October 20, 2018

India: Will Sabarimala rewrite the Kerala secular story? G Pramod Kumar

The Indian Express

Will Sabarimala rewrite the Kerala secular story?

The BJP’s only chance for any upward mobility from its present stagnation in Kerala is by gaining the support of more Hindu votes and the Sabarimala agitation offers a tailor-made opportunity to whip up communal passion.

Written by G Pramod Kumar | Updated: October 19, 2018 6:39:54 pm
Will Sabarimala rewrite the Kerala secular story?
BJP youth wing protesters during a protest at Nilakkal. (Express Photo by Vignesh)
Originally hailed as a historic decision, the recent Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women of all ages to the famous Sabarimala hill shrine in Kerala is turning out to be the cause of a major crisis for the CPM-led Left Democratic Party (LDF). The socio-political turbulence that the verdict has led to looks as politically significant as the upper class “liberation struggle” against the first Communist government in 1959.
In 1959, the tumult that was spearheaded mainly by the Nairs and the Syrian Christians against educational reforms that the government of the day had proposed, led to the latter’s premature dismissal by the Centre. This time around, the CPM and the LDF have a strategy. They do want to play by the book and appear to be progressive, but not at the cost of losing a political edge. The Opposition – mainly the Congress and the BJP – are trying to retain their Hindu voters and also eat into each others’ support base by siding with the protesters.
Over the last few days, the main stopovers to Sabarimala from where the pilgrims begin their final forest trek to the shrine, and the places en route to the sanctum sanctorum (called “Sannidhanam” in Malayalam), have witnessed unprecedented violent religious protests. There was organised stone pelting and attacks on the police, public property and journalists. The state government and media called out the BJP and the RSS for the attacks. The RSS accused the government of infiltrating their “peaceful” protests to defame them.
Immediately after the Supreme Court announced its judgment on September 28, the Kerala government had announced that it would implement the verdict because it was the new law. The BJP and the Congress opposed it and said that the decision by the Constitutional Bench should be challenged. The two parties had a logically absurd argument: they said that they respected the Supreme Court verdict, but the traditional rituals and the sentiments of the devotees also needed to be respected. While the government was duty-bound to defend the Constitution, the BJP and Congress were bent upon reaping political capital from the issue.
Will Sabarimala rewrite the Kerala secular story? Hydrabad based jounalist Kavitha Jakkal and activist Rehna Fathima step off shabarimala with police protection as they were not allowed to enter sannidhanam. (Express Photo by Vignesh Krishnamoorthy) When some women—reportedly journalists, devotees and activists—tried to reach the shrine on the strength of the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday, they faced violent resistance. Journalists were attacked even at the transit points while devotees and activists had to abandon their plans even when they had the support of armed police and commandos. The closest thing to a flashpoint came on Friday, when two women – one an activist from Kerala in pilgrim’s robes, and the other a journalist from Andhra Pradesh – almost reached the entrance of the shrine. However, they were opposed not just by the devotees, but the priests as well. The priests said that if the women were allowed in they would close down the temple. The police had to finally take the two women back.
The developments over the last few days, and on Friday, give a heads-up of what’s in store because presently the temple will stay open only for five days. The real pilgrimage season will begin in mid-November, when a few million from southern states will visit the temple over two months, and it will be impossible to control the crowds if such situations arise again. If the police was ineffective in dealing with the violence and vigilante behaviour by “devotees”- allegedly activists from the Sangh Parivar and affiliate organisations that included women – for a few days, would it be able to handle the situation when the scale is much bigger and for a much longer period? The forested terrain, near-stampede level crowds, and protesters motivated by religion and political motives could make it a dangerous situation.
In a massive crowd, it would he hard to tell a real pilgrim from a mischief-maker, and even the most sincere and careful intervention to uphold the law could lead to major mishaps. It could also be dangerous for women who try to visit the temple because the thick forests would allow trouble-makers to launch guerrilla-style attacks.
Will Sabarimala rewrite the Kerala secular story? s. The ruling CPM has no choice but to abide by the verdict, but the eyes of the BJP and the Congress are on the possible political capital. Given the situation, the Supreme Court verdict will have practical value only if there is political consensus. The ruling CPM has no choice but to abide by the verdict, but the eyes of the BJP and the Congress are on the potential political capital. Clearly, the verdict is the religious trigger that the BJP has been waiting for to scale up in a state where polarisation of votes on communal lines has been very difficult due to high political literacy.
The Congress, on the other hand, cannot take any risks, because in addition to its traditional vote banks of Muslims and Christians, what keeps it afloat are the upper caste Hindus. The Sabarimala agitation was initiated by the upper caste Hindus, but soon became a pan-Hindu agitation cutting across castes. Hence, the Congress had no choice but to be on the protesters’ side, although the BJP rode it with all its resources. In the end, it was the Congress and the BJP on the side against the Constitution while the CPM, righteously stood alone in upholding it.
The political calculations are simple. The BJP’s only chance for any upward mobility from its present stagnant position is by gaining the support of more Hindu votes. The Sabarimala agitation offers a tailor-made opportunity to whip up communal passions. The Congress cannot afford any further erosion of their existing Hindu support base, and would also want to retrieve part of their recent loss of votes to the BJP. Besides splitting the BJP votes and winning back some voters, they also hope to wean away some of the Hindu votes of the CPM by being on the side of the agitators. The CPM’s major bloc of Hindu supporters are the Ezhavas (majority Hindus in the state), who constitute about 27 per cent of the population.
In simple terms, the BJP hopes get more Hindu votes from both the Congress and the CPM, while the Congress hopes to get back what it has already lost to the BJP and wean away Hindu votes from both the BJP and the CPM. Therefore essentially, the Congress and the BJP are playing the same politics while the CPM is sticking its neck out by taking a principled stand, possibly by betting on the secular mindset of the Malayalees. They also hope that such a neutral non-Hindu position will help wean some minority votes from the Congress camp.
Will Sabarimala rewrite the Kerala secular story? Devotees at the Sabarimala shrine. (Express photo by Vishnu Varma) One has to wait till 2019 to see who wins this strategic battle. Despite all the efforts being made, what will most probably keep the BJP out will be Kerala’s unique demography. The state has only about 55 per cent Hindus and to an gain electoral majority from them is impossible because the historic division of their political patronage has been between the Left parties and the Congress-led front. Gaining more than 15 per cent (the BJP’s vote share) of the Hindu votes will be a very difficult task, except in a handful of pockets. So, the battle will be between the Congress and the CPM. The CPM hopes that the communal polarisation caused by the issue will lead to a split of its opposition votes between the Congress and BJP, with the latter weaning more votes than in the past from the former. The Congress hopes that by being a proxy-BJP on the issue, it would gain both the BJP votes as well as soft-Hindu – or rather Ezhava – votes from the CPM.
Probably after watching how things panned out over the last few days, the government on Friday recalibrated its position by announcing that it would support only genuine pilgrims, and not activists. It also said that the shrine was meant for devotees and their beliefs, and not for activists to prove their strength. However, the biggest challenge will begin in mid-November if some women try to gain entry. Going by the decision on Friday, the government and the CPM are most likely to temper their stand with the lessons learned since the Supreme Court verdict, while the BJP will try its best not to lose the communal momentum it has gained. And the poor Congress, unfortunately, has no other choice but to imitate the BJP, because that’s what its expedience has landed itself in.

October 19, 2018

India: In Sabarimala violence, a flashback to the RSS 1982 agitation to stop a church from being built

religious matters

In Sabarimala violence, a flashback to the RSS 1982 agitation to stop a church from being built

That movement had helped the Sangh grow in Kerala. The BJP now hopes to gain politically from the current protests.

October 18, 2018

India: Nobel Peace winner Kailash Satyarthi attends the RSS annual function on the worship of Arms

India: RSS-BJP combine sense an opportunity in the Sabarimala temple row

In Sabarimala temple politics down south, BJP and RSS see an opportunity

The RSS-BJP combine sense an opportunity in the Sabarimala temple row to turn it into an Ayodhya of the South for electoral dividends; the Left Democratic Front and the Congress are trying their best to stop that.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2018 10:39 IST

India: Kerala High Court dismisses Hindutva outfit’s plea to allow Muslim women to enter mosques

Kerala HC dismisses plea to allow women in mosques on pattern of Sabarimala verdict

The high court ruled that the petitioner, Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha’s state president, had failed to submit evidence that Muslim women were not being allowed to enter mosques and if they felt they being discriminated against, they could move the court

india Updated: Oct 11, 2018 17:53 IST

India: “Love Jihad” part of Rightwing propaganda to create panic - NIA investigation in Kerala

Hindustan Times

NIA ends Kerala probe, says there’s love but no jihad

AN NIA official said the Constitution of India had provided freedom to practice and promote religion in a peaceful manner to all citizens as a fundamental right.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2018 07:56 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Love jihad,kerala,Supreme Court
Hadiya (in red) converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan, but her marriage was annulled by the Kerala high court on the basis of a petition filed by her father; the Supreme Court set aside the high court order.(HT File Photo)

 The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) “examination” of interfaith marriages in Kerala has not unearthed any evidence of coercion that can result in prosecution in these cases, officials familiar with the matter said. One of them added that while there may have been efforts to facilitate the conversion of either the man or the woman involved, there was no evidence of a larger criminal design.
“The NIA is not supposed to file any further report in this regard in the Supreme Court. As far as the NIA is concerned, the matter stands closed as the agency has not found any evidence to suggest that in any of these cases either the man or the woman was coerced to convert,” said a senior agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The agency picked 11 cases of interfaith marriages in Kerala for examination as part of its probe into so-called cases of “love jihad” at the instance of the Supreme Court.
These 11 cases were picked up from a list of 89 interfaith marriages that were already before law enforcement authorities (usually because of complaints by parents) and which were referred to the federal anti-terrorism agency by the Kerala police.
The investigation happened in the context of the celebrated Hadiya case.
Hadiya converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan, but her marriage was annulled by the Kerala high court on the basis of a petition filed by her father; the Supreme Court set aside the high court order.
“At least one among the 11 marriages under examination was purely a matter of relationship gone sour. In most of the other cases we found that a similar set of people and organisations associated with Popular Front of India (PFI) were involved in helping either the man or the woman involved in a relationship to convert to Islam, but we didn’t find any prosecutable evidence to bring formal charges against these persons under any of the scheduled offences of the NIA, like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,” added the official.
The official said the Constitution of India had provided freedom to practice and promote religion in a peaceful manner to all citizens as a fundamental right. “Conversion is not a crime in Kerala and also helping these men and women convert is also within the ambit of the Constitution of the country.”
PFI’s legal advisor KP Muhammer Shareef labelled the concept of love jihad a “sinister design cooked up by right wing forces” to “target the Muslim community at large” and claimed the effort was aimed at portraying the Front and (its political arm), the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), as conduit pipes for love jihad.
“Umpteen investigations and enquiries conducted by various agencies have now found the allegation of love jihad is obnoxious, fictitious and without any scintilla of evidence,” said Shareef.
Still, the results of this investigation should not be construed as a “clean chit” for PFI, the NIA official said.
“There are separate criminal cases of serious charges of murder going on against the alleged cadres of PFI. Those matters are being dealt (with) separately.”
Among the 11 cases examined by the NIA, there were at least four cases of interfaith marriages where Hindu men embraced Islam or where efforts were made to convert them to Islam. In the rest of the cases examined by NIA, Hindu women married Muslim men.
“The NIA probe found that in at least three cases, efforts at conversion failed,” said a second NIA official who asked not to be named.

Hindi Article गुजरात कत्लेआम 2002: एक और रहस्योद्घाटन : Lt Gen. Zameeruddin's book and unraveling the truth of Gujarat Carnage

गुजरात कत्लेआम 2002: एक और रहस्योद्घाटन
 -राम पुनियानी

साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा हमारी राजनीति का नासूर बन गई है।  विभाजन के बाद हुए दंगों ने पूरे देश को हिला दिया था और इनके नतीजे में दुनिया का सबसे बड़ा पलायन हुआ था। किंतु यह, इस विभाजनकारी हिंसा का अंत नहीं था। यह हिंसा इसके बाद भी होती रही, विशेषकर 1980 के दशक में राममंदिर आंदोलन प्रारंभ होने के बाद से। इस आंदोलन ने समाज के एक वर्ग की भावनाओं को भड़काया। समय के साथ, मंदिर आंदोलन और साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा दोनों की तीव्रता बढ़ती गई। हिंसा के इस चक्र में जिस एक घटना ने समाज के तानेबाने को गंभीर हानि पहुंचाई वह थी गुजरात की सन् 2002 की साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा। यह हिंसा गोधरा में ट्रेन जलाए जाने की घटना के बहाने शुरू की गई। ट्रेन जलाए जाने की घटना के रहस्य पर से पर्दा अभी तक नहीं हटा है। इस घटना में 58 निर्दोष कारसेवकों की जान गई। इस घटना के बाद राजसत्ता, अर्थात राज्य सरकार एवं प्रशासन, का कर्तव्य था कि वह जानोमाल की और हानि रोकता।
परंतु, इसके ठीक विपरीत, बताया जाता है कि ट्रेन जलाए जाने की घटना के बाद, उसी दिन शाम को तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी ने एक बैठक बुलाई। कहा जाता है कि इस बैठक में मुख्यमंत्री ने अधिकारियों से कहा कि वे ट्रेन आगजनी की प्रतिक्रिया में होने वाली घटनाओं से सख्ती से न निपटें। यह बात संजीव भट्ट नामक एक पुलिस अधिकारी ने बताई जो इस बैठक में मौजूद थे। न्यायमूर्ति सुरेश, जो गुजरात दंगों की जांच के लिए गठित जन न्यायाधिकरण में शामिल थे, ने भी इसकी पुष्टि की। ले. जनरल जमीरउद्दीन शाह की आत्मकथा (द सरकारी मुसलमान) में दिए गए विवरण से यह बात एक बार और साबित हो रही है। इस पुस्तक का लोकार्पण 13 अक्टूबर को पूर्व उपराष्ट्रपति डॉ हामिद अंसारी ने किया।
 शाह ने अपने संस्मरण में लिखा है कि तत्कालीन सेनाध्यक्ष जनरल पद्मनाभन ने उन्हें 28 फरवरी को ही अहमदाबाद जाने का निर्देश दिया था। जब उनका हवाई जहाज अहमदाबाद हवाईअड्डे पर उतरने के लिए कम ऊँचाई पर था तब उन्होंने देखा कि शहर में जगह-जगह आग लगी हुई है और धुंआ उठ रहा है। हवाई अड्डे पर उतरने पर उन्होंने उन्हें लेने आए अधिकारी से पूछा कि सेना को हिंसा रोकने के लिए वाहन व अन्य ज़रूरी सुविधाएं उपलब्ध करवाई गई हैं या नहीं। जब उन्हें इसका उत्तर न में मिला तो वे सीधे मुख्यमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी के निवास पर गए, जहां तत्कालीन रक्षा मंत्री जार्ज फर्नांडीस भी मौजूद थे। उन्होंने भी मुख्यमंत्री से यही अनुरोध किया। सेना की टुकड़ियां 1 मार्च की सुबह अहमदाबाद पहुंचना शुरू हो गईं थीं। एक ओर जहां शहर जल रहा था वहीं पूरे एक दिन सैनिकों को हवाईअड्डे पर बिताना पड़ा क्योंकि उनके लिए वाहनों की व्यवस्था नहीं थी।
शाह लिखते हैं कि सेना को ज़रूरी सुविधाएं उपलब्ध करवाने के दो दिन के अंदर हिंसा पर नियंत्रण पा लिया गया। भारत, जहां साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा का कोढ़ बहुत पुराना है, में हमें इस सवाल पर तो विचार करना ही चाहिए कि हिंसा क्यों शुरू होती है। हमें इस पर भी मंथन करना चाहिए कि वह रूक क्यों नहीं पाती। जल्द से जल्द उसे रोका क्यों नहीं जाता? विभूति नारायण राय, जो सेवानिवृत्त पुलिस महानिदेशक हैं, ने इस संबंध में एक  अध्ययन किया है। काम्बेटिंग कम्युनल कनफिल्क्टसशीर्षक के इस अध्ययन में यह पाया गया है कि किसी भी प्रकार की हिंसा 24 घंटे से अधिक जारी नहीं रह सकती जब तक कि राज्य ऐसा न चाहे। शाह की पुस्तक में हमारे पुलिस तंत्र के पूर्वाग्रहों पर भी चर्चा की गई है। दंगों की जांच के लिए नियुक्त एसआईटी इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुंची थी कि सेना की तैनाती में देरी नहीं हुई। एसआईटी ने सेना से इस संबंध में कोई पूछताछ नहीं की। शाह लिखते हैं कि उन्हें एसआईटी की ओर से जानकारी देने के लिए कोई पत्र आदि नहीं लिखा गया और एसआईटी का यह निष्कर्ष गलत और झूठा है। शाह ने कहा कि सेना की तैनाती में जो देरी हुई थी, उसका विवरण उन्होंने जनरल पद्मनाभन को सौंपी गई अपनी रपट में दिया था।
यह आम धारणा है कि एसआईटी ने मोदी को इस मामले में क्लीन चिट दी थी। यह सही नहीं है। उच्चतम न्यायालय में न्यायमित्र राजू रामचन्द्रन ने एसआईटी के निष्कर्षों से संबंधित अपनी रपट में बताया था कि एसआईटी की रपट के आधार पर मोदी पर मुकदमा चलाया जा सकता है। एसआईटी ने अपनी रपट में यह जरूर कहा था कि मोदी के खिलाफ मुकदमा चलाने के पर्याप्त आधार नहीं हैं परंतु उसी रपट में यह भी कहा गया था कि मोदी साम्प्रदायिक मानसिकता वाले व्यक्ति हैं। वे अहमदाबाद से तीन सौ किलोमीटर दूर गोधरा जाने का समय तो निकाल सके परंतु उन्हें शहर में स्थित किसी शरणार्थी शिविर में जाने का समय नहीं मिला। वे पहली बार किसी शरणार्थी शिविर में तब गए जब प्रधानमंत्री अटलबिहारी वाजपेयी अहमदाबाद पहुंचे और जुहापुरा शिविर गए। एसआईटी ने यह भी कहा कि गोधरा कांड के मृतकों के शव विहिप के जयदीप पटेल को सौंपे जाने का निर्णय नुकसानदेह सिद्ध हुआ। एसआईटी ने संजीव भट्ट के इस बयान को भी संज्ञान में लिया कि वे उस बैठक में मौजूद थे, जिसमें मुख्यमंत्री ने प्रशासन को दंगाईयों के साथ नरमी बरतने के निर्देश दिए थे। इसके अलावा, एसआईटी ने कर्तव्यनिष्ठ पुलिस अधिकारियों जैसे आरबी श्रीकुमार, राहुल शर्मा, हिमांशु भट्ट और समीउल्ला अंसारी के स्थानांतरण और मोदी सरकार द्वारा उनकी प्रताड़ना की भी निंदा की थी।
बाबू बजरंगी पर तहलका के स्टिंग आपरेषन से यह जाहिर हुआ कि मोदी ने उसे जो कुछ भी वह करना चाहता था, उसे करने के लिए तीन दिन दिए थे। बाबू बजरंगी अब गुजरात दंगों में अपनी भूमिका के लिए जेल में है। शाह लिखते हैं कि साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा के भड़कने और उसके जारी रहने के पीछे कई कारक होते हैं। सेना की तैनाती में देरी से दंगाईयों का मनोबल बढ़ता है, यह कहने की ज़रूरत नहीं है। यह भी स्पष्ट है कि सत्ताधारी व्यक्तियों के निर्णय किस तरह आम लोगों को बर्बाद कर सकते हैं। इसके साथ ही यह भी ज़रूरी है कि हमारे पुलिस तंत्र की साम्प्रदायिक सोच को बदलने का प्रयास किया जाए।
हमें अपनी अतीत की भूलों से सीख लेनी चाहिए। ले. जनरल जमीरउद्दीन की आत्मकथा हमें बहुत कुछ सिखा सकती है। गुजरात दंगों से निपटने के लिए एक मुस्लिम अधिकारी को चुने जाने के निर्णय की उस समय आलोचना हुई थी। यह तब, जबकि सेना, हमारे देश की उन संस्थाओं में से एक है जिन पर साम्प्रदायिकता के वायरस का कम असर है। (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया)