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Mandir politics again

The Kashmir Monitor

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With elections to five state assemblies and subsequently to the Lok Sabha approaching, the BJP and its Hindutwa brigade ‘s clamour for Ram Mandir is getting shriller. Much to the thrill of the BJP, the media, more particularly TV news channels, are following the BJP agenda quite religiously. The Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir dispute is a subject of prime time discussion of almost all news channels—both Hindi and English—on daily or alternate basis for the past some days. The dispute is under litigation and the Supreme Court of India has listed the title suit of the case for hearing today. Though it is unlikely for the Court to decide on the case today but the Hinudtwa forces have already made their judgment known by raising the din “Mandir Wahien Banega”. It clearly speaks of the public defiance of Hindu extremists that irrespective of the Court judgment, the Ram Temple would be built at the Babri Masjid site. The 500-old mosque was brought down by Hindu zealots led by senior leaders of the BJP—L K ADvani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi and others—on January 6, 1992. The demolition of the mosque was followed by a bloody campaign against Muslims across many states, mostly in Maharshtra where 3000 Muslims were massacred by Hindu extremists. Media’s unconditional and unprofessional support to the Hindu extremists can be understood from the fact that the opponents of the move are openly questioned on the issue of their faith. The other day, an anchor of a TV news channel, asked the Congress spokesperson: As Hindu if he supported the construction of the Temple at the disputed site. This is an attempt in utmost unethical way to push to the corner to those who believe in the rule of law and the constitution of the country. This new-found aggressiveness is to the fore unmistakably, a typical reminder that elections are round the corner where emotive issues would be exploited to the fullest extent by the Hindu extremist brigade. Last week, RSS chief Moham Bhagwat, at the customary Vijayadashmi address at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, came out with a newly invented demand urging the Narendra Modi government to bring in a law for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site which is under litigation for long. It reflected a new line of going over the head of the apex court to reach out to the Hindus regardless of what the court may rule. One wonders whether it reflects an apprehension that the verdict may not be as palatable to the Hindutva brigade as it would like it to be. Another the irrepressible Hindutva protagonist, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said he would visit Ayodhya in November with the agenda of belittling the BJP for not honouring its electoral promise to build a temple in Ayodhya. Many a keen observers believe that by linking faith with the “Mandir Wahien Banega” slogan, the BJP-led Ram campaign is aimed at influencing the Supreme Court as well where Hindu judges are hearing the case. Some time back, one heard the Director General of UP police raising slogans of “Jai shree Ram” in an event in Utter Pradesh and swearing that Ram Temple would be built at the disputed site. This indicates that the communal politics has crept in the minds of bureaucracy and police administration as well. Congress, which claims to be a secular in its character, has virtually been pushed to the wall. It is now adopting to a soft version of Hindutwa by ignoring Muslims. That was quite evident during election campaign in Gujrat, UP and Haryana. Even senior Muslim leaders are also not found in demand in the party now. The senior-most Congress leader and former minister Ghulam Nabi Azad recently said that even he was not ignored by his colleagues during election campaign. That is new India that has come up in the past four and half years of BJP rule.


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Editorial

A premeditated murder

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Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president who was later ousted from power, passed away on Tuesday. The 67-year old Muslim Brotherhood leader collapsed and died in a court during a session. Reports said that Mursi had just recorded his statement in the court during his trial on espionage charges when he collapsed. He was rushed o hospital where doctors declared him dead. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice political party said in a statement published on its website Monday that Egyptian authorities are responsible for Morsi’s “deliberate slow death” because they “withheld medication and gave him disgusting food. They did not give him the most basic human rights.” The group called for masses to gather at his funeral in Egypt as well as at Egyptian embassies around the world. Morsi was elected president in 2012 in Egypt’s first free elections following the ouster the previous year of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Morsi promised a moderate Islamist agenda and a new democratic era, but his time in power proved difficult, with critics accusing him of trying to amass power and impose the Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative brand of politics on the country. He was ousted from power under a military coup. Egypt’s army chief Gen Al Sisi led the coup. He is now the country’s president elected through sham elections which is o less than authoritarian rule. The country’s complete reversion to authoritarian rule has been overlooked by the world community. The United States, once a full-throated supporter of Egypt’s fledgling democracy, quietly acquiesced to the country’s authoritarian revival. Then President Barak Obama lifted an arms freeze against Egypt and told Al-Sisi that the White House would support resuming $1.3 billion in annual military aid “in the interest of U.S. national security.” American stooges, the Saudi Salafies and United Arab Emirate were other accomplices involved in criminality against Mursi, his Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian people. Saudi Kingdom, which symbolizes the monarchy in the region, has shown its horrendous face by not only supporting the carnage of Brotherhood but also declared the socio-political organization as ‘terrorist”. Egypts so-called Salfis, who feed on Saudi charity, too have rejoiced over the brutality against Brotherhood. What they and the West forget is that by persecuting and banishing dissent, they are forcing democratic movements to go underground and become violent.
More than 5000 people were killed and thousands others wounded in the military crackdown against Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Thousands others were arrested and jailed where they were subjected to worst means of torture. Amnesty International (AI), in a report said that 16000 people were arrested and jailed after Mursi’s removal. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights initiative WikiThawra stated that more than 40,000 people were detained or indicted between July 2013 and mid-May 2014. Morsy and his co-defendants were accused of collaborating with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to break into several prisons across Egypt in January 2011 and of facilitating the escape of Morsy and 20,000 others. The jailbreak came amid the chaos of the January 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak and led to Morsy’s election the following year. After his arrest, Morsi gave angry speeches in court and continuously insisted he remained Egypt’s legitimate president. His speeches led judges to order him kept in a glass cage during court sessions where they could turn off his audio. He was later sentenced to death. However, the apex court of the Egypt stayed the death sentence and ordered re-opening and re-hearing of the case. Turkey’s President RecepTayyipErdogan, who was a strong ally of Morsi when he was in power, paid tribute to the former president on Monday calling him a “martyr,” while calling current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi “cruel.” Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, another backer of Morsi, tweeted his condolences, saying he received the news of Morsi’s death with “deep sorrow.”

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Editorial

Governor’s plain talk

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Merely a few days after Governor Sat Paul Malik dismissed the notion of autonomy as achievable goal, the National Conference has reiterated its commitment with the state’s autonomy and said that the party would continue to struggle for the restoration of autonomy. After party patriarch Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah, the NC general secretary Al Mohammad Sagar has joined the party’s autonomy song. Sagar, on Sunday, said that his party was not demanding anything new or outside the gambit of India constitution but what the state had been granted under the country’s constitution. The NC’s call for restoration of autonomy comes just with days after Governor Sat Paul Malik called the proponents of such slogans as “fraudsters cheating people”. Malik minced no words in condemning the political establishment of the state (both anti and pro mainstream) and said that Kashmiri politicians were cheating the people of the state by raising fake slogans. The NC’s reiteration of commitment with the autonomy comes at a time when the party is almost in election-mode. Though no date has been fixed for the assembly elections and the President’s rule has been extended for another six months, there are speculations that the assembly elections could be held by the end of this year. After winning all the three parliamentary seats in the valley in recently held general elections, the NC is dreaming of a great comeback in the assembly elections. The party has activated all its leaders and cadres to reach out to the people ahead of elections. In most of the constituencies, the party has nominated its possible candidates while search for candidates in other constituencies is going on. There are reports that the NC is trying to woo some PDP leaders and former MLAs to its fold to make most of the coming elections. In coming days, the party is going to raise its pitch on restoration of autonomy to the state. analyzing Governor’s dig on the NC with regard to the autonomy, one finds a merit in his statement.
It is a well known fact that the restoration of autonomy or pre-53 position to the state is an old demand of the National Conference but this, too, is a fact that the party had never been serious and sincere about the demand. Whether autonomy is a solution to the issue of Kashmir or not is a separate debate but the very question is whether National Conference (NC) is serious in what it demands. Had the NC leadership been sincere in their demand for pre-53 status to the state, the eruption of militancy had provided them a great chance to barter it with New Delhi. Government of India was desperate to ink a deal with any political party in Kashmir to get the state back on peace rails. Then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao in 1996 promised ‘anything short of Azadi’. “Sky is the limit”, he had said. But the NC leadership again faulted here and they accepted power against the wishes of common people without making any political or constitutional bargaining with government of India. The most humiliating moment for the party came in 2000 when its resolution on autonomy was summarily dismissed by then BJP-led government. The resolution was passed by the state legislature in a specially convened session in June that year. Given the NC’s history of compromises on its political agenda it sounds quite bizarre when its leaders talk of autonomy. The NC never talks of autonomy when in power. That is sufficiently known to the people of the state and the men and managers in New Delhi as well. It is sheer political hypocrisy to demand a thing the party does not believe in. The NC leadership knows it well that the party was never serious in demanding autonomy. They raise the slogan of autonomy only to bargain power with the centre.

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Editorial

Missing opportunity

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India and Pakistan have missed yet a key opportunity to build relations. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s high-powered meeting held last week at Bishkek had brought together the Prime Ministers of the two countries. They could have turned it into a historic opportunity by laying foundation for a road to peace and friendship in the subcontinent. But the two leaders demonstrated the immaturity and juvenile behavior of college naughties by avoiding each other during the meeting. Both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, along with other leaders, attended the opening ceremony of 19th meeting of the council of the heads of state of the SCO. Imran Khan and Narendra Modi entered the hall together however, they avoided each other while entering the meeting hall.  Both the leaders also attended the dinner reception hosted by President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov in honour of leaders participating in the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But they allowed this opportunity to go waste. Both the leaders were sitting a few seats apart at the dinner in the Kyrgyz capital. However, both of them didn’t exchange any pleasantries even as they greeted other world leaders at the multilateral engagement. It was on the second day of the meeting that Khan and Modi found some moments to shake hands and exchange some pleasantries. The two Prime Ministers had meetings with the leaders of all other participating countries on the sidelines of the meeting but avoided what could have proved crucial and historic. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. He underlined the need for Pakistan to take concrete action in order to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue. Imran Khan is reported to have raised the issue of Kashmir with Russian President Putin during sideline meetings. This is sheer childish and infantile that the two Prime Ministers talked to other leaders but avoided talking with each other.    

It goes without saying that India and Pakistan have some simmering problems that are weighing heavily on their relations. These issues—Kashmir being the main one—have potential of pushing the two countries to a devastating war as was seen in February in the aftermath of Pulwama suicide attack. But the leaders and people of both the countries know that they cannot afford war. Since both the countries are nuclear, there can be no limited war. It would be full-fledged nuclear war. Recent warnings by some keen experts have said that, at least, 10 crore peoples with die in a war between India and Pakistan. They have also warned that besides mass death, there could be a nuclear winter for at least three to four months in the subcontinent which could have furthermore deadly consequences. When war is not an option, the Indian and Pakistani leadership have to realize the importance and urgency of dialogue. They cannot live with problems for ever. Problems are to be sorted out and resolved through sustained dialogue. It is unfortunate that despite knowing the importance of dialogue, the two countries are avoiding it. Some recent gestures when Pakistan opened its air space for over-flight of former Indian foreign minister Suhsma Swaraj and its willingness to open the space again for Prime Minister Modi on way to Bishkek, had generated a glimpse of hope that the two countries were opening up for each other but Prime Minister Modi avoided to use Pakistani air space that further dampened the already murky atmosphere. India and Pakistan have to rise above the domestic requirements and compulsions of politics and realize the importance of dialogue in larger perspective. It is anybody’s guess that this compulsion will force the two countries to sit on the table. But earlier the better  

 
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