The Candid Eye

January 30, 2010

Court questions rail surcharge on Kumbh pilgrims

Citing the subsidy given to Haj pilgrims, a recently floated Hindu Personal Law Board has moved the Allahabad High Court seeking its intervention in getting free rail passes for poor pilgrims and a 50 percent concession to all others going to attend the Maha Kumbh Mela that is on in Haridwar now.

Kumbh Mela

“The present policy of the government is discriminatory and in violation of the provisions of the Indian Constitution which disallows any discrimination on religious lines,” the board’s counsel Ashok Pandey said.

A division bench of the court here directed the railway administration to submit the circular whereby the surcharge was being levied by the Indian Railways on pilgrims travelling to Haridwar for the Maha Kumbh Mela.

According to the pubic interest litigation (PIL) moved Wednesday: “The railway administration are charging a surcharge ranging from Rs.3 to Rs.15 per ticket from every rail traveller going to Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela period.”

Board secretary V.L. Misra told reporters here Thursday: “Since the local railway administration refused to provide us a copy of the circular, we urged the honourable court to direct them to submit a copy directly to the court.”

The Court has fixed Feb 3 for the next hearing.

Source: Express Buzz

January 5, 2010

A cultural Taliban in secular India

Union Railways minister E Ahmed has banned the customs that have been followed by millions of people in India for past several thousand years.Yet there is no one from congress or media has come down on his decision.V Sundaram, a retired IAS officer has written on this issue.

Excerpts from V Sundram’s article.

I proudly assert my inalienable, indivisible, immutable, and inexorable constitutional right to be a practicing Hindu. Yet, seeing the conduct of E Ahmed, Union Minister of State for Railways, at a recent public function organised by the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Chennai, I am constrained to raise these questions. Are we living in Islamic Pakistan? Are we living in Islamic Bangladesh? Or are we living in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan? Let me move from this macrocosm to the microcosm. Are we living in the Muslim-majority Malappuram District in Kerala, rightly described by some journalists as a mini-Pakistan in India?

Union Railway Minister E Ahmed

I am raising these issues because the Union Minister of State for Railways, Ahmed who recently participated at a public seminar on ‘Status of Infrastructure’, organized by the Indo- Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Chennai refused to light the Kuthuvilakku as a traditional and well-established part of the inaugural ceremony. The Union Minister caught the other dignitaries and the organisers of the function off guard when he declined to accept the candle offered to him to light the kuthuvilakku on the podium. It is reliably understood that one of the organisers told the press that the Minister refused to light the lamp because it is an un-Islamic action. It is understood that the Minister told some of the helpless and totally clueless organizers; ‘The Muslim community does not light lamps. It is against Shariah, the code which governs Islam’.

I understand that some time back, P K Kunha-likutty, a Muslim League leader who was Kerala’s Industries Minister, courted controversy when he refused to light the lamp while inaugurating a state function at Thiruvanan-thapuram. The famous playback singer K J Yesudas who was also one of the guests at the same function, walked out protesting against it.

The Cheraman Mosque, Kodungallur in Kerala has an ancient oil lamp which always burns and whichis believed to be more than a thousand years old. Every day people of all religions bring oil for the lamp as offering. This is one of the few mosques in Kerala which allow entry for people of other religions. In recent years, the mosque has observed vidyarambham, a Hindu initiation ritual marking the beginning of a child’s learning. I am mentioning this so that Union Minister E Ahmed can use his authority for getting a fatwa issued against the managers of this ancient Mosque for violating the tenets of Islam!!

The anti-Hindu ways of Ahmed were very well known in Kerala even before he became the Union Minister of State for Railways. After becoming the Union Minister of State for Railways, he is functioning like a Mughal chieftain. Many organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have already publicly condemned this Hindu-hating Minister for having issued instructions to Railways officers not to do Ganesha Puja, breaking of coconut, etc before starting of new trains, inauguration of tracks, bridges, etc. He has banned lighting of traditional oil lamps during inaugurations. Likewise, garlanding of trains, anointing them with sandal paste, sindoor, etc. have also been banned. Railway stations have been discouraged against doing puja to electronic panels etc. during ‘Vijayadasami’ and ‘Durga puja’.

Finally, he has ordered the closure of temples in Railway compounds and is planning their demolition. This anti-Hindu move of Ahmed has caused deep religious resentment and intense anger among the 25 lakh strong railway staff and Hindus at large. I am presenting below the shining symbols of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma which have been deliberately denigrated by Ahmed!!

Garlanding of trains is banned by Railway minister E Ahmed

Symbols disapproved by Ahmed!!!

While crores are being spent on ‘Haj’ even basic amenities are not being provided to the eight crore plus Sabarimala pilgrims, by the Indian Railways. These Hindu pilgrim are treated as stateless persons by the Ministry of Railways! VHP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan has described this anti-Hindu attitude of this despicable anti-Hindu Union Minister as a threat and challenge to Hinduism. He has rightly charged E Ahmed of communalising a national asset like Railways. He called for immediate restoration of the withdrawn ancient Indian customs and traditions, failing which RSS and VHP will launch nationwide massive agitations. I spoke to a very important VHP leader from Kerala to know more about the blatently anti-Hindu ways of E Ahmed. He said: ‘What more can be expected from Ahmed whose close relative is a jehadi suspect in the Bengaluru blasts and who is hiding in Gulf, thanks to Ahmed and the UPA Government!’

Seeing the conduct and opposition of this Union Minister to the lighting of Kuthuvilakku at a public function in Chennai, I am reminded of this savage manner in which the Talibans of Afghanistan destroyed the two 6th century statues of standing Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of Central Afghanistan.

I am presenting below the photograph of President of India FAKHRUDDIN ALI AHMED lighting a Kuthuvilakku while inaugurating Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre in 1974.

President FAKHRUDDIN ALI AHMED lighting a Kuthuvilakku in 1974

I am presenting below another picture relating to the lighting of a Kuthuvilakku by Minister for Health & Medical Education, Mian Altaf Ahmad lighting the lamp on 6th Annual Dental Conference on Sunday. Agriculture Minister, Ch Mohammad Ramzan is also seen in the picture.

The Minister for Health & Medical Education, Mian Altaf Ahmad lighting the lamp at 6th Annual Dental Conference. Agriculture Minister, Mohammad Ramzan is also seen in the picture

Finally, I would like to conclude this story by giving a photograph of President Obama lighting a Kuthuvilakku in the United States of America in the august presence of a Hindu Swami in Ochre robes.

President Obama lighting a Kuthuvilakku

Ahmed once spoke about the Bombay blasts of November 2008, he took special care to avoid any reference to the fact that a Jewish Rabbi and his wife were also killed by his beloved Islamic terrorists from Pakistan!!

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)

e-mail the writer at vsundaram@newstodaynet.com

December 12, 2009

Negationism and the Muslim Conquests

From: Rewriting the Indian History

It is important to stop a moment and have a look at what the Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst, has called “negationism in India”. In his foreword to the book of the same title, Koenraad explains that negationism, which means in this context “the denial of historical crimes against humanity”, is not a new phenomenon. In modern history, the massacre by the Turks of 1,5 millions Armenians, or that of the 6 million Jews by the Nazis, the several millions of Russians by Stalin, or again the 1 million Tibetans by the Chinese communists, are historical facts which have all been denied by their perpetrators… But deny is not the exact word. They have been NEGATED in a thousand ways: gross, clever, outrageous, subtle, so that in the end, the minds of people are so confused and muddled, that nobody knows anymore where the truth is. Sometimes, it is the numbers that are negated or passed under silence: the Spanish conquest of South America has been one of the bloodiest and most ruthless episodes in history. Elst estimates that out of the population of native Continental South America of 1492, which stood at 90 million, only 32 million survived; terrible figures indeed but who talks about them today ? “But what of the conquest of India by Muslims”, asks Elst? In other parts of Asia and Europe, the conquered nations quickly opted for conversion to Islam rather than death. But in India, because of the staunch resistance of the 4000 year old Hindu faith, the Muslim conquests were for the Hindus a pure struggle between life and death. Entire cities were burnt down and their populations massacred. Each successive campaign brought hundreds of thousands of victims and similar numbers were deported as slaves. Every new invader made often literally his hill of Hindu skulls. Thus the conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000, was followed by the annihilation of the entire Hindu population there; indeed, the region is still called Hindu Kush, ‘Hindu slaughter’. The Bahmani sultans in central India, made it a rule to kill 100.000 Hindus a year. In 1399, Teimur killed 100.000 Hindus IN A SINGLE DAY, and many more on other occasions. Koenraad Elst quotes Professor K.S. Lal’s “Growth of Muslim population in India”, who writes that according to his calculations, the Hindu population decreased by 😯 MILLION between the year 1000 and 1525. INDEED PROBABLY THE BIGGEST HOLOCAUST IN THE WHOLE WORLD HISTORY. (Negat.34)
But the “pagans” were far too numerous to kill them all; and Hinduism too well entrenched in her people’s soul, never really gave up, but quietly retreated in the hearts of the pious and was preserved by the Brahmins’ amazing oral powers. Thus, realising that they would never be able to annihilate the entire Indian population and that they could not convert all the people, the Muslims rulers, particularly under the Hanifite law, allowed the pagans to become “zimmis” (protected ones) under 20 humiliating conditions, with the heavy “jizya”, the toleration tax, collected from them. “It is because of Hanifite law, writes Mr Elst, that many Muslim rulers in India considered themselves exempted from the duty to continue the genocide of Hindus”. The last “jihad” against the Hindus was waged by the much glorified Tipu Sultan, at the end of the 18th century. Thereafter, particularly following the crushing of the 1857 rebellion by the British, Indian Muslims fell into a state of depression and increasing backwardness, due to their mollah’s refusal of British education (whereas the elite Hindus gradually went for it) and their nostalgia for the “glorious past”‘. It is only much later, when the British started drawing them into the political mainstream, so as to divide India, that they started regaining some predominance.
Negationism means that this whole aspect of Indian history has been totally erased, not only from history books, but also from the memory, from the consciousness of Indian people. Whereas the Jews have constantly tried, since the Nazi genocide, to keep alive the remembrance of their six million martyrs, the Indian leadership, political and intellectual, has made a wilful and conscious attempt to deny the genocide perpetrated by the Muslims. No one is crying for vengeance. Do the Jews of today want to retaliate upon contemporary Germany? NO. It is only a matter of making sure that history does not repeat its mistakes, as alas it is able to do today: witness the persecution of Hindus in Kashmir, whose 250.000 Pandits have fled their 5000 year old homeland; or the 50.000 Hindus chased from Afghanistan; or the oppression of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan. And most of all, to remember, is to BE ABLE TO LOOK AT TODAY WITH THE WISDOM OF YESTERDAY. No collective memory should be erased for appeasing a particular community.
Yet, what has happened in India, at the hand of Hindus themselves, is a constant denial and even a perversion of the genocide committed by Muslims in India. Hasn’t the “radical humanist” M.N. Roy, written “that Islam has fulfilled a historic mission of equality and abolition of discrimination in India, and that for this, Islam has been welcomed in India by the lower castes”. “If AT ALL any violence occurred, he goes on to say, it was a matter of justified class struggle by the progressive forces against the reactionary forces, meaning the feudal Hindu upper classes..” Want to listen to another such quote? This one deals with Mahmud Ghaznavi, the destroyer of thousands of Hindu temples, who according to his chronicler Utbi, sang the praise of the Mathura temple complex, sacred above all to all Hindus… and promptly proceeded to raze it to the ground: “Building interested Mahmud and he was much impressed by the city of Mathura, where there are today a thousand edifices as firm as the faith of the faithful. Mahmud was not a religious man. He was a Mahomedan, but that was just by the way. He was in the first place a soldier and a brilliant soldier”… Amazing eulogy indeed of the man who was proud of desecrating hundreds of temples and made it a duty to terrorise and humiliate pagans. And guess from whom is that quote? From Jawaharlal Nehru himself, the first Prime Minister of India and one of the architects of independence!
M.N. Roy, and Nehru in a lesser degree, represent the foremost current of negationism in India, which is Marxist inspired. For strangely, it was the Russian communists who decided to cultivate the Arabs after the First World War, in the hope that they constituted a fertile ground for future indoctrination. One should also never forget that Communism has affected whole generations of ardent youth, who saw in Marxism a new ideology in a world corrupted by capitalism and class exploitation. Nothing wrong in that; but as far as indoctrination goes, the youth of the West, particularly of the early sixties and seventies, were all groomed in sympathising with the good Arabs and the bad Jews. And similarly in India, two or three young generations since the early twenties, were tutored on negating Muslim genocide on the Hindus. In “Communalism and the writing of Indian history”, Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia and Bipan Chandra, professors at the JNU in New Delhi, the Mecca of secularism and negationism in India, denied the Muslim genocide by replacing it instead with a conflict of classes. The redoubtable Romila Thapar in her “Penguin History of India”, co-authored with Percival Spear, writes: “Aurangzeb’s supposed intolerance, is little more than a hostile legend based on isolated acts such as the erection of a mosque on a temple site in Benares”. How can one be so dishonest, or so blind? But it shows how negationism is perpetuated in India.
What are the facts? Aurangzeb (1658-1707) did not just build an isolated mosque on a destroyed temple, he ordered ALL temples destroyed, among them the Kashi Vishvanath, one of the most sacred places of Hinduism and had mosques built on a number of cleared temples sites. All other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction, with mosques built on them. A few examples: Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujurat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. (Neg 60). The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in 4, if not 5 figures; according to his own official court chronicles: “Aurangzeb ordered all provincial governors to destroy all schools and temples of the Pagans and to make a complete end to all pagan teachings and practices”. The chronicle sums up the destructions like this: “Hasan Ali Khan came and said that 172 temples in the area had been destroyed… His majesty went to Chittor and 63 temples were destroyed..Abu Tarab, appointed to destroy the idol-temples of Amber, reported that 66 temples had been razed to the ground”.. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples, their users were also wiped-out; even his own brother, Dara Shikoh, was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion and the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions. As we can see Romila Thapar and Percival Spear’s statement of a benevolent Aurangzeb is a flagrant attempt at negationism. Even the respectable Encyclopedia Brittannica in its entry on India, does not mention in its chapter on the Sultanate period any persecutions of Hindus by Muslims, except “that Firuz Shah Tughlaq made largely unsuccessful attempts at converting his Hindu subjects and sometime persecuted them”. The British, for their own selfish purpose, were of course greatly responsible for whitewashing the Muslims, whom they needed to counterbalance the influence of the Hindus and the Congress. It is sad that Jawarlhal Nehru and the Congress perpetuated that brand of negationism. But that is another story.
The happiest in this matter must be the Muslims themselves. What fools these Hindus are, they must be telling themselves: We killed them by the millions, we wrested a whole nation out of them, we engineer riots against them, and they still defend us!… But don’t the Hindus know that many orthodox Indian Muslims still cling to the Deoband school, which says that India was once “Dar-ul-Islam”, the house of Islam, and should return to that status. Maulana Abul Kala Azad, several times Congress President, and Education Minister in free India, was a spokesman for this school. The Aligarh school on the contrary, led by Mohammed Iqbal, propounded the creation of Pakistan. What particularly interests us in the Aligarh school is the attempt by Muslim historians, such as Mohamed Habiib, to rewrite the Chapter of Muslim invasions in India. In 1920, Habib started writing his magnum opus, which he based on four theories: 1) that the records (written by the Muslims themselves) of slaughters of Hindus, the enslaving of their women and children and razing of temples were “mere exaggerations by court poets and zealous chroniclers to please their rulers”. 2) That they were indeed atrocities, but mainly committed by Turks, the savage riders from the Steppe. 3) That the destruction of the temples took place because Hindus stored their gold and jewels inside them and therefore Muslim armies plundered these. 4) That the conversion of millions of Hindus to Islam was not forced, “but what happened was there was a shift of opinion in the population, who on its own free will chose the Shariat against the Hindu law (smriti), as they were all oppressed by the bad Brahmins”…!!! (Negationism p.42)
Unfortunately for Habib and his school, the Muslims invaders did record with glee their genocide on Hindus, because they felt all along that they were doing their duty; that killing, plundering, enslaving and razing temples was the work of God, Mohammed. Indeed, whether it was Mahmud of Ghazni (997-1030), who was no barbarian, although a Turk, and patronised art and literature, would recite a verse of the Koran every night after having razed temples and killed his quota of unbelievers; or Firuz Shah Tughlak (1351-1388) who personally confirms that the destruction of Pagan temples was done out of piety and writes: “on the day of a Hindu festival, I went there myself, ordered the executions of all the leaders AND PRACTITIONERS of his abomination; I destroyed their idols temples and built mosques in their places”. Finally, as Elst points out, “Muslim fanatics were merely faithful executors of Quranic injunctions. It is not the Muslims who are guilty but Islam”. (Negationism in India, p. 44)
But ultimately, it is a miracle that Hinduism survived the onslaught of Muslim savagery; it shows how deep was her faith, how profound her karma, how deeply ingrained her soul in the hearts of her faithfuls. We do not want to point a finger at Muslim atrocities, yet they should not be denied and their mistakes should not be repeated today. But the real question is: Can Islam ever accept Hinduism? We shall turn towards the Sage, the yogi, who fought for India’s independence, accepting the Gita’s message of karma of violence when necessary, yet had a broad vision that softened his words: “You can live with a religion whose principle is toleration. But how is it possible to live peacefully with a religion whose principle is “I will not tolerate you? How are you going to have unity with these people?…The Hindu is ready to tolerate; he is open to new ideas and his culture and has got a wonderful capacity for assimilation, but always provided India’s central truth is recognised.. (Sri Aurobindo India’s Rebirth 161,173) Or behold this, written on September 1909: “Every action for instance which may be objectionable to a number of Mahomedans, is now liable to be forbidden because it is likely to lead to a breach of peace. And one is dimly beginning to wonder whether worship in Hindu temples may be forbidden on that valid ground (India’s Rebirth p. 55). How prophetic! Sri Aurobindo could not have foreseen that so many Muslim countries would ban Rushdie’s book and that Hindu processions would often be forbidden in cities, for fear of offending the Muslims. Sri Aurobindo felt that sooner or later Hindus would have to assert again the greatness of Hinduism.
And here we must say a word about monotheism, for it is the key to the understanding of Islam. Christians and Muslims have always harped on the fact that their religions sprang-up as a reaction against the pagan polytheist creeds, which adored many Gods. ” There is only one real God they said (ours), all the rest are just worthless idols “. This ” monotheism versus polytheism business ” has fuelled since then the deep, fanatic, violent and murderous zeal of Islam against polytheist religions, particularly against Hinduism, which is the most comprehensive, most widely practiced of all them. It even cemented an alliance of sorts between the two great monotheist religions of the world, Christianity and Islam, witness the Britishers’ attitude in India, who favoured Indian Muslims and Sikhs against the Hindus; or the King of Morocco who, even though he is one of the most moderate Muslim leaders in the world, recently said in an interview: ” we have no fight with Christianity, our battle is against the Infidel who adores many gods “. But the truth is that Hinduism is without any doubt the most monotheist religion in the World, for it recognises divine unity in multiplicity. It does not say: ” there is only one God, which is Mohammed. If you do not believe in Him I will kill you “. It says instead: ” Yes Mohammed is a manifestation of God, but so is Christ, or Buddha, or Krishna, or Confucius “. This philosophy, this way of seeing, which the Christians and Muslims call ” impious “, is actually the foundation for a true monotheist understanding of the world. It is because of this ” If you do not recognize Allah (or Christ), I will kill you “, that tens of millions of Hindus were slaughtered by Arabs and other millions of South Americans annihilated by the Christians. And ultimately the question is: Are the Muslims of today ready to accept Hinduism ? Unfortunately no. For Muslims all over the world, Hinduism is still the Infidel religion ” par excellence “. This what their religion tell them, at every moment, at every verse, at the beginning of each prayer : ” Only Allah is great “. And their mollahs still enjoin them to go on fight ” jihad ” to deliver the world of the infidels. And if the armies of Babar are not there any longer; and if it is not done any more to kill a 100.000 Hindus in a day, there is still the possibility of planting a few bombs in Bombay, of fuelling separatisms in the hated land and eventually to drop a nuclear device, which will settle the problem once and for all. As to the Indian Muslim, he might relate to his Hindu brother, for whatever he says, he remains an Indian, nay a Indu; but his religion will make sure that he does not forget that his duty is to hate the Infidel. This is the crux of the problem today and the riddle if Islam has to solved, if it wants to survive in the long run.
We will never be able to assess the immense physical harm done to India by the Muslim invasions. Even more difficult is to estimate the moral and the spiritual damage done to Hindu India. But once again, the question is not of vengeance, or of reawakening old ghosts, but of not repeating the same mistakes. Unfortunately, the harm done by the Muslims conquest is not over. The seeds planted by the Moghols, by Babar, Mahmud, or Aurangzeb, have matured: the 125 million Indian Muslims of today have forgotten that they were once peaceful, loving Hindus, forcibly converted to a religion they hated. And they sometimes take-up as theirs a cry of fanaticism which is totally alien to their culture. Indeed, as Sri Aurobindo once said: “More than 90% of the Indian Muslims are descendants of converted Hindus and belong as much to the Indian nation as the Hindu themselves”…(Rebirth of India, p.237) The embryo of secession planted by the Mahomedans, has also matured into a poisonous tree which has been called Pakistan and comes back to haunt India through three wars and the shadow of a nuclear conflict embracing South Asia. And in India, Kashmir and Ayodhya are reminders that the Moghol cry for the house of Islam in India is not yet over.
* For more details, read “Negationism in India, concealing the record of Islam”, by Koenraad Elst, Voice of India, New Delhi.

October 11, 2009

Beef thrown at Goddess Laxmi in Orissa

Kandhammal – When we hear this word,what immediately comes to our mind is,the reported violence against Christians by Hindus.For many days MSM ran visuals of how the innocent Christian minorities had been persecuted  in Kandhammal district.Almost all the national channels were very serious and jumped into the ring and declared that entire Orissa was burning.The entire Orissa was in grip of violence unleashed against innocent minority Christians by he Hindus.

One my of Christian friends told me that Christians were killed and burnt alive by the Hindu fanatics and because of this she was sending some relief materials and money to the victims.I wondered why these fanatics should do such an act against innocent people.I also started worried on hearing my friend saying, it was the handiwork of some Hindu fanatics.If the Christians were burnt alive and attacked,it was wrong not to punish those people who perpetrated those crimes.

All national channels kept repeating the same news and videos of Christian persecution.On hearing this news,a question arose in my mind immediately.That was – Was there not any retaliatory attack by Christians?Have they become like Mahatma Gandhi?If so why there is violence in other parts of the world where Christianity is followed by majority people?

The answer is simple.It was neither preplanned nor throughly rehearsed.Violence between two mobs is committed by both.When MSM was showing relentlessly the affected christian victims in Kandhamal, they refused to take note of the atrocities perpetrated on Hindus.They just ignored those people just because they happened to be Hindus.Main Stream Media in India is 100% reserved for the minorities living in India.

Recently an incident happened in Kandhammal –

Goddess Laxmi

Goddess Laxmi

Odisha Today reported Orissa police have arrested two person for allegedly throwing beef at an idol of Goddess Laxmi on Sunday”

The arrested persons are Fransis Ekka and Ajit Munda. However the brother of Fransis Ekka claimed to be the main culprit. The police have also seized about two kgs of beef from near the idol.

A large number of people gathered in front of Goddess Laxmi puja pandal at Bolonda village and blocked the road for four hours, demanding arrest of the culprits those have thrown beef to an idol of Goddess Laxmi .

A team of police force led by superintendent of police, Diptesh Patnaik immediately rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

The three had allegedly slaughtered a cow at a nearby field Sunday morning before indulging in the incident.Police force had been deployed in the village to maintain law and order and efforts to nab the main culprit.

Some other news reports on the same incident are:

DNA said “Two persons were arrested on charges of throwing beef at an idol of Goddess Laxmi at a community puja pandal in Orissa’s Sundargarh district today, police said.”

None of the MSM reported this incident.They liked to overlook it.Finally,a website,fully supported by candle light activists, reported “Two persons were arrested for allegedly possessing beef near Goddess Laxmi at a community puja pandal in Orissa’s Sundargarh district today, police said.”

You may also want to read : Kandhammal – The untold part of the riots.

September 29, 2009

In Rome, Durga is not welcome

This post is an excerpt written by Kanchan Gupta, appeared on Pioneer.

What does it mean to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome? It means to be humiliated, harassed and hounded by city officials who happen to be pious Christians. Alright, I could be utterly wrong in presuming they are pious since I have no independent confirmation of their piety or otherwise. But let’s get back to the question with which I began. Late Thursday night I was at the park near my house where the local Bengalis organise Durga Puja every year. It’s a raucous celebration of faith and culture. The food stalls are invariably hugely popular and there I was with my nine-year-old daughter, standing in a queue for kathi rolls. After what seemed like an interminable wait, it was our turn to be served. Just then my BlackBerry beeped. Balancing the piping hot rolls, dripping oil, tomato ketchup, green chilli sauce and lemon juice, in one hand, I tried to read the e-mail on my handset.

Devi Durga Puja Celebration

Devi Durga Puja Celebration

No luck. I got shoved around, nearly dropped both rolls and my phone, and decided to let the e-mail wait. Later, away from the crowd, I checked the e-mail and it was a fascinating story. Since the identity of the person who had sent the mail is not really relevant, let me reproduce the text: “The Municipal Police authorities of Rome have today withdrawn permission, granted three weeks ago, to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. The cancellation came a few hours before the Ambassador of India was scheduled to inaugurate the Puja at 8 pm local time. No acceptable explanation has been given. This has caused the local Indian community the loss of thousands of Euros spent in preparatory arrangements. The same thing was done in the same manner in 2008 also. Please monitor developments.”

Now that’s awful, I told myself, here I am having kathi rolls and there they can’t even celebrate their own festival. On Friday, I called a friend in Rome who provided me with the latest details. Our Ambassador, Mr Arif Shahid Khan, a feisty man who has in the past taken up the issue of Sikhs being forced to take off their turbans at Italian airports, campaigned throughout the day, calling up officials, including the Mayor of Rome, and contacting members of the ‘Friends of India’ group in the Italian Parliament, arguing with them why permission for the Puja should be restored. By evening, the authorities had reversed their order and permission was granted to celebrate Durga Puja, which will now begin on Saturday, Ashtami — a full 48 hours behind schedule. Provided, of course, there is no last minute cancellation, as it happened on Thursday. Mr Khan will inaugurate the Puja, an honour he richly deserves.

The story behind the cancellation needs to be told, if only to point out that Christian countries in the West, whose Governments so blithely criticise the ‘lack’ of ‘religious freedom’ in India, have no compunctions about trampling on Hindu sentiments at home. After last year’s experience, when permission for celebrating Durga Puja in Rome was abruptly withdrawn by officials who cited specious reasons to justify their grossly unfair decision, the organisers, led by Mr Rajesh Sahani, a Sindhi from Kolkata who speaks flawless Bengali, took ample precautions this year. They were given permission to organise the Puja at Parko Centocelle, a public park on Via Cailina, Torpignattara. Three weeks ago, permission was granted for the Puja at the park and necessary formalities were completed.

Early this past week, the Puja organisers were told they could not use the park as a crime had been committed there and the location posed security-related problems. The organisers agreed to change the venue. Another park was selected, permission was given to celebrate Durga Puja there, and the preparations began all over again in right earnest. Then, like a bolt from the blue, at 4 pm on Thursday came the withdrawal of permission by the Municipal Police. The organisers were bluntly told to pack up and leave hours before Durga Puja was scheduled to begin with Akal Bodhon in the evening. Why? No reason was proffered.

Cross Question

Cross Question

Some officials are believed to have told the organisers that the cancellation of permission at the eleventh hour, both last year and this year, was meant to be “retaliatory action against the persecution of Christians in India”. It may be recalled that the President of Italy, Mr Giorgio Napoletano, has been vociferous in demanding that Europe should do more in support of Christians in India and to help them ‘affirm their right to religious freedom’. The Government of Italy has in the past summoned the Ambassador of India to convey to him that it has “deep concern and sensitivity for the ongoing inter-religious violence… that has caused the death of many Christians.” The Pope has been no less harsh in denouncing India.

There could be another reason, apart from its “deep concern” about the welfare of Christians in India, for Italy’s callous disregard of the sentiments of Hindus in that country. Although the Italian Constitution guarantees religious freedom, under the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, Italy recognises only the three religions of Semitic origin — Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All other religions are no more than paganism and are to be shamed and shunned. The Vatican would not countenance any open breach of the Lateran Treaty; Italy would not want to be seen as recognising Hinduism.

“It’s only natural that Italy should have a surfeit of churches. But it’s the rejection of any other faith than Christianity, Judaism and Islam that explains why there are so many mosques but virtually no temples in Italy although this country has a large Hindu expatriate population,” my friend told me while regretting the attitude of the Government and the local authorities. According to him, there are only three temples in Italy: One in a garage in Venice; another at Frescolo and the third at Reggio Emilia. These survive at the mercy of local zoning officials.

But for Mr Arif Shahid Khan’s pro-active involvement — most Ambassadors tend to stay aloof from community affairs — this year too there would have been no Durga Puja in Rome. Indians in Italy owe him a debt of gratitude. So do Bangladeshis who are equal participants in this annual celebration of dharma’s victory over adharma, of the triumph of good over evil. Cultural and linguistic affinities unite Bengalis, irrespective of whether they are from the west or east of Padma, during this autumnal festival celebrated around the world.

Meanwhile, let’s not get carried away by the West’s bilious and bogus criticism of ‘lack of’ religious freedom in India and indulge in self-flagellation. Let the West look at its own ugly, septic warts. If Christians can celebrate Christmas in New Delhi, Hindus have the right to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. This is non-negotiable.

September 9, 2009

Refugees in their own country – 3

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September 8, 2009

Refugees in their own country – 2

5Skipping some of the gory detailed pictorial information that can be found on Terror Unleashed, an Exhibition on Kashmir.

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