View: Why I am saddened by Kasab's hanging

. 11/21/12

By : Shivam Vij

Rejoice, fellow Indians. Ajmal Kasab has been hanged. But please excuse me, I am not joining you. Your cheering and hooting and hurrahs feel like a medieval lynch mob celebrating the death of the sinner and not the sin. 'Barbaric' is the word that comes to mind.

This isn't merely about the morality or aesthetic of capital punishment. I want to ask you: What did we just achieve? Ten terrorists had come to kill and be killed, to cause maximum damage of the sort that they surely knew they'd be killed. Nine of them were killed in direct encounter. Did we hail their deaths? Do we say their deaths were justice?

So if we killed Ajmal Kasab four years later -- 'with due process' -- what exactly have we achieved?

I don't understand how his death brings justice to the 26/11 victims, whose real culprits are in Pakistan, and India does not seem to have the diplomatic leverage over Pakistan to bring them to justice. The street celebration over Kasab's hanging only proves that this was not about justice. It was about a feeling of revenge.

Commenting on the due process, Inspector Govilkar, who captured Kasab, told Rediff.com, "Am very happy today. We have proven to the world that we are a legitimate democracy."

My salutations to Inspector Govilkar for his bravery, but his comment is bizarre. I thought we were a legitimate democracy anyway, why do we have to prove it by hanging a terrorist we captured alive?

Perhaps we are not a 'legitimate' democracy. If we were, our law would be equal.

If we were a legitimate democracy, then the Srikrishna Commission Report on the communal violence in Mumbai in 1992-1993 would have been implemented.

If we were a legitimate democracy, the law would have been as speedy in bringing justice to the Samjhauta Express bombers as it has been in Ajmal Kasab's case.

If we were a legitimate democracy, we'd not force down a nuclear energy plant down the throats of an unwilling populace in Koodankulam.

If we were a legitimate democracy we wouldn't impose the Indian flag on millions of people in Kashmir and the north-east with the help of military jackboots.

If we were a legitimate democracy we wouldn't take away the land of farmers and tribals for a pittance and hand them over to corporates.

And we won't arrest people for condemning a general strike and liking a Facebook status update.

If we were a legitimate democracy our courts would have given capital punishment in other 'rarest of the rare' cases such as to Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani for the Naroda Patiya massacre and to the lynch mob in Khairlanji that murdered an entire Dalit family in 2006.

But congratulations fellow Indians, we've hanged Ajmal Kasab and we are now a legitimate democracy -- mind you, not some wannabe democracy, but a legitimate democracy! Many democracies across the world have done away with capital punishment, perhaps they are illegitimate ones.

If justice is about setting examples to future terrorists so that they fear the long arm of the law, does this case do that?

We have only done Ajmal Kasab's handlers a favour by hanging him. While he asked for mercy, his handlers and trainers had indoctrinated him with jihad, he was prepared to sacrifice his life in fighting the enemy, in the cause of his religion and thus attaining heaven.

According to a report by Pakistani journalist Saeed Shah who visited Kasab's village in Faridkot, the graffiti there said, 'Go for jihad. Go for jihad.'

His 'martyrdom' will now be used to create more Kasabs -- you think I am being rhetorical? Well, Reuters' Islamabad bureau already reports getting a phone call from a Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander who said, 'He was a hero and will inspire other fighters to follow his path.'

No wonder we are now being warned about revenge attacks.

I am saddened by Ajmal Kasab's hanging because I oppose capital punishment -- for anyone, no matter what the crime. Just as the law seeks to punish those who take away life, the State has no right to take away life either (except in defending the lives of its citizens). How silly -- we seek to address the crime of mass murder with another murder!

Advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry has pointed out that if we were so particular about due process, why did Kasab not get legal aid that he was entitled to, in drafting his mercy petition? He gave Jyoti Punwani the reasons in an interview why Kasab should have been granted mercy: 'An illiterate boy of 13 sold by his family to the LeT, brainwashed into jihad, transformed into a killing machine and sent as a foot soldier to India are mitigating factors that entitle him to the lesser penalty.'

Retribution is a kind of punishment to ourselves. Chaudhry explained in that interview: 'Excluding a fellow human being from entitlement to mercy has nothing to recommend it except a very base blood-lust that we encourage at our peril. If we have to become a more humane and compassionate society, and leave a better, less blood-thirsty world behind for our children, we have to curb our instinct for bloody retribution.'

He also said that mercy was a human quality not found elsewhere -- but perhaps we are resigned to being animal-like. Such is our hate.

It's funny to see holier than thou right-wingers on Twitter not be happy with the hanging. They're saying the government has done it at an opportune time when it is under political attacks, a stormy Parliament session on its doorstep. They are unhappy because now they can't complain that the United Progressive Alliance government is appeasing Muslims/Pakistan by not hanging Kasab.

Which is why Afzal Guru and not Ajmal Kasab is trending topic number one on Twitter India. These people were not happy when Kasab was not being hanged and they are not happy when Kasab has been hanged. They will never be happy.

Some of my friends who happen to be Indian Muslims don't agree with me. They wanted Kasab hanged so that the right-wing has one less stick to beat Indian Muslims with, so that the Hindutvawaadis can't say that the Congress is not hanging a Pakistani terrorist for appeasing Indian Muslims.

Some Pakistanis on Twitter are expressing happiness on Twitter -- Pakistan needs to hang its terrorists too, they are saying. In response to the Kasab hanging, the Pakistani foreign office has said it supports strong action against terrorism.

All of which only goes to show that capital punishment is more about politics than justice. Indian law now no longer restricts life imprisonment to 14 years. We could have kept Kasab in jail forever. That is what we should have done.

Rejoice Kasab's hanging if you will -- because terrorism and barbarism are apparently both human traits. Just spare me the claptrap about justice.

Source: http://www.rediff.com/news/column/view-why-i-am-saddened-by-kasabs-hanging/20121121.htm



Blasphemous Movie And Our Response

. 9/22/12

Those who support unchecked freedom of expression and insult or abuse in the name of freedom of speech should be treated in kind. They should be asked: If someone tells you ‘your mother was a prostitute and your father was a pimp’ how would you react? I am sure not even the most polite person on this planet will respond by saying: ‘Sir, please don’t say to me like this, it’s very impolite and indecent to say like this because I belong to a very respected family, so I would request you very humbly to avoid such language for me otherwise I will report this to police or take this matter to court and sue against you’. Rather, being decent and a well behaved person he may never abuse in response to the abusive language, but he will indeed slap the abuser on his face.

Forget about the latest 13-minute video trailer on YouTube which was made by some bankrupts like Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in America. Let such people make one hundred films like ‘Innocence of Muslims’ not a single Muslim will ever make a film insulting Jesus (peace be upon him) or Christianity. Let Salman Rushdie write 100 Satanic Verses, be sure not a single Muslim from the entire Muslim world will ever think to abuse or insult Jesus and Mary (pbuh). Let Jyllands-Posten publish thousands of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a terrorist, I can assure you that not a single Muslim from one billion population will ever make a single cartoon ridiculing Jesus (pbuh) or any Prophet. Did a single Muslim in the entire history even insult any religious personality or religious books of Jews, Christianity or Hinduism? Never. Because Muslims believe that Moses and Jesus were the prophets and messengers of God, and maybe some Hindu ‘gods’ were actually prophets, so they give the same respect to them like the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The only difference is the Muslims follow only Muhammad (pbuh) because his teachings are in original forms. Muslims all over the world believe that Torah, Bible and Vedas all are divine scriptures so they respect all holy scriptures, but they follow only Holy Quran because it’s only divine book which is available in its original form undoubtedly. This is the greatness of the religion called Islam. In this way Islam unifies all religions of the world.

The problem is not just the film, the problem is the hypocrisy and dual standard of western world especially America. They want others to keep in limit but themselves they cross all limits. They forget the famous quote of Martin Luther King Jr “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. They do violent acts but preach others to be peaceful and calm. They stockpile nuclear arms but do not allow others to produce even nuclear energy. The whole world seems to be falling on the killings of four innocent American diplomats but no cries when every day innocent kids and women are being killed by American drones in Afghanistan. The hypocrisy of those so called champions of freedom of speech can be seen in their dealing with Julian Assange who is still hiding in the embassy of Ecuador in London.

The genesis of hate of Jews and Christians for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is his birth in the family of Prophet Ismail (pbuh), not in the family of Prophet Ishaque (pbuh). Prophets Moses and Jesus (pbuh) were from the family of Ishaque (pbuh), and so Jews and Christians were expecting that the last prophet of God (about whom both Torah and Bible had given details) will be born in the family of their prophets. It is written in history books that in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Jews and Christians had expressed their feelings which they later converted in enmity with Muslims and Islam.

In last 1400 years (Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born in 571 AD), thousands of books have been written in the west to malign the character of the last Prophet of God Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Their main target is the character assassination of the Prophet in order to distort Islam. They have distorted their own religion in a way that now Christians make films depicting Virgin Mary (pbuh) as prostitute and Jesus (pbuh) as a gay (God forbid) and the whole Christian world enjoy such things in the name of freedom of expression shamefully. But Muslims can’t tolerate this at any cost, because they respect Prophet more than their life and this is the feeling of Muslims which Christian world fails to understand. They hate Prophet Muhammad because they do not respect Prophets Moses and Jesus. They hate Quran because they don’t have original Bible and Torah.

There are two types of people in the Christian world, one belong to the category of mindless idiots like Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who insults the great Prophet like Muhammad (pbuh), the other belong to the category of Karen Armstrong and Michael H. Hart, who in his famous book The Hundred: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, put Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on top of the list and declared the prophet as the most influential person of human history. In his book Hart asserted that Muhammad was "supremely successful" in both the religious and secular realms.

There are two types of people in the Muslim world too. There are those who killed innocent American diplomats in Benghazi in response to the blasphemous film, who had nothing to do with the idiotic film. There are others who started distributing books about the life of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It’s said "Problems are opportunities in disguise". The problem created by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula could be the best opportunity to enlighten people with the life and character of the last Prophet of God Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

In Islam debate and dissuasion are always welcome, healthy criticism is always entertained. Thousands of books have been written by orientalists criticising many teachings of Islam but there were no protests by Muslims. But they are not ready to accept abusive language about the Prophet with ill intention. Those who want war between religions and civilizations must be brought to justice otherwise the entire humanity will become vulnerable to their assault one day.




Rabindranath Tagore: His Religious View Especially For Islam

. 8/8/12

 By Mohammad Aleem

It has been a widely accepted truth that God created mankind and all other beings on the earth and in the heavens. But many among us also don’t believe in it and form our different opinion regarding it. But what writers and poets of world repute think about it is always a fascinating and intriguing thing to look into. I am here talking about our world poet, Rabindranath Tagore who not only confessed time and again that he was a religious and spiritual person but also had some firm and unique views regarding his religious believes. Rabindranath Tagore was a widely read poet and had travelled far all over the globe. He had been in contact with almost people of every faith. Being an Indian he had seen many religions coming and flourishing in the long period of its history. He was a native of Bengal where most of the population consisted of Hindus and Muslims. Christians were also a part of that greater confluence of religion and culture. But it will be interesting to note what his views of religion were finally. I quote here from one of his greatly admired essays, the religion of an artist, he says:
“I was born in 1861. This is not an important date in history, but it belongs to a great epoch in Bengal, when the currents of the three movements had met in the life of our great country. One of these, the religious, was introduced by a great hearted man of gigantic intelligence, Raja Ram Mohan Roy. It was revolutionary, for he tried to reopen the channel of spiritual life which had been obstructed for many years by the sands and debris of creeds that were formal and materialistic, fixed in the external practices lacking spiritual significance.”1

Rabindranath Tagore always took Raja Rammohan Roy as his role model and followed his path religiously and very dedicatedly. Not only he but his father was also greatly influenced by that great thinker and social reformer of his time. Rabindranath recalls those days in these words quite vividly:

“I am proud to say that my father was one of the great leaders of that movement, a movement for whose sake he suffered ostracism and braved social indignities.”2

There were two other important movements also going on at that time. What were those two movements could be easily understood by the words of the poet himself clearly. He writes:

“There was a second movement equally important. Bankimchandra Chatterjee, who though much older than myself, was my contemporary and lived long enough for me to see him, was the first pioneer in the literary revolution which happened in Bengal about this time. Before his arrival, our literature had been oppressed by a rigid rhetoric that chocked its life and loaded it with ornaments that became its fetters.”3

He elaborates further:

“There was yet another movement started about this time called the national. It was not fully political, but it began to give voice to the mind of our people trying to assert their own personality. It was a voice of impatience at the humiliation constantly heaped upon us by people of who were not oriental, and who had, especially at that time, the habit of sharply dividing the human world into the good and the bad according to the hemispheres to which they belong.” 4

After going through these extracts, one can easily understand what the poet thought about his own religion which he was following and practicing during those days when he lived. He was not a practitioner of religion in the traditional sense in any way. So forming any view regarding his religious beliefs outside of this discourse would be quite difficult. He discards the beaten path of religious practices openly and brave heartedly. He says:

“These three movements (Raja Rammohan Roy, Bankim Chander Chatterjee, and national movement) were on foot and in all three the members of my own family took an active part. We were ostracized because of our heterodox opinions about religion and therefore we enjoyed the freedom of outcast. We had to build our own world with our own thoughts and energy of mind.”5

But when we delve deep into his writings we find some other interesting things also. He doesn’t look discarding the all religions so bluntly and brutally but he gives due respect and importance to all great religion of the world but in his own way and with his own understandings. He says:

“My vagabondage in the path of my literary career had another reason. My father was the leader of a new religious movement, a strict monotheism based upon the teachings of the Upanishads. My countrymen in Bengal thought him almost as bad as a Christian, if not worse. So we were completely ostracized which probably saved me from another disaster, that imitating of our past.” 6

But how he looks upon other religion is equally interesting to know. He gives homage to one of the great religions of the world, Islam in following words:

“Islam is one of the few great religions of the world and the responsibility is immense upon its followers who must, in their lives, bear testimony to the greatness of their faith. Our one hope of mutual reconciliation between the communities inhabiting India, of bringing about a truly civilized attitude of mind towards each other in this unfortunate country depends not merely on the realization of an intelligent self-interest, but on the eternal source of inspiration that comes from the immortal lines of these messengers of truth who have been the beloved of God and lovers of men. I am taking this advantage of the auspicious occasion today when I may join my Moslem brothers in offering my homage of adoration to the grand prophet of Islam and invoke his blessings for India which is in dire need of succor and solace.”7

Rabindranath Tagore takes his religious views regarding the Islam always in the greater interest of the mother country. He was aware of the fact that until we keep ourselves united as a cohesive force of power and love we can’t taste the sweetness of freedom. In one of the messages for the prophet number of the Peshwa, a famous journal of his time, he writes:

“I take this opportunity to offer my homage of veneration to the Holy Prophet, Mohammad, one of the greatest personalities born in the world, who has brought a new and potent force of life into human history, a vigorous ideal of purity in religion, and I earnestly pray that those who follow his path will justify their noble faith in their life and the sublime teaching of their master by serving the cause of civilization in the building of the history of the modern India, helping to maintain peace and mutual goodwill in the field of our national life.”8

Tagore was a man of love and beauty. He would draw his inspiration from nature. He loved to be in the company of birds and tranquility of the natural surroundings. His believing in the reward of great effort put by him was not earning a place only in the paradise but to feel that beauty and life on the earth itself. He says:

“I believe that the vision of paradise to be seen in the sunlight and the green of the earth, in beauty of the human face and the wealth of human life, even in the objects that are seemingly insignificant and unprepossessing. Everywhere on this earth the spirit of paradise is awake and sending forth its voice. It reaches our inner ear without our knowing it. It tunes our harp of life which sends our inspiration in music beyond the finite, not only in prayers and hopes, but also in temples which are flames of fire in stone, in pictures which are dreams made everlasting, in the dance which is ecstatic meditation in the still centre of movement.”9

Tagore never relied only on the destiny decided by God but he believed in the love of labor and the fruition of his desire in a sublime way. He puts his views regarding work and destiny in a very beautiful and delectable way. He says:

“A full life with full work can alone fulfill the destiny of man. When his worldly life is thus perfected, it comes to its natural end, and the fetters of work are loosened and drop off. As a help to view life and life’s ending with this simple, natural way, the Ishopanishad asks us to remember that, All that is in this world is enveloped by God. Enjoy that which he gives you. Covet not the wealth of others.”10

He had visited the many Muslim countries and earned good reputation and regard. Especially his visit to Iran and Iraq was worth remembering. The poet has very intimately written about the experiences of those days. He was a lover and great admirer of their great poets. These things clearly show that he was not aloof from Muslim society and its culture. And if one becomes so close to any culture, it is bound to take some effects of it also. We can’t say that Tagore was critical about any other religion. He loved and admired all and gave full merit to them. He knew that to make mankind more humane and considerate towards other it is necessary to follow some type of religion. But he was against ritualistic practices of any religion as we have seen from above mentioned extracts in which he has clearly opined that how a decadent system of religion makes the very worth of human life a mere game of undue practices and beliefs. He wants to see a man as a man and more humane and loving towards others. He writes in one of his articles in these thought provoking words:

“If you analyze the past history of India you find one remarkable thing. The names of the successful fighters and conquerors have all been forgotten, because they did not solve the racial and religious problem- problem of unity- which was so special India’s own problem to unravel. There have been kings and emperors, for instance, who fought against Buddhism and re-established Hinduism in India; but their names have been absolutely forgotten even by Hindu India itself. Our people have no respect for those who fought in order to persecute or overcome by force, religion or races which they thought to be alien to their own. But, on the other hand, such names as those of Kabir and Nanak are ever remembered by a grateful posterity. There is a long series of saints, who came into prominence during the great conflict between religious ideas of Hinduism and Islam in northern India. It was their noble mission to reconcile and harmonize religious truth by reaching out to a higher spiritual ideal. You have to keep in mind that most of these saints have come from the lower classes of the Indian community. One of them was a Muhammadan weaver; some were cobblers, some were outcasts. These saints are still held in the highest reverence because they helped, in their lifetime, to harmonize the differences of religion and race.”11

I take pleasure in the end in reciting one of his very famous poems from his masterpiece, Gitanjali:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken into fragments by sorrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action-Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. 12


1. The English writings of Rabindranath Tagore, page, 684, volume, 3, Sahitya Academy, Delhi.
2. Ibid, page no. 683
3. Ibid, page no. 683
4. Ibid, page no. 683
5. Ibid, page no. 684
6. Ibid, page no. 686
7. Ibid, page no. 802
8. Ibid, page no. 802
9. Ibid, page no. 697
10. The English writings of Rabindranath Tagore, page, 240, volume, 4, Sahitya Academy, Delhi.
11. Ibid, page no. 289
12. The English writings of Rabindranath Tagore, page, 53, volume, 1, Sahitya Academy, Delhi.



Assam Riots: Real Issue is Development

. 8/3/12

By: Ram Puniyani

Perhaps the real problem lies in the stressed land and job scenario due to a rising population. Lopsided development has put employment under pressure all over the country. In Mumbai, Shiv Sena presents it as a non-Marathis vs marathi issue. In Assam, the problem is deflected by making it an India vs Bangladeshi immigrants issue. Politics aggravates things in Assam by bringing in the foreigner angle, when actually Bangla speakers have made up a sizeable chunk of the state population for over a century.

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh has called the recent violence in Assam a blot to the nation. Fifty three people have died and almost four lakh people have been rendered homeless in the clashes that occurred last week in Khokrajhar and Chirang districts, between Bodos and ‘illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators’, majority of whom happen to be Muslims. There was some inexcusable delay in deploying the army in the area, which resulted in worsening of the situation. That the riots occurred just around the sowing season in what is the rice country of Assam is a worrying sign. Traumatised people are now crowding 250 ill-equipped relief camps set up by the government.

But this isn’t the first time such violence has hit Assam. The strife between ethnic groups and Muslims, who are labeled as ‘Bangladeshi immigrants’, has been going on for several decades. In 2003, the Bodo Territorial Autonomous Districts were formed following a peace treaty between Bodo activists and the government. The districts included Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalgiri. Estimates put the percentage of Bodos in these districts between 22 and 29. The rest are Tribals and Muslims. Despite being in minority, Bodos, with full powers in the region, initiated policies which have kept non-Bodos largely out of the social framework. Over the years, local disputes have been painted as problems between legal citizens and illegal immigrants with parochial politicking under ‘Assam for Assamese’.

The first major catastrophe in this occurred in the 80s, when the All Assam Students Union (AASU) demanded exclusion of Bangladeshi immigrants from the electoral rolls. In 1983, at least 2,000 people were killed in Nellie, near Guwahati. Those killed were Muslims, said to be illegal migrants and occupants of land that belonged to Lalung tribals. Tribhuban Das Tiwary Commission was constituted into the Nellie massacre, but the AASU, now Assam Gana Parishad (AGP), after coming to power dropped all the criminal cases against the culprits and the report of the Commission was never made public. A decade later occurred another series of violence, the victims of which are still living in relief camps. Last week’s carnage was preceded by a rumour that people from Bangladesh have brought in a huge cache of armaments and it soon got triggered into violence that left lakhs with nothing.

Perhaps the real problem lies in the stressed land and job scenario due to a rising population. Lopsided development has put employment under pressure all over the country. In Mumbai, Shiv Sena presents it as a non-Marathis vs marathi issue. In Assam, the problem is deflected by making it an India vs Bangladeshi immigrants issue. Politics aggravates things in Assam by bringing in the foreigner angle, when actually Bangla speakers have made up a sizeable chunk of the state population for over a century.

In the early 20th century, Assam was grossly underpopulated and generated little revenue. The neighbouring Bengal, on the other hand, was overpopulated, which resulted in frequent famines. To counter the problem, the British resorted to ‘human plantation’ encouraging people from Bengal to migrate to Assam. But to maintain the core policy of ‘divide and rule’, the immigrants and the natives were kept in separate areas. This migration of Bangla speaking Muslims went on for several decades and by 1930s, the Muslims comprised a sizeable chunk of Assamese population. Post partition, divided Bengal became East Pakistan and then Bangladesh, but even then both Hindus and Muslims continued migrating to Assam.

The question here is how is this immigration is looked at. Why are Nepalese immigrants to India never looked down upon or demonised here? Why even the Hindus coming from Bangladesh are treated as immigrants, while Bangladeshi Muslims are seen as infiltrators and a threat to our security?

THE PROPAGANDA by communal forces about so call infiltration by Bangledeshis has assumed alarming proportions. It has been the backdrop of many agitations in Assam. Surely the basic issue of lack of development in Assam has been deflected by political groups as the issue of displacement of locals from their lands by infiltrators. Right from Nellie to the present violence, in which displacement is the most dominant factor, the infiltrator propaganda has prepared the ground for carnage.

What is required today is to disarm the criminals, to rehabilitate the refugees and to ensure that they return to their homes for the sowing season. If this is not met, surely a bigger disaster of food deprivation is staring at us. We also need to debunk the myth of ‘infiltrators’ for good. The word has been misued for far too long. And lastly the wounded psyche of communities needs to be healed through a process of dialogue and justice.

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