1984 Sikh Massacre Remembered

Indira's Sikh assassins met swift justice, but the murderers of 3,870 innocent Sikhs still roam free a quarter of a century later. In addition to the Sikh pogrom, the year 1984 also saw a deadly gas leak in a factory owned by Union Carbide in Bhopal that killed over 2,000 people and left permanent injuries for many more for life.

In reaction to the Sikh killings in Delhi and other places, Indira's successor and son Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declared at a massive rally in the capital that "once a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it shakes".

One of the worst massacres took place in two narrow alleys in India's capital New Delhi's poor Trilokpuri colony where some 350 Sikhs, including women and children, were casually butchered over 72 hours, according to media reports.

The charred and hacked remains of the hundreds of dead in Trilokpuri's Block 32 on the smoky and dank evening of 2 November 1984 were stark testimony to the unimpeded and seemingly endless massacre, according to the BBC.

Soon after news of Mrs Gandhi's killing by her Sikh bodyguards spread, Hindu mobs swung into action - like they did elsewhere in the city armed with voters' lists - in Trilokpuri against the low caste Sikhs inhabiting one-roomed tenements on either side of two narrow alleyways barely 150 yards long.

With local police connivance they blocked entry to the neighborhood with massive concrete water pipes and stationed guards armed with sticks atop them.

For the next three days marauding groups armed with cleavers, scythes, kitchen knives and scissors took breaks to eat and regroup in between executing their bloodthirsty mission.

The history repeated itself in Guj arat in 2002, only the pretext and the victims were different this time.

According to Pankaj Mishra, the author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond, the names of the politicians, businessmen, officials and policemen who colluded in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 are widely known. Some of them were caught on video, in a sting carried out last year by the weekly magazine Tehelka, proudly recalling how they murdered and raped Muslims. But, as Amnesty International pointed out in a recent report, justice continues to evade most victims and survivors of the violence. Tens of thousands still languish in refugee camps, too afraid to return to their homes.

People like Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, BJP leader L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi represent the ugly underbelly of Indian democracy and a threat to India's secularism. Modi is currently in power in Gujarat, in spite of overwhelming evidence of his participation in 2002 anti-Muslim riots resulting in the massacre of thousands of Muslims. Mr. Advani has been held responsible for the destruction of Babri mosque and subsequent anti-Muslim riots. Mr. Thackeray is considered responsible for major anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai and continues to terrorize any one who disagrees with him.

While the India's western supporters and government leaders paint a very rosy picture of India's prospects, it is important for Indians and others to understand that there are significant risks in India. For example, the extreme Hindu Nationalists are continuing to stir up trouble in many parts of India. According to All India Christian Council, the 2008 violence has affected 14 districts out of of 30 and 300 Villages in the Indian state of Orissa, 4,400 houses burnt, 50,000 homeless, 59 killed including at least 2 pastors, 10 priests/pastors/nuns injured, 18,000 men, women, children injured, 2 women gang-raped including a nun, 151 churches destroyed and 13 schools and colleges damaged. The violence targeted Christians in 310 villages, with 4,104 homes torched. More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced and homes continued to burn in many villages. Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in refugee camps.

SM Mushrif, the author of "Who Killed Karkare?" and former police chief of Maharashtra state, has raised some very serious questions about the role of the Indian intelligence in the increasing violence committed by Hindutva outfits against India's minorities, and how India's Intelligence Bureau diverts attention from it by falsely accusing Indian Muslims and Pakistan's ISI, as was done in Malegaon and Samjutha Express blasts.

Mushrif alleges the involvement of both Police Chief Raghuvanshi and Col. Purohit with Abhinav Bharat in Maharashtra, whose hand was evident in a series of blasts across the country. It has old connections with men like Veer Damodar Savarkar (whose relative Himani Savarkar leads the Abhinav Bharat movement), Dr Munje, who led the Hindu Mahasabha, and other Hindutva luminaries. It is at the Bhonsala Military Academy run by these groups that Purohit trained police officers, including Raghuvanshi. Mushrif asks a pertinent question: Will Raghuvanshi pursue the investigation against Purohit, his guru? A plausible answer is, perhaps no. Already charges have been dropped by a special court under MCOCA against 11 accused, including Purohit, on the grounds of insufficient evidence produced in the court by the prosecution.

The violent Hindutva extremists represent a very serious threat to India's secular democracy, peace and stability. It is important for Prime Manmohan Singh's government to take seriously the warnings from patriotic Indians like S.M. Mushrif, Pankaj Mishra, Yoginder Sikand and others. Delhi needs to act by ordering a high-powered and comprehensive investigation into the allegations of the involvement of Intelligence Bureau and other Indian state officials in persecution of minorities in India.


Related Links:

Gujarat in 2002

21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Radical Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

India's Guantanamos and Abu-Ghraibs

Gujarat Muslims Ignored by Politicians

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Hindu Rashtra ideology was driving force for Malegaon conspirators

The Rise and Rise of Mangalore's Taliban

Who Killed Karkare?

Hindutva-Military-Intelligence Nexus

Malegaon Files

Samjhota Express Blast

Muslims Falsely Accused in Malegaon Blast

Hindu Nationalists Gang Up on Musharraf at Stanford

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Violence Against Indian Christians

Priest Survivor: Hindu Radicals are Terrorists

Gujarat Pogrom of 2002

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Anti-#Muslim Malegaon Accused #Hindu Nationalist Terrorist Sadhvi Pragya Denied Bail. #Modi #BJP #India http://www.ndtv.com/cheat-sheet/sadhvi-pragyas-bail-rejected-by-mumbai-court-in-malegaon-blast-case-1424419 … via @ndtv

Berating the NIA, the court said charges against Sadhvi Pragya under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act would stay.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that accusations against Pragya are prima facie true. It is difficult to accept the (bail plea) merely on the ground that the NIA has given a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya," the court said.
The NIA had, in a new chargesheet last month, dropped charges against Sadhvi Pragya and five others citing lack of evidence against them.
The court said today that the NIA, which took over the case in 2011, launched a "fresh investigation" instead of taking forward the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad's work on the case.
Seven people were killed and 101 injured when two bombs fitted on a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon, around 270 km from Mumbai, on September 29, 2008.
Sadhvi Pragya, Army Colonel Srikant Purohit and others were arrested and were charged with plotting the blasts as part of a pro-Hindu group, Abhinav Bharat.
The Anti-Terror Squad said Sadhvi Pragya's motorcycle was used in the attack. It also alleged that Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya had met Swami Aseemanand , the main accused in the Samjhauta Express blast of 2007, and plotted the Malegaon blasts. Many witnesses have since turned hostile.
The NIA said in its charge-sheet that "during investigation, sufficient evidences have not been found" against Sadhvi Pragya. It also said the motorcycle registered in her name was used by an accused who is missing.
Both the Sadhvi and Col Purohit, called the face of "saffron terror" by the Congress, have been in jail for about seven years now.
The case was first investigated by Hemant Karkare as the chief of Maharashtra's Anti-terror Squad. Mr Karkare was killed battling the Lashkar e Taiba terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Riaz Haq said…
The hysteria over Bollywood’s baby Taimur shows that critics just don’t understand India’s medieval history by Shoaib Daniyal

http://qz.com/870136/the-hysteria-over-bollywoods-baby-taimur-shows-that-critics-just-dont-understand-indias-medieval-history/

Historical narratives are tricky things to construct, especially when people want to superimpose moral lessons on them. Who is a hero and who isn’t is extremely subjective and even more so when one goes as far back in time as the 14th century. The past truly is a different country and to make it fit modern standards of morality a fair bit of invention needs to be indulged in.

Let’s take a force that is near-universally seen as the good guys in popular Indian history: the Marathas. The Marathas were successful towards the end of the Mughal period, building up a confederation over large parts of the subcontinent. Of course, this was done through war and conquest, and in the chaos of the Mughal twilight, contemporary accounts of the Marathas are often rather negative, cutting across what we would today see as “Hindu” and “Muslim” sources.
In the 18th century, the Marathas invaded Bengal, killing, by one account, four lakh Bengalis. Repeated raids and conquests of Gujarat were also, as almost everything in medieval India, a rather violent affair. In another case, Maratha armies raided a thousand-year old Hindu temple to teach Mysore sultan Tipu Sultan–who was its patron–a lesson. The Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha state enforced untouchability so brutally that BR Ambedkar actually saw their defeat at the hands of the British to be a blessing.
Contemporary accounts of the Marathas in Bengal are obviously far from flattering. Similarly, as late as 1895, there were strong objections in Gujarat to the plans of Bal Gangadhar Tilak to institute a Shivaji festival across India, with the Deshi Mitra newspaper of Surat disparaging it as a “flare up of local [Marathi] patriotism”.
India’s medieval period did not have the sort of nationalisms and community mobilisation that modern India would see under the Raj. As newspapers and technology knit the people of India together, a Hindu consciousness would revise the image of the Marathas as “Hindu.” Calcutta city’s intelligentsia at the time, in fact, celebrated a Shivaji festival and the city still has statues of Shivaji. Gujarat, where Hindutva has been a powerful political force for decades now, has adopted Shivaji with even more gusto, building statues in cities like Surat, which, ironically, were sacked by the Maratha chief early on in his career. This confusion is nothing new. Today, Punjabi Muslims in Pakistan see themselves as inheritors of the Mughals but in 1857 signed up enthusiastically for the East India Company’s armies to defeat the Mughal-led revolt against the Raj.
That which we call a rose

Naturally, then, the name Shivaji or Bhaskar–a Bhaskar Pandit led the Maratha raids on Bengal–are hardly taboo in modern India, given this modern narrative of the Marathas.
Riaz Haq said…
S Khilnani Book: #India was "fragmented into kingdoms, savaged by #caste divisions, mired in poverty" http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/india-in-pieces … via @newyorker

Last year, a professor at the Indian Science Congress, in Mumbai, claimed that India possessed airplanes seven thousand years ago. He isn’t alone in such beliefs. When a certain swathe of India’s population considers the country’s ancient past, it doesn’t see a country fragmented into kingdoms, savaged by caste divisions, and mired in poverty; rather, what’s envisioned is a vast, unified Hindu empire stretching from Kashmir to the Indian tip at Kanyakumari. This imagined entity brims with characters from Indian epics and spits out grand inventions that would put scientists in the twenty-first century to shame—not only airplanes but cars, plastic surgery, and stem-cell research. What these Indians see, in other words, is an India that was once greater than any other nation on earth, and which has since fallen into a cruddy, postcolonial despair. Muslim and British invaders, they insist, have sapped the subcontinent’s energies over the past millennium.

This is a major strand of the nativist philosophy espoused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the flotilla of parties and social organizations that escorted him to power, in 2014. It is, in the rippling and echoing way of world events, in step with archaic right-wing movements everywhere—Make India Great Again would be a suitable slogan—and it is untroubled by facts. In the past year, right-wing mobs have lynched and beaten Muslims and Dalits (the former untouchables, who have often refused to be co-opted by upper-class-dominated Hindu nationalism) in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand for allegedly eating beef, a crime that these nationalists cannot condone after a millennium of their religion’s supposed persecution. (Hinduism has always been the majority religion on the subcontinent.) Dormant laws in Indian states banning cow-slaughter and beef consumption are now being enforced. In January, a Dalit Ph.D. student at Hyderabad University hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his room after right-wing groups bore down on him for his activism. Elsewhere, emboldened nationalist groups have intimidated fiction writers, scholars, and publishers into silence for wounding religious sentiments. Student protests are branded “anti-national” and slapped with sedition charges.

In India, right now, the past is violently alive, and it is being bandied about like a blunt instrument, striking down those who try to speak sense to the present or who try to point out that this past is itself a fiction.

One of the intellectuals involved in calling the right’s bluff is the Indian scholar Sunil Khilnani, who has just published an incisive work of popular history, “Incarnations: India in Fifty Lives.” Where the opposition is clamorous, the book is calm; where the opposition flexes its Vedic muscles, the book is undercutting, irreverent, and impish. It attempts to show, through prodigious but lightly worn scholarship, how complex and heterodox the Indian past was, and how it has been, and continues to be, constructed.

Khilnani begins with the Buddha, who lived around 500 B.C.E., and is thus, Khilnani writes, the “first individual personality we can recognize in the subcontinent’s history,” as well as an apostle of neutrality and nonviolence. The Buddha’s religion has receded in India, except as a balm to the Dalits, who escaped into it, and as a self-help tool for a sliver of the upper classes, who have embraced it the way that some people in the West do. Buddha prefigures many of the themes in the book. A sheltered man, he is moved by his first encounter with suffering, and leaves behind his wealthy family to wander India in the thrall of slowly budding new ideas. He is serene and centered amid violence. He is open-minded and against sects in a Brahmin-dominated society. He calls for a total reinvention of Hinduism—one that becomes its own religion.....
Riaz Haq said…
Stanford scholar Audrey Truschke on #Muslim rule in #India: #Mughal rulers were not hostile to #Hindus https://shar.es/1YGNDz via @Stanford

Truschke, one of the few living scholars with competence in both Sanskrit and Persian, is the first scholar to study texts from both languages in exploring the courtly life of the Mughals. The Mughals ruled a great swath of the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the mid-18th centuries, building great monuments like the Taj Mahal.

Over several months in Pakistan and 10 months in India, Truschke traveled to more than two dozen archives in search of manuscripts. She was able to analyze the Mughal elite's diverse interactions with Sanskrit intellectuals in a way not previously done.

She has accessed, for example, six histories that follow Jain monks at the Mughal court as they accompanied Mughal kings on expeditions, engaged in philosophical and religious debates, and lived under the empire's rule. These works collectively run to several thousand pages, and none have been translated into English.

Truschke found that high-level contact between learned Muslims and Hindus was marked by collaborative encounters across linguistic and religious lines.

She said her research overturns the assumption that the Mughals were hostile to traditional Indian literature or knowledge systems. In fact, her findings reveal how Mughals supported and engaged with Indian thinkers and ideas.

Early modern-era Muslims were in fact "deeply interested in traditional Indian learning, which is largely housed in Sanskrit," says Truschke, who is teaching religion courses at Stanford through 2016 in association with her fellowship.

Hybrid political identity
Truschke's book focuses on histories and poetry detailing interactions among Mughal elites and intellectuals of the Brahmin (Hindu) and Jain religious groups, particularly during the height of Mughal power from 1560 through 1650.

As Truschke discovered, the Mughal courts in fact sought to engage with Indian culture. They created Persian translations of Sanskrit works, especially those they perceived as histories, such as the two great Sanskrit epics.

For their part, upper-caste Hindus known as Brahmins and members of the Jain tradition – one of India's most ancient religions – became influential members of the Mughal court, composed Sanskrit works for Mughal readers and wrote about their imperial experiences.

"The Mughals held onto power in part through force, just like any other empire," Truschke acknowledges, "but you have to be careful about attributing that aggression to religious motivations." The empire her research uncovers was not intent on turning India into an Islamic state.

"The Mughal elite poured immense energy into drawing Sanskrit thinkers to their courts, adopting and adapting Sanskrit-based practices, translating dozens of Sanskrit texts into Persian and composing Persian accounts of Indian philosophy."

Such study of Hindu histories, philosophies and religious stories helped the Persian-speaking imperialists forge a new hybrid political identity, she asserts.

Truschke is working on her next book, a study of Sanskrit histories of Islamic dynasties in India more broadly.

Indian history, especially during Islamic rule, she says, is very much alive and debated today. Moreover, a deliberate misreading of this past "undergirds the actions of the modern Indian nation-state," she asserts.

And at a time of conflict between the Indian state and its Muslim population, Truschke says, "It's invaluable to have a more informed understanding of that history and the deep mutual interest of early modern Hindus and Muslims in one another's traditions."

- See more at: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/september/sanskrit-mughal-empire-090915.html#sthash.Y7zZog9s.dpuf

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