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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 new ‘national agenda’

The Kashmir Monitor

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Unite against Kashmiris’ is what can be conjectured from the attacks on Kashmiri students, businessmen and labourers across India in the aftermath of February-14 suicide attack on a CRPF convoy at Letapora on Srinagar-Jammu highway. Since these attacks are carried out without any fear of law or social reprehension, it appears that isolating Kashmir is a national agenda of all the political parties.The general elections for Lok Sabha are due in a couple of months and political parties are in search of ways and means to woo voters.

Kashmir and Kashmiris appear to be a handy issue for them. Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah’s has genuinely questioned the silence on the part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on these attacks and said that BJP is using Kashmiris to win upcoming general elections. Dr Farooq Abdullah too has joined his son in condemning the national silence on attacks on Kashmiris. Since the provocation for these attacks has come from sensitive quarters like Meghalayan Governor and several BJP legislators from different states, Modi cannot be given any kind of benefit of doubt. His silence amounts to the state approval for these attacks. With the law on their side, the attackers were encouraged by the senseless propaganda by media organizations that act as extension of Nagpur headquarters of RSS. The extremist Hindu elements are using social media and issuing open threats to Kashmiri people. In the northern Indian city of Dehradun, students shared posts on social media calling for their Kashmiri classmates to be kicked out of their universities. Groups marched through the streets, shouting that Kashmiris were traitors and should be shot. Landlords renting rooms to Kashmiri students were threatened. Almost similar scenes were witnessed in other universities where Kashmiri students are studying.

Some media reports yet to confirmed officially said that admission of many a Kashmiri students has been cancelled. Kashmiri traders were beaten and harassed in West Bengal, Maharashtra and other states. Modi-government is watching all this frenzy like a mute spectator.

 

Even more condemnable is the discreet silence the Congress leadership has maintained. One had expected the Congress leadership to come forward and take the lead in taking on the government and its sponsored elements for attacking Kashmiris but its silence exposed that Congress is not different from the BJP. Former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambharam had been a regular tweeter on Kashmir, who would other Congress leaders speak. Rahul Gandhi, as leader of the opposition and head of a so called secular party, had moral obligation to speak against the divisive forces but his silence exposed his real face. It goes without saying that the Muslims of India have suffered the most under Congress rule. Over 30,000 anti Muslims riots have taken place across India under Congress rule since 1947. Babri Masjid, the centre of dispute between Muslims and Hindus of India was demolished in Congress rule. The special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir under Indian constitution was eroded during Congress rule. It is not going overboard to say that Congress’ list of crimes against Muslims of India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir is bigger than other parties. The Congress’s anti Kashmir face got further exposed in the ongoing riotous campaign against Kashmiris. The Congress foot soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir also have adopted criminal silence. No Congress leader worth name has spoken a word over the loutish campaign against Kashmiri people in Jammu and outside states. It makes the scene as India versus Kashmir. India, however, is not devoid of saner elements. They should come forward and raise their voices against the madness being practiced in the streets.

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Editorial

Know thyself

The Kashmir Monitor

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Since the beginning of creation, when the first flicker of self-awakening dawned on man, his attention has been more and more concerned with the problem of his own worldly existence and exploring about the cause and source of all creation.

Ancient and modern sages asked, “What is that, the knowledge of which makes everything else known?” and in the same breath replied, “Knowledge of the higher self, the true man”. So the supreme knowledge is that which deals, both in theory and practice, with man’s true nature and his relation to God. It is in fact a natural science without hypothesis which will not change with time.

Man is composed of body, mind (intellect) and soul. We are extremely careful to develop ourselves physically and mentally, but understand very little about the soul, which is the power ruling both the body and the mind. Physical joys are not lasting, and there are limitations of body and mind that we cannot ignore; so we must search for the perennial source of joy and peace within ourselves. Self-analysis is the first step in this direction.

 

We wish to enter the kingdom of God and we can do so with the help and guidance of one who has himself entered and who can guide us do it.

Saints say that nature has designed man to leave his physical body at will, transcend to higher spiritual planes, and then return to the body. They help each aspirant personally and each receives a practical experience, however little it may be, during the very first sitting at the time of initiation. A person who is competent to give a man this personal experience of withdrawal or separation (temporary) from the body, and who can thus put him on the way back to God, is a genuine Master, Saint, or Satguru.

The first-hand experience we receive, through the kindness of a real saint, is in itself the solution to the problem of death. We fear death because of the agony and suffering which it brings, and also because of the uncertainty that lies ahead in the beyond. We fear illness because it brings us near death’s door; so we struggle to live though we know that our end is certain. This is the natural course of things and we cannot avoid it.

What then is the remedy? There is only one way out of this abyss of despair: to adopt and accustom ourselves, during our lifetime to nature’s process of the withdrawal of the spirit current from the body, while still in a conscious state. This may be done with the help of a Master, and may be accomplished without any suffering or trouble whatever. This is not only a possibility but is a remarkable fact. The mystery of life and death is solved easily with the help of a Master Saint, who will give you an experience of the process and put you on the highway to the inner realms.

What is there to be gained by this process? This cannot be described in words. At the time of initiation, the aspirant sees the real light within him, whereas normally the inner eye is covered by a thick veil of darkness. Liberated from the body, he knows that he is soul, an inseparable part of the eternal spirit, and so he presses onward to his original source. The world appears as a dream to him, but under the instructions from his Master, he returns to his mundane life, wise and fearless in the discharge of his duties.

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Editorial

US pull-out from Afghanistan

The Kashmir Monitor

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The US decision for decreasing its military presence in Afghanistan from more than 14,000 troops to about 7,000 is most likely the result of its backdoor negotiations with the Taliban’s representatives in Abu Dhabi, organized by Islamabad between the US envoy and the Taliban. The withdrawal of troops has caused serious concern for US high-level officials and called a “big mistake” and “calamitous” by James Stavridis, a retired Navy admiral. “It would lead to the resurgence of the Taliban, who would welcome al-Qaeda back with open arms,” James is cited as saying. Moreover, a number of US lawmakers are of the view that since Donald Trump never set foot in a conflict zone, he lacked the credibility to make decision about the troop pull out in Syria and Afghanistan.

Nonetheless, Afghan officials, who had not been warned or consulted about the drawdown, believe it will not affect the security situation in Afghanistan. Unlike the withdrawal of US-led NATO troops in 2014, Afghan grassroots also seem less concerned as the news could not attract much attention on social media. The drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan was predictable since Trump, declaring his strategy about Afghanistan and South Asia last year, said, “Shortly after my inauguration, I directed Secretary of DefenseMattis and my national security team to undertake a comprehensive review of all strategic options in Afghanistan and South Asia. My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts.”

But the time-sensitivity made this decision unpredictable and unbelievable as Trump added three major points in his strategy regarding Afghanistan: First, seeking “an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made”. Second, he warned about the horrible consequences of rapid exit adding that “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda”. He also disapproved of his predecessor for a hasty withdrawal from Iraq. Third, he stressed the serious security threat as he stated that “20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan”. Now US officials espouse the very three facts Trump maintained in August 2017, in turn, Jim Mattis resigned as a result of Trump’s decision on military drawdown.

 

Whether or not the decision about troop withdrawal is the product of a backdoor deal with the Taliban, the insurgents will interpret it as their own triumph. But, unlike the Taliban, being generous on the negotiating table will lead to horrible consequences. I believe that since the conditions are not mutually accepted, the withdrawal of US forces will be one step forward, two steps back.

Contrary to emerging optimism, the Taliban still seek to play a foul game on the table through holding out against negotiating with Afghan government or accepting any conditions set by their US interlocutor. The Taliban are fighting against Afghan government and killing Afghan soldiers and civilians, however, claim that their insurgency has nothing to do with Kabul government but with foreign forces – this is ridiculous and reaching an agreement with such a groups seems unlikely.

Perhaps, troop pulldown may not affect the security situation in Afghanistan as last-year increase could not mitigate the insurgency, it still has its adverse effect.

For example, it will, on the one hand, prompt the Taliban to haggle over higher price on the table and, on the other hand, spread a stronger sense of fear and disappointment in the public air. Thus, Trump had better not follow his instincts in such significant issues and should be sure this is an honourable result, worthy of “the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure” made in the past 17 years. Being at a crossroads, Trump’s administration has to make the right decision.

The 17-year conflict has inflicted casualties on both sides without any light at the end of the tunnel. The continuation of war will lead to further casualties and destructions without any end. With this in mind, all insurgent groups, mainly the Taliban, need to stop their militancy and settle their issue through meaningful negotiations.

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