jump to navigation

Hindu girl forced to convert to Islam April 24, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Hindu Rights Register, Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Posted: Apr 23, 2010 at 1755 hrs IST

Islamabad

A Hindu girl from Punjab province was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam and is currently being held in a madrassa, leading Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney said today.

Burney said his rights organisation, the Ansar Burney Trust International, had learnt that 15-year-old Gajri, the daughter of Mengha Ram, was abducted by a Muslim neighbour from her home at Katchi Mandi, Liaquatpur, in Rahim Yar Khan district on December 21, 2009.

Gajri’s parents later found out that she was beingheld captive in a madrassa or seminary in southern Punjab and that she had been married and converted to Islam, Burney said.

The local administration is “refusing to respond to the abduction” of the girl, who is not being allowed to leave the madrassa or to speak to her parents, he said.

Burney, a former human rights minister, condemned the forceful conversion of the Hindu girl and demanded her immediate release.

“Pakistan is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which oblige authorities to protect religious minorities under international law,” he said.

According to Ansar Burney Trust, on 21 December 2009 Gajri disappeared from the home of her Hindu parents in southern Punjab.

On December 26 last year, the local police station in Gajri’s hometown received a letter with an affidavit from madrassa that said she had “embraced Islam and had married her neighbour Mohammad Salim”, Burney said. The letter did not enclose a marriage certificate, he said.

Police did not immediately inform Gajri’s parents about the letter even though they had tried to file a First Information Report after she had gone missing. The parents were discouraged from doing so by police, Burney said.

Mengha Ram and his wife then contacted the vice president of the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony, Ramesh Jay Pal. With his help, the parents met the priest in charge of Darul-Uloom Madrassa in Khanpur, Maulana Abdul Hafeez. Hafeez reportedly told the parents that Gajri had “embraced Islam and was not allowed to meet her parents”.

In January this year, the parents of Gajri again tried to file a case of abduction against their neighbour and the madrassa but their application was refused by district police chief Imtiaz Gul. He allegedly told them that he had no power to intervene in matters of religious conversion and that their daughter was now the “property of the madrassa”, Burney said.

Burney said Gajri is a minor and “cannot arbitrarily be removed from the custody of her parents”. He urged President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer to intervene to ensure Gajri’s released.

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Hindu-girl-forced-to-convert-to-Islam/610492/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+expressindia%2FiKgY+(Expressindia)

Beer-drinking Muslim woman’s caning to go ahead October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Islam.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur, September 29, 2009

A Muslim woman sentenced to be caned for drinking beer wants to quickly get the punishment over with now that it has been confirmed by an Islamic appeals court judge, her father said on Tuesday.

If the punishment is carried out, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, would become the first Muslim woman to be caned in Malaysia, where about 60 per cent of the 28 million people are Muslims.

The case has ignited a debate in this moderate Muslim-majority country whether conservative Islamists, who advocate harsh punishments, are gaining influence over the justice system and whether Islamic laws should intrude into people’s private lives. According to local media reports Monday, chief Judge Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahman of Pahang state’s Shariah courts decided to uphold the sentence passed by the state high court on Kartika after a one-month review of the case.

No date was immediately set for the caning. Kartika’s father, Shukarno Abdul Muttlib, 60, told The Associated Press that while the family had yet to be informed of the judge’s latest decision, his daughter “accepts the punishment” and would like it to be carried out sooner rather than later. “We obey the law,” he said, adding that “it’s a challenge … (but) it’s the way of my life.”

Pahang court and religious department officials declined to talk about the case Tuesday. Others could not immediately be reached.

Kartika, a former model and nurse, was sentenced in July to six strokes of the cane and a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,400) for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort in violation of Islamic laws.

Islam prohibits Muslims from drinking alcohol. Kartika, who pleaded guilty, refused to appeal her sentence and was on the verge of being caned on August 24. But the punishment was halted at the last minute following an uproar in the media and among rights activists.

Instead, the government asked the Shariah High Court Appeals Panel in Kuantan, the capital of Pahang, to review the verdict. Judge Abdul Hamid, who headed the panel, ruled that the sentence was correct and should stay.

The caning would be done with a thin stick on the back and would be largely symbolic rather than aimed at causing pain, unlike the caning of rapists and drug smugglers with a thick rattan stick on bare buttocks that causes the skin to break and leave scars. Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system. Shariah laws apply to Muslims in all personal matters. Non-Muslims, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs and other minorities are covered by civil laws, and are free to drink.

Only three states in Malaysia — Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan — impose caning for drinking alcohol. In the other 10 states it is punishable by a fine.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/459155.aspx

Embrace Islam, say YouTube ‘Shankaracharyas’ October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Hindu Rights Register.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Anuraag Singh, Hindustan Times
Varanasi, September 23, 2009

The likely successor to the Shankaracharya of northern and western India is very angry at popular web portal YouTube showing video clips of two ‘fake’ Shankaracharyas, one of who exhorts viewers to embrace Islam and the other explains why he converted to Islam.

He is so enraged that he has decided to seek the intervention of President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “on this burning issue”.

“We’re also seeking the opinion of experts to proceed legally against the web portal for featuring these video clips which are bound to hurt Hindu sentiments across the world,” Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati of the Jyotishpeeth and Shardapeeth told HT here on Wednesday.

The clips show one of the men dressed in a red robe and the other clad in white pyjamas and sleeveless half-coat, sporting a skull cap and thin beard.

One clip (of 9.20 minutes) shows an old man holding the signature stick of the first Shankaracharya going by the name and title of ‘Devanand Saraswati, Jagatguru Shankaracharya’.

He tells a gathering in Hindi that Islam is the greatest religion in the world and that the first verse of the Quran should motivate Hindus to convert to Islam. The man calls upon the whole world to adopt Islam, adding that those against Islam are devils. “I don’t love those who don’t love Muslims,” he says in the clip.

The second clip of over four minutes shows a young man going by the name of ‘Acharya Sanjay Prasad Dwivedi-turned-Ahmed Pandit’ and bearing the title of the ‘Varanasi Shankar Acharya (sic)’.

This man says in Hindi that he was a Hindu priest in Varanasi who delved deep into the study of the Quran for three years and converted to Islam. Strangely, he is shown speaking at a gathering with a banner reading ‘Health Ministry’ behind him.

Swami Avimukteshwaranand said the two men are frauds as Hindus all over the world recognise only three Shankaracharyas who head the four peeths or religious centres established by the first or Adi Shankaracharya in 500 BC.

The four peeths were set up by him at Joshi Mutt in Uttarakhand, Puri in Orissa, Sringeri in Karnataka and Dwarka in Gujarat. The first Shankaracharya propounded the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Sanatan Dharma, one of the main streams of Hinduism.

Swami Avimukteshwaranand is to likely to succeed Swami Swarupanand Saraswati as the the Shankaracharya of the religious centres called the Jyotishpeeth and Shardapeeth, which are located in Uttarakhand and Gujarat.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/457328.aspx

Pakistan an ordinary nation March 8, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Pakistan.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Salil Tripathi

 

So many myths came crashing down in Lahore. That Pakistan is an ordinary country with extraordinary problems. That Pakistan’s security forces are hand-in-glove with terrorists. That extremists would never attack cricketers.

 

In the end, the horror near the Gaddafi Stadium showed how the bizarre becomes the ordinary: Witness the number of people who said: “I told you so,” as cricket boards congratulated themselves for having avoided touring Pakistan. Recall, too, that all the dead are Pakistanis —all but one of them brave security guards who laid down their lives to protect the cricketers, nailing the myth that all Pakistanis are complicit with terrorism. And then the third myth—when Imran Khan said, the week before the Mumbai attacks, that cricket is safe from terror. How could one be so sure in a country where so many rules of war have been broken?

 

But Khan believed it just as Pakistan wanted to believe in another idea, which had better not be a myth—that it is a normal country—for the alternative—a nuclear-armed failed state—is too horrible to contemplate. Many, if not most, Pakistanis want to live normal lives. Their families want to go to Clifton in Karachi and admire the sunset. Their teenagers want to go hiking in the Karakoram, and their rich like to ski on the slopes of the Swat valley. They want their kids to go to schools that teach math and computers, and not only scriptures and hate-filled history. They take delight in the peccadilloes of Bollywood stars and hum along with the songs of the rock group, Junoon. They post videos critical of generals on YouTube and write blogs challenging their politicians who succumb to the mullahs and the military. Their lawyers protest the removal of the Supreme Court’s chief justice, and their novelists ridicule the pious nonsense of their imams and generals with an aplomb that’s lacking in the more didactic “socially relevant” fiction of new Indian authors. And they want to go to a stadium, to admire some nice stroke-play, inspired bowling and exceptional fielding.

 

And it is that normalcy which the terrorists attack, because the terrorists want what’s regular to be the unexpected, and the unexpected to make you afraid, and not wonder. That means audaciously razing Islamabad’s premier hotel; ruthlessly assassinating a politician who thought this time, the third time, she’d get it right; brazenly attacking presidential convoys; boldly humiliating the government by demanding, and getting, a large chunk of territory where only their peculiar tribal interpretation of religious laws would apply, not national laws or international norms. In this topsy-turvy universe, a conniving, petty trader of nuclear secrets, who saw a new world order in a mushroom cloud, is released from house arrest, and a foreign correspondent meeting a contact outside the hotel gets beheaded.

 

Finally, it is that peculiar country where its President has in the past claimed to be suffering from mental illness to avoid a corruption trial while in exile, and upon assuming presidency used all methods to get a rival politician outlawed, even though working with him to ward off the twin threats the cantonment and the mosque represent is in the interest of the nation’s fragile democracy.

 

That’s the universe many Pakistanis inhabit—caught between intransigent generals, incompetent politicians and intolerant mullahs. They don’t need reminding what terrorism is; they live with it. They have lost thousands of civilians and soldiers in the past decade. They live with the consequences of cynical, cold, political choices and compromises their leaders have made on their behalf.

 

And yet, many in India don’t see that reality, and see all Pakistanis as extremists, as if all of them accept at face value the rants of Zahid Hamid on Pakistani television—who believes everything that’s evil is because of “Hindu Zionist” conspiracy.

 

We must then learn to separate that sinister fringe from the Pakistani men and women who don’t believe in juvenile jihadis. We must not succumb to the idea—as Simi Garewal momentarily did (though she was hardly alone) —that if only we bomb Pakistan, all problems will be solved. Starting a war is a not a choice as easy as sending a “Yes” SMS to a televise on channel desperate to improve ratings, and which wants politicians to announce foreign policy manoeuvres on live television. It also means we must prevent our own saffron Taliban, which wants to empty our bookshops of Pakistani writers, and prevent Pakistani artists from performing in our theatres.

 

At its simplest, it means not gloating at what Ahmed Rashid calls Pakistan’s descent into chaos, but to appreciate Pakistanis’ struggle to reclaim their country from the triumvirate Tariq Ali describes as “greedy generals, corrupt politicians and bearded lunatics”.

 

That’s not easy. Building a civil society never is. It needs nerves of steel. We must wish strength to the millions in Pakistan who have that resolve.

 

Salil Tripathi is a writer based in London. Your comments are welcome at salil@livemint.com

 

Ref:http://www.livemint.com/2009/03/04180643/PAKISTAN-AN-ORDINARY-NATIOn.html?atype=tp

Women worst sufferers in J&K? January 25, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

 

(HT Correspondent, Bhopal, December 23, 2006)

 

“INDIA HAS a patriarchal society and women were the worst sufferers of violence in the Kashmir valley,” said noted writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker Justine Hardy during her visit to the ongoing Lyall Book Fair in the City on Saturday.

 

Hardy was at the fair where she signed copies of her first fiction, ‘The Wonder House’, set in Kashmir. This book is a story of three women living in Kashmir and their tumultuous lives in the valley.

 

The author’s other works include ‘The Ocher Border’, ‘Scoop-Wallah’, ‘Boat’ and ‘Bollywood Boy’. On the occasion she said in her book, ‘The Wonder House’ she had made an attempt to sensitise readers on the Kashmir issue.

 

She added reporting on Kashmir was restricted to issues between India and Pakistan. She said the sufferings of people of the valley particularly women were hardly reflected in the stories. There were better opportunities beyond the periphery of the State but they hardly had chance to move out of their world of miseries.        

 

Hardy who said her flight was delayed by six hours due to fog, said when she had visited Srinagar she had witnessed the plight of people.

 

She, however, appreciated the role of the Indian Army and Government in coping with the earthquake devastations in the valley. Commenting on the City of Lakes Bhopal she said it was an incredibly beautiful City and very clean.

She is currently writing a book, which is again set in India and deals with the caste system in the country, she said.

 

Ref: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=c9efd54e-2916-4f46-a316-d50a11a4d293

India’s Dangerous Divide January 24, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

India‘s Muslims are prominent in Bollywood but still struggle with their identity. In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, tensions have mounted and loyalties have been tested. Ramachandra Guha on the path forward for India and its Muslim minority.

An Indian Muslim woman at a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on Dec. 3, in memory of the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

In October 1947, a bare six weeks after India and Pakistan achieved their independence from British rule, the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote a remarkable letter to the Chief Ministers of the different provinces. Here Nehru pointed out that despite the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim homeland, there remained, within India, “a Muslim minority who are so large in numbers that they cannot, even if they want, go anywhere else. That is a basic fact about which there can be no argument. Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have got to deal with this minority in a civilized manner. We must give them security and the rights of citizens in a democratic State.”

In the wake of the recent incidents in Mumbai, these words make salutary reading. It seems quite certain that the terrorists who attacked the financial capital were trained in Pakistan. The outrages have sparked a wave of indignation among the middle class. Demonstrations have been held in the major cities, calling for revenge, in particular for strikes against training camps in Pakistan. The models held up here are Israel and the United States; if they can “take out” individual terrorists and invade whole countries, ask some Indians, why not we?

A bullet hole in the window of a restaurant at Victoria Terminus station in Mumbai, one of several locations targeted in the terrorist attacks.
Other commentators have called for a more measured response. They note that the civilian government in Islamabad is not in control of the army, the army not in control of the notorious Inter Services Intelligence agency, the ISI not in control of the extremists it has funded. They point out that Pakistan has itself been a victim of massive terror attacks. India, they say, should make its disapproval manifest in other ways, such as canceling sporting tours and recalling diplomats. At the same time, the United States should be asked to demand of Pakistan, its erratically reliable ally, that it act more decisively against the terrorists who operate from its soil.

One short-term consequence of the terror in Mumbai is a sharpening of hostility between India and Pakistan. And, as is always the case when relations between these two countries deteriorate, right-wing Hindus have begun to scapegoat those Muslims who live in India. They have begun to speculate as to whether the attackers were aided by their Indian co-religionists, and to demand oaths of loyalty from Muslim clerics and political leaders.

There are 150 million Muslims in India. They have gained particular prominence in one area: Bollywood. Several top directors and composers are Muslim, as well as some of India’s biggest movie stars. One, Aamir Khan, was a star and producer in “Lagaan,” a song-and-dance epic about a game of cricket that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002. But Muslims are massively underrepresented in the professions — few of India’s top lawyers, judges, doctors and professors are Muslim. Many Indian Muslims are poor, and a few are angry.

Pakistan was carved out of the eastern and western portions of British India. To this new nation flocked Muslims from the Indian heartland. Leading the migration were the lawyers, teachers and entrepreneurs who hoped that in a state reserved for people of their faith, they would be free of competition from the more populous (and better educated) Hindus.

Pakistan was created to give a sense of security to the Muslims of the sub-continent. In fact, it only made them more insecure. Nehru’s letter of October 1947 was written in response to a surge of Hindu militancy, which called for retribution against the millions of Muslims who stayed behind in India. Three months later, Mahatma Gandhi, who was both Father of the Indian Nation as well as Nehru’s mentor, was shot dead by a Hindu fanatic. That act shamed the religious right, who retreated into the shadows. There they stayed until the 1970s, when, through a combination of factors elaborated upon below, they came to occupy center-stage in Indian politics.

If the first tragedy of the Indian Muslim was Partition, the second has been the patronage by India’s most influential political party, the Congress, of Muslims who are religious and reactionary rather than liberal and secular. Nehru himself was careful to keep his distance from sectarian leaders whether Hindu or Muslim. However, under the leadership of his daughter, Indira Gandhi, the Congress party came to favor the conservative sections of the Muslim community. Before elections, Congress bosses asked heads of mosques to issue fatwas to their flock to vote for the party; after elections, the party increased government grants to religious schools and colleges. In a defining case in 1985, the Supreme Court called for the enactment of a common civil code, which would abolish polygamy and give all women equal rights regardless of faith — the right to their husband’s or father’s property, for example, or the right to proper alimony once divorced. The prime minister at the time was Rajiv Gandhi. Acting on the advice of the Muslim clergy, he used his party’s majority in Parliament to nullify the court’s verdict. After Rajiv’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, became Congress president in 1998, the party has continued to fund Muslim religious institutions rather than encourage them to engage with the modern world.

Partition and Congress patronage between them dealt a body blow to Muslim liberalism. The first deprived the community of a professional vanguard; the second consolidated the claims to leadership of priests and theologians. In an essay published in the late 1960s, the Marathi writer Hamid Dalwai (a resident of Mumbai) wrote of his community that “the Muslims today are culturally backward.” To be brought “on a level with the Hindus,” argued Dalwai, the Muslims needed an “avant garde liberal elite to lead them.” Otherwise, the consequences were dire for both communities. For “unless a Muslim liberal intellectual class emerges, Indian Muslims will continue to cling to obscurantist medievalism, communalism, and will eventually perish both socially and culturally. A worse possibility is that of Hindu revivalism destroying even Hindu liberalism, for the latter can succeed only with the support of Muslim liberals who would modernize Muslims and try to impress upon these secular democratic ideals.”

The possibility that Dalwai feared has come to pass. From the 1980s, the dominance of the Congress party has been challenged by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP seeks to make India a “Hindu” nation, by basing the nation’s political culture on the religious traditions (and prejudices) of the dominant community. Charging the Congress with “minority appeasement,” with corruption and with dynastic rule, the BJP came to power in many states, and eventually in New Delhi. However, its commitment to the secular ideals of the Indian Constitution is somewhat uncertain. For the party’s members and fellow travelers, only Indians of the Hindu faith are to be considered full or first-class citizens. Of the others, the Parsis are to be tolerated, the Christians distrusted, and the Muslims detested. One form this detestation takes is verbal — the circulation of innuendos based on lies and half-truths (as in the claim that Muslims outbreed Hindus and will soon outnumber them). Another form is physical — thus, the hand of the BJP lies behind some of the worst communal riots in independent India, for example Bhagalpur in 1989, Mumbai in 1992, and Gujarat in 2002; in all cases, an overwhelming majority of the victims were Muslims.

The rise of the BJP owes something to the failures of the Congress, and something also to the example of Pakistan. As that society has come increasingly under the influence of Islamic fundamentalists, there is a more ready audience, within India, for the rants and raves of Hindu extremists. Likewise, the expulsion, by jihadis trained in Pakistan, of some 200,000 Hindus from the valley of Kashmir in a single year — 1989-1990 — has been used to justify attacks on Muslims in other parts of India. But to explain is not to excuse — for the BJP has stoked feelings and passions that should have no place in a civilized society.

In its activities BJP is helped by a series of allied groups. Known also by their abbreviations — RSS, VHP, etc. — these were in the forefront of the religious violence of the 1980s and beyond. Roaming the streets of small- (and big-) town India, they addressed their Muslim prey with the slogan “Pakistan or Kabristan!” (Flee to Pakistan, or we will send you straight to your graves). Meanwhile, their ideologues in the press — some with degrees from the best British universities — make the argument that Muslims are inherently violent, or unpatriotic, or both.

In fact, the ordinary Muslim is much like any other ordinary Indian — honest, hard-working and just about scraping a living. A day after I heard a BJP leader denounce the Congress for making the Muslims into a “pampered and privileged minority,” I found myself making a turn into the busiest road in my home town, Bangalore. Just ahead of me was a Muslim gentleman, who was attempting to do likewise. Except that he was making the turn not behind the wheel of a powerful Korean-made car but with a hand-cart on which were piled some bananas.

That the fruit seller was Muslim was made clear by his headgear, a white cap with perforations. He was an elderly man, about 60, short and slightly-built. The turn was made hard by his age and infirmity, and harder by the fact that the road sloped steeply downward, and by the further fact that making the turn with him were very many motor vehicles. Had he gone too slow he would have been bunched in against the cars; had he gone too fast he might have lost control altogether. Placed right behind the fruit seller, I saw him visibly relax his shoulders as the turn was successfully made, with cart and bananas both intact.

One should not read too much into a single image, but it does seem to be that that perilous turn was symptomatic of an entire life — a life lived at the edge of subsistence, a life taken one day at a time and from one turn to the next. In this respect the fruit seller was quite representative of Indian Muslims in general. Far from being pampered or privileged, most Muslims are poor farmers, laborers, artisans and traders.

The failure to punish the perpetrators of successive pogroms has thrown some young men into the arms of fundamentalist groups. But the number is not, as yet, very large. And it is counterbalanced by other trends, for instance, the growing hunger for modern education among the youth. The desire to learn English is ubiquitous, as is the fascination for computers. Even in the disgruntled valley of Kashmir, a press survey found that the iconic founder of India’s most respected software company, Infosys Technologies, a Hindu named N. R. Narayana Murthy, was a greater hero among Muslim students than the founder of Al Qaeda.

Since the reasons for the poverty (and the anger) are so complex, a successful compact between Indian Muslims and modernity will require patient and many-sided work. It would help if the Pakistan center was to reassert itself against the extremism it has itself, in past times, encouraged. It would help some more, if, pace Hamid Dalwai, there was a more forthright assertion of Muslim liberalism within India. But perhaps the greatest burden falls on India’s major political parties. The Congress must actively promote the modernization of Muslim society. And the BJP must recognize, in word and in deed, that the 150 million Muslims in India have to be dealt with in a civilized manner, and given the security and the rights due them as equal citizens in a democratic and non-denominational State.

Writing in 1957, the historian Wilfred Cantwell Smith pointed out that Indian Muslims were unique in that they shared their citizenship “with an immense number of people. They constitute the only sizable body of Muslims in the world of which this is, or ever has been true.” True no longer, for in many countries of Western Europe and even in the United States, the Muslims are now a sizeable but not dominant component of the national population. This makes this particular case even more special. For if, notwithstanding the poisonous residues of history and the competitive chauvinisms of politicians, Indians of different faiths were to live in peace, dignity and (even a moderate) prosperity, they might set an example for the world.

Ramachandra Guha is the author of ‘India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy.’ He lives in Bangalore.

Ref: http ://sec.online.wsj.com/article/SB122852093316784075.html