Isha khan’s Weblog

The month of mourning
January 31, 2009, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan
The month of mourning

By Amar Jaleel

December comes with a sharp reminder of the tragic events of 1971.The month of December, since 1971, reminds us of our loved ones and friends in East Pakistan who were separated from us as a result of painful and lamentable political events systematically nurtured for 24 years from 1947. My generation is eyewitness to the treacherous conspiracies West Pakistani politicians hatched during civilian and military rule against the Bengalis that ultimately compelled them to opt for parting of the ways. The conspirators had their vested interests in masterminding the separation of East Pakistan.

“Why would some of the politicians desire separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan?”

This is a valid question that is bound to lurk in the mind of those born after 1958, the year General Ayub Khan took over the country and gave fickle-minded Pakistanis first taste of Martial Law. In the chain of events the Martial Law changed hands in 1968, giving General Yahya Khan an occasion to rule the restless country. By the time people born in 1958 were 13 years of age, Pakistan disintegrated in December 1971. East Pakistan became Bangladesh. West Pakistan was given the name of Pakistan. It is unfair to expect from a child of 13 to retrace the complex political problems Pakistan was beset with that compounded under Martial Law from the year 1958.

The State-controlled electronic media bombarded the masses in West Pakistan with disinformation about the situation in East Pakistan. Based on the malicious information, the 13-year-old boy would conveniently recall that the disgruntled elements with the assistance from India succeeded in separating East Pakistan from West Pakistan. The misleading information made inroads in our history, found a place in it, and it is taught to generation after generation since the catastrophic parting of the ways between the brothers in 1971.

Huge trees do not grow overnight. The seeds of separation for reaping the harvest in 1971 were sowed in 1948 within one year of the coming into being of Pakistan. Separated by a thousand mile Indian territory, East Pakistan nurtured a homogenous population of 45 million, and West Pakistan’s heterogeneous population was 30 million. The Central (Federal) Government consisting of handpicked favourites utterly failed in maintaining parity between the two wings of Pakistan. The constitutional proposals and the provisions of Liaqat Ali Khan in 1950 earmarked 200 seats each for East Pakistan and West Pakistan in the Lower House, and 60 seats each in the Upper House. It was a violation of the provision of the number of seats in the lower and upper houses on the basis of population.

Liaqat Ali Khan’s constitutional proposals ignored Bengali, the language of an overwhelming majority, and proposed Urdu for becoming the state language of Pakistan. It opened the two-year-old wounds of the infuriated aBengalis. Early in 1948, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, then Governor General, in his address to the nation said, “Urdu and Urdu alone shall be the state language of Pakistan.”

Here, I would like to speak briefly about Urdu, and then return to our subject of discussion today, parting of the ways. Urdu a phenomenon, a prodigy is a charismatic language. It is soft and poetic, and draws you naturally. You feel cosy and comfortable in its fold. It refuses geographic confinements. It takes wings to distant places, and alien cultures, and is welcomed. It is amazing that a vast majority of writers and poets in Urdu belong to other linguistic nationalities in Pakistan, India, and else where in the world.

Unfortunately, Urdu was hijacked by the Muslim League in early 20th Century, and was ruthlessly exploited for political purposes.

The language of love and romance was used as a weapon in Pakistan movement. Urdu, the language of India, (at times called Hindustani) was relegated. Urdu became the language of the Muslims who were bent on seeing the break-up of India with a piece of it going to the Muslims for a separate homeland. They succeeded in their mission. The Muslim League became the ruling party in Pakistan. The idiosyncratic rulers immediately put Urdu in conflict with the popular Pakistani languages, Bengali, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, and Punjabi, and made it controversial. The rest is history.

The attitude of the centre remained the same towards the Bengalis who were enlightened, intelligent, scholarly and artistic in their approach to the realities in life. The West Pakistani jagirdars, sardars, choudhries, and the waderas were no match for the professors, intellectuals, thinkers, scholars and the artistes from East Pakistan who sat with them in the National Assembly.

What perturbed the rulers was that the population of East Pakistan was more than the cumulative population of the four provinces in West Pakistan, Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan.

Bengalis refused to be bulldozed by the federal government. They fought for their legitimate rights, language, proportionate share in the government, jobs, equity and shifting of the National Assembly and the State Bank to Dhaka. The Bengalis suspiciously viewed the influx of investment of the wealthy West Pakistanis in East Pakistan. They feared if not resisted, the West Pakistani billionaires would purchase the land and the resources of the East Pakistan.

To quell the Bengalis, the rulers used brute force against them. The force was met with force. India conveniently stepped in. The Muslim League for the second time in history succeeded in the break up of their own country.

Posted by Isha Khan


Muslims in India: Identity And Security Issues
January 31, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: India, Muslims

Muslims in India: Identity And Security Issues

By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi

Our great nation— India was freed on 15th August 1947 after 190 years of fight against British tyranny, beginning from the battle of Plassey in July 1757 between Nawab Siraj-ud Daulah and East India Company. Year 1857 has been the hallmark of Indian’s ‘unity in diversity’ culture when all Indians with their religious, linguistic and cultural identities launched the ‘first united war for freedom of India’ under the last Mogul king Bahadur Shah Zafar. In the building of modern India every community and every caste has equally offered their share— thus India is for all Indians.

On 26th November 1949 India adopted the new constitution, framed by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, which two months later on 26th January 1950 was enforced assuring all the citizens equality, justice and security. Similarly the leaders of our freedom struggle like Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan and their devote companions had dreamt of an India where men and women would be judged not on the class, creed or religions they belong to but on the content of their character and merit they personally possess. But the scene in the post- independent India portrays a dismal condition all-around– prejudice, injustice, corruption, insecurity and lawlessness swirling all over India’s social, political, bureaucratic and law enforcing sectors endangering the very foundations of the Indian state.

No doubt, India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. And we Indians do like the “Incredible India,” slogan– as global ad campaign by the government of Indian. On the contrary, a government of India report reads and acknowledges that Muslims in India have become “backward.” “Fearing for their security,” the report said, “Muslims are increasingly resorting to living in ghettos around the country.” Branding of Muslims as anti-national, intolerant and terrorists “has a depressing effect on their psyche,” the report said, noting Muslims live in “a sense of despair and suspicion.”

According to the report, produced by a committee led by a former chief justice of our country, Rajender Sachar, Muslims are now worse off than the Dalits, or those once called untouchables by the Brahmins. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 can’t read or write. While making up nearly 14% of the total population of the country, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. They hold only 4.9 percent of government jobs and only 3.2 percent of the jobs in the country’s security agencies, thus creating a new set of ‘untouchable Indians’ in the modern democratic republic of India.

Indian Muslims’ ability to feel physically and emotionally safe; and their equal progress with other mainstream society is a test of the country’s democracy and of its hopes for becoming a First World economic power. A body cannot find relief leaving one of its sides squeezing in pain. Similarly our country cannot taste the progress leaving one of her wings— Muslims lagging behind. Though India’s nearly 150 million Muslims are a minority at home, they represent the second-largest Muslim population in the world, behind Indonesia (190 million) and just ahead of Pakistan (about 140 million). The numbers of Muslims in India is larger than the entire population of Arab Muslims (about 140 million).

The Sachar committee report recommended creating a commission to remedy the systemic discrimination and promote affirmative-action programms. So far, very few of the recommendations have been put in place.

Indian Muslims have, as per my findings, four principal problems. And these problems are the real obstacles in all educational, economic and socio-political perspirations of the Muslim community at large.

The firstproblem is the absence of true Muslim leadership in the post-Partition period until this day. The present Muslim political leadership is either puppets of the leading parties or they have no sense of the problems Muslims community is actually facing in India. It has been an irony in the post 1947 India that majority of the Muslim politicians have been proven ineffective in regards to the community which has voted them to the power.

The second problem of Indian Muslims is lack of security. Riots, communal violence have become a sad reality of India’s life and the majority of the victims of riots in India are Muslims. The bloody massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in late February 2002 that led to the death of over 2000 Muslims is a ghastly reminder of an organized violence with tacit support by the ruling authorities.

Mumbai based writer late ‘Mr. Rafiq Zakaria’ has written with anguish about communal riots in India. According to him, they reached genocidal proportions in Gujarat in 2002.

The political milieu just after the partition was such that made Muslims feel so demoralized that they could not dare ask the question as to why the doors of defence forces were barred to them after the independence. The Muslim civil servants similarly were not to be appointed on sensitive posts and extra caution had to be used for issuing even passports to them. The strength of Muslims in the police and state paramilitary forces was deliberately reduced to the extent that in some States including U.P., Delhi and West Bengal their representation is very low.

The third principal problem of Muslim community is its low income. Although the economic and social situation of Muslims is not the same throughout India, one cannot deny the fact that poverty and lack of genuine financial recourses are hampering socio- educational development of the community at every step.

Official data is, at least, enough to figure out that in the post independent India Muslim community remained downwards economically in comparison to all other majority or minority communities. And with authentic findings in hand as we have now through National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) and the Sachar Committee Report (SCR) about the profile of second religious majority group of India, official policy can – if any government wants to – easily identify the groups most in need of state intervention, support and special care. It is typical of India’s political and social ethos that this fact of gross under representation of a significant religious minority is not allowed to become an issue. Any such discussion would be rather viewed as ‘communal’ which is taken to be anti-secular.

The fourth and most painful problem of Muslim Indians is the discriminatory attitudes of the majority community towards them. In this paper it is not possible, nor is it necessary, to give an exhaustive account of how Muslims have been hauled under various draconian laws in Independent India and how intolerant and discriminatory attitudes towards them have adversely affected their rights as equal citizens in the common domain and their collective right to distinct religious, cultural and linguistic identity. What is being attempted here is to present a sampling of state of things to illustrate how institutional discrimination and extreme intolerance against Muslims have made them periodically feel insecure, marginalized and educationally deprived.

There are Muslims’ cultural and identity crises, including those fear-psycho cases among Muslims themselves and the factual ones like the recent Aftab Ansari case of an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who wanted to grow religiously prescribed beard but has been dismissed from the job itself. From physical look, dress code, religious practices and even language like Urdu (which was wrongly taken to be Muslim exclusive) there appears a confrontation among majority and minority communities in the country. There is also the more sinister danger of actual history being changed or important chapters being omitted and Muslim culture, period of rule being depicted in official textbooks as barbaric and communal.

We learn of the most compelling stories of injustice and brutality as Muslims struggle for self-dignity and identity. A few of the images that are shown on television and the reports in the press confirm for us the plight of the Muslims in our country.

There has always been a big difference between the theory and practice in India. Indian constitution, no doubt, is one of the best in the world. It is truly secular and it was more so even before the word ‘secular’ was added to it in 1975.

Equal rights and justice for all — religious and linguistic minorities, freedom of expression and religious propagation, and punishment against any kind of discrimination are wisely enshrined in our constitution. But what practically on the screen for last few years is what it is called ‘chaos’ and collapse of justice system. The 1984 riots against Sikhs, 1992 Babri masjid demolition, 2002 Gujarat pogrom and recent Orissa and Karnataka riots against Christians are vistas which would surely find a mention in the future anthropological analyses of India along with underlined references of administrative lapses and state involvement as party in the dispute.

Plainly speaking, permanent steps should be taken that can restore the confidence of minority communities in India’s security and justice system and prevent further riots. Police must be made responsible for the riots and made them pay for their criminal inactions in the past.

Generally speaking, in all communal violence, in post independent Indian, affected people did not get justice. Muslim Indians have very few demands now– make justice visible rather than providing relief or promise of an enquiry, provide us with a feeling of actual security and see how we ourselves can make genuine progress.

We need an India where the combined, revolutionary and reformist ideologies of Shah Waliullah, Chattrapati Shivaji, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar are practically enshrined. There can be no democracy where there are no values. It is criminal to justify politics based on corruption and injustice. Democracy is where if one person is victimized the entire society stands up. Democracy based on public conscience is real. The new structure of the new era must thus evolve to a truly democratic and equal society in India.

A paper presentation at Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), Pune on Thursday 29th January 2009

M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is editor of Eastern Crescent and director of the Mumbai based Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre.

The Pak Spectator interviews Isha Khan
January 30, 2009, 9:57 am
Filed under: Bangladesh, Pakistan

The Pak Spectator interviews Isha Khan

Ordeals to Have Due Share of Transboundary River Water
January 29, 2009, 9:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Ordeals to Have Due Share of Transboundary River Water

Posted by  Isha Khan

ICDDR,B’s Military Connection with Israel
January 28, 2009, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

ICDDR,B’s Military Connection with Israel

By Rafiq Ahmed

On 27 December 2008, Israel launched a barbaric attack with highly sophisticated weapons, largely supplied by USA, on the civilian population of Gaza under the pretext of fighting Hamas, an organization democratically elected to the parliament by the majority of the Palestinian people. In densely populated Gaza, an all out war against Hamas is, in reality, an attack on the civilian population.

The 22-day long Israeli aggression on Gaza has resulted in the deaths of more than 1300 civilians, over a third of them being children and women. More than 5000 people have been injured, half of them being women and children. Thousands and thousands of homes and residential complexes have been demolished. In brief, Gaza is in ruins, its rebuilding cost exceeding over 2 billion US dollars.

Many actions of the Israeli army such as the indiscriminate use of the US manufactured white phosphorus on unarmed civilian population resulting in very severe and deep burn injuries, bombing of UN schools sheltering civilian population, deliberately shelling unarmed civilians after huddling them into houses, attacking UN premises to destroy food and related items for civilian use and bombing of hospitals appear to have constituted war crimes. Several organizations including the UN organization UNRWA and Amnesty International have called for independent international investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes. A coalition of 350 European and Arab civil society organizations has filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court against war crimes committed by the Israeli army.

ICDDR,B’s military connection with Israel

The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) is the continuation of PAK-SEATO Cholera Research Laboratory, set up by the US government in 1960 to meet the health care needs for the US soldiers in Vietnam. It received a charter from the Government of Bangladesh in 1978 to work on diarrhoeal diseases affecting the poor people. The charter did not allow the Centre to work for military purposes. However, ICDDR,B, using the name of the poor diarrhoea suffering people of Bangladesh, collects millions and millions of dollars from several countries and organizations. The Israel Defence Force is the fourth strongest military establishment in the world and is the strongest in the Middle East. This mighty defence establishment of Israel has an extensive global network that supports its killing machine targeted towards the Palestinians and the Arabs. The Government of Bangladesh does not recognize the Zionist state of Israel.

The Swedish liaison

Collaborative activities among a group of scientists employed by the Government of Sweden, a vaccine company from Sweden (SBL-Vaccin AB), members of the Israel Defence Force and a number of the scientists from ICDDR,B have been going on for several years with a view to develop a vaccine against diarrhoea, caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), which Israel requires for its soldiers. This is documented in publications in scientific journals published from USA and UK (Infection and Immunity, USA, volume 68; pages 4492-97, year 2000; Vaccine, UK, volume 18, pages 2704-2712, year 2000). Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm, a female scientist from Sweden’s state-run Gothenburg University, had been working for several years with the Israel Defence Force.

The Swedish scientists Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm, her husband Dr. Jan Holmgren and a number of their subordinate colleagues from the University of Gothenburg have been working at ICDDR,B since 1979. Their principal contact persons during all these years at ICDDR,B had been Dr. David Sack (an American associated with the Centre since 1977 and worked as its director during 1999-2007) and Dr. Firdausi Qadri, a Bangladeshi female scientist holding a very senior position.

Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm was not just acting as an advisor to the Israel Defence Force. As a matter of fact, the Israel Defence Force was testing the same ETEC vaccine, which Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm and her ICDDR,B colleagues have been developing. The Israeli army had carried out two trials of the vaccine (ETEC/rCTB supplied by SBL-Vaccin AB) between May 22 and July 10, 1995, and between April 1 and June 18, 1997. Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm and her principal Bangladeshi co-worker Dr. Firdausi Qadri have also used the same lot of the ETEC vaccine (E-003, SBL-Vaccin AB) on the Bangladeshis as documented in the journal Vaccine (volume 18, pages 2704-2712, June 2000). These activities unequivocally establish the close scientific collaboration that prevails between ICDDR,B and Israel via Sweden.

The Swedish scientists Drs. Holmgren and Svennerholm are deeply associated with SBL-Vaccin AB, its current owner being Crucell N.V. of the Netherlands. SBL-Vaccin AB has also been collaborating with the Israeli army. In the share holder’s meeting on 14 April 2000, SBL-Vaccin AB’s President Mr. S. Andreasson disclosed that the company had been trying the ETEC-vaccine on a large number of Israeli soldiers (The Internet Press Release: page 7; April 14, 2000).

Tip of the iceberg

 What has been described here is probably a tiny tip of a huge iceberg as these are public documents available in the scientific literature. How much covert activities these Swedish scientists (led by Drs. Svennerholm and Holmgren ) and their ICDDR,B associates (led by Drs. Sack and Qadri) had been carrying out inside Bangladesh on behalf of the Israel Defence Force is any body’s guess.

Israeli military agent in Mirpur

Incidentally, Dr. Ann-Mari Svennerholm, the agent of the Israel Defence Force working at ICDDR,B, is also frequently seen in Mirpur of Dhaka where she carries out her “scientific tests” on the poor slum dwellers. This has been described in Sweden’s leading daily ‘Dagens Nyheter’ (5 May 2005) where she claimed Bangladesh to be her “second home”. One wonders whether this Israeli military agent has managed to procure Bangladeshi citizenship considering the fact that the Government of Bangladesh does not recognize the state of Israel and Bangladeshis are prohibited to travel to Israel.

Israeli army hands in the massacre of Bangladeshis

 The people of Bangladesh are one of the staunchest supporters of the peoples of Palestine and the Arab world opposed to Israeli expansionism. Many Bangladeshis have sacrificed their lives alongside the Palestinians in their just struggle against Israel. In September 1982, many Bangladeshis were victims of the massacre performed under the supervision of the Israeli army in the Lebanese camps of Sabra and Shatila. It is ironical that the Swedish governmental scientists collaborating with the Israeli army should be sheltered at ICDDR,B operating on the soil of Bangladesh.

 ICDDR,B’s numerous secret activities with the foreign military

 Apart from collaborating with Israel, ICDDR,B has a long history of colluding secretly with foreign military. ICDDR,B’s scientists developed AQUISTM, a performance enhancing drink for use by the US soldiers in Iraq (The New Age, Dhaka, 8 August 2006). Its scientists led by Dr. Firdausi Qadri have used Bangladeshis as experimental guinea pigs to test a cholera vaccine entitled Peru-15 developed by scientists of the U.S. army to provide better health care to the U.S. army personnel (Journal of Infectious Diseaes 192, 573-9, 2005). As reported recently in an American journal (Infection and Immunity 76, 4145-51, 2008), Dr. Firdausi Qadri collected stool samples containing cholera bacteria from Bangladeshi cholera patients and supplied them directly to a “biodefense” laboratory in the US where scientists under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Calderwood are analyzing these freshly collected stool specimens with the possibility of developing germ warfare agents. Cholera suffering poor stool providers of Bangladesh are kept completely in the dark about the secret agenda of Dr. Qadri and her American colleagues.

Earlier in 1985, ICDDR,B tested a highly controversial and expensive oral cholera vaccine of short term protective efficacy on 90, 000 poor women and children of rural Bangladesh using them as guinea pigs. Later, the vaccine was sold at a high price by SBL-Vaccin AB of Sweden to the US army engaged in war against Iraq in 1991 (Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 371B, 1633-1640, 1995). In the 1980’s, ICDDR,B, in association with a leading western expert on biological weapons, had carried out collaborative cholera research with the minority white apartheid regime of South Africa grossly violating the foreign policy of the Government of Bangladesh (Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 21, 884-890, 1985).

National security of Bangladesh in an age of germ warfare:

We are living at a time with constant threats of biological warfare. Various pathogenic micro-organisms including cholera bacteria can be used as a tool in biological warfare. This is a serious matter for the people of Bangladesh when foreign military scientists are carrying out research with pathogenic micro-organisms at ICDDR,B. Israeli scientists had been working to develop an “ethnically targeted” biological weapon that would kill or harm the Arabs but not the Jews (The Jerusalem Post, 29 October, 1998; The Sunday Times, London, 15 November 1998).

These two Swedish scientists (Drs. Jan Holmgren and Ann-Mari Svennerholm), not trained in medical genetics, were also carrying out “genetic research” on Bangladeshi body specimens under the guise of cholera vaccine research (American journal of Epidemiology, 121, 791-796, 1985). Because of ICDDR,B’s long-term collaboration with the Swedish scientists (Drs. Jan Holmgren and Ann-Mari Svennerholm) linked to Israel, it is possible that highly pathogenic micro-organisms collected from Bangladesh have ended up in Israel via Sweden.

 It is possible that an external power might develop ethnic weapons against the Bangladeshis as foreign military scientists do possess genetic materials of the Bangladeshis. How much control do Bangladeshi authorities have over the activities and intentions of the expatriate scientists working with highly pathogenic micro-organisms at ICDDR,B? One wonders!

Rafiq Ahmed E Mail :

Posted by Isha Khan

Violence against Christians / minorities
January 27, 2009, 6:41 pm
Filed under: India
Violence against Christians / minorities
Farzana Shah
Mahatma Gandhi on Dalits
“It is a matter of deep humiliation to confess that we are a house divided against itself, that we Hindus and Mussulmans are flying at one another. It is a matter of still deeper humiliation that we Hindus regard several million of our own kith and kin as too degraded even for our touch.”
M.K. Gandhi`s address to the US through Columbia Broadcasting System in 1930s:
Such discrimination, as noted by Gandhi himself, forced many Dalits to convert to Islam, Budhism and Christianity, in the hope of gaining some social standing in the society that refuses to consider them human otherwise. But the VHP led Hindu right took this to be an unforgivable sin. To abandon their religion and that too for Islam outraged the hardliners to the core. The VHP saw this as a serious threat to its notion of Hinduism.
India, the world`s largest secular democracy is everything but that. This rhetoric sounds good but only for so long.  It becomes nauseating when this hypocrisy takes such toll that humans are openly butchered in the streets while the government prides itself to be a representative of those very people.
Indian history of the past sixty years has been marred by religious, political and communal violence. An interesting trend to note is that only certain religious issues become prominent in politics; causing agitation and leading to communal riots. This essay attempts to ascertain the sociological, psychological, economic, and political explanations for incidents of communal violence, in Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Maharashtra, Orrissa and Delhi in India.
The first major riots that occurred in India between Hindus and Muslims after the bloodshed of partition in 1947, can be traced back to as long as 1961, in Jabalpur a central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. (sic) They were followed by riots in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh with periodic violence erupting elsewhere. Thousands of Sikhs were murdered in Delhi in 1984. The assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the hands of two Sikh bodyguards triggered further violence; a response from Sikhs at the killing of innocent worshippers at the holy shrine when the Indian Army stormed into the temple with full force under her orders. But the roots of present day violence can be best traced to the 1980`s.
Hindu mob is beating a helpless Sikh during violence against Sikhs in Delhi in1980.
Sikhs burnt alive in the streets of Delhi. (1980)
Gujarat riots of 2002 were another horror story where thousands of Muslims were burnt alive, raped and slaughtered by Hindu fascists in the first genocide of 21st century. The recent anti-Christian violence in India is being viewed by the world with concern as it is a sign of how quickly such violence can spiral out of control.
The last thing the world wants is another incident similar to the Gujarat riots of 2002 or the destruction of Babri Masjid of 1992, which gave way to months of fierce unrest.
Following the demolition, some 2000 people were killed in communal riots in Ayodhya, Bombay and beyond. Hindu hardline parties, including the Vishwa Hindu Prashad (VHP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – used Ayodhya as a rallying call to Hindus throughout India. They said the 16th century mosque at the site was located on the birthplace of the Hindu Lord Rama and that a temple had to be built there. The temple till date has not come up but the memories of the destruction of the mosque still haunt the minorities in India.
Some blame the Muslim movement for an independent Pakistan as the source of division in India on the basis of religion. But religious intolerance has not remained confined to Muslims only. Other minorities including Christians and lower caste Hindus, otherwise known as dalits, have also borne the brunt of the fascist Hindu ideology that fuels this violence. The problem is much bigger than what is taken to be in explaining these disturbing tendencies. In all the mentioned incidents what remains consistent is the fact that the aggressors are always fundamentalist Hindus, who seek justification of their horrendous sins in divine rulings. Thus this mindset can be best made sense of with an understanding of Hinduism itself.
“Inequality is the soul of Hinduism,” wrote Ambedkar. He characterized the oppressive caste system as the tyranny of Hinduism. After spending a lifetime in a crusade against the oppressive Hinduism, Ambedkar finally renounced Hinduism, and converted to Buddhism and exhorted his followers to do the same.. It is an irony that BJP and other Sangh Parivar outfits are trying to appropriate such a historic personality as Dr. BR Ambedkar. Some claim that India was a country that preached non-violence ever since the Vedic period. This sounds ironic especially when today`s India has become a conundrum of violence with BJP-led Saffron Brigade trying to create a Hindu Rashtra.
This has resulted in terrible and outrageous violence against the minorities living in India, which in actuality define the secular credentials of India.
The new wave of attacks against Christians was triggered by the killing of a Hindu leader, Swami Laxanananda Saraswati, along with five other people at Tumudibandh, Kandhamal District, in Orissa on 23 August 2008.
The rebellious Maoist Naxalite groups prominent in this region have claimed responsibility for the murder of Swami and his followers. In addition, the state police authorities have stated that the killing was carried out by the Maoists. However, leaders of certain fundamentalist Hindu organizations like the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini blamed Christians for these killings. Despite the condemnation expressed by Christian groups and churches at the killing of the Swami and his associates and their demand for the culprits to be caught and punished, in retaliation, the extremist Hindu organizations have engaged in a series of attacks against Christians throughout the Sate of Orissa.
The minority Christians in Orissa have been experiencing various forms of atrocities in recent weeks including looting, destruction of churches and church-run institutions, brutal attacks against priests, nuns, church workers and other members of the Christian community, most of whom are Dalits and Adivasis (tribals).
Reports from various sources confirmed that at least fifty thousand Christians in Orissa have been displaced; hundreds of Christians have fled their homes and taken refuge in forests; many others are living in as many as eighteen relief camps, which offer them only so much relief in the wake of the mayhem that has wrecked their lives. 
The plight of the victims and survivors of this communal carnage, the fear and trauma they are experiencing, the poor and unhygienic facilities in the government-run relief camps, the inefficiency of government machinery in tackling the violence, continue to be a serious concern.
The upsurge of religious extremism in Orissa in recent weeks has left many Christians in Orissa virtually defenseless.
(House belonging to Christian family burnt to ashes. Thousands of houses of Christians were burnt by Fanatic Hindus during recent violence in Orissa and other states of India).
Insight into the communal violence in India
Though Hindutva ideologues often try and confuse matters by claiming that India is already a Hindu Rashtra, which translated in English means a “Hindu nation”, they know that their model of Indian society, if it is to come about, requires the prior establishment of a Hindu state under Sangh control, which in coordination with the RSS, alone can dramatically re-shape the Indian society/polity demanded by a proper Hindu Rashtra. But there are only two routes to achieving such radicals strong state power — through an electorate to secure an absolute or near-absolute majority for the BJP in Parliament; or bypassing altogether the constitutional-electoral route and carrying out an authoritarian coup either of a military-police kind, or a civilian unconstitutional coup of the Emergency-type. Through this a dominant but minority party comes to power in a coalition through elections but then overthrows all democratic-electoral restraints and establishes its authoritarian state. Fascism in Germany and Italy combined the electoral and unconstitutional processes and attained central control in this manner.
Gujrat is being used as a rallying point by BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, Balidani Dasta of Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and Vishav Hindu Parishad. Taking it to be the starting point, they wish to take their malicious agenda forward to Orissa and beyond.
Organized violence against Christians in India
This new wave of organised violence against Christians, which started in Orissa, has now spread to other States such as Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.
Attacks launched by Hindu extremist groups against the Christians are considered as an well thought-out plot and just one link in a long chain of events that have continued to strain communal harmony and inter-religious relations in the country. Although the attacks against Christians are interpreted as religious violence, in most circumstances the under current is based on socio-economic factors.. Christians in the country have been repeatedly accused of encouraging conversion to Christianity. Various Churches have been unequivocal in their official documents and statements and have insisted that conversion to Christianity by force or fraudulent means is strictly prohibited. 
(Cross at stakes: Many Churches destroyed in Orissa recently )
Churches being vandalized in Delhi 
3. What the constitution of India says?
Contrary to what the Indian constitution states in terms of protecting minority rights, Hindu militant groups are trying to replicate the example of Bajrang Dal. The Bajrang Dal was set up in 1984 as the youth arm of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Mr Prakash Sharma was made its Kanpur unit convener. At that time, it was “active only in a few districts of Uttar Pradesh. Today it has some 13 lakh activists spread across most of the States and the aim is to cover every district of the country. The Bajrang Dal leader denied that his organisation was involved in the violence against Christians in Kandhamal district of Orissa or in Mangalore and elsewhere in Karnataka, although the Karnataka unit chief Mahendra Kumar, had issued a statement accepting its role. Mr. Sharma listed the tasks before the Dal as “seva” (service of the people) and “suraksha” (protection). Its volunteers were given tough physical training to help them protect themselves and the people. He insisted that they were not trained in firearms, and were trained only in “aiming with air guns for which we run regular camps.”
Mr Sharma very openly and nonchalantly admitted that the minorities can only live in a Hindu Rashtra if they stop preaching their religion. “We do not say do not go to mosques or churches. But conversion must be stopped. We have re-converted to Hinduism through the Ghar Vapasi (home-coming) programme about 10,000-15,000 people since I became Bajrang Dal convener in 2002.” 
Here is another chilling reality that somehow is escaping the Government of India. The violence and threats against the Christians/minorities of India is an assault on the Constitution of India. The Indian Constitution declares India to be a “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic” which secures to all citizens “justice; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and equality of status and opportunity”. Under articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution, discrimination based on religion is prohibited. Article 25 guarantees the right to freely practice and propagate religion.
 In addition to these constitutional guarantees at the domestic level, India is also party to several international treaties that stipulate human rights obligations. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights establishes the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Article 26 bar discrimination on the grounds of religion while Article 27 stipulates that in “those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion…”.
India now has seven states, which have legislation banning religious conversions. The seven Indian states with anti-conversion legislation (known as the Freedom of Religion Acts), include Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Hindu extremists commonly use anti-conversion legislation to falsely accuse Christians of converting people through force or allurement; thus justifying subsequent attacks on Christians. They also deflect prosecution away from themselves by pressing charges of “forcible conversion” without any evidence.
The response of the church in India
Atrocities committed against Christians are horrendous and their unspeakable state is no less than a nightmare. In August 2008, a crowd of up to 4,000 Hindu militants attacked the Brethren in Christ Girls Hostel at Nuagoan, one of nine such facilities funded through the Scholarship Program for International Children’s Education (SPICE). The mob set the hostel and church ablaze, destroyed its water tank, and demolished the campus. Ten policemen who were on guard at the hostel fled when they saw the approaching crowd. Staff, girls, and local believers, some of whom were beaten, managed to flee. The Cuttack-based offices of the Brethren in Christ Church in India were also a target, and several pastors and church planters lost all their belongings when their homes were looted and burned. People, including pastors, who had to take refuge in forests, lost everything. They are without food and clothes and at risk of snake bites and malaria.
The Churches and Christian leaders in India have been making persistent efforts for appealing to people to strive for peace and reconciliation. The call given by the Untied Christian Forum comprised of the National Council of Churches in India, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India and the Evangelical Fellowship of India to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and Reconciliation was very well received by Christians all over the country. People at large have appreciated the efforts by various churches to promote and restore trust and goodwill among people of all religions and communities. The Church leaders in India appealed to all members of Christian community in the country to work for the welfare of all sections of people in society in spite of such horrific experiences of violence and death of some members of the community.
The World Council of Churches is deeply disturbed by these developments of religious violence in Orissa and has expressed its concern in a letter by the General Secretary addressed to the Prime Minister of India. A pastoral letter from WCC General Secretary expressing sympathy and solidarity to suffering Christians in Orissa was sent to WCC member churches in India and the National Council of Churches in India.
India, Secular?
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly defended India`s secular credentials when the European Union conveyed its “serious concerns” over attacks on Christians in India. “We are a secular state. We are a multi-religious, multi-cultural nation,” Manmohan Singh said emphatically. “The Constitution guarantees all citizens of India the right to profess and propagate a religion of their choice,” he said. Manmohan Singh admitted there have been “sporadic attacks” on Christian shrines but underlined he had already condemned these incidents as “acts of national shame.”An `act of national shame,` indeed it was. But such gruesome violations of human rights demand a more stern response than this. The Indian Prime Minister was covering it up cosmetically since he had to do it. But the ground realities are absolutely different. As the growing religious extremism and increasing violence against religious minorities in India is putting the secular credibility of India at risk
The reality check India should go in for
Secularism is a term employed most rashly by the Indian National Congress. The Chief Minister of South Indian state, Tamil Nadu made his mind clear regarding this and launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister.
Questioning the secular credentials of India, Karunanidhi alleged that the Congress was neither a true secular party nor a force that was interested in the country`s integration. Referring to the killings of Sikhs in the north in the wake of assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, he wondered whether the Congress could be called a secular party. Secularism was not a term to which the Congress alone could claim ownership; he said asking “have the people given patta (title deed) to the Congress to use the term?”
Karuna Nidhi had carefully chosen his target when attacking the Congress for he was aware that India has not been able to free itself of communalism even after more than sixty years of independence, however much it tries to deny it.
If anything, it has been getting worse year after year. There has not been a single year in post-independence period, which has been free of communal violence though number of incidents may vary. Indian talks of pluralism, secularism and a great tradition, are made to seem nothing more than a mockery by the Hinduvta dream of carving out a ‘Hindu Rashtra`.
Now there are few incidents that would stun the readers:
In the year 2002 the first reported riot took place in Kozhikode (Calicut), Kerala on 3rd January. In the clashes between two communities (Hindus and Muslims) five persons were killed. The clashes occurred on the question of eve teasing. The whole region came in the grip of violence. More than twenty persons were injured including five women. Properties worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed. The police had to be heavily deployed to bring the situation under control. Kerala in India is generally thought to be free of communal violence, experiencing only occasional frenzy and bout of communal violence. But this time a vicious terror campaign overtook it, aimed at its Christian community.
Gujarat was next to come under the stretch of communal carnage. Nowhere in history can there be found an example of the violence of this kind in India except at the time of partition. The communal carnage in Gujarat shook the entire world. It was difficult to believe such intense communal frenzy could be incited by the BJP for its political gains. More than 2000 people were killed most cruelly in this carnage according to very reliable sources even though Government records show dead to number no more than 1000. What is worse the Chief Mister Narendra Modi justified such frenzy and described it as reaction to action in Godhra. And all this happened with full complicity of the police and bureaucracy. The honest officers who did not allow carnage in their areas were instantly transferred by the Modi Government.
Some ministers who led the mobs have been named in FIRs. Many mosques and mausoleums were demolished and ground was leveled. Some accounts maintain about 700 such religious structures were brought down or severely damaged. Ahmedabad, Baroda, Mehsana and Panchmahal districts were the worst affected districts covering entire north and central Gujarat. Properties worth more than 10,000 crores were looted or burnt, though these figures are disputed. The business loss due to closures and migration of labor is several times this figure. Hundreds of Muslim families were totally uprooted. The carnage continued for more than five months
On 17th March communal incidents took place in Loharu in Bhivani district of Haryana. Loharu was once under a Muslim ruler and was known as Nawwaab of Loharu, which explains the considerable number of Muslims residing in that town. A mob of three hundred incited by the rumour of cow slaughter attacked two mosques and at least 15 shops and houses belonging to the minority community. The police had to fire in the air when the mob could not be controlled by cane charge. When the people belonging to the majority community heard that a cow has been taken for slaughter in one of the mosques, the mosque, and close by shops were set on fire
According to a UNI report quoting the police sources said that a mob of 300 Shiv Sainiks set fire to another mosque near the railway station also including many shops in Purana Bazar. And in this area all 15-20 shops and houses belonging to minority were burnt down. The palace of Nawwab of Loharu was also surrounded by a mob but additional reinforcements were requisitioned from other places which were thus saved from being damaged.
Next incidents of communal violence took place in three places in Rajasthan in which three persons were killed on 25th March on the occasion of Muharram. The immediate provocation was the holding of poornahuti yagnas (a Hindu religious ritual) and Kirtans (devotional songs) for Rama at various temples on the route of Tazia processions. Curfew had to be clamped in the town of Gangapur, 80 kms from Sawai Madhopur, in central Rajasthan where 3 people were killed and 15 injured in police firing.
According to the police violence broke out when activists of the VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal collected at an ancient Hanumanji Mandir for a Yagna and Kirtan. The police asked them not to gather but they defied police orders and began to shout provocative slogans when the Tazia procession came closer to the temple. The police was compelled to open fire when tear-gassing and cane charge had no effect.
The Gangapur city has 25% Muslim population and earlier was considered to be the stronghold of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) in Rajasthan. It has always been prone to minor communal irritations although this is the first time that violence has erupted on such a large scale. In different parts of Southern Rajasthan where the Sangh Parivar has strong presence communal tension was simmering. But the situation was kept under control. 
Christians’ massacre starts again:
The recent wave of the communal violence in Orissa`s Kandhamal district was an `unprecedented` attack on the Christian community in India, according to a rights group in its fact-finding report. `We are saddened to acknowledge that the violence in Orissa, which left at least four killed and 730 houses and 95 churches burnt, will go into the history books as an unprecedented attack on Christians in India,` said Joseph D`Souza, president of the All India Christian Council (AICC). `The tragedy is deepened by the fact that the violence was avoidable if the authorities had enforced the rule of law”.
Bajrang Dal activists have been involved in bomb blasts often blaming it on Muslims, so as to prove their stance on Muslims being responsible for the terror activities in India. Today spokesmen of the Congress led UPA Government in India are asking for a ban on Bajrang Dal. The faster it is done the better it would be for India as a country as there is every reason to believe that it may just implode from within as political parties like BJP have undertaken a mad, mad cannonball run.
RSS/VHP/Bajrang Dal and its activities
The RSS was founded in 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hegdewar is the ideological fountainhead of the modern Hindutva movement. Organized around the concept of Shakas, a local cell formation where young men would gather for physical and ideological training, under the tutelage of a brother or dada, the RSS ideology as espousing the national cause was articulated over the next decade or more. Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, who was appointed the head of RSS shortly before his death by Hegdewar, clarified the idea of the nation in his treatise:
“We, or Our Nationhood Defined”: We believe that our notions today about the Nation are erroneous…. It is but proper therefore, at this stage, to understand what the Western Scholars state as the Universal Nation idea and correct ourselves.
Based on a racial idea of Nation Golwalkar in praise of Hitler says: To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races – the Jews… Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by”.
These Hindu extremist organizations are also imparting military training to Hindu youth for taking on non-Hindus. The formal training is now underway to ensure the spread of a militant ideology.  The Shiv Sena chief has condoned the arms training of the Bajrang Dal.  He also mentioned that the Indian army is ill-prepared for war and that his political party, the Shiv Sena also will be arming their cadre.
At the Sarojini Nagar Camp of Lucknow this is what was released to media: “The number of people being trained in the Sarojini Nagar camp at present is 100.  But according to the convener of UP branch of Bajrang Dal, Avadh Bihari Mishra, the objective of this camp is to prepare a group of two thousand trained and active young men who could train a million youth in martial arts and handling of arms in camps at various places.  In addition to this, the objective is also to create such atmosphere and mentality which was seen in the country at the time of demolition of Babri Masjid.”
Women branch of RSS/Bajrang Dal armed militants
 Among the Sangh Parivar’s affiliate organizations actively participating in giving training in martial arts are the RSS’s women’s branch (Rashtriya Sevika Samiti), the Bajrang Dal and the Bajrang Dal’s women’s branch (Durga Vahini).  Though training camps and trainings are not new for these organizations (they have been imparting training in “lathi” wielding and riot mongering for a long time), they have now started arming their volunteers in a military pattern.
Though the current training exercises are being carried out with air-guns, the Bajrang Dal state chief Ved Prakash Sachan said he plans to give volunteers a feel of real guns..  “This is the induction stage.  Later we will train our boys with proper guns and rifles,” he admitted over the telephone, while claiming, “This is part of our drill to ensure protection of Hindus.” Sachan is personally supervising the camp, which was not the first of its kind in the state. According to him, similar camps have been held in Varanasi, Mathura and Meerut.
(Females activists of Durga Vahini, the women wing of Bajrang Dal are being imparted weapons and sword training at its camps for taking part in future activities against minorities.)
Chronology of terrorist activities by Bajrang Dal, RSS
* Aug 25, 2008 : Two die in Kanpur when a bomb explodes. It transpires these were Bajrang Dal activists who were making explosives. 
* Aug-Sept 2008: Spate of attacks on Christians in Orissa and Karnataka. Karnataka unit head Mahendra Kumar arrested. Home ministry says Bajrang Dal is behind the attacks
* April 2006: Two Bajrang Dal activists die in Nanded while making bombs. Of them included a suspect of the 2003 Parbhani mosque blasts
* Jan 1999 : Dal mob led by its local leader, Dara Singh, burnt alive a Christian priest Graham Stains and his two little sons in Orissa 
And the list continues as the saffron assault brigade takes charge of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra. The Bajrang Dal is said to have been at the forefront of murderous gangs that killed Muslims and burnt their homes in Gujarat in 2002. On several occasions, Dal activists have acted as moral police, catching unmarried couples on Valentine`s Day and forcing them to apply sindoor or tie rakhi against their wishes. The record of Bajrang Dal`s lawlessness is endless. And now the Dal, the 24-year-old sword-arm of the Hindutva brigade, is in the news again — as almost always, for wrong reasons. A number of political leaders have been demanding its ban.
In the middle of September, anti-church violence erupted in Mangalore where prayer halls of the evangelist New Life order were attacked. Soon violence enveloped other denominations, and then churches in the new economy city of Bangalore were vandalized. A month earlier similar anti-Christian attacks rocked Orissa and trouble is still simmering there.
In the middle of the violence that broke out in Mangalore was the figure of Mahendra Kumar, Bajrang Dal “convener” for the state, who claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, said they were a “spontaneous Hindu upsurge”. While the Dal said it was inflamed by New Life`s “conversion activities”, prayer halls were not the only targets. The Adoration monastery, where nuns live a cloistered life, dedicated to prayer, was not spared either, its windows broken and crucifix vandalized. Saffron groups and Christian organizations have clashed over conversions and re-conversions as they jostle for influence from remote tribal homelands of Rajasthan`s Banswara to the north-east. 
 Human Rights report of violence against Christains/Minorities in India by saffron parties 
“Christians are the new scapegoat in India`s political battles. Without immediate and decisive action by the government, communal tensions will continue to be exploited for political and economic ends”, says Smita Narula
Researcher, Asia Division of Human Rights Watch
The problem is that poverty is eating into India and the people are finding Christianity a lucrative option with many NGO’s working overnight for conversions. Conversions are not forced upon yet they number highly due to the desperate living conditions in India which have been worsened by the food shortages. An escape from death in return of a faith that has only served them humiliation is considered a fair deal by many downtrodden Indians. It is basically in Northeast of India that includes states like interiors of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura where conversions have been high. Down South it is Orrissa, Kerala, Karnataka where Christain NGO’s have gone overboard with the conversions. And that is irking the saffron parties since they are seeing this to their own dream of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and that is where the problem begins.
The Indian government has failed to prevent increasing violence against Christians and is exploiting communal tensions for political ends, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released this month. The 37-page report, Politics by Other Means: Attacks Against Christians in India, details of violence against Christians in the months ahead of the country`s national parliamentary elections in September and October 1999, and in the months following electoral victory by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People`s Party, known as the BJP) in the state of Gujarat.
Attacks against Christians throughout the country have increased significantly since the BJP began its rule in mid of March 1998. They include the killings of priests, the raping of nuns, and the physical destruction of Christian institutions, schools, churches, colleges, and cemeteries. Thousands of Christians have also been forced to convert to Hinduism. 
The report concludes that as with attacks against Muslims in 1992 and 1993, attacks against Christians are part of a concerted campaign of right-wing Hindu organizations, collectively called the Sangh Parivar, to promote and exploit communal clashes to increase their political power-base. The movement is supported at the local level by militant groups who operate with impunity.  
When Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a charismatic Hindu priest fond of railing against Christian missionaries, was shot dead in the eastern state of Orissa in August, police blamed “Naxalite” Maoists. But hardliner Hindu groups decided Christians were responsible. In an ensuing rampage, dozens of churches were burned, tens of thousands of Christians fled their homes, and at least 20 people died. By this week the violence had touched four more states. In Karnataka in the south, 20 churches have been desecrated in a few days.
India’s Hindu majority and its tiny Christian minority mostly rub along peacefully. But since the early 1990s, the rise of ideological Hindutva (“Hinduness”) and of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), now the main opposition, has seen intermittent outbreaks of sometimes vicious agitation against Christian missionaries. They are accused of forcibly converting poor Hindus. Gauri Prasad Rath, general secretary of the Vishnu Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, in Orissa, says that the thuggery was caused by, “the fraudulent conversions Christians are doing. They burned their own churches.”
However the claims of VHP are mere accusations as all the funds Christian organizations get from abroad are thoroughly monitored by government in India, as opposed to the huge funds Hindu extremist organizations like VHP, RSS and Bajrand Dal spending on different terrorist activities which have never been audited.
It is true that missionaries are busy in much of India, especially the tribal belt that runs through Orissa. Here, traditionally nature-worshipping forest dwellers, among India’s poorest people, have found institutional Christianity, with its free schools and health care, especially attractive. Indeed many church leaders believe that the proportion of Indian Christians is a couple of percentage points higher than the census reckoning of 2.3%. In six of the 12 states ruled by the BJP, either on its own or in coalition, laws designed to discourage Hindus from switching faiths by banning forced conversions have been introduced. Convictions, however, are rare. Muhammed Shafi Qureshi, chairman of the government-appointed National Commission for Minorities, says on inquiring as to how many people had been convicted under the state’s 1967 law; the answer was none.
Tensions have been exacerbated by a row over “reservations”, the affirmative-action benefits, such as privileged access to government jobs and education, afforded to low-caste Hindus. Most Hindu converts to Christianity come from the lower castes but lose these benefits when they switch faiths. Their calls for inclusion in the system have infuriated many Hindus.
With general elections due by next May, such issues have proved effective rallying cries for Hindu groups aligned with the BJP. Mr Qureshi points out that Karnataka, scene of some of the worst violence, this year voted in its first BJP government. The party is also part of the ruling coalition in Orissa. “This madness”, he says, “is political.”
Every conflict can be explained in more than one way, but historians know that one way of sifting out bad explanations is to look for plausibility.
Here, we’re being asked to believe that the thousands of extremely poor people who make up the populations of these relief camps are self-arsonists running a compensation scam. This is not just a bad explanation; it’s an explanation made in bad faith. What we’re seeing in Orissa is the attempt to replicate Gujarat’s ‘success’ and Golwalkar’s object on a smaller scale. Thus, Christians are driven out of their homes to live in limbo as destitute, vagrant wards of the State in camps, or else allowed to return to their villages as neo-Hindus purged of an alien possession. This is, or should be, unacceptable.. The use of murder, rape and arson against civilian communities to achieve a political object (in this case ethnic cleansing) is a form of terror, and this republic’s government needs to treat it as such.
As the violence spreads to many districts of India against Christians after Orissa episode, other minorities including Muslism are also being targetted. Just today (October 12, 2008, Sunday) six Muslims of a family including 3 children were burnt to death at Watoli village Andhra Pardesh district when their house was set on fire. The village is 13 km far from the communal violence-hit Bhainsa town. Three bodies were charred beyond recognition, the rest were burnt partially, police said.Keeping in view the numerous incidents of violence and massacre of minorities at the hands of extremist Hindus in India, the credentials of being a Secular country are highly questionable.
The slogan of being biggest democracy and a secular country seems only a rhetoric and catchy phrase to bluff the world.
Though recently US and UN have expressed concern over massacre of Christians by Hindu fanatics in India but there is a need for more strong a measure to be taken by the international community in this regard.
The world should take notice of the brutalities being meted to minorities including Christians and Muslims and low cast Dalits by Hindu extremists in India; the matter should be taken for debate in the United Nations by the world so that these oppressed people of India can get some justice.

Posted by Isha Khan

January 16, 2009, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan

1. On July 2, 1972, the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India signed an historic agreement at Simla under which they resolved that the two countries put to an end the conflict and confrontation that has hitherto marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship and the establishment of a durable peace in the sub-continent. The Agreement also provided for the settlement of “their difference by peaceful means by bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon.

2. Bangladesh welcomed the Simla Agreement. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh strongly supported its objective of reconciliation, good neighborliness’ and establishment of durable peace in the sub-continent.

3. The humanitarian problem arising in the wake of the tragic events of 1971 constituted a major obstacle in the way of reconciliation and normalization among the countries of the sub-continent. In the absence of reconciliation, it was not possible to have tripartite talks to settle the humanitarian problems, as Bangladesh could not participate in such meeting on the basis of sovereign equality.

4. On April 17, 1973, India and Bangladesh took a major step forward to break the deadlock on the humanitarian issues by setting aside the political problems of recognition. In a Declaration issued on the date they said that they “are resolved to continue their efforts to reduce tension, promote friendly and harmonious relationship in the sub-continent and work together towards the establishment of a durable peace “. Inspired by the vision and “in the larger interest of reconciliation, peace and stability in the sub-continent” they jointly proposed that the problem of the detained and stranded persons should be resolved on humanitarian considerations through simultaneous repatriation of all such persons except those Pakistani prisoners of war who might be required by the Government of Bangladesh for trial on certain charges.

5. Following the Declaration there were a series of talks between India and Bangladesh and India and Pakistan. These talks resulted in an agreement at Delhi on August 28, 1973 between India and Pakistan with the concurrence of Bangladesh, which provided for a solution of the outstanding humanitarian problems.

6. In pursuance of the Agreement, the process of three-way repatriation commenced on September 19, 1973. So far nearly 300,000 persons have been repatriated which has generated an atmosphere of reconciliation and paved the way for normalization of relations in the sub-continent.

7. In February 1974, recognition took place thus facilitating the participation of Bangladesh in the tripartite meeting envisaged in the Delhi Agreement, on the basis of sovereign equality. Accordingly His Excellency Dr.Kamal Hossain, Foreign Minster of the Government of Bangladesh, His Excellency Sardar Swaran Singh, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India and His Excellency Mr.Aziz Ahmed, the Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs of the Government of Pakistan met in New Delhi from April 5 to April 9, 1974 and discussed the various issues mentioned in the Delhi Agreement in particular the question of the 195 prisoners of war and the completion of the three-way process of repatriation involving Bangalees in Pakistan, Pakistanis in Bangladesh and Pakistani prisoners of war in India.

8. The Ministries reviewed the progress of the three-way repatriation under the Delhi Agreement of August 28, 1973. They were gratified that such a large number of persons detained or stranded in the three countries had since reached their destinations.

9. The Ministers also considered steps that needed to be taken in order expeditiously to bring the process of the three-way repatriation to a satisfactory conclusion.

10. The Indian side stated that the remaining Pakistani prisoners of war and civilians internees in India to be repatriated under the Delhi Agreement, numbering approximately 6,500, would be repatriated at the usual pace of rain on alternate days and the likely short-fall [text illegible] April 10, 1974 on account of Kumb Mela, would be made up by running additional trains after April 19. It was thus hoped that the repatriation of prisoners of war would be completed by the end of April 1974.

11. The Pakistani side stated that the repatriation of Bangladesh nationals from Pakistan was approaching completion. The remaining Bangladesh nationals in Pakistan would also repatriated without let or hindrance.

12. In respect of non-Bangalees in Bangladesh, the Pakistan side stated that the Government of Pakistan had already issued clearances for movement to Pakistan in favor of those non-Bangalees who were either domiciled in former West Pakistan, were employees of the Central Government and their families or were members of the divided families, irrespective of their original domicile. The issuance of the clearance to 25,000 persons who constitute hardship cases was also in progress. The Pakistan side reiterated that all those who fall under the first three categorize would be received by Pakistan without any limits to numbers. In respect of persons whose applications had been rejected, the Government of Pakistan would upon request, provide reasons why any particular case was rejected. Any aggrieved applicant could, at any time, seek a review of his application provided he was able to supply new facts or further information to the Government of Pakistan in support of his contention that he qualified in one or other of the three categories. The claims of such persons would not be time-barred. In the event of the decision of the review of a case being adverse, the Government of Pakistan and Bangladesh might seek to resolve it by mutual consultation.

13. The question of 195 Pakistani prisoners of war was discussed by the three Ministers, in the context of the earnest desire of the Governments for reconciliation, peace and friendship in the sub-continent. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh stated that the excesses and manifold crimes committed by these prisoners of war constituted according to the relevant provisions of the U.N General Assembly Resolutions and International Law, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and that there was universal consensus that persons charged with such crimes as the 195 Pakistani prisoners of war should be held to account and subjected to the dues process of Law. The Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs of the Government of Pakistan said that his Government condemned and deeply regretted any crimes that may have been committed.

14. In this connection the three Ministers noted that the matter should be viewed in the context of the determination of the three countries to continue resolutely to work for reconciliation. The Minister further noted that following recognition, the Prime Minister of Pakistan declared that he would visit Bangladesh in response to the invitation of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and appeal to the people of Bangladesh, to forgive and forget the mistakes of the past. Similarly, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh had declared with regard to the atrocities and destruction committed in Bangladesh in 1971 that he wanted the people to forget the past and to make a fresh start,stating that the people of Bangladesh knew how to forgive.

15. In the light of the foregoing and, in particular, having regard to the appeal of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to the people of Bangladesh to forgive and forget the mistakes of the past, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh stated that the Government of Bangladesh has decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency. It was agreed that the 195 prisoners of war may be repatriated to Pakistan along with the other prisoners of war now in process of repatriation under the Delhi Agreement.

16. The Minister expressed their convictions that the above agreements provide a firm basis for the resolution of the humanitarian problems arising out of the conflict of 1971. They reaffirmed the vital stake of seven hundred million people of the three countries have in peace and progress and reiterated the resolve of their Governments to work for the promotion of normalization of relations and the establishment of durable peace in the sub-continent.

Signed in New Delhi on April 9, 1974 in three original, each of which is equally authentic.

Dr.Kamal Hossain, Foreign Minster of the Government of Bangladesh,

Sardar Swaran Singh, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India

Mr.Aziz Ahmed, the Minister of State for Defense and Foreign Affairs of the Government of Pakistan