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Gujarat 1992: Hindus who saved a dargah in Surat

‘Ram & Rahim are same’: For over two years, Muslims and local families have started coming to the dargah that has been protected by Hindu families for over 30 years; Hindus also arrange free tea, water, and food for Muslims visiting the dargah

03 Feb 2023

Hindu Muslim Unity
Image: https://www.newindianexpress.com
 

AHMEDABAD:  A dargah located in Punagam, Surat district of Gujarat has drawn attention as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. Despite the absence of Muslims in the vicinity, Hindus have been preserving the dargah for generations, as reported by The New Indian Express. During the 2002 communal riots, the Hindu community came together to protect the dargah from being destroyed. Recently, the local community took it upon themselves to renovate the shrine. The Halapati community of Pir Paliya in Puna village, Surat district, have thus maintained a unique illustration of unity over the years. 

Parivn Rathod, the caretaker of the dargah, recently spoke to the media and stated, "Misri Pirbaba Dargah was originally constructed by Muslims residing in Pir Paliya, but after the Babri Masjid riots in 1992-93, these families relocated. Subsequently, some troublemakers attempted to destroy the dargah, but the local Hindu families came together and prevented them from doing so. Ever since, only the Hindu families living in Pir Paliya have been maintaining and worshiping at the dargah for nearly 30 years." This act represents not only a demonstration of lived tolerance and unity, but also reflects the syncretic traditions in South Asia, where dargahs are visited by both Muslims and non-Muslims. 

Over the past two years, both Muslims and local families have begun visiting the dargah. The Hindu families also provide free tea, water, and food to the Muslim visitors. In response to the dargah's dilapidated state, the local community worked to restore it to its original form. Manoj Rathore stated, "Some individuals attempted to remove the shrine previously. A dead pig was even dumped here, but the locals filed a police complaint and the dargah was granted police protection." A senior citizen, Jayanti Rathod, expressed, "For us, Ram and Rahim are one and the same. We have no issues with either the saffron or green colour."

What is a dargah?

A dargah, derived from Persian, is a memorial or tomb constructed above the resting place of a respected religious leader, such as a Sufi saint or dervish. Ziyarat, a term for religious visits and pilgrimages, is commonly performed at the shrine. In some regions and cultures, dargahs are linked to Sufi khanqah (eating and gathering spaces) or hospices. The site typically includes a mosque, gathering rooms, madrassas (Islamic religious schools), teacher or caretaker housing, hospitals, and buildings for community use. 

The same type of structure, with the same social significance and sites for similar rituals, is referred to as maqam in the Arabic speaking world. A dargah is considered to be the place where saints meditated and prayed, their spiritual home. A shrine is a modern building that often includes a dargah, but not always.

The word "dargah" is derived from Persian and means "doorway" or "threshold." The word is composed of "dar," meaning "door" or "gate," and "gah," meaning "place." It may have a connection to the Arabic word "darajah," which means "stature, prestige, dignity, order, place," or "status, position, rank, echelon, class." Some Sufis and Muslims believe that dargahs are portals through which they can ask for the intercession and blessings of the deceased saint (using tawassul or dawat-e qaboor). Others view dargahs as less important and simply visit as a way of paying respects to pious individuals or seeking spiritual benefits. 

However, the dargah is a central concept in Islamic Sufism and holds great significance for Sufi followers. Many Muslims believe that their prayers are answered or their wishes are granted after offering prayer or service at a dargah of the saint they follow. Devotees tie threads of mannat (meaning "grace, favour, praise" in Persian) as a symbol of their request or gratitude.)[1] at such dargahs and contribute for langar (large community meals). They also pray at dargahs. Dargahs dotted the landscape of Punjab even before the partition of the Indian subcontinent. Large communities of non-Muslims traditionally worship at Dargahs.[2]

Through time, musical performances by dervishes and sheikhs at these shrines in front of the devout, often spontaneous or during Urs celebrations, gave rise to musical styles such as Qawwali and Kafi. In these genres, Sufi poetry is accompanied by music and sung as an offering to a murshid, a type of Sufi spiritual mentor. Presently, they have become a popular form of music and community devotional entertainment throughout South Asia [3], with exponents like Iqbal Bano, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen taking their music to various parts of the world.[4] Rabi Ray is another such from the younger generation.

 

Dargahs and the Right Wing

Sabrangindia and its original monthly publication Communalism Combat has for a long while tracked the vibrant collective cultural worship and dargahs and also documented and analysed how this has been a target of both the Hindu(tva) and Muslim right wing[5]. The April 199 cover story of Communalism Combat, documented this tendency illustrated by the attack and takeover of the Baba Boudhangiri shrine in Chikmaglur, Karnataka and the Haji Malang shrine in Kalyan, Maharashtra even before[6]. Thereafter, Sabrangindia has documented in detail the attack on the Pirana Dargah outside Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

Few people from both sides of the religious divide (especially the hardliners) are aware of the rich connections between Prophet Mohammed and India.[7] For example, this reference from CC is informative: The fact that Arab literature is full or references to India — Indian weaponry, textiles, and spices. That there was a lot of interaction, and travel between Indians and Arabs and that Prophet Mohammed had even named his first daughter Hind. Within 30 years of the Prophet’s death, there were small Indian settlements near Mecca and Medina. One such colony was called Arz–ul–Hind. Indian arts, philosophy, even mathematics — which in Arabic is called hindusa since it originated in India — were an integral part of the Arab world. At the time of the Islamic invasions, the Sufis, true followers of the Prophet, kept themselves aloof from the rulers –who happened to be Muslims --and their courts. They were essentially saints among the people. They knew that the ways of “rulership” and the “path of Islam” did not match. The religion of rulers has its power in their throne. The ruler does not worship God, only his own throne. CC records, “Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya followed this practice of aloofness so strictly that Badshah Jalaluddin Khilji decided to don a disguise to meet him. But the Hazrat’s follower Amir Khusrau warned the Hazrat of Khilji’s impending visit, and Hazrat Nizamuddin left Delhi on that day. He said: "There are two doors in my house. If the Badshah enters from one, I will leave from the other." But for the ordinary people, those doors were open day and night.”

The transcripts of a creative rendering, Sufi Way, a six-part television serial by film–maker Gopal Sharman and theatre activist wife, Jalabala Vaidya was reproduced by Communalism Combat (April 1999) “” The rulers had many Sufis killed. During the reign of the cruel despot Mohammed Tughlak, terrible atrocities were performed on Hazrat Chirag–e–Delhi. They even pierced his neck and threaded a rope through it to drag him to the court when he refused to answer the Badshah’s summons. They wanted to forcibly take Hazrat Chirag–e–Delhi to Sind were the Badshah was dying, but the king died before they reached Sind. When we talk of the mystic tradition of the Sufis, two words come to mind. These are khanqah and dargah. The khanqah is the place where the living Pir or Fakir resides and worships. When he passes away, the place becomes a dargahKhanqah means a place of worship.”

 

Dargahs abound throughout the non-Arab Muslim world

Sufi shrines can be found in various Muslim communities globally and are known by different names. The term "dargah" is frequently used in the Persian-influenced Islamic world, particularly in Iran, Turkey, and South Asia.

In South Asia, dargahs are often the location for festivals (milad) held in commemoration of the deceased saint on the anniversary of their passing (urs).

The shrine is lit up with candles or strings of electric lights at this time.[8] In South Asia, dargahs have been inter-faith gathering places since medieval times, for example, the Ajmer Sharif Dargah was a meeting place for both Hindus and Muslims to pay their respects to the revered Saint Mu'in al-Din Chishti.

In China, according to Wikipedia, the term "gongbei" is typically used to refer to shrine complexes centred around a Sufi saint's tomb. [8]

 


[1] The large sea side bungalow of Indian icon, Shahrukh Khan is named Mannat

[2] Snehi, Yogesh (October 2013). "Replicating Memory, Creating Images: Pirs and Dargahs in Popular Art and Media of Contemporary East Punjab". Retrieved 2020-06-07

[3] Kafi South Asian folklore: an encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, by Peter J. Claus, Sarah Diamond, Margaret Ann Mills. Taylor & Francis, 2003. ISBN 0-415-93919-4. p. 317.

[4] Kafi Crossing boundaries, by Geeti Sen. Orient Blackswan, 1998. ISBN 8125013415. p. 133.

[5] https://sabrang.com/cc/comold/april99/cover2.htm:  A concerted attempt is now being made at the mass level to spread a very puritanical and insular version of Islam through tabligh (religious propagation). The Tablighi Jamaats are particularly active in parts of rural India. In Maharashtra, a systematic attempt is being made to establish the movement in small and semi-urban towns.

[6] Baba Abdur Rehman Malang has been buried here. Malang was a Sufi saint who came to India in the 12th century AD from the middle east

[7] https://sabrang.com/cc/comold/april99/cover5.htm

[8] Some references from Communalism Combat, Sabrangindia, others from from Wikipedia

 

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Muslim family offers land for Shivpuran Katha in Maharashtra

Everyday Harmony: Muslim man risks life to save a Hindu girl from drowning in Madhya Pradesh

J&K: Muslims take part in last rites of Sikh man in village

Tales of love: Choosing humanity over religion in 2022

Everyday Harmony: Migrant Worker, Ambulance Driver, Agniveer – Meet The Heroes Of Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Members Of Ganpati Visarjan Procession Pay Respect To Mosque

Everyday Harmony: Muslims Donate To Renovate Hindu Temple In Gujarat

Everyday Harmony: Durga Puja In Ayodhya Organised By A Muslim Man

Everyday Harmony: Hindus, Muslims Together Celebrate Durga Puja In Assam’s Sivasagar

Gujarat 1992: Hindus who saved a dargah in Surat

‘Ram & Rahim are same’: For over two years, Muslims and local families have started coming to the dargah that has been protected by Hindu families for over 30 years; Hindus also arrange free tea, water, and food for Muslims visiting the dargah

Hindu Muslim Unity
Image: https://www.newindianexpress.com
 

AHMEDABAD:  A dargah located in Punagam, Surat district of Gujarat has drawn attention as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. Despite the absence of Muslims in the vicinity, Hindus have been preserving the dargah for generations, as reported by The New Indian Express. During the 2002 communal riots, the Hindu community came together to protect the dargah from being destroyed. Recently, the local community took it upon themselves to renovate the shrine. The Halapati community of Pir Paliya in Puna village, Surat district, have thus maintained a unique illustration of unity over the years. 

Parivn Rathod, the caretaker of the dargah, recently spoke to the media and stated, "Misri Pirbaba Dargah was originally constructed by Muslims residing in Pir Paliya, but after the Babri Masjid riots in 1992-93, these families relocated. Subsequently, some troublemakers attempted to destroy the dargah, but the local Hindu families came together and prevented them from doing so. Ever since, only the Hindu families living in Pir Paliya have been maintaining and worshiping at the dargah for nearly 30 years." This act represents not only a demonstration of lived tolerance and unity, but also reflects the syncretic traditions in South Asia, where dargahs are visited by both Muslims and non-Muslims. 

Over the past two years, both Muslims and local families have begun visiting the dargah. The Hindu families also provide free tea, water, and food to the Muslim visitors. In response to the dargah's dilapidated state, the local community worked to restore it to its original form. Manoj Rathore stated, "Some individuals attempted to remove the shrine previously. A dead pig was even dumped here, but the locals filed a police complaint and the dargah was granted police protection." A senior citizen, Jayanti Rathod, expressed, "For us, Ram and Rahim are one and the same. We have no issues with either the saffron or green colour."

What is a dargah?

A dargah, derived from Persian, is a memorial or tomb constructed above the resting place of a respected religious leader, such as a Sufi saint or dervish. Ziyarat, a term for religious visits and pilgrimages, is commonly performed at the shrine. In some regions and cultures, dargahs are linked to Sufi khanqah (eating and gathering spaces) or hospices. The site typically includes a mosque, gathering rooms, madrassas (Islamic religious schools), teacher or caretaker housing, hospitals, and buildings for community use. 

The same type of structure, with the same social significance and sites for similar rituals, is referred to as maqam in the Arabic speaking world. A dargah is considered to be the place where saints meditated and prayed, their spiritual home. A shrine is a modern building that often includes a dargah, but not always.

The word "dargah" is derived from Persian and means "doorway" or "threshold." The word is composed of "dar," meaning "door" or "gate," and "gah," meaning "place." It may have a connection to the Arabic word "darajah," which means "stature, prestige, dignity, order, place," or "status, position, rank, echelon, class." Some Sufis and Muslims believe that dargahs are portals through which they can ask for the intercession and blessings of the deceased saint (using tawassul or dawat-e qaboor). Others view dargahs as less important and simply visit as a way of paying respects to pious individuals or seeking spiritual benefits. 

However, the dargah is a central concept in Islamic Sufism and holds great significance for Sufi followers. Many Muslims believe that their prayers are answered or their wishes are granted after offering prayer or service at a dargah of the saint they follow. Devotees tie threads of mannat (meaning "grace, favour, praise" in Persian) as a symbol of their request or gratitude.)[1] at such dargahs and contribute for langar (large community meals). They also pray at dargahs. Dargahs dotted the landscape of Punjab even before the partition of the Indian subcontinent. Large communities of non-Muslims traditionally worship at Dargahs.[2]

Through time, musical performances by dervishes and sheikhs at these shrines in front of the devout, often spontaneous or during Urs celebrations, gave rise to musical styles such as Qawwali and Kafi. In these genres, Sufi poetry is accompanied by music and sung as an offering to a murshid, a type of Sufi spiritual mentor. Presently, they have become a popular form of music and community devotional entertainment throughout South Asia [3], with exponents like Iqbal Bano, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen taking their music to various parts of the world.[4] Rabi Ray is another such from the younger generation.

 

Dargahs and the Right Wing

Sabrangindia and its original monthly publication Communalism Combat has for a long while tracked the vibrant collective cultural worship and dargahs and also documented and analysed how this has been a target of both the Hindu(tva) and Muslim right wing[5]. The April 199 cover story of Communalism Combat, documented this tendency illustrated by the attack and takeover of the Baba Boudhangiri shrine in Chikmaglur, Karnataka and the Haji Malang shrine in Kalyan, Maharashtra even before[6]. Thereafter, Sabrangindia has documented in detail the attack on the Pirana Dargah outside Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

Few people from both sides of the religious divide (especially the hardliners) are aware of the rich connections between Prophet Mohammed and India.[7] For example, this reference from CC is informative: The fact that Arab literature is full or references to India — Indian weaponry, textiles, and spices. That there was a lot of interaction, and travel between Indians and Arabs and that Prophet Mohammed had even named his first daughter Hind. Within 30 years of the Prophet’s death, there were small Indian settlements near Mecca and Medina. One such colony was called Arz–ul–Hind. Indian arts, philosophy, even mathematics — which in Arabic is called hindusa since it originated in India — were an integral part of the Arab world. At the time of the Islamic invasions, the Sufis, true followers of the Prophet, kept themselves aloof from the rulers –who happened to be Muslims --and their courts. They were essentially saints among the people. They knew that the ways of “rulership” and the “path of Islam” did not match. The religion of rulers has its power in their throne. The ruler does not worship God, only his own throne. CC records, “Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya followed this practice of aloofness so strictly that Badshah Jalaluddin Khilji decided to don a disguise to meet him. But the Hazrat’s follower Amir Khusrau warned the Hazrat of Khilji’s impending visit, and Hazrat Nizamuddin left Delhi on that day. He said: "There are two doors in my house. If the Badshah enters from one, I will leave from the other." But for the ordinary people, those doors were open day and night.”

The transcripts of a creative rendering, Sufi Way, a six-part television serial by film–maker Gopal Sharman and theatre activist wife, Jalabala Vaidya was reproduced by Communalism Combat (April 1999) “” The rulers had many Sufis killed. During the reign of the cruel despot Mohammed Tughlak, terrible atrocities were performed on Hazrat Chirag–e–Delhi. They even pierced his neck and threaded a rope through it to drag him to the court when he refused to answer the Badshah’s summons. They wanted to forcibly take Hazrat Chirag–e–Delhi to Sind were the Badshah was dying, but the king died before they reached Sind. When we talk of the mystic tradition of the Sufis, two words come to mind. These are khanqah and dargah. The khanqah is the place where the living Pir or Fakir resides and worships. When he passes away, the place becomes a dargahKhanqah means a place of worship.”

 

Dargahs abound throughout the non-Arab Muslim world

Sufi shrines can be found in various Muslim communities globally and are known by different names. The term "dargah" is frequently used in the Persian-influenced Islamic world, particularly in Iran, Turkey, and South Asia.

In South Asia, dargahs are often the location for festivals (milad) held in commemoration of the deceased saint on the anniversary of their passing (urs).

The shrine is lit up with candles or strings of electric lights at this time.[8] In South Asia, dargahs have been inter-faith gathering places since medieval times, for example, the Ajmer Sharif Dargah was a meeting place for both Hindus and Muslims to pay their respects to the revered Saint Mu'in al-Din Chishti.

In China, according to Wikipedia, the term "gongbei" is typically used to refer to shrine complexes centred around a Sufi saint's tomb. [8]

 


[1] The large sea side bungalow of Indian icon, Shahrukh Khan is named Mannat

[2] Snehi, Yogesh (October 2013). "Replicating Memory, Creating Images: Pirs and Dargahs in Popular Art and Media of Contemporary East Punjab". Retrieved 2020-06-07

[3] Kafi South Asian folklore: an encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, by Peter J. Claus, Sarah Diamond, Margaret Ann Mills. Taylor & Francis, 2003. ISBN 0-415-93919-4. p. 317.

[4] Kafi Crossing boundaries, by Geeti Sen. Orient Blackswan, 1998. ISBN 8125013415. p. 133.

[5] https://sabrang.com/cc/comold/april99/cover2.htm:  A concerted attempt is now being made at the mass level to spread a very puritanical and insular version of Islam through tabligh (religious propagation). The Tablighi Jamaats are particularly active in parts of rural India. In Maharashtra, a systematic attempt is being made to establish the movement in small and semi-urban towns.

[6] Baba Abdur Rehman Malang has been buried here. Malang was a Sufi saint who came to India in the 12th century AD from the middle east

[7] https://sabrang.com/cc/comold/april99/cover5.htm

[8] Some references from Communalism Combat, Sabrangindia, others from from Wikipedia

 

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Muslim family offers land for Shivpuran Katha in Maharashtra

Everyday Harmony: Muslim man risks life to save a Hindu girl from drowning in Madhya Pradesh

J&K: Muslims take part in last rites of Sikh man in village

Tales of love: Choosing humanity over religion in 2022

Everyday Harmony: Migrant Worker, Ambulance Driver, Agniveer – Meet The Heroes Of Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Members Of Ganpati Visarjan Procession Pay Respect To Mosque

Everyday Harmony: Muslims Donate To Renovate Hindu Temple In Gujarat

Everyday Harmony: Durga Puja In Ayodhya Organised By A Muslim Man

Everyday Harmony: Hindus, Muslims Together Celebrate Durga Puja In Assam’s Sivasagar

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Sabrang

Beyond Doubt II - The Assassins of Gandhi

by Teesta Setalvad , 30 Jan 2023

First Published on : 09 Jan 2015

Between 1925, when Gandhi offered unqualified support to the Vykom Satyagraha, launched by some of the local leaders of Travancore (in modern day Kerala), who were protesting the ban on the entry of untouchables on the roads surrounding the Vykom temples. Gandhi, through Young India carried the message of the struggle of the satyagrahis all over India and finally the matter began to be tackled by the national press. In March 1925 he went to Vykom, addressed public meetings and held discussions with leaders of the orthodox sections opposing the campaign. Finally in January 1926 the Travancore government yielded to the Vykom satyagrahis and announced the opening of the roads around the temples to the untouchables. Gandhi pushed further, insisting that all public institutions, including temples to all. Thereafter, Gandhi’s fast unto death to implement the Communal Award on September 20, 1932, and its aftermath – the Poona or Yeravda Pact also gave a huge impetus to the movement for some justice to the untouchables. Diffferences between Ambedkar and Gandhi have been widely documented and analysed. The validity of Ambedkar’s arguments, even on the goals and priorities of the All India Untouchability League (later re-named the Harijan Sevak Sangh) which he felt were individualistic and reform driven not aimed at the political and social emancipation of all Dalits can be read among other places, in the correspondence between the two great leaders and thinkers whose followers to date, display an unfortunate animosity.  Even on the two Bills before the Central Legislature in 1933, Ambedkar and Gandhi had detailed discussions, and differences.

The point, however, remains. That Gandhi, who drew his moral force from his religion and wished to fundamentally reform and alter its approach to the structured inequity and indignity of caste, posed a great threat to those who would rather speak in the name of the Hindu faith, the fanatical fringe.

It is to contextualize and comprehend the politics, motivations and circumstances behind the killing of Gandhi that this Volume has been dedicated. We have, in Communalism Combat, since its establishment in 1993 made efforts to de-construct the motives and machinations of the religious right. In the October 2000 issue of the magazine we first carried extracts from Jagan Phadnis’ book Mahatmanche Akher, as also an English translation of a series of articles by YD Phadke, Nathuramayana, de-constructing Pradeep Dalvi’s play, Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoye. These had been first published in the original in Marathi eveninger, Mahanagar. Chunibhai Vaidya’s pamphlet published by the Gujarat Lok Samiti, Ahmedabad first in Gujarati was then translated into seven Indian languages.[1]  Thereafter in August 2000, in the eleventh anniversary issue of the magazine we reproduced critical government of India archival documents related to decisions and events immediately following the assassination. At this moment, certain unassailable archival truths that are actually at this present moment at risk of having been destroyed, need to re-enter the public domain.
 
RSS held Responsible for Gandhi Murder
The first are the Government of India documents that were issued immediately following the assassination. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was banned through a Government resolution dated February 2, 1948. The document reproduced here has been obtained by us from the archives of the government of India. The language of this resolution is unequivocal when it speaks of the determination of Government of India “to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this politics (the GR says] the GOI has decided to declare as unlawful the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the Chief Commissioner’s Provinces .Similar action is also being taken in the Governor’s provinces. ”

The banning of the RSS within five months of India becoming independent and within two days of the dastardly killing of Mahatma Gandhi has been linked to the ‘undesirable and even dangerous activities carried out by individual members of the Sangh who have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found,” reads the text of the GR, “ circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military….The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself.” The GR was first published in the August 2004 issue of Communalism Combat, as part of the cover story, titled Hey Raam.

In all minor and major bouts of communal conflagration, this tactic of the Sangh and its affiliates is evident. From Jabalpur 1961 to Trilokpuri 2014 the sustained hate-ridden rumour-mongering and campaigns like love jehad or ghar vapsi have been matched by sectarian offensives by minority communalists be in Sahranpur(2014) or Bombay (2015). As a result, today as in 1947-48 at the level of people, distrust between different sections of Indians is being carefully perpetrated with the overt or silent complicity by the regime in power.

Drawing unequivocal conclusions on the culpability of the RSS, the government of India, in 1948, with Jawaharlal Nehru as prime minister and Sardar Vallabhai Patel as Home Minister, held the RSS guilty for the killing of the Mahatma.  The story does not end here. The communication(s) between the GOI through the prime minister and home minister with the RSS following the ban has generated heat with the falsehoods perpetrated by the Sangh deliberately distorting even this. On September 11, 1948, the famous letter written by India’s first home minister Sardar Patel to RSS chief.MS Golwalkar strongly decries the systematic hate tactics of the Sangh before and after Gandhgi’s assassination. This letter has been quoted in full in Desraj Goyal’s Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh.[2] More importantly, this and another letter written by Patel to the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee dated July 18, 1948 make the links between the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha clear.[3]

The first letter is of particular significance since it outlines the kind of activities the RSS was observed to indulge in. Says Patel on September 11, 1948, “But the objectionable part arose when they, burning with revenge, began attacking Mussalmans. Organising Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing……..All their speeches were full communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison and enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the valuable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of sympathy of the Government or of the people no more remained for the RSS. In fact the opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS.”

The critical need to place these communiqués/documents in the public domain cannot be over-stressed. Particularly because there has been a devious and concerted bid to completely distort history and the RSS culpability behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

A press note of the GOI dated November 14, 1948 relates to the outright rejection of the representation of Mr Golwalkar to the Home Ministry to lift the ban on the RSS. This press note also obtained from the archives of the GOI, was also first published in the August 2004 issue of Communalism Combat, as part of the cover story, titled He Ram. This press note that makes clear the government decision not to lift the restrictions on the RSS has made strong observations on the ‘anti-national, often subversive and violent activities of the RSS”. The GOI took into account the considered opinion of provincial governments before arriving at this decision. An article of The Indian Express dated February 7, 1948 reports that an RSS leader from Nagpur who had presented Godse with the revolver with which he killed Gandhi had been arrested. Other persons arrested included Professor Varahadpande of the City college, Nagpur. This report states that another professor of Nagpur had told his students a day before the assassination that “Gandhiji would be murdered.” An associate of the gang of conspirators, Devendra Kumar is reported by the same newspaper to have surrendered to the District Magistrate, Mirzapur and was taken to Lucknow under armed escort.

That Gandhi, who drew his moral force from his religion and wished to fundamentally reform and alter its approach to the structured inequity and indignity of caste, posed a great threat to those who would rather speak in the name of the Hindu faith, the fanatical fringe.

All these and other documents are today in grave threat of destruction by the current Indian government. Headed by a pracharak of the RSS, the present government with a brute majority seeks clearly and insidiously to complete a sinister project put into motion with Gandhi’s elimination. Between June 5- July 7, 2014, that is, within nine to 39 days of assuming power, 11,100 files from the Ministry of Home Affairs were destroyed by the present government. A group of historians and other citizens immediately joined a campaign started by academician, Purushottam Agrawal to seek information on the files that were destroyed. On August 27, 2014 the response to the campaign query under the Right to Information Act did not clarify matters. Following the uproar in Parliament in its ongoing monsoon session, the Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh said that “documents pertaining to Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Louis Mountbatten and others are safe.”  To date, no clear information has been received on the issue and there remains a threat that these papers may have been destroyed. There is also no unequivocal assurance on the preservation of crucial central and provincial government documents related to the Mahatma Gandhi assassination, the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha.

On a far more detailed and thorough application under the Right to Information Act (2005) made by Venkatesh Nayak of the Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)[4] , an analysis of the vague replies provided by the ministry of home affairs (MHA), suggest the following:- a) Even after more than a month of destroying the 11,100 files, the MHA does not have, in one comprehensive list, details of all files that were destroyed; b) The Public Information Officer (PIO)'s reply that the even the list of files that were weeded out has not  been compiled till date indicates that the procedure for properly identifying files for weeding out was simply not followed;[5] c) the refusal to give details of this process both to Parliament when the issue was debated and now when a request is made under RTI, is shocking to say the least. What worsens the case is the audacity of the PIO's reply sent more than 30 days after the request was received in the MHA that the information will be given only on payment of fees. Under the RTI Act it is simply not open to a PIO to charge any fees for giving information after 30 days. Nor can the supply of information be deferred to a date beyond 30 days; d) the PIO's reply to this query is simply not a sensible reply at all. Let alone the names, even the designations of the officers who authorised destruction of files is being denied under the RTI Act in a roundabout manner; e) the PIO's reply to Nayak indicates that National Archives was not consulted at all during this weeding our process. So how old were the records that were weeded out is a serious question which was not satisfactorily answered either in Parliament or in response to the RTI application; f) What then was destroyed in June-July 2014 is a mystery that neither the Home Minister's reply in the Rajya Sabha nor the PIO's reply clarifies As can been established, the direct association of the RSS with the Gandhi assassination is clearly documented in  contemporaneous government documents and records and subsequently. The fact of this association remains tenuous in sections of the public mind due to the deliberate machinations to blur this direct connect.

Gandhi cannot be abandoned by Hindu communalists, so like Ambedkar, in other ways, he  is sought to be appropriated. This appropriation however, comes with a cost, of manipulating what he stood for when it came to secularism, caste and the very nature of democracy. The assassination of the Mahatma, the first act of terror in independent India, remains, thanks to the systematic efforts of the proto-fascist project of the Hindu right, the subject matter of deep contestation.
 
(Excerpted from the Introduction to the publication edited by the Author, Teesta Setalvad - Beyond Doubt-A Dossier on the Gandhi assassination published by Tulika Books)
 


[1] mkgandhi-sarvodaya.org. This had also been reproduced by us in English in Communalism Combat, October 2000.
[2] First published in 1979, Revised edition in 2000, Radhakrishna Prakashan Pvt Ltd, New Delhi
[3] Both letters can be read in the Sardar Patel Correspondence, Volume 6, edited by Durga Das

Beyond Doubt II - The Assassins of Gandhi

First Published on : 09 Jan 2015

Between 1925, when Gandhi offered unqualified support to the Vykom Satyagraha, launched by some of the local leaders of Travancore (in modern day Kerala), who were protesting the ban on the entry of untouchables on the roads surrounding the Vykom temples. Gandhi, through Young India carried the message of the struggle of the satyagrahis all over India and finally the matter began to be tackled by the national press. In March 1925 he went to Vykom, addressed public meetings and held discussions with leaders of the orthodox sections opposing the campaign. Finally in January 1926 the Travancore government yielded to the Vykom satyagrahis and announced the opening of the roads around the temples to the untouchables. Gandhi pushed further, insisting that all public institutions, including temples to all. Thereafter, Gandhi’s fast unto death to implement the Communal Award on September 20, 1932, and its aftermath – the Poona or Yeravda Pact also gave a huge impetus to the movement for some justice to the untouchables. Diffferences between Ambedkar and Gandhi have been widely documented and analysed. The validity of Ambedkar’s arguments, even on the goals and priorities of the All India Untouchability League (later re-named the Harijan Sevak Sangh) which he felt were individualistic and reform driven not aimed at the political and social emancipation of all Dalits can be read among other places, in the correspondence between the two great leaders and thinkers whose followers to date, display an unfortunate animosity.  Even on the two Bills before the Central Legislature in 1933, Ambedkar and Gandhi had detailed discussions, and differences.

The point, however, remains. That Gandhi, who drew his moral force from his religion and wished to fundamentally reform and alter its approach to the structured inequity and indignity of caste, posed a great threat to those who would rather speak in the name of the Hindu faith, the fanatical fringe.

It is to contextualize and comprehend the politics, motivations and circumstances behind the killing of Gandhi that this Volume has been dedicated. We have, in Communalism Combat, since its establishment in 1993 made efforts to de-construct the motives and machinations of the religious right. In the October 2000 issue of the magazine we first carried extracts from Jagan Phadnis’ book Mahatmanche Akher, as also an English translation of a series of articles by YD Phadke, Nathuramayana, de-constructing Pradeep Dalvi’s play, Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoye. These had been first published in the original in Marathi eveninger, Mahanagar. Chunibhai Vaidya’s pamphlet published by the Gujarat Lok Samiti, Ahmedabad first in Gujarati was then translated into seven Indian languages.[1]  Thereafter in August 2000, in the eleventh anniversary issue of the magazine we reproduced critical government of India archival documents related to decisions and events immediately following the assassination. At this moment, certain unassailable archival truths that are actually at this present moment at risk of having been destroyed, need to re-enter the public domain.
 
RSS held Responsible for Gandhi Murder
The first are the Government of India documents that were issued immediately following the assassination. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was banned through a Government resolution dated February 2, 1948. The document reproduced here has been obtained by us from the archives of the government of India. The language of this resolution is unequivocal when it speaks of the determination of Government of India “to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this politics (the GR says] the GOI has decided to declare as unlawful the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the Chief Commissioner’s Provinces .Similar action is also being taken in the Governor’s provinces. ”

The banning of the RSS within five months of India becoming independent and within two days of the dastardly killing of Mahatma Gandhi has been linked to the ‘undesirable and even dangerous activities carried out by individual members of the Sangh who have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found,” reads the text of the GR, “ circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military….The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself.” The GR was first published in the August 2004 issue of Communalism Combat, as part of the cover story, titled Hey Raam.

In all minor and major bouts of communal conflagration, this tactic of the Sangh and its affiliates is evident. From Jabalpur 1961 to Trilokpuri 2014 the sustained hate-ridden rumour-mongering and campaigns like love jehad or ghar vapsi have been matched by sectarian offensives by minority communalists be in Sahranpur(2014) or Bombay (2015). As a result, today as in 1947-48 at the level of people, distrust between different sections of Indians is being carefully perpetrated with the overt or silent complicity by the regime in power.

Drawing unequivocal conclusions on the culpability of the RSS, the government of India, in 1948, with Jawaharlal Nehru as prime minister and Sardar Vallabhai Patel as Home Minister, held the RSS guilty for the killing of the Mahatma.  The story does not end here. The communication(s) between the GOI through the prime minister and home minister with the RSS following the ban has generated heat with the falsehoods perpetrated by the Sangh deliberately distorting even this. On September 11, 1948, the famous letter written by India’s first home minister Sardar Patel to RSS chief.MS Golwalkar strongly decries the systematic hate tactics of the Sangh before and after Gandhgi’s assassination. This letter has been quoted in full in Desraj Goyal’s Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh.[2] More importantly, this and another letter written by Patel to the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee dated July 18, 1948 make the links between the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha clear.[3]

The first letter is of particular significance since it outlines the kind of activities the RSS was observed to indulge in. Says Patel on September 11, 1948, “But the objectionable part arose when they, burning with revenge, began attacking Mussalmans. Organising Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing……..All their speeches were full communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison and enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the valuable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of sympathy of the Government or of the people no more remained for the RSS. In fact the opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS.”

The critical need to place these communiqués/documents in the public domain cannot be over-stressed. Particularly because there has been a devious and concerted bid to completely distort history and the RSS culpability behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

A press note of the GOI dated November 14, 1948 relates to the outright rejection of the representation of Mr Golwalkar to the Home Ministry to lift the ban on the RSS. This press note also obtained from the archives of the GOI, was also first published in the August 2004 issue of Communalism Combat, as part of the cover story, titled He Ram. This press note that makes clear the government decision not to lift the restrictions on the RSS has made strong observations on the ‘anti-national, often subversive and violent activities of the RSS”. The GOI took into account the considered opinion of provincial governments before arriving at this decision. An article of The Indian Express dated February 7, 1948 reports that an RSS leader from Nagpur who had presented Godse with the revolver with which he killed Gandhi had been arrested. Other persons arrested included Professor Varahadpande of the City college, Nagpur. This report states that another professor of Nagpur had told his students a day before the assassination that “Gandhiji would be murdered.” An associate of the gang of conspirators, Devendra Kumar is reported by the same newspaper to have surrendered to the District Magistrate, Mirzapur and was taken to Lucknow under armed escort.

That Gandhi, who drew his moral force from his religion and wished to fundamentally reform and alter its approach to the structured inequity and indignity of caste, posed a great threat to those who would rather speak in the name of the Hindu faith, the fanatical fringe.

All these and other documents are today in grave threat of destruction by the current Indian government. Headed by a pracharak of the RSS, the present government with a brute majority seeks clearly and insidiously to complete a sinister project put into motion with Gandhi’s elimination. Between June 5- July 7, 2014, that is, within nine to 39 days of assuming power, 11,100 files from the Ministry of Home Affairs were destroyed by the present government. A group of historians and other citizens immediately joined a campaign started by academician, Purushottam Agrawal to seek information on the files that were destroyed. On August 27, 2014 the response to the campaign query under the Right to Information Act did not clarify matters. Following the uproar in Parliament in its ongoing monsoon session, the Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh said that “documents pertaining to Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Louis Mountbatten and others are safe.”  To date, no clear information has been received on the issue and there remains a threat that these papers may have been destroyed. There is also no unequivocal assurance on the preservation of crucial central and provincial government documents related to the Mahatma Gandhi assassination, the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha.

On a far more detailed and thorough application under the Right to Information Act (2005) made by Venkatesh Nayak of the Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)[4] , an analysis of the vague replies provided by the ministry of home affairs (MHA), suggest the following:- a) Even after more than a month of destroying the 11,100 files, the MHA does not have, in one comprehensive list, details of all files that were destroyed; b) The Public Information Officer (PIO)'s reply that the even the list of files that were weeded out has not  been compiled till date indicates that the procedure for properly identifying files for weeding out was simply not followed;[5] c) the refusal to give details of this process both to Parliament when the issue was debated and now when a request is made under RTI, is shocking to say the least. What worsens the case is the audacity of the PIO's reply sent more than 30 days after the request was received in the MHA that the information will be given only on payment of fees. Under the RTI Act it is simply not open to a PIO to charge any fees for giving information after 30 days. Nor can the supply of information be deferred to a date beyond 30 days; d) the PIO's reply to this query is simply not a sensible reply at all. Let alone the names, even the designations of the officers who authorised destruction of files is being denied under the RTI Act in a roundabout manner; e) the PIO's reply to Nayak indicates that National Archives was not consulted at all during this weeding our process. So how old were the records that were weeded out is a serious question which was not satisfactorily answered either in Parliament or in response to the RTI application; f) What then was destroyed in June-July 2014 is a mystery that neither the Home Minister's reply in the Rajya Sabha nor the PIO's reply clarifies As can been established, the direct association of the RSS with the Gandhi assassination is clearly documented in  contemporaneous government documents and records and subsequently. The fact of this association remains tenuous in sections of the public mind due to the deliberate machinations to blur this direct connect.

Gandhi cannot be abandoned by Hindu communalists, so like Ambedkar, in other ways, he  is sought to be appropriated. This appropriation however, comes with a cost, of manipulating what he stood for when it came to secularism, caste and the very nature of democracy. The assassination of the Mahatma, the first act of terror in independent India, remains, thanks to the systematic efforts of the proto-fascist project of the Hindu right, the subject matter of deep contestation.
 
(Excerpted from the Introduction to the publication edited by the Author, Teesta Setalvad - Beyond Doubt-A Dossier on the Gandhi assassination published by Tulika Books)
 


[1] mkgandhi-sarvodaya.org. This had also been reproduced by us in English in Communalism Combat, October 2000.
[2] First published in 1979, Revised edition in 2000, Radhakrishna Prakashan Pvt Ltd, New Delhi
[3] Both letters can be read in the Sardar Patel Correspondence, Volume 6, edited by Durga Das

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Everyday Harmony: Muslim family offers land for Shivpuran Katha in Maharashtra

Hindus and Muslims of Parbhani district attempt to erase communal tensions by gestures to acceptance and tolerance

16 Jan 2023

Everyday Harmony
Image Courtesy: navbharattimes.indiatimes.com

So that future generations inherit a peaceful and harmonious society, it only takes a small number of people to put an end to hatred and rekindle human connections.

In the Parbhani area of Aurangabad, Maharashtra a Muslim family's kind offer to let a five-day Hindu religious celebration be held on 60 acres of their property is gaining admiration. It is pertinent to be noted that this news of harmony comes from a place where the administration is usually constantly on guard because of Parbhani's history of inter-communal violence. 

The Syed family offered to lend their land for a few days and harvested a standing crop overnight to make room for the local Hindus to celebrate their festival when they learned that Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Jadhav was looking for an open, table land with an access road for organizing the Shivpuran Katha.

On January 15, the Shivpuran katha, or recitation of the ancient Shiva text, began on the Syed family's property. The family is offering the land for free.

The family took the initiative to allow a Hindu religious gathering to take place on its property as a way to repay a similar favor the Hindus had rendered to the Muslims in the past. Only last month, Muslims and some of the Hindu brethren had donated their fields for the three-day retreat of Tablighi Jamaat Ijtema, which was attended by approximately three lakh people.

A 25-year-old member of the family, named Syed Shoaib, informed the media that sectarian divisiveness is the nation's largest problem right now. He added that the goal of their action was to compassionately close the gap between adherents of different religions.

He had additionally stated that the land had ready-to-harvest moong lentils for the family's consumption, not for sale. The locals even facilitated the family for this kind gesture.

He claimed that Parbhani had previously been the victim of inter-communal violence and that the purpose of this gesture was to reduce tensions between various groups.

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Muslim man risks life to save a Hindu girl from drowning in Madhya Pradesh

J&K: Muslims take part in last rites of Sikh man in village

Tales of love: Choosing humanity over religion in 2022

Everyday Harmony: Migrant Worker, Ambulance Driver, Agniveer – Meet The Heroes Of Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Members Of Ganpati Visarjan Procession Pay Respect To Mosque

Everyday Harmony: Muslims Donate To Renovate Hindu Temple In Gujarat

Everyday Harmony: Durga Puja In Ayodhya Organised By A Muslim Man

Everyday Harmony: Hindus, Muslims Together Celebrate Durga Puja In Assam’s Sivasagar

 

Everyday Harmony: Muslim family offers land for Shivpuran Katha in Maharashtra

Hindus and Muslims of Parbhani district attempt to erase communal tensions by gestures to acceptance and tolerance

Everyday Harmony
Image Courtesy: navbharattimes.indiatimes.com

So that future generations inherit a peaceful and harmonious society, it only takes a small number of people to put an end to hatred and rekindle human connections.

In the Parbhani area of Aurangabad, Maharashtra a Muslim family's kind offer to let a five-day Hindu religious celebration be held on 60 acres of their property is gaining admiration. It is pertinent to be noted that this news of harmony comes from a place where the administration is usually constantly on guard because of Parbhani's history of inter-communal violence. 

The Syed family offered to lend their land for a few days and harvested a standing crop overnight to make room for the local Hindus to celebrate their festival when they learned that Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Jadhav was looking for an open, table land with an access road for organizing the Shivpuran Katha.

On January 15, the Shivpuran katha, or recitation of the ancient Shiva text, began on the Syed family's property. The family is offering the land for free.

The family took the initiative to allow a Hindu religious gathering to take place on its property as a way to repay a similar favor the Hindus had rendered to the Muslims in the past. Only last month, Muslims and some of the Hindu brethren had donated their fields for the three-day retreat of Tablighi Jamaat Ijtema, which was attended by approximately three lakh people.

A 25-year-old member of the family, named Syed Shoaib, informed the media that sectarian divisiveness is the nation's largest problem right now. He added that the goal of their action was to compassionately close the gap between adherents of different religions.

He had additionally stated that the land had ready-to-harvest moong lentils for the family's consumption, not for sale. The locals even facilitated the family for this kind gesture.

He claimed that Parbhani had previously been the victim of inter-communal violence and that the purpose of this gesture was to reduce tensions between various groups.

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Muslim man risks life to save a Hindu girl from drowning in Madhya Pradesh

J&K: Muslims take part in last rites of Sikh man in village

Tales of love: Choosing humanity over religion in 2022

Everyday Harmony: Migrant Worker, Ambulance Driver, Agniveer – Meet The Heroes Of Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Members Of Ganpati Visarjan Procession Pay Respect To Mosque

Everyday Harmony: Muslims Donate To Renovate Hindu Temple In Gujarat

Everyday Harmony: Durga Puja In Ayodhya Organised By A Muslim Man

Everyday Harmony: Hindus, Muslims Together Celebrate Durga Puja In Assam’s Sivasagar

 

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Everyday Harmony: Muslim man saves a Hindu girl's life after she attempts suicide in Madhya Pradesh

Dewas resident Tipu Sultan feted as a hero

03 Jan 2023

save

On Sunday, a muslim man named Tipu Sultan saved the life of a young Hindu girl named Monali Kaushal in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Kaushal had reportedly tried to commit suicide by jumping into the Shipra River.

According to local news reports, Tipu Sultan, who was among the people who witnessed the incident, asked passing trucks for a rope, and one trucker, Vinod Solanki, provided the necessary equipment. Tipu used the rope to lower himself into the river and reached Monali, who was still alive. He provided first aid and she was rushed to the hospital, where she is said to be stable.The reasons for Monali's attempted suicide are currently unknown.

Tipu's quick thinking and bravery likely saved Monali's life, and his action is rightly being celebrated as an example of the best of humanity. In times of religious polarisation, the incident has highlighted the ability for people of different faiths to come together in times of crisis. It should also spark off a conversation about the importance of mental health and the need for individuals to reach out for help when needed.

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Heroes to the rescue - Muslims amongst many pitch in to save lives in Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Muslim employer ensures last rites of Hindu employee

Everyday Harmony: Muslim man saves a Hindu girl's life after she attempts suicide in Madhya Pradesh

Dewas resident Tipu Sultan feted as a hero

save

On Sunday, a muslim man named Tipu Sultan saved the life of a young Hindu girl named Monali Kaushal in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Kaushal had reportedly tried to commit suicide by jumping into the Shipra River.

According to local news reports, Tipu Sultan, who was among the people who witnessed the incident, asked passing trucks for a rope, and one trucker, Vinod Solanki, provided the necessary equipment. Tipu used the rope to lower himself into the river and reached Monali, who was still alive. He provided first aid and she was rushed to the hospital, where she is said to be stable.The reasons for Monali's attempted suicide are currently unknown.

Tipu's quick thinking and bravery likely saved Monali's life, and his action is rightly being celebrated as an example of the best of humanity. In times of religious polarisation, the incident has highlighted the ability for people of different faiths to come together in times of crisis. It should also spark off a conversation about the importance of mental health and the need for individuals to reach out for help when needed.

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Heroes to the rescue - Muslims amongst many pitch in to save lives in Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Muslim employer ensures last rites of Hindu employee

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Kerala man takes on 300 km journey in a wheelchair to pray for a Muslim teacher

27 Dec 2022

KannanKannan in a wheel chair. Photo: Times of India.

Its been almost 12 days since Kannan started his journey to Sabrimala from Mallapuram district in Kerala in a wheelchair having the determination to reach the 300 km mark.

Several years ago, Kannan lost his leg in an accident. His other leg is also partially paralyzed. The intention behind the gruesome journey in a wheelchair is to reach the Sabarimala temple and seek lord Ayyappa’s blessings for the Muslim teacher who helped him get a roof over his head when he had almost given up on his life, the Times of India stated in its report.

Almost nine years ago, on December 3, 2013, Kannan injured his leg while unloading wood logs from a lorry which later had to be amputated.

As a daily wager with three daughters and a son, Kannan struggled hard to meet his needs. An assistant professor at Government College in Kondotty, M P Sameera, who was also the coordinator for the National Service Scheme unit at the college, on learning about Kannan, ensured the construction of a house for him.

“Sameera teacher is like a god for me and for my family. The journey to Sabarimala is dedicated to Sameera teacher. I believe that lord Ayyappa will shower his blessings on the teacher if I pray wholeheartedly,” Kannan was quoted in the report.

He started his journey from the village of Thadapparamba village. Kannan said that he begins his journey in the wheelchair every day at 6 am and it continues till noon.

After having lunch from temples or Annadanam counters for Sabrimala pilgrims, he rests for a while then resumes his journey from 6 pm and continues at 11 pm. He spends his nights at local temples. Kannan plans to climb up to the Ayyappa temple on foot once he reaches the pampa river, at the base of the hill, by the first week of January.

Kannan’s daughter is a paramedical student and his wife works as cleaning staff in a hotel. Until recently, Kannan’s wife was the only earner in the family. Since last month, Kannan started selling lottery tickets to add to their income.

“Even four years after helping construct a house for him, Kannan often calls me and thanks me when it rains heavily,” said Prof Sameera.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

Kerala man takes on 300 km journey in a wheelchair to pray for a Muslim teacher

KannanKannan in a wheel chair. Photo: Times of India.

Its been almost 12 days since Kannan started his journey to Sabrimala from Mallapuram district in Kerala in a wheelchair having the determination to reach the 300 km mark.

Several years ago, Kannan lost his leg in an accident. His other leg is also partially paralyzed. The intention behind the gruesome journey in a wheelchair is to reach the Sabarimala temple and seek lord Ayyappa’s blessings for the Muslim teacher who helped him get a roof over his head when he had almost given up on his life, the Times of India stated in its report.

Almost nine years ago, on December 3, 2013, Kannan injured his leg while unloading wood logs from a lorry which later had to be amputated.

As a daily wager with three daughters and a son, Kannan struggled hard to meet his needs. An assistant professor at Government College in Kondotty, M P Sameera, who was also the coordinator for the National Service Scheme unit at the college, on learning about Kannan, ensured the construction of a house for him.

“Sameera teacher is like a god for me and for my family. The journey to Sabarimala is dedicated to Sameera teacher. I believe that lord Ayyappa will shower his blessings on the teacher if I pray wholeheartedly,” Kannan was quoted in the report.

He started his journey from the village of Thadapparamba village. Kannan said that he begins his journey in the wheelchair every day at 6 am and it continues till noon.

After having lunch from temples or Annadanam counters for Sabrimala pilgrims, he rests for a while then resumes his journey from 6 pm and continues at 11 pm. He spends his nights at local temples. Kannan plans to climb up to the Ayyappa temple on foot once he reaches the pampa river, at the base of the hill, by the first week of January.

Kannan’s daughter is a paramedical student and his wife works as cleaning staff in a hotel. Until recently, Kannan’s wife was the only earner in the family. Since last month, Kannan started selling lottery tickets to add to their income.

“Even four years after helping construct a house for him, Kannan often calls me and thanks me when it rains heavily,” said Prof Sameera.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

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Tales of love: Choosing humanity over religion in 2022

When hate sells, it is tales of everyday harmony that get lost in the clamour for blood. It is such stories of fraternity that not only bring a ‘feel-good’ factor in our daily news, but reaffirm the Indian people’s basic commitment to co-existence, pluralism and tolerance

19 Dec 2022

Communal Harmony

Make love not war, a slogan that quickly gained traction in the anti-Vietnam war protests, is germane to the world we live in today. When hate is sold politically, like the proverbial hot cakes,with the commercial news media and even popular culture like cinema joining this chorus, it is peace lovers who go look, and always find, everyday accounts of love, harmony, fraternity and peace.

We bring to you some of these from the year 2022, where people chose love over hate, a choice made by the committed few in this day and age

In April, two weeks after calls for economic boycott were made against the Muslim community, Chennakeshava temple in Belur in Hassan district, Karnataka continued its tradition of reciting Koranic verses at the beginning of its famous Rathotsav (chariot festival), while also making provisions for non-Hindus to set up stalls in the complex.

During Ramzan, a Muslim family in Alwal locality of Telangana’s Hyderabad district offered their house for the wedding ceremony of their neighbour, a Hindu girl, who lost her father in the first wave of Covid-19.“When we came to know about her [Pooja’s] wedding, we tried to do whatever little we could, as family members. It’s also the holy month of Ramzan and what can be better than organising the marriage of a daughter,” said Nadira.Reports filed by multiple news outlets reported how the men of the Muslim family stood side by side greeting guests, while the women sang wedding songs with other women. The family also hosted a traditional meal and offered gifts to the guests.

By way of fulfilling their father’s dying wish, two sisters became an example of inter-faith harmony. Saroj and Anita, donated four bighas of land worth around ₹ 1.5 crore to an Eidgah in Kashipur town of Uttarakhand, in May this year. The gesture touched Muslims in Udham Singh Nagar district so deeply that to reciprocate the goodwill, they offered prayers for the deceased on Eid. Further, committee President Hasin Khan promised to felicitate the women for their gracious decision. Moreover, what came to light due to this is that the Eidgah is built alongside a Gurudwara and Hanuman temple and the religious heads discuss and time their prayers in a manner that helps maintain co-existence and peace in the neighbourhood.

Hindu family guards Muslim wedding

In June, a Hindu family reached out to the local police in the Uluberia region of Howrah, West Bengal to ensure that their neighbourPakiza enjoyed a joyous and worry-free wedding, despite prohibitory orders issued due to an eruption of violence in the area.the family also helped arrange for a car to take Pakiza to her new home.Tapas Kodali, LakhikantaKayal and UttamDolui promised to take care of everything. From welcoming the groom and guests to ensuring Pakiza’s safe journey to her in-laws’ house, the family participated in the marriage function. IddenesaMullick, the mother of the bride said, “I will be grateful to myneighbours for the rest of my life.” Meanwhile, Kayal said, “It is our duty as citizens to stand with Mullick.” Even the groom Mokkabir said he was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome and thanked the family for the smooth ceremony.

A flower bearing police force

To avoid any further violence (read Ram Navami violence), UP Police was on high alert in June, however Lucknow police made good use of this deployment by handing out roses to namazis. To mirror the goodwill, the devotees too gave flowers to the officers after namaz. The police administration was pleasantly surprised by this gesture too!

Assam floods and show of humanity

The north eastern state of Assam was ravaged with floods in June this year and while government struggled to provide for the people, Muslims in Assam’s Silchar town used rowing boats amidst knee deep water and brought bottled water for the locals. This water was especially for those families who were trapped inside houses where the ground-level is completely submerged.Although this water was a paid service, people were grateful for this help.

Muslim employee carries out last rites of Hindu employer

In July, becoming an example of exemplary communal harmony, Muhammad RizwanAlam carried out the last rites of his ailing employer, a hindu who had no family to call his own, except his employees. The small group carried Shah’s arthi and walked along the narrow locality pathways of Sabzibagh, Patna in Bihar chanting “Ram namsatyahai”. Even Shah’s arthi was made by the Muslim group with bamboo poles and help from a Hindu priest. Rizwan and his family engaged priests to ensure that the 13-day shraddh rituals for Shah were observed correctly.“We participate in each other’s important occasions from birth and festivals to death. We have a basic understanding of each other’s rituals,” said Rizwan.

Kashmiri Pandits welcome Hajis

In Kashmir Valley too, Hindus and Muslims are showcasing how they are placing humanity above religion everyday. In July, a video of Kashmiri Pandits welcoming Hajis at the Srinagar airport went viral on social media. The Pandits were singing traditional Na’at to welcome people returning from Hajj, the holy pilgrimage of Muslims.Na’at is poetry praising Prophet Mohammed.

What preceded this incident was local Muslims setting aside Eid festivities to help the Indian Army’s disaster relief teams with rescue operations involving Amarnath yatra pilgrims who had been affected by the cloudburst and flash-floods in the region. The Muslim vendors including pony service providers and shopkeepers did not go back to their village to celebrate Eid with their families, and instead stayed back to help the Army with the rescue operations.

Muharram commemorated in a village with no Muslims

Muharram is the time when Muslim grieve the death of Prophet Imam Hussain. In a pleasantly surprising instance, Hindus of Hirebidanur villagein the Saudatti taluk of Belgavi district, Karnataka, observe traditions during the month. This despite there are no Muslims living in this village but there is  a mosque. The Mosque was built by two Muslim brothers long ago. Now, every Muharram, a Muslim cleric from the neighbouring village stays at the Mosque and performs traditional Islamic prayers, while a Hindu priest also visits the mosque to offer Hindu prayers. Residents bearing torches carry out a colourful procession and carry traditional tajias (tazias) to the tunes of folk music. This is followed by a village fair where children exhibit folk art.

Children of Khoj

During one of CJP’s Khoj sessions in Varanasi, school children had some heart warming examples of religious harmony to display. CJP’s secular educational program, Khoj, has been creating dialogues with young minds for years, through classroom exercises, so that they identify their individual rights and deepen the values enshrined in the Indian constitution. During one such session, in the ‘Letter to God’ classroom activity, one boy Mohammad Irfan was drawing the shivling, when asked why he was drawing that, he said he could draw it very well and that Allah is in shivling as well because Allah and God are the same.

Another group of girls with a mix of Hindu and Muslim backgrounds were sitting together and said that they are all good friends and do not think about which religion or caste each one belongs to.

Tunes of devotion, tunes of harmony

During Ganapati idol immersions, in Malad area of Mumbai, Maharashtra, a procession carrying the Ganpati idol, which was playing Hindu devotional songs, switched to an Islamic devotional song while passing by a mosque. The DJ started playing “Bhar de jholimeriya Muhammad” while passing by the mosque. IN a similar incident in Aurangabad district, during Ram Navami procession, the DJ stopped the music while passing by a mosque. Only if more such mass processions, displayed such levels of respect for the other religion, unlike the violence that broke out in other states like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa and Rajasthan during Ram Navami.

Maha Ashtami Prasad given to Muslim Family

Continuing with historical tradition displaying communal harmony,the centuries-old Devi Doul (Durga temple) in Assam’s Sivasagardistrict was set to begin the MahaAshthami festivitieswith the distribution of prasad to an Ahom and a Muslim family. This practice is believed to have been first adopted during the reign of the Ahom kings in the medieval period. There are records with the temple management that read the “prasad of harmony” was received by the family of KonsengBorpatragohain, the first Borpatragohain- one of the three great Gohains (counsellors) in the Ahom kingdom created by SuhungmungDihingia Raja in the year 1527. The tradition was put to a halt due to COVID restrictions over two years and the same was revived this year.Well-known for Hindu-Muslim unity, Sivasagar remained undisturbed even in the trouble-torn times of Babri demolition in 1992.

Further, even a Durga Puja Pandal was erected sharing the boundary with a mosque. Earlier, the puja was held at a location somewhere else in the town, but with a space crunch there around 30 years ago, the organisers had to shift the Puja venue to the Thana Road area of the town where the pandal is next to the old local Beparipatty Masjid. The President of the Masjid Committee, Faridul Islam told IANS, “That time, my father used to be the president of the masjid committee. He, along with other people, approached the administration and urged them to conduct the Durga Puja here, with a specific assurance of not disturbing the harmony between the two communities.”Since then, three decades have passed and the celebration of Durga Puja which began by sharing the same boundary wall with the Masjid has been running in a very friendly environment with the active cooperation of the Muslim community as well.Whennamaz is offered in the mosque, the loudspeakers in the Puja pandal are switched off.

Another temple built in Dubai

Indian expats in Dubai, UAE rejoiced as another temple opened up for their worship just in time for Dussehra festival. Situated in a neighbourhood of Dubai known as the ‘worship village’, the grand place of worship was inaugurated in a ceremony marked with a powerful message of tolerance, peace, and harmony. The ‘worship village’ in Jebel Ali now houses nine religious shrines, including seven churches and the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Gurudwara.

Ram Dal greeted by Muslims in UP

During Dussehra, Muslims in Kaushambi, UP greeted Ram Dal procession performers.Ram Dal is a traditional procession that travels through different neighbourhoods as performers dressed as Hindu deities participate in a travelling play. When a Ram Dal passed through the streets of Syed Wada (Dara Nagar), a Muslim neighbourhood, residents displayed Ganga JamuniTehzeeb, and welcomed them with fruit and snacks.Adya Prasad Pandey, president of Dara Nagar Milla Committee, told TOI, “It’s an old-age tradition when people of Muslim community welcome the Ram Dal procession.”

JariMedhaby Muslim

Displaying a complex and rich depiction of India’s rich tradition of syncretic culture, the Cuttacks Banka Bazar-based Aslam Ali’s family has been creating tableaux or jarimedha for Durga Puja for generations with vigour and devotion. Ali’s family got contracts from various Puja Committees in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela and even Hyderabad as people love their finished work. “We feel happy doing such work which further strengthens our brotherhood. Because of this work, we get a chance to meet renowned persons of our society and they also felicitate us,” said Ali.Not only for Durga Puja, they also create and design similar items for other Pujas like Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja, Ganesh Puja. The rest of the year, day after day, they prepare mukuts (headwear) for Hindu grooms and brides.

Durga Puja at the hands of a Muslim in Ayodhya

At Ayodhya’sMotiganj market Shri NavDurgaCommmittee hasMohammad Tawfiq alias Mama ji as its Secretary for organizing the Durga Puja.During Navratri, Mohammad Taufeeq performs all the rituals required in the service of Goddess Durga – from the ritual placing the Durga’s statue to other religious rituals lasting nine days. His involvement from worship to aarti to decoration of the pandal to the distribution of ‘prasad’ is lauded by the local people who say it is difficult to tell him apart from a Hindu devotee.Taufeeqsays ,” religion is made to inspire humans. Religion is for giving good life and happiness to the society. One should not do any such work, which troubles anyone. This is humanity and so is religion”.

Muslims pitch in for Hindu temple in Gujarat

Muslim residents of Dethly village near Siddhpur taluka in Gujaratdonated money to renovate the temple of a Hindu deity. As per reports, the temple was renovated at a cost of Rs 1 crore, of which Rs 1,11,111 was contributed by the Muslim community.A three-day yagna ceremony began on October 12 at the village and Muslims set up counters to offer devotees free tea and coffee. The Sarpanch (village headman) VikramsinhDarbar told TOI, “Muslims are offering services such as handling the temple kitchen, serving food and tea to devotees and also in coordination.” He said that Muslims have been an integral part of the festival ever since planning for it first began a month ago.

The human side of a tragedy

From Gujarat’s Morbi bridge tragedy also came stories of humanity, of religion not blinding people in times of need. Reportedly, a local resident Mahbub Hussain Pathan, being an expert swimmer, saved lives of 50 people including pregnant women and children as he rushed to the spot. Another local resident, Taufikbhaijumped in the waters,and managed to save 35 lives.Naeem Sheikh, a migrant worker from Kolkata, working in the jewelry making sector, rushed with five of his friends to the site of the tragedy. He says between them, they managed to save 50-60 people. but lost a friend Habibul Sheikh. Many other stories displaying humanity also came up after the tragedy. Hussain, an ambulance driver who, alongwith Milan Prakashbhai, ferried the injured and dead to the hospital all night. This when his own cousin had perished in the tragedy. Haseena, a social worker helped in identifying bodies by cleaning them in the civil hospital. Ravi and his friend chipped in to provide food and water to the injured.

Muslims serving Ayyappa devotees

In November,some Muslimsbanding together under the Youth Welfare AP organization  served bhiksha (food) to AyyappaSwamys at Gajuwaka in Visakhapatnam. Youth Welfare and Minorities Rights Protection Council state president Sharukh Shibli, members Zaheer and Abu Nasar arranged food for the Ayyappa devotees who are observing AyyappaDeeksha.

Heartwarming stories of Diwali

During Diwali, a Facebook user posted two photographs of two women drawing rangoli on the porch. The post read, “Two Muslim helper women go out and spend their hard-earned money on flowers and rangoli and make Laksmi feet on the door of their atheist employer, of their own volition, to remind her what a celebration truly is. Surprised and touched.”

Love from Pakistan

An Indian family who visited Pakistan for their daughter’s tennis tournament were in for a pleasant surprise. A Pakistani gave a lift to the family hailing from Hyderabad and invited them to his office for a meal. He shot a video of the same which then went viral. The family can be seen enjoying biryani with Tahir Khan, the gracious Pakistani national.

Cleaning up roads for Chhat puja

A local news channel in Bihar, reported that in Mokama town in Patna, Muslim men were cleaning the road which people would use to go for Chhatparv. One of the men said they have been doing this since 15 years but it is becoming news now. He said that the condition of the roads in Parsi Mohalla is not good and they filled up all the potholes as well so that when the Hindu women go for Chhat Puja, they have a smooth road to walk on. He said that they surveyed the road from Syed gate to Ganga river which was in bad condition and were hencing cleaning it up and filling up potholes.

 

Cleaning Durga pandal because all religions are equals

A video was shared on Twitter by a user, where it can be seen that two men were cleaning the ground on which Durga pandal was situated. In the backdrop of a beautiful Durga goddess idol, these men were seen sweeping the ground. The men, mohammad Jamal and Shaikh Saidulla said that this was just like their home hence they were cleaning it. They were not safaikarmcharis, it was not their job to clean the ground but they still were doing it. Saidulla said, “ the children from our area come here to play, small shrapnel should not hurt them, so we are cleaning.”. Jamaal said, “All religions are equal. No one is one above the other. We clean this everyday. During pooja, we clean this ground at night itself.”

 

Reading about such instances fills our hearts with a hope that in the larger scheme of things, humanity will one day triumph over hate, bigotry and communal hatred.

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Migrant Worker, Ambulance Driver, Agniveer – Meet The Heroes Of Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Members Of Ganpati Visarjan Procession Pay Respect To Mosque

Everyday Harmony: Muslims Donate To Renovate Hindu Temple In Gujarat

Everyday Harmony: Durga Puja In Ayodhya Organised By A Muslim Man

Everyday Harmony: Hindus, Muslims Together Celebrate Durga Puja In Assam’s Sivasagar

Khoj: Children Send Out A Message Of Religious Harmony

Tales of love: Choosing humanity over religion in 2022

When hate sells, it is tales of everyday harmony that get lost in the clamour for blood. It is such stories of fraternity that not only bring a ‘feel-good’ factor in our daily news, but reaffirm the Indian people’s basic commitment to co-existence, pluralism and tolerance

Communal Harmony

Make love not war, a slogan that quickly gained traction in the anti-Vietnam war protests, is germane to the world we live in today. When hate is sold politically, like the proverbial hot cakes,with the commercial news media and even popular culture like cinema joining this chorus, it is peace lovers who go look, and always find, everyday accounts of love, harmony, fraternity and peace.

We bring to you some of these from the year 2022, where people chose love over hate, a choice made by the committed few in this day and age

In April, two weeks after calls for economic boycott were made against the Muslim community, Chennakeshava temple in Belur in Hassan district, Karnataka continued its tradition of reciting Koranic verses at the beginning of its famous Rathotsav (chariot festival), while also making provisions for non-Hindus to set up stalls in the complex.

During Ramzan, a Muslim family in Alwal locality of Telangana’s Hyderabad district offered their house for the wedding ceremony of their neighbour, a Hindu girl, who lost her father in the first wave of Covid-19.“When we came to know about her [Pooja’s] wedding, we tried to do whatever little we could, as family members. It’s also the holy month of Ramzan and what can be better than organising the marriage of a daughter,” said Nadira.Reports filed by multiple news outlets reported how the men of the Muslim family stood side by side greeting guests, while the women sang wedding songs with other women. The family also hosted a traditional meal and offered gifts to the guests.

By way of fulfilling their father’s dying wish, two sisters became an example of inter-faith harmony. Saroj and Anita, donated four bighas of land worth around ₹ 1.5 crore to an Eidgah in Kashipur town of Uttarakhand, in May this year. The gesture touched Muslims in Udham Singh Nagar district so deeply that to reciprocate the goodwill, they offered prayers for the deceased on Eid. Further, committee President Hasin Khan promised to felicitate the women for their gracious decision. Moreover, what came to light due to this is that the Eidgah is built alongside a Gurudwara and Hanuman temple and the religious heads discuss and time their prayers in a manner that helps maintain co-existence and peace in the neighbourhood.

Hindu family guards Muslim wedding

In June, a Hindu family reached out to the local police in the Uluberia region of Howrah, West Bengal to ensure that their neighbourPakiza enjoyed a joyous and worry-free wedding, despite prohibitory orders issued due to an eruption of violence in the area.the family also helped arrange for a car to take Pakiza to her new home.Tapas Kodali, LakhikantaKayal and UttamDolui promised to take care of everything. From welcoming the groom and guests to ensuring Pakiza’s safe journey to her in-laws’ house, the family participated in the marriage function. IddenesaMullick, the mother of the bride said, “I will be grateful to myneighbours for the rest of my life.” Meanwhile, Kayal said, “It is our duty as citizens to stand with Mullick.” Even the groom Mokkabir said he was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome and thanked the family for the smooth ceremony.

A flower bearing police force

To avoid any further violence (read Ram Navami violence), UP Police was on high alert in June, however Lucknow police made good use of this deployment by handing out roses to namazis. To mirror the goodwill, the devotees too gave flowers to the officers after namaz. The police administration was pleasantly surprised by this gesture too!

Assam floods and show of humanity

The north eastern state of Assam was ravaged with floods in June this year and while government struggled to provide for the people, Muslims in Assam’s Silchar town used rowing boats amidst knee deep water and brought bottled water for the locals. This water was especially for those families who were trapped inside houses where the ground-level is completely submerged.Although this water was a paid service, people were grateful for this help.

Muslim employee carries out last rites of Hindu employer

In July, becoming an example of exemplary communal harmony, Muhammad RizwanAlam carried out the last rites of his ailing employer, a hindu who had no family to call his own, except his employees. The small group carried Shah’s arthi and walked along the narrow locality pathways of Sabzibagh, Patna in Bihar chanting “Ram namsatyahai”. Even Shah’s arthi was made by the Muslim group with bamboo poles and help from a Hindu priest. Rizwan and his family engaged priests to ensure that the 13-day shraddh rituals for Shah were observed correctly.“We participate in each other’s important occasions from birth and festivals to death. We have a basic understanding of each other’s rituals,” said Rizwan.

Kashmiri Pandits welcome Hajis

In Kashmir Valley too, Hindus and Muslims are showcasing how they are placing humanity above religion everyday. In July, a video of Kashmiri Pandits welcoming Hajis at the Srinagar airport went viral on social media. The Pandits were singing traditional Na’at to welcome people returning from Hajj, the holy pilgrimage of Muslims.Na’at is poetry praising Prophet Mohammed.

What preceded this incident was local Muslims setting aside Eid festivities to help the Indian Army’s disaster relief teams with rescue operations involving Amarnath yatra pilgrims who had been affected by the cloudburst and flash-floods in the region. The Muslim vendors including pony service providers and shopkeepers did not go back to their village to celebrate Eid with their families, and instead stayed back to help the Army with the rescue operations.

Muharram commemorated in a village with no Muslims

Muharram is the time when Muslim grieve the death of Prophet Imam Hussain. In a pleasantly surprising instance, Hindus of Hirebidanur villagein the Saudatti taluk of Belgavi district, Karnataka, observe traditions during the month. This despite there are no Muslims living in this village but there is  a mosque. The Mosque was built by two Muslim brothers long ago. Now, every Muharram, a Muslim cleric from the neighbouring village stays at the Mosque and performs traditional Islamic prayers, while a Hindu priest also visits the mosque to offer Hindu prayers. Residents bearing torches carry out a colourful procession and carry traditional tajias (tazias) to the tunes of folk music. This is followed by a village fair where children exhibit folk art.

Children of Khoj

During one of CJP’s Khoj sessions in Varanasi, school children had some heart warming examples of religious harmony to display. CJP’s secular educational program, Khoj, has been creating dialogues with young minds for years, through classroom exercises, so that they identify their individual rights and deepen the values enshrined in the Indian constitution. During one such session, in the ‘Letter to God’ classroom activity, one boy Mohammad Irfan was drawing the shivling, when asked why he was drawing that, he said he could draw it very well and that Allah is in shivling as well because Allah and God are the same.

Another group of girls with a mix of Hindu and Muslim backgrounds were sitting together and said that they are all good friends and do not think about which religion or caste each one belongs to.

Tunes of devotion, tunes of harmony

During Ganapati idol immersions, in Malad area of Mumbai, Maharashtra, a procession carrying the Ganpati idol, which was playing Hindu devotional songs, switched to an Islamic devotional song while passing by a mosque. The DJ started playing “Bhar de jholimeriya Muhammad” while passing by the mosque. IN a similar incident in Aurangabad district, during Ram Navami procession, the DJ stopped the music while passing by a mosque. Only if more such mass processions, displayed such levels of respect for the other religion, unlike the violence that broke out in other states like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa and Rajasthan during Ram Navami.

Maha Ashtami Prasad given to Muslim Family

Continuing with historical tradition displaying communal harmony,the centuries-old Devi Doul (Durga temple) in Assam’s Sivasagardistrict was set to begin the MahaAshthami festivitieswith the distribution of prasad to an Ahom and a Muslim family. This practice is believed to have been first adopted during the reign of the Ahom kings in the medieval period. There are records with the temple management that read the “prasad of harmony” was received by the family of KonsengBorpatragohain, the first Borpatragohain- one of the three great Gohains (counsellors) in the Ahom kingdom created by SuhungmungDihingia Raja in the year 1527. The tradition was put to a halt due to COVID restrictions over two years and the same was revived this year.Well-known for Hindu-Muslim unity, Sivasagar remained undisturbed even in the trouble-torn times of Babri demolition in 1992.

Further, even a Durga Puja Pandal was erected sharing the boundary with a mosque. Earlier, the puja was held at a location somewhere else in the town, but with a space crunch there around 30 years ago, the organisers had to shift the Puja venue to the Thana Road area of the town where the pandal is next to the old local Beparipatty Masjid. The President of the Masjid Committee, Faridul Islam told IANS, “That time, my father used to be the president of the masjid committee. He, along with other people, approached the administration and urged them to conduct the Durga Puja here, with a specific assurance of not disturbing the harmony between the two communities.”Since then, three decades have passed and the celebration of Durga Puja which began by sharing the same boundary wall with the Masjid has been running in a very friendly environment with the active cooperation of the Muslim community as well.Whennamaz is offered in the mosque, the loudspeakers in the Puja pandal are switched off.

Another temple built in Dubai

Indian expats in Dubai, UAE rejoiced as another temple opened up for their worship just in time for Dussehra festival. Situated in a neighbourhood of Dubai known as the ‘worship village’, the grand place of worship was inaugurated in a ceremony marked with a powerful message of tolerance, peace, and harmony. The ‘worship village’ in Jebel Ali now houses nine religious shrines, including seven churches and the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Gurudwara.

Ram Dal greeted by Muslims in UP

During Dussehra, Muslims in Kaushambi, UP greeted Ram Dal procession performers.Ram Dal is a traditional procession that travels through different neighbourhoods as performers dressed as Hindu deities participate in a travelling play. When a Ram Dal passed through the streets of Syed Wada (Dara Nagar), a Muslim neighbourhood, residents displayed Ganga JamuniTehzeeb, and welcomed them with fruit and snacks.Adya Prasad Pandey, president of Dara Nagar Milla Committee, told TOI, “It’s an old-age tradition when people of Muslim community welcome the Ram Dal procession.”

JariMedhaby Muslim

Displaying a complex and rich depiction of India’s rich tradition of syncretic culture, the Cuttacks Banka Bazar-based Aslam Ali’s family has been creating tableaux or jarimedha for Durga Puja for generations with vigour and devotion. Ali’s family got contracts from various Puja Committees in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela and even Hyderabad as people love their finished work. “We feel happy doing such work which further strengthens our brotherhood. Because of this work, we get a chance to meet renowned persons of our society and they also felicitate us,” said Ali.Not only for Durga Puja, they also create and design similar items for other Pujas like Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja, Ganesh Puja. The rest of the year, day after day, they prepare mukuts (headwear) for Hindu grooms and brides.

Durga Puja at the hands of a Muslim in Ayodhya

At Ayodhya’sMotiganj market Shri NavDurgaCommmittee hasMohammad Tawfiq alias Mama ji as its Secretary for organizing the Durga Puja.During Navratri, Mohammad Taufeeq performs all the rituals required in the service of Goddess Durga – from the ritual placing the Durga’s statue to other religious rituals lasting nine days. His involvement from worship to aarti to decoration of the pandal to the distribution of ‘prasad’ is lauded by the local people who say it is difficult to tell him apart from a Hindu devotee.Taufeeqsays ,” religion is made to inspire humans. Religion is for giving good life and happiness to the society. One should not do any such work, which troubles anyone. This is humanity and so is religion”.

Muslims pitch in for Hindu temple in Gujarat

Muslim residents of Dethly village near Siddhpur taluka in Gujaratdonated money to renovate the temple of a Hindu deity. As per reports, the temple was renovated at a cost of Rs 1 crore, of which Rs 1,11,111 was contributed by the Muslim community.A three-day yagna ceremony began on October 12 at the village and Muslims set up counters to offer devotees free tea and coffee. The Sarpanch (village headman) VikramsinhDarbar told TOI, “Muslims are offering services such as handling the temple kitchen, serving food and tea to devotees and also in coordination.” He said that Muslims have been an integral part of the festival ever since planning for it first began a month ago.

The human side of a tragedy

From Gujarat’s Morbi bridge tragedy also came stories of humanity, of religion not blinding people in times of need. Reportedly, a local resident Mahbub Hussain Pathan, being an expert swimmer, saved lives of 50 people including pregnant women and children as he rushed to the spot. Another local resident, Taufikbhaijumped in the waters,and managed to save 35 lives.Naeem Sheikh, a migrant worker from Kolkata, working in the jewelry making sector, rushed with five of his friends to the site of the tragedy. He says between them, they managed to save 50-60 people. but lost a friend Habibul Sheikh. Many other stories displaying humanity also came up after the tragedy. Hussain, an ambulance driver who, alongwith Milan Prakashbhai, ferried the injured and dead to the hospital all night. This when his own cousin had perished in the tragedy. Haseena, a social worker helped in identifying bodies by cleaning them in the civil hospital. Ravi and his friend chipped in to provide food and water to the injured.

Muslims serving Ayyappa devotees

In November,some Muslimsbanding together under the Youth Welfare AP organization  served bhiksha (food) to AyyappaSwamys at Gajuwaka in Visakhapatnam. Youth Welfare and Minorities Rights Protection Council state president Sharukh Shibli, members Zaheer and Abu Nasar arranged food for the Ayyappa devotees who are observing AyyappaDeeksha.

Heartwarming stories of Diwali

During Diwali, a Facebook user posted two photographs of two women drawing rangoli on the porch. The post read, “Two Muslim helper women go out and spend their hard-earned money on flowers and rangoli and make Laksmi feet on the door of their atheist employer, of their own volition, to remind her what a celebration truly is. Surprised and touched.”

Love from Pakistan

An Indian family who visited Pakistan for their daughter’s tennis tournament were in for a pleasant surprise. A Pakistani gave a lift to the family hailing from Hyderabad and invited them to his office for a meal. He shot a video of the same which then went viral. The family can be seen enjoying biryani with Tahir Khan, the gracious Pakistani national.

Cleaning up roads for Chhat puja

A local news channel in Bihar, reported that in Mokama town in Patna, Muslim men were cleaning the road which people would use to go for Chhatparv. One of the men said they have been doing this since 15 years but it is becoming news now. He said that the condition of the roads in Parsi Mohalla is not good and they filled up all the potholes as well so that when the Hindu women go for Chhat Puja, they have a smooth road to walk on. He said that they surveyed the road from Syed gate to Ganga river which was in bad condition and were hencing cleaning it up and filling up potholes.

 

Cleaning Durga pandal because all religions are equals

A video was shared on Twitter by a user, where it can be seen that two men were cleaning the ground on which Durga pandal was situated. In the backdrop of a beautiful Durga goddess idol, these men were seen sweeping the ground. The men, mohammad Jamal and Shaikh Saidulla said that this was just like their home hence they were cleaning it. They were not safaikarmcharis, it was not their job to clean the ground but they still were doing it. Saidulla said, “ the children from our area come here to play, small shrapnel should not hurt them, so we are cleaning.”. Jamaal said, “All religions are equal. No one is one above the other. We clean this everyday. During pooja, we clean this ground at night itself.”

 

Reading about such instances fills our hearts with a hope that in the larger scheme of things, humanity will one day triumph over hate, bigotry and communal hatred.

Related:

Everyday Harmony: Migrant Worker, Ambulance Driver, Agniveer – Meet The Heroes Of Morbi

Everyday Harmony: Members Of Ganpati Visarjan Procession Pay Respect To Mosque

Everyday Harmony: Muslims Donate To Renovate Hindu Temple In Gujarat

Everyday Harmony: Durga Puja In Ayodhya Organised By A Muslim Man

Everyday Harmony: Hindus, Muslims Together Celebrate Durga Puja In Assam’s Sivasagar

Khoj: Children Send Out A Message Of Religious Harmony

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Sabrang

Sikh family donates land for mosque; to help with building it too

This is being done to help the Muslim families, who have to travel five kilometers to pray. The village currently has only a Muslim graveyard.

17 Dec 2022

land donation

A Sikh family in Barnala district of Punjab has reportedly donated land for mosque, which it will help construct. This is the first mosque being constructed in the Bakhtgarh village.

This is being done to help the Muslim families, who have to travel five kilometers to pray. The village currently has only a Muslim graveyard. Considering the challenge to the Muslims, Amandeep a resident of the village donated 250 square yards of his field.

He has got the land registered with the Tehsildar’s office under the name of Noorani masjid. The Muslim families are preparing the site map for the mosque. Its construction will cost Rs 12 lakh, Hindus and Sikhs will also bear the cost of construction.

“The village has two gurdwaras apart from a dera but no mosque. Its Muslim families go to nearby village for prayers, so my family gave them land for a mosque and will also contribute in the construction” Singh was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Moti Khan the supervisor of the project said, “We are indebted to the Sikh family and many others who have promised to support us. We pray for similar brotherhood everywhere for communal peace.”

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

Sikh family donates land for mosque; to help with building it too

This is being done to help the Muslim families, who have to travel five kilometers to pray. The village currently has only a Muslim graveyard.

land donation

A Sikh family in Barnala district of Punjab has reportedly donated land for mosque, which it will help construct. This is the first mosque being constructed in the Bakhtgarh village.

This is being done to help the Muslim families, who have to travel five kilometers to pray. The village currently has only a Muslim graveyard. Considering the challenge to the Muslims, Amandeep a resident of the village donated 250 square yards of his field.

He has got the land registered with the Tehsildar’s office under the name of Noorani masjid. The Muslim families are preparing the site map for the mosque. Its construction will cost Rs 12 lakh, Hindus and Sikhs will also bear the cost of construction.

“The village has two gurdwaras apart from a dera but no mosque. Its Muslim families go to nearby village for prayers, so my family gave them land for a mosque and will also contribute in the construction” Singh was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Moti Khan the supervisor of the project said, “We are indebted to the Sikh family and many others who have promised to support us. We pray for similar brotherhood everywhere for communal peace.”

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

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When silence is eloquent

The tortuous course of the law

05 Dec 2022

At an event organised by SAHMAT, Sabrang Trust and Social Scientist in December 6-8, 2010, journalist and author Manoj Mitta had elaborated
upon the 'legal fiction' and systemic failures at many levels, including by the Congress ruled Central Government, that mocked the rule of law and subverted justice in the Babri demolition case. He drew a parallel to the events of 1949 when locks of the Masjid were broken and ram lalla idols kept inside illegally. As a supreme court 'approved' Ram Mandir comes up at the site of the sixteenth century Babri masjid, this twelve year old excerpt from the speech, rings
chillingly prescient. 

First published on: 01 Feb 2011





I am a journalist and given the timing of this meeting, I should probably first mention a disclaimer. Though I am from the English mainstream media, I don’t figure  in the Radia tapes. You may therefore hear me with a degree of indulgence. I don’t take dictation from any corporate lobbyists. I don’t toe any government line. If I travel with anybody, it is more with activists like Teesta Setalvad and I’m very proud to say so because I see no contradiction in this. I don’t feel compromised when I speak or when I espouse public causes. And Ayodhya is one such. And if I may extend the Radia tapes metaphor, Ayodhya has been a bit like the Radia tapes of our claim to be secular. From 1949 onwards, Ayodhya has been a major challenge which showed how hollow our pretensions are, right from the way in which the establishment responded to the 1949 episode.

I am very conscious of the fact that I am the third speaker here and that I come after Anupam Gupta who gave us such a comprehensive account of the systemic response to the 1949 and 1992 episodes concerning Ayodhya. So I will try not to tread over the same ground. I will try to deal with the few gaps that have been left in an otherwise very comprehensive exposition. One that comes to mind offhand is the reference made to the 1994 judgement of the Supreme Court, given during the follow-up to the demolition, on the law (the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993) that the Narasimha Rao government came up with. What the Supreme Court gave to the nation smacked of a Hindu bias and this was underlined by the fact that it was a split verdict. The three judges who gave the majority judgement, and this is probably no coincidence, were all Hindus and the two who gave the dissenting opinion were non-Hindus, one was a Parsi and the other a Muslim.

The reason I make reference to this is because the Allahabad high court in 2010 likewise delivered a split verdict in the Ayodhya case. Much of the truth about the 1949 episode is reflected essentially in Justice Khan’s judgement even though it was absolutely central to determining who this disputed site should be given to. The whole basis for the claim arose from the illegal act that took place on December 23, 1949 and yet it was given short shrift in the two judgements delivered by the Hindu judges. And this should be a matter of great concern to us. There is a need for our judiciary to appear more assertive in displaying our secular commitment.

Another issue that has not been dealt with in great detail and which I will therefore take up concerns the criminal proceedings that followed after the 1992 episode. The manner in which the state responded to this crime was as strange as the manner in which it responded to the crime of 1949. The crime of 1949 was a turning point in the history of modern India; yet though a first information report (FIR) was formally lodged, it has never been investigated. This was an episode unlike any other in our history, an episode that has led to so many subsequent crimes; it has polarised the nation and continues to dog us even today. There has been no judicial finding on the illegality of what happened that night in 1949 or on culpability, on who was responsible for it.

Similarly, with regard to the 1992 episode, there have been FIRs – not one but as many as 49 FIRs – and the proceedings are still going on, there has still been no judicial finding on what happened on that fateful day, December 6. Of these 49 FIRs, only two really matter in the immediate context because the other 47 relate to attacks on journalists so I will dwell a little longer on these two. The first one, FIR No. 197/92, deals with the demolition per se, the run-up to it, the conspiracy that led to the demolition, the people who were involved in that demolition. The other FIR, No. 198/92, deals with the inflammatory speeches that were delivered by eight main leaders of the sangh parivar from a makeshift dais, Ram Katha Kunj Manch, erected not very far from the Babri Masjid as it stood that morning. The FIR dealing with the demolition did not name any accused persons at all. The police were probably justified in doing so because their focus was on the kar sevaks (who had been actively engaged in the demolition) and so this FIR, which was registered on the evening of December 6, names no names at all. FIR No. 198 names eight sangh parivar leaders. This is not the strange part. The strange sequence of events begins thereafter.

Much of the truth about the 1949 episode is reflected essentially in Justice Khan’s judgement of 2010 even though it was absolutely central to determining who this disputed site should be given to. The whole basis for the claim arose from the illegal act that took place on December 23, 1949 and yet it was given short shrift in the two judgements delivered by the Hindu judges

For some reason the centre, which had taken over the administration of Uttar Pradesh through president’s rule soon afterwards, chose to refer the demolition FIR, No. 197, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while the FIR dealing with the inflammatory speeches delivered by sangh parivar leaders, which is probably a more sensitive issue, more politically sensitive at least, was referred to the Crime Branch, Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID), of the Uttar Pradesh police. There was really no reason for the two to be separated. Both pertained to the same crime; there was a link, an organic link, between them. These inflammatory speeches were made not very far from the scene of the crime, where the demolition was going on, and they were addressed to kar sevaks who were gathered there while the crime was taking place simultaneously. And there were witnesses to all of this. It is very logical to infer that inflamed as they were by these speeches, those kar sevaks were encouraged to indulge in that crime. The two cases were linked yet for some reason the Congress government of Narasimha Rao – I mention this because there’s this rhetoric about the Congress being a secular party and so on and so forth – did this very strange thing, of separating the two cases. They were given to two different agencies. (While FIR No. 197 was handed over to the CBI, FIR No. 198 was to be prosecuted by the state CID in a special court in Lalitpur, later moved to Rae Bareli.)

Then a few months later it wakes up to the incongruity of this duality and it clubs the two cases together and gives them to the CBI. And then it also refers the two cases to one special court (a special CBI court set up in Lucknow). The reason I mention this is because it was in this special court that the CBI in 1993 first filed a joint charge sheet related to both FIRs, wherein these leaders, Advani and company, were named, in the context of the demolition, as conspirators. They were very much a part of the conspiracy and there was ample evidence of this. After all, in the run-up to the demolition there were the two rath yatras that converged in Ayodhya, one led by Advani, the other led by Murli Manohar Joshi, inviting people to come to Ayodhya in large numbers for the alleged kar seva; and on the eve of the demolition there was a secret meeting at the residence of Vinay Katiyar, the then MP from that area – which the CBI charge sheet refers to – where the finer details of this conspiracy were probably discussed. This charge sheet was filed in October 1993, nearly a year later.

In 1997 Judge Jagdish Prasad Srivastava of the additional (special) sessions court, Lucknow, frames charges. He passes an order prima facie accepting, taking cognisance, of all the charges made by the CBI so now there is a judicial stamp on these charges. A lot of the CBI’s findings were endorsed by this judge and he was poised to call each of the accused persons before court to read them the charges. It was at this stage that this legal process was interrupted. Some of the persons named in that charge sheet (a total of 49 persons were named in the charge sheet – somehow the figure 49 keeps recurring in this context!) went to court, the Allahabad high court, and got a stay order on proceedings.

This stay order was finally lifted in 2001 by which time the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power at the centre, by which time Advani was sitting in North Block as home minister and, if I am not mistaken, was probably even deputy prime minister of India. Whether he was, whether he had acquired that designation by then or not, he was very much a powerful leader. The Allahabad high court, speaking through Justice Jagdish Bhalla, said, look, there was a flaw, a procedural flaw, in referring the political leaders’ case, the inflammatory speeches case, to the special court at Lucknow but the saving grace is that it is a defect that can be cured. Now all that the then BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, led by Rajnath Singh, had to do in terms of the high court order was to issue a fresh notification so that the reference of that case, No. 198, was made in a proper manner.

After that, for weeks on end Rajnath Singh would keep saying, he would mystify it: “Oh, we are looking into it, we have referred this to our legal experts, they will do the needful.” And sure enough, they did nothing of the sort. That vacuum allowed the special sessions court in Lucknow, a sessions judge called Srikant Shukla, to separate the two cases completely. He said that the leaders, Advani and company, would no longer be tried for the demolition in this special court. They would be tried separately, if at all, for the lesser offence of inflammatory speeches.

The term ‘legal fiction’, so often used, has acquired a very perverse meaning in the context of Ayodhya. The legal fiction here is that we are today confronted with a situation where, even as we speak, proceedings are going on in the Lucknow special court dealing with the Ayodhya demolition while the special court in Rae Bareli deals exclusively, wearing blinkers, with the issue of inflammatory speeches. The fact that the two are linked is totally overlooked. The fact that you can’t talk about conspiracy without bringing leaders into it is overlooked. Look at the joke that is being played on us. I am not talking about the September 30, 2010 judgement of the Allahabad high court. I am talking about the related issue of criminal proceedings and the farce that is being perpetrated on us even today. There is so much hype about our being a rising power in the world and so forth but look at the manner in which more and more people are able to mock at all notions of the rule of law, of secularism.

The continuing joke is that in the Lucknow special court, accused persons whose names you have never heard of, whose faces you would not recognise, some anonymous kar sevaks, are being tried for the crime of conspiring to demolish the Babri Masjid all on their own, without the knowledge or involvement or instigation of any of these sangh parivar leaders, of the VHP, the BJP, the RSS, etc. That is the implication of their being tried in isolation, of only these unknown persons being tried for the demolition. And in Rae Bareli, you have the sangh parivar leaders being tried and being tried for what? Only for delivering inflammatory speeches which, as far as the courts are concerned, have nothing to do with the demolition because they will look at the issue of inflammatory speeches in isolation. And if that were not farcical enough, we must also bear in mind that we witnessed during the NDA’s reign a glaring instance of how the judiciary often does the bidding of the executive (just as, in the context of the Radia tapes, you have heard that journalists do the bidding of corporate lobbyists). So much for the independence of the judiciary.

We have seen how in 1986, in the context of the Shah Bano case and all the flak Rajiv Gandhi was getting for what he was doing to allegedly appease Muslim fundamentalists, he came up with this brainwave of doing a balancing act and got his administration to take the necessary steps to get the locks of the Ayodhya shrine opened. The Babri Masjid, which was kept under lock and key from 1950 onwards to keep the dispute under control, was suddenly opened. We have heard about the manner in which the then district judge, KM Pandey, referred to some divine inspiration that he got from a monkey, which he even mentions in his memoirs. This was an instance of courts doing the bidding of the government.

 
Similarly, in the NDA’s time when the inflammatory speeches issue was taken up and charges were to be framed, what does the court do? The Rae Bareli court? It discharges the person who for all practical purposes was the face of the Ayodhya movement, the so-called Ayodhya movement. The 1986 incident, of the locks being broken open and Hindu devotees being allowed to have darshan of Ram Lalla inside the Babri Masjid, gave momentum to this movement. And the face of this movement – especially after the BJP’s Palampur resolution in 1989 (openly supporting the VHP’s demand for building the Ramjanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya) – was LK Advani. Minus Advani, minus his genius, his political skills, it would probably not have acquired these proportions. This leader was discharged. He was there on the dais but he was discharged while other leaders were still going to be prosecuted.

We have little evidence, documentary evidence, of the demolition. The 47 other cases that were registered by the police along with the two cases I have been talking about involved attacks on journalists. Why were these cases registered? Many of these journalists were there to do independent work and they were inconvenient to the kar sevaks, to the sangh parivar types. So while part of the telltale evidence of a conspiracy was the manner in which they stealthily removed the Ram Lalla idols before the demolition, further, very clear, evidence of it was the orchestration of events. It was not as if some people got carried away by their emotions and started attacking the Babri Masjid. On the contrary, while one section of kar sevaks was engaged in the demolition, there was another section that very systematically attacked journalists. As soon as they saw a camera, they would smash it, they would scare the journalists away, they would intimidate them, they would beat them up – there were actual instances of this nature. That is how those 47 cases of attacks on journalists arose. In spite of all the demolition, you only have little bits of evidence here and there, like the photograph of Uma Bharti hugging Murli Manohar Joshi, which have survived those attacks. This is because of the kind of crime it was, the mass crime that took place in Ayodhya, when even journalists were not spared.

Advani was discharged on the testimony of his security officer, one very upright young Indian Police Service officer called Anju Gupta. And what does her testimony say? In her testimony, and this is something that anybody who reads it will know, she is nailing his claims, his much touted claim that December 6, 1992 was the saddest day of his life. The author of this movement, the man who did whatever he could to bring things to that stage on December 6, had the gumption to say that that was the saddest day of his life. But she gave us a ringside view of what was happening on the dais, what the conversation was, how he was very much a part of the jubilation.

This lady goes on to give further evidence about how Advani was very much a part of all the jubilation and how there was a time when he was concerned about the kar sevaks who were on top of the structure, engaged in the demolition. His concern was not to stop them, his concern was not to bring them down and save the mosque. His concern, and this comes through very clearly in Anju Gupta’s testimony, was that because there were a lot of kar sevaks at the ground level who were simultaneously demolishing the structure, there was a great probability of those who were on top of the structure being hurt, of their falling down and getting hurt. That was his concern and that is why he sent Uma Bharti there to dissuade them, to tell them to come down. Those were his concerns; there was no anxiety being displayed by him to stop anything. This is what came through in her testimony.

Yet the special court in Rae Bareli, when it discharged Advani during the NDA’s reign, actually cited Anju Gupta’s testimony – the judgement was in Hindi, the judge used the expression “ati mahatvapurna (exceedingly important)” – as the crucial basis on which he was letting off Advani. So much for this rule of law that we all keep buying into.

When there was a change of regime in 2004, this farce was corrected. Advani was brought back into the case. And given the background circumstances, I dare say that this judicial correction would not have taken place but for the fortuitous circumstance of the government having changed at the centre.

In the Lucknow special court, some anonymous kar sevaks are being tried for the crime of conspiring to demolish the Babri Masjid without the knowledge, involvement or instigation of any of the sangh parivar leaders. And in Rae Bareli, the sangh parivar leaders are being tried only for delivering inflammatory speeches

These events are all interconnected. The fact that the 1949 FIR has never been followed up, that there have been no convictions, is no coincidence. And it doesn’t end there.

To come back to the Supreme Court and the judgement of 1994, there is more to it than the split verdict on the then government’s proposed new law. There was another very farcical aspect that pertains to contempt of court. During the run-up to the demolition this matter was also before the Supreme Court.

As we are now aware, the intelligence reports issued prior to the demolition were very precise and any administration would have known from those reports that there was imminent danger to the structure. So there was wilful negligence on the part of the centre, on the part of the Narasimha Rao government, in this regard. Simultaneously, there was a public interest petitioner, Mohammad Aslam Bhure, and his counsel, OP Sharma, who were very valiantly fighting a battle before the Supreme Court. Their applications were based on newspaper reports that said the same thing: that what was going to happen on December 6 was very serious, that the threats cannot be taken lightly – these were issues that were brought before the court. And more importantly, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice MN Venkatachaliah had one very compelling reason to take these warnings seriously.

In July 1992 proceedings were underway before the Supreme Court, also at the instance of Bhure, on the construction of a platform near the Babri Masjid that was going on at the time. The court kept on ordering the Kalyan Singh government to stop this, to respect the status quo order, and yet the construction took place. The first contempt notice to Kalyan Singh was issued in July 1992 in this context and then, on December 6, this great crime takes place. These warnings should have been taken seriously. The undertakings given by the same Kalyan Singh who so wilfully violated and disobeyed the Supreme Court orders in July 1992 should therefore not have been taken seriously. Yet the Supreme Court in its wisdom decided to allow symbolic kar seva to take place.

How much of this was based on their commitment to the rule of law, how much of it was because they were Hindus, I don’t know. Despite the background, the Supreme Court trusted these fellows to perform a symbolic kar seva. And when this belief of theirs was belied, was completely shattered, sure enough, the Supreme Court, for national consumption, to the delight of our newspapers and TV channels, came up with some very strong observations: This is the greatest ever perfidy, there can be no greater instance of contempt of the Supreme Court, an otherwise mild judge really thundered in the courtroom, making someone like KK Venugopal, who was representing the Kalyan Singh government, say: I’m ashamed my lord, I was not privy to this conspiracy. When my clients said that they were going to observe the rule of law, that they were going to ensure that no damage would take place to the structure, I took their word for it. That was the kind of drama that took place in the court soon after the demolition. This was part of the same response.

And then, along with the 1994 judgement wherein the post-demolition measures taken by the government were examined by the Supreme Court, the court also dealt with the issue of contempt. The media and most people thought that the one-day sentence awarded to Kalyan Singh in that context was for the demolition but it was actually for the July 1992 instance of contempt, the first contempt notice. The judges wilfully kept clear of the act of contempt that was committed on December 6, 1992. To date, just as the 1949 FIR has still not resulted in a charge sheet and prosecution, this greatest ever contempt, as we were told it was subsequent to the December 6 incident, has still not been disposed of. No action has so far been taken. It is as if the judges don’t want to take chances with Lord Ram’s wrath.

Their inaction is not very different from the actions of Judge Pandey of the Uttar Pradesh judiciary who saw the hand of Hanuman, Hanuman’s benediction, in his decision to open the gates of the Babri Masjid. One cannot help seeing such significance in their eloquent silence on taking action against the December 6 act of contempt. And such silence is not an isolated instance.

We saw a similar silence in the context of the Supreme Court’s judgement on Hindutva in 1995. To make a brief reference to the Hindutva judgement… How do you talk about whether Hindutva is really liberal and in consonance with the Constitution without talking about what exactly Veer Savarkar, the man who coined that expression, had in mind: What was his definition of Hindutva, how did he propound this very pernicious theory that India belongs more to those whose birthplace and sacred land is India? This was an aspect that was totally glossed over by the Supreme Court in its Hindutva judgement as it merrily went along with the view that Hindutva is no different from Hinduism, the catholic, liberal interpretation of Hinduism.

I look at all of this as an outsider, as a representative of the media; I’m sure those of you who are from within the system can see this farce even more clearly than I do.

Archived from Communalism Combat, February 2011 Year 17    No.154, Section 1-Silence is Eloquent

When silence is eloquent

The tortuous course of the law

At an event organised by SAHMAT, Sabrang Trust and Social Scientist in December 6-8, 2010, journalist and author Manoj Mitta had elaborated
upon the 'legal fiction' and systemic failures at many levels, including by the Congress ruled Central Government, that mocked the rule of law and subverted justice in the Babri demolition case. He drew a parallel to the events of 1949 when locks of the Masjid were broken and ram lalla idols kept inside illegally. As a supreme court 'approved' Ram Mandir comes up at the site of the sixteenth century Babri masjid, this twelve year old excerpt from the speech, rings
chillingly prescient. 

First published on: 01 Feb 2011





I am a journalist and given the timing of this meeting, I should probably first mention a disclaimer. Though I am from the English mainstream media, I don’t figure  in the Radia tapes. You may therefore hear me with a degree of indulgence. I don’t take dictation from any corporate lobbyists. I don’t toe any government line. If I travel with anybody, it is more with activists like Teesta Setalvad and I’m very proud to say so because I see no contradiction in this. I don’t feel compromised when I speak or when I espouse public causes. And Ayodhya is one such. And if I may extend the Radia tapes metaphor, Ayodhya has been a bit like the Radia tapes of our claim to be secular. From 1949 onwards, Ayodhya has been a major challenge which showed how hollow our pretensions are, right from the way in which the establishment responded to the 1949 episode.

I am very conscious of the fact that I am the third speaker here and that I come after Anupam Gupta who gave us such a comprehensive account of the systemic response to the 1949 and 1992 episodes concerning Ayodhya. So I will try not to tread over the same ground. I will try to deal with the few gaps that have been left in an otherwise very comprehensive exposition. One that comes to mind offhand is the reference made to the 1994 judgement of the Supreme Court, given during the follow-up to the demolition, on the law (the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993) that the Narasimha Rao government came up with. What the Supreme Court gave to the nation smacked of a Hindu bias and this was underlined by the fact that it was a split verdict. The three judges who gave the majority judgement, and this is probably no coincidence, were all Hindus and the two who gave the dissenting opinion were non-Hindus, one was a Parsi and the other a Muslim.

The reason I make reference to this is because the Allahabad high court in 2010 likewise delivered a split verdict in the Ayodhya case. Much of the truth about the 1949 episode is reflected essentially in Justice Khan’s judgement even though it was absolutely central to determining who this disputed site should be given to. The whole basis for the claim arose from the illegal act that took place on December 23, 1949 and yet it was given short shrift in the two judgements delivered by the Hindu judges. And this should be a matter of great concern to us. There is a need for our judiciary to appear more assertive in displaying our secular commitment.

Another issue that has not been dealt with in great detail and which I will therefore take up concerns the criminal proceedings that followed after the 1992 episode. The manner in which the state responded to this crime was as strange as the manner in which it responded to the crime of 1949. The crime of 1949 was a turning point in the history of modern India; yet though a first information report (FIR) was formally lodged, it has never been investigated. This was an episode unlike any other in our history, an episode that has led to so many subsequent crimes; it has polarised the nation and continues to dog us even today. There has been no judicial finding on the illegality of what happened that night in 1949 or on culpability, on who was responsible for it.

Similarly, with regard to the 1992 episode, there have been FIRs – not one but as many as 49 FIRs – and the proceedings are still going on, there has still been no judicial finding on what happened on that fateful day, December 6. Of these 49 FIRs, only two really matter in the immediate context because the other 47 relate to attacks on journalists so I will dwell a little longer on these two. The first one, FIR No. 197/92, deals with the demolition per se, the run-up to it, the conspiracy that led to the demolition, the people who were involved in that demolition. The other FIR, No. 198/92, deals with the inflammatory speeches that were delivered by eight main leaders of the sangh parivar from a makeshift dais, Ram Katha Kunj Manch, erected not very far from the Babri Masjid as it stood that morning. The FIR dealing with the demolition did not name any accused persons at all. The police were probably justified in doing so because their focus was on the kar sevaks (who had been actively engaged in the demolition) and so this FIR, which was registered on the evening of December 6, names no names at all. FIR No. 198 names eight sangh parivar leaders. This is not the strange part. The strange sequence of events begins thereafter.

Much of the truth about the 1949 episode is reflected essentially in Justice Khan’s judgement of 2010 even though it was absolutely central to determining who this disputed site should be given to. The whole basis for the claim arose from the illegal act that took place on December 23, 1949 and yet it was given short shrift in the two judgements delivered by the Hindu judges

For some reason the centre, which had taken over the administration of Uttar Pradesh through president’s rule soon afterwards, chose to refer the demolition FIR, No. 197, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while the FIR dealing with the inflammatory speeches delivered by sangh parivar leaders, which is probably a more sensitive issue, more politically sensitive at least, was referred to the Crime Branch, Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID), of the Uttar Pradesh police. There was really no reason for the two to be separated. Both pertained to the same crime; there was a link, an organic link, between them. These inflammatory speeches were made not very far from the scene of the crime, where the demolition was going on, and they were addressed to kar sevaks who were gathered there while the crime was taking place simultaneously. And there were witnesses to all of this. It is very logical to infer that inflamed as they were by these speeches, those kar sevaks were encouraged to indulge in that crime. The two cases were linked yet for some reason the Congress government of Narasimha Rao – I mention this because there’s this rhetoric about the Congress being a secular party and so on and so forth – did this very strange thing, of separating the two cases. They were given to two different agencies. (While FIR No. 197 was handed over to the CBI, FIR No. 198 was to be prosecuted by the state CID in a special court in Lalitpur, later moved to Rae Bareli.)

Then a few months later it wakes up to the incongruity of this duality and it clubs the two cases together and gives them to the CBI. And then it also refers the two cases to one special court (a special CBI court set up in Lucknow). The reason I mention this is because it was in this special court that the CBI in 1993 first filed a joint charge sheet related to both FIRs, wherein these leaders, Advani and company, were named, in the context of the demolition, as conspirators. They were very much a part of the conspiracy and there was ample evidence of this. After all, in the run-up to the demolition there were the two rath yatras that converged in Ayodhya, one led by Advani, the other led by Murli Manohar Joshi, inviting people to come to Ayodhya in large numbers for the alleged kar seva; and on the eve of the demolition there was a secret meeting at the residence of Vinay Katiyar, the then MP from that area – which the CBI charge sheet refers to – where the finer details of this conspiracy were probably discussed. This charge sheet was filed in October 1993, nearly a year later.

In 1997 Judge Jagdish Prasad Srivastava of the additional (special) sessions court, Lucknow, frames charges. He passes an order prima facie accepting, taking cognisance, of all the charges made by the CBI so now there is a judicial stamp on these charges. A lot of the CBI’s findings were endorsed by this judge and he was poised to call each of the accused persons before court to read them the charges. It was at this stage that this legal process was interrupted. Some of the persons named in that charge sheet (a total of 49 persons were named in the charge sheet – somehow the figure 49 keeps recurring in this context!) went to court, the Allahabad high court, and got a stay order on proceedings.

This stay order was finally lifted in 2001 by which time the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power at the centre, by which time Advani was sitting in North Block as home minister and, if I am not mistaken, was probably even deputy prime minister of India. Whether he was, whether he had acquired that designation by then or not, he was very much a powerful leader. The Allahabad high court, speaking through Justice Jagdish Bhalla, said, look, there was a flaw, a procedural flaw, in referring the political leaders’ case, the inflammatory speeches case, to the special court at Lucknow but the saving grace is that it is a defect that can be cured. Now all that the then BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, led by Rajnath Singh, had to do in terms of the high court order was to issue a fresh notification so that the reference of that case, No. 198, was made in a proper manner.

After that, for weeks on end Rajnath Singh would keep saying, he would mystify it: “Oh, we are looking into it, we have referred this to our legal experts, they will do the needful.” And sure enough, they did nothing of the sort. That vacuum allowed the special sessions court in Lucknow, a sessions judge called Srikant Shukla, to separate the two cases completely. He said that the leaders, Advani and company, would no longer be tried for the demolition in this special court. They would be tried separately, if at all, for the lesser offence of inflammatory speeches.

The term ‘legal fiction’, so often used, has acquired a very perverse meaning in the context of Ayodhya. The legal fiction here is that we are today confronted with a situation where, even as we speak, proceedings are going on in the Lucknow special court dealing with the Ayodhya demolition while the special court in Rae Bareli deals exclusively, wearing blinkers, with the issue of inflammatory speeches. The fact that the two are linked is totally overlooked. The fact that you can’t talk about conspiracy without bringing leaders into it is overlooked. Look at the joke that is being played on us. I am not talking about the September 30, 2010 judgement of the Allahabad high court. I am talking about the related issue of criminal proceedings and the farce that is being perpetrated on us even today. There is so much hype about our being a rising power in the world and so forth but look at the manner in which more and more people are able to mock at all notions of the rule of law, of secularism.

The continuing joke is that in the Lucknow special court, accused persons whose names you have never heard of, whose faces you would not recognise, some anonymous kar sevaks, are being tried for the crime of conspiring to demolish the Babri Masjid all on their own, without the knowledge or involvement or instigation of any of these sangh parivar leaders, of the VHP, the BJP, the RSS, etc. That is the implication of their being tried in isolation, of only these unknown persons being tried for the demolition. And in Rae Bareli, you have the sangh parivar leaders being tried and being tried for what? Only for delivering inflammatory speeches which, as far as the courts are concerned, have nothing to do with the demolition because they will look at the issue of inflammatory speeches in isolation. And if that were not farcical enough, we must also bear in mind that we witnessed during the NDA’s reign a glaring instance of how the judiciary often does the bidding of the executive (just as, in the context of the Radia tapes, you have heard that journalists do the bidding of corporate lobbyists). So much for the independence of the judiciary.

We have seen how in 1986, in the context of the Shah Bano case and all the flak Rajiv Gandhi was getting for what he was doing to allegedly appease Muslim fundamentalists, he came up with this brainwave of doing a balancing act and got his administration to take the necessary steps to get the locks of the Ayodhya shrine opened. The Babri Masjid, which was kept under lock and key from 1950 onwards to keep the dispute under control, was suddenly opened. We have heard about the manner in which the then district judge, KM Pandey, referred to some divine inspiration that he got from a monkey, which he even mentions in his memoirs. This was an instance of courts doing the bidding of the government.

 
Similarly, in the NDA’s time when the inflammatory speeches issue was taken up and charges were to be framed, what does the court do? The Rae Bareli court? It discharges the person who for all practical purposes was the face of the Ayodhya movement, the so-called Ayodhya movement. The 1986 incident, of the locks being broken open and Hindu devotees being allowed to have darshan of Ram Lalla inside the Babri Masjid, gave momentum to this movement. And the face of this movement – especially after the BJP’s Palampur resolution in 1989 (openly supporting the VHP’s demand for building the Ramjanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya) – was LK Advani. Minus Advani, minus his genius, his political skills, it would probably not have acquired these proportions. This leader was discharged. He was there on the dais but he was discharged while other leaders were still going to be prosecuted.

We have little evidence, documentary evidence, of the demolition. The 47 other cases that were registered by the police along with the two cases I have been talking about involved attacks on journalists. Why were these cases registered? Many of these journalists were there to do independent work and they were inconvenient to the kar sevaks, to the sangh parivar types. So while part of the telltale evidence of a conspiracy was the manner in which they stealthily removed the Ram Lalla idols before the demolition, further, very clear, evidence of it was the orchestration of events. It was not as if some people got carried away by their emotions and started attacking the Babri Masjid. On the contrary, while one section of kar sevaks was engaged in the demolition, there was another section that very systematically attacked journalists. As soon as they saw a camera, they would smash it, they would scare the journalists away, they would intimidate them, they would beat them up – there were actual instances of this nature. That is how those 47 cases of attacks on journalists arose. In spite of all the demolition, you only have little bits of evidence here and there, like the photograph of Uma Bharti hugging Murli Manohar Joshi, which have survived those attacks. This is because of the kind of crime it was, the mass crime that took place in Ayodhya, when even journalists were not spared.

Advani was discharged on the testimony of his security officer, one very upright young Indian Police Service officer called Anju Gupta. And what does her testimony say? In her testimony, and this is something that anybody who reads it will know, she is nailing his claims, his much touted claim that December 6, 1992 was the saddest day of his life. The author of this movement, the man who did whatever he could to bring things to that stage on December 6, had the gumption to say that that was the saddest day of his life. But she gave us a ringside view of what was happening on the dais, what the conversation was, how he was very much a part of the jubilation.

This lady goes on to give further evidence about how Advani was very much a part of all the jubilation and how there was a time when he was concerned about the kar sevaks who were on top of the structure, engaged in the demolition. His concern was not to stop them, his concern was not to bring them down and save the mosque. His concern, and this comes through very clearly in Anju Gupta’s testimony, was that because there were a lot of kar sevaks at the ground level who were simultaneously demolishing the structure, there was a great probability of those who were on top of the structure being hurt, of their falling down and getting hurt. That was his concern and that is why he sent Uma Bharti there to dissuade them, to tell them to come down. Those were his concerns; there was no anxiety being displayed by him to stop anything. This is what came through in her testimony.

Yet the special court in Rae Bareli, when it discharged Advani during the NDA’s reign, actually cited Anju Gupta’s testimony – the judgement was in Hindi, the judge used the expression “ati mahatvapurna (exceedingly important)” – as the crucial basis on which he was letting off Advani. So much for this rule of law that we all keep buying into.

When there was a change of regime in 2004, this farce was corrected. Advani was brought back into the case. And given the background circumstances, I dare say that this judicial correction would not have taken place but for the fortuitous circumstance of the government having changed at the centre.

In the Lucknow special court, some anonymous kar sevaks are being tried for the crime of conspiring to demolish the Babri Masjid without the knowledge, involvement or instigation of any of the sangh parivar leaders. And in Rae Bareli, the sangh parivar leaders are being tried only for delivering inflammatory speeches

These events are all interconnected. The fact that the 1949 FIR has never been followed up, that there have been no convictions, is no coincidence. And it doesn’t end there.

To come back to the Supreme Court and the judgement of 1994, there is more to it than the split verdict on the then government’s proposed new law. There was another very farcical aspect that pertains to contempt of court. During the run-up to the demolition this matter was also before the Supreme Court.

As we are now aware, the intelligence reports issued prior to the demolition were very precise and any administration would have known from those reports that there was imminent danger to the structure. So there was wilful negligence on the part of the centre, on the part of the Narasimha Rao government, in this regard. Simultaneously, there was a public interest petitioner, Mohammad Aslam Bhure, and his counsel, OP Sharma, who were very valiantly fighting a battle before the Supreme Court. Their applications were based on newspaper reports that said the same thing: that what was going to happen on December 6 was very serious, that the threats cannot be taken lightly – these were issues that were brought before the court. And more importantly, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice MN Venkatachaliah had one very compelling reason to take these warnings seriously.

In July 1992 proceedings were underway before the Supreme Court, also at the instance of Bhure, on the construction of a platform near the Babri Masjid that was going on at the time. The court kept on ordering the Kalyan Singh government to stop this, to respect the status quo order, and yet the construction took place. The first contempt notice to Kalyan Singh was issued in July 1992 in this context and then, on December 6, this great crime takes place. These warnings should have been taken seriously. The undertakings given by the same Kalyan Singh who so wilfully violated and disobeyed the Supreme Court orders in July 1992 should therefore not have been taken seriously. Yet the Supreme Court in its wisdom decided to allow symbolic kar seva to take place.

How much of this was based on their commitment to the rule of law, how much of it was because they were Hindus, I don’t know. Despite the background, the Supreme Court trusted these fellows to perform a symbolic kar seva. And when this belief of theirs was belied, was completely shattered, sure enough, the Supreme Court, for national consumption, to the delight of our newspapers and TV channels, came up with some very strong observations: This is the greatest ever perfidy, there can be no greater instance of contempt of the Supreme Court, an otherwise mild judge really thundered in the courtroom, making someone like KK Venugopal, who was representing the Kalyan Singh government, say: I’m ashamed my lord, I was not privy to this conspiracy. When my clients said that they were going to observe the rule of law, that they were going to ensure that no damage would take place to the structure, I took their word for it. That was the kind of drama that took place in the court soon after the demolition. This was part of the same response.

And then, along with the 1994 judgement wherein the post-demolition measures taken by the government were examined by the Supreme Court, the court also dealt with the issue of contempt. The media and most people thought that the one-day sentence awarded to Kalyan Singh in that context was for the demolition but it was actually for the July 1992 instance of contempt, the first contempt notice. The judges wilfully kept clear of the act of contempt that was committed on December 6, 1992. To date, just as the 1949 FIR has still not resulted in a charge sheet and prosecution, this greatest ever contempt, as we were told it was subsequent to the December 6 incident, has still not been disposed of. No action has so far been taken. It is as if the judges don’t want to take chances with Lord Ram’s wrath.

Their inaction is not very different from the actions of Judge Pandey of the Uttar Pradesh judiciary who saw the hand of Hanuman, Hanuman’s benediction, in his decision to open the gates of the Babri Masjid. One cannot help seeing such significance in their eloquent silence on taking action against the December 6 act of contempt. And such silence is not an isolated instance.

We saw a similar silence in the context of the Supreme Court’s judgement on Hindutva in 1995. To make a brief reference to the Hindutva judgement… How do you talk about whether Hindutva is really liberal and in consonance with the Constitution without talking about what exactly Veer Savarkar, the man who coined that expression, had in mind: What was his definition of Hindutva, how did he propound this very pernicious theory that India belongs more to those whose birthplace and sacred land is India? This was an aspect that was totally glossed over by the Supreme Court in its Hindutva judgement as it merrily went along with the view that Hindutva is no different from Hinduism, the catholic, liberal interpretation of Hinduism.

I look at all of this as an outsider, as a representative of the media; I’m sure those of you who are from within the system can see this farce even more clearly than I do.

Archived from Communalism Combat, February 2011 Year 17    No.154, Section 1-Silence is Eloquent

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The Musalmans and a United Nation-India

11 Nov 2022

First published on: 11 Nov 2016

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Today, November 11 is the 128th Birth Anniversary of Maulana Azad. In 1992 he was posthumously awarded India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. He was 70 years when he passed away on February 22, 1958.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was twice elected President of the Indian National Congress, in 1923 and again in 1940. This excerpt from his historic address made at the Ramgarh Session of the grand old party are soul searching on the observations on the minorities and the syncretic fusion of religions on the sub-continent. The rest of the address may be read here.
 
“In 1923 you elected me President of this National Assembly. For the second time, after seventeen years, you have once again conferred upon me the same honour. Seventeen years is not a long period in the history of national struggles. But now the pace of events and world change is so rapid that our old standards no longer apply. During these last seventeen years we have passed through many stages, one after another. We had a long journey before us, and it was inevitable that we should pass through several stages.

“We rested at many a point no doubt, but never stopped. We surveyed and examined every prospect; but we were not ensnared by it, and passed on. We faced many ups and downs, but always our faces were turned towards the goal. The world may have doubted nur intentions and determination, but we never had a moment's doubt. Our path was full of difficulties, and at every step we were faced with great obstacles. It may be that we did not proceed as rapidly as we desired, but we did not flinch from marching forward.

“If we look back upon the period between 1923 and 1940, 1923 will appear to us a faded landmark in the distance. In 1923 we desired to reach our goal; but the goal was so distant then that even the milestones were hidden from our eyes. Raise your eyes today and look ahead. Not only do you see the milestones clearly, but the goal itself is not distant. But this is evident: that nearer we get to the goal, the more intense does our struggle become. Although the rapid march of events has taken us farther from our old landmark and brought us nearer our goal, yet it has created new troubles and difficulties for us. Today our caravan is passing a very critical stage. The essential difficulty of such a critical period lies in its conflicting possibilities. It is very probable that a correct step may bring us very near our goal; and on the other hand, a false step may land us in fresh troubles and difficulties.

“At such a critical juncture you have elected me President, and thus demonstrated the great confidence you have in one of your co-workers. It is a great honour and a great responsibility. I am grateful for the honour, and crave your support in shouldering the responsibility. I am confident that the fulness of your confidence in me will be a measure of the fulness of the support that I shall continue to receive. 
 
“I am a Musalman and am proud of that fact. Islam's splendid traditions of thirteen hundred years are my inheritance. I am unwilling to lose even the smallest part of this inheritance. The teaching and history of Islam, its arts and letters and civilisation, are my wealth and my fortune. It is my duty to protect them.

“As a Musalman I have a special interest in Islamic religion and culture, and I cannot tolerate any interference with them. But in addition to these sentiments, I have others also which the realities and conditions of my life have forced upon me. The spirit of Islam does not come in the way of these sentiments; it guides and helps me forward.

“I am proud of being an Indian. I am a part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice, and without me this splendid structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.

“It was India's historic destiny that many human races and cultures and religions should flow to her, finding a home in her hospitable soil, and that many a caravan should find rest here. Even before the dawn of history, these caravans trekked into India, and wave after wave of newcomers followed. This vast and fertile land gave welcome to all, and took them to her bosom. One of the last of these caravans, following the footsteps of its predecessors, was that of the followers of Islam. This came here and settled here for good.

“This led to a meeting of the culture-currents of two different races. Like the Ganga and Jumna, they flowed for a while through separate courses, but nature's immutable law brought them together and joined them in a sangam. This fusion was a notable event in history. Since then, destiny, in her own hidden way, began to fashion a new India in place of the old. We brought our treasures with us, and India too was full of the riches of her own precious heritage. We gave our wealth to her, and she unlocked the doors of her own treasures to us. We gave her what she needed most, the most precious of gifts from Islam's treasury, the message of democracy and human equality.

“Full eleven centuries have passed by since then. Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands. of years, Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.

“Full eleven centuries have passed by since then. Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands. of years, Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.

“Eleven hundred years of common history have enriched India with our common achievement. Our languages, our poetry, our literature, our culture, our art, our dress, our manners and customs, the innumerable happenings of our daily life, everything bears the stamp of our joint endeavour. There is indeed no aspect of our life which has escaped this stamp. Our languages were different, but we grew to use a common language; our manners and customs were dissimilar, but they acted and reacted on each other, and thus produced a new synthesis. Our old dress may be seen only in ancient pictures of bygone days; no one wears it today.

“This joint wealth is the heritage of our common nationality, and we do not want to leave it and go back to the times when this joint life had not begun. If there are any Hindus amongst us who desire to bring back the Hindu life of a thousand years ago and more, they dream, and such dreams are vain fantasies. So also if there are any Muslims who wish to revive their past civilization and culture, which they brought a thousand years ago from Iran and Central Asia, they dream also, and the sooner they wake up the better. These are unnatural fancies which cannot take root in the soil of reality. I am one of those who believe that revival may be a necessity in a religion but in social matters it is a denial of progress.

“This thousand years of our joint life has moulded us into a common nationality. This cannot be done artificially. Nature does her fashioning through her hidden processes in the course of centuries. The cast has now been moulded and destiny has set her seal upon it. Whether we like it or not, we have now become an Indian nation, united and indivisible. No fantasy or artificial scheming to separate and divide can break this unity. We must accept the logic of fact and history, and engage ourselves in the fashioning of our future destiny. 


Conclusion
“I shall not take any more of your time. My address must end now. But before I do so, permit me to remind you that our success depends upon three factors: unity, discipline, and full confidence in Mahatma Gandhi's leadership. The glorious past record of our movement was due to his great leadership, and it is only under his leadership that we can look forward to a future of successful achievement.
The time of our trial is upon us. We have already focussed the world's attention. Let us endeavour to prove ourselves worthy. “
 
(Source: Congress Presidential Addresses, Volume Five: 1940-1985, ed. by A. M. Zaidi (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Applied Political Research, 1985), pp. 17-38)

The Musalmans and a United Nation-India

First published on: 11 Nov 2016

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Today, November 11 is the 128th Birth Anniversary of Maulana Azad. In 1992 he was posthumously awarded India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. He was 70 years when he passed away on February 22, 1958.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was twice elected President of the Indian National Congress, in 1923 and again in 1940. This excerpt from his historic address made at the Ramgarh Session of the grand old party are soul searching on the observations on the minorities and the syncretic fusion of religions on the sub-continent. The rest of the address may be read here.
 
“In 1923 you elected me President of this National Assembly. For the second time, after seventeen years, you have once again conferred upon me the same honour. Seventeen years is not a long period in the history of national struggles. But now the pace of events and world change is so rapid that our old standards no longer apply. During these last seventeen years we have passed through many stages, one after another. We had a long journey before us, and it was inevitable that we should pass through several stages.

“We rested at many a point no doubt, but never stopped. We surveyed and examined every prospect; but we were not ensnared by it, and passed on. We faced many ups and downs, but always our faces were turned towards the goal. The world may have doubted nur intentions and determination, but we never had a moment's doubt. Our path was full of difficulties, and at every step we were faced with great obstacles. It may be that we did not proceed as rapidly as we desired, but we did not flinch from marching forward.

“If we look back upon the period between 1923 and 1940, 1923 will appear to us a faded landmark in the distance. In 1923 we desired to reach our goal; but the goal was so distant then that even the milestones were hidden from our eyes. Raise your eyes today and look ahead. Not only do you see the milestones clearly, but the goal itself is not distant. But this is evident: that nearer we get to the goal, the more intense does our struggle become. Although the rapid march of events has taken us farther from our old landmark and brought us nearer our goal, yet it has created new troubles and difficulties for us. Today our caravan is passing a very critical stage. The essential difficulty of such a critical period lies in its conflicting possibilities. It is very probable that a correct step may bring us very near our goal; and on the other hand, a false step may land us in fresh troubles and difficulties.

“At such a critical juncture you have elected me President, and thus demonstrated the great confidence you have in one of your co-workers. It is a great honour and a great responsibility. I am grateful for the honour, and crave your support in shouldering the responsibility. I am confident that the fulness of your confidence in me will be a measure of the fulness of the support that I shall continue to receive. 
 
“I am a Musalman and am proud of that fact. Islam's splendid traditions of thirteen hundred years are my inheritance. I am unwilling to lose even the smallest part of this inheritance. The teaching and history of Islam, its arts and letters and civilisation, are my wealth and my fortune. It is my duty to protect them.

“As a Musalman I have a special interest in Islamic religion and culture, and I cannot tolerate any interference with them. But in addition to these sentiments, I have others also which the realities and conditions of my life have forced upon me. The spirit of Islam does not come in the way of these sentiments; it guides and helps me forward.

“I am proud of being an Indian. I am a part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice, and without me this splendid structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.

“It was India's historic destiny that many human races and cultures and religions should flow to her, finding a home in her hospitable soil, and that many a caravan should find rest here. Even before the dawn of history, these caravans trekked into India, and wave after wave of newcomers followed. This vast and fertile land gave welcome to all, and took them to her bosom. One of the last of these caravans, following the footsteps of its predecessors, was that of the followers of Islam. This came here and settled here for good.

“This led to a meeting of the culture-currents of two different races. Like the Ganga and Jumna, they flowed for a while through separate courses, but nature's immutable law brought them together and joined them in a sangam. This fusion was a notable event in history. Since then, destiny, in her own hidden way, began to fashion a new India in place of the old. We brought our treasures with us, and India too was full of the riches of her own precious heritage. We gave our wealth to her, and she unlocked the doors of her own treasures to us. We gave her what she needed most, the most precious of gifts from Islam's treasury, the message of democracy and human equality.

“Full eleven centuries have passed by since then. Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands. of years, Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.

“Full eleven centuries have passed by since then. Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands. of years, Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.

“Eleven hundred years of common history have enriched India with our common achievement. Our languages, our poetry, our literature, our culture, our art, our dress, our manners and customs, the innumerable happenings of our daily life, everything bears the stamp of our joint endeavour. There is indeed no aspect of our life which has escaped this stamp. Our languages were different, but we grew to use a common language; our manners and customs were dissimilar, but they acted and reacted on each other, and thus produced a new synthesis. Our old dress may be seen only in ancient pictures of bygone days; no one wears it today.

“This joint wealth is the heritage of our common nationality, and we do not want to leave it and go back to the times when this joint life had not begun. If there are any Hindus amongst us who desire to bring back the Hindu life of a thousand years ago and more, they dream, and such dreams are vain fantasies. So also if there are any Muslims who wish to revive their past civilization and culture, which they brought a thousand years ago from Iran and Central Asia, they dream also, and the sooner they wake up the better. These are unnatural fancies which cannot take root in the soil of reality. I am one of those who believe that revival may be a necessity in a religion but in social matters it is a denial of progress.

“This thousand years of our joint life has moulded us into a common nationality. This cannot be done artificially. Nature does her fashioning through her hidden processes in the course of centuries. The cast has now been moulded and destiny has set her seal upon it. Whether we like it or not, we have now become an Indian nation, united and indivisible. No fantasy or artificial scheming to separate and divide can break this unity. We must accept the logic of fact and history, and engage ourselves in the fashioning of our future destiny. 


Conclusion
“I shall not take any more of your time. My address must end now. But before I do so, permit me to remind you that our success depends upon three factors: unity, discipline, and full confidence in Mahatma Gandhi's leadership. The glorious past record of our movement was due to his great leadership, and it is only under his leadership that we can look forward to a future of successful achievement.
The time of our trial is upon us. We have already focussed the world's attention. Let us endeavour to prove ourselves worthy. “
 
(Source: Congress Presidential Addresses, Volume Five: 1940-1985, ed. by A. M. Zaidi (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Applied Political Research, 1985), pp. 17-38)

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Guru Nanak’s Birthday, November 8, A time to Remember the Message of Social Justice, Harmony & Peace

08 Nov 2022

Guru Nanak
Image: Amritpal Singh Mann

A true mark of greatness is that the message conveyed by a person by work/deed as well words, conduct as well as character, brings solace to people and reduces distress of people in contemporary times. At the same time the message is also found to be of enduring importance to people when they cope with difficult problems and issues even after a long time

This is certainly true of the work and teachings of Guru Nanak which continue to have a very inspiring influence after nearly five centuries. November 8, 2022 is the 553rd Birth Anniversary. While Guru Nanak is very widely recognised as one of the greatest spiritual leaders and social reformers of all times, perhaps more effort needs to be made to more specifically place his life and teachings in the context of present day problems and needs. In this way our deeply troubled world can benefit more from Guru Nanak’s essential message of equality, simplicity, justice and peace and a deep spirituality which can help to spread these basics much more effectively and widely.

Seen in such a present day context, one of the most inspiring aspects of Guru Nanak’s life and work is his work for protection of those who are most distressed, or trapped by society in unjust positions or those who have been temporarily caught in most difficult situations resulting from war and turmoil. While returning from one of his all too frequent travels, near Aminabad he came to know of the extreme distress of civilians taken as prisoners by an invading army. Guru Nanak protested against this, there and then, in a time no protection was available from the actions of ruthless rulers. The impact of his quiet but firm determination and spiritual strength was such that many prisoners were actually released. Even after this “success,” Guru Nanak stayed on for a longer time to ensure that they were not troubled again.

When he was asked about his caste and his background during his travels to far-away places, Guru Nanak often did not reveal his real middle class background and instead replied that he identifies himself with those who were considered then to be the lowest of the low by contemporary society. This shows very clearly that he was very troubled by the discrimination against the so-called low castes and he was very keen to use the influence of his spirituality and the fame based on this to promote the cause of the weakest and poorest sections.

 While placing himself close to the poor and the exploited, Guru Nanak, at times even refused to accept the hospitality and food of those very rich and influential persons who were widely known to be exploiters of the poor.

Guru Nanak was a firm believer in communal harmony and this is how he was able to attract followers among Hindus as well as Muslims. This is also why he was equally at ease while travelling without any local contacts to areas dominated by diverse religious communities.

guru nanak

Guru Nanak rejected the exaggerated rituals of various religions, their claims to be the only truth and the strong tendency on the part of religious leaders to carve out a dominant and often lucrative position for themselves. Instead he emphasised a spirituality based on a simple and highly ethical life and closeness or bhakti to God based on such a life. Compassion and truth were much more important for him compared to any rituals and fasts which were emphasized by so many other preachers.

A remarkable aspect of the life and achievements of Guru Nanak relates to his skills as a great communicator. As he was travelling very frequently to new places and inter-acting with strangers, Guru Nanak developed exceptional skills for getting across his point of view even among hostile people in new areas. Quite often when he wanted to oppose some hypocrisy or superstition based ritual, he achieved this not by raising a shrill voice against this ritual, but by quietly playing the role of a very innocent person who just could not comprehend or understand the logic or rationality of an empty ritual or a false belief.

For example when he wanted to oppose the ritual of offering water to dead parents at a pilgrimage site, he simply stood in the opposite direction to pour water. As he had anticipated, immediately everyone started shouting at him that he was offering water in the wrong direction. Nanak now played the innocent to perfection and said, “My parents are not dead. They live in a village located in this direction. I thought after looking at all of you that if water poured by you can reach heaven which must be very far away, then surely water poured by me will reach my parents living in my village which is relatively nearer.” Everyone started laughing instead of getting angry, but in a subtle way Nanak communicated the absurdity of the ritual.

Similarly, in another instance when he was very tired in the course of his travels, he fell asleep with his feet placed unintentionally towards a place of worship. He was rudely awakened by a narrow minded religious leader who ordered him to immediately remove his feet from the position that pointed towards the place of worship. Nanak did not move but very calmly told the aggressive man, “I am not aware of any direction where God does not exist. If you know such a direction then kindly move my feet towards that direction.” The aggressive man did not have a reply to this and lurked away, ashamed.

Society is supposed to have “progressed” in recent times but can it still claim to live up to the ideals of Guru Nanak, Sant Kabir and Sant Ravidas? Has the discrimination against those considered to be from lower social groups ended? Has many-sided injustice to the poorest sections ended or has it even increased in some ways? How many people in society want today to identify with the lowest of the low as per the path shown by Guru Nanak? These are questions which we need to ponder as we try to find a more compassionate path of progress, guided by the great saints of the Bhakti movement.

The authors have worked together on various issues of social relevance to write several articles and booklets.

Guru Nanak’s Birthday, November 8, A time to Remember the Message of Social Justice, Harmony & Peace

Guru Nanak
Image: Amritpal Singh Mann

A true mark of greatness is that the message conveyed by a person by work/deed as well words, conduct as well as character, brings solace to people and reduces distress of people in contemporary times. At the same time the message is also found to be of enduring importance to people when they cope with difficult problems and issues even after a long time

This is certainly true of the work and teachings of Guru Nanak which continue to have a very inspiring influence after nearly five centuries. November 8, 2022 is the 553rd Birth Anniversary. While Guru Nanak is very widely recognised as one of the greatest spiritual leaders and social reformers of all times, perhaps more effort needs to be made to more specifically place his life and teachings in the context of present day problems and needs. In this way our deeply troubled world can benefit more from Guru Nanak’s essential message of equality, simplicity, justice and peace and a deep spirituality which can help to spread these basics much more effectively and widely.

Seen in such a present day context, one of the most inspiring aspects of Guru Nanak’s life and work is his work for protection of those who are most distressed, or trapped by society in unjust positions or those who have been temporarily caught in most difficult situations resulting from war and turmoil. While returning from one of his all too frequent travels, near Aminabad he came to know of the extreme distress of civilians taken as prisoners by an invading army. Guru Nanak protested against this, there and then, in a time no protection was available from the actions of ruthless rulers. The impact of his quiet but firm determination and spiritual strength was such that many prisoners were actually released. Even after this “success,” Guru Nanak stayed on for a longer time to ensure that they were not troubled again.

When he was asked about his caste and his background during his travels to far-away places, Guru Nanak often did not reveal his real middle class background and instead replied that he identifies himself with those who were considered then to be the lowest of the low by contemporary society. This shows very clearly that he was very troubled by the discrimination against the so-called low castes and he was very keen to use the influence of his spirituality and the fame based on this to promote the cause of the weakest and poorest sections.

 While placing himself close to the poor and the exploited, Guru Nanak, at times even refused to accept the hospitality and food of those very rich and influential persons who were widely known to be exploiters of the poor.

Guru Nanak was a firm believer in communal harmony and this is how he was able to attract followers among Hindus as well as Muslims. This is also why he was equally at ease while travelling without any local contacts to areas dominated by diverse religious communities.

guru nanak

Guru Nanak rejected the exaggerated rituals of various religions, their claims to be the only truth and the strong tendency on the part of religious leaders to carve out a dominant and often lucrative position for themselves. Instead he emphasised a spirituality based on a simple and highly ethical life and closeness or bhakti to God based on such a life. Compassion and truth were much more important for him compared to any rituals and fasts which were emphasized by so many other preachers.

A remarkable aspect of the life and achievements of Guru Nanak relates to his skills as a great communicator. As he was travelling very frequently to new places and inter-acting with strangers, Guru Nanak developed exceptional skills for getting across his point of view even among hostile people in new areas. Quite often when he wanted to oppose some hypocrisy or superstition based ritual, he achieved this not by raising a shrill voice against this ritual, but by quietly playing the role of a very innocent person who just could not comprehend or understand the logic or rationality of an empty ritual or a false belief.

For example when he wanted to oppose the ritual of offering water to dead parents at a pilgrimage site, he simply stood in the opposite direction to pour water. As he had anticipated, immediately everyone started shouting at him that he was offering water in the wrong direction. Nanak now played the innocent to perfection and said, “My parents are not dead. They live in a village located in this direction. I thought after looking at all of you that if water poured by you can reach heaven which must be very far away, then surely water poured by me will reach my parents living in my village which is relatively nearer.” Everyone started laughing instead of getting angry, but in a subtle way Nanak communicated the absurdity of the ritual.

Similarly, in another instance when he was very tired in the course of his travels, he fell asleep with his feet placed unintentionally towards a place of worship. He was rudely awakened by a narrow minded religious leader who ordered him to immediately remove his feet from the position that pointed towards the place of worship. Nanak did not move but very calmly told the aggressive man, “I am not aware of any direction where God does not exist. If you know such a direction then kindly move my feet towards that direction.” The aggressive man did not have a reply to this and lurked away, ashamed.

Society is supposed to have “progressed” in recent times but can it still claim to live up to the ideals of Guru Nanak, Sant Kabir and Sant Ravidas? Has the discrimination against those considered to be from lower social groups ended? Has many-sided injustice to the poorest sections ended or has it even increased in some ways? How many people in society want today to identify with the lowest of the low as per the path shown by Guru Nanak? These are questions which we need to ponder as we try to find a more compassionate path of progress, guided by the great saints of the Bhakti movement.

The authors have worked together on various issues of social relevance to write several articles and booklets.

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