A fact finding report of nine Human Rights Organisations
that visited Orissa & Karnataka
in Sep.-Oct. 2008
Download it here:
This is a report prepared jointly by a number of Rights Organisations and individuals on the large scale violence against Christians in Orissa and Karnataka during August-September
2008. The violence was committed by Sangh Parivar organisations, mainly the Bajrang Dal. Their political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) happens to be in power in both the States, and that has ensured that the police watched benignly as the arson and murder took place in public. The ideology and the organization of their mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), pervades the media in both the States to such an extent that with a few honorable exceptions, the Press has reported the violence in a manner that puts the onus on the victims: they were at fault and had it coming.
All the signatories to the report did not participate in every phase of the extended fact finding, but by consensus the report is brought out collectively. In relation to the attacks in Orissa, the
team/teams visited victims who have taken shelter at Visakhapatnam on 18th September, the affected areas of Kandhamal during 20th - 22nd September, the displaced victims
staying in camps at Bhubaneswar and Cuttack during 25th - 26th October and the displaced victims living in the Mandasa area in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh on 30th October. In relation to the more widely dispersed though less severe attacks in Karnataka, teams visited the districts of Dakshina Kannada (including Mangalore, the headquarters), Udupi, Davanagere,
Chikkaballapur and the affected areas of Bengaluru city on various dates in September and October, the last being a large team's visit to Mangalore city during 10th-11th October. The
People's Front of India, Mangalore, accompanied the team during the visit to Mangalore. Debranjan Sarangi, social activist of Orissa, was part of the teams throughout.
Press conferences were held immediately at the conclusion of most of these visits, notably at Berhampur (Brahmapur) in Orissa on 22nd September and Mangalore on 11th October. What follows is the detailed report that was promised on those occasions. Apart from our own observations, we have relied on reports on previous instances of attacks on Muslims/Christians engineered by the Hindutva forces in the two States, on scholarly articles, Government Gazettes, credible newspaper reports, etc. In the matter of understanding and analysis of the social context and background of the respective areas, a note prepared by PUCL, Orissa and articles in Kannada and English written by Prof. Muzaffar Assadi of the faculty of Political Science, Mysore
University have been very helpful, though we alone are responsible for the conclusions drawn.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Indian Muslims Against Terrorism
Why only Indian Muslims – everyone should be against terrorism. Yes, true - but this group has a certain mandate that related mostly to Indian Muslims (although all others are welcome to join and participate in this forum). We wish to focus on a few specific points that are important to address the issue of regional terrorism. There are two basic claims (made by some), which we want to address here:
1. The claim that “Indian Muslims are persecuted by Hindus, thus world’s Muslims need to save them”. No, Thank you. We don’t need the outside saviors.
2. The claim that “now there are home-bred Muslim terrorists in India that need to be nabbed.” Ok, if this is true, then please involve sincere and peace-loving Indian Muslims in the search for such extremist elements in India’s Muslim localities, instead of randomly arresting and killing them in encounters.
Participate in our Facebook campaign on this.
The above two points are detailed here:
(1) There is an assumption or discourse coming out of some Muslim countries (such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and others) that “Muslims in India are being victimized and tortured by the Hindus (for example in Gujarat, Kashmir, Ayodhya etc.), and since they are in great danger and helpless in the hands of Hindu extremists, it is the duty of Muslims all over the world to go and save them, and revenge their killings and persecution, by terrorizing the Hindus and damaging the economic might of India.” It has been reported that such discourse is part of the training given to the terrorists who allegedly carry out attacks in India. While we don’t know for sure if the “terrorists” are given such propaganda, but we assume that many Muslims outside India may certainly have such an impression about India, as one can see in some of the media in the Muslim world.
We agree that Muslims in India have been subjected to a lot of violence, torture, prejudice and injustice at various times, probably in the same way as other minorities like dalits (low-caste Hindus), tribals, and women etc. have been treated. But we wish to convey to the “Islamic world” that WE DO NOT NEED THE HELP OF SAVIOURS FROM OUTSIDE India to fight our struggles. (By struggle, we don’t mean violent revenge for the injustice, but a simple struggle for survival, and recourse to the law, which luckily is not hopeless in India). Muslims have been living in India for last one millennium, sometimes peacefully and sometimes in conflict, but most of the times trying to carve out ways to co-exist with fellow Indians, and make India a progressive country. The contribution of Muslims to the progress of India need not be repeated here. The bottom-line is: They cannot go anywhere else – India is their home, and they have to struggle here like everyone else. So, please don’t meddle into our affairs.
This plea is especially for those powerful institutions/organizations in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan who deliberately support terrorism and violence against India and Hindus. You don’t realize that every time there is a terrorist attack in India, although a lot of non-Muslims get killed or affected, but the ultimate loss is that of Indian Muslims. They are the ones who are seen more and more as culprits and a subject of hate and prejudice. It is our children (with Muslim names) who are taunted in Indian schools as “Pakistanis”, and it is we who cannot rent a house in a mainstream colony because of our Muslim tag, all because of you. So, our Islamic brothers, YOU ARE NOT HELPING US come out of our suffering at all. You are actually pushing us further into a furnace by carrying out the terrorist attacks on “Hindus”. We request and plead you to have mercy on this beautiful country and the world, and stop your senseless jihad. If you are told that you will to go to heaven (and get houris) when you die for the cause of Islam, you are highly mistaken and misled. You will surely burn in hell for harming innocent people. This world is not only for Muslims – it is for everyone; whatever religion or culture they may follow. So, live and let live.
(2) The above message was meant for the “terrorists” infiltrating from outside India and their supporters/sympathizers. And now for the “home-grown” breed of terrorists. After the horrific 9/11 attacks, it was reported by many that among the Muslim terrorists operating all over the world, there are actually no Indian Muslims involved. (Although Indian media and intelligence department had been claiming since many years that Muslim madrasas are the breeding grounds of terrorism, but not a single Indian madrasa has so far been found to be involved in such activity). Every one was happy and proud about the news of India Muslims’ non-involvement in terrorism. But suddenly, after the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, it was reported that Muslims residing in India are becoming terrorists too, and many of them highly educated-ones (engineers, doctors, IT professionals, etc.). They use new technology of Internet, cell-phones and deadly explosive material supplied by their counterparts from across the border.
Subsequently, hundreds of young boys from Muslim localities have been arrested and tortured by the Indian police, some even killed in encounters. But most of them so far have only been accused and almost none ultimately convicted or punished for an act of terrorism, due to a lack of substantial evidence against them. Most Muslims and some human rights activists argue that those arrested or killed Muslim boys have nothing to do with terrorist activities and have been framed wrongly. After seeing the adverse role of the police in recent incidents such as an encounter at Batla House (Delhi) in September 2008 where 2 such accused (and a police inspector) were killed, the Muslim community has lost all faith in the police and intelligence agencies, fearing that due to their prejudice they could arrest and kill any Muslim at will in their war against terror. Their investigations are not transparent, their proofs are not convincing, and their encounters with terrorists look stage-managed.
However, such a reaction from Muslims is also considered by some as a “denial mode”, and it is suggested (especially by the mainstream media) that Muslims need to come out of this mode and accept the reality that home-bred terrorists do exist in the community, especially since those who carried out the recent blasts (in 2008) did claim that they are “home-bred” terrorists. If the internal Muslims are truly involved in such activities, and if we are serious about nabbing and punishing them, it would be good for the peace-loving Muslims themselves to come forward and make a strategy to help eradicate this menace, rather than to leave it only to the state-forces. Here is some advices worth considering:
It is accepted by the media and the police that all Muslims are not terrorists, but some Muslims do resort to extremism and violence, and that the peace-loving intelligentsia among the Muslim community should take responsibility to root out the bad elements. This is often repeated on every news channel and newspaper after every attack: Secular and elite Muslims need to sift out the extremist elements in their community. Well, no right thinking Muslim can deny this responsibility and there are many who are eagerly ready to play that role. But terrorism or extremist elements of the society cannot be eradicated by only their efforts, if the govt. and the police themselves have been unable to do so. They need the same logistical support and resources to bring out any change in the community, which the authorities use. In fact, a more practical idea today would be an active coordination between the intelligence agencies, the police, the judiciary and the responsible people in the Muslim community. But for that to happen, the first and foremost requirement is for the officials to TRUST THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY. It is a widely known fact that the number and ratio of Muslims in Indian security forces, police, intelligence, ministries and other important institutions is very abysmal – at least not proportionate to their population. Moreover, in the war against the terror, the authorities never talk to the responsible people from the community leave aside involving them actively.
A specific recent case that can serve as an example:
Take the case of the recent police-terrorist encounter at Jamia Nagar, Delhi. The Delhi Police (and its Special Cell) not only did not inform any of the local citizens of the area before or during the operation (while they gave prior information to the media), but also made no effort to communicate to the frightened local residents afterwards (even during their further arrests of youngsters from the locality), while the theories of the encounter being fake were spreading in the locality. Their encounter of 19th September 2008 was like a very specialized surgical operation done on the body without giving it anesthesia or stitching it back, or allowing it to heal. This simply shows that they either look at the entire community with prejudice and suspicion (of harbouring the terror within), or they are not genuinely interested in uprooting the nuisance of terror, and only want to continue showing to the world that Muslim terrorists exist. They further infuriated many Muslims the next day by showcasing the three arrested suspects to the media by covering their faces/heads in the stereotypical pink Arab scarves, which is a clichéd symbol of orthodox Muslims or Palestinian extremists.
If the authorities start trusting the community and seriously involve them in uprooting the internal terrorism, it may show better results than secret raids and encounters. Some residents of Batla House gathered outside the encounter site the next day said “even if there were terrorists holed up in the flat, with weapons, there was a way to peacefully flush them out. After all they were not holding any hostages. The police knew their location in advance. It could have taken some neighbours into confidence, emptied the entire neighbourhood, blocked all exit paths from the flat, and then waited (even if for days) until the boys got fed up or famished, and surrendered. There were lots of possibilities, if there was a will.” What is required today is a confidence building between the police and the people, and some kind citizen’s initiatives or neighbourhood-watch schemes, (which already exist in some of the posh areas of Indian towns).
The smaller towns (such as Azamgarh) or ghettoized localities (such as Batla House) in the cities, where such initiatives are required more, are unfortunately left to rot by our civic authorities. They could be the breeding grounds of a lot of anti-social elements, but the authorities are equally responsible for their sorry state. Thus, a long-term solution to the mushrooming of internal terror is possible only with a multi-pronged approach, the first requirement of which is to eradicate the corruption and communal bias in the police department, and make them people-friendly. They need to involve senior and serious citizens of a locality to nab the likely culprits of terror in their area. But this effort should not mean vigilance and security measures so strict that they affect the privacy and trust between people in a locality.
Peace, Aman, Shanti, Shalom, 和平, Paix
To see the names of hundreds of citizens who support this appeal, kindly see our facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=124494910211