June 24, 2017

India: Delhi journalist assaulted by a mob when identified as a Muslim

Caravan Magazine

“Say, Pakistan Murdabad!”: A Reporter Recounts How a Mob In Delhi Assaulted Him When They Identified Him As Muslim
By Basit Malik | 19 June 2017

On 9 June, I was investigating the alleged demolition of a mosque in Sonia Vihar, in Delhi. A group of Hindus I was speaking to became violent when they learnt that I had a Muslim name.

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At close to 11.30 pm on 7 June, the news publication the Milli Gazette published a video to its Facebook page. The video showed a group of people demolishing a brick structure. According to the caption that accompanied the clip, this structure was a rudimentary mosque located in Ambay Enclave, a small basti near Sonia Vihar in Delhi, where 25 Muslim families resided. Finding themselves with no place of worship during the month of Ramadan, the caption said, these families had constructed a makeshift mosque. “Its existence began to pinch certain enemies of peace,” the caption alleged. On the morning of 7 June, a group of people attacked the structure, and razed it to the ground.

On the afternoon of 8 June, I went to Sonia Vihar to investigate the incident. That day, I spoke to several Muslim residents from the area. They told me that the Hindu residents of the area—primarily members of Thakur and Gujjar communities—were displeased with the construction of the mosque and had decided to demolish it. A Muslim woman residing in the basti told me that the mob was shouting slogans such as “Masjid todo, swarg banao”—break the mosque, and build heaven instead. A 23-year-old Muslim man who resides in the area said that members of the Muslim community earlier prayed in a small building that functioned as both a madrasa and a mosque, and was located down the lane from the demolished structure. This space was too small, the 23-year-old said. “We just needed a large space,” he added. He told me that the Muslim residents had then approached Akbar Ali, who owned a small plot of land, and obtained his permission to construct a four-walled structure that could function as a mosque on it. “It had only been nine days” since the structure had begun to be used, the 23-year-old said. Later that evening, I spoke with officials from the Sonia Vihar police station, but was unable to obtain a response. Subhash Vats, the station house officer, said “it was not my jurisdiction,” and directed me to the district and the assistant commissioners of police. Sudhir Kumar, the ACP, denied that any such incident had taken place. The DCP’s assistant asked me to return the next day.

The next morning, I called one of the Muslim residents that I had met during my visit to Sonia Vihar. The resident told me that the situation had worsened. He said that a Muslim barber who had rented his shop from a Hindu resident, had been asked by his landlords to shut the business for the day. He added that the Muslim residents were worried that they would not be allowed to set up stalls during the weekly market, which was to take place that evening.

I decided to go to Sonia Vihar and to speak with the members of the Gujjar and Thakur communities who had allegedly been involved in the demolition. I reached Chauhan Pati, the nearest bus stop, at about 6 pm. I asked passersby to direct me to the houses of some of the Hindu residents that I could speak to regarding the incident. A man I met suggested I speak to a resident named Charat Singh, and led me to his home. Charat’s house was located at the end of street—a multi-storeyed building, it stood out amid the small, one-storey structures it was surrounded by.

Charat was not home, but I met an old man who identified himself as his father. The man who had taken me to the house mentioned that I was a journalist. Charat’s father asked me to come inside. He led me to a room inside the house, in which a mustachioed man was lying on a bed, watching television. This man, who appeared to be middle-aged, introduced himself as Bharat Singh, Charat’s older brother. He asked me to take a seat, and then asked a young man who was also in the room, and who appeared to be in his mid twenties, to get us water and tea. (The young man later told me that he was pursuing a Masters in Science degree at Delhi University. He mentioned his name, but the notebook I took it down in was later taken from me.) Bharat then asked me who I was. I told him my name, and mentioned that I write regularly for The Caravan. I said that I was investigating the alleged demolition and mentioned the video I had seen. I added that I wanted to hear his account of the events leading up to it.

Bharat said a temple used to stand on the site on which the Muslims had built the structure. He added that some of the Muslim men—he mentioned a man named Zulfikar, and Akbar Ali, the owner of the plot—were “getting funding” from Pakistan to construct the structure. According to him, there were several mosques in nearby areas, and there was no need to build one more. In fact, he claimed, the construction was a ploy to increase the Muslim population. The young man in his mid-twenties echoed the sentiment. He said that this was a part of a “bigger conspiracy.” “Tomorrow they will demand a graveyard,” he added, “Humara shamshan bhi yahan nahi hai, unka kabristan kyun ho?”—our cremation grounds are not here, so why should their graveyards be?

I asked Bharat and the young man why they had not objected to the structure when it was being constructed. Both of them remained quiet for a few moments. Bharat then responded that the Hindu residents realised the structure was being used as a mosque only after the Muslims began to pray there. Bharat’s father, who was sitting to my right, said, “Saale char mulleh nahi sambhal raha hum se”—we can’t even handle four Muslims. (The term “Mullah” refers to an Islamic scholar, but is often used as a slur to refer to Muslims.)

Bharat added that the police officials had suggested that the residents resolve the matter among themselves, and a “shanti sabha”—a peace meeting—was being held at the haveli of a man he referred to as “Vijendra Pradhan.” He asked me to accompany him to the meeting. (A resident of Sonia Vihar later told me that Vijendra is not actually a pradhan, but is referred to as one, ostensibly due to his wealth and status in the Gujjar community.) As we were leaving the house for the meeting, we saw a middle-aged woman approaching us. She was dressed in white and black, and donned a black blazer. Bharat asked her if she was heading to the meeting. She said she was, and joined us. She introduced herself to me as a lawyer who works at the Tis Hazari court—she did not mention her name. I introduced myself as well. She asked me where I worked, and if I could give her a visiting card. I explained that I had recently begun working as an independent journalist, and that though I didn’t have a card yet, I could show her the stories I had written. I also offered to show her my voter-identity card, but she declined.

Vijendra’s haveli was located only a few minutes away from Bharat’s house. We arrived at close to 7 pm. Nearly 60 people had gathered in the lawn, and sat in a circle. Bharat introduced me to Vijendra, a middle-aged man who was seated at the head of the group. I told Vijendra that I wanted to sit through the proceedings and record the discussion on my phone. I added that I wanted to pose questions to the attendees. The pradhan agreed. I then told the gathering about the video that I had come across, and asked to hear their stances on the issue.

When Bharat had mentioned the shanti sabha, I had presumed that he meant that it was a meeting between the Hindu and Muslim residents. But the responses I received to my query made me realise that I was mistaken, and that only the Hindu residents had gathered there. Not only did the gathering not include Muslims, its members turned hostile—and subsequently, violent—when they discovered that I had a Muslim name.

After I mentioned the video, a man seated to Vijendra’s left began to speak. He introduced himself as Charat Singh—Bharat’s brother, whom I had intended to meet at their home. Charat echoed his brother and the young man I had met earlier: he said that the site of the makeshift mosque earlier housed a temple, and that the Hindus found out about it being used as a mosque only when the Muslim residents began praying.

Another member of the gathering lamented that the Hindus were not united. The middle-aged woman who had accompanied us to the sabha asked me to include her comments as well. She told me that Bharat was the landlord who has asked his Muslim tenant, Sher Ali, the barber, to close his shop for the day. She said that, by doing so, Bharat had acted like a “true Hindu.” Vijendra added that all matters related to the closing of shops were between the landlords and their tenants. The middle-aged woman agreed with him. She then expressed her displeasure with the police. Instead of doing something about the Muslims, she said, the police was instead “harassing” the Hindus. It was because of this harassment that her husband, a property dealer, had “gone into hiding,” she alleged.

Close to half an hour later, a middle-aged man joined the group. He introduced himself to me as Pintu, the husband of the middle-aged woman (I later found out that his name is Chandan Singh.) I asked him why he was hiding from the police. He said that a Muslim woman had accused him of demolishing the mosque. This was a false accusation, he claimed. He added that although he was present at the time of the demolition, “so were many Muslims.” “But no one is arresting them,” he said. A young man who was sitting to my right stood up. He claimed that Muslims such as Akbar were receiving funding from countries such as Qatar, and that they were building mosques because they needed to “show results.”

The discussion went on. I continued to record the proceedings and take notes for close to an hour after I joined the gathering. By then, night had fallen.

Suddenly, the mood of the gathering changed. Several people, including the middle-aged lady and Singh, got up and walked to the entrance to the lawn, seemingly to speak to someone. The people around me appeared to be tense, and were glancing towards the direction in which the others had gone.

Singh came back inside the lawn. He came to me and snatched my phone. “Kaun ho tum?”—Who are you, he asked. Confused, I replied that I was a journalist, and asked for the reason behind the question. “What if you are from Pakistan?” he said. “Kya baat kar rahen hai aap? Ab mera phone wapas dejiye. (What are you saying? Return my phone please)” I said. Singh held onto to my phone. By this time, we had all gotten up.

Then, a group of young men surrounded me. “Show us your identity card,” one of them said. I retrieved my voter-identity card from my bag, and one of the men from the group snatched it from my hand. Another asked Singh to delete any recordings from my phone.

The voter card I had handed over to the men included my middle name as well, which is Abdul. (As is the naming convention, it reads: “Malik Abdul Basit.”) “Saale Muslim!” one of them yelled, upon seeing the card. Then, one of them asked me how I had found out about the meeting. I told him that Bharat had asked me to come with him. The members of the gathering began to question Bharat. “How could I have known he was a Muslim?” Bharat said.

By this time, many other people had joined the mob surrounding me, and several others continued to enter the lawn. A man in the crowd, who was wearing a red t-shirt, asked me my name again. “Basit Malik,” I responded. “Nahi, Abdul Basit!” someone to my left yelled.

The man in the red t-shirt slapped me. My spectacles slipped from my face, but I was able to catch them before they fell to the floor. Another person, whom I could not see, slapped the back of my head. My head started to spin. “Harami toh Musalman hai”—this bastard is a Muslim, Singh said loudly. “Hum yahan police se bhaag rahe hain aur tu hamari pareshaniyan badhana chahata hai”—we are on the run from the police, and you’re trying to make matters worse, he said. I told Singh that I had no such intention, and that I only wanted to listen to their accounts.

Meanwhile, several people in the mob surrounding me began to take photographs of my voter card with their phones. Since my card was issued in Kashmir, from where I hail, it included some Urdu lettering. This appeared to anger the mob even more. “This has Urdu on it,” someone said, referring to the card. “Yeh yahan ka nahi hai”—it is not from here. A man I didn’t know slapped me again. I attempted to remain calm, and tried to explain that this was the norm in Kashmir, and that the two languages—Urdu and English—are widely used in the state. While I was speaking, the mob kept jostling me around, and several people continued to hit me. I was unable to ascertain the identity of the attackers, and kept reiterating that I was a journalist.

Then, the mob dragged me from the lawn and made me stand with my back to a wall that appeared to be a part of the haveli. The men surrounded me, and pointed their phones at me, recording videos. “Why are you throwing stones at our soldiers and why do you want azadi?” one person asked. I tried again to explain that I was only a reporter, and requested them to stop hitting me, but to no avail. The man who had snatched my voter card said, “Hindi main nahi, Urdu main baat karo”—don’t speak in Hindi, speak in Urdu, he said. Before I could respond, several people hit me again.

The mob kicked me, punched me, and slapped me. They continued to take videos of this assault. “Say ‘Pakistan murdabad!’ [Down with Pakistan]!” one of them instructed, as the others recorded the interaction. “Say ‘Hindustan zindabad!’ [Long Live India]” another added, with a laugh. I repeated what the men asked me to say.

The members of the mob called out to a woman and asked her to come forward. She addressed me, saying she was a journalist as well, and asked to see my press credentials. I told her that I did not have a press card as I was an independent reporter. I repeated that she could look up my previously published articles online. I also added that she could also speak to any of the editors at The Caravan, and that I had spoken to the SHO and the ACP the previous day. The woman did not respond, and continued to stand near me.

Meanwhile, some other men had taken my bag. One of them switched my laptop on, and began to go through the data on it. He continued to ask me questions. Every few minutes, some person or the other would hit me. “Yahi hai”—it’s him, some of them said. They repeatedly asked the man going through my laptop what he had found. When he said that he had not yet found anything suspicious, the middle-aged men in the mob scolded him, and asked him to look properly.

A few minutes later, a bearded man approached me. He dragged me to a structure on the lawns that appeared to be a shed. “Bhai koi sa fawda dena, saala ki gand marte hain”—Give me a spade, let’s beat his ass, the bearded man said to an older man standing nearby. He pushed me into the shed, which was dark. I pleaded with him to not go ahead with this. He slapped me twice. He then put my head between his legs, and jammed his elbow into my back twice.

For a few moments, I could not breathe. I stayed bent over for some time, unable to move.

Then, Vijendra entered the shed. “No one will beat him,” he told the bearded man. Some more people entered and led me back to the wall against which I had earlier stood, “Saale Kashmir sa aaya hai hamari badnami karne, ISI ka agent”—he’s come from Kashmir to defame us, the bloody agent of the ISI, one of them said, referring to the Pakistani agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence. I responded that I had been living in Delhi for nearly five years, but nobody appeared to believe me.

Vijendra said that he planned to call the police, but the woman who had said she was a journalist objected, claiming that I should not be let go. As they considered what to do, the mob led me outside the compound. The man looking through my laptop returned it to me, and I put it in my bag. Everyone appeared to be waiting for a decision from Vijendra. Even during these few minutes, someone slapped me, and tried to kick me. Several people demanded that my laptop be checked again.

Eventually, Vijendra’s decision prevailed, and somebody from the group called the police.

During this entire ordeal, which lasted for an hour and a half, I was surrounded at all times. People from the mob would angrily kick and slap me. I was continuously yelled at, and called various names, such as “mullah,” “Pakistani,” and “aatankwadi”—terrorist. In most instances, it was hard for me to even ascertain the identity of those who were assaulting me. I was fearful that I would be badly injured, if not killed. I was unsure of whether I should respond to their queries. At certain instances, I told whoever would listen to me that what they were doing was wrong. At others, I attempted to justify my presence, but was either left unheard or was dismissed. For me, the arrival of the police was a relief.

At first, a police officer arrived. He asked the members of the mob a few questions, and they showed him my voter card. They then handed back my bag, and my phone—its display was badly damaged. I spoke to the police officer briefly, and once again said I was a journalist. He rebuked me. “You’ve come here to get beaten up?” he said. A few minutes later, he left, and a sub-inspector and a constable arrived, on motorcycles. The sub-inspector asked me to sit behind him on his motorcycle, even as members of the mob continued to debate whether or not I should be allowed to leave. The man who had earlier taken my voter card offered to shake my hand. The gesture confused me, but I accepted. Several people attempted to drag me off the bike, but the sub-inspector raced away, as the constable followed.

We reached the police station at close to 9.40 pm. A police officer asked for my laptop. He discovered that there was no data in it. My damaged phone was rendered useless as well. I had no identity proof, as my voter card had not been returned to me. (The police constable who was accompanying us enquired, “How far is your house from Pakistan?”)

The sub-inspector began asking me questions. I relayed my account of the evening. It was during the course of this interaction that two of the men from the mob arrived at the station: one, the man who had shaken hands with me, and the other who had checked my laptop. They sat on a bed in front of the chair on which I was sitting. When the police officer said asked if I could call someone who had a copy of any document that could confirm my identity, the man who had earlier shaken hands with me showed the officer a photograph of my voter card on his phone. The two decided to leave soon after. Before leaving, the man who had checked my laptop turned to me and said that he was “educated,” and that he worked as a chartered accountant. “Sorry, lekin tum log bhi humara saath yahi karte,” he said—sorry, but you people would have done the same with us.

I used the sub-inspector’s phone to contact my brother, and asked him to come to police station. He reached two hours later—during this time, I was lying down on a bed in the station, as I was experiencing severe pain. The police officials checked his identity card. Before I could leave, they informed me that, since the complainants—my attackers—had called 100, I would have to write a statement. Unable to write for long due to the pain, I wrote a short note on a single sheet of paper, briefly recounting the events of the evening. “I hope no one goes through what I have just because of his name and place of his origin,” I wrote on the paper, before signing it.

For two days after the incident, I was unable to move much, and experienced extreme back pain. A doctor I visited told me that the part of the back behind my kidneys was bruised, and that I may need to visit a specialist if the pain persisted.

On 15 June, with the help of a reporter from The Caravan, I attempted to obtain documentation regarding the incident. Although the police officials did not hand over a copy of my statement, they let the reporter examine the entry regarding the complaint they had received on the 100 number. It contained two short lines recounting what the caller had told the police: “A man has been captured who has no documents. He is a Pakistani.”

Basit Malik is an independent journalist based in Delhi.

June 23, 2017

India - Pakistan Cricket Match Aftermath: No one knows who cheered Pakistan win, sedition charge dropped

The Indian Express

No one knows who cheered Pakistan win, sedition charge dropped

Hanifa Shaikh, a mother of three, says her husband Shaikh Mukaddar, a daily wager, was picked up at 1 am. “I begged them not to beat up my husband but they were unmoved. I don’t know if he had any enemies in village because he was always at work,’’ she says.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Mohad (burhanpur) | Updated: June 23, 2017 10:26 am
Champions Trophy final, India vs Pakistan, Pro-Pakistan slogans, Sedition, Sharifa with her son in Burhanpur. Her husband Sharif Hasan Tadvi was arrested. (Express Photo/Oinam Anand) Was the first fire cracker burst after Virat Kohli’s dismissal? Or was it after Hardik Pandya got run out? No one in Mohad, a village in Madhya Pradesh’s Burhanpur district, is quite sure when the “celebrations”, triggered allegedly by Pakistan’s victory over India in the finals of the Champions Trophy on Sunday, began, an act that led to the slapping of sedition charges — now dropped — against 15 men from the village. No one heard the fire crackers either, or even the pro-Pakistan or anti-India slogans. Not even Subhash Laxman Koli, the complainant.
“I didn’t inform the police,” says Koli. “I went to the police station on Sunday night to help a neighbour who had been taken away for shouting slogans. I did not hear any slogans, though. I didn’t complain about fire crackers either. The police simply made me a witness when I went to the police station on Monday. I am ready to depose, but only in court, in front of a judge; I am scared the police will target me,” says Koli, who is in his mid-20s and repairs dish antennae in the village.
ALSO READBy applying Sec 124A, the sedition charge, the BJP seems to be redefining nationalism – and sport, writes Ravi Nair
For this Muslim-dominated village which used to regularly send a team — named ‘Target’ and with players chosen from both communities — to participate in tennis-ball tournaments in nearby villages, the sedition charge has resulted in relationships getting frayed. Though the sedition charges have been dropped, the 15 accused continue to be in jail – police have now charged them under Section 153 A of the IPC for “disturbing communal harmony”. “It’s difficult to prove the sedition charge. Moreover, none of them has a criminal background. After initial investigation, we found that Section 153A is more appropriate that Section 124A (sedition),’’ Burhanpur SP RR S Parihar told The Indian Express.
Mohad has a population of 5,200, many of them Muslims with the surname Tadvi. The Tadvis, STs in neighbouring Maharashtra but OBCs in Madhya Pradesh, are said to be Bhils who converted to Islam long ago, with many of their customs similar to those of Hindus. So while Hindus and Muslims live in separate localities, villagers say they took part in each other’s festivals.
“Bahut badi darar padegi,’’ asserts Aizaz Ahmed Rahi, an assistant teacher for 20 years at the Urdu primary school, where no student has turned up since Monday because Muslims have either left the village fearing police raids or are too scared to send their children to school.
Located close to the border with Maharashtra, several residents speak Marathi in this village that even has a Marathi-medium middle school. “I don’t recollect any communal incidents in the past. It’s difficult to understand what went wrong this time,’’ says Prabhakar Mahajan, a senior teacher in the Marathi-medium school.
Yet, scratch the surface and there are signs of simmering tension between the two communities. “This tension has always been there but it was fine until now because Muslims did not assert themselves. Though they are in a majority here, they are mostly poor and work on the farms of Hindus. Over the last few years, a lot of outsiders have come to the village – either as teachers in madrasas or got married to girls here – and the equation has changed,’’ says Dr Pramod Patil, a non-allopathic medical practitioner.
So though no one admits to having seen or heard the “celebrations”, many of them are convinced the fire crackers went off. “When Hardik was hitting sixes, why didn’t they come out and celebrate? When you live in Hindustan, you must praise Hindustan. Those who burst crackers after Hardik’s wicket are anti-nationals. The police did nothing wrong in going after them,’’ says Kundan Uttam Rajput, 49. He admits he didn’t hear the fire crackers but “heard of the incident from others”.
“Yahanki kha raho hai wahan ke gun ga rahe ho (You live off this place and praise them)? Why can’t you take pride in being an Indian? The government gives you so many subsidies,’’ says Kundan, a farmer whose son is among the dozen-odd RSS activists in the village.
In the Muslim part of the village, the families of those behind bars say they are least interested in cricket and are only worried about how this new tension with the Hindus would affect their livelihood. The road to the village is lined with banana plantations owned by the Hindus and where the Muslims work.
Except for two of the 15 accused, all the others are all illiterate, some earning less than Rs 200 a day. A few don’t even own television sets or mobiles phones that would have helped them keep track of cricket matches.
Villagers allege that for the first three days after the Sunday match, policemen randomly picked up anyone who ran away from them.
Shahadat, mother of 25-year-old Anis Babu Pinjara, a Class 12 graduate with additional diplomas in elementary education and computer applications, says, “He was seated by his sewing machine and cutting cloth when police took him away, saying he was named in the complaint. I ran after them, asking them what he had done, but they did not answer.’’
“The policemen held me by throat when I asked them why they were taking my son away at 2 am. Some of them beat up my son near Hanuman temple,’’ says Rashid Imam Tadvi, whose son Mahmood, 25, was among those arrested. The 25-year-old worked at a farm owned by a Hindu.
Musharraf Tadvi’s son, who has just cleared his Class 12, was also arrested. “He was with me. The police did not ask questions, simply bundled him into their jeep,’’ says Tadvi, a clerk at the local cooperative society.
Hanifa Shaikh, a mother of three, says her husband Shaikh Mukaddar, a daily wager, was picked up at 1 am. “I begged them not to beat up my husband but they were unmoved. I don’t know if he had any enemies in village because he was always at work,’’ she says, adding that she tried to meet her husband at the Burhanpur court but did not succeed because a crowd that had gathered there turned against them. “They called us anti-nationals and made fun of us. I had to walk back three kilometers because they did not let us get into any vehicle.’’
Irshad says her teenager son had just finished dinner when police took him in custody. “They did not let us meet him in court. If police say some have confessed to the crime, why did they not name them? Why did they arrest innocents like my son,’’ she says of her son, a school dropout .
Shakeena Khudabaksh’s 25-year-old son, Imam, never attended school. The family’s one-acre land isn’t enough to support them and so, Imam works as a daily wager. “He was so scared when he saw the police that he picked up his children and ran, only to drop his toddler daughter,’’ she says, pointing to bruises on her granddaughter’s face.
Fundabi’s 30-year-old son Irfan, a Class 8 dropout, ran a grocery shop in the village. She says the police took him away from his shop when he came out to see the commotion. “Police behaved as if there were communal riots and my son was an accused,’’ she says.
Sharif Hasan Tadvi, 30, is illiterate and earns Rs 150 a day working as a daily wager at Shahpur, about 15 km away. His wife Sharifa, 25, too works as a daily wager. “Police arrested him because he ran to save his children. They picked him up, saying, ‘why are you running’,’’ she says, sitting outside her modest home.
Ramiza says her elder brother Salman Turab Tadvi, in his 20s, was defecating in the open when police caught up with him. “They asked him to clean up and thrashed him immediately after,’’ she alleges.
Town Inspector Sanjay Pathak of Shahpur police station, denied the allegations. On Wednesday, he had held a meeting with the villagers on Wednesday and told them that they need not worry if they hadn’t “done anything wrong”.

Hindi Article: Is Taj Mahal not a part of Indian Culture?

क्या ताजमहल भारतीय संस्कृति का भाग नहीं है? -राम पुनियानी संस्कृति हमारे जीवन का एक अत्यंत चित्ताकर्षक हिस्सा होता है। संस्कृति को समझने के लिए हमें लोगों के जीवन जीने के तरीके और उनकी खानपान की आदतों, उनकी वेशभूषा, उनके संगीत, उनकी भाषा, उनके साहित्य, उनकी वास्तुकला और उनके धर्म को समझना होता है। हमारे जैसे बहुवादी और विविधवर्णी देश की संस्कृति, एक ‘मोज़ेक’ की तरह है और यह मोजे़क हमें हमारी संस्कृति की जटिलताओं को समझने में मदद कर सकता है। भारतीय संस्कृति के निर्माण में विभिन्न धर्मों के लोगों की भूमिका रही है। भारतीय संस्कृति क्या है? हम यह कह सकते हैं कि भारत के लोगों की संस्कृति की सकल बहुवादी अभिव्यक्ति ही भारत की संस्कृति है। वह समावेशी और समन्वयवादी है। भारतीय राष्ट्रवादी भी भारतीय संस्कृति के इसी स्वरूप को मान्यता देते थे और अब तक भारत के सत्ताधारी भी भारत की सम्मिश्रित संस्कृति को ही देश की संस्कृति मानते आए थे। पिछले कुछ दशकों में हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादियों के उदय के साथ, और विशेषकर पिछले तीन सालों में, संस्कृति की हमारी समझ को सांप्रदायिक रंग देने के प्रयास हो रहे हैं। संस्कृति के जो भी पक्ष गैर-ब्राह्मणवादी हैं, उन्हें दरकिनार किया जा रहा है। इसका एक उदाहरण है, उत्तरप्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री आदित्यनाथ योगी का हालिया (जून 16, 2017) वक्तव्य जिसमें उन्होंने देश में आने वाले गणमान्य विदेशी अतिथियों को ताजमहल की प्रतिकृति भेंट करने की परंपरा की निंदा की। उनके अनुसार, ताजमहल, भारतीय संस्कृति का हिस्सा नहीं है। उन्होंने नरेन्द्र मोदी द्वारा विदेशी अतिथियों को भगवदगीता की प्रति भेंट करने की परंपरा प्रारंभ करने का स्वागत किया। ताजमहल, यूनेस्को द्वारा घोषित विश्व धरोहर स्थल है। उसे दुनिया के सात अजूबों में से एक माना जाता है। ताजमहल एक अंतर्राष्ट्रीय पर्यटन आकर्षण तो है ही, वह वास्तुकला के क्षेत्र में भारत की उपलब्धियों का प्रतीक भी है। ताजमहल का निर्माण, मुगल बादशाह शाहजहां ने अपनी प्रिय पत्नी मुमताज़ महल की याद में करवाया था। इस इमारत के बारे में पिछले कुछ समय से एक नया विवाद शुरू कर दिया गया है। यह कहा जा रहा है कि ताजमहल, दरअसल, एक शिवमंदिर था जिसे मकबरे में बदल दिया गया। इस प्रचार में कोई दम नहीं है। ऐतिहासिक तथ्य और दस्तावेज इस दावे को झुठलाते हैं। शाहजहां के ‘बादशाहनामा’ से यह साफ है कि ताजमहल का निर्माण, शाहजहां ने ही करवाया था। तत्समय के एक यूरोपीय प्रवासी पीटर मुंडी ने लिखा है कि अपनी सबसे प्रिय पत्नी की मृत्यु के कारण बादशाह शाहजहां गहरे सदमे में हैं और उनकी याद में वे एक शानदार मकबरा बनवा रहे हैं। एक फ्रांसीसी जौहरी टेवरनियर जो उस समय भारत में थे, ने भी इसकी पुष्टि की है। शाहजहां के रोज़ाना के खर्चे की किताबों में भी यह विवरण है कि संगमरमर खरीदने और श्रमिकों के वेतन आदि पर क्या खर्च हुआ। इस प्रचार का एकमात्र आधार यह है कि जिस भूमि पर ताजमहल बनवाया गया, उसे शाहजहां ने राजा जयसिंह से खरीदा था। यहां यह महत्वपूर्ण है कि जिस राजा जयसिंह की भूमि पर शिवमंदिर होना बताया जाता है और यह कहा जाता है कि उसके स्थान पर ताजमहल बनवाया गया, वह एक वैष्णव था और उसके द्वारा शैव मंदिर बनाए जाने का प्रश्न ही नहीं उठता। यह हास्यास्पद है कि पहले तो ताजमहल को शिवमंदिर बताया जाता है और अब यह कहा जा रहा है कि वह भारतीय संस्कृति का हिस्सा नहीं है। एक प्रश्न यह भी है कि गीता को इतना महत्व क्यों दिया जा रहा है। कुछ दशकों पहले तक देश में यह परंपरा थी कि यात्रा पर आने वाले विदेशी गणमान्य अतिथियों को हमारे देश के प्रधानमंत्री आदि, गांधीजी की आत्मकथा ‘‘सत्य से मेरे प्रयोग’’ की प्रति भेंट किया करते थे। अब गीता को हमारे देश के विभिन्न धर्मग्रंथों का प्रतिनिधि और प्रतीक बताया जा रहा है। इन ग्रंथों में गुरूग्रंथसाहब, कबीरवाणी व नारायण गुरू और बसवन्ना द्वारा लिखे ग्रंथ शामिल हैं। गीता को महत्व देने का कारण समझने के लिए हमें अंबेडकर की ओर मुड़ना होगा। अंबेडकर का कहना था कि गीता, दरअसल, मनुस्मृति का संक्षिप्त रूपांतरण है और मनुस्मृति, ब्राह्मणवाद का मूल ग्रंथ है। अंबेडकर ने जीवनभर मनुस्मृति द्वारा प्रतिपादित मूल्यों के विरूद्ध काम किया। ब्राह्मणवादी संस्कृति के जिस अन्य प्रतीक को बहुत बढ़ावा दिया जा रहा है वह है पवित्र गाय। गीता और गाय, दोनों ब्राह्मणवाद के प्रतीक हैं और वर्तमान सत्ता, हिन्दुत्व और हिन्दू धर्म के नाम पर ब्राह्मणवाद को बढ़ावा दे रही है। स्वाधीनता संग्राम का नेतृत्व, सभी धर्मों, क्षेत्रों और भाषाओं के प्रतीकों को भारतीय मानता था। बौद्धों, जैनियों, ईसाईयों, मुसलमानों और सिक्खों ने हमारी संस्कृति के निर्माण में जो कुछ योगदान दिया है, वह सब भारत की विरासत का हिस्सा है और यह सांझा विरासत हमारी रोज़ाना की ज़िंदगी में भी प्रतिबिंबित होती है। भारत एक ऐसा देश है जहां सभी धर्म फले-फूले। देश के लोग सदियों से अलग-अलग धर्मों का पालन करते हुए भी मिलजुल कर रहते आए हैं। इनमें से कुछ धर्म भारत में जन्मे तो कुछ बाहर से आए और अलग-अलग तरीकों, जिनमें सूफी और भक्ति संतों और मिशनरियों की शिक्षाएं शामिल हैं, से देश में फैले। इस्लाम के प्रसार में सूफी संतों ने महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाई। ईसाई मिशनरियों द्वारा शिक्षा और स्वास्थ्य के क्षेत्र में परोपकार के कार्यों से ईसाई धर्म फैला। भारतीय संस्कृति के सभी पक्षों ने विभिन्न धर्मों के लोगों की परंपराओं और आस्थाओं की झलक मिलती है। खानपान की हमारी आदतों पर पश्चिम एशियाई प्रभाव स्पष्ट है। हमारी वेशभूषा और वास्तुकला पर भी विभिन्न धर्मों और दुनिया के विभिन्न हिस्सों की संस्कृतियों का प्रभाव देखा जा सकता है। भक्ति संतों के अनुयायियों में मुसलमान भी शामिल थे और आज भी बड़ी संख्या में हिन्दू, सूफी संतों की दरगाहों पर जाते हैं। महात्मा गांधी ने भारतीय इतिहास और उसकी संस्कृति की सर्वोत्तम व्याख्या की। वे विभिन्न धर्मों के बीच कोई टकराव नहीं देखते थे। अपनी पुस्तक ‘हिन्द स्वराज’ में वे लिखते हैं ‘‘मुस्लिम राजाओं के राज में हिन्दू फले-फूले और हिन्दू राजाओं के शासन में मुसलमान। दोनों पक्षों को यह अहसास था कि आपस में लड़ना आत्मघाती होगा और दोनों ही पक्ष बलप्रयोग या तलवार की नोक पर अपने धर्म को छोड़ने के लिए तैयार नहीं थे। इसलिए, दोनों पक्षों ने यह तय किया कि वे शांति से साथ-साथ रहेंगे। अंग्रेज़ों के आने के साथ विवाद शुरू हुए...क्या हमें यह याद नहीं रखना चाहिए कि कई हिन्दुओं और मुसलमानों के पूर्वज एक हैं और उनकी नसों में एक ही खून बह रहा है?’’ विभिन्न धर्मों के लोगों की भागीदारी से भारतीय संस्कृति का निर्माण हुआ है। वर्तमान सत्ताधारियों के लिए केवल ब्राह्मणवादी प्रतीक इस देश का प्रतिनिधित्व करते हैं। योगी आदित्यनाथ जो कह रहे हैं उसका यही अर्थ है। (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया)

June 22, 2017

India: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has landed in a soup after a tribal woman from Assam filed a case against him for sharing her bare photograph on his social media page 10 years ago, taken during a stir in Guwahati ten years ago

[Several years ago, an Adivasi woman demonstrating for Adivasi rights was stripped, chased, and beaten by an urban mob. Adityanath shared her photo, falsely claiming she was stripped by a Congress mob for raising pro-BJP slogans. Good to see that she's got the guts to go after him ... she has filed a complaint under the IT Act]

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Tribal Woman Files Case Against UP CM Adityanath After Her Nude Image Was Shared On His Fan Page


June 21, 2017
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has landed in a soup after a tribal woman from Assam filed a case against him for sharing her bare photograph on his social media page 10 years ago, taken during a stir in Guwahati ten years ago.  Assam Lok Sabha MP Ram Prasad Sarma is also one of the accused.
Laxmi Orang filed the complaint in the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate court under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.
The post claims that the ‘Hindu woman’ was stripped by Congress workers for allegedly raising slogans in support of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The photograph of the woman stripped naked, being chased across the street, was shared on Yogi’s fan-page on Facebook which has over 95,000 followers.
She filed the case against Adityanath for allegedly posting in his social media page on June 13 her bare picture, taken during an agitation by All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA) at Beltola in Guwahati on November 24, 2007 without blurring.
Later, Orang told the media that she was not present at the rally on behalf of any political party as claimed by Adityanath in his post but to press for the demand for scheduled tribe status for the Adivasi community.
Yogi Adityanath
"Yogi Adityanath, without knowing any fact, commented in the social media that the rally was on behalf of the BJP and the Congress workers attacked it.
"When Prime Minister Narendra Modi is campaigning for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao at the same time his party Chief Minister (Adityanath) is doing this type of work. Is this democracy?"
When contacted, Sarma said "it (the stripping) was a fact and a true incident during that time. I shared it so that people know that an unfortunate girl was a victim and no justice has been given to her till now.


India: Hindu fundamentalists use nationalism stick over cricket match defeat - VHP, Bajrang Dal members barge into Meerut dental college

June 21, 2017

India: A convention of Hindu fundamentalists held in Goa calls for abolition of democracy and for establishing a Hindu theocratic state

O Herald [Goa]

Hindu convention calls for abolition of democracy
15 Jun 2017 

Says Hindu nation is the only remedy to all problems
Team Herald

PONDA: A convention of Hindu fundamentalists on Wednesday called for abolition of the Indian democracy and establishment of a Hindu nation. 
The convention, the sixth of its nature, is being held at Vidyadhiraj meeting hall of Ramnath Temple, Ponda, on the topic “Need for unity of Hindu community and Saints for establishing the Hindu Nation.” 
Calling the present system as a “pseudo democracy imposed by the British”, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti national spokesperson Ramesh Shinde said that prior to the arrival of the Muslim invaders and the British, India was a capable Hindu nation. However, he implied, the Muslim invasion and the British rule crippled the country therefore, he said, “we are making the blue print of removing the pseudo democracy imposed on us by the British.”
Resenting that they are “being ridiculed as a fringe organisation” for their effort at uniting Hindus and Hindu organisations at the national level, he lamented, “Today, there is no ban on those who give the slogan ‘O’ India, you will break up.” Instead, he said, there is a demand to ban the All India Hindu Convention that is propagating the establishment of the Hindu Nation through democratic means.
Sanatan preacher Sadhwi Saraswati, speaking at the inaugural session of the convention, emphasised that Hindus abjure violence and that “There is no such thing as saffron terrorism. Saffron means dedicated life for the Nation and Dharma.”
Claiming that there are demands for banning Sanatan and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Sadhwi Saraswati warned that any such ban would be counterproductive because, she said, “If a ban was imposed on Sanatan or Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, several Sanatans will grow out of them.”
Yati Ma Chetananand Saraswati, another speaker, appealed to Hindus to display bravery to protect Hindu Dharma as, “Today, several assaults are taking place on the Hindu Dharma.”
Dr Charudatta Pingale, the national guide of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, claimed that the Indian Constitution is discriminatory towards the Hindus and that they are denied justice under the present democratic system. Therefore, he said, “Hindu Nation is the only remedy (to all the problems faced by the Hindus). Establishing the Hindu Nation is not merely a thought for us, it is a Holy observance.”
The Convention is being attended by more than 538 representatives of more than 132 Hindu organisations from 21 States, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

June 20, 2017

Pakistan- India: War as Game and and Game as War - 15 arrested for celebrating Pak's win over India in Cricket, charged with sedition

Business Standard

15 arrested for celebrating Pak's win, charged with sedition

Press Trust of India  |  Burhanpur (MP) 

The police has arrested 15 persons here allegedly for shouting pro-slogans after its cricket team won the Champions Trophy final by defeating and booked them for sedition.

had hammered by 180 runs to lift the Champions Trophy in on Sunday.

Tension gripped Mohad town here on Sunday night after some persons shouted slogans in favour of and celebrated its cricket team's win by bursting firecrackers at public places.

Security was stepped up immediately in the town to avoid any and order problem.

The police later registered a case on a complaint by one Subhash Laxman Koli and arrested 15 persons yesterday, Shahpur police station in-charge Sanjay Pathak said.

"There was a complaint that these accused celebrated Pakistan's victory by bursting crackers and raising pro- and anti-slogans," Pathak said.

The police booked the arrested persons, aged between 19 and 35, under the sections of 124-A (sedition) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy), he said.

The accused were produced in a local court which rejected their bail applications and sent them to jail.

They were later taken to Khandwa district jail.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)