Kashmiri Pandits: 27 years of Exile

I was in Class Five when the word Kashmir made its way into my little vocabulary. My Drawing teacher Mrs. Kaul was from the valley. Though she was not a Kashmiri herself, she had married a Kashmiri. She used to wear ‘Dejaharoo‘ (Earrings which cling on a long silk or golden string) and come to school. As someone who grew in Jaipur, I had never seen my mother or other women wear it so I was of course curious. My mother used to teach Hindi in the same school and through her I got to know she was a Kashmiri and these are ornaments specific to the people who come from the state. She also told me that her house was attacked by terrorists during the late 80’s and they moved out of the valley post that. I was neither mature enough to understand about the situation nor was I interested to know why her house was attacked. However, that was my first brush with the story of Kashmiri Pandits.

If I ignore this little encounter during my childhood, then it would be fair to say that I had not even heard about the Kashmiri Pandits till 2010. It was only after I joined twitter and interacted with Kashmiris over there, I got to know about their story. A story that moved and shook me to the core and has stayed with me over the years. I was sad and shocked that something like this could happen in our country. I was angry and hurt that how very little is known about them and none of our history books mention their exodus. I have had Kashmiri Pandits in my class while I was growing up but I never bothered to ask them because I did not know their story and even they never shared their side because most of them were born after the exodus or were too tired to revisit their exodus.

For a long time, Kashmir has been all about separatists, their call for Azadi and Indian Army in a daily battle with militants. However, there is another side which is forgotten which is of the Pandits. This has changed to an extent with the advent of social media as a lot of people have started talking about them too. A young breed of Kashmiri Pandit writers (Rahul Pandita, Siddharth Gigoo, Varad Sharma) has risen up and they are now taking the help of pen to tell their story. In spite of this there are a lot of people who still don’t know about the exodus. This is my attempt to reach out to the people who are my friends and relatives on social media. Even if one of my friends or followers reads it on Facebook and gets to know about the story of Kashmiri Pandits then I would be satisfied.

A lot of us cannot even sleep properly if we change the side of the bed. My wife hates travelling as she cannot sleep in the claustrophobic train berths. Most of us miss the comfort of our home when we visit a relative’s house for a wedding & stay in a dharamshala or hotel. Now, imagine sleeping on the wrong side of the bed for your entire life or sleeping in that claustrophobic train compartment for a lifetime or being in a dharamshala forever. We cannot. The thought of it makes us uncomfortable. But here we have a community who is out of their homes for more than two decades now. As I write this, they enter their 27th year in exile and it all happened on that fateful winter night of 19th January 1990. A community was threatened, their women were raped, their men were killed, their children were orphaned and they were forced out of their homes forever. Why? Because they were Hindus.

In the late 80’s, Kashmir was simmering with tension and the seeds of this were sown when the then Congress government at centre rigged the elections in 1987. Muslim United Front (MUF) was expected to win a good number of seats but it ended up winning just four and they did not take it lightly. To make matters worse, Sayeed Salahudeen of MUF was jailed. Today, he heads the dreaded Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. The rigged elections created distrust and a lot of Kashmiris lost the faith in democracy. I consider this as the turning point of the insurgency in the valley.

However, was it only this that led to the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits? NO! How can people who take great pride in talking about ‘Kashmiriyat’ turn their backs on their Pandit brothers so quickly? If it was the anger against rigged elections, then why did this anger find its release on Kashmiri Pandits and not others? There was of course something sinister in all this. It was an attempt to get rid of the minorities from the valley and a step closer to the Islamization of Kashmir which more or less has been achieved.

The murder of Pandit Tika Lal Taploo who was a noted lawyer & member of BJP by JKLF was the first of the many killings that took place in the valley. The killings that followed were brutal and harrowing. Sarla Bhat, a nurse was abducted from her hostel, gang raped and killed. Girja Tikoo, a teacher was kidnapped, raped & shredded to pieces in a saw mill. Pandit Sarwanand was hanged to death and his eyes were gauged out. As many as 300 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by the terrorists. Every day there was news about a Kashmiri Pandit being attacked, kidnapped and killed. The failure of the administration to take any action against the terrorists only added to the fear among the Pandits.

If this was not enough, local Urdu newspapers Aftab and Al Safa published a press release by Hizb-ul-Mujhaideen asking the Hindus to leave Kashmir. Hundreds of posters were pasted on shops, walls, electric poles asking the Pandits to leave. There were orders asking Kashmiris to follow the Islamic dress code and a ban on cinemas and alcohol came into place. The clocks were set in accordance with the Pakistan Standard Time. Mosques in the valley reverberated with slogans like ‘Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai (If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-O-Akbar); Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa’ (What will work here? Rule of Shariah); Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san‘ (We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men), Islam hamara maqsad hai, Quran hamara dastur hai, jehad hamara Rasta hai” (Islam is our objective, Quran is our constitution and Jehad is our way), Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (Cinvert, Leave or Die)

The Hindu places of worship were looted and destroyed subsequently. Shailputri and Bhairon Nath Temple in Baramulla, Wanpoh temple in Anantnag, temples in Lukh Bhawan were some of the temples that were attacked by the terrorists. The idols in various temples were broken and the temple walls were defaced. The growing Islamization slowly gripped the valley and Anantnag was named Islamabad. The famous Shankaracharya Temple became Takht-e-Suleiman while Hari Parbat where the famous Sharda Peeth lies is now called Kohr-e-Maraan.

5

Defaced Temple Walls

The daily threats, killings, humiliation and the failure of government to protect them was enough to force the Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley. Close to 3.0 Lakh Kashmiri Pandits left the valley only to never return. The journey which started from the pristine and beautiful Kashmir ended in the hot and ugly migrant camps of Jammu. The tales from the migrant camps are full of pain. Elderly people were not used to the scorching heat of Jammu and found it extremely difficult to cope. Young married couples found no privacy in the tents which led to decline in the birth rates. Depression, paranoia and other mental diseases became a common occurrence. Here is an excerpt from ‘A Long Dream of Home’ describing the life in exile!

czdg65xuqaafr2_

From ‘A Long Dream of Home’ by Siddhartha Gigoo & Varad Sharma

Today, we have an entire generation of Kashmiri Pandits who have grown outside their home. The rich heritage, culture, traditions and language of the community is in danger. As the young breed of Kashmiri Pandits make great strides in their career in the metro cities, they remain detached from their roots and it’s a big challenge for both the parents and children to preserve it. A lot of young Kashmiri Pandits I know don’t even care about the exodus because it is something that they have not experienced. Kashmir for them is a fairy tale land because no one has been there. They have only listened to the stories by their parents and grandparents and that’s about it. They don’t share the same emotion. I have spoken to a lot of them but not many of them want to talk about it. They are Jammuites now. While it’s a good thing that they don’t want to cling on to the past but to forget is to forgive and they should not be given this luxury.

Likewise, there is an entire generation of Kashmiri Muslims who have grown without the presence of Pandits around them and don’t understand their pain and anger. Even though the facts speak otherwise, for a lot of Kashmiri Muslims, the exodus of Pandits was ‘migration’ which was an act of Governor Jagmohan. When I read and interact with them on social media, I sense little regret or pain. The argument always ends up blaming the ‘Indian government’ or the Pandits.

camp-kashmiri-pandits-muthi-tents-june-1991-vijaykoul.jpg

Migrant Camp at Muthi, Jammu

Every year there is a lot of debate around the return of Kashmiri Pandits but it’s a FARCE. Politicians across parties make claims to rehabilitate Pandits but it remains an election rhetoric. Even Narendra Modi who is often hailed as the poster boy of Hindu cause has failed to address the issue. The apathy of political class towards the Pandits is also due to the fact that they don’t make a sizable vote bank. It doesn’t matter if they vote or not because they cannot make or break the elections unlike their counterpart. It is ironic that Omar Abdullah talks about the return of Pandits because his father Farooq Abdullah did nothing to control the radical elements when he was the Chief Minister. Likewise, Mehbooba Mufti might speak about how important Pandits are but who can forget that her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was involved in the anti Pandit riots in 1986?

The Kashmiri Pandit exodus also exposes the hypocrisy of liberal class in our country. It’s a grim reminder that none of the people responsible for the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits have been punished. No commission or committee has been set up to inquire and identify the perpetrators. No attempt has been made by successive governments to bring closure. It shows us a mirror that how much selective we have become in our outrage that humanity has taken a backseat and agenda seems to be driving us. We outrage so much when minorities in other parts of the country are attacked but we remain silent when the same happens in Kashmir.

Some time back, there was a lot of discussion around separate housing societies for the Pandits in Kashmir and Kashmiri Muslims along with the separatists opposed it citing that this will alienate the community further. Though I agree that ghettos might not be a great idea and it offers little for the young blood of both communities to mingle. However, another voice in me asks ‘What other option they have’? Their homes are destroyed so where do they live after coming back? The same neighbors who refused to help during 89-90 can be trusted all over again? The youth of Kashmir has abandoned books and taken up to stone pelting. It won’t take long for Kalshnikovs to replace stones. An all Kashmiri woman band was forced to disband itself few years ago. Recently, Zaira Wasim was threatened by separatists. Do the Pandits want to raise their children in this environment? With ISIS flags being waved during protests, radicalism seems to be the order of the day in the valley.

alsafa-hateletter-2

Pandits are Cancer (Source: OpIndia)

Kashmir is rotten and I don’t see any hope of it improving. I am an optimist but at the same time I am pragmatic. I don’t see the exile of Kashmiri Pandits ending ever. 27 years have gone. 27 more will go but nothing will change. Sadly, that’s the harsh reality. But we need to revisit the pain, suffering and longing that our fellow Indians went through every year so that we don’t let this happen again! 

 

Advertisements

Piriya Vidai, Amma!

Tuesday, 6th December 2016. I remember waking up in the morning and switching on the Television with bated breath. Jayalalitha was battling for her life and I had slept hoping for a miracle. I was still hoping for one when I pressed the button on the remote but there she was; wrapped in the National Flag. She was no more. I had to rush to office so I took my towel and moved towards the bathroom but I stopped. Instead, I went to my room, switched off the light, hid my face in the towel and started crying. Wife came and consoled but I wanted to cry. I was quite surprised about me breaking down because I am someone who had mocked my cousin years ago when he had dropped tears when Bala Saheb Thackeray had passed away. But the death of Jayalalithaa felt like personal loss.

J Jayalalithaa's funeral procession

Since I come from the Northern part of India, a lot of people have (shockingly) asked me about my fascination with the Southern leader. More so, when I don’t even understand the language of politics in Tamil Nadu. I was 11 when I first read (rather saw) about Jayalalitha as she was all over the place after withdrawing support from the Vajpayee government in 1999 but I was probably not big enough to take interest and mature enough to understand politics.  Cut to 2006, the 18 year old me had started taking an interest in politics and much of this was because I could now vote.

I remember watching one of the episodes of the show ‘Follow the Leader’ with Jayalalitha on Star News in 2006. It was an intriguing show where a journalist covered a political leader and his/her election rallies for 24 hours giving us great insights into their daily lifestyle and routine. As Jayalalithaa’s van moved on the streets, I saw women standing in long queues with coconut, deepak and kumkum adorned on the thali and welcoming ‘Amma’. There were images of men wearing ugly huge rings with Amma’s face, Amma tattoos on their arms and their hair cut in the symbol of two leaves which is the election symbol of her party AIADMK. Not to miss, the huge cut outs of hers, some of them were quite literally taller than the buildings surrounding them.

I was of course amused but at the same time surprised to see the sheer hysteria and devotion among the people because I had never seen this in North. I couldn’t help but notice her impeccable English, panache, sophistication and style. Or as people say it was probably her ‘charisma’ that left me mighty impressed. I was intrigued by this lady who had men falling on her feet so I decided to read her story and the more I read, the more I started loving her.  10 years now that I have been following the leader. I seldom miss an article, news or a video on Jayalalitha. I often go to You Tube and see her old interviews (everyone should) and my admiration for the woman keeps increasing.

Amma’s life has been a battle, full of struggles and hardships but like a warrior she fought with dexterity and won. Her story inspires, motivates and uplifts. Every time she was written off, she rose from the ashes just like the Phoenix would. In fact, hers is a story which seems straight out of a film and there are moments in her life when you just want to stand and applaud her for the sheer grit, determination and bravery shown by her.

The Fighter

She has fought and won many elections in her life but that is what every politician does and she was no different. However, I call her a fighter because these were different fights; fights with a society that was deeply patriarchal & misogynistic – Jayalalitha was not allowed to enter her mentor MGR’s house when he passed away. Women pinched her, dug their nails into her skin and stomped on her feet while the men (who were jealous of her rise in the party) attacked her and called her a Prostitute when she rushed to see his body. But she didn’t move. She stood there for two continuous days without shedding a tear. She was portrayed as the ‘other woman’ by the workers of AIADMK but she fought hard and after 2 years was elected as the leader of AIADMK and the same men who attacked her were now reporting to her. This was her first of the many wins in her life. In the same year (1989), in an infamous incident, her saree was pulled in the TN assembly by DMK leaders. This was an incident which shook the entire state as it was the first time when the Police had entered the Assembly. A teary eyed Jayalalitha with unkempt hair came out of the assembly & in a dramatic move, compared herself to Draupadi and took a vow to defeat Karunanidhi. She did and became the Chief Minister of the state in 1991. These two incidents made a strong impact on me and I couldn’t help but admire the sheer courage and fighting spirit of this woman;

1

A teary eyed Jayalalitha coming out of the Assembly where her saree was pulled

fight against the party ideals and beliefs. Dravidian movement in the state was essentially anti Brahmin and believed in rationality i.e. atheism. But here we had a god fearing Brahmin woman who went on to take hold of the party and did that unopposed for 27 years. An Iyengar Brahmin, Jayalalitha has often thanked God post her wins in elections and whether it was sending the party manifesto in a temple first, performing special Pujas or her belief in numerology. She has proudly flaunted her beliefs in public. In spite of this, she headed a party which was in principal against this. Sadly, her beliefs were ignored and she was buried on her death;

kfzcmqfdeahsi.jpg

At Tirumala Devsthanam

fight against oneself. As a child she wanted to become a lawyer but she was pushed into the film world because of the worrying financial conditions of her home. May be her inner self would have asked her to pursue her dreams instead of sacrificing her desires. Like any other girl, she fell in love and wanted to settle down but that love was never reciprocated and she remained single forever. When she was humiliated or when she was sent to jail for the innumerable cases of corruption, somewhere a voice inside her would have asked her to quit because she never wanted to be in politics anyway. But her will power over powered everything else.

The Able Administrator

In spite of the controversies of corruption surrounding her, there is one thing on which even her critics would agree i.e. she was an able administrator who governed the state with an iron fist. When she took over as CM in 1991, LTTE had spread its wings in TN and the previous government of Karunanidhi was seen as supporter. She went after them relentlessly and drove them out of the state. In 2001, under the POTA she got many pro LTTE leaders in the state detained.  While Gujarat was always known as one of the best governed states because of the excellent marketing, Tamil Nadu wasn’t far either. The industrial growth, crime rate, education and other social indicators of Tamil Nadu are one of the best in the country. Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of women police stations; an initiative started by Jayalalitha when she became CM for the first time. Though people have criticized the schemes for creating a financial burden on the state, her welfare politics has won many hearts. Amma canteens offering food at a nominal price were a runaway hit. Amma Baby Kit, Amma Cement, Amma Seeds and Amma pharmacies also served as an icing on the cake. A lot of these schemes were targeted at the women who constitute about 2.1 crore of the population.

The Proud but Sensible Hindu

In a country where religion is intertwined with politics, Jayalalitha was like a breath of fresh air. She was neither a champion of Hindutva (like the BJP) nor was she a minority appeaser (like the Congress, Left and other parties). I admire her for some of the stance she took as a politician. When the unfortunate 2002 riots hit Gujarat, she was one of the few politicians to speak for the violence in Godhra and said that minorities alone don’t enjoy rights under the constitution and when majority community is attacked no one speaks up. In 2002, amid protests by DMK & Congres, she passed the anti-conversion law in the state which has seen a lot of conversions to Christianity. When told that Pope has raised concerns over the law, she said he has ‘no businesses in the affairs of the state. Likewise, when her opponent questioned the existence of Lord Rama, she called for declaring the ‘Ram Sethu’ as a national monument.

22

A lot of you might wonder why I don’t speak about the corruption allegations against her. She was acquitted in most of the cases which were filed against her as most of them were political vendetta. The disproportionate case was pending and had she lived we would have known the result. But as they say, innocent till proven guilty and I rest my case.

As she makes her final journey towards heaven, I hope she finds peace, love and companionship up there; something which she could never get when she was alive. It would have been great if we could have met but it was not destined. I would probably come to Marina Beach some time and see you there.

Jaya Ho!

Defying all the experts and most opinion polls, Jayalalitha has created history by winning the current Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. She is the only politician after her mentor M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) who has been voted back to power consecutively and it took the people of Tamil Nadu 32 years to put an end to the ‘yo-yo’ culture of elections where they voted for the two Dravidian parties alternatively. Jayalalitha’s victory is even bigger than MGR because he fought his last elections in 1984 from a hospital bed in USA and for a state where people literally worship their actors, there was definitely a sympathy wave for the man. But, this was not a case with Jayalalitha who was fighting anti-incumbency but in spite of that she recorded a historic win with the vote share of AIADMK going up to 41% from 38.40% in 2011.

The 2016 elections would have been a cake walk for Jayalalitha given the lack of credible opposition in the state and the decent work that she has done during her stint. However, the floods in Chennai and nearby areas gave a breather to the opposition who were looking for reasons to attack Amma’s otherwise good tenure. AIADMK and its supremo drew a lot of flak for poor management during the Chennai floods and people were visibly disappointed because of the lack of help from the government. Rubbing on to their wounds were the followers of Amma who in a sick and blatant display of sycophancy, pasted posters of CM on the flood relief material. DMK through its mouthpiece Sun TV hit out at Jayalalitha by playing the images of victims crying for help.  Apart from the floods, closing of few industries, the rising debt were also issues plaguing her rule. So, how did she manage this feat?

PTI1_13_2016_000042B

Image Courtesy : PTI

 

“What does an old man know about his children? Only a mother knows what her children want?” said one of the supporters after Jayalalitha’s win. Though even at an age of 92, Karunanidhi won his home seat with a record margin of more than 68,000 votes, he couldn’t convince the voters outside that he is the best man to govern the state. Now Jayalalitha is also not in the best of her health but she seemed a better and a ‘young’ option when compared to the wheel chair bound Karunanidhi in his nineties. Many say that had the DMK, projected his son Stalin who was all out in the state campaigning, there were chances that they would have emerged as a formidable opposition. However, I believe that the cult which Jayalalitha enjoys and the charisma she has, Stalin could have never matched! Also, the taint of 2G and other corruption charges hasn’t peeled off yet.

Jayalalitha’s social welfare schemes were a runaway hit and contributed a lot to her victory. Out of the various schemes, Amma Ungavam (Canteen) were the most talked about. These canteens which serve Idli at ₹1, Sambhar Rice at ₹5 and Curd Rice at ₹3 were immensely popular among all sections of the society. From workers to students and corporate employees to women, they all lined up at the Ungavams. Apart from these, Amma Baby Kit, Amma Cement, Amma Seeds and Amma pharmacies also served as an icing on the cake. A lot of these schemes were targeted at the women who constitute about 2.1 crore of the population. From marriage assistance to four grams gold (which she has promised to raise to eight grams) and promising prohibition to scooty; she won the women vote easily.

Interestingly, Tamil Nadu for the first time witnessed a four party contest with DMDK and PMK also contesting and ideally, this would have made the elections even tougher. To be fair, even I was mighty impressed with the speeches of Captain’s wife and the comparatively young Ramadoss who was quite good as the Union Health Minister and was expecting that both parties will win some seats. However, both the parties lost miserably and couldn’t manage a single seat. What was surprising was that even Vijayakanth and Anbumani Ramadoss lost. This only helped the two Dravidian parties and the supposedly king-makers turned out to be paupers.

Jayalalitha is one of the most successful politicians in the country and her rise to power has been nothing but extraordinary. After the death of her mentor and AIADMK Chief MGR, the party was split into two with MGR’s wife Janaki becoming the Chief Minister for a short span and leading one fraction of the party. However, her government was dismissed by the Centre following a lot of drama and it saw the rise of Jayalalitha. For someone who shared a deeper and emotional bond with MGR, she was called a ‘prostitute’ while she stood near the dead body of his mentor continuously for 2 days. In 1989, DMK supporters pulled down her saree in the Tamil Nadu Assembly when a visibly upset Jayalalitha vowed to return to the Assembly as the Chief Minister which she did and that too more than once. She has fought many battles and the fighter in her has always emerged as a winner. She went to jail in the disproportionate assets case but returned back victorious after being acquitted by the Karnataka High Court. She has been the one who has truly carried forward the legacy of MGR and kept the party alive.

The cult and blind following which Jayalalitha enjoys is unmatched and not even our otherwise famous PM Narendra Modi enjoys it. Her journey from a film star to politician has been stunning. She has emerged as a mother figure (Amma) for the people of Tamil Nadu. She has done a lot of good work for the state and I am sure she will continue to do so. The reclusive and media shy Amma, addressed just 22 meetings in the last two months in the run up to elections. People say she cannot walk properly now which was visible when she came out to vote. Her new tenure will of course see less of her with the team driving the state affairs. But can it go on like this forever?  Though it’s too early to say anything, it’s less likely that AIADMK will be back in 2021 given the double anti-incumbency it will be facing. Also, Amma’s health remains a concern. As a Jayalalitha fan, I would like her to retire gracefully and that too when she is in power and not when she is voted out by the people. But an important question is that who after her can drive the party?

All the best, Amma. Lots of good luck and best wishes from a fan!

An Open Letter to Supriyo Mukherjee Responsible For The Death Of Intellect

Hello Mr. Supriyo Mukherjee,

Hope this letter finds you in the pink of your health. You may accuse me of stereotyping but your surname suggests that you’re a Bengali and I am sure you enjoy your fish and mutton like most Bengalis do.

Anyway, coming back to the letter which you wrote accusing the BJP MLA of beating & killing a horse. Frankly, I was quite amused that the Editor at Scoop Whoop allowed it to be published given the fact that your letter completely ignores the facts of the case. But then I don’t expect any ‘investigative journalism’ from Scoop Whoop writers so let me help you understand how Shaktiman fractured his leg. As you can see in the video, Shaktiman’s leg got stuck in an iron railing and while trying to rebalance he fractured his leg. The following paragraph from an NDTV story on the same reaffirms the fact that BJP MLA “did not strike the horse”.  

1

What kind of a human are you if you have to cook up stories to get your fucking piece get some hits? You were so busy proving how Ganesh Joshi hit Shaktimaan (even when there were videos which clearly proved otherwise). Sorry to burst your outrage bubble but Mr. Mukherjee, you got it all wrong!

Untitled-1

Source: OpIndia

 

How fucked up should your cause be if you need to harm an individual to get your story some hits?

You point out that BJP doesn’t think twice about calling homosexuality a mental disorder. One, you are quoting an individual’s tweet which nowhere qualifies to be the stand of the “party”. Two, if you still think it does; then let me quote Arun Jaitley who recently said that “SC must review Section 377 & allow gay relationships”.

How will you sleep peacefully at night knowing that you falsely accuse someone of a crime and the incorrect letter will be read by many?

May this case come as a harsh realisation and a severe blow to your airy castle built on high moral ground but there are many in our country who vote for Mr. Yadav or Mr. Khan or Mr. Gandhi. They vote for their caste representative. Yes, it doesn’t fucking matter whether you like any particular political party, you can at least vote for your caste & community leader during elections. Had it not been the case, Rahul Gandhi wouldn’t have been still the MP from Amethi & a convicted Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party wouldn’t have won in the recent Bihar elections.

Mr. Mukherjee, we know that you’re telling us that Ganesh Joshi is guilty but we’ve all seen the videos and the photographs. You might not have intentionally written this letter but the stupidity is on your hands.

You cleverly say that this is not a question of animal cruelty or a debate on whether the consumption of animal protein is right or not because you know you’re on a sticky wicket here. Personally, I am a vegetarian and I am totally cool with anyone eating anything (beef, pork or whatever). But I have issues with selective outrage. More so, when the outrage comes from non-vegetarians. If you are someone who believes that the beef ban by certain state governments was wrong then why this hypocrisy of being empathetic when a horse is dead? Interestingly, you quote Mahatama Gandhi who was one of the strongest proponent of cow protection.  Quite melodramatically, you say that the blood of Shaktiman is on Ganesh Joshi’s hands. LOL! Just like the blood of every Hilsa fish is on your hand every time you eat one.

Isn’t it fucking ridiculous how you wouldn’t have written a letter had Shaktimaan been a cow? Are we being that stupid?

We, as a nation, have failed the citizens when we give writers like you a platform. You have failed all the writers and the country.

 

– A concerned human being.

Punjab : How AAP is playing with fire

After making a surprisingly spectacular debut in the Delhi elections last year, Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal are eyeing the state of Punjab which is due for elections next year. The choice of state shouldn’t come as a surprise as Punjab is the only state in India which gave the Aam Aadmi Party 4 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections. Icing on the cake is that the ruling SAD-BJP is facing anti-incumbency and with Congress still getting its act together under Captain Amarinder Singh (Who has strong chances of winning); people of Punjab are searching for an alternative.

In his one year tenure as Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal has been more in news for blaming the center and Prime Minister than his own achievements as Chief Minister. He is a shrewd politician and though he is new to politics he has learned the tricks in no time; so much that he can give the old school netas a run for their money. Neither does he shy away from talking about his ‘baniya’ caste while addressing the traders nor does he mind wearing a skull cap or a ‘pag‘ depending upon his audience. He has skillfully mastered the art of perception where he is seen as an anti-corruption crusader even after hugging and supporting a convicted politician like Lalu Prasad Yadav or by remaining mum on the National Herald Case involving the Gandhis. Of late he is emerging as a wile politician who is far away from the one that promised a ‘different’ politics in his campaigns. A farmer died in his rally while he continued giving his speech blaming the Delhi Police. An illegal slum was (rightly) demolished by the Railway Ministry but Arvind Kejriwal again blamed the centre thus securing his vote bank. He recently visited Hyderabad University to show solidarity with the ‘Dalit’ students who also happen to be sympathizers of a dreaded terrorist like Yakub Memon.

Earlier this year, Baijayant Jay Panda who happens to be the Member of Parliament from Odisha and is widely respected across political parties; tweeted something very intriguing.  He of course did not name anyone in his tweet but one has to be really stupid to not to discover the underlying message in these 140 characters.

In Punjab, we are seeing an interesting yet dangerous trend where Aam Aadmi Party is cozying up with hardliners and giving fuel to the dormant Khalistani sentiments among them. The first signs of this came in 2014 when Arvind Kejriwal and AAP supported the protests by radical Sikhs for the premature release of Sikh militants.  Dharamveer Gandhi; its own MP from Patiala said that his party is playing a “dangerous game”.

Somewhere in April 2014, United Sikh Movement, which is led by former Khalistanis like Gurdeep Singh Brar & Bhai Mohkam Singh have extended their full support to AAP. Bhai Mohkam Singh is the former chief spokesperson of the Damdami Taksal, the Sikh institute once led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. Baljit Singh Daduwal, radical Sikh leader even went a step further declaring that he would like to ‘publicly honour’ Arvind Kejriwal.

In November 2014, Sarbat Khalsa organized a mammoth rally in Punjab which saw lakhs of Sikhs attending the meeting. At this congregation, the dominant theme was ‘Struggle for a Sikh Raj’ and although no formal resolution was passed but the ‘panthic’ committee made the demand for the same subsequently.  AAP’s Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chottepur supported this gathering saying it is an outcome of people’s anger against the government. However, SAD president Simranjit Singh Mann said “Sarbat Khalsa was a Khalistani stage and everyone knew it”. Former AAP leader Yogendra Singh Yadav alleged that AAP convenor Sucha Singh had supported all the resolutions adopted at the meeting (though he refused).

Sabrat-Khalsa_Vantage_The-Caravan-Magazine_11-Nov-2015-700x362

Last but not the least, we all know the infamous journalist Jarnail Singh who made news in 2009 when he hurled a shoe at P. Chidambram. But what many don’t know are his views on Khalistan and that he had addressed a rally in London in 2011 showing support for the creation of a separate Sikh state. Surprisingly, Arvind Kejriwal gave him a ticket in 2015 Delhi Assembly elections and he is today an MP.

B4ynMWsIgAAp6l2.jpg

AAP MLA, Jarnail Singh addressing a Khalistan supporters rally in London, 2011

 

‘Jab boya ped babool ka toh aam kahan se khaaye’ This wise saying by Kabir is the best advise for AAP. Indira Gandhi nurtured Bhindranwale for political gains, he became a nuisance and she lost her life at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards who were sympathizers of Bhindranwale. Benazir Bhutto as PM allowed the Taliban to grow and co-incidentally she was assassinated by them. AAP must take cue from history and introspect a little because they are literally playing with fire.

Insurgency in Punjab was one of the darkest periods in India. We had successfully ended it with the killing of Bhindranwale in 1984 but it’s on the rise again and the secessionist sentiment is slowly growing.There is a lot of funding coming in India from Sikhs in overseas; particularly in the United Kingdom and Canada for the Khalistani movement revival. Dal Khalsa, a separatist organization has recently supported Hurriyat’s call of boycotting Republic Day in Kashmir and want the same to be done in Punjab. This is eerily similar to what started in the 1980’s. It’s time we nip it right in the bud!

 

7 Reasons why you should not vote for AAP!

As Delhi goes to polls on 7th February 2015, I give you 7 reasons why you should NOT vote for the Aam Aadmi Party!

  1. 49 and Retired Hurt!

As somebody who earns his daily bread and butter from Recruitments; let me explain this in HR terms. There is a candidate who desperately needs a job & is after me (begging) to consider him. I accept his candidature, find him good for the job & hire him. He works for 49 days and then absconds from the organization. After one year he comes back to me asking for the job. Will I give him the job? The answer is NO!

Here, ‘Delhi’ is the organization, ‘Arvind Kejriwal’ is the candidate and ‘Delhiites’ are the HR.

  1. Economic Policies

AAP’s economic vision is best explained by Arvind Kejriwal, who hates the private sector for ‘looting’ the country & its resources that belong to Indians. This is much in tandem with what Nehru & Indira believed in. They tried to nationalize most sectors of enterprise and pushed in the people’s money into the public sector.  It was only after these companies failed to record any profits; doors to the private sector were slightly opened.

As the capital of the country Delhi is not even close to the standards set by world class capital cities. Delhi needs investments; Delhi needs infrastructure; Delhi needs employment; Delhi needs development.  And this will come with the help of corporate whom Arvind Kejriwal and his left leaning socialist colleagues like Prashant Bhushan hate.

AAP’s economic vision is to oppose privatization, increase subsidy on electricity and fuel and take away the exemptions thereby increasing the effective taxes.  While the BJP is promising 24 hour electricity; populist and subsidy loving AAP is offering cheaper electricity. Decision is yours!

  1. Regionalism

Delhi is probably the only city in the country that can boast off of being ‘cosmopolitan’ in true sense. While every state and Union territories have a native population/ethnic groups; Delhi’s ethnic groups are diverse.  Historically speaking, the original natives of Delhi were folks who resided somewhere in the Yamuna basin which stretched several kilometres beyond what is today’s Delhi. Yes, it is an ancient city which was once called ‘Indraprastha’ under the rule of Pandavas but Pandavas were also ‘outsiders’.

Today Delhi comprises of Punjabis who migrated from Pakistan after partition, Bengalis who moved when the British capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi and many other ethnic groups ranging from the ‘Jats’ of Haryana to the ‘Tamilians’ of Tamil Nadu. There are no concrete statistics that trace the descent of Delhiites.

In its 49 day stint, AAP wanted to reserve 90% seats in the Delhi University colleges for the locals and a proposal was sent to the Central Government by the Education Minister Mr. Manish Sisodia. Apart from the fact that many students from different cities and towns come to Delhi for studies; this proposal also gives rise to regionalism. How different is this from Shiv Sena and MNS in the Maharashtra who want to send the immigrants back to where they belong?

Hence, if not for anything else, just for the spirit of Delhi you should not vote for AAP.

AAP

  1. Arvind KejrUwal: Nothing is permanent in politics; friends turn foes and foes become friends. So, ideally one shouldn’t make much hue and cry about few statements which are made while campaigning. But, Arvind Kejriwal is GOD -Honest, truthful, divine & God is not allowed to make mistakes. Here are some of the U-Turns of Mr. Kejriwal:
  • From ‘I don’t want to join politics’ to becoming the Chief Minister of Delhi
  • ‘I swear on my children that I will not take support of Congress’ to taking support of Congress
  • Shiela Dikshit is corrupt to where is the proof that she is corrupt when in power

The list can go on; in fact there is a Facebook page dedicated to the ‘U-Turns’ by Aam Aadmi Party. Might help to decide as to why NOT to vote for AAP!

  1. Vigilantism: Prashant Bhushan had asked for a referendum in Kashmir over the deployment of Army in the valley. So what if Jihadi’s from the border infiltrate on a daily basis and kill our soldiers? He also wanted the ‘extra police’ to be removed from Maoist areas. So what if these Naxals blow up CRPF Jawans? AAP also did a silly ‘SMS’ poll about forming government in Delhi. This vigilantism endorsed and adopted by the party scares me and is definitely not the solution in a country which is run by ‘law’. God forbid, if tomorrow people want a rapist to be ‘stoned to death’; will AAP agree?

As someone said ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’. So, respect the system, laws, constitution and protect your liberty!

  1. Anarchist Aadmi Party: The last thing Delhi needs is a CM sleeping on roads and staging a dharna every other day. Enough said!
  1. Kiran Bedi: Last but not the least, KIRAN BEDI! Though it’s not announced yet, she is most likely to be the Chief Minister candidate of the BJP. As Ms. Kiran Bedi rightly said in her press conference while joining the BJP “Mere pass 40 saal ka administrative experience hai”. So, what will you choose? 49 Days of anarchy & dharnas or 40 years of solid administrative experience?

Letter to Sagarika Ghose: All Rightists aren’t ‘communal’ or ‘Sanghi’

Dear Sagarika Ghose,

Hope this letter finds you in the pink green of your health. I happened to read your piece Letter to India’s Right last week where you had written a letter addressing the right wingers and have lectured them on dissent & freedom of speech. As a right winger, I believe that the letter was addressed to me too and since etiquette says that one should respond to letters; here I shoot!

First things first, you accuse us of making social media a propaganda arm of the government & compare us to a “ferocious army”. LOLJK! I was quite amused when I read it because it was coming from the (ex) deputy editor of a channel which chose to edit the infamous ‘Cash for Votes’ scandal video after receiving a call from Mr. Prithviraj Chavan. So, what propaganda are we talking about? Also, for your kind information, social media can be used by any one Sagarika. I repeat anyone; like you use it for your ‘propaganda’ of maligning the entire right wing. And given the fact that we support the government of the day; what else do you expect us to do? You also say that to be pro-government and pro-establishment is now de rigeur on social media. How I wish it was true. At least we would have escaped from the zero IQ tweets where you rant so much about the government.

On Saturday, 1st November 2014, twitter suspended a couple of accounts and most of these were the soldiers of the “ferocious army”. Poor us! We soldiers can’t protect our own accounts on twitter & you ask why we are seeking to shut down all our critics & opposition? On the contrary, I would like to remind you that it was the “Left Liberal” Congress which tried to stifle the voices of dissent when it was in power. Remember how Kapil Sibal instructed Google & Facebook to ‘screen’ content? I hope you at least remember the suspension of twitter accounts of your fraternity folks – Kanchan Gupta, Shashi Shekhar et al. Did you write a letter to the secular government? No? Okay!

images (1)

Also, since you feel we are shutting down voices of dissent, I must give you a quick revision of history.  India has a long standing record of banning books and films. Yes, the BJP & other right wing parties have done it but the “left-liberal” Congress & CPM governments don’t have a good track record too. Nehru: A Political Biography by Michael Edwards, was banned in 1975 because the author made sweeping comments about Nehru such as that his life was a “series of dependences (sic) on stronger characters than his own”. India Independent by French historian Charles Bettelheim was banned in 1976 because it was critical of the government policies. The True Furqan: The 21st century Quran, originally written in Arabic as al-Furqan al-Haqq, was banned in 2005 following claims that it mocked Islam and was the work of American evangelists as part of a US-Israeli conspiracy. The left front in Bengal promoted a ban on Taslima Nasreen’s Lajja which talked about the atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh following the Babri Masjid demolition. The smart, charming & suave Rajiv Gandhi banned Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses because it offended his vote bank of Muslims. Last but not the least, Javier Moro’s The Red Sari which was supposedly based on the life of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi was banned in 2005. The list can go on but you are an intelligent & well read journalist so I am sure you got the point!

It is also heartening to see you talk about debate & dissent. After all, you believe in the right to dissent so much that you blocked me on twitter for reasons best known to you. Why is satire not acceptable? Why is dissent not to be tolerated?  For you, any critic of the media or the Congress is an “Internet Hindu”; any hint of disagreement and one becomes a “Sanghi”; any small critique means one is a “minority-hater”, “communal”, “Khakhi knicker wallah”, who must instantly take up membership with the RSS or Bajrang Dal.

I have always condemned the demolition of Babri Masjid and I regard it as a blot on India’s democracy. My heart went out to the crying widows and children who lost their loved ones in the Godhra riots. I believe that the attack on Christians in Kandhmal was shameful. And guess what? I know a hell LOT of rightists who share the same emotions because though you paint all rightists as ‘blood thirsty-minority hating’ species, we are human beings at the end and are made of same blood & flesh like you.

Having said that, I don’t suffer from selective amnesia like you. I castigate the Sikh pogrom in Delhi & the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits also. My heart bleeds equally for the Hindus who died in Godhra riots & in the Sabarmati express in 2002. I also feel strongly for your fellow Bengalis in Deganga who were tortured by mobs from minority community in 2010.  It was good when you visited the Muzzafarnagar riot victims in the camps but I would have loved if you had visited the refugee camps where Kashmiri Pandits are living since last two decades; just like you wanted Mr. Narendra Modi to visit the Gyanvyapi mosque after visiting the Ganga ghat.  As a nationalist, I felt outraged when a group of Muslims in Azad Maidan vandalised the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’.I also feel angry when my fellow countrymen show disrespect to the national song, anthem & refuse to sing it and no ‘freedom of speech’ crap justifies it.  If I question the media for selective outrage & coverage and if that makes me communal then so be it!

Lastly, you question us on our economic policies. Now it’s kinda cute that somebody who never questioned the ‘economist’ PM for the falling economy is asking questions within 5 months of the government formation. The fact that inflation today is at a 3 year low, World Bank predicting a healthy 5.6 % GDP growth & Moody predicting a rating ‘upgrade’ for India speak a lot about the economic policies of the government. Of course, government deregulating diesel prices, increasing the FDI cap in defence, aviation & real estate, raising the income tax exemption limit by Rs 50,000 for all taxpayers below 80 years of age, reducing the excise duty on food & footwear industries mean nothing to you.

Just to give you a perspective, India when last had the right-wing government at the centre saw huge economic growth. Vajpayee in his tenure showed true commitment to liberalizing reforms. For example, Life and general insurance were opened to the private sector with foreign investment permitted up to 26 per cent. The small-scale industries reservation was substantially ended. In the area of macroeconomics, the government had freed administered interest rates on many government savings instruments, which had held the rate above market rates. The inflation rate below 5 per cent reflected on the government’s success in streamlining the monetary policy. The current account deficit had remained low during the NDA rule showing a modest current account surplus. The rupee had remained stable with foreign exchange reserves rising from $29.4 billion at the end of March 1998 to $113 billion at the end of March 2004.

Over the past few years, you have created a mainstream thinking that it is almost a taboo to carry the right wing label which conjures up to images of Trishul holding fanatics who are out to slaughter minorities or anyone who disagrees with them. Historically, cultural nationalism or brute majoritarianism have been associated with the extreme right. But, extreme left has been equally destructive. If Adolf Hitler committed innumerable crimes in the garb of right wing politics; so did Joseph Stalin in the name of left wing politics. Fortunately, in India there is little or no room for the either extremes so we can either lean to the left or to the right while standing at the centre.

Yours truly

Rahul Sharma