet of CM during assembly elections. The court has directed the police to produce all documents on a petition filed by Sadiq’s brother Shabir Jamal.



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Samjhauta Express blast: NIA confirms Hindutva role (Apr 2, 2011, India Today)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the Samjhauta Express blasts has gone beyond the confession of Swami Asimanand, with investigators now saying that the arrested Swami Dayanand Pandey had asked Lt Col Srikant Purohit to supply explosives for the blast. The updated probe report with the ministry of home affairs (MHA) say that Pandey had telephonically asked Purohit to provide RDX to Ramji Kalsangre and Sandeep Dange for the blasts that killed 68 persons, including 43 Pakistanis. “But Purohit warned him, ‘aisee baten telephone par mat karo’ (don’t speak about such things over the phone),” the report adds.

According to the report, the attacks in Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express are likely to have been carried out by the same group. The report mentions that the Samjhauta bombs were made of PETN, TNT, RDX, sulphur and potassium chlorate and radicals of nitrite – adding credence that Purohit had supplied these explosives. The Maharashtra ATS, too, had made this claim in 2008 before a court but later backtracked.

The report says, “The recovery of the pieces of newspaper of Jharkhand, iron pipe and low intensity explosive from the scene of crime indicates the possibility that perpetrators of the terrorist attack in Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express blast are the same. It is therefore very important to locate and interrogate Kalsangra and Dange.” The NIA has declared a reward of Rs 10 lakh on Kalsangra and Dange.

The report clearly says that Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Sunil Joshi, Kalsangre, Dange and Pandey are “either involved in this crime or have knowledge about the accused involved in the blast on the Samjhauta Express.” The probe report also indicates that even the Haryana Police were convinced about the role of Hindutva terror elements in the Samjhauta blasts when they probed the case till 2010. The report adds that the Haryana Police had got some leads regarding the involvement of Hindu extremist group, Abhinav Bharat, in the blasts. “Sunil Joshi was an active member of Abhinav Bharat,” the report says. The NIA report has mentioned seven shops – all in Indore – from where the Samjhauta bombers purchased the suitcases, plastic bottles, watch, iron pipe, printed circuit board and 6 volt battery used in the blasts.

Asimanand, in his judicial confession last December, had named Joshi to be behind the Samjhauta plot. The probe report now says the NIA has verified Joshi’s call details and also the details of his personal diary which was seized by Rajasthan Police during the Ajmer probe. Joshi was found killed in December 2007. But the Joshi murder case has not been transferred to the NIA by the Madhya Pradesh Police. “Joshi is not a case to be transferred. That is a little more complicated� they (NIA) have to apply in the court under different sections of the Act. They will apply to the court,” Union home minister P. Chidambaram said on Friday.



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Christians want NIA to probe Malegaon links in church attacks (Mar 5, 2011, Milli Gazette)

All India Christian Council wants an investigation by the National Investigation Agency to ascertain if those accused of attacking Muslims in Malegaon also aided and abetted violence in Orissa and Karnataka. In this regard, a high level delegation of the council met Home Minister P Chidambaram and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and asked them to take requisite steps in order to prevent a repeat of the violence witnessed in the years 2008 and 2009.

John Dayal, chief of the council, apprised about possible threats to the minority community in the near future since many accused are still at large. A Military Intelligence report recently revealed a senior army official, Lt. Col. Prasad Srikant Purohit and his Abhinav Bharat group, targeted Christians in several places including Kandhamal and Karnataka.

The report said Purohit confessed to killing two people in Orissa. The officer reportedly made the confession when questioned by army officials over his involvement in a separate terror attack.



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“Vishwa Hindu Parishad was paid by US to demolish Babri Masjid” (Apr 3, 2011, Milli Gazette)

The contract of Babri Masjid demolition was given to Vishwa Hindu Prishad. Both the American secret agency and an American company were behind the demolition of the Babri mosque and they had paid a huge amount for that. Ayodhya Mahant Yugal Kishore Shashtri made this revelation before the Special Judge Virender Kumar who is hearing the case of the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Replying to questions raised by defense lawyer advocate KK Mishra, Yugal Kishore Saran Shastri, the sixteenth witness of CBI said that in the morning of 6 December seeing the mood of kar sevaks it was very clear that Babri Masjid was going to be demolished that day. Yugal Kishor Shastri told the court that when he met the then prime minister Narsimha Rao he was told by Susheel Muni that Vishva Hindu Prishad had taken crores of rupees from the American secret agency and one American company for the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Mahant Yugal Kishor Shashtri had seen saffron terror from close quarters when he was a member of VHP for several years. When Shastri came to know what was the real face of this organization, which was engaged in spreading venom against Muslims and conspirating to divide the country on the pretext of Ram Janam Bhomi movement, he cut off his relations with VHP.

When the defense lawyer tried and insisted on Shastri, who has been working to establish mutual brotherhood, solidarity and integrity of the country and survival of humanity, to say that the demolition of Babri Masjid was the handiwork of some Muslim terrorists and not of VHP people, and that some terrorists stayed at Shastri’s ashram, Yugal Kishor retorted that not a single dubious person had ever stayed at his ashram, but of course some representatives of the Central government had stayed there. Shastri also said that by seeing the dress of people who were present in Ayodhya at that time, one would know who was a kar sevak and who was a common man.



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Anna Hazare’s fast unto death: Thousands in Mumbai join fight against graft (Apr 5, 2011, Economic Times)

More than 5,000 people in Mumbai Tuesday supported social activist Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption as he began his ” fast unto death” in New Delhi, demanding tougher legislative measures to curb the menace. Several activists of India Against Corruption, which is taking forward the movement in Mumbai, began a fast at Azad Maidan here.

People took out a rally and joined in cars, on motorbikes and on foot as it moved from Shivaji Park in south-central Mumbai to Azad Maidan in south Mumbai where many observed a day-long hunger-strike. “Around 1,000 people pledged their support by fasting for 12 hours.

As many as 45 activists are still on a fast at Azad Maidan, but will be moved to other locations during the night,” said Praful Vora, coordinator of the event. “Our activists distributed pamphlets near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to make citizens aware of the issue of corruption and the need of the bill, and urged them to be a part of the crusade against corruption,” Vora added.

Hazare, who had announced an indefinite hunger strike more than a month ago, has been demanding representation from civil society in drafting the anti-graft Lokpal Bill. He and other activists have particularly pressed for acceptance by the government of the alternative Jan Lokpal Bill they have drafted, providing for stringent punishment for corruption.



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‘Chhattisgarh police claim of encounter with Maoists a hoax’ (Mar 31, 2011, The Hindu)

A 13-member fact-finding team that visited Chintalnar, Morapally, Timmapuram and Tadmetla villages of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh has found that the police claim that they had an encounter with Maoists in the jungles of Dantewada during March second week as “a hoax and far from reality.” “We have been inside these areas for two days, only to see that there was no ‘encounter’ with Maoists as claimed by the police, which is nothing but a myth propagated by the State to justify these atrocities,” the team said in a report released to the media.

The team said State-sponsored Koya commandos, consisting of former Maoists and tribals, and the “CoBRA” unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) went on the rampage from March 11 to 16 in these villages, killing three tribals, raping three women and setting on fire/destroying over 300 houses/huts, granaries and other properties. “These rampages were done with full consent and active support of the State.” This clearly showed that the Salwa Judum was active and functioning like always. The State’s branding them as “Koya Commandos” was “bogus.” Despite the Supreme Court’s directive to disband Salwa Judum it was fully functional and actively promoted and sponsored by the State government.

The team said the attack by the police forces and the Salwa Judum was heinous and the attack on innocent tribals was done persistently by the State and its mercenaries in the name of “Operation Green Hunt.” These villages were particularly targeted as they had done alternative development works such as digging ponds, distributing land among the landless, making irrigation facilities which the State had failed to provide. The Hindu has extensively reported about the atrocities perpetrated on tribals. The team members, led by C.H. Chandrasekhar, and consisting of social, human rights and civil activists, lawyers, journalists and educationists, among other things, urged the State government to register cases of rape, murder, atrocities and kidnap against the CRPF and Salwa Judum members and provide exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of these acts.

The injured should be given immediate medical assistance and medical tests of the rape victims should be conducted. People who suffered losses should be compensated. The government should immediately disband the Salwa Judum/Koya commandos. Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on the attack on social activist Swami Agnivesh and his team members on March 26 when they tried to take relief materials to the affected villages, issued notices to Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, seeking factual reports on the incident within four weeks.

The reports said a large group, comprising special police officers of the Chhattisgarh police and members of the Salwa Judum attacked and manhandled him twice despite his trying to go to the villages with police escort. The Commission said “the entire incident is a matter of great concern.” Swami Agnivesh had gone there to deliver clothes, blankets and other relief materials to the affected people.



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341 custodial deaths in J&K since 1990 (Mar 31, 2011, Times of India)

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday said there were 341 custodial deaths so far in the state since 1990. In a written reply to a question of NC member Javed Ahmed Rana in the legislative council, chief minister Omar Abdullah said 341 people died in police custody in the state since 1990.

However, there was no report of any custodial death from Rajouri and Poonch districts. He said 113 people – 99 from Poonch and 14 from Rajouri – are reported missing.

In reply to another written query, Abdullah said the government has engaged 22,408 special police officers and 1,375 ex-servicemen with police for maintaining law and order situation in the state. While, 8,471 SPOs and ESMs are deployed in Kashmir Valley, 15,366 have been posted in Jammu, he said.



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Two arrested for raping and robbing Kalyan woman (Apr 1, 2011, Times of India)

The Kolsewadi police and Kalyan crime branch has arrested two persons over last week’s gang rape and robbery case. Sunil Kumar Budhiram Nayak (31) and Ratan Maheshwar Datta (26) were nabbed in Gujarat. The two others accused, Bhisma and Narayan, are on the run. The police said Sunil Kumar and Bhisma raped a 33-year-old housewife at her flat in Kalyan while Datta and Narayan kept a watch outside the residence.

Deputy commissioner of police Hirasingh Jadhav said, “Three months ago, Sunil, a waiter at Amrut Palace in Kalyan overheard the victim’s husband making plans with his relatives to buy a flat. Sunil began gathering information on the victim’s family members.” He quit his job and left for Navsari in Gujarat where he and the others planned the robbery.

Jagdish Lohankar, senior police inspector, Kolsewadi police station said, “On Friday at 2.15 pm, when the woman was alone at her flat, Sunil and Bhisma entered and threatened her with a sharp weapon. They took away gold jewellery and a mobile phone, the total value of which was Rs 79,000. Then they tied her hands, gagged her mouth with a potato and fled.”

The police suspected the accused were from Orissa as they spoke to the victim in her mother tongue. “During the investigation we learned that the main motive of the accused was robbery and that they may be habitual criminals. We collected data on people who had left Orissa over the last few days”.

Crime branch police inspector Anil Kumar Yadav said, “Sunil Kumar quit his job and went to his hometown. He returned to the city and stayed with three friends before leaving again. We traced Sunil’s mobile number to Navsari in Gujarat. He was arrested along with Datta while trying to escape in a bus. The other accused escaped.”



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Opinions and Editorials

One Side Of The Divide – By Pragya Singh (Mar 11, 2011, Outlook)

…Jobs are in abundance in ‘Vibrant Gujarat’, prompting the likes of the BJP’s L.K. Advani to say that Muslims are partaking in the state’s prosperity. This view is endorsed by big business’s support for Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. Successful Muslims are highlighted by the state’s ruling BJP. Why, some Muslim leaders have given a clarion cry, “Forget and move on”. This has led to much recrimination among the community. As Outlook’s on-ground reportage on the state of Muslims in Gujarat reveals, a climate of fear, segregation and neglect has taken root. Habib Mev, member of the municipal school board, Ahmedabad, lives half an hour from the Warsis in the ‘old city’. Here, Hindu and non-Hindu homes are strictly segregated. Nothing new, say locals, just set in stone post-2002. It’s the same in Juhapura, Ahmedabad’s other urban sprawl, home to 4,50,000 Muslims. It’s a place the Ahmedabadis openly describe as a “Muslim ghetto” or “mini-Pakistan”, a “dangerous place”. Mev is one of the people who helped Bombay Hotel get its first school. After his other visitors leave, Mev says, “In Gujarat’s universities and schools, it is difficult to get Muslim children admitted.” Mev himself is educated, and appears successful. His office has a picture of him marching next to Sonia Gandhi at a rally. But he is agitated by suggestions that his success is a sign that Gujarat is coming to terms with its communal past and embracing all – Hindus, Muslims, Christians – in the path to development. Two years ago, he says, he brought a nephew to a reputed school for admission and was told, “Ladka hai, Musalman hai, nahin milega.” Children enrol in primary school only to drop out soon. State figures reveal that while few Hindus finish school (41 per cent) even fewer Muslims and SC/STs reach matriculation – just 26 per cent. Data can conceal as much as reveal: a February speech by governor Kamla Beniwal highlighted the high ‘literacy’ among Muslims. True, but drop-out rates are also the highest, the same numbers show.

Which makes one wonder, aren’t Muslims such as Mev an excellent foil to the squalor of Bombay Hotel or Juhapura? For a state growing at over 9 per cent, wouldn’t poorer Muslims naturally move up and out of poverty? Mev pulls out piles of documents from an almirah and displays his struggle – and eventual failure – to get a bank loan for a two-wheeler. “I purchased a scooter by borrowing from family and friends. This is how most non-Hindus get by, without state support,” he says. Across Ahmedabad, college girls and boys own demat accounts, living up to the famed dhando-mindedness of Gujaratis. Scores of cafes line roads, upmarket housing and business locations are ambitiously named ‘New York Trade Tower’, ‘Springdale Residency’, ‘Pacifica Companies’. Yet, many fear that despite the obvious successes – good road connectivity, near 100 per cent electrification, high economic growth, interested investors-Gujarat’s government has been picking low-hanging fruit, simply riding historical trends of high economic growth at the cost of the poor. Says Dr Sudarshan Iyengar, economist and vice-chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, one of the state’s oldest universities, run along Gandhian principles, “There is marginalisation, lack of equity…we are enjoying today at the cost of tomorrow.” It’s a contrast all too common across India: non-Hindus tend to live in relative deprivation; the poorer a state, the more pronounced is this trend. But in Gujarat, a wealthy state, the inconsistency is all the more baffling. Overall levels of hunger are on par with Bihar and Orissa (between 0.57-0.74 on the 0-1 Hunger Index). For Muslims, doubly deprived, the situation is worse. Urban poverty in Gujarat is 800 per cent higher among them than high-caste Hindus, and 50 per cent higher than among OBCs. Sure, Gujarat’s Muslims have higher income per head than many others in India, but it’s the wide gap between them and non-Muslims within the state that needs attention, say experts. Hanif Lakdawala, whose NGO Sanchetana runs community health programmes, says the state’s ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ propaganda has made things worse. Development isn’t being equally distributed, and self-congratulation has dulled the weapons needed to deal with discrimination – like state intervention to support education, nutrition and employment. For instance, a scheme for minorities that would sponsor the education of around 60,000 minority students every year (including Christians, Sikhs and Parsis) has been turned down by the state government for three years now.

The issue is serious because Muslims clearly note events like Ahmedabad’s new rapid transport system bypassing Juhapura. They resent having to rely on interstate buses and the lack of schools or hospitals (though there are several police stations). It’s also serious because of how Gujarat’s economy works. While Hindu businessmen, for example, tend to be entrepreneurs, responsible for marketing their wares, Muslims tend to work as skilled or unskilled employees for them. Non-Muslims mostly work in higher-value-added industries – foundries, textile units etc. Muslims businesses tend to be home-based – making kites, brooms, bidis, agarbattis, rakhis, embroidery, zari work, apart from skilled work in manufacturing, rickshaw-pulling. It forms a pattern. “Across the state, to find work, Muslims have to step out of ‘their’ areas into Hindu settlements, but Hindus rarely need to go where the Muslims live. The social isolation implies an ultimate breakdown in business relations,” says Dr Shakeel Ahmad, general secretary, Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity (Gujarat). Some warn against an overly negative view of Gujarat’s development. The Gujarati penchant for success means he’s always short of workers in factories, foundries, farms and offices. “There is no caste, community or religion to the Gujarati business interests,” says Dinesh Awasthi, who heads EDI, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, located at Bhat in Gandhinagar, a 30-minute highway zip from Ahmedabad. After the 2011 ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ exposition, Modi announced MoUs worth $450 billion with global investors. Says Awasthi, “We expect a shortfall of 45 lakh workers if the current planned investments come to anything. Where is the room for ostracising non-Hindus in a state desperate for a skilled workforce?”

But in a recent study, Dr Abusaleh Shariff, chief economist at ncaer in Delhi, also identified a less attractive change in employment patterns across the state. Fewer Muslims are working in manufacturing and organised industry – exactly the opposite of several other large states. “Gujarati Muslims are involved in informal trade or they are self-employed – running food stalls etc, or they pull rickshaws, do manual labour. What other than active discrimination explains this trend in a state that signs MoUs worth billions for modern industrial projects? The rich-poor disparity is, relatively speaking, far greater here,” says Dr Shariff. In Baroda, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Ahmedabad, Dr J.S. Bandukwala says the idea that Muslims will prosper through Gujarat’s industrial development is a myth – “high-end industries rarely employ poor, lesser-educated people”. Bandukwala belongs to a prominent Muslim community of Gujarat: the one-million-strong Bohras are scattered across the globe and are highly educated and well-to-do. The Bohras, Khojas and Memons are among the Muslims who have always done well in business and education in Gujarat. There is a high degree of acceptance for these entrepreneurs in Gujarat. But, says Bandukwala, that’s because Gujarat’s successful Muslims have typically remained apolitical and supported whatever ruling class that happens to be in the lead in the state. For 50 years, Gujarat has employed a high percentage of Muslims in government. In his report, Dr Shariff stresses that public records of more recent jobs haven’t been released. EDI’s local contact in Baroda introduces this reporter to a few businessmen in the city, working out of the 2,000-unit Makarpura industrial belt. Dhaval Patel seems anxious and concerned about our search for Muslim workers and entrepreneurs, but he locates several with relative ease considering the few units open on Saturdays. Vijay Electroplaters employs Lalu, a 19-year-old who never went to school, and did “nothing” until he got this job. He spends eight hours a day churning tiny metal parts in a barrel-like mixer, adding chemicals and keeping an eye on the progress. A wave of mechanisation and modernisation is sweeping through Gujarat’s industrial belts, transforming the traditional crafts – cotton mills, zari weaving – as well as introducing modern industries in electronics, software, petroleum and shipping. EDI assists the smaller units across the state in modernising. Several of the factory owners Outlook spoke to say they couldn’t care less about the religion or caste of workers – they just want the job to get done.

But Dr Shariff’s research clearly points to a reverse trend. The likelihood of Muslims being employed in regular wage jobs is diminishing as fast as is statistically possible. Chances of work as agricultural labour are also low – less, in fact, than for SC/STs or OBCs. Self-employment and non-agricultural work (which are the most low-paying and least upwardly-mobile) are decidedly more open to Muslims. Some of this truth emerges in Surat, a textile hub reeling under a worker shortage. Raja, 21, and Imtiaz, 20, took the same train to Surat from Dhanbad, and their labour contractor deposited them at a textile factory owned by a Hindu, where a dozen other Muslims already work. They’re keen to bring their friends over, but with NREGA coming to Jharkhand, fewer Rajas and Imtiazes are available to move cross-country, exacerbating the shortage of hands. Dr Bandukwala feels living conditions of immigrant workers are enough of a management crisis for Gujarat already. Few of the companies interviewed seemed to follow a standard wage rate. Healthcare or living conditions are not their concern either. To top it, mechanisation in industries such as ‘artificial’ zari and hand-embroidery replaced by machines have all but obliterated the need for the traditional Muslim artisan. Why, with these changes coming in, the state government has among the lowest spendings on NREGA is hard to explain. These events add up to become part of what Dr Shariff describes as the unprotected drift of non-Hindus towards ‘self-employment’, and which Dr Iyengar says amounts to “making the poor pay for the cost of development”. Mallika Sarabhai, the noted theatre person, says residents who seem never free of fear pay the other price of development, Gujarat-style. They will not live near Muslims, or give them homes or offices to rent. “In this climate, what does it mean when people are asked to ‘move on’?” Sarabhai asks. “Is it that they should forget that there is a Constitution and rights?” While the camps build up for and against “forgetting”, all the Gujarati Muslim wants is for Modi to apologise for 2002. Of course, that could amount to the government also “moving on” along with its entire people.



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What caused Malegaon 2006 bomb attacks? – By Mustafa Khan (Mar 5, 2011, Milli Gazette)

It was nothing short of a direct frontal attack. That too, a vengeful one. A group of Muslims had foiled the attempt of Swami Aseemanand to “reconvert” the Tadwi Muslims of Akkalkuwan and Navapur tehsils of Dhulia district as well as Jalgaon mofusil areas in Maharashtra that touch upon the Dangs of Gujarat. Some extremists had systematically and stealthily changed school leaving certificates of Hamida Mohammad Tadvi. She was enrolled in Prathemic Vidyamandir in Kolhe village of Pachora taluka. Her caste and religion were entered as “Hindu Tadwi Bhil”. Likewise, names and religions of many others were changed. Some of them were invited to the Shabri Daham Kumbh Mela (the brainchild of Swami Aseemanand) on February 11-13, 2006.

It was a showpiece for the gathering of 8 to 10 lakh Hindus. Arrangements were made to transport them to the site of Shabri Kumbh Mela near Pumpa pond using the funds collected by Aseemanand. They were meant to be reconverted. But some Muslims got wind of what was happening to their fellow religionists. They visited the region on February 5 and dissuaded the Tadwi Muslims from attending such a ceremony as they were really Muslims and nothing else. This compelled the organizers of Shabri Kumh to cancel the special ceremony of welcoming the Muslims to the Hindu fold. However, the gathering went ahead with much fanfare, attended among others by the chief of the RSS, Hindu religious leaders, activists of VHP, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matraum and others.

Many noted people attended the gathering, among them was Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. She was so close to the Swami that on her arrest, he simply went into hiding. Only in November of 2010 was he arrested from Haridwar. In the followup meetings in March 2006 and in other meetings, Aseemanand, Indresh Kumar, Pragya, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, and others met and decided to bomb Muslim populated areas of Malegaon, Hyderabad, Samjhauta express, Ajmer shrine. Their aim was to cause maximum casualty. Malegaon 2006 blasts achieved the target (thirty seven killed and 200 injured), and then the Samjhauta express bombing went beyond and killed 68.

To forestall the Tadwi samaj members from attending the Shabri Kumbh, Adivasi Unnati Mandal of Pahur in Jamner taluka of Jalgaon district organized a get together on February 5, 2006. Among its objectives was awakening of the downtrodden Tadwi Bhil Muslims, and giving them social, economic, educational and religious protection. The organizers also felt that the downtrodden were coerced by other religious groups (to join them by abandoning Islam). They assured the people that the whole samaj is with them. A handbill signed by Ahmed Burhan Khan Tadwi of Haripura, Yawal, Gujarat, Masoom Rahim Tadwi of Maharad, Chopra and Ramzan Sardar Tadwi of Palan Taluka, Rawer was circulated to achieve the above objectives.

However defensive in intention, this was perceived as a provocation. And as in the case of Babri mosque demolition, the right wing extremists made it manifest that the Muslims had it coming. This is clear from the meeting organized in Sangmeshwar, Malegaon on the eve of the bomb blasts of September 8, 2006. That public meeting of Jai Vande Matram on September 7, 2006 saw the police in induced slumber. It was a Rip Van Winkle sleep from which they have not yet woken up after more than four years. The nine Muslims who were made the scapegoat are still languishing in prison.



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Whither Muslims of Jharkhand? – By Mahtab Alam (Mar 4, 2011, Milli Gazette)

Jharkhand, the 28th state of the Indian Union, was brought into existence by the Bihar Reorganization Act on the 15th of November 2000. The day is considered to be the birth anniversary of the legendary leader Birsa Munda. Jharkhand, famous for its rich mineral resources, occupies an area of 28,833 square miles (74,677 square km) and has a population of nearly 300.1 lakh people according to 2008 estimates. As per the 2001 Census, out of the total Muslim population of India of 139.2 million, about 37.3 lakhs or 13.8% of the population of the state of Jharkhand constitutes Muslims. This makes it the largest minority community in the state. R R Diwakar, a former Governor of erstwhile Bihar in his book ‘Bihar Through Ages’, writes that the first Muslim contingents arrived in the territories of Jharkhand some 800 years ago and settled in the villages of Mundas. The population of Muslims in the state is spread over almost all the 24 districts, with more than 15 districts having a Muslim population of more than 10% of the total population. Of the top fifty Muslim districts of the country, listed according to their percentage share of the total Muslim population, two districts, Pakur and Sahebganj, with percentage shares of 32.4 % and 31.3% respectively, figure at the 47th and 48th place. These two districts occupy the highest share of the Muslim population in the state while the lowest population is in West Singhbhum (2.4%). According to the Jharkhand Department of Industries, Pakur and Sahebganj have been listed under the most backward category along with 10 other districts. The report of the Task Force on “Identification of Districts for Wage and Self-employment programmes”, by Planning Commission, 2003 also lists these two districts as backwards and had recommended for the two, out of 100 backward districts to be chosen for the implementation of NREGA in the first phase. It is also to be noted that majority of the Muslim population in the state comes under the Others Backward Caste (OBC) category. According to the Ranganath Mishra Commission, the Muslim population which comes under the other backward category is around 62.8 percent of the total Muslim population of the state.

Educational Scenario: Muslims in Jharkhand, in terms of literacy rate stand slightly better than the state average. According to 2001 census, 55.6% Muslims are literate, which is 2% more than the state average. However, at the same time, among all the minority communities, Muslims are the least literate as Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists have a literacy rate of 87.8%, 67.9%, 62.5% respectively. The same Census Report states 40.8% to be educated up to High School level, 2.8% technically or up to Degree level and only 1.1% educated up to University level. While in the case of non-Muslims the figure is 55.0%, 11.0% and 4.2% respectively. According to a 2001 report, the mean years of schooling of children aged 7-16 years is 3.16 for boys and 2.58 for girls. Not only that, in terms of education, Muslims in Jharkhand figure second from the bottom in a list of the 28 states of India. According to ‘Flash Statistics: Elementary Education in India and Progress Towards Universal Elementary Education (2006-07)’, released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) on 22nd January 2008, Bihar remains the state with the worst elementary education report card, while Jharkhand is the second-last. The same report also states Jharkhand as having very low levels of Muslim enrolment in schools. What about higher education? Although, there isn’t any official or unofficial data regarding the same, a glance at the State’s most important, if not prestigious institution, Ranchi University, can tell you about the position of Muslims in higher education. According to Shariq Ansar, a student activist and student of Journalism at the University, except in the Urdu department, the number of Muslim students is almost negligible or can be counted on the fingers. In premier institutions like the Indian School of Mining (ISM), Dhanbad, Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra, Xavier Institute of Social Services (XISS), Ranchi, Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur, Rajendra Institutes of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi and other technical and professional institutes, the situation is equally bad.

In Jharkhand the total number of constituent, affiliated and aided minority degree colleges is nine in which Muslims’ share is only two i.e. Karim City College, Jamshedpur and Maulana Azad College, Ranchi. Delaying affiliation compelled the management of Kabir Women’s Degree College to close down the college. The college was located in densely Muslim populated area of Jamshedpur and was catering to the needs of Muslim girls for the last 24 years. It had more than sufficient infrastructure in comparison to most of the other constituent colleges in the state. But it was forced to pull its shutter down. A sample survey done in 2006 by the PUCL in Singhbhum (East) which has a Muslim population of 27.84% (i.e. 5,17,768 persons) as per 2001 census, notes that, “A large number of Muslim-managed schools are waiting for affiliation and financial assistance from the Government. The condition of the teachers working in these unaided schools is horrible. Trained PG teachers or TGT in these schools are paid very meagre salaries (i.e. Rs. 500/- to Rs. 1200/- a month) without any other benefits. They spend their entire lives in the fond hope that at any time in the future they may get what other persons of same qualifications are getting in nearby Government schools”. It also states, “Books in Urdu are not available to the Middle School, High School, Intermediate (Senior Secondary) and Graduation level students. The Government supplies books and other stationeries to the students of Government managed schools but these are denied to the Muslim-managed educational institutions”. A recent news report that appeared in the daily Dainik Bhaskar of its Ranchi edition also confirms this phenomenon and reports that the Urdu medium schools are forced to change their medium of instruction as text books are not available in Urdu. Lack of Urdu teachers in government schools is also a big problem. In Bokaro, a district which has a Muslim population of around 15%, there are only nine teachers out of 1123 schools. Three blocks of the districts namely Jeridih, Bermo and Petarwar have no Urdu teachers. It seems worth to mention here that Urdu is the second official language of the state and for majority of the Muslims, it is their first language. That is precisely why the Muslims of the state are literate but not educated.

Economic Condition: When one looks at the economic condition of Muslims in the state, the work participation rate for Muslims was 43.5% for males and 18.8% for females in 2001, according to the report of the Rangnath Mishra Commission. The report further states that Muslims of Jharkhand have recorded the highest employment in household industries, among all other religious communities. Other occupations which recorded sizeable employment were cultivation (25.2%) and agricultural labour (27%). In this regard, the Sachar Committee report shows figures of 6.7% as state employed, 3.4% in health, female and child welfare department and, 7.4% in the home department. What is the most startling fact about the economic condition is that urban Muslims of Jharkhand are more deprived as compared to their rural counterparts. Sachar Committee, in its report tells us that the state’s urban poverty for Muslims stands at 32% while it is much lower at 18 % for the rest of the population of the state. This stands in contrast to rural poverty which is 36% for Muslims and 38% for the rest of the state. What is important to note here is the fact that even though the rural poverty level is higher for Muslims in the state in comparison to the urban population, it is almost at par with the figures for the rest of the population in the rural areas. In contrast, the poverty gap between urban Muslims and the rest of the population in the urban areas is remarkably huge, with a record difference of almost 14 percentage points. The income per capita (or per person) and the consumption expenditure per person are considered to be the most important indicators of the wellbeing of an individual or any community. In this regard, as compared to urban areas, the condition of Muslims is relatively better in rural areas, although the monthly per capita expenditure level itself is much lower than that in the urban areas. Here also, the gap between the monthly expenditure per Muslim in the urban areas and the rest of the population is much higher than the same gap for the rural areas. It is only Rs. 727 for urban Muslims while Rs. 1017 for the rest of the population in the urban areas. At Rs. 423 for Muslims in the rural areas and Rs 439 for the rest of the population, they are much better when compared to their urban counterparts.

Politically nowhere: Politically, Muslims in Jharkhand are no different from the other development indices. In fact, the political scenario is the worst amongst all. In 2000, there were 5 Muslim MLAs out of 82 but in 2005, there were only 2 MLAs out of 81 and in the last assembly election, they somehow managed to equal the number of seats won in 2000. Likewise in 2004, the first general election after the formation of the state, one Muslim Member of Parliament was elected. But today there is none as the lone Muslim MP, Furqan Ansari, lost his seat in the last general elections. Even if one forgets the numbers, there are other things to depict the political backwardness of Muslims in the state. Since its formation, only one person has been appointed as the minister time and time again and that too, with a portfolio of much lesser importance as compared to others. Muslims are the most divided community politically and they don’t have any considerable political influence or weight, despite recording a higher population than the Dalits in the state. In the recent Panchayat elections, which took place after a long gap of 32 years a group of Muslims till the last minute of the elections tried influencing the community to boycott the elections allying with some groups of Sadan, the non-tribals. The argument was-it will further marginalise the community as it gives special powers to Tribals since the elections would be held according to the provision under PESA, an Act which provides special provisions for functioning of Panchayats so as to protect and promote the tribal interests (including reservation of seats) in accordance with the scheduled areas as enshrined in the constitution. However, the fact is that the argument was more for misleading and an attempt to ensure the non-participation of Muslims in the elections. What is also interesting to note here is that the same groups of Sadan which were opposing the election, took an active part in the elections and won seats while Muslims could not do the same and were used by these forces. The most important point to be noted in the entire anti-PESA campaign is that it gives an impression that Muslims are anti-Tribal…



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Our girls, interrupted – Editorial (Apr 1, 2011, Hindustan Times)

The 2011 Census is a rude wake-up call for policy makers, activists and the general public. Despite plenty of schemes and significant monetary incentives, the child sex ratio of the second-most populous country in the world and an emerging economic powerhouse is a shoddy 914, down from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys (2001 census). This is the worst dip since 1947. After the worrying numbers came out on Thursday, senior government officials and politicians parroted the expected lines: our policies are just not effective enough. We must thank them for this goldmine of information that our laws lack teeth. Should we now thank the census commissioner for telling us the truth? Are we to believe that India’s mammoth bureaucratic set-up – the rusty steel structure – had absolutely no inkling about what is happening right under its nose? If our babus did know, what were they doing about it?

Yes, we do remember seeing a couple of black and white advertisements released by the publicity department with the photos of some ministers, but probably that’s about it. But you can’t blame them for not changing mindsets. As we know, it’s always a ‘cultural’ thing. We are sure there must have been Herculean efforts in pockets to reverse the trend at certain places, but clearly they are exceptions, not the norm. Along with the dip in numbers, it is also the geographical spread of infanticide and foeticide that is worrying. In 2001, the worst-hit states were Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. While the sex ratio has improved a bit in the first two, Punjab and Haryana still remain the worst offenders.

The sad news is that the rest of the 27 states also show a decline in the population of girl children. But don’t only blame the poor for killing girls. The middle and upper middle class families, the educated masses, are equally adept at it. In fact, in certain cities, they are the worst offenders. It is true that the reasons for killing the girl child are cultural, economic and the well-oiled criminal system of sex determination and termination. For the rich, there is also the option of going abroad for a quick detection and abortion.

But we have to fight this war with all the forces available at our disposal. There is absolutely no other way but to improve implementation of the pre-natal diagnostic techniques law. The law should also be updated and its definition expanded to meet the advances in technology. Also, the conviction rate of people involved is very poor. But, most importantly, proper and effective sensitisation will be the game changer.



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Politics of intolerance – Editorial (Mar 31, 2011, Times of India)

A storm has gathered over Joseph Lelyveld’s book, Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India. And it’s uniting unlikely partners such as Union law minister Veerappa Moily and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Indian politicians are fulminating over the book’s purported description of Gandhi’s years in South Africa during the early 20th century, particularly that part of the volume carrying letters between Gandhi and his German friend, Hermann Kallenbach. While Moily states that the Centre is outraged enough to consider a ban, Modi has actually proscribed Great Soul in Gujarat. Maharashtra is close to following suit.

The outrage, however, seems based on misunderstandings. Intimate in a typically Victorian manner, mentioning bodies, lust and slavery, Gandhi’s letters to Kallenbach contain sections highlighted by reviewers who’ve implied that Lelyveld may have been suggesting that Gandhi was ‘bisexual’. They also said remarks about indigenous Africans attributed to Gandhi showed Lelyveld’s understanding of him as ‘racist’. Note that the author himself disowns both interpretations. Only, our politicians aren’t listening.

Largely choosing to ignore the ‘racism’ charge and fixated on the sexuality angle, Moily wants a ban to “protect the nation from being taken for a ride”, Modi for the book’s apparently “perverse writing which has hurt the sentiments of those with capacity for sane and logical thinking”. Clearly, neither end of this political rainbow considers average Indian readers intelligent enough to make up their own minds about what offends or doesn’t, or mature enough not to require a nanny state to burn, bury or ban books on their behalf. This politically self-serving coddling has a long history. In 1988, claiming to protect ‘Muslim sentiments’, the Congress government banned Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. In 2003, Taslima Nasreen’s work, Dwikhandito, was banned in Bengal by a Left Front shoring up its Muslim votebank. James Laine’s book on Shivaji was banned in 2004 and 2006 in Maharashtra, and Javier Moro’s ‘fictionalised biography’ of Sonia Gandhi was targeted in 2010.

Such politics betrays an insecure touchiness about our icons that’s out of place in a mature democracy professing to uphold freedom of expression. Ironically, many famous personalities themselves challenged official projections of their image in their own lives. Gandhi himself was passionately honest. He chronicled his trials with “truth” in detail, leaving diaries and letters for future generations to read and interpret for themselves. These writings provide deep and diverse insights into the complexity of the figure of Gandhi. We have seen intolerance of views with regard to other icons as well, from Netaji and Ambedkar to Satyajit Ray. Evidently, the more India marches ahead, the more illiberal its politicians seem to get.



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The Bug’s Musings – By Saikat Datta (Mar 11, 2011, Outlook)

On March 16 this year, the Delhi High Court caused a bit of a flutter in India’s secretive intelligence community when it directed the government to furnish all files related to corruption in India’s technical intelligence agency NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation). The high court order comes even as NTRO has issued a chargesheet to one of its top-level officials, senior advisor and special secretary, Dr M.S. Vijayaraghavan.

The HC order, following a petition filed by a former joint secretary of NTRO, threatens to blow the lid off the systemic corruption and rot that has plagued the organisation in the last three years. The NTRO, raised in the aftermath of the Kargil war, gathers technical intelligence using an array of radars and antennae on the lines of the US national security agency (NSA). Dogged of late by a series of controversies, it also has the dubious distinction of becoming the first intelligence agency in independent India to face a hostile audit by the CAG.

V.K. Mittal, who served as the centre director of NTRO’s largest facility, the Centre for Communications Applications, filed a petition in the HC after his efforts to expose corruption in the agency hit a bureaucratic wall. Mittal resigned from the NTRO in the same year that he was picked up by the agency and was named scientist of the year (2007-08). Frustrated at the systemic rot, Mittal wrote a series of letters and filed numerous RTI applications to uncover the truth. His allegations ranged from misuse of secret funds by senior NTRO officials to illegal procurements and recruitments. Some of Mittal’s charges:



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