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Editorial

Past Continuous

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With BJP and its Hindutva allies’ pitch for raising Ram Temple at Babri Mosque site, India is limping back to 1990s situation when Hindu extremist brigades attacked the 500-year old mosque to make ground for Ram temple. Though the case is in the Supreme Court but the BJP, through media and other public media has launched a huge campaign to attract the attention for the temple building. As the BJP leaders are pushing for a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya through legislation, the Bajrang Dal is all set to recruit 25,000 volunteers for a movement to be launched in Ayodhya. Bholendra, the secretary of Awadh region in the VHP said, “The Bajrang Dal will be recruiting 25,000 volunteers by December 18 and events are already being organised in 100 locations in the Awadh region. These volunteers will be ready to march to Ayodhya anytime for Ram mandir construction on the orders of the top saints.” The BJP and its allies led by senior Hindutwa leaders L K Advani, Umma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi conducted a similar march in 1992 that resulted in the demolition of the mosque. 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 Hindutva brigade has no respect for the court as is evident from their din on the mosque-temple dispute. They have already refused to accept the Supreme Court decision on Sabarimala issue. This is the brute display of the majoritarian mindset undermining the rule of law—a dangerous edge that the country is being pushed to.

Much to the thrill of the BJP, the media, more particularly TV news channels, are following the Hindutva 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 ever since assembly elections for five states were announced. It goes without saying that Ram Temple is a political slogan for the BJP to garner support in elections. It is the Ram Temple movement that saw BJP’s rise to power in 90s. However, the slogan had lost steam since its expulsion from power in 2004. It is for this fact that the party fought 2014 general elections on development and corruption issues. But having utterly failed on its promises of development and freeing country from the corruption, the BJP has fallen back upon the Ram Temple mantra. The BJP foot soldiers in the media are questioning publicly the faith of the people who dare to question the Hindutva forces. This new-found aggressiveness is to the fore unmistakably, a typical reminder that in the uocoming general elections the emotive issues would be exploited to the fullest extent by the Hindu extremist brigade. Last month, 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. “Mandir Wahien Banega” is the latest slogan of the party. 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. This is merely an election game which the people should understand. The sane elements need to join together to save the country from sacrificing it at the altar of power politics.


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Editorial

The Resurgent Congress

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The defeat of BJP and the Congress’s remarkable rebound in the assembly elections in Hindi heart land of Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh indicates the mood of the people of India ahead of general elections due in next five months. All the three states were strongholds of the BJP over the years. But the Tuesday’s reverses has given a cause to secular and anti communal forces to rejoice and rejoin that the ultra Hindu nationalist party which bases its power on hate and communalism is not invincible. BJP is already sitting on loose sand in yet another Hindi heartland biggie Utter Pradesh where it won 71 out of 80 parliamentary seats in the last parliamentary elections. The party has lost the parliamentary seats of Gorakhpur and Phulpur of chief minister Adityanath Yogi and deputy chief minister Keshav Maurya in the by election last year. This all point towards the fact that the BJP is unlikely to repeat its 2014 performance in now-approaching general elections. In Bihar, the other major Hindi heartland state, the BJP-Nitesh Kumar combine’s falling fortunes became known in March this year when RJD won the by-polls for Ariara LS seat and Jahanabad assembly seat. The RJD won the election in absence of the party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is serving jail for conviction in fodder scam. It was his son Tajshwi Yadav who led his father’s party fight against BJP-JD (U) combine in the by-polls. Many political scientists had written off RJD after conviction of Lalu Prasad. Cases of corruption were slapped against other members of his family Tejishwi, who served as deputy chief minister during RJD-JD (U) rule. CBI conducted raids on their private properties and assets. Few had given them any chance in the elections. But the RJD’s win showed that Lalu’s traditional support-base the Muslim-Yadav-combine is intact. The latest defeat in the assembly elections appears to be a continuation of its dwindling popularity ahead of general elections. The Congress’s return to power in Hindi heartland has also established the fact that it is only only party that can challenge the BJP nationally. Incidentaly, the Congress victory over the BJP comes exactly a year after Rahul Gandhi took over the reings of the party as national president from his mother Sonia Gandhi. It appears that BJP not only underrated Rahul Gandhi but also committed the folly of overrating itself. It is ultimately the man in the streets who decides. But the BJP undermined the authority of the common man as well and let herself ravishing in her own estimation and imagination. The BJP leaders including the Prime Minister took pleasure in mocking at Rahul Gandhi with names like Pappu. But in the end, the Pappu na sirf pass ho gaya but also turned out, in the words of a Congress leader, baap.

Few would dispute with the fact that the fall of the BJP began with its complete failure in governance. BJP had risen to power with some reasonable slogans besides its communal and anti Pakistan agenda. The slogans like development for all and corruption-free India had takers outside the ideological frame work of the BJP. Performance is a critical factor, whose place cannot be taken by hype or eloquent oratory. Anti-incumbency doesn’t arise out of nowhere, it has its origin in declining standards of governance. BJP could not keep any of its promises it made to the voters during election campaign. Bringing back black money, curtailing corruption in the government, depositing rupees 15 lakh in each citizen’s bank account and all other promises it made proved brute lies. The party instead let loose lampoons and ruffians to rule the streets. In the name of protecting cow they unleashed a murderous campaign against the Muslims and Dalits. There is no rule of law. The so called BJP Bakhts are law unto themselves. The cold blooded murder of a policeman in UP, last week, by the cow protectors is a case in point. The mental retardation of the UP chief minister Adityanath Yogi, who is a face of BJP’s Hindutwa mission, could be understood from his assertions wherein he called the murder of the police officer as ‘accident’ and killing of a cow as ‘crime’. The BJP has ultimately to pay for such heinous crimes and its election defeat could be termed as a price the party had to pay for its follies.

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Editorial

Trump’s U-Turn on Pakistan

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Former spy chief of Pakistan late Hameed Gull had all along stood for taking a strong position against America rather than toeing to its line on Afghanistan. However, different governments—right from Musharraf to Nawaz Sharief chose to ignore Gen Gull’s advice, and instead play only second fiddle to America. That cost Pakistan heavily in terms of men and material. The anti American militant groups inside Pakistan and Afghanistan got a readily available pro American target in the form of Pakistan to take revenge of American’s who attacked Kabul in the aftermath of 9/11 terror attacks in New York. The carpet bombing by US army killed civilians and destroyed vast swaths of Afghanistan instantly. The Americans targeted civilians, school children, marriage ceremonies, Taliban and everything that came their way.

Thousands of Afghans have got killed since the US invasion in 2001. The Afghans which are known for not accepting any foreign control fought back and brought the world’s super-most to the knees. But Pakistan, in the meantime, became hub of bloody attacks for being a partner in America’s so called war on terror. These elements later got monetary and arms assistance from the adversaries of Pakistan making it a battle of Pakistan Vs Pakistan. Pakistan, indeed, had to pay a huge price for being America’s partner in war on terrorism. Its areas bordering with Afghanistan became hub of anti Pakistan terrorists. It took almost 10 years of military operation to eliminate the terrorists and clear the area from them. Around 30,000 Pakistan soldiers are reported to have died in the operations against terrorists during this period. But it still proved a thankless task for Pakistan. America always wanted Pakistan to do more. The resurge of Taliban in Afghanistan caught America in blind alley. It found no way other than leaving from a country it had entered into with the aim of staying permanently there. America tried to conceal its failures by putting blame on Pakistan. The rise of Trump to the government in Washington was the most difficult period for Pakistan. Trump directly accused Pakistan of harbouring and sponsoring the terrorists, and wanted Pakistan to fight the America’s war in Afghanistan. Trump issued threat and warnings to Pakistan with the intention that like in the past it would succumb to such pressure. But as it saw Taliban capturing more and more areas, Trump stopped all military and economic aid to Pakistan to make Islamabad more pliable. America even threatened Pakistan of military action if it did not comply the US orders. But much to the chagrin of Trump, Pakistan saw the rise of Imran Khan on the power horizon of Pakistan. Imran Khan, in his very first statement on foreign policy said that his country would no more be a partner in war with America. He said that Pakistan would now on be partner in peace. This infuriated the American Trump further but the firmness with which Imran Khan meant it finally made the American’s feel their folly. Last week Imran Khan reminded the Americans that Islamabad was no more ready to become hired gun of any other country. It against this backdrop the American President Donald Trump has made a written plea to Imran Khan to help in resolving the Afghanistan issue and establishing peace in the decades old war torn country. It is unprecedented that Trump is seeking help from the same Pakistan which he accused of ‘lies and deceit’ in a New Year tweet. In fact, only recently he accused Pakistan of providing shelter to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden — something that led to a war of words between him and Prime Minister Imran Khan. So, what has really prompted Trump to take a U-turn and reach out to a country, which he earlier thought, only deceived the United States? The answer is the never-ending war in Afghanistan. American officials have now admitted that the Taliban control more than 60 per cent of the territory in Afghanistan. Hence, the Trump administration has finally come to the conclusion that there is no other option but to talk to the Taliban. The U-Turn by Donald Trump is a huge indicator that no country, howsoever powerful it could be is invincible. It needs the courage of saying no to get it on knees. Though belatedly, Gen Gull has proved right.

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Editorial

World human rights day and Kashmir

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Each year, Human Rights Day is observed all over the world, especially by the oppressed nations on December 10, as on this very day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The day is also celebrated in Kashmir where protests, demonstrations, seminars and conferences usually mark it. But the people in power have always played as villains in curbing such activities. In contrast, the day—in the rest of the world—is observed to protect the rights of the people. That makes Kashmir quite differently exceptional. It is not going overboard to say that animals have more rights than humans in Kashmir. Last year former MLA Engineer Rasheed and his supporters led a march of animals-a mule, dog, goat and a cow with cards slung on their necks; animals have more rights than the people in Kashmir, he only but highlighted what was evident. Srinagar municipality, a few years back, came up with a plan to restrict the growing dog population—which had grown to disturbing proportions (reportedly 2 lakh), the animal ‘lovers’ all across India made hue and cry against the plan. Many of them including BJP leader Manika Gandhi barged into Srinagar to protect the dogs. One has never heard Manika Gandhi or any other animal lover ever raising voice against the rights violations of humans in Jammu and Kashmir. In the past 30 years, thousands of people have been killed, maimed and jailed by government forces. Around 10000 people are reported to have gone missing after their arrest by security forces, and nobody knows their whereabouts. The systematic killings continue unabated but discreet silence is maintained in the name of national interest. In 2008 and 2010 and 2016 around 300 persons, most of them young boys, were killed in disproportionate use of force by the police and CRPF to quell street protest. The brutality played in Kashmir streets was enjoyed like some action film. International human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Asia Watch besides some civil rights individual and groups within India have censured India for its decimal human rights record. Lately, United Nations too have come out with a damning report of anti human acts of security forces in Kashmir. The irony is that the violators of these rights have been given legal protection under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSA). It is very sad state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir that any demand for revocation of AFSPA is seen as ‘anti national’. Just a feeble mention of the demand gives belly bouts to the whole media, political and security establishments all across the country. On occasions it appears that some sections are deriving sadistic pleasure from the miseries of the people of jammu and Kashmir and they want to keep them under check for ever. Jammu and Kashmir is presently one of the most highly militarized regions in the world. The history of military violence—disappearances, shootings, extrajudicial killings, torture, arson, and rape—has touched virtually every home and family in Kashmir. The total number of those killed, maimed, and otherwise harmed will probably never be known. To date, no one has been held accountable for these atrocities. Personnel responsible for such crimes enjoy impunity under AFSPA.

Soldiers who commit violence against women get away with it by invoking the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. People live in permanent fear worrying every moment for their lives property and honour. The so called representative governments led by National Conference, Congress, PDP and BJP on different occasions are equally guilty of committing crimes against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. When out of power, these parties, barring BJP, would demand withdrawal of AFSPA but back in power they would plead for its continuation. This duplicity and hypocrisy by the NC and PDP is condemnable in every sense of term.

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