Are Blasphemy Laws Islamic?

By A. Faizur Rahman,

The brutal assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the outspoken Governor of Punjab, is an ominous indication that Pakistan is plunging headlong into a state of ataxia. And one wonders if it would ever come out of it. Salmaan was killed, as confessed by his murderous bodyguard, for being a staunch opponent of the blasphemy law of Pakistan and seeking Presidential pardon for Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman who was recently awarded the death penalty under section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code for allegedly abusing Prophet Muhammad.

It is a fact that the use of derogatory language against Prophet Muhammad, or for that matter any Prophet, is considered a great sin in Islam. But it is also no ordinary crime to sentence somebody to death without evidence. So far the charges against Aasia Bibi have not been incontrovertibly proved. Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, is on record saying that the case against her is concocted as the complainant and major witnesses were not present at the site of incident. But then the courts in Pakistan work under tremendous right-wing pressure. It may be recalled that in 1997, Lahore High Court judge Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who had acquitted two Christians accused of blasphemy in 1995, was shot dead.

But the bigger question is: Is there any evidence in the Quran to justify capital punishment for the crimes mentioned in section 295-C of the PPC? Also, what was the Prophet’s own reaction to such personal insults? The answers to these questions assume the significance of a categorical imperative (to use a Kantian term) because, insofar as the Islamic shariah is concerned any law made in contravention of the universality of the Quranic doctrine as expounded by the Prophet is void.

Interestingly, the Quran records some of the nasty insinuations that were hurled at the Prophet (see 25:41 and 38:4-5) and defends and consoles him without suggesting any mundane punishment for the abusers. Such invectives would certainly have hurt the Prophet and therefore, he is assuaged with, “Have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble dignity” (73:10) and, “You possess the most exalted standard of character” (68:4).

After having comforted the Prophet thus, the Quran advises him, and through him his followers, to “forgive and overlook; for God loves those who are kind” (5:13). Another verse points out that when evil is repelled with goodness “then will he between whom and you was hatred become as if he were your intimate friend” (41:34). The Prophet followed this exhortation to the letter, a fact acknowledged by the Quran which confirmed that he indeed was kind to the people and never “harsh-hearted” (3:159).

There are several instances in the Prophet’s life which show that he tolerated the foul language of even his sworn enemies. For instance, when a Jew who was opposed to Islam cursed him saying As-saamu-alalikum, (death be upon you) and his wife Hazrat Aisha responded with As-saamu ‘alaikum wal-laa’na (death and Allah’s curse be upon you too) he expressed his strong displeasure saying, “Be gentle and calm, Aisha.” And when one of his companions wanted to harm the Jew, the Prophet silenced him with an emphatic “No” (Sahih Bukhari). According to another tradition a man demanded his debts from the Prophet in such a rude manner that his companions wanted to beat him up. But the Prophet said, “Leave him, for he has the right to demand it” (Sahih Bukhari).

But one of the most thought-provoking examples set by the Prophet was the pardoning of Ikrimah the son of Abu Jahal. Both father and son had fought several violent battles against the Prophet and yet when Makkah was reconquered Ikrimah too was among those who benefitted from the general amnesty declared by the Prophet who told his companions: “Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl shall come to you as a believer and amuhajir (a refugee). Do not insult his father. Insulting the dead causes grief to the living and does not reach the dead.” It may be noted here that the companions are being asked not to curse even Abu Jahal, the bitter enemy who had died fighting the Prophet. And it was in this spirit that the Prophet warned; eeyakum wal ghulu fiddeen, fa innahu ahlaka man kaana qablakum al ghulu fiddeen (Ibn Maaja) which translates as; “Eschew extremism in religion, for extremism has destroyed its practitioners in the past.”

The foregoing evidence proves that there is no scriptural basis for the histrionic emotionalism and the maddening perversity of thought that marks the defense of the blasphemy law in Pakistan where a cleric has placed a price of $6000 on the head of Aasia Bibi. We have here the strange case of the Prophet himself forgiving a person of unquestionable antagonism towards Islam and his devotees announcing monetary rewards to anyone who kills a poor village woman who is not a known enemy of our religion and whose guilt has not been established beyond doubt. And shockingly, this is being done in the name of a great Messenger of peace who was crowned Rahmath al lil aalameen (mercy unto humanity) by the Quran.

It is precisely this kind of fiendish behaviour that fuels Islamophobia across the globe. In fact, Muslim extremism and Islamophobia now enjoy a symbiotic relationship feeding on each other’s fanaticism. This of course is not to condone organised attempts to malign religious personalities such as the publication of the Danish cartoons in 2005. Such defamatory campaigns are in reality Machiavellian designs to incite communal hatred and therefore they deserve to be condemned by not just Muslims but all right thinking people for the sake of world peace.

Finally, one of the reasons for Muslim extremism to flourish today is the unrestricted flow of petro-dollars into Muslim societies which has resulted in the proliferation of prejudiced preachers and radical televangelists who populate the airwaves with their fanaticism. Such is the sway of these preachers that Muslims in large numbers are falling prey to their manipulative agenda and have started to exhibit a supremacist attitude that looks down up on all those who are reluctant to get initiated into their kind of puritanism. And the only way out of this mess is to stimulate debates among the Muslims on the interpretations of Islamic texts with the ultimate aim to countering religious chauvinism through appeals to reason and logic as done by the Prophet himself.

(The author is Secretary-General of Chennai-based Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought among the Muslims. He may be reached at

Tiranga: A Gimmick By RSS

By Shamsul Islam,

The RSS/BJP gang is once again on to its old pastime of whipping up frenzy against Muslims. They plan to unfurl, Tricolour, the Indian National Flag in Srinagar on January 26, 2011. It may not be out of context to know that BJP and its RSS mentors who are so zealous about hoisting Tricolour in Srinagar have least respect for Tricolour as we will see from the following documentary evidences available in the RSS archives..

Organiser, the RSS English organ in its third issue (July 17, 1947) disturbed by the Constituent Assembly’s decision to select the Tricolour as the National Flag, carried an editorial titled ‘National Flag’, demanding that the saffron flag be chosen instead.

The same demand continued to be raised in editorials on the eve of Independence of India (July 31 editorial titled ‘Hindusthan’ and August 14 editorial titled ‘Whither’) simultaneously rejecting the whole concept of a composite nation. The August 14 issue also carried ‘Mystery behind the Bhagwa Dhawaj’ (saffron flag) which while demanding hoisting of saffron flag at the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi, openly denigrated the choice of the Tri-colour as the National Flag in the following words: “the people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.”

Golwalkar, second chief of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the organization till date, while addressing a gathering in Nagpur on July 14, 1946, stated that it was the saffron flag which in totality represented their great culture. It was the embodiment of God: “We firmly believe that in the end the whole nation will bow before this saffron flag”.

Even after independence when the Tricolour became the National Flag, it was the RSS which refused to accept it as the National Flag. Golwalkar, while discussing the issue of the National Flag in an essay entitled ‘Drifting and Drifting’ in the book ‘Bunch of Thoughts’, an RSS publication and collection of writings of Golwalkar (treated as Bible for the RSS cadres), has the following to say: “Our leaders have set up a new flag for our country. Why did they do so? It is just a case of drifting and imitating. Ours is an ancient and great nation with a glorious past. Then, had we no flag of our own? Had we no national emblem at all these thousands of years? Undoubtedly we had. Then why this utter void, this utter vacuum in our minds?”

Importantly, nowhere in the functioning of the RSS is the Tricolour or National Flag used even today. The RSS headquarters at Reshambaugh, Nagpur does not fly it nor do the RSS shakhas display it in daily parades. It seems the National Flag is meant only to whip up frenzy against Muslims. In 1991(Ekta Yatra) it was Murli Manohar Joshi, another favourite in the RSS hierarchy, who went to unfurl the Tricolour at Lal Chowk of Srinagar, Kashmir. Uma Bharti carried a Tri-colour because it was an Idgah which was being targeted by Hindutva. On the other hand, it is important to note that the Hindutva cadres who went to demolish Babri mosque in 1992 did not carry the Tricolour. They carried only saffron flags which were subsequently hoisted there. The RSS is faced with a peculiar dilemma. For Hindus it has saffron flag and for Muslims Tricolour. This selective use of the national symbols is bound to boomerang and further expose the Hindutva camp’s real designs. But one thing is sure that ‘Muslim Bashing’ remains the favourite pastime of the Hindutva gang.

(The writer teaches at Delhi University)

BJP’s Rashtriya Ekta Yatra: Heading In Wrong Direction

By M. Zajam,

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) fascination with Muslims, Kashmir, Pakistan and Yatras is never going to end. Its politics and programs revolve mainly around these issues. Latest in the series, Rashtriya Ekta Yatra, is heading towards Kashmir for hoisting flag in Lal Chowk, Srinagar on 26th January. This yatra started on 12th January from Kolkata will pass through 11 states before reaching Srinagar. Earlier Murli Manohar Joshi of BJP had also hoisted flag in Lal Chowk in 1992 under heavy security cover.

This time flag hoisting is planned when normalcy has just returned to valley after weeks of unrest. J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah has requested Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) to reconsider its decision as it is likely to disturb peaceful conditions in the valley. This Ekta Yatra has even divided BJP led National Democratic Alliance. Janata Dal (U) National President and NDA convener, Sharad Yadav, has requested BJP to call off the yatra stating nothing should be done to hamper the peace. Interlocutors appointed by Government of India has brought good news from Kashmir saying that most people they met in the Valley were against a UN resolutions or plebiscite to resolve the Kashmir issue. Kashmir panel head Dilip Padgoankar said most people reiterated their faith in democracy, fundamental rights, pluralism and tolerance. These interlocutors have been meeting people from all section of society for past few months to get their views about the Kashmir problem.

By hoisting National Flag, BJP claims it is trying to prove that Kashmir is integral part of India. It seems only BJP and Kashmiri separatist are in doubt about Kashmir being integral part of India. In 2008 Jammu and Kashmir assembly election was a success with 61% of voters turning up at polling booth braving separatist boycott call and harsh winter. This election was held in the month of November and December with last phase voting taking place on 24th December 2008. Voting percentage had increased by whopping 17%. Message from Kashmir was laud and clear. Recently concluded Bihar election recorded only 52% voting held in the pleasant month of October and November.

Bigger threat

If BJP really wants to do a service to Nation, their fascination with Kashmir, Pakistan and Muslims should end and they should focus on bigger threat India faces today.

BJP Rashtriya Ekta Yatra should have headed to North East instead of North West. They should have planned to hoist National Flag in Arunachal Pradesh close to border with China.

China has become very aggressive in North East India and specially Arunachal Pradesh. In fact it considers Arunachal Pradesh as part of China and often denies visas to those from the state saying they are from the same country. Former Chief Minister Gegong Apang was not given a visa stating that being a citizen of China he required no visa to enter his own country. In 2007, a study tour to Beijing of over 100 IAS officers was cancelled after China refused to give a visa to an officer from Arunachal Pradesh. In continuation of this policy, off late China has been issuing stapled visa for Arunachal Pradesh residents ignoring India strong protest.
Recently two Arunachal sportsmen were issued stapled visa by China, in spite of India raising ‘serious objections’ to the this practice during Chinese Premier recent India visit. These two sportsmen were not allowed to leave by the Indian government due to visa row. All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has decided to protest “humiliation” meted out to sportsmen by boycotting the Republic Day celebration and all function of national importance.

China has launched own mapping service similar to Google Earth on 18th January 2011.This service known as “Map World” is showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin- two area in dispute with India – as part of China. Arunachal Pradesh that China has always claimed as “southern Tibet” as part of its territory. The map has China’s borders covered up to Arunachal Pradesh. Also, the Aksai Chin area, which is part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir has been included by the map as part of China’s Xinjiang province. Two countries have held 14 rounds of talks on border dispute.

Growing nexus

The Chinese have provided shelter to many insurgent groups functioning in northeast India since the sixties. There are reports of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) cadres being trained by Chinese. Arrested Manipuri terrorist group leader claimed that banned outfit ULFA military chief Paresh Baruah is enjoying Chinese hospitality. The security agencies are worried over the growing nexus of China with other insurgent groups of North Eastern states. It is also involved in actively training and arming insurgent groups in Manipur and Nagaland. 400 cadre of a Manipuri insurgent group, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), have undergone arms training in China’s Yunnan province.

Since 2005, 4621 persons have lost their lives including 333 security forces in terrorist violence in North East India. 13 Out of 34, declared as terrorist organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, are based in North Eastern states.

Security agencies are also concerned as Chinese weapons in large numbers are finding their way to the northeastern states. Arrested National Socialist Council of Nagaland -Isak-Muivah (NSCN: I-M) arms procurer told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that NE insurgent groups are procuring weapons from weapon supplier in mainland China. These groups even acquired Anti-aircraft guns from China.

In June 2010, All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (Ansam) had enforced economic blockade of Manipur which lasted for more than two months. ANSAM had blocked the National Highways 39 and 53, the lifelines of the landlocked State. Blockade badly affected normal life in Manipur and people were forced to buy Rice at Rs.150-200 a kilogram, a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) refill at Rs.2,000, petrol at Rs.200 a litre, and diesel at Rs.150 a litre . It took two months for the Center to act and use force to lift this economic blockade. This caused lots of tension and resentment in the region.

Many were killed when clash broke out in bordering areas of Goalpara district in Assam and Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district in January this year between Garo and Rabha. Garos are a majority in Meghalaya but a minority in Assam; Rabhas are a majority in Assam and a minority in Meghalaya. Plans to reduce tension in these border areas will be appreciate and welcomed.

Attacks on Hindi speaking migrant workers in NE states are regular occurrences. Last November, 14 people were killed in attacks on migrant workers by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Assam has also witnessed attacks against hindi speaking migrants and Marwaris. National Integration Yatra in these areas to boost confidence of migrant population and inculcate Idea of India in NE India.

‘India’s enemy number one’

China is increasing its military power and influence in the strategically crucial Indian Ocean. China has become very generous off late with other Indian oceans nations. Chinese companies are involved in developing Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. Chinese government is providing 85% of the funding for this project. Apart from Sri Lanka, China is also building ports in Chittagong in Bangladesh, Kyaukpyu in Burma and Gwadar port in Pakistan. Indian security experts are concerned with these aggressive plans of China to encircle India.

In 1998, George Fernandes then Defence Minsiter in BJP led NDA government, had declared China as “India’s enemy number one”. Fernandes in a television interview stressed that the threats emanating from China showed that Beijing posed the greatest potential threat to India. He argued that China must be perceived as a threat by “any person who is concerned with India’s security.” He suggested it was not in India’s interest to understate problems with China. Fernandes had very few public defenders and Kanchi Shankaracharya was one of them.

In an interview in 2008, he maintained his stand on China, saying that China is ‘still potential threat number one and could become an enemy’. He added that India’s attitude towards China was because of the 1962 war. “I have a feeling that what happened in 1962 is still affecting people’s mind and they can’t get out of it,” he said.

China using Pakistan

China has been a strong ally of Pakistan’s for years. China has provided Pakistan with technical expertise in developing many weapon programs. It has also helping the country build nuclear reactors. China has deployed about 11,000 troops in the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the Occupied Kashmir for developing road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan. Former USA ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, who is now Henry Kissinger Senior Fellow for US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations – a prestigious US-based think tank, have said “China using Pakistan to slow India’s rise”

He added, Many Indian strategists think that there’s some evidence that China’s preoccupation with Pakistan and its long-time close links is closely connected to the Chinese realisation that if India is preoccupied, pinned down by cross-border terrorism from Pakistan and problems in the India-Pakistan relation, then it will slow the rise of India as a great power.

In Nepal, Maoist led government is overactive in strengthening ties with China. China has embarked on a railway project connecting the Tibetan capital of Lhasa with Nepal border town of Khasa. This is seen as an effort to reduce Nepal dependence on India for trade and economy. Nepal is also acquiring modern weapons from China. In September 2008, China announced a $1.3 million military aid package for Nepal and three months later PLA promised another $2.6 million for the same purpose. Chinese envoy in Nepal Quo Guohang has assured Nepal by stating that if Nepal faces threats to its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, China would help it not only militarily but also financially and diplomatically.


China has increased spying activities in India. Last week three Chinese spies were detained by police for allegedly taking pictures of vital installations near Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh. An Indian PAN card, two mobiles and a camera were recovered from them.

China has set up numerous study centers to spy on India. Named “Nepal-China Study Centers”, they are located on Indo-Nepal border. Many Chinese firms headed by former PLA officers have established its base in Nepal.

In 2009, the department of telecommunications,(DoT), citing security concerns, had asked private operators to avoid using their equipment in 20 of the 29 states. Earlier, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s tender for 93 million GSM lines, DoT decided to keep out the Chinese from states that shared borders with China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

China is mounting almost daily cyber attacks on both Indian government and private computer networks. Chinese are constantly scanning and mapping India’s official networks to have an idea on how to disable the networks or distract them during a conflict. In a coordinated attack in 2009, Computers of nine key Indian embassies, including offices in the US, UK and Germany, were infected by the mysterious GhostNet, a China-based cyber espionage network that has been uncovered by a Canada-based research organisation. India’s premier National Informatics Centre (NIC), which governs and hosts all government websites, was infected by the mysterious GhostNet many times.

China never misses any chance to bully India. In 2008, China had summoned Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao to the foreign office past midnight to convey concerns over storming of its embassy in New Delhi by some Tibetan protesters.

On 20th January, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari accompanied by a seven-member party delegation has begun his five-day goodwill tour of China. While his Youth Brigade of his party is heading towards Kashmir for flag hoisting. BJP target is way- way off the mark.

BJP should divert some of its energy towards North Eastern states as well. It is very much part of India and China is hell bent on creating trouble there. Declaring Arunachal Pradesh as part of China is attack on Indian sovereignty by China. People of Arunachal Pradesh are losing hope and their boycott of this year Republic Day is a warning signal. Is BJP ready to pick this signal? or BJP is too busy in its love affairs with Kashmir and has no time to look anywhere else. BJP narrow vision is not doing any good for the country and such narrow vision is not expected from a national party which has ruled India for six years. People of Arunachal Pradesh will be thankful to BJP and India, if one yatra and flag hoisting is arranged with same vigor and enthusiasm as shown in current Rashtriya Ekta Yatra.

Selective Justice For Muslim Religious Places In Delhi

By Sohail Ahmed Siddiqui,

Early morning on January 12th , Delhi govt. officials accompanied by 500 armed police personnel and DDA demolition squad and equipments reached a Hindu dominated locality Jangpura-B, adjacent to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia’s Mazar and tombs of Mughal ruler Humayun and Abdul Raheem Khankhana, to demolish a small Mosque in this area known as Masjid Noor. The entire operation was so secretive and planned that demolishers had within half an hour levelled the masjid structure and armed police had cordoned the vicinity of the mosque. Today two days later the force has swelled to 3000 CRPF personnel guarding the demolished masjid from Muslims who wanted to offer Juma Prayers at the masjid site.

Rule of law has been implemented and “illegal structure” (Noor Mosque) on Delhi Govt. land has been done away with. Congress MLA Sardar Talvinder Singh has played dirty in this episode. The president of Jangpura Residents Association is Sardar Monu Chadda, a school dropout and close associate of Sardar Talvinder Singh, the Congress MLA on whose complaint the masjid has been demolished.

People offering prayer at the site of demolished Noor masjid

I, till four years back, was a resident of Jangpura-B from 1975 and this one room small Masjid Noor was ten houses away from my house. As a disabled person after my car accident in January I992 this mosque was a relief for persons like me as I had difficulty in going to Bhogal or Nizamuddin Mosque. Sardar Talvinder Singh, a known land-grabber and former president of PGDAV College, Srinivaspuri, New Delhi, now a Congress MLA and Congress leader Tajdar Babbar never cooperated with the Muslims of the area. I can say with proof and confidence about their involvement in this demolition. The SHO of Nizamuddin is also part of the loot.

The Delhi High Court four years back ordered the Delhi state govt to stop illegal cutting of Dargah Panch Peer trees behind the Prime Ministers of India’s residence. What happened? Despite running from pillar to post the Dargah land was captured by Association of Retired Civil Servants for constructing Civil Servants Club. Today the dargah has been wired within 250 yards by area SHO. The green belt has been reduced to stones. On 9 acres of Dargah land worth at least 20,000 Crores the three storied Club building has almost finished its construction. This writer approached everyone from PM to Sonia to Urdu Media, Muslim leaders, Muslim ministers and MPs but till date nothing has happened despite the High Court orders in favour of the Dargah. Muslims would be grateful if the principle of Wakf alal Aulaad is restored. Dargah land behind PM House in the police lines area should be restored to the Dargah. Now coming to the implementation of the Delhi High Court order in the Jangpura Masjid Noor matter. It was not possible without the will of the Delhi state government and Central government’s complicity. Why a false order/No order is implemented by Delhi state govt. while genuine Delhi Court order in favour of Dargah is not implemented? This selective use of court orders by successive Indian governments and instances of the demolition of Babri Masjid, Batla House fake encounter, Mecca Masjid blasts by Brahmin terrorists or protecting RSS and Shiv Sena, are only radicalising the educated Muslim youth.

The Delhi High Court had not ordered demolition of the Jangpura Masjid as the Delhi Waqf Board had informed the DDA that the mosque was on its registered graveyard land. But Delhi Lt. Governor approved an unknown Religious Committee’s 16th June 2009 recommendation to demolish the mosque which was ultimately demolished on 12th January 2011. Months before the demolition, Zakat Foundation of India approached the office of Lt Governor, DDA and Delhi Government’s Home Dept seeking details about the Religious Committee and the members who attended its 16th June 2009 meeting, a copy of the minutes of the meeting and a copy of the paper on which Lt. Governor approved these minutes. But these offices haven’t yet provided the sought information to ZFI.

(The writer is Chief Editor of, can be reached at

Islam, Family and Modernity

Sometime ago I happened to go to Turkey for an international conference on the topic of Family. I wrote an account of my journey to Turkey but here I want to talk about my presentation in the conference. It was an impressive international conference from around 50 countries and 300 scholars, social scientists and activists. Several papers were read and discussed on various aspects of family. The common concern was that the institution of family is getting weakened and family being the very foundation of our civilization, it must be saved from disintegration.

I was asked to talk about Islam and institution of family. In fact the Prophet of Islam did not approve of life of celibacy except in some situation. He also disapproved of renunciation of world (ruhbaniyyah) and preferred living in the world and facing all the situations. Various pronouncements of the Qur’an relate to family life, marriage, divorce and children. Qur’an also says if you have no means to marry and sustain your family, lead pious life until Allah gives you necessary means. Also, Qur’an prescribes punishment for illegitimate sex fornication, rape and adultery.

According to Islamic teachings, sex is permissible only within the institution of marriage as sex only for pleasure, is not permissible; sex is basically meant for raising family. Today in western countries, people do not want to take responsibility for raising family but want to have sex for pleasure and hence ‘live-in’ arrangement has come into vogue and this concept of live-in has dealt great blow to the institution of family. In this arrangement both man and woman can walk away any time they like.

Thus the basic idea is not to have any responsibility towards each other, much less towards children. In fact every attempt is made to avoid begetting children and, if at all, children are born, the whole responsibility will come on a single parent, especially on mother. The result is man tries to have multiple partners to enjoy sex and woman is burdened with children and faces psychological stresses and strain.

Sex cannot be an end in itself as it happens in live-in arrangement. There are, according to Qur’an two important purposes of marriage – to raise family and provide companionship to each other. The very philosophy of marriage is based on love and companionship. Qur’an says, “And of His Signs is this, that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find quiet of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.” (30:21

Thus the institution of family, according to the Qur’an, should be based on higher and noble values of life .Simply to gratify sexual desire can never lead to higher civilization and stability in one’s life. Stability, compassion and love are the very basis of human civilization and family is an important institution in building civilization. Family, as far as possible, should not break and that is why according to the Prophet’s hadith, divorce is most disliked among permissible things and also according to another hadith heavens shake when man pronounces divorce to his wife because divorce delivers blow to very institution of family.

Today in the contemporary world institution of family is increasingly getting weakened due to certain contradictions arising in our life due to modernity. In modern period women too work and become quite independent and hence refuse to bow down to wishes of her spouse. In the past women were quite economically dependent on husbands and felt more secure in bowing down to his wishes. Husband was thought to be master and crown of her head (sartaj). Today women are from middle class families highly educated and work with high salaries and so they refuse to bow down before their husbands.

So many orthodox Muslims feel this is the result of women getting educated and earning for themselves. It is destabilizing families. This is wrong conclusion because we are embedded in patriarchal values. In fact if women have to have dignity and self-respect they should not be asked to submit to husband’s authority. Any institution based on authority rather than higher values cannot be stable and cannot lead to higher civilization. Qur’an while giving women right to earn and property, also gives her equal dignity and self respect and makes it clear that family should be based not on authority of husband but on love and compassion for each other.

If these values are meticulously practiced both husband and wife have mutual respect and consult each other before taking any crucial decision, woman’s education and earning would make family much more stable and prosperous. If our culture remains patriarchal and husband’s authority supreme, family in which woman is highly educated and cares for self respect and dignity, would tend to come under strain and break. Even in highly modern societies women has no role in decision making on crucial matters and hence family life comes under severe strain and percentage of divorce goes up because woman refuses to submit.

Thus solution does not lie in abandoning the institution of family and go in for live-in relationship. There will be no genuine love and compassion. Solution lies in according equal dignity to women and equal role in decision making. This alone will strengthen institution of family. Thus if philosophy of family as propounded by the Qur’an is followed institution of family will not fall apart. It will be strengthened instead.

Jangpura Masjid: Factual Position

By Dr Zafar Mahmood,

The Delhi High Court had not ordered demolition of the Jangpura Masjid as the Delhi Waqf Board had informed the DDA that the mosque was on its registered graveyard land. But Delhi Lt. Governor approved an unknown Religious Committee’s 16th June 2009 recommendation to demolish the mosque which was ultimately demolished on 12th January 2011. Months before the demolition, Zakat Foundation of India approached the office of Lt Governor, DDA and Delhi Government’s Home Dept seeking details about the Religious Committee and the members who attended its 16th June 2009 meeting, a copy of the minutes of the meeting and a copy of the paper on which Lt. Governor approved these minutes. But these offices haven’t yet provided the sought information to ZFI—Editor.

Jangpura Masjid Land Gazette

On 12 November 2010, I happened to offer Friday namaz for the first time in Masjid Noor of Jangpura in New Delhi. Imam Sahab was telling the audience that there was threat of demolition of the masjid. After the namaz was over, I told my staff to stay back and collect details from Imam Sahab. Within the next few days we received copies of some related documents. A thorough study thereof revealed that there was something amiss. Delhi Government’s Home Department had written to the DDA that the Lt. Governor’s Religious Committee had recommended the demolition of the masjid. On 19 November, Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI) wrote to the Lt. Governor asking him under the RTI Act as to who all are the members of the Religious Committee, names and addresses of the members who attended the relevant meeting held on 16 June 2009, copy of the minutes of the meeting and copy of the paper on which the Lt. Governor approved these minutes. On 25 Nov 2010 the LG Secretariat forwarded the ZFI’s RTI petition to the Commissioner-cum-Secretary of DDA asking him to provide the required information to ZFI. On 1st Dec. 2010 DDA’s Sr RO (RTI) forwarded the ZFI’s petition to the DDA’s Deputy Director (NL)-I. The LG Secretariat also advised the ZFI to file a separate petition to Delhi Government’s Home Department as some of the queries were to be answered by them. On 2nd Dec ZFI sent another RTI petition to Delhi Government’s Home seeking the same information as it sought earlier from the LG. No response has since been received either from DDA or from Delhi Home Department.

The matter had reached this stage while, using huge police force, DDA demolished the masjid on 12 January 2011. In the Gazette Notification of Delhi Government dated 25 September 1975 in Khasra no. 633 at entry no. 20 is mentioned the Muslim graveyard measuring 6 bigha 13 biswa.

The notification is signed by the Secretary, Delhi Wakf Board which also has copy of Jamabandi of 1947-48 showing the land as Muslim graveyard. On 26 August 2010 Delhi Wakf Board wrote to the Director (LM) of DDA that the impugned piece of land is duly notified in the Delhi Gazette of 1975 and is entered in the Jamabandi of 1947-48. The masjid has existed there for several decades. Copies of Gazette and Jamabandi were provided to DDA. The Board told DDA that the local Muslims were apprehending demolition of masjid by DDA and requested it that no demolition should occur as it would be illegal and will vilate the religious rights of Muslims.

The demolition has occurred under the pretext of Delhi High Court order dated 9 July 2008 in WP© No. 9358 of 2006. This writ was filed in 2006 by the Jangpura Residents Association so that the unauthorized construction and encroachment on the adjoining Nala and the public land could be removed and it could be restored as green area. Since then MCD has been intermittently submitting status reports to the High Court. The court order further observes that the status report dated 30 July 2007 shows that the de-silting of the Nala was completed in June 2007. Encroachments had been removed and the land had been developed. Later, on 7 July 2008, Jangpura Residents Association filed a fresh application before the High Court for issue of directions to the respondents to remove all other structures including the masjid.

However, having examined the photographs filed by the Association it appeared to the Court that most of the unauthorized structures have been removed and there is a boundary wall constructed to ensure that no further encroachments take place. It is stated by the counsels for the Petitioners that any further grievance that the Petitioner may have, including those made in the present application, will be promptly looked into and appropriate action taken thereon. ‘In view of this statement, this Court does not consider it necessary to continue to monitor the progress of the implementation of its directions.’

Thus, the High Court did not order the demolition of the masjid. The Lt. Governor, DDA and the Delhi Government Home Department have not yet divulged the minutes of the meeting of the Religious Committee held on 16 June 2009 nor the names and contact details of those who attended the meeting. On the other hand the Delhi Wakf Board had informed DDA on 26 Oct 2010 that the 30 year old masjid is located at a land owned by Delhi Wakf Board as per 35 year old gazette notification and the Jamabandi of 1947-48. Even then, using massive police force, DDA committed the gross illegality injuring the sentiments of millions of Indian Muslims.

Muslims have thus started feeling that the current governments in Delhi and at the Centre have no place for them in their heart. Sachar Committee report and PM’s 15 Point Program for Minorities worked as a show piece. These have mostly not been implemented. Muslims are not nominated @ 13.4% wherever the Government has discretion. Government officers are not sensitized toward Muslims. Many a time their prejudice continues against Muslims as in the case of Masjid Noor of Jangpura, New Delhi. The officials found guilty for this demolition should be punished. Masjid should be reconstructed. Monitoring Committees of Muslims and other minorities should be constituted to oversee the implementation of the welfare schemes.

Note: All documents quoted in this article are available at and

(The writer is President, Zakat Foundation of India, he can be reached at

Communal Riots In 2010

No year in India has been riot-free. Some years like 1992-93 post Babri Masjid demolition, 2002 in Gujarat witness major communal catastrophe, 2008 in Kandhamal riots or some years witness riots which are not nationally taken notice of. The year 2010 of course did not witness riots like Mumbai in 1992-93 or one like in Gujarat in 2002 but did witness riots mostly in either middle level cities or even small towns and villages.

However, some riots were really disturbing and also one cannot be oblivious of ever increasing trend of communalization due to all out efforts being made by RSS and its other outfits. Even a moderate party like the Congress has felt danger from communalism and tried to focus attack on communal BJP in its own interest. The BJP may not be upfront in promoting communal politics for various reasons not to be discussed in this article but is using other organizations of Sangh Parivar to do so. The BJP is in power in a few states and it is going all out to promote RSS in these states and also to recruit people with the RSS background in various government services which itself is great danger to our secularism.

The Congress focusing on communalism in its 84th session is more symbolic than substantial. It is still not ready to take on communal bull by its horns but is fighting it rather sheepishly. The Congress is the only national party with secular ideology but is not honest as it should be in fighting menace of communalism. Otherwise there is no reason why India cannot be riot-free.

According to the Home Ministry data between 2001 and 2009 6,541 communal clashes occurred and 2,234 persons were killed. Though the number of communal clashes may be correct officially the number of casualties is never reported accurately in official records for various reasons. In 2002 in Gujarat alone, all non-official sources agree, was 2000 dead and official sources are showing number of deaths between 2001 sand 2009 i.e. over a period of 8 years as 2,234 i.e. minus Gujarat total number of dead over a period of 8 years in all only 234 persons died which can hardly be accurate. But if we take official figure of dead in Gujarat riots of 2002 as 1000, then over a period of 8 years 1234 people died i.e. more than 150 people per year which is not so small, after all.

In 2009 the last riot had taken place on 30th December in Bhilwada, Rajasthan. This year too Rajasthan witnessed two horrible riots. The Sangh Parivar is doing everything possible to convert Rajasthan into Gujarat and Rajasthan is already on its way to becoming one. Maharashtra too is communally very sensitive state though it has always been ruled by the Congress except for one term i.e. from 1995 to 2000 by the Shiv Sena-BJP. The first riot in 2009, as per our record, took place in Evatmahal, Maharashtra on 16th January. The apparent cause was the rumour that Shivaji’s and Bal Thackeray’s photographs have been blackened in the College Chowk. The Shivsainiks came out on the road and started pelting stones on shops, buses and other vehicles. The police, however, brought the situation under control without any loss of life. The police arrested 50 Shivsainiks for rioting.

Karnataka, especially South Karnataka, is another communally sensitive area. The Ramsena has become hyper active since the BJP came to power. Both Christians and Muslims are being attacked in this state. Attacks on churches and mosques have increased. On 31st January Churches were attacked in Bhatkal and Mysore and a glass painting of mother Mary was attacked in Mangalore. Apart from this in Mangalore two mosques, one orphanage, one shop and one house also came under attack. One student was injured in an attack on the orphanage.

Next Shimoga in Karnataka and Bareilly in U.P. experienced communal violence on the occasion of Prophet’s birthday. In Shimoga the provocation came when a Kannada paper Kannada Prabha published Kannada translation of Taslima Nasreen’s article. Taslima Nasreen denied having anything to do with it. It was an article on burqa which was originally written in English in 2006 and it was a distorted translation according to her. Shimoga and Hassan experienced communal violence and both towns were put under curfew. Though there was no loss of life properties and vehicles were set to fire. Curfew was enforced and extended for two days to contain the situation.

Barielly in U.P. also saw communal violence on the occasion of Prophet’s birthday. On March 2 Muslims were to take out Julus-e-Muhammadi i.e. Prophet’s birthday procession. There were thousands of Muslims in the procession when some Hindus objected to procession being taken from a particular route. Bareilly has no history of communal violence. Both sides were throwing stones and attacking vehicles and houses.

It was difficult or 300 constables to contain the huge mob and hence imposed curfew which helped bring the situation under control. However, on March 8 the police arrested Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, President Ittahid-e-Millat Council for delivering provocative speeches in the procession. When Muslims protested he was released on 11th March. Then the Hindus protested and said he was released under pressure from Muslims and fresh trouble broke out on 12th March.

Since Holi and Prophet’s birth day coincided Muslims decided to take out julus two days later but Shabani Mian of Anjuman-e-Khuddam-e-Rasul did not agree to defer and hence for last two years two processions were being taken out and this year it resulted in communal eruption. There are various conjectures as to why Bareilly suddenly erupted which had remained quiet even after demolition of Babri Masjid. Some say Mayawati felt insecure as the Congress was performing well and that she had secret understanding with the BJP to polarize Hindu and Muslim vote. It is true that the Congress and BSP are at logger’s head and would not mind engineering communal violence. Communal violence is a political phenomenon, not religious one.

Thus Bariely remained under curfew for a long time which it had not witnessed before and sustained huge losses of property. This riot, mainly due to rivalry between Congress and BSP assumed national importance and this issue was raised even in Parliament also.

Next it was turn of Hyderabad on 30th March. Hyderabad old city is communally highly sensitive thanks to rivalry between Majli-s-Ittihadul Muslimin and BJP. In the old city poorest of poor Muslims live along with Hindus some of whom are traders and supporters of BJP. Most of the poor Muslims support the Majlis. Majlis is trying to increase its political clout and hence decided to celebrate Prophet’s birth day on a grand scale and even went to the extent of creating a copy of the Prophet’s mausoleum in the old city which had never happened before.

It also decorated old city and the area remained under illumination and decoration for long after the Barawafat i.e. Prophet’s birth day. The BJP, not to be outdone, celebrated Hanuman jayanti on a big scale and created huge sized statue which was not the tradition. It led to tension when the BJP workers tried to remove Prophet’s birth day flags and decorations and clashes occurred.

There were other factors besides this rivalry between the Majlis and BJP. New Chief Minister Rosaih had taken over after death of Rajshekhar Reddy in the helicopter accident and his son Jaganmohan Reddy was aspiring to become C.M. but the congress high command chose Rosaiah. Many were of the opinion that he was behind the riots trying to destabilize Rosaiah. Yet there was another theory that some big builders engineered the violence as land prices are skyrocketing in the old city and builders are interested in big development projects by getting the land vacant through engineering violence.

There was yet another theory that the BJP wanted to increase its base in the area and so far it has not tested power in Andhra Pradesh though it is already in power in neighbouring Karnataka and hence it sent VHP cadre to provoke communal violence to consolidate the Hindu vote. It is said that these people came on motorcycle and injuries inflicted were of the same kind.

This riot was also of major kind and persisted for a whole month and old city remained under curfew for that period greatly inconveniencing the poor who could not even go out for work. There was shortage of food, milk and vegetables. Various NGOs came out to render some help to the poor. These are the political games which politicians play and subsequently poor suffer. Two persons were killed in stabbing incidents besides huge property losses.

The attacks from outside were such that several young Muslim boys of 9 to 14 years of age formed defence squad and tried to scare away attackers from outside who entered the old city to engineer violence. A student from U.K. carried out study of this spontaneous defence squad and read out a paper on her field study in the Asia conference in Australia in which I was also present. These young boys acted spontaneously and no political party or agency had organized them. This communal violence continued for whole month i.e. up to beginning of April.

Agra in U.P. came under spell of communal violence on 25th April when 25 shops were set to fire as rumour spread that some people teased some girls. It took communal form and these shops happened to be in Shivaji Market of Fort area. However, authorities denied that it was communal in nature. But it seems it was communal in nature two groups belonged to two different communities.

Dhule in Maharashtra too is sensitive area which has witnessed worst riots earlier too. Outside collector’s office there appeared a poster with the cartoon of the Prophet of Islam on 4th May which provoked Muslims to protest. The police fired on the agitating mob and also lathicharged thus injuring more than 4 people were injured and several more in lathicharge. During stone pelting vehicle of Dy.S.P. was also damaged. However, Minister in charge of Dhule Abdus Sattar convened peace committee meeting and violence was stopped.

It is so funny that in India even 60 years after independence and our secular Constitution communal violence breaks out on small and very insignificant issues like in Amalner Maharashtra where riot broke out on 19 May on the question of grinding spices in a grinding mill. The floor mill belonged to a Muslim and a Hindu customer wanted his spices to be grinded on priority basis and resulted in a bitter exchange and violence broke out in which Muslims were targeted The Police had to fire in the air to disperse the mob and two persons were injured in firing. Even the police came under attack and 9 of them were injured.

Jodhpur in Rajasthan witnessed communal violence on 23rd May near Balesar village. The dominant community of Sainis attacked police station after member of this community died in a police firing after damaging an Idgah. The incidents took place after dispute over removal of a particular shop for road widening. Then the labourers working on NREGA scheme damaged the portion of the Idgah.

Then came the turn of Ahmedabad where communal violence erupted on 26th May. One person was killed in acid attack in Shahpur area. Shopkeepers immediately downed their shutters. Tension spread to other areas of the city, as knives and swords were out and two people were stabbed. The clashes began when a marriage procession passed by a mosque at prayer time. Eleven people were injured when rival groups stoned and police was forced to fire. One of the injured Vijay Datania died in the hospital triggering fresh violence. It was alleged by People’s Union for Civil Liberties that the Modi Government was mainly responsible for communal violence and a delegation of PUCL met Governor to intervened and stop violence.

The communal violence however, continued to spread in other areas and later in Chalte Peer Ki Dargah area an armed mob of masked boys slashed a scooterist’s throat barely 15 feet from police station. In retaliation armed mob set two motor bikes on fire.

Again it was in Rawer of Jalgaon District, Maharashtra that communal violence broke out on the question of eve teasing on 2nd June. The police first resorted to lathicharge and then to firing to disperse the mob. (12 persons were injured in stoning and firing. After the incident of eve teasing a mob attacked the Mastanshah Masjid. Three policemen were also injured in communal incidents. The mob attacked several shops and properties belonging to Muslims

Malegaon experienced communal unrest when news spread that 6 dead cows were found on the road. Malegaon would have exploded if the police had not countered the rumour. The cows were not killed or slaughtered by any one but they died of suffocation while being transported. Some Hindutvawadis published on internet bodies of badly injured cows by doctoring these photographs to incite violence. But it did not work. People refused to be provoked. Malegaon, otherwise, is highly sensitive area.

Sarada town in Udaipur district erupted on 24-25 July after two drunk gangsters fought one of them Muslim and the other a tribal as Sarada happens to be a tribal area. The VHP, RSS and BJP exploited this incident o the hilt and provoked tribals into seeking revenge and distributed arms to them and all of them were made to gather near Muslim area and it all happened the Congress ruled state that 70 houses belonging to Muslims were burnt right in the presence of S.P. and District Magistrate.

Also about 500 Muslim families were dishoused in 6 other villages in this district. One Congress M.P. and his MLA wife were also present when these houses were burnt and destroyed. They belonged to the same tribal group. Thus tribal loyalty proved to be stronger than ideological loyalty. What is worse the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, supposedly a secular man did not take any action against guilty S.P. and D.M. despite repeated representation to him by human rights activists. Muslims are very angry with Gehlot for deliberately not taking any action. I also personally told him when I met him at P.M.’s house in Delhi in a meeting but he had no convincingly reply. Instead he promoted the S.P., a tribal from North East and transferred him. He even refused to hold a judicial inquiry. Not only that even adequate compensation was not offered to those who lost everything they possessed. Paltry amounts were offered and when Muslims refused police intimated them into accepting.

Since the BJP has lost elections in Rajasthan it is trying to use communal card to come back to power. The Congress is not ready even to understand this. It appears Gehlot is not interested in controlling communal elements in Rajasthan and giving them full latitude to do what they want and going totally unpunished.

Ratlam in M.P. which is normally a peaceful town came under communal spell after some people threw cow dung on a mosque which was being painted on 4th September. This led to clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Muslims set fire to a motorcycle. Thereupon people from another community came on the streets with weapons and began to set fire to motorcycles and other vehicles. One section of the city came under spell of violence. However, then the police intervened and brought about reconciliation between warring groups.

On 6th September Deganga, West Bengal saw communal violence when Rahul Gandhi was to begin his tour of West Bengal. Haji Nurul Islam is accused of presiding over a four hour mayhem on September 6 in Deganga that led to destruction of properties belonging to Hindus and the desecration of a temple. A rattled Trinamool has launched an investigation into the matter. The violence that started on September 6 and continued uptil 9 despite deployment of Army, was triggered by erection of a wall around a Muslim cemetery at Kartikpur that Hindus said blocked entry to a temple and pandal of Durga puja. Nurul-n-Islam led a march to the police station and on the way mob damaged houses and shops.

But then Muslims decided to submit memorandum to the police. This again led to Hindus gathering with weapons and forced their entry into nearby Muslim houses and began to damage them. On Kalalseri some houses were damaged and a tractor and a tempo were set afire. However, the police officer fired 6 rounds in air to control the situation. But even then the crowd continued to commit violence for quite sometime. Thus properties worth several lakhs were destroyed.

This time Malerkotla went through a bout of communal violence though Malerkotla is a place known for communal harmony as it was Nawwab of Malerkotla who had saved the children of the 10th Guru Govind Singh and hence Sikhs did not harm Muslims of Malerkotla even in 1947 partition riot and this is the only district in Punjab from where Muslims did not migrate to Pakistan.

It was on September 12 that bout of communal violence took place after the Qur’an burning incident in the US was to take place. Since a Christian priest in the US was to burn copies of Qur’an a church was vandalized in Malerkotla after the Eid celebrations. The police had to impose curfew. The angry mob also burnt a police motorcycled. The police had a tough time controlling the angry mob. Muftyi Fazlur Rehman who appealed for peace said that the disturbances were politically motivated. He also maintained that events were pre-planned. After the news of disturbances in Malerkotla the Christians in Ludhiana blocked the entire area and similarly Muslims also gathered near Jama Masjid in Ludhiana to protest against the burning of Qur’an in US. The unruly mob set ablaze the office of the forest department and two police vehicles in Poonch after four people get injured when police fired warning shots in the air and lobbed teargas shells. In Jammu region the mob burnt effigies of Barrack Obama.

Finally District Jhalawad in Rajasthan came under spell of communal violence on 20th September after tribals provoked by the Sangh Parivar ransacked Manoharthana and few other villages after a tribal girl was raped by three Muslim boys. Most of the Muslims lost everything and had to leave Manoharthana with clothes they were wearing. Everything else was burnt or looted. We heard their woes and those of Sarada village in Udaipur district on 12th December in a Jansunwai (public hearing). In Manoharthana too the police did not act and allowed Adivasis (tribals) to burn and loot.

The Sangh Parivar is communalizing tribals and dalits and using them for indulging in communal violence. In Manoharthana the two factions of BJP were involved. Thus it was factionalism within BJP which became one of the causes of the communal violence in Manoharthana, Rajasthan. Also, BJP is making all efforts to convert Rajasthan into Gujarat and Congress ruling party is quite oblivious of this.

Binayak Sen – Gandhi Of Our Era

By Muhammad Arifuddin Ilyas,

A person who fights for Human Rights and questions the Government policy will be sentenced to Life imprisonment. This is what the Law says. According to Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.” Same was the law (of sedition) that was used to convict Mahatma Gandhi during British Rule. After Independence, India had no other alternative to the British Constitution and happily, we inherited the British system.

Mahatma Gandhi of the present Era, I must say, Dr. Binayak Sen, a doctor by profession is a noted Human rights activist who has dedicated his life for a Cause. He worked for the tribal people of Chhattisgarh who are devoid of the basic amenities. On 24th Dec, the Sessions court of Raipur found him guilty of sedition and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

His only crime is that he raised his voice against the ‘Salwa Judum’, a private force armed by the Chhattisgarh government to take on the Tribals and Maoists, forcing them to leave their land to the big-shot Mining companies. Salwa Judum has committed many crimes, the list of which is endless; burnt houses, looted tribal’s property, raped women and killed people. Though government admits all of these crimes, not a single case has been registered against Salwa Judum, only because it is backed by the State government.

Dr. Sen fought for people who have been exploited over years, who are deprived of Education, Healthcare and resources needed to ensure their Sustainability. What they want is not ‘Development’ but protection of their ‘Land’ and basic amenities.

In spite of Dr. Sen’s statements that he neither condones the Naxalites nor approves of their violent method, speaking strongly against them several times, he gets falsely accused of sedition and conspiracy.

The evidence that was presented against Dr. Sen is:

• A post card dated 3 June 2006 written to Dr. Sen by Narayan Sanyal (while lodged at the Raipur Central Jail), regarding his health as well as legal case, which is duly signed by the Jail authorities carrying the Seal of the Jail Authorities

• A booklet “On the Unity between CPI (Peoples’ War) and Maoist Communist Centre” in Hindi

• A letter written by Madanlal Banjare (a member of the CPI-Maoist) from Jail addressed “Priya Comrade Binayak Sen”

• A photocopy of an article in English titled “Naxal Movement, Tribals and Women’s Movement”

• A hand written photocopied note “How to build an Anti-US Imperialist Front”

• Eight page article titled “Krantikari Janwadi Morcha (Revolutionary People’s Front) Vaishavikaran Awam Bahrtiye Seva Kshetra (Globalization and the Service Sector in India)

What is the reason of Dr. Sen’s life-time imprisonment? Is it because, he visited Narayan Sanyal in Jail 33 times? Is talking to a prisoner with prior Police permission a Crime? The post card written by Mr. Sanyal to Dr. Sen was duly signed by the Jail authorities. Mr. Sanyal was being treated by Dr. Sen for fibromatosis. Is treating a prisoner a Crime? Moreover, Mr. Sanyal was not jailed as a Naxalite, rather, he was accused of murder. Most importantly, all the meets of Dr. Sen with Mr. Sanyal was under strict supervision of Jail authorities. All that they talked was about Mr. Sanyal’s health and his case. When they never met alone, how is Dr. Sen accused of conspiracy?

Refuting to follow his party’s line in Chhattisgarh, Ram Jethmalani, eminent lawyer and BJP member says that “it is a case of low evidence”.

The Hard-to-believe Reality is that the Chhattisgarh government has signed hundreds of MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding) with many Mining companies and other MNCs. It is public that there have been many visits of American Ambassadors to Raipur and other cities of Chhattisgarh in the recent times. All of this suggests that Dr. Sen’s arrest is nothing but a Capitalist agenda in the disguise of ‘development’. As Arundhati Roy suggests, it isn’t Maoist corridor, rather, it must be called a ‘MOUist corridor’.

In this regard, India is no different to China. India and China may have differences in their Systems of Governance. But, they definitely don’t differ in turning down the Voices raised against the Government. When the Human Rights activist of China, Liu Xiaobo called for the end of Communist one-party rule in China, he was incarcerated as a Political Prisoner. Walking into the foot-steps of China, Indian Government too, ridiculed the “Right to Freedom of speech” by convicting Dr. Binayak Sen of being a conduit between the Naxalites. His is one such case of excesses on basic human rights of the citizens of India. NHRC receives thousands of such cases every year – Is anyone to heed?

It’s high time that we analyze our shortcomings, raise our voices for this cause and let the world hear it!! Cry out!!!!

(The writer is a Software Engineer by profession and hails from Hyderabad)

Vagaries Of First-Past-The-Post Electoral System

By Soroor Ahmed,

Without taking any credit away from the National Democratic Alliance victory in Bihar one need not ignore some unique aspects of the results of 2010 Assembly election in the state. The Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance with just 39.1 per cent votes managed to get around 85 per cent of seats––206 in the House of 243––while the Rashtriya Janata Dal-Lok Janshakti Party combine of Lalu Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan ended up getting just 10 per cent seats when they actually got over 25.3 per cent votes. RJD got 18.6 per cent votes while LJP 6.7 per cent. Congress, which got 8.37 per cent votes, won just four seats. How could this happen when even in 1952 and 1957 Bihar Assembly elections, the then ruling Congress did not win so much seats notwithstanding the fact that there was no formidable opposition party in the state then? Even in June 1977 post-Emergency Assembly election the then Janata Party could win only 214 out of 324 seats when the anti-Congress wave was sweeping all over north India. Even in the parliamentary election held just three months before the Janata Party won all the 54 seats in the state.

Interestingly, this time Independent candidates and smaller parties managed to garner about 27 per cent votes in the election yet they could win eight seats. Fragmentation of opposition votes is being attributed to this landslide victory of the NDA.

Now just imagine what would have happened had these Independent and smaller parties got, say around 20 per cent votes, and not 27 per cent and this seven per cent would have gone to the Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine. With 39.1 plus seven per cent more votes the party might have won all the 243 seats. Thus with just 45-46 per cent popular mandate a party or combination can win all the seats of any House. And with 25.3 per cent votes––as in the case of RJD-LJP here––an alliance may not even open its account. Now contrast this with other situation where parties with 25-26 per cent votes have ruled the states. This once again because of the division in opposition votes.

Though nobody is demanding the review of our electoral system or introduction of Proportional Representation system the fact is that we seriously need an appraisal. Never in India any party or combination has won so many seats with such small percentage of votes in any big Assembly––not that of Sikkim, Goa etc. Even in the 1984 parliamentary election held after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the Congress Party won 400-odd seats when it got about 50 per cent votes, that is about 10 per cent more than NDA this time in Bihar. But in that way the percentage of seats won was less than 75. In West Bengal Assembly election of 2006 too the Left Front managed to win around 80 per cent seats (235 out 294) when it got about 50 per cent votes.

A thumping majority of about 85 per cent in the state Assembly with mere 39.1 per cent votes tend to make any party or combination over-confident and over-bearing. The complete decimation of the opposition is certainly bad for democracy. The rank and file of the ruling combination or party––more than its leaders––often forget that more than 60 per cent of mass is not with them and that they have acquired so many seats just because of the vagaries of the electoral system. Similarly, a decimated opposition, even if the largest one of them got over 25 per cent votes, becomes a demoralised lot. Such an opposition cannot put up a great show on the floor of the Assembly.

It would not be appropriate to thrust two-party or three-party system in the country from above, but the Bihar election has certainly exposed the weakness of the presence of so many candidates. More than 27 per cent of votes got by Independent candidates and smaller parties have almost got wasted as it got translated into just eight seats. So after the Janata Dal (United)-BJP alliance, this group got largest number of votes, yet hardly any representation in the state Assembly.

The present scenario in Bihar is in contrast to West Bengal, which is going to election within a few months. Though there are too many parties there as well, but most of them come under one umbrella of the Left Front, while Congress and Trinamool are the other two. There is likelihood of the two coming together this time. In that way the contest may be straight and less chance of wastage of such a huge percentage of votes, such as 27 per cent in Bihar.

Khwaja Abdul Hamied (1898-1972)

By Naved Masood,

Today, Indian pharmaceutical industry is the second largest in the world in terms of volumes produced and is among the top six as far as financial turn-over is concerned. This extraordinary success story has two principal authors – “Acharya” Prafulla Chandra Roy who founded the Bengal Chemicals in 1901 and Khwaja Abdul Hameid of CIPLA established in 1935. While after the first few decades of its existence Bengal Chemicals went into eclipse and has since been reduced to manufacturer of some formulation drugs, soaps and other toiletries in the public sector, CIPLA has grown from strength to strength wit its current turnover exceeding ` 5000 crores or well over $ 1 billion. Dr Hamied is therefore deservedly regarded as the father of indigenous modern pharmaceutical industry of India. This pre-eminence makes him as one of the most remarkable Indian Muslim of recent times and his life and achievements deserve to be known more widely.

Son of Khwaja Abdul Ali and Masood Jahan Begum, Hamied was born on 31st October,1898 in Aligarh in the house of his maternal grandfather Khwaja Mohammed Yusuf. Khwaja Abdul Ali was one of the earliest graduates of the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College (MAO College) Aligarh. After initial legal practice he joined the UP Provincial Judicial Service and served in various District of the province before retiring as District and Sessions Judge. His father’s career necessitated Hamied’s early education in various places. He has time and again acknowledged the attention his father paid to his moral upbringing and inculcating high values and positive attitudes.


He joined the MAO Collegiate School popularly known as ‘Minto Circle’ in 1908. A few years later, he was admitted to the famous Islamia High School in Itawa which was then regarded as a center of excellence at school level for children of the Muslim elite and served as a kind of ‘feeder school’ for the MAO College, Muir Central College Allahabad and the Agra College – the three premier institutions of higher education in UP. In 1913 there occurred in Kanpur an agitation against demolition of a portion of a mosque to widen a road and resulted in death of more than seventy Muslims in Police firing. His father was then posted in the city and their house was next to the place – he thus became witness to wanton acts of Police cruelty which made him deeply resentful of foreign rule and a strong votary of the freedom movement.

Khwaja Abdul Hamied

After passing the High School examination from Itawa he joined Agra College for the Intermediate course in Science; on passing this examination he prevailed upon his father to let him join the Leather Training School at Madras as he had developed a strong urge for technical education and running an industry of his own. After one year at Madras, while visiting Allahabad where his elder brother was studying in the Muir central College, the University College, he was struck by the fact that his class-fellows were obtaining higher education while he was merely obtaining ‘Practical Training’. This made him abandon the Leather School and join BSc course at Muir Central College Allahabad in 1918. On obtaining a First Class in that course he joined MSc in the same University in 1920.

Soon, however, he was caught in the vortex of the Khilafat and non-cooperation movements wherein Mahatma Gandhi and Ali Brothers had given a call for boycott of Government and Government assisted institutions – Hamied with his anti-imperialist state of mind led the boycott in the Muslim Boarding House of the Allahabad University. He left for Aligarh which had become the epicenter of that movement and hundreds of students on walking out of the MAO College were accommodated by the Ali Brothers in a makeshift ‘National Muslim University’ or the Jamia Millia Islamia. Hamied joined that institution as a Reader in Chemistry. He came in contact with Gandhiji, Ali Brothers and above all Dr Zakir Husain with whom he developed a life-long association. He remained in that position till September 1924 and was instrumental in sending Dr Zakir Husain to Germany for his PhD in 1923. He followed Dr Zakir Husain to Berlin next year – his mother had to sell two houses to finance his stay. He obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the Berlin University based on his thesis, ‘Technology of Barium Compounds’. He stayed in Germany for another year gaining practical experience in a number of chemical industries. While in Germany he struck friendship with a young Jewish girl from Poland, Lubow Derchanska, (popularly, called Luba) she was also doing research in Chemistry; the friendship later culminated into a very happy marriage and this writer remembers having seen her in his childhood and youth in Aligarh on several occasions as integral a part of her husband’s extended family as any typical Indian daughter- in-law.


He established the Chemical, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Laboratory with the acronym CIPLA in 1935 with an initial capital of Rs. 2 lakhs. The company commenced production in 1937 and faced serious difficulties in marketing its products as the doctors had no faith in indigenous formulations. The rising inventories and mounting wage bills brought the company to the brink of closure; it was only the income from sale of ‘Okasa” that somehow kept it afloat. The outbreak of the Second World War and the consequent disruption in shipping lanes proved to be a blessing for CIPLA – doctors and hospitals had to perforce rely on indigenous products which proved to be equal to the British and European brands in quality. An added impetus was provided by the burgeoning demands of the military.

Two major R&D breakthroughs put CIPLA in the league of manufacturers of original molecules and proprietary medicines. One was the ability of CIPLA Chemists to discover an alternative method of synthesizing Nicotinic Acid Dieththylamide whose original brand was ‘Coramine’. It was then a very important cardio-respiratory stimulant needed to revive patients in a state of shock. Cormine was manufactured in Germany and its availability was a major issue particularly as it was needed to manage military casualties. The alternative method of manufacture made CIPLA a known name internationally. The other breakthrough that had far reaching consequences was the marketing of serpenid an alkaloid of Rauwolfia serpentine the first ‘herbal remedy’ in Allopathy for treatment of hypertension. The isolation of this alkaloid was achieved by his friend Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui FRS who was then working in the Aligarh Muslim University. Though this was soon superseded by its more powerful, purer form, reserpine, it was then a sensational innovation and it made CIPLA known in the global pharmaceutical community. From 1944 onwards the Company has never looked back and the trail it blazed has been followed by thousands of company making India a force to reckon with in the industry. Khwaja Sahib’s eldest son Yusuf Hamied, a PhD in Organic Chemistry who joined the Company in 1966 is a distinguished scientist in his own right and has taken it to new heights after the death of his distinguished father.


Whole time involvement in trade and commerce did not affect his sense of public duty. A relatively unknown chapter in the history of communal politics of undivided India is his election to the Bombay Provincial Legislative Council as an independent candidate from Bombay city Muslim constituency. Mr. Jinnah considered this seat to be his personal fief and he made the victory of his nominee a prestige issue. He invited Khwaja for tea to unsuccessfully dissuade him from contesting and forecast his ignominious defeat. The future ‘Qaid’ personally canvassed for his acolyte giving rise to a general perception that Khwaja Hamied’s defeat was a foregone conclusion particularly as the overwhelming majority of the electorate consisted of Bombay Muslim merchants of Gujarati extraction – only those paying a minimum of Rs. 15000 per annum were eligible to vote. Even on the day of polling crowds were seen around the camp of his opponent but it transpired that the majority had voted for the budding industrialist from Aligarh. Although this sensational episode is now forgotten it was ‘headline material’ in contemporary Urdu press with clear indications that apart from the very positive image of Khwaja Hamied among Muslims it was the adroit handling of his campaign by his old friend Dr Zakir Husain which tilted the scales so decisively. Surprisingly, in his autobiography A Life to Remember (Bombay, Lalvani 1972) all he mentions is that Dr Zakir Husain ‘happened to be in Bombay on the day of the election.’ Hamied remained in the Council for two terms upto 1952 and took a truly independent stance on issues concerning industry, trade and commerce, labour relations and above all grievances and apprehensions of Muslims of the Bombay Province. If he could stand up against Jinnah he was equally forthright with Sardar Patel and had many a stand-off with the ‘iron man’.

During the days of financial stringency and government hostility in the 1930s he was a steadfast supporter of Jamia Millia and its Vice Chancellor Dr Zakir Husain. This is particularly remarkable as till 1939-40 his own financial status was hardly comfortable and his frequent, handsome subventions to the fledgling institution in Delhi involved a degree of sacrifice of personal comforts. This is all the more remarkable when regard is had to the fact that in the 1930s Jamia was not exactly a favourite of the Government and industries then were highly regulated. From a perusal of Abdul Ghaffar Madholi’s >em>Jamia ki Kahani it is clear that the historical silver jubilee celebrations of Jamia (1946) which was perhaps the only occasion when Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru shared the same platform in a public function was almost entirely financed by the Bombay Muslims and that this financing campaign was orchestrated by Khwaja Hamied.

In the case of Aligarh Muslim University his contributions are of even a more fundamental character and it is a pity that they have not been adequately recognized. Khwaja Hamied was first elected a member of the University Court and the Executive Council in 1938 and barring short intervals these memberships continued till his death in 1972. He was brought into the University governing bodies by Dr Zakir Husain and his supporters. He, however, took a generally objective unbiased stand on all controversial matters. He was instrumental in containing politicization of the campus for a long time; he was ever so vigilant in the matter of recommendations of Selection Committee and with his experience in the world of commerce his advice and assistance was invaluable in obtaining better returns on investments and also in obtaining donations, endowments and sponsored freeships – it must be remembered that till 1947 AMU despite receiving recurring grants from the Government of India was essentially a private University as Government assistance always fell short of actual requirements and balancing income with expenditure was always a tight rope walk. He also played a key role in development of Chemistry Department where he was appointed an Honorary Professor. His help was always available in getting bright students admitted to foreign Universities and enabling research scholars to work at the National Chemical Laboratories in Poona of which he was one of the founding fathers. In course of studying the history of the AMU this writer has had occasion to study proceedings of the Court and the Executive Council of the University over the years; it comes out clearly that in the run up to the independence when Muslim League was going all out to use the students as canon fodder in its campaigns the voice of Khwaja Abdul Hamied was one of reason and sanity. His strongest advocacy for the University was, however, reserved for later when in 1960 the Central Government appointed an Inquiry Committee to look into certain charges the principal being that the University though legally open to all classes, was in fact primarily catering to Muslims. The evidence of Dr Hamied before the Committee was a strong defence of such a policy and he dared the Committee to ask Jawaharlal Nehru as to why he insists that visiting Muslim dignitaries like Kings of Saudi Arabia and Iran were brought to Aligarh to see the University – such an argument might appear to be commonplace now but half a century ago it required lot of courage to make such a ‘politically incorrect’ statement. It needs hardly to be added that though he was visiting Aligarh in connection with the affairs of the University on average six times a year with considerable cost to his business, he never charged the University a farthing on travel expenses or ever asked them to arrange for his boarding and lodging.

Scientific India

Again, it is hardly a known fact that apart from conceiving the idea of establishing a National Chemical Laboratory and doing all the running around for making it a reality, it was Khwaja Hamied who floated the idea and conceptualized the establishment of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as an umbrella organization to run a clutch of laboratories. He remained a Member of the Governing Body of the CSIR right from its inception till the very last. He was, however, critical in later years of the working of these laboratories as he was firmly of the view that they were not catering to the requirements of industrial advancement – in his view research in pure sciences was best left to the Universities and organizations like the Indian Institute of Science. He strongly pleaded for much of research in the CSIR system being carried out on ‘sponsorship’ basis i.e. funded by the Industry. He was much ahead of his times and the ideas he canvassed in 1940s and 50s have finally been adopted now. As he was intimately involved with one CSIR lab, the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) he could put in action many of his ideas in that organization which became an important testing platform for the developing pharmaceutical industry in the country.

Though there is much that can be written on the multi faceted personality of Khwaja Sahib, this writer would like to round off this presentation with what he considers to be a unique side of his personality. While the acts of charity of Marwari and Chettiar magnates in their places of origin, Central Rajasthan and Southern Tamil Nadu respectively are well known and rural areas in these backwaters are dotted with magnificent, untenanted Havelis and Mansions, one does not see that personal linkage which our protagonist had with Aligarh. He not only maintained a palatial house, Masood Mahal named after his mother, but his personal contacts in the city were phenomenal – and that was in a city where except a few years of his boyhood and a year or so of his post PhD unemployment he did nor spend much time. Most of his days in UP were spent in small towns where his father happened to be posted or in hostels in Itawa and Allahabad. While his parents had settled down in Aligarh and he was frequently visiting them or attending meetings in the University, still how he managed to find time to enlarge his sphere of friends in a matter of few hours once every two months or so is no ordinary feat. In my childhood and youth I remember small shopkeepers, Rickshaw pullers and bakers selling “mutree” biscuits all talking to Khwaja Sahib in respectfully familiar terms. He would often come in for a short while for a marriage in the family of an old servant or for a similar purpose all the way from Bombay. And incidentally, he used to travel between Bombay and Delhi by train as he had an aversion to airplanes as in his opinion they played a largely destructive role.

This writer remembers Khwaja Sahib as a jovial person full of warmth and ever ready to cut a joke. He was a family man deeply attached to his parents and several sisters most of whom were in Aligarh. One does not know how religious he was in the formal sense, but he had an unflinching, unshakable trust in God as is repeatedly evident from his autobiography. After God his reverence was reserved for his father who evidently played a very active role in inculcating values of integrity, hard work, truthfulness and empathy for poor. He would often lament that parents of subsequent generations were not spending sufficient time with their children and help them in character building.

How does one round off this piece? One has just tried to write a short piece on somebody who was a scientist, pioneering industrialist, activist in public life, educational administrator, philanthropist and a true gentleman. It is possible that in many societies there will be a few like him and that India and Indian Muslims had the good fortune to have one like him. It would be trite to lament that he is not adequately remembered despite the fact that if India is one place where ‘high-end’ medicines of adequate quality are available at easily the cheapest rates, credit should substantially go to someone called Khwaja Abdul Hamied. People with such varied talents and wide interests are not born everyday; it is anybody’s guess as to when we come across such a person again.

1. The author is thankful to Prof Farhan Mujib former Professor, Department of Physics AMU, Aligarh, son of the niece of late Khawja Abdul Hamied, and Mr. Ashok Jaitley IAS (Retired) whose parents and the Hamieds were socially very close. Rest of the material is taken from either his autobiography or personal recollections.

2. This case clearly indicates that dependence on Wikipedia is a very hazardous enterprise – there is a ‘stub’ on Dr Abdul Hamied which indicates that he was born in Katch in Gujarat!