December 02, 2021

Stand up Comics Face the wrath of Intolerance- Munawar Faruqui

Laughter was the best Medicine: Munawar Faruqui Ram Puniyani Munawar Faruqui, a standup comic was to perform for a charity in Bangalore. The tickets were sold out. Then the organizers were informed that ‘show cannot go on’ and it had to be canceled. What was cited as the reason was that there may be law and order problem and that Faruqui is a controversial person. This cancellation was in the series of many more cancellations, which he had to do. He was also arrested a while ago for a month on the anticipation that his program will have content which will be hurting the sentiments of majority community. Even in recent cancellation the same argument, hurting sentiments of Hindus was proffered by the right wing organizations. At the end of it Faruqui decided to quit from his art of making people laugh. In his message he painfully, recounted ““Nafrat jeet gayi, artist haar gaya (hate has won, artist has lost). I’m done, goodbye. Injustice.” Just a while ago another comic Vir Das performed in Kennedy Center In US to the packed house and galleries on deeply touching ‘Two India’s’. The contrast he showed was very incisive, “I come from India where we worship women during day and gang rape them at night, I come from India where we take pride in being vegetarians and run over farmers growing vegetables”. He is being trolled by similar elements, which have stopped the shows of Faruqui. The typical response to Vir Das, which is fairly representative of what goes in the minds of those upholding sectarian nationalism, “I see a terrorist in this man called #Virdas He is one of those members of a sleeper cell who has waged a war against our country on a foreign land. Should be immediately arrested under #UAPA and tried under terror laws. @AmitShah @HMOIndia @MumbaiPolice @CPMumbaiPolice (sic).” Being the critic of the present ruling dispensation and present dominating politics is a tough job, as Faruqui must have realized during his jail term and with cancellation of so many of his programs in a series. Kunal Kamra another comic had also to face the wrath of the Attorney General who permitted for his prosecution for contempt of Court, when Kamra had tweeted, critiquing the SC for granting bail to anchor Arnab Goswami. Attorney Genral Venugopal stated "Today people boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court and its judges in what they believe are freedom of speech." Freedom of speech-expression has been the integral part of the struggle for India’s Independence and different articles of Indian Constitution. It was this spirit of democracy and respect for individual freedom that the first Prime Minster of India not only appreciated and praised Shankar, the great cartoonist but also told him ‘not to spare him’. Despite Shankar’s respect for Nehru he drew scathing cartoons on Nehru. Till the decade of 1990s the criticism of the leaders, rulers was passé and cartoonists-comics had not much of a problem. With the rise of sectarian communal politics, the intolerance started increasing and mutual respect for differing opinions went for a toss. M.F. Husain, whom some call as India’s Picasso, who has drawn 150 panels on Ramayana, started being hounded with the rise of this narrow tendency. The paintings and nudes which he drew in 1970s came to be attacked in 2010s. For an artist nude stands for purity, nude can also be vulgar and condemnable, depending on situation. Husain was deeply rooted in Indian ethos and drew extensively on Indian Gods and Goddesses. He started being hounded by the likes of those who are currently against comics like Faruqui and Vir Das, many cases were put against him and he decided to pack of to Qatar to continue to engage with his work. Earlier on we did see the ban on Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’. There were also attacks on Tasleema Nasreen and freedom of expression has come under threat times and over again but last three decades in particular this phenomenon of hurt sentiments has reached the peak. This was witnessed in the murders of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, whose ‘Andh Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti’ was exposing the practices of blind faith in the village. Com Govind Pansare was a promoting communal harmony through teaching that Shivaji was not anti Muslim but was for welfare of his subjects. He was also pointing out that Hemant Kakare might have been killed in 26/11 attack, which was primarily a terrorist attack, but some other factor might have been involved. Dr. M.M.Kalburgi was against Brahmanical values and promoted the teachings of Basvanna. Gauri Lankesh, a fearless journalist was totally against politics in the name of religion. All these rationalists and critics of blind faith and communalism had to face the wrath of intolerant groups and paid with their life. Many a critics of the Government are straightaway labeled as anti-National and demonized or punished. All through we see that from banning of Salman Rushdie to present the intolerance galore and there is a lot of component of being anti Muslim is involved in case of Munawar Faruqui. His humor was not primarily on political themes. Reference to some politics did creep in but that was it. Hindu Gods and Goddess was not the subject of his technique to make people laugh. Faruqui saying good bye to his craft is a sad trajectory of the rising intolerance in the society. It also shows the orientation of the state to let intolerance prevail and to meekly submit to the threats and demands of sectarian nationalists. The democratic indices are falling with this type of attitude. It has slipped two places to come down to 53 in December 2020 on Democracy Index ranking according to Economic Intelligence Unit. There is a need to arrest this decline on the scale of democratic freedoms. One may agree or not with the likes of Vir Das or Munawar Faruqui they have a full right to practice their art without any hindrance from the aggression and intolerance of the people with sectarian mind sets, and state and society must protect their right to expression.

November 29, 2021

India: Tripura Violence: Hate and Communal Polarization | Ram Puniyani


Tripura Violence: Hate and Communal Polarization


Ram Puniyani

The story of contemporary Indian society is mired by the regular outburst of violence against its religious minorities. As the Prime Minster is hugging Pope, back home the anti Christian violence is on the constant rise, though in low intensity endemic form. Muslims as a community have been the prominent victims with violence against them erupting at diverse places. The impact of communal violence on the social dynamics is constantly visible as the Muslim community is marginalized in ever increasing intensity. One expression of this is the section of them feeling alienated in increasing degree as exhibited by some of them bursting crackers when Pakistan wins an inconsequential cricket match, as witnessed recently. There is no dearth of communal ideologues across the border as one of the ministers from Pakistan foolishly declared it as victory of Islam and another one from that lobby, a cricketer declared the offering of Namaz in front of Hindu as another sign of superiority! Idiocy has no limits it seems.

And at around the same time Tripura witnessed communal violence. This violence was orchestrated on the pretext of the unfortunate and condemnable violence in Bangla Desh during Durga Puja. In Tripura currently BJP Government is ruling. Same Tripura was ruled by left party for decades and did not witness a single violence during that period. Tripura violence was precipitated after the rallies led by VHP, RSS, and other affiliated organizations were in full flow. The slogans in these rallies were that true Hindus must unite and act now. They should unite above political and other differences. These rallies provoked the discord by spreading the fear that Hindus are under threat. If the Muslims can torment Hindus across the border, just few kilometers across, what will stop them from attacking the Hindus here?

The slogans were that Hindus must be provided with arms for self defense in Bangla Desh. As the rallies and consequent violence was on; the state Government made the show of taking action but it let the violence, burning of the mosques and attack on property of Muslims, go on unabated. The result has been nearly 20 Hate crimes, attacks on around 15 mosques and total destruction of 3 mosques. And all this happened as the police force is claiming that all efforts were done to control the violence. Here one recalls Dr. Vibhuti Narain Rai’s observation that no communal violence can go on beyond 48 hours, without the covert sanction from the state.   

How rumors play a role in provoking the people is well known, now added on to ‘word of mouth hate propagation’, the social media has become another powerful tool in spreading the ‘Hate for other community’. The key here lies in showing that the majority community is the victims of the minorities’ excesses. The trick succeeds well as the grip of social media is an evil grip, escaping from whose clutches is not easy. The IT cell and its use of social media in an effective manner is a big key for those aiming political games. These raise the emotive pitch and poorer sections of society, become the primary foot soldiers of the violence.

The other incidents of Hate are not too difficult to find, as ‘hate Muslims-Christians’ is being made the new normal in the social thinking. In Ahmadabad, in Anand, a road was being washed in front of a Hotel, as the Hotel has a Muslim partner.

Earlier the spectacular violence like 92-93 Mumbai, Gujarat 2002, Kandhamal 2008, and Muzzafarnagar 2013 were planned at a big scale. After 2014, such massive acts are not there barring the 2020 Delhi violence, which was organized to teach the community a lesson for the Shaheen Bagh movement, the biggest and very democratic movement in Independent India. The big acts of violence polarize the community instantly and the majority community flocks to the communal forces as the minorities are thrown into the ghettoes.

State, ruled or dominated by communal forces (through infiltration into the state apparatus like in bureaucracy, police) remains quiet, and does not take the proper steps to bring a halt to the killings of innocents. One of the reasons may be that the ruling outfit may not be so much dependent on the votes of these minorities, whose drift away from them is overcompensated by the polarization of majority community to them as their imagined saviors.

There are great scholarly works on Indian communal violence. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer showed that the communal violence has nothing to do with religion and religion is used as a cover for political games. Paul Brass shows that there is a prevalence of ‘Institutional riot mechanism’, which is activated prior to elections for electoral benefits. Wilkinson gives the answer to another lemma as to why the state is not following the norms to control the violence and he points out that the victim of violence are those who are not its electoral base, on whom it does not depend for its electoral success.

Communal violence has constantly been changing its forms; its agenda is also dynamically changing. Now Tripura and earlier to this Assam we witnessed it as communalizations’ deeper inroads into these areas. While the ruling party will claim that there are no major communal riots during its rule, the truth is now major communal violence is not needed to polarize the communities, as that goal has already been achieved to a great extent.

Currently communal violence is like a maintenance dose of communalization process. We also can observe that after the acts of violence the communities come to newer equations of relationships. The minorities come to accept their subordinate place by ghettoisation and by accepting their lower status in the society.

It is in these circumstances that some disgruntled elements burst crackers to show their frustrations in the society in which they are slogging to survive. The bursting of crackers as an act of anti nationalism is extremely superficial way of looking at the phenomenon, worsening the communal divides rather than putting a soothing balm to the victimized community.

India: Oppose the unconstitutional demand of the AIMPLB and other organisations for an anti-blasphemy law in India | IMSD - 27 Nov 2021

Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD)

November 27, 2021


Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) strongly opposes the unconstitutional demand of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and some other organisations for an anti-blasphemy law in India. The IMSD statement has been endorsed by nearly 400 secular Indians. A large majority of the signatories are Muslims.

We condemn the constant attempts by certain hate factories of Hindutva which are working overtime to demonise Islam and Muslims. However, IMSD fully supports the principle that in a secular state there can be no place for a law criminalising blasphemy.

Muslims demanding such a law should instead take recourse of the already existing law against hate speech in our country. Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code states: “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of (citizens of India), (by words, either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise) insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to (three years) or fine or with both”.

As equal citizens of India Muslims have the right to invoke Section 295(A) against every attempt to target the community with hate speech and demand strict enforcement of the existing law. But the demand for a special law to punish blasphemy must be opposed for more than one reason. Among other things, the experience of neighbouring countries shows that such a law promotes fanaticism and seeks to silence even rational critical commentaries on religion.

The Board cannot be unaware of the notorious blasphemy law in neighbouring Pakistan which is frequently misused to hound individuals from religious minorities and even fellow Muslims with sectarian and personal motives.Automatic word wrap
According to the Minorities Association of Pakistan, “between 1987 and 2021, 1,865 people have been charged under the blasphemy laws, with a significant spike in 2020, when 200 cases were registered. Punjab, the province where most Christians of Pakistan live, is leading with 76% cases and 337 people are in prison for blasphemy... Also, at least 128 people have been killed by mobs, outside any judiciary process, after being signalled as having committed blasphemy or apostasy, without any chance to have access to an investigation, and nobody has been arrested for their murder”.

Neighbouring Bangladesh started off as a secular state at its birth in 1971 but adopted Islam as a state religion in 1988. It does not have a law against blasphemy but often misuses the same secular penal code of the British period – section 295(A) – to silence all critical comments on Islam in the name of blasphemy.


1. Aaftab Khokar, Student, Jaipur
2. Aalishan Fatima, Student, Bhopal
3. Aamir Khan, Student Leader, Rajasthan
4. Aasha Ramesh, Bengaluru
5. Aasid, Student, Jaipur
6. Aazam Amin, Student, Bihar
7. Abbas Muzaffar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
8. Abdul Barek, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
9. Abdul Hamid, Retired executive,
10. Abdul Jalil, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
11. Abdul Kadir, Businessman, Muradabad
12. Abdul Malik, Farmer, Jharkhand
13. Abdul Qadir, Bank Employee, Aligarh
14. Abdulla Sama, Social Activist, Kutch, Gujarat
15. Abdullah Sheikh, Student, Jaipur
16. Abdur Rouph, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
17. Abjal Hoque, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
18. A C Michael, Former Member, Delhi Minorities Commission, New Delhi
19. Adnan Bari, Student, Aligarh
20. Adan Khan, Student, Kota, Rajasthan
21. Afreen, HR Manager, Delhi
22. Afroz Khan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
23. Afroz Pathan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
24. Aftab Alam, Businessman, Kushinagar
25. Afzal Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
26. Ahsan Khan, Student, Jaipur
27. Aijaj Pathan, Social Activist, Latur
28. Akbar Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
29. Akbar Shaikh, Farmer, Activist, Solapur
30. Akheeb Shaikh, Social Activist, Selu
31. Akhil Ahmad, Student, Jaipur
32. Akhil Soudager, Social Activist, Latur
33. Akhter Hussain, Business, Muzaffarpur
34. Ali Asghar, Social Activist, Hyderabad
35. Ali Sheikh, Social Activist, Gujarat
36. Aliya Syed, Social Activist, Nashik
37. Altaf Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
38. Altamash Pathan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
39. Amir Abbas, Journalist, Patna
40. Amir Rizvi, Designer, Mumbai
41. Ajit Kumar Jha, Media, Delhi
42. Amita Buch, Freelancer, Ahmedabad
43. Amjad Shaikh, Social Activist, Solapur
44. Ammar Khan, Student, Jaipur
45. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
46. Anayatullah, Social Activist, Jharkhand
47. Aniket Alam, Historian, Hyderababd
48. Anis Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
49. Anjum Rajabali, Film writer, Mumbai
50. Ankit Kumar, Teacher, Muzaffarpur
51. Antara Dev Sen, Journalist, New Delhi
52. Antony, Service, Delhi
53. Anil Rawat, Made Academy, Bengaluru
54. Anuradha Bagadthey, Chartered Accountant, Kolkata
55. Anurag Chaturvedi, Freelance Journalist, Mumbai
56. Anwar Azmat Khan, Businessman, Kalyan
57. Anwar Shaikh, Social Activist
58. Arbaz Khan, Student, Chaksu
59. Arbaz Khan, Student, Jaipur
60. Archana Kaul, Social Activist, New Delhi
61. Arif Kapadia, Businessman, Social Activist, Mumbra
62. Arshad Jamal, Lecturer, Aligarh
63. Arshad Khan, Student, Jaipur
64. Arshad Shameem, Government Employee, Aligarh
65. Arshid Bashir, Lawyer, Srinagar, J&K
66. Asad Ahmad, Political Activist, Muzaffarpur
67. (Dr) Asha Saxena Ahmad, Doctor, New Delhi
68. Ashfaq Inamdar, Social Activist, Pune
69. Ashik Rabbani, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
70. Ashiq, Civil Engineer, Mungher
71. Ashish Maharishi, Journalist, Varanasi
72. Ashok Sharma, IFS (Retried), Noida
73. Asif Naik, Social Activist, J&K
74. Askari Zaidi, Senior Journalist, New Delhi
75. Aslam HS, Student, Jaipur
76. Aslam Kazi, Social Activist, Solapur
77. Athar Khan, Business, Muzaffarpur
78. Athar Qazi, Social Activist, Parbhani
79. Atikur Rahman, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
80. Avanee, Lawyer, Bengaluru
81. Aysha B, Assistant Professor, Mumbai
82. Azam Amin, Shopkeeper, Jhanjha, Jharkhand
83. Azam Khan, Businessman, Hyderabad
84. Azam Khan, Advocate, Mhow
85. Azer Shaikh , Social Activist, Latur
86. Aziz Lokhandwala, Businessman, Mumbai
87. Bader Sayeed, Lawyer, Chennai
88. Baharul Amin, Advocate, Darang, Assam
89. Bebaak Collective, All India
90. Bharti Ali, Civil rights activist, New Delhi
91. Bina Sarkar Ellias, Poet-editor, Mumbai
92. Brinelle D’souza, TISS, Mumbai
93. Cedric Prakash, Human Rights Activist, Ahmedabad
94. Chandrashekhar Tibrewal, Parsipanny, NJ, USA
95. Charanpreet Singh, Educationist, Kolkota
96. Claire Noronha, Concerned Citizen, Delhi
97. Danish Alam, Business, Muzaffarpur
98. Danish S Ahmed, Business, Muzaffarpur
99. Dastgir Tamboli, Social Activist, Pune
100. Deshdeep Dhankhar, Hyderabad University, Hyderabad
101. Dev Desai, Social Activist, Ahmedabad
102. Dewan Shahidul Islam, Advocate, Barteta, Assam
103. Dharam, Retired, Hisar, Haryana
104. Dimple Oberoi Vahali, Social Activist, Shimla
105. Dinesh Kamble, Social Activist, Latur
106. Dinesh Savle, Social Activist, Latur
107. Dipak Malik, Varanasi
108. Dolly, Student, Lucknow
109. Ena Zafar, Dasam, Delhi
110. Faiz Bagwan, Farmer, Solapur
111. Faizi, Professional, Aligarh
112. Faraz Ahmad , Student, Jaipur
113. Faraz Ahmad, Freelance Journalist, New Delhi
114. Farha Hussain, Teacher, Hyderabad
115. Faseeh Ansari, Engineer, Aligarh
116. Fatima Anwar, Teacher, Gorakhpur
117. Feroze Mithiborwala, IMSD Co-Convener, Mumbai
118. Firdaus Shrivastava, Indore
119. Furkhan Pathan, Social Activist, Latur
120. Gafur Sayyad, Social Activist, Latur
121. Gary Shostak, Boston, MA, USA
122. Ghalib Deccani, Social Activist, Pune
123. Ghulam Mohiyuddin, Faruki, M.D., Physician, New York
124. Gias Uddin, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
125. Guddu Bhai, Business, Muzaffarpur
126. Gufran Pathan, Social Activist, Latur
127. Gulfam Khan Bhatti, Student, Jaipur
128. Gulnaaz Parveen, Beautician, Gorakhpur
129. Gulser Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
130. Hamid Taylor, Retired Senior Executive, Bengaluru
131. Harsh Kapoor, Social Activist, New Delhi
132. Hasan Abdullah, Writer, New Delhi
133. Hasan Pasha, Writer, Allahabad
134. Hasan Patel, Social Activist, Latur
135. Hasin Ansari, Businessman, Varanasi
136. Haya Khan, Student, Lucknow
137. Huma Nizami, Teacher, Ahmedabad
138. Huma Rifat Kidwai, Author, Hyderabad
139. IA Khan, Student, Jaipur
140. Ikraj Khan, Student, Jaipur
141. Ikramul Hoque, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
142. Imran Ahmed, Business, Muzaffarpur
143. Imran Khan, Social Activist, Parbhani
144. Imran Mulana, Social Activist, Chaksu
145. Imran Shahid, Teacher, Aligarh
146. (Dr.) Indu Prakash Singh, Businessman, New Delhi
147. Iqbal Patel, Political Activist, Pune
148. Iqram Ahmed, Professional, Muzaffarpur
149. Irfan Engineer, IMSD Co-Convener, Mumbai
150. Irfan Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
151. Irfan Sheikh, Social Activist, Latur
152. Ismail Khan, Engineer,
153. Jaa Mand, Writer, Journalist, Jalandhar
154. Jahan Siddiqui, Student, Bhopal
155. Jainuddin Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
156. Jainul Khan, Student, Jaipur
157. Jakir Bhai, Student, Jaipur
158. (Dr) Jami Rizwani, France
159. Jahnvi Andharia, Development Professional, New Delhi
160. Jamil Ahmad, Business, Muzaffarpur
161. Jamil Shaikh, Businessman, Pune
162. Jamsheed Ahmed Rizwani, Retired, Chennai
163. Javed Ahmad, Political Activist, Muzaffarpur
164. Javed Akhtar, Poet, Film Writer, former MP, Mumbai
165. Javed Ali Khan, former MP, New Delhi
166. Javed Anand, Convener, IMSD, Mumbai
167. Javed Hashmi, Social Activist, Latur
168. Jawed Naqvi, Freelance Journlist, New Delhi
169. Javed Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
170. Jiarul Hoque, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
171. John Dayal, Writer and activist, New Delhi
172. Joy Sengupta, Actor, Mumbai
173. Junaid Siddique, Urdu government teacher, Aligarh
174. K. M. Shrimali, Retired Professor, New Delhi
175. Kafeel Deshmukh, Social Activist, Pune
176. Kalim Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
177. Kamil Shamsi, Businessman, Aligarh
178. Kasim Sait, Businessman, Social Activist, Chennai
179. Kayum Khan, Student, Jaipur
180. Khaleda Parveen, Women’s Help Group, Hyderabad
181. Khalil Deshmukh, Political activist, Jalgaon
182. Khalil Sheikh, Social Activist, Latur
183. Khatija Khan, Teacher, Hyderabad
184. Lara Jesani, Advocate, Mumbai
185. Latif Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
186. Leila Passah, Consultant, Bengaluru
187. M. Patel, Farmer, Bihar
188. Maaz Arshad, Professional, Aligarh
189. Mafiz Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
190. Mahammad Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
191. Mahmooda, Professor, Satna
192. Mahtab Alam, Software Engineer, New Delhi
193. Maimoona Mollah, Women’s Rights Activist, New Delhi
194. Majhar Alam, Business, Muzaffarpur
195. Maliha Mateen, Social Activist, Gurgaon
196. Maksud Shaikh, Businessman, Satara
197. Manabi Majumdar, Academic, Kolkata
198. Manish Kumar, Social Activist, Delhi
199. Manju, Social Activist, Patna
200. Manoj Savle, Social Activist, Latur
201. Mansoor Sardar, Social Activist, Bhiwandi
202. Marfat Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
203. Martin Hill, Advertising, Mumbai
204. Masooma Ranalvi, WeSpeakOut, Goa
205. Mateen Pathan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
206. Mehnaz Parveen, Teacher, Gorakhpur
207. Mehul Devkala, Poet, Rohtak
208. Miftaur Jannat, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
209. Mirza Beg, Student, Jaipur
210. Mohammed Akbar Alam, Social Activist, Bihar
211. Mohammed Anas, Teacher, Muzaffarpur
212. (Dr) Mohammad Atif, Defence Analyst, Delhi
213. Mohammed Jikrullah, Teacher, Muzaffarpur
214. Mohammed Mahtab Alam, Businessman, Muzaffarpur
215. Mohammad Mansoor Alam, Patna
216. Mohammed Nasir, UP
217. Mohammed Talib, Student, Jaipur
218. Mohammed Imran, New Delhi and New York
219. Mohammad Yaseen, Social Activist, Nanded
220. Moin Khan, Student, Jaipur
221. Molvi Luqmaan, Teacher, Aligarh
222. Molvi Rizwaan, Teacher, Aligarh
223. Moulana Rafikul Islam, Social Activist, Sunitpur, Assam
224. Mridula Mukherjee,Retired JNU Professor, New Delhi
225. Mubin Hashmi, Social Activist, Latur
226. Mukhtar Ahmad Shaikh, Social Activist, Baramulla
227. Muniza Khan, Social Activist, Mumbai
228. Munna Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
229. Murad Bhatti, Student, Jaipur
230. Mushfiq M Khan, Media Professional, Mumbai
231. Mushtaq Inamdar, Social Activist, Manglewadi, Solapur
232. Muslim Bari, Businessman, Aligarh
233. Mustak Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
234. Nadeem Gorakhpuri, Student, Gorakhpur
235. Nadeem Khan, Student, Jaipur
236. Nadim Shaikh Author, Social Activist, Parbhani
237. Nair Iqbal, Professional, Muzaffarpur
238. Najid Hussain, New York, USA
239. Nandita Sehgal, IAS (resigned), Dubai
240. Naresh Kumar, Theatre Activist, Rohtak
241. Naseem Ansari , Student, Jaipur
242. Nasreen Fazalbhoy, Academic, Social Activist, Mumbai
243. Nasreen Ghazala, Teacher, Jhanjha, Jharkhand
244. Nasseruddin Shah, Actor, Mumbai
245. Nazmul Hoque, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
246. Nisar Shaikh, Student, Solapur
247. Noor, Lawyer, New Delhi
248. Noor Islam, Social Activist, Assam
249. Noordeen, Concerned Citizen, Chennai
250. Noorjahan Deewan, Social Activist, Ahmedabad
251. Nouman Sayyed, Social Activist, Latur
252. Nur Islam, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
253. Omar Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
254. Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist, New Delhi
255. PK Ravindranathan, Social Activist, Ahmedabad
256. Padma Velaskar, Sociologist, Mumbai
257. Pramod Gouri, AIPSN, Rohtak
258. Qaisar Sultana, Homemaker, Allahabad
259. Qamarjahan, Professor, Lucknow
260. Qamber Husnain, Meridian Construction, Patna
261. Qamruddin, Business, Muzaffarpur
262. Qutub Kidwai, Social Activist, Mumbai
263. Rafeek Pathan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
264. Rafik Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
265. Rafikul Islam, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
266. Rafiq Khan, Advocate, Jaipur
267. Rahim Khan, Social Activist, Parbhani
268. Rahim Shaikh, Social Activist, Solapur
269. Rahim Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
270. Ramesh Dixit, Retired professor, Lucknow
271. Ranbir Singh Dahiya, Surgeon, Rohtak
272. Rashid Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
273. Rashid Sheikh, Social Activist, Latur
274. Rashma Sayyad, Social Activist, Solapur
275. Raunaq, Teacher, Kushinagar
276. Ravi :Palat, Professor of Soiciology, Birmingham, NY, USA
277. Rehan Tirmizi, Social Activist, New Delhi
278. Renchu Sheikh, Student, Jaipur
279. Reyasat, Photographer, New Delhi
280. Riyaaz Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
281. Riyaaz Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
282. Rizwan Tamboli, Social Activist, Pune
283. Rubul Ali, Social Activist, Gowahati, Assam
284. SGA Zaidi, retired, Mumbai
285. SN Sahu, Retired government servant, New Delhi
286. S R Malik, Retired, Lucknow
287. Sabah Khan, Parcham, Mumbai
288. (Dr) Sabah Siddiqui, Professor, Pune
289. Sabed Ali, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
290. Saddam Dabar , Student, Jaipur
291. Safiqul Islam, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
292. Sahidul Hoque, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
293. Saidur Rahman (Akond), Darang, Assam
294. Saidur Rahman, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
295. Saif Ali Shaikh, Student, Nanded
296. Saif Mahmood, Advocate Supreme Court, New Delhi
297. Saifuddin Saifee, Editor, Bhopal
298. Saleem Bari, Businessman, Aligarh
299. Salim Attar, Social Activist, Solapur
300. Salim Shaikh, Doctor, Kalyan
301. Samad Khan, Student, Jaipur
302. Sameer Pathan , Student, Jaipur
303. Samsher Manu, Social Activist, Jaipur
304. Sanjay Chouhan, Screenwriter, Mumbai
305. Sanjay Singh, Business, Muzaffarpur
306. Sarah Mathews, Social Activist, Hyderabad
307. Sarfaraz Nawaz, Social Activist, Kolkata
308. Satish Misra, Freelance Journalist, Noida
309. Satyajeet Chavan, Social Activist, Nashik
310. Satya Narayan Sahu, Writer, Press Secretary to former President KR Narayanan, New Delhi
311. Syeda Hameed, Delhi Muslim Women’s Forum, New Delhi
312. Sayyed Akif, Student, Muzaffarpur
313. Sayyed Kashif Shamshad, Student , Muzaffarpur
314. Sehba Taban, Politicial activist, New Delhi
315. Selvyn Jussy. University of Calcutta
316. Shaan Ali, Social Activist, Nalbari, Assam
317. Shabana Azmi, Actor, former MP, Mumbai
318. Shabana Khatoon, Teacher, Kushinagar
319. Shabana Mashraki, Lead Assessor (ISO standards), Mumbai
320. Shabbir Alam, Business, Sitamarhi
321. Shabbir Shaikh, Social Activist, Solapur
322. Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, New Delhi
323. Shafi Mulani, Businessman, Karad
324. Shahajan Shaikh, Farmer, Mohol, Solapur
325. (Dr) Shahid, Doctor, Aligarh
326. Shahnaz Parveen, Home Maker, Gorakhpur
327. Shahrukh, Advocate, Rajasthan
328. Shahrukh Khan, Student, Jaipur
329. Shaikh Aslam, Social Activist, Parbhani
330. Shaikh Mohsin, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
331. Shaikh Shakir, Social Activist, Latur
332. Shaikh Salman, Social Activist, Parbhani
333. Shakeel Jaleel Khan, Businessman, Aligarh
334. Shakeel Sardar, Kalyan
335. Shakil Khan, Student, Jaipur
336. Shalini Dhawan, Designer, Mumbai
337. Shama Zaidi, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
338. Shamim Abbasi, Ghazipur
339. Shamshad Alam, Business, Muzaffarpur
340. Shamsher B Gandhi, Urdu Teacher, Churu, Rajasthan
341. Shanti Paswan, NGO, New Delhi
342. Sharad Raj, Film Director, Mumbai
343. Sharifa, Concerned Citizen, Secunderabad
344. Sheikh Farid, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
345. Shehzad Khan, Student, Jaipur
346. Shikha Sen, Editor, Teacher, Noida
347. Shivani Bhardwaj, Social Activist, New Delhi
348. Shuaib Ahmad Ansari, Self-employed, Varanasi
349. Shuja, Teacher, Aligarh
350. Sikandar Pathan, Social Activist, Baramati, Pune
351. Sohail Bhatti, Student, Jaipur
352. Sohail Hashmi, Social Activist, New Delhi
353. Sohel Pathan, Social Activist, Parbhani
354. Sohel Soudager, Social Activist, Latur
355. Subamiya Kadri, Retired Senior Executive, Ahmedabad
356. Sufiyan Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
357. Suhail Jaleel Khan, Businessman, Aligarh
358. Suhana Chowdhary, Student, Meerut
359. Sultan Shahin, Editor-in-chief, New Age Islam, New Delhi
360. Supriyo Nandy, IIHM, Kolkata
361. Sunny, Social Activist, Parbhani
362. Tahzeeb Pathan, Social Activist, Parbhani
363. Taizoon Khorakiwala, Businessman, Philanthropist, Mumbai
364. TK Rajalakshmi, Journalist, Ghaziabad
365. Tameem SB, Businessman, Aligarh
366. Tanveer Jafri, Entrepreneur, Surat
367. Tarun Sagar, Social Activist, Delhi
368. Tayiyab Khan, Student, Jaipur
369. Teesta Setalvad, Human Rights Defender, Educationist, Mumbai
370. Toheed Atar, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
371. Tousef Sayyed, Social Activist, Latur
372. Tousif Ansari, Teacher, Hata, UP
373. Urdu Khan, Student, Jaipur
374. Utpala Mukherjee, Citizen, Delhi
375. Vani Subramanian, New Delhi
376. Vasanthi Raman, Academic, New Delhi
377. Vasid Khan, Student, Jaipur
378. Vibhuti Narain Rai, IPS (retired), writer, Noida
379. Vinod Iyer, Mumbai
380. Vishal Hiwale, Social Activist, Mumbai
381. Vivekanand Tripathi, Social Media Activist, Noida
382. Waseem Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
383. Wasif, Professional, Aligarh
384. Wasim Ansari, Social Activist, Parbhani
385. Yameen SB, Businessman, Aligarh
386. Yousuf Saeed, Film maker, New Delhi
387. (Dr) Zaheer Ahmed Sayeed, Neurologist, Chennai
388. Zeenat Shaukatali, Wisdom Foundation, Mumbai

November 24, 2021

India: Burning of Salman Khurshid's House: Intolerant Sectarianism | Ram Puniyani

Burning of Salman Khurshid’s House: Sectarian Intolerance in Action


Ram Puniyani


Salman Khurshid, a former Union Minister, is one of the prominent leaders of Congress and also is the well known lawyer of Supreme Court. He recently came out with a book, “Sunrise over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Present times”. The book is publicized as “…the Supreme Court… cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple… If the loss of a mosque is preservation of faith, if the establishment of a temple is emancipation of faith, we can all join together in celebrating faith in the Constitution…”

The book also states that Hinduism is a great and tolerant religion, while Hindutva is a politics akin to the one of ISIS and Boko Haram. In a way in the  book, Khurshid goes miles to defend the Supreme Court judgment, despite the fact the Court did recognize putting of Ram lalla idols in surreptitious manner in1949 was a criminal act, that the demolition itself was a crime but it decided not to punish anybody for both these crimes. For the latter crime Liberhan Commission report was all that was needed to be taken seriously to put the top leadership of BJP behind the bars. Khurshid is trying to buy peace and is soft on the judgment which exonerated the guilty.

Notwithstanding that; he also analyzed the phenomenon of Hindutva; comparing it to other fundamentalist organizations; and the hell broke loose. His house in Nainital was shot at and burnt by foot solders of Hindutva politics. His statement was presented as an insult to Hinduism. He praises Hinduism in reality. He criticizes Hindutva which surely is a politics under the garb of Hinduism. On similar lines Rahul Gandhi also distinguished between Hinduism and Hindutva. Hindusim is a religion, Hindutva is a politics. Islam is a religion, Boko Haram-ISIS are political groups in name of Islam.

What has been instilled in the popular mind is that Hindutva synonym of Hindu religion. This seems to be the biggest success of sectarian nationalists. It was also the shrewdness of Savarkar who made this word ‘Hindu’ as a part of Hindutva; a political ideology. This makes average Hindu feel that if Hindutva is being criticized s/he is being criticized.

Savarkar is the father of Hindu nationalism. For him “National identity rests…on three pillars: geographical unity, racial features, and a common culture. Savarkar minimizes the importance of religion of a Hindu by claiming that Hinduism is only one of the attributes of Hinduness.” (Hindutva page 81). So the difference in the two words is more than clear in real sense.

Understanding Hinduism has been a complex process as there is no single prophet or a holy book or a single deity in this religion. Hinduism is a religion without any doubt. Nehru says “Hinduism, as a faith, is vague, amorphous, many-sided, all things to all men… In its present form, and even in the past, it embraces many beliefs and practices, from the highest to the lowest, often opposed to or contradicting each other. Its essential spirit seems to be to live and let live.” Mahatma Gandhi has attempted to define it: 'if I were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say: Search after truth through nonviolent means. A man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu. Hindu-ism is a relentless pursuit after truth…”. For Gandhi Hinduism is tolerant.

In contrast to these Savarkar has a political stance on which the Hindu communalism bases itself. He defined Hindu as one who regards this land from Sindhu to sea as his fatherland and holy land. According to him Hindus are a separate nation, the original inhabitants of this land, while Muslims are a different nation. Gandhi-Nehru’s understanding led them to believe that we all are a single nation, irrespective of our religion. And the ‘Father of the nation’ Gandhi stood tall to see the high principles of his Hinduism when he said “Ishwar Allah Tero naam’, i.e. God of Hindus and Muslims is the same.

While for Hindu nationalists, one’s whose politics is Hindutva, are using these words as synonyms. There is a deliberate propagation that Hindutva is one that brings everyone together, unites everyone within itself…," (Mohan Bhagwat). This formulation is aimed to gain legitimacy in electoral arena. Its agenda is constructed around glorification of the ancient Hindu past where caste and gender hierarchy was the dominant norm, around demonizing “foreign religions” (Islam and Christianity), and around rousing Hindu sentiments on issues of Cow, Ram Temple, love jihad etc. It sees threat to Hindus from rising Muslim population. It sees threat to Hindus due to the ‘proselityzation’ work of Christian missionaries. Its agenda is built around policies which are to be benefit of elite of the society while paying lip sympathy to the downtrodden.

Substituting HIndutva for Hinduism by communalists is part of their political strategy. It is intolerant and promotes violence and heightens religiosity around Hindu deities. Its agenda among dalits, Adivasis is a patronizing one indulging in social engineering to co-opt them for political goals, for implementation of the policies which are a clever ploy to maintain status quo and for pushing society back towards the earlier values of hierarchy.

Khurshid, after his house was burnt for the comparing Hindutva and ISIS etc. stated that he has been proved right. He is right but the problem is how do we combat the divisive ideology without naming it? The divisive forces have won over the ‘social common sense’ in which Hindutva and Hinduism are seen to be same. What is to be done in this situation? Can one keep quiet about word Hindutva and combat its divisive politics? Can we communicate to the Hindus that Hinduism is that for which Gandhi stood and which Nehru elaborates? The mosaic of Hinduism (Gandhi) and narrow impositions of Hindutva by Godse and company need to be distinguished to ensure that plural, humaneness of Hinduism are upheld to live in peace and harmony, while combating sectarian agenda.

November 21, 2021

India: My Encounter With Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati and What it Taught Me About Hindutva | Lalit Vachani (The Wire, Nov 21, 2021)

A filmmaker revisits his images from a 2018 shoot at Bulandshahr, the site of a Hindu nationalist conspiracy that led to the suspicious death of a police officer, to understand how the Hindutva ‘fringe’ becomes mainstream.  

by Lalit Vachani

Reading the reportage in The Wire about the horrific provocation that led to the February 2020 rioting in Delhi and the incendiary remarks against Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad by the self-styled sant Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, I decided to revisit the images of my meeting with him in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, in December 2018.


November 20, 2021

Kangana Ranaut: How India Got Freedom and When

Kangana Ranaut: How and When India Got Freedom? Ram Puniyani As sectarian nationalism is becoming more assertive and dominant the narrative about our freedom struggle and how we got freedom are being twisted to suit the currently surging religious nationalism. So far communalism was constructed by the communal vision of medieval history in particular. To add on to that now the narrations related to the period of freedom movement are being distorted to undermine the freedom movement on one hand and to glorify those who kept themselves aloof from the process of ‘India’s making into a nation’ and its ‘struggle for freedom’ from clutches of the British powers. Kangana Ranaut, whose leanings toward right wing sectarian nationalism are written on her sleeves and whose twitter account has been permanently blocked for spreading hate, stated during a television interview, “…India attained freedom in 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power.” She described the country's independence in 1947 as 'bheek.' (Alms). It is not just a question of her level of knowledge about how India became a nation and how freedom struggle spanning over for several decades led to our Independence, but her statement is as such a part of the new narrative which is systematically being constructed and coming to the fore from last several decades in general and last few years in particular. As such India getting real independence in 2014 is a further modification of what Modi’s own formulation was. When he came to power in 2014 he stated, that 1200 Yrs of servitude is coming to an end, meaning that not only that the colonial period was a period of slavery the period when in some regions of India Muslims kings were ruling was also a period of slavery and now Hindu Nationalism is back! As the religious nationalists were not the part of freedom struggle they are operating at multiple levels to gain legitimacy as nationalists. At one level there are claims that quit India movement got its strength due to participation of RSS as its ideologue Rakesh Sinha points out, “In August that year, in Chimur and Ashti, RSS cadre dominated Congress processions and attacked police stations, with police in these talukas coming forth with the severest repression of the people. Those hanged and awarded life imprisonment were mostly RSS volunteers.” And puts his fantasy on paper “The Sangh’s growing integration with the movement created consternation; the government feared an armed coup with RSS and Indian National Army (INA) sharing common sentiments.” This is in total variance from what RSS chief Golwalkar instructed at that time, “In 1942 also there was a strong sentiment in the hearts of many. At that time too, routine work of Sangh continued. Sangh vowed not to do anything directly.” (Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan, vol. IV, page 40) Some other ideologues of sectarian nationalism are now claiming that Gandhi led freedom movement had minimal role, quoting British PM Attlee statement published by the Institute of Historical Review in an article by Ranjan Borra in 1982. This is being presented as gospel truth contrary to the fact that ‘Quit India’ movement led by Gandhi had shaken the British Empire to no end. One does not deny that multiple factors might have been at play in forcing British to leave India. Starting from First War of Independence led by Bahadur Shah Zafar, to revolutionary movement of Anusheelan Samiti and Hindustan Socialist Republican Association to Subhash Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj and Revolt of Royal India Navy in 1946, each much have contributed in the process. The undeniable fact is that freedom movement led by Gandhi was the one which was overarching and it roused people against British rule, taught the nation to be fearless and stand for the principles which led to the formulation of Indian Constitution. This movement incidentally has been the biggest ever mass movement in the World. What is deliberately missing in the narrative of Right wing sectarian nationalists is that the freedom movement was not only struggling against British rule but was also at the same time was building the Indian Nation. This is what led Surendra Nath Bannerjee to aptly say that ‘India is a nation in the making’. This is the most profound phrase to describe the contribution of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Maulana Azad and their colleagues. Most of the revolutionaries (Surya Sen, Bhagat Singh) also believed in inclusive nationalism. Here Savarkar in his early phase was anti British revolutionary but later he did fall in the trap of communalism, based on exclusion of religious minorities. For Kangana Ranaut, heavily influenced by her role as Rani Laxmibai, says “…I know, but which war took place in 1947 I am not aware, if someone can bring to my awareness I will give back my PadmaShri and apologize also please help me with this." Presumably she thinks freedom is won through war and there was no such war in 1947. One cannot expect her to understand that our Indian nation came into be through the struggle against British. The central, most important and crucial role of Indian people standing firmly with Gandhi and participating in Non Cooperation movement (!920), Civil Disobedience (1930) and Quit India movement(1942) brought us together in the bonds of fraternity with values of equality and aspiring for liberty. Lamenting at what is happening in the new dispensation of which he is a part, MP Varun Gandhi wrote, "Sometimes Mahatma Gandhi’s dedication and sacrifices are insulted, sometimes his killer is respected. And now lakhs of freedom fighters, from Shaheed Mangal Pandey to Rani Lakshmibai, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, are being insulted. Should I call this thinking madness or treason?” Who will answer this question? This in a way it sums up the arguments which are an apt response to Ranaut. But people who matter, the leadership of BJP-RSS will keep quiet on this blatant insult to our freedom fighters as this is precisely what they also believe. They can speak in multiple tongues at the same time as in the aftermath of Gandhi murder on one side they were declaring mourning and on the other they were distributing sweets!

November 18, 2021

Gujarat Civic Bodies Targeting food ... (edit The Times of india, Nov 17, 2021)

 The Times of India


Targeting food: Gujarat civic bodies’ unjustifiable action on vendors selling non-veg fare must be rolled back

November 17, 2021, 8:33 PM IST

Street food vendors are an essential part of the urban landscape. Acknowledging it, GoI in June 2020 designed a customised microcredit scheme to help them with working capital. Clearly, some civic officials in Gujarat have read GoI’s strong emphasis on street vending wrong. Four of the state’s urban civic bodies, including that in Ahmedabad, have targeted vendors selling non-vegetarian food on utterly unreasonable and absurd grounds. These include comments by officials on “smell” and “hygiene”. It is deeply concerning that we are adding olfactory intolerance to the increasingly long list of intolerances in India. And as for hygiene, officials surely should have their plates full – why not clean up hospitals, for example.

The sequence of events, as made clear by TOI reports, is also troubling. Ahmedabad civic body’s town planning committee announced a drive against non-vegetarian street food vendors. The committee’s chairman said food carts targeted will be ones on arterial roads and those near schools or religious places. Ahmedabad’s civic agency officials attributed the drive to complaints from some residents. But Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel clarified that state policy did not intrude on food choices as long as relevant guidelines are followed. Notwithstanding that, on Tuesday, about 40,000-50,000 vendors of the city’s 1.1 lakh were estimated by their association to have stayed away. Civic officials are now claiming encroachment as a reason.

This salad bowl of unconvincing justifications suggests civic authorities have manufactured reasons to push some vendors into less-visible parts of the city. The move also raises questions about the CM’s assurance. Note that Gujarat state BJP chief also made similar comments. In some urban centres of states like Haryana, local actions have enforced a ban on meat shops during festivals despite there being no state-level directions on the issue. These are dangerous trends, with real potential consequences for harmonious coexistence.

There is also, most immediately, the issue of inequity. Food vendors are a subset of the self-employed workforce, a vulnerable group that was badly hit by Covid’s economic fallout. Gujarat has a relatively high share of such employment. GoI’s June 2020 employment data showed that 37.8% of urban households in the state are self-employed, as compared to the national average of 30.7%. Taking some food vendors from their corners and pushing them into smaller roads has a direct impact on their livelihoods. Before this unjustifiable action gets even worse, Gujarat’s senior-most BJP leaders must help in restoring status quo ante.