Saturday, March 21, 2009

In 'secular' India, it's fashionable to be anti-Hindu

While the Indian Express, the Times of India and the 24x7 news channels, most notably NDTV24x7 and CNN-IBN, have been going hammer and tongs at Varun Gandhi for daring to speak the truth and being blunt about it, news from Jammu & Kashmir about the PDP's latest assertion of Islamism has been slyly suppressed by them. The reason is not far to seek: They do not wish the nation to know of the machinations of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti, who use their People's Democratic Front to promote separatism and anti-Hindu and anti-India sentiments in the Kashmir Valley.

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is the man who, as Chief Minister (with Congress support) wanted the Amarnath Yatra to be severely curtailed if not entirely scrapped. Mehbooba Mufti led the violent protest against temporary allotment of land for setting up shelters for Hindu pilgrims to rest for a while on their way to the Amarnath shrine. The Congress-led UPA Government, represented by a wimp of a Governor in Jammu & Kashmir,NN Vohra, whose life's ambition is to ride an Ambassador car, live on the taxpayers' money and suck up to the Congress (or, for that matter, whoever else is in power), capitulated before the PDP-led protesters who merrily burned the Indian Tricolour, and withdrew the allotment of land. It is the same Mufti Mohammed Sayeed who demanded that Pakistani currency notes should be made legal tender in Jammu & Kashmir.

On March 17, UNI filed the following news report from Srinagar:

Varun Gandhi's statement against muslims provocative: PDP

The main opposition party in the Jammu and Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today said the alleged anti-Muslim remarks of BJP leader Varun Gandhi was extremely provocative.

In a statement here today a PDP spokesman said the remarks against Muslims of the country by Mr Varun Gandhi a BJP candidate from Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh, were provocative.

Describing him as the younger face of former Jammu and Kashmir governor General (Retd) S K Sinha, the spokesman alleged that streak of rabid communalism runs right across the Sangh Parivar to which they both belong. As if to emphasize their solidarity, the spokesman pointed out that both had chosen the same day for baring their fangs.

Yesterday, General Sinha had alleged that former Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was acting as militant spokesman during his tenure.

The story was prominently carried by the 'secular' media. But the following report was not disseminated:

PDP wants Anantnag renamed Islamabad

Rising Kashmir News
Srinagar, March 15: Opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s demand of changing the name of South Kashmir’s Islamabad district from the official name of Anantnag to the popular name of Islamabad has led to resentment among pro-Hindutva activists in Jammu.
The activists of Bhartiya Janta Party, Shiv Sena Hindustan, Bajrang Dal, Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch, Jammu Joint Students Federation for the past three days at various places in Jammu are burning effigies of PDP Patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, President Mahbooba Mufti and MLA Shangus, Peerzada Mansoor Hussain who moved the resolution of renaming Anantnag as Islamabad on the last day of the 10-day long assembly session.
Quoting Taarikhi Hassan, Hussain said Islamabad had been founded in the time of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s under the governorship of Islam Khan and the name of the town was later changed to Anantnag in Ranbir Singh’s regime.
He also asserted that Hari Parbat and Shankaracharya were originally called Koh-e-Maran and Takht-e-Suliaman.
Enraged over PDP’s demands, Vice President of Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch (JKVM) R L Bhat said it was a conspiracy to distort Kashmir history.
“We stand by our words,” Bhat told Rising Kashmir but added that none of his activists had burned the effigies of PDP leaders.
Bhat said renaming of Srinagar Airport on the name of Sheikh-ul-Alam was also a part of this “conspiracy”.
Nazir Ahmed, an employee in Assembly Secretariat said that the pro-Hindutva groups were aiming to trigger communal tension across the Valley to gain advantage in the ensuing parliamentary elections.
“They want to exploit the religious sentiments of the Hindu population of India,” he said.

This, then, is what 'secularism' is all about in India!

This photo, shot in Srinagar, was suppressed by India's media. It did not suit its 'secular' agenda!

Just because Varun Gandhi has spoken out for Hindus, everybody's pounced upon him. Neither the 'secular' media, which is increasingly laying down the rules of public discourse and imposing restrictions on what can and cannot be said (a friend calls it 'secular' Talibanisation of India), nor the Election Commission has bothered to take note of 'secular' politicians appealing to the lowest common denominator for Muslim votes. Politicians addressing election rallies in Muslim areas wear skull caps, wrap the kafiyeh and do everything possible to 'identify' themselves with the audience. That's permissible. But you can't do the reverse by identifying with Hindus!

I had written this article on Ram Vilas Paswan's fetish for an Osama bin Laden look-aline. He would visit Muslim-dominated areas accompanied by this man. Then, one fine day, the chap crossed over to Lalu Prasad Yadav's camp and would accompany the messiah of the poor who has pauperised Bihar to seek Muslim votes!

Paswan’s Laden in Lalu’s Bihar

Author: Kanchan Gupta
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 2, 2005

He prefers the name 'Laden', as in Osama bin Laden, because "nobody will remember my real name". The other reason why Maulana Meraj Khalid Noor has opted for this nom de guerre is because he looks like Osama bin Laden. Obviously, this preacher of Islam from Narpat Ganj in Bihar is infatuated by either the physical features or the ideology of the world's most recognised face of terror, if not both. And, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, who is locked in a bitter, no-holds-barred fight over Bihar with Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, his colleague in the United Progressive Alliance Government, finds it politically expedient to take 'Laden' along with him every time he ventures forth into a Muslim dominated area. After all, as he recently told a newspaper reporter, "Osama does have some following among the Muslim youth".

Not to be outdone by his rival, Mr Yadav has come up with a cockamamie report that absolves the Muslim mob which set fire to a railway coach full of Hindus at Godhra of all guilt, promised communal reservation in jobs and educational institutions (a promise also made by Mr Paswan and his Lok Jana Shakti Party) and pledged to make Urdu a compulsory subject for all school students. For good measure, he has also secured the public endorsement of a motley group of ulemas, led by Tauqeer Raza Khan of All India Millat Council. And, just in case all this has not driven home the point that Muslims, who constitute anything between 16 and 18 per cent of Bihar's electorate - perhaps higher if you factor in unabated waves of illegal immigration from Bangladesh between the conclusion of the Census of India survey and this month's Assembly election -- are best looked after by Mr Yadav, his Rashtriya Janata Dal has been putting up posters with visuals of the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

Mr Paswan and Mr Yadav, of course, are "secular" politicians who are key allies in the Congress-led "secular" dispensation that rules India. So, their pandering to the lowest common denominator of base, communal politics, is nothing less than a shining example of how "secularism" must be upheld in India; it is a weapon forged by India's "secular consensus" to defeat the "communal" Bharatiya Janata Party. The Central Election Commission, which sees itself as an all-empowered authority, has had no hesitation in choosing sides in this cynical exploitation of rank communal sentiments: it is with both Mr Paswan and Mr Yadav. Had that not been the case, the Election Commission would have acted by now and carried out its laughable threat against those appealing for votes in the name of religion to its logical conclusion. By not taking punitive action against either Mr Paswan or Mr Yadav, the Election Commission has made known its passive endorsement.

Long years ago, when the BJP was yet to taste power, such despicable pandering to minority communalism was known as "minorityism", a word made fashionable by Mr L.K. Advani in his fight against pseudo-secularism. The pathetic manner in which Rajiv Gandhi caved in to India's mullah brigade and used the Congress' parliamentary majority to undo the Supreme Court's judgement ordering maintenance for Shah Bano, a destitute Muslim woman thrown out by her husband, marked the high point of minorityism. Other examples were the Congress seeking Muslim votes through fatwas issued by Syed Abdullah Bukhari, the imam of Jama Masjid, and the offer to pay imams from public funds, an offer which P.V. Narasimha Rao believed would serve as absolution for his perceived role in facilitating the destruction of the disputed Babri Masjid structure by enraged Hindus. Since minorityism necessarily implied repudiation of India's Hindu majority sentiments and rejection of Hindu aspirations, the Ayodhya movement was declared both illegitimate and beyond the pale of secular politics.

The intervening years since the annulment of the Supreme Court's judgement aimed at providing justice to an indigent Muslim woman saw the gradual eclipse of the politics of minorityism as practised by the Congress. The BJP, in the mistaken belief of garnering incremental support, did desperately try to "secularise" its identity during last year's Lok Sabha election campaign by borrowing more than one example set by the Congress. Witness the BJP's absurd promise of creating jobs for two crore Urdu teachers, a number later scaled down to two lakh by a red-faced PMO, its pledge of setting up more madarsas and the hilarious 'Himayat Yatra' which featured garishly painted buses plastered with the portraits of Gen Pervez Musharraf and Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was a comical sight to see BJP leaders with bright red tikas, saffron angavastrams and skull caps; some other standard bearers of Hindutva had themselves photographed sporting a chequered kafiyah. And, amazingly so, the BJP even secured an endorsement from Syed Ahmed Bukhari, who has replaced Syed Abdullah Bukhari as the imam of Jama Masjid.

All that, however, did not wash with the Muslim voters who voted with double their usual enthusiasm to defeat the BJP's candidates, as well as those of the other parties who contested as members of the National Democratic Alliance. It has been suggested, and forcibly so, that the BJP lost in 2004 because of the riots in Gujarat in 2002. That may be partly true, but if riots were so overwhelmingly instrumental in deciding popular vote, then the Congress would have never won an election in Assam after the Nellie massacre of 1983 when 3,300 Muslim men, women and children were slaughtered in a single day or come to power in Punjab after the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984 which witnessed more than 4,000 innocent people being butchered. Nor, for that matter, would Mr Yadav have won repeatedly since 1990 on the strength of Muslim and Yadav votes after the October 1989 riots in Bhagalpur during which more than a thousand Muslims were killed by Yadav mobs.

There is something perverse about popular Muslim response to the political perversity called minorityism: so long as the pandering is done by leaders of the Congress or other parties who wear their "secular" credentials on their sleeves, Muslim voters are willing to be swayed. This could be entirely because given the track record of these parties that claim to protect Muslim interests even while doing enormous damage to the community - in Bihar, Muslims are at the bottom of the pile, living in wretched impoverishment - of taking recourse to regressive and retrograde measures that appease those who are drawn by Osama bin Laden and flock to see Mr Paswan's 'Laden', who in turn influence voter preference. In short, the communal card played by "secular" parties carries greater conviction than the BJP turning a trick or two.

In a sense, the pandering to crass communal sentiments during this month's Assembly elections mark the return of minorityism to Indian politics: in the form of conducting a campaign that is shorn of all pretences of following the laid down code of conduct and unrestrained by an Election Commission which is patently partisan and, therefore, lacks the legitimacy to conduct a free and fair election. This could be construed as good news for the BJP that may yet rediscover the merits of steering an ideological course and revive its political battle against minorityism which, in the 1980s and 1990s, fetched it the support of Hindus across India's social classes tired of passively watching the cynical exploitation of Muslim sentiments for political gains. Unless, of course, the BJP chooses to discard the Indian angavastram for the Arabic kafiyah and skull cap.

The 'secular' media would not take note of it, of course:

CD shows Cong leader seeking votes in name of Islam
March 20, 2009

BJP tells EC to take action

I regret not being a mufti. Had I been one, I would have issued just one
fatwa that going with the BJP amounts to committing kufr." That was
senior Congress leader Imran Kidwai speaking at an election rally in
Chandigarh on March 15, the BJP told the Election Commission on

Kufr, it explained, is blasphemy and disbelieving in the Quran or in any
tenets of Islam and a person practising kufr is a kafir.

A party that is still reeling under attacks following Varun Gandhi's
alleged "inflammatory remarks" against a community, stung the Congress
on Thursday with a CD expose that shows the head of the Congress'
minority cell invoking Islam to seek votes for the ruling party's
candidate in Chandigarh. The CD was shown to journalists at the BJP

When Kidwai spewed venom and sought votes on religious lines at a rally
in the neighbourhood of Jama Masjid in the city, AICC in-charge for
Punjab Mohsina Kidwai and party candidate and Union Minister Pawan
Banswal were also present.

The BJP suspects that Kidwai's words might have the Congress'
endorsement since the party has neither condemned nor distanced itself
from the remarks of the senior party leader.

The BJP, which denied that the CD expose was a tit-for-tat reaction to
the Varun Gandhi episode, has petitioned the EC to file a case against
Kidwai. The BJP also wants the commission to act against the Congress
for not distancing itself from the controversial remarks or taking
action against the violation of the model code of conduct.

"The statement by such a senior Congress functionary seeking votes in
the name of religion and making statements that endanger communal
harmony between different communities is a clear and blatant violation
of the election laws and code of conduct," BJP spokesman Balbir Punj
told reporters here.

He maintained that while exhorting the Muslim community, Kidwai said had
the Muslim community not been with the Congress, India would not have
been able to attain independence.

"The personal law of Muslims is Shariat and the Congress has assured
them that it would not be changed since Shariat is like imaan for
Muslims," Kidwai appears saying on the CD even as he suggested that
those seeking reforms were guilty of attacking the imaan of Muslims.


My Sunday column:

The Pioneer
March 22, 2009 Coffee Break

Varun was harsh, but so is truth Kanchan Gupta

The media-driven furore over what is being described as Mr Varun Gandhi’s ‘hate speech’ deserves to be countered with matching crudity: If he is ‘communal’, then his critics are biased against Hindus. Nothing else explains why newspapers and 24x7 news channels should twist the entire issue out of context and plaster it all over their front pages and feature it on prime time news bulletins, while ignoring the basic rule of responsible journalism — facts are sacred, opinion is free.

Since the facts have been swamped by jaundiced opinion, it would be in order to place them on record. Mr Varun Gandhi, son of Ms Maneka Gandhi and the late Sanjay Gandhi, is an articulate young man who will be contesting the coming Lok Sabha election from Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh as a BJP candidate. As a prelude to his election campaign — he is yet to file his nomination papers — he visited the constituency, till now represented by Ms Maneka Gandhi, for what is known as ‘jan sampark’, or mass contact, meetings to familiarise himself with the voters and vice-versa. This is a legitimate exercise. Over March 6 and 8, he addressed a series of meetings.

On March 16th, a CD mysteriously surfaced in the offices of news channels, which was promptly aired without any effort being made to verify the authenticity of its contents. The CD contained audio-visual snippets of what Mr Gandhi is alleged to have said during a community meeting (as opposed to an ‘election rally’) at Barkheda on March 7. The aired version of the recording showed Mr Gandhi as saying:

“This is not the (Congress’s election symbol) ‘hand’, this is the hand of the ‘lotus’ (the BJP’s symbol). It will cut the throat of (derogatory reference to Muslims) after the elections… Varun Gandhi will cut… Cut that hand, cut it… cut it… Go to your villages and give the call that all Hindus must unite to save this area from becoming Pakistan… Is it not true… that if (a woman) is asked her name and she says Bimla Devi, she is told we’ll see, we’ll think (about giving Government aid), give us Rs 5,000 first… But if her name is Saira Bano or whatever begum Hukum Begum… I don't even know… These people have such scary-sounding names… Karimullah, Mazharullah… If you ever encountered them at night, you’d be scared… I have a sister… there was a pamphlet with pictures of all the candidates… so this child told me, ‘I didn't know that Osama bin Laden is contesting from your area’. I told her, ‘America couldn’t get Osama, but Varun Gandhi is going to get a lot of people after the elections’.”

There were subsequent reports in media that at an earlier public meeting, on March 6 at Dalchand, Mr Gandhi was equally ‘communal’. He was accused of telling his audience, “Agar kisi galat tatv ke aadmi ne kisi Hindu pe haath uthaaya ya Hindu’on ke upar yeh samajh key ki yeh kamzor hain, unke peechey koi nahi hai... Hindu’on ke upar haath uthaaya, main Gita ki kasam khaake kehta hoon ki main us haath ko kaat daaloong (If some wrong elements lift a hand against Hindus, or think Hindus are weak, there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the Bhagavad Gita that I will cut off that hand).” He ended his speeches with “Jai Sri Ram” and to thunderous applause.

But did Mr Gandhi really say all this? Yes, by his own admission, he did say most of it. But not quite the way it has been presented by the media, and definitely not the way the alleged recording purports it to be. A simple analysis of the recording contained in the CD, which was strangely circulated after more than a week, shows that it has 17 ‘cuts’; that the sound level dips to low resolution, and there is heavy echo at the crucial point where he allegedly makes a derogatory reference to Muslims. Each of the quotes have been clearly taken out of context.

As for his call that “all Hindus must unite to save this area from becoming Pakistan”, that a Hindu woman would find it difficult to get Government aid, his reference to Osama bin Laden look-alikes, his pledge to stand by Hindus against ‘galat tatv ke aadmi’, and his swearing by the Bhagavad Gita, there is really little to cavil against. ‘Secular’ State Governments have been prompt in taking their cue from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ‘Muslims first’ policy. Newspapers in the forefront of the bash Varun campaign have reported how Muslim victims of last year’s flood were lavished with aid while others were left to fend for themselves. Mr Ram Vilas Paswan would address election meetings accompanied by an Osama bin Laden look-alike till the man, Maulana Meraj Khalid Noor, dumped him for Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav for reasons that do not merit elaboration. Mr Gandhi was addressing a community gathering, not an election rally; he felt the people of Barkheda and Dalchand needed to be reassured that he would protect their interests; and, he spoke the truth rather bluntly, perhaps too harshly.

Before we go into the reason why he said what he is now being pilloried for, here are two questions for you to ponder over: Are we now living in such dreadful times that we cannot mention the Bhagavad Gita in public discourse lest we be condemned as ‘communal’ by newspapers and news channels which couldn’t stop pointing out, ever so admiringly and approvingly — some would say ecstatically — that Mr Barack Hussein Obama took his oath of office by placing his left hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible? And, is it now an unpardonable offence to say ‘Jai Sri Ram’?

Anybody who has any knowledge of Pilibhit knows that Hindus in that district — in fact, all over what is referred to as Rohilkhand — are increasingly feeling under siege. The district stretches along India’s border with Nepal. Mirza Dilshad Beg, the Nepali politician who fronted for Dawood Ibrahim and was on the payroll of Pakistan’s ISI, regularly used the Pilibhit route to funnel fake currency into India and supply arms and explosives to terrorists. Beg may be dead, murdered by his ilk in 1998, but the supply chain remains undisrupted. Thousands of cows are smuggled across the border to be slaughtered; cow slaughter in Pilibhit and adjacent districts is now a common phenomenon with the administration loath to take any action.

In recent months, there have been instances of Hindu women being molested and raped. This point has been disputed by the Indian Express which says there are no police records to prove it. Yet, on umpteen occasions the newspaper has, as have others, pointed out how the police in rural India refuse to register cases of rape, how families are terrorised into not pressing charges, and how the fear of social stigma forces victims of rape and their families to keep silent.

The ‘secular’ media hasn’t heard of Sonu Kashyap who was murdered on October 21 last year. “Five unidentified Muslims” were accused of murdering him. The administration did nothing. On October 23, anger turned into street protests, led by a former BJP legislator and Minister, Mr Ram Saran Verma. He was promptly arrested and since then has been detained under the National Security Act. Beesalpur police station in-charge Pervez Miyan brazenly defends the continued detention of Mr Verma.

The Indian Express, however, is not alone. The Times of India’s online edition had two ads promoting itimes, its social networking group: ‘Snub Varun Gandhi’ and ‘Join Sanjay Dutt fan club’. It would appear that in this wondrous land of ours, where rules are being increasingly set by a dissolute media, it is now politically correct to be a fan of a man who has been held guilty of aiding the terrorists who bombed Mumbai in 1993. NDTV began by referring to Mr Gandhi’s “speech”, and then switched over to “hate speech”. Who’s to tell our ‘secular’ media it is horribly wrong? Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


Anonymous said...

Kanchan ji,

Very appropriate comments. There are at least some people who still write the facts. Our media is going from bad to worse.

Thanks for some objectivity

robin said...

When media targets BJP for Varun's speech they are actually polarizing the voters to vote against BJP. The same media refused to cover the vitriolic speech of Congress Minority cell president who called upon people saying thse who vote for BJP would be infidels and kafirs.
Why is election commission not taking action? Why is BJP not going at it.
It is sad that only in India the ruling party is dealt with kids glove wheras BJP is targetted day in and out. When regional parties can run a channel why not BJP?

Season... said...

have read your column1st time.. but al I can say is "hats off2u" to give the right pic, so fearlessly.. and our media has become a synonym of this old saying that .. BHAINS KE AAGE BEEN BAJAI, BHAINS KHADI BORAI.. they all r chamchas and now i don’t feel like to say that the Indian media is the 4th pillar of democracy.. India is going bck to its old roots of divided in states.. From where the IRON MAN Sardar Patel has picked up every Indian and made ONE UNITED India.. Courtesy goes to chamchachhap journalists and selfish, moron NETAs


Excellent. And I wish to take that pic of "flag" in Srinagar.

Do come by my blog - am from Kolkata.


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