July 23, 2016

India: Lesson from Gujarat - Cow protection vigilante groups need to be banned

scroll.in - 22 July 2016

Lesson from Gujarat: Cow protection vigilante groups need to be banned

Will Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal overcome their upper caste sensibilities to demand a ban on Gau Raksha Dals operating in several states?

by Ajaz Ashraf

The atrocities committed on four Dalits in Una, Gujarat, for skinning a dead cow has several layers of overlapping meanings. But perhaps none is as stark as the one that conveys to us the dangers of allowing anti-cow slaughter vigilante groups to operate with impunity.

These vigilante groups have mushroomed around the country. They are prone to taking over the role of law-enforcers, and meting out instant justice to whoever they apprehend ferrying cattle, regardless of whether these were sold and purchased legitimately. The Una incident tells us that vigilantism is a contagious disease spread by the viruses called suspicion and self-righteousness.

Balu Sarvaiya and his sons – who were stripped, tied and beaten mercilessly in Una – are cow-worshippers. Balu even owned a bovine. It is their job to dispose of dead cows, to harvest from them the skin used for leather – for instance, to make cricket balls. It is traditionally considered a polluting job no high caste would undertake.

Atrocities were committed on Balu, his sons and two labourers because Hindutva foot-soldiers presumably suspected the cow had been killed surreptitiously, or they believed that even skinning a dead bovine was sacrilege. It is impossible for them to conceive that a person could worship the cow and yet, on its death, harvest from it body parts for which there is an industrial demand.

This should tell you about the mindset of activists engaged in cow protection.

Over the last two years, cow vigilante groups have spread terror on the roads crisscrossing north India. But the police haven’t sought to curb their activities. Instead, those whom cow-protection groups injure grievously often find themselves detained and entangled in police cases.

Killers of the cow should be hanged, says graffiti on the walls of Gurgaon.

Hindutva hardline

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has described the atrocities against Dalits in Una as a “social evil” which must be tackled and eradicated. But this social evil will continue until the Gau Raksha Dal is banned, which is one of the demands Dalit leaders from Gujarat have voiced.

There can be no doubt that Sarvaiya has become the Rohith Vemula of 2016 – the Hyderabad Central University student who committed suicide in January this year to protest against the alleged discriminatory policies of the authorities. He is the new symbol of discrimination and injustice inherent to Hindutva in ascendant. And he will haunt the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has tried to assiduously woo the Dalits to ensure they vote for the party in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.

Modi and Singh will rue that all their hard work to win over Dalits has been thrown into disarray because of the over-enthusiasm of a handful of cow protectionists. But this diagnosis would be flawed. Not only does Una underscore the inherent limitations of Hindutva as a unifying force, but also that it only widens social chasm in the long run.

Indeed, Hindutva lacks the capacity to paper over caste disparities because it is sneeringly disrespectful of cultural practices of lower castes and their economic pursuits. It is a Brahminical imposition. This is why a vigorous Hindutva sharpens caste contradictions instead of reconciling them. It rhetorically propagates the idea of equality among Hindus, but is deeply dividing in practice.

Hindutva’s own sense of its limitations is why its proponents have invented tools to create the “other”, the “enemy” of Hindus to unify them. It is as cynical in its use of the cow for this purpose as it is about history and disputes over places of worship.

For decades, the proponents of Hindutva – particularly those belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – have been claiming that since Hindus revere the cow as holy, its slaughter should be prohibited to respect their religious sentiments. They made this demand on the Indian state, which was projected as being disinterested in protecting the cow to mollycoddle Muslims and, to an extent, Christians, in whose food culture beef isn’t a taboo.

Supporters of Hindutva wanted a complete ban on cow-slaughter, regardless of the age of the bovines, even those no longer economically useful. They also demanded protection for bullocks and bulls, claiming any conditional ban would encourage illegal selling of cows to slaughter-houses. In their imagination, the only use of cows past the age of giving milk is their meat.

From this perspective, the cow is perceived as a holy but helpless creature trapped between Hindus who are its protector and Muslims who have an insatiable appetite for beef. There is thus a perpetual, unannounced war between Hindus and Muslims over the cow. The intensity of this war is heightened every time Hindutva grabs power, whether in states or at the Centre, as has been happening ever since Modi became Prime Minister.

Busting the myth

Una has busted the myth about the cow that Hindutva has created. For one, it has portrayed to the nation that the cow has more use than just providing milk, that there are marginalised Hindu communities dependent on it for their sustenance. We all know its skin has several uses, as do its bones and fat.

Priced lower than mutton and chicken, cattle meat is also the cheapest source of protein for the poor. Balu Sarvaiya has claimed he can’t think of slaughtering the cow, but there are others who do consume beef. Social scientist Kancha Ilaiah told Scroll in an interview last year that during his childhood he remembered Dalits of south India eating meat of even dead or diseased cattle. He also claimed that young, urbane upper castes consumed nearly half of beef haleem that restaurants in Hyderabad prepare during the month of Ramzan.

All this would be known to Hindutva proponents. To impose their cultural sensibilities on lower caste Hindus, the debate on the cow-slaughter has been placed in the frame of supposedly irreconcilable differences between Hindus and Muslims. In other words, Hindus should refuse to partake of beef not only because the cow is revered, but also because Muslims – the other – consume it.

Unification of Hindus is a longterm project to be achieved by triggering communal mobilisation over various issues, including cow protection. Una is decidedly a setback to Hindutva. It has sharpened the schism between castes. It has communicated to Muslims and Dalits that they are united in their suffering because of the rampaging Hindutva, evident from media reports which claim Muslims joined Dalits in petitioning authorities at several places to demand justice for the victims of atrocity in Una.

There is an irony that the caste contradiction has come to the surface so ferociously in Gujarat, which has been long touted as a veritable Hindutva laboratory. It is even more ironical that this has happened over the cow. This is the state where under the chief ministership of Modi a stringent cattle-protection law was passed, prohibiting the slaughter of not only cows of all ages but also bullocks and bulls.

Till then, the Supreme Court’s position had been that a total ban on bullocks and bulls, despite being of old age and no longer economically useful, amounted to imposing unreasonable restrictions on the butchers – and was, therefore, ultra vires of the Constitution. This the Supreme Court reversed in 2005, through a judgement upholding the Gujarat government’s legislation. It declared bullocks and bulls are useful even in old age because their urine and dung are alternative sources of energy.

The judgement inspired both Haryana and Maharashtra to adopt the Gujarat model and pass stringent laws imposing harsh punishment on those found guilty of slaughtering cattle, once the BJP came to power in these states. Obviously, vigilante groups don’t wait for the court to pronounce an alleged violator guilty – they decide on the evidence of traders ferrying cattle to mercilessly beat and, at times, lynch them.

Muslim fears

Most of these victims have been Muslim. In Jharkhand, for instance, two Muslims, including a minor, were hanged when they were apprehended on their way to sell cattle in a fair. There wasn’t a squeak to ban the Gau Raksha Dal then, even from the Muslim community, in contrast to what we have witnessed following the reprehensible Una episode in Gujarat.

Nor did the Muslims agitate against the injustices meted to their community members by vigilante groups, as has been the case in Gujarat. This tells you about the fears of Muslims, their belief that an expression of anger even over genuine grievances – and peacefully at that – will boomerang on them. That it will only enable the Hindutva brigade to consolidate the Hindus against Muslims.

No doubt, the nation, including the political class, was outraged at the Dadri incident, in which Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched last year on the suspicion of consuming and also stocking beef. Different political leaders made a beeline for Dadri, including Rahul Gandhi.

However, the Congress subtly shifted its stance thereafter, perhaps apprehensive that a show of support for Akhlaq would alienate the Hindus. Perhaps this was the reason why Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted boasting that it was the Congress government in UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh which banned cow-slaughter all the way back in the 1950s!

As Rahul Gandhi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal make a beeline for Una, it has to be seen whether they will demand a ban on vigilante groups seeking to protect the cow or seek a revision of laws which have imposed a complete ban on cattle-slaughter. It is perhaps imperative for the nation to revert to the pre-2005 position on cattle slaughter, as Una has tragically demonstrated that there are social groups whose livelihood depends on the cow.

The outrage over Una has seen as many as 17 Dalits attempt suicide in protest against the despicable activities of cow protectionists. It is a symbolic action aimed at arousing the conscience of the nation, particularly those who subscribe to Hindutva. Let us see whether the conscience of our leaders is pricked and they are able to overcome their upper caste sensibilities to demand a ban on Gau Raksha Dals operating in several states.

Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist from Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, published by HarperCollins, is available in bookstores.

July 22, 2016

India: RSS didn’t kill Gandhi but created an ideology against him, say historians

Hindustan Times

RSS didn’t kill Gandhi but created an ideology against him, say historians

Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Updated: Jul 21, 2016 10:19 IST

RSS may not have directly killed Gandhi, but they created a certain ideology against him, say some historians. (Praveen Bajpai/HT file)

Was it an individual or an ideology that killed Mahatma Gandhi?

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh may have been cleared of charges of complicity in Gandhi’s assassination but historians say the group’s ideology of pushing for a Hindu nation was in direct opposition to the freedom fighter’s stand.

Their conflicting ideologies made their relationship fraught. This conflict was back in the spotlight on Tuesday after the Supreme Court ticked off Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who had blamed the RSS for Gandhi’s assassination in a speech.

“You can’t make wholesale denunciation of an organisation. There is a difference between Nathuram Godse killing Mahatma Gandhi and the RSS killing him,” the court observed.

This has been hailed as a vindication of its stand by the RSS, which asserts Gandhi altered his opinion about the Sangh after visiting a camp in Wardha and appreciated their work. They also point out the Sangh’s work was suspended for a few days after the assassination as a mark of respect.

But many historians think otherwise.

“There are records, based on the letters of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, of how the RSS workers distributed sweets when they heard of Gandhi’s murder. One has to look at their involvement in terms of the atmosphere that they created against Gandhi,” said historian Arjun Dev.

Pointing out that there is “plenty of historical evidence” to substantiate Rahul’s statement, Dev said: “RSS may not have directly killed Gandhi, but they created a certain ideology against him.”

He underlined that Veer Savarkar and his Hindu Mahasabha had shown tacit support for Nathuram Godse, who was convicted of killing Gandhi.

While he agreed that the RSS and Gandhi were polar opposites, historian Ramachandra Guha, however was emphatic in pointing out that the Sangh could not be held responsible for the murder.

“If Rahul Gandhi said the RSS is responsible for killing Gandhi, he is wrong, because Godse, who felt RSS was not radical enough, had by the time of the assassination) left the Sangh,” Guha said.

On the larger RSS- Gandhi relation, he said, the Sangh was “ambivalent” towards him and when the rioting spread in 1946-47 and Gandhi tried to stop it, the RSS turned hostile towards him.

“Ideologically and philosophically there was a profound distance between Gandhi and the RSS. At a time when Gandhi was giving his life for Hindu-Muslim unity, the RSS and the Muslim League perpetrated hatred, the former against, the Muslims and the latter against Hindus,” he explained.

Over the years, the RSS has been striving to alter the perception that it was opposed to Gandhi and that following his murder, was considered a communal outfit by Patel.

According to a letter Patel wrote to MS Golwalkar – as quoted in Desraj Goel’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the then home minister said while there can be no doubt that the RSS did service to the Hindu Society, the objectionable part arose when they began attacking Muslims.

But the RSS’s changed stance on Gandhi too is seen through a prism of skepticism. Guha said the RSS’s attitude to Gandhi has changed, “… They now acknowledge that Gandhi was a great man, but whether this acknowledgement is genuine or tactical it is hard to say.”

India: Kashmir's prominent leader of the Hurriyet Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq warned people against Ahmadiyas (a report from 2015)


Kashmir separatist leader issues warning against Ahmadiyya Muslim minority
October 16, 2015 | by Rabwah Times | 16

Speaking to a Friday congregation, Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who is the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference and chief of Muttihda Majlis-e-Amal Ameer said the ‘Ahmadis won’t be allowed to spread tentacles in Kashmir’.

Mirwaiz warned people to beware of the expansionist plan of the Ahmadis in Kashmir and foil their nefarious designs. “Earlier, Christian Missionaries were trying to spread their tentacles in Kashmir by offering monetary benefits and now it was Ahmadis who want to do the same.”

He warned the State government that if they allow Ahmadiyya community to organize a seminar at SKICC Auditorium, Kashmiri Muslims under the banner of Mutaheda-Majlis-E-Ulema would march towards SKICC to hold a parallel seminar against Mirzaiees (derogatory term for Ahmadis).

“We are not against any religion and all are free to propagate their faith, But Mirzaiees (Ahmadis) refer to themselves as Muslims to tarnish the image of Islam, which will not be tolerated,” Mirwaiz said.

He said Qadiyaniat (derogatory term for the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam) was not a sect of Islam in any way and Mirzaiees would never be allowed to wear the mask of Islam for carrying their ‘unislamic’ activities.

Mirwaiz said during the tenure of Mirwaiz Ahmadullah Sahab too, Mirzaiees had tried to spread their tentacles in Kashmir but their designs were foiled then and they would be foiled now.

Source: Rising Kashmir

India: Eating Beef is not an Offence as there is no Law touching eating habits of any religion; Madras High Court


High Court has dismissed a PIL for removing shops run by Muslims and others around Palani Temple Madras High Court in K.Gopinath vs The Commissioner Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments and another has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) praying to issue a Writ of Mandamus, directing the Authorities to remove the shops around the Palani Temple Hills Girivala pathai run by persons belonging to Islam and other religion in which they are eating beef and insulting the religious faith of the devotees and creating disharmony. The Petitioner (Party-in-person), a practicing Lawyer and President, Hindu Munnetra Kazhagam contented that around Palani Hills, the entire circle of the Holy Hills is used as Girivalapathai. After observing fasting for many days, Hindu devotees will go around Girivalapathai. But the devotees feel uncomfortable to cross the shops housed in the Temple’s property, adjacent to Girivalapathai which are occupied by people belonging to Islam and other religion. Occupants of such shops indiscriminately use beef and other non- vegetarian food by sitting in the stairs of Palani Hills and thus insult the religious faith of Hindus of Palani. It is his submission that if the above facts are not checked, they would create religious disharmony. He also contended that persons belonging to other religion have been occupying the shops adjacent to Girivalapathai and eating non-vegetarian food, creating discomfort to Hindu devotees, which is an offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code. Dismissing his contentions, the division Bench comprising Justices S.Manikumar and C.T.Selvam held as follows; “Contention of the petitioner that the temple property, adjacent to Girivalathapathai, are occupied by people belonging to Islam and other religion is unsubstantiated, by even a scrap of paper. The petitioner has not substantiated that people belonging to other religion cannot have any shops in the property”. “The other contention that the occupants of the shops indiscriminately eat beef and other non vegetarian food, by sitting in the stairs of the Palani Hills and insulting the religious faith of Hindus and if the same is not eventually checked, it would lead to disharmony, is not supported by any evidence. The further contention that by eating non- vegetarian food they have created discomfort to Hindu devotees also not substantiated”. The Court also held that “Nowhere in the Indian Penal Code it is stated that eating non- vegetarian food is an offence. There is no law touching eating habits of any religion and in such a view of the matter, the contention of the petitioner that eating beef is an offence, cannot be accepted”.

Read the full order at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzXilfcxe7yuR0VsZ2dlRzAtQTg/view

July 21, 2016

India: RSS Just Disowned Cow-terroists and Godse. Here are 9 more things RSS has disowned in the past

India Resists

RSS Just Disowned Cow-terroists and Godse. Here are 9 more things RSS has disowned in the past

Is RSS a disowning factory that disowns its own when need be! So much for the morality of the social & culture organisation nurturing a culture of lies and hatred.
RSS disowns the article in its own mouthpiece.
RSS disowns the article in its own mouthpiece.
Over the growing controversy on links with Gandhi’s assassination, RSS has disowned Godse. Well this is not the first time that RSS has disowned something, after being squared. It becomes pertinent therefore to bring forth the history of disowning by this organization, which claims itself to be a socio-cultural organization, but is the biggest threat to Indian society and its syncretic culture.
– RSS “disowns” article defending Dadri lynching
– RSS disowns controversial Nehru article
– RSS disowns Golwalkar’s book
– RSS disowns Aseemanand
– RSS disowns Mangalore attackers
– RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat disowns Sakshi Maharaj’s ‘Hindus must have four babies’ remark!
– BJP disowns RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for quota review – Even disowned what their own chief said.. 😀 http://www.abplive.in/…/bjp-disowns-rss-chief-mohan-bhagwat…
– RSS disowns Hindutva ‘fringe’
– RSS disowns controversial content by Golwalkar
The history of disowning its links with any acts of extremism is nothing new for RSS. They brazenly show their allegiance to extremist organizations and activities when in power, but cowardly retreat when squared.

And, if still you are an RSS apologist and call it a cultural organization, you are suffering from a neurotic disorder.

July 18, 2016

Turkey: Who prevented the coup and who hit the streets? – Ali Ergin Demirhan


The crowds in Harbiye, Taksim, Saraçhane and in front of the Istanbul Police Station on Vatan Avenue on the night of 15 July were neither the force that stopped the coup nor interested in protecting democracy
There has been a claim making the rounds among government supporters and some sections of the opposition since the momentous events of 15 July: “The attempted coup of 15 July was stopped by the people exercising their right to resistance for democracy.”
This is wrong on two fronts. First, the factor that stopped the coup was not the resistance from civilians pouring onto the streets; second, the resistance of the civilians hitting the streets was not in the name of democracy.
This coup attempt was destined to failure because it failed to secure support from the United States and the European Union, proceeded without support from the General Staff and was conducted with such poor planning that it failed to exercise even a minimum amount of control over the tools of communication.
Given that Turkey’s is a NATO army, it is well-nigh impossible for the army to conduct a successful coup against the wishes of the US and EU (that is, NATO) and the top military brass.
The civilians that hit the streets against the stillborn coup were not engaged in resistance against putschists but fought as reinforcements for the police in a battle between two elements of the government, while being deployed to the front as a shield or a canary in the mines – taking their share of the bullets in the process in certain areas.
It is also important to note that a portion of these “civilians” drawn from the ranks of the supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) were members of Islamist organizations close to the government that have sprouted with the wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as members of religious brotherhoods (tariqat).
Moreover, despite the direct calls of the government, the religious exploitation of mosques by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) in mobilizing for the government, and the armed protection of the police, the crowds that hit the street were negligible in terms of their numbers and ability to resist. In comparison to the participants in the Gezi Park uprising, a barometer as far as the AKP is concerned, it wasn’t even in the same league.
According to the state’s own estimates, millions of people poured onto the streets during the Gezi Resistance – drawing merely on the people’s own resources in spite of oppressive state terror. Even with the most generous estimate, no more than several hundred thousand people hit the streets on the night of 15 July, even though the government, police services, Diyanet and municipalities offered all manners of encouragement, protection and support to the mobilization.
Who was on the streets of Istanbul?
We had a chance to observe the crowds on the streets from Harbiye to Taksim and from Saraçhane to the Istanbul Police Station on Vatan Avenue on the night of 15 July. On display were crowds marked by religious attire that displayed a discipline that was evident from their marching to their slogans but who were limited in number. Many in the crowds conspicuously lacked experience in mass resistance, and many appeared uncomfortable, timid and awkward in the situation.
The crowds dispersed when the clashes intensified and could only reassemble when security was re-established. The “militancy” of such crowds was confined to places in which soldiers surrendered, weapons were not fired and tanks did not roll. Such “militancy” also showcased itself in the form of lynching conscripts who had surrendered, slitting their throats and posing for pictures on the top of tanks after the danger had passed.
This crowd, which was carelessly described as “resistors for democracy” by the ruling and opposition parties during a General Assembly in parliament on 16 July, consisted of a fascist mass that sees no problem in the anti-democratic nature of the government even as it defended it against an anti-democratic coup attempt, featured not anti-coup protesters but fanatical AKP supporters and shouted slogans in favor of sharia and the return of capital punishment instead of democracy.
This crowd was one that would not insist on fighting a fight it knew it would lose, but easily descended into barbarism when victory was assured, holding a knife to the throat of those surrendering.
Who defended the Istanbul Police Station?
When we approached the Istanbul Police Station on Vatan toward 02.30 in the night, we observed that it was not police cars that had blocked the way but municipal vehicles. In a number of areas, municipalities were sending more work vehicles to form barricades than the police.
Men with religious attire were very prominent amid the crowd waiting in front of the station. Agitators continually sought to convince the crowd to stay, saying, “Our only armed force is the police; don’t leave – this is where we are for today.” Accompanying the calls of the agitators were shouts of “death to the putschist officers.” In tandem with unceasing calls from the mosques, the crowds in religious attire marched in a disciplined cortege toward the police station. The extent of the AKP’s celebration of democracy was to shout slogans in favor of shariah law against a coup that had already been doomed to failure!
Until it became clear that the coup attempt would not succeed, the civilians on the street displayed hesitation, while the police presence was below expectations. The putschist soldiers were demobilized and forced to surrender not so much because of determined resistance but because potential supporters, especially the military brass of the Turkish Armed Forces, left the insurgents isolated.
It is of critical importance to note the hesitant reaction of the police and the crowd in the face of the coup attempt from the AKP’s perspective. It should come as a surprise to no one if the police are targeted in operations in the near future. As for the crowds, they are gaining courage from stories of cheap heroism that were made possible by the defeat of the enemy.
Democratic resistance
The Erdoğan-AKP supporters that hit the street on 15 July are being held up as role models for the entire AKP grassroots with exaggerated suggestions that they displayed resistance for democracy. Leaving aside the overt images of barbarism and lynchings, most of the images published in the media purporting to show “massive resistance for democracy” were staged. We witnessed one of these staged scenes during the night in an almost empty Taksim Square.
“Soldiers shot at the ground, and one bullet ricocheted and hit us. Come and look,” one person wounded by a soldier’s bullet said. A correspondent for Habertürk immediately arrived on the scene and began to herald the ostensible massive resistance for democracy against the coup. The reporter’s first attempt was unsuccessful when a woman waving a flag behind the injured protester failed to control herself and started smiling. A second attempt failed when the injured man failed to say what the reporter wanted. On the third attempt, even though the injured man said, “The soldiers shot into the ground and then it hit us,” a number of times, the reporter continued to say, “The soldiers shot directly at you, no?” Exhausted, the injured man finally gave up and said “yes.”
We have no desire to make the violence or the coup attempt appear innocent, caricaturize the battles or trivialize the deaths. But what we witnessed was an anti-democratic coup attempt doomed to failure being faced by a government and its grassroots acting with equally anti-democratic impulses. The AKP, which called its grassroots onto the street “until the problem is solved,” is now looking to turn the incident to its advantage and force its own dictatorial project on society by presenting it as “a democratic movement that comes from the people below.”
It is necessary to expose the lie that the “15 July coup attempt was stopped by the people using their democratic right to resistance,” as well as the fascist nature of the crowds that sprang into action, to defeat the AKP’s attempts to impose a dictatorship.
Ultimately, it behoves everyone who says no to both a coup and an Islamist dictatorship to remember the third option presented at Gezi as a model for resisting for democracy.

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