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Programmed to Kill

Monitor News Bureau

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In a deeply affecting account titled Hashimpura 22 May (Penguin 2016) of the slaughter by armed policemen in 1987 of 42 young civilian Muslim men, police officer and novelist Vibhuti Narain Rai says, ‘Imagine such a close encounter with death that when you open your eyes to bodies – dead and half dead – you may want to touch (your killers) to believe you are still alive. When molten lead rips through your flesh and flings you in the air like cotton balls, there is no pain, no fear and there is not even time for memories to torment you. There are rifles blazing around you and then there is the cacophony of abuses being sprouted by your killers. And with numbed senses, you wait for one of the bullets whizzing past you to enter your body in a way that you are tossed in the air for a moment and collapse on the ground with a thud. How will you describe such a death? Especially when you are seeing your killers for the first time and despite thinking hard your mind cannot just figure out why would they want to kill you’.
I imagine that similar thoughts would have raced through the mind of Bengali migrant worker Afrazul Khan, minutes before he died, in Rajsamand in Rajasthan on December 6, 2017.
When a man he had never met in his life assaulted him suddenly, savagely, incomprehensibly. Initially unable to grasp what was happening to him, he realized in the last seconds of his life that the man for some reason wanted to take his life. ‘Babu’, he begged him plaintively, desperately, ‘let me live’. But his killer persisted. Did he notice that a young teenager was filming his killing? Was there time even for memories of his loved ones before he was knocked unconscious and set on fire?
Through his book on Hashimpura, Rai is tortured by another question. Why the soldiers ‘put their rifles on the chest of unarmed hapless youngsters and shot them and even after they fell on the ground shivering, kept on pumping bullets in them to make sure they die. All this without knowing them, without any personal enmity! Why?’
The same question has besieged and haunted me as well, ever since I went four days after the brutal hate killing of Afrazul Khan with a fact-finding team of comrades to try to make sense of what had happened. And why?
Through our investigations, it became clear that the man who killed Khan in a video-graphed gruesome murder, Shambhulal Regar, did not even know the man he killed. Even less did he have any personal grouse or enmity against him. It is evident that he murdered him because he wanted to kill a Muslim, any Muslim, as an example to all Muslims.
Khan’s trade as a petty construction and labour contractor allowed him to invite him unsuspectingly to an isolated plot of land – a vacant housing plot that he owned jointly with his brothers – close to the highway but hidden by thick overgrowth. We speculate that Shambhu got Khan’s number on the false ground that he wanted some construction work done on his land, possibly a boundary wall.
To understand what may have motivated this man to kill a stranger, my colleagues and I visited his home. He was born into the Regar caste, deemed to fall very low in the caste hierarchy. Their traditional caste occupation is the skinning of cattle and the treatment of the hide. Even the Chamar, who traditionally make shoes, regards the Regar to be unclean and untouchable.
The small town in which he lives is settled in colonies divided mostly by caste. He lives with his brothers in a joint family in the town’s Regar colony. We found that not just Shambhu’s family but many others of their caste seem to have raised their economic situation over time. The colony had paved roads, cemented drains and concrete houses, although the roads were mostly blocked by stray cattle. Shambhu’s family lived in a three storeyed home, with a lift and an iron gate.
His family met us outside the gate of their home, and understandably were cautious and guarded as they spoke to us. Shambhu has a mentally challenged daughter, who he is seen holding close to him in one the videos in which he rants against Muslims. In the first visit to their home by my colleagues, she was playing outside. Unaware of the gravity of the crisis into which the family had been plunged, and affectionately insisted on touching the feet of all the visitors.
It was clear that no one in the family now pursued their family trade. Rajsamand is famous for its marble business, and Shambhu’s family too had benefited from this. His father had shifted his base to Anand in Gujarat, where he built and installed marble temples in the homes of the devout. I am sure that he would not have revealed his caste to his customers. One of Shambhu’s brothers worked as a laboratory technician in the government hospital. His other brother was doing well in his furniture business.
Shambhu, they said, was ‘doing nothing’ these days. He had built up for himself a fairly successful marble business, and even had an office in Gurgaon. But they said that his business also collapsed under the pressures of demonetisation. Since then, they said that he spent most of his time glued to the internet. He was most drawn to videos circulated on the internet by many Hindutva groups that are full of venomous propaganda against Muslims and Christians.
In circulation are also videos of hate and lynch attacks against Muslims in many parts of the country, circulated by the hate attackers themselves, as convinced about the masculine valour of their aggression and blood of what they feel is the defence of their religion, as they are of their impunity. We spoke to other residents of the Regar colony. They all spoke of his addiction to Hindutva videos. Some said he also watched the execution videos of Islamist groups like the ISIS. Others spoke of his other addiction, to smoking ganja.
No one among his family and neighbours spoke of him being mentally disturbed or agitated. None would have suspected that he could have done what he did. He was, of course, full of hatred against Muslims. They did not, of course, support his killing, but they seemed to find both explicable and justified his loathing of Muslims.
We asked them what the cause was of this hatred. They spoke in particular about them as predators of innocent Hindu girls, in the evil conspiracy of love jihad. We asked them to cite specific instances. They were able to recount only three instances of alliances of Muslim men with Hindu woman.
One dated back 12 years, a second 9 years and the third 7 years. We met the young woman involved in the last incident. She did go as a young teenager with a much older Muslim man to Malda in Bengal. She said that Shambhulal Regar took some money – around 10,000 rupees – from her mother to ‘rescue’ her and bring her back. She refused to return with Regar. But on her own volition some months later, she returned to her mother, as she was unhappy in the man’s home. The past five years after her return, she has tried to study and rebuild her life. She is now studying for her Class 12 examination, and wants to be a nurse. She is furious with Regar for dragging her name as a rationale for his horrific crime. She wishes to be left alone, and so I do not mention her name or other details here.
When people of different communities live side by side, it is surprising that there were not more instances of people being drawn to one another across faith. In our meeting with local Muslims of the district (and not the migrants), they said that since many among them were doing well in the marble business, they were able to send their children to college. They now live in dread that if even one of their sons befriends a Hindu girl, the consequences can be catastrophic for the entire community.
Shambhu explains his reasons for enmity with Muslims in three videos that he circulated. One was a rant that followed immediately after his nephew records his murder of Afrazul Khan. A second shows him at a temple, and a third with his mentally challenged daughter. I quote the substance of his tirade in the Fact Finding Report that I wrote with John Dayal and Kavita Shrivastava. ‘He speaks of love jihad which he alleges targets innocent Muslim girls for sexual bondage to Muslim men; of counterfeit notes that fund terrorist groups; of films (and he specifically mentions PK and Padmavati) which make fun of Hindu gods and distort ‘Hindu’ history; of a Muslim conspiracy to destroy a generation of Hindus by attracting them to drugs; of mafia dons who find safe havens in Pakistan while looting India; of sinister black-robed Muslim men who surround mosques; and of the Babri Masjid where a Ram Temple could not be built even after 25 years. Being born to a disadvantaged caste, he significantly calls for the breaking of caste boundaries for all Hindus to unite against the multiple jihadi conspiracies of the Muslims in India’.
The defence of the Sangh organisations will surely be that his was a lone wolf attack, and that he was not an enrolled member of the RSS or any of its affiliate organisations, or that we was mentally disturbed. This was their defence when Dara Singh burned alive Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons; and even earlier that Nathuram Godse who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi was not a member of the RSS. This is what an RSS spokesperson said to me in a heated television debate on the question: he charged that I and others like me from the ‘Left’ had a ‘jaundiced eye’, and saw blame the RSS and its affiliates for the crime of a man who was no more than a deranged murderer.
These are, however, very thin defences. There can be little doubt that Godse shot Gandhiji because he was intensely influenced by the relentless venomous ideological fusillade of the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS against Mahatma Gandhi’s conviction that India belonged to its Muslim citizens as much as it belonged to Hindus. Likewise that Dara Singh was swayed by the Sangh propaganda of Christian evangelism threatening to bribe ‘innocent’ tribal people to Christianity. (Even Atal Vajpayee said in barely disguised defence after the killing of Staines and his sons that there should be a national debate on conversions). In the same way, Shambhu’s communal rant on the videos he and his nephew made reflect intense internalisation sustained through the past century of the ideological anti-Muslim propaganda of the Sangh organisations and the BJP.
We need to stare the truth in its face. Shambhulal Regar killed an innocent Muslim man in a public videotaped performance because he was taught and programmed to hate all Muslims.
(thecitizen.in)


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Opinion

SRO 202 against the basic rights of employees

Monitor News Bureau

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By Bhat Zaieem

The youth of J&K have consistently raised the voices against the anti-youth job policy in vogue for the last four years. But it seems, no one in the administration is bothered to even listen to their genuine concern. The youth of J&K have always suffered due to the absurd and unjustifiable policies of J&K government. A similar iniquitous policy was framed in June 2015 by then PDP-BJP Government which has adversely affected the dignity, honour and social setup of employees recruited under it. SRO 202 is a gross injustice to employees who are facing the brunt of such policies while government has absolutely no satisfactory reason to issue such orders.

The scene of the policy is that a candidate selected for a government service will get only basic pay for the first five years of his or her service. They will be devoid of their right of getting different allowances during this period. Also, they will not be entitled to New Pension Scheme (NPS) benefits for the timeframe.

 

It is most unfortunate that the youth who have doctorate, post graduate and professional degrees are petted against such policies as a reward to the hard work of their academic career spanning over 20 years. Such employees get selected through JKPSC and JKSSB where the the success rate is just 2-5%.

Making the policy selective for non-gazetted cadre posts and certain gazetted posts shows its unequal behaviour, absurdness and nonsensicalness. Some government institutes like Jammu & Kashmir High Court, Kashmir University are not enforcing any rule of the SRO 202. There is no uniformity at all. But irony is that rich are made richer and poor poorer. They just doubled the salary of MLAs at the same time to ensure maximum turnout for themselves and leaving the issue of working staff brooding over the shelf.

Leaving the efficient youth in trouble for their sake is no less than a turmoil. And I remember when the candidates would frequently pressurise the government to scrap the policy, they would utterly eulogise that it was meant to curb the financial crunch in J&K and where not you already acknowledged with the terms and conditions of your job. Such imprudent and hypocritical character of policy makers was always disheartening besides taking  off their belief on democratic institutions.

The policy has inflicted vigour of corruption and nepotism in the minds of new employees. The mark of disloyalty with their service will touch new heights and they do have a solid reason for it and that is ignorance of the government. When they are not treated with equal pay as their old counterparts, the have started the other mediums of earning on the same table. ‘Right to Equality’ has been shattered deeply. The Supreme Court judgment ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ has been rendered meaningless with negligible application here. In short this policy has been a bruise over the policies of the governance. Moreover, according to the rules of this ordinance any recruitment made under it must be completed within a period of three months and appointment order to be issued within 15 days from the date of issuance of selection list. The government posts are supposed to be filled on fast-track basis. But they failed here too as almost all the selections done under this policy took more than one and half years on average to complete and appointment orders also were issued accordingly with same sluggish speed and took two to three months for formal appointment orders for all the advertisements.

Coming to the financial burden, it is very meagre almost negligible with respect to total financial implications of J&K. Till now merely ten thousand appointments have been made under this policy. With implementation of seventh pay commission, the difference in salary between SRO 202 employees and their Non SRO 202 counterparts has been severely reduced and is ranging between four thousand and six thousand. So increasing these few thousand rupees for some ten thousand employees has very less financial implications for the government.

The government must come to the rescue of the career of faithful and hardworking employees and the removal of this policy is the only way out. Both students and impacted employees expect that Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu who is talking much of corruption, transparency and equal opportunities for all will come to their rescue.

The author is a teacher in Department of Education and can be reached at [email protected]

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Opinion

Let education be never hampered

Monitor News Bureau

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By Abid Hussain Rather

As it is said education leads us from darkness to light and nowadays right to elementary education is fundamental right of every human being. Educational standard of a nation depicts its developmental level. When we have a look at the history we see that only those civilizations were able to progress where knowledge was given first priority and those civilizations where other things dominated to knowledge vanished within the corridors of time. It is the education which moulds the behavior of man, the social animal and makes him superior to the other creatures in the universe. It is said that educational institutes are more sacred to religious places because these educational institutes lead us to the religious places and teach us how to pray. If a nation wants to develop and progress it should always try to create and maintain an atmosphere which is most conducive for education and education system should always be given the first priority. Educational processes and educational institutes should be spared and always kept away from the dirty games of politics and other likely things.

Our valley, though famously known as paradise on earth, has always seen political and climatic instability which have turned this paradise into hell and made the lives of people miserable here. Keeping the climatic instability aside which is natural in cause and on which we human beings have no control, the political instability in Kashmir is now a big name world over. Whatever the reasons for this instability may be, undoubtedly it has hit each and every corner of our life and spared no one. Whether it may be socio-cultural, economic, or any other sector, this political trauma has caused big losses in every sector of the valley. Among all it is the educational sector which has been most affected by the political instability of the valley.  We can somehow repair the economic losses caused due to the unstable conditions of the valley. We can put our extra efforts and can work in off times to repair the loss.  But we can’t regain the losses to the education system, because a student can’t regain his academic year. Career building of our youth is a pre planned process in which each and everyday counts. Closing of educational institutions for one day means too much which can be understood only by  developed nations. But here in our valley due to bandhs and curfews, our schools and colleges remain closed for months, and we and our government seem to be least concerned about this matter. Looking at the past many years, we can aptly say that these uprisings occur concurrently at the peak academic session of the year and our educational institutes remain closed for months, which adversely affect the studies. It is not wrong to say that now our educational institutes have just become examination conducting centres without any teaching-learning process and students are just promoted to next classes with zero quality. Sometimes the political atmosphere of the valley becomes so unfavourable that conducting of classwork becomes a day dream for months and even conducting of the annual examinations becomes hard and impossible. In such situations most of the academic courses in the valley become time consuming and causes mental stress on our young generation.

 

Last year after the abrogation of Article 35A on August 5, the whole valley was put under siege, curfew was imposed in the valley for a long period and along with other government offices all the educational institutes remained close for many months. Though the whole valley became standstill and the normal life became paralysed, I think it was the education system which suffered the most. Though it was ‘Kashmir bandh’ for months, shopkeepers used to keep their shops open in the early morning hours and in the late evening hours.  No doubt their business was affected, but they somehow compensated it. Some of the shopkeepers misused the abnormal situation of the valley and sold their goods at higher rates as in some regions of the valley rice was sold at the rate of Rs. 3500 per quintal by private dealers which was earlier sold below Rs 2500. Government employees got their salaries without attending their duties as their offices remains closed. Even though some employees used to attend offices, it was only for the purpose of marking their attendance. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that even some people enjoyed this unstable situation of the valley. Though all the sectors suffered partially, it was the student community which suffered the most. They couldn’t attend even a single class for months and their loss was the biggest. They became wanderers of the valley. Funniest thing to see was that at the end of the session the students in lower classes were provided with question papers and were asked to solve them at home and then bring them back to school in order to get promoted to next classes. It was beyond the understanding of common masses what was the fun of all that process.

Currently we are unable to understand the loss which our education system suffers from the political unrest in our valley. Its jolts will be felt in the near future when our nation will have only quantitative literates but without quality. Then there will be no way to repair the damage. It is high time for all of us to understand this grave issue. We should try our best to create a favourable atmosphere for education in our valley and as far as possible we should try to spare our educational institutes from this political instability. Our young generation has enough potential to be our future scholars, doctors, engineers and scientists. This potential shouldn’t be marred by political unrest of the valley rather it should be sculpted in best possible way by our educational institutes for the betterment of our nation.

(The author teaches Geography at GDC, Kulgam. He can be reached at [email protected])

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Opinion

Understanding Drug Addiction

Monitor News Bureau

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By Faizaan Bashir

The need of the hour is to understand what drives youth to drugs. Understanding and avoiding the reasons is far crucial than treating the actual addiction.

“There was a time when ‘divine signs’ were seen in children, but now, it’s like a complete obverse of it,” whimpered a very old, frizzled and pale man in a tone of despair. Watching through the window, the man enjoined upon me for having a disheartening view of two of his younger children puffing weed. So much so, their style of talking and bodily movements would quiver with each passing second. Wherefore, I was able to squueze out the memories of my teen when I too had grown the victim of these life-abrading habits. The clutches of this trap, as far as I could remember, had gripped me to the hilt. None could prevent me from doing so – almost none. It was as if the permanent seal of drugs had been tacked to my heart and mind. For the most part, a person is tend to ‘considerably’ think about crucial and critical aspects of life, but the whole self of mine was in a state of utter freeze just by its disgrace & medically proven-pernicious effects.

 

Anyway, it’s sure, many questions must be doing rounds inside your mind, and it should be so: What is it that drives a normal being into these destructive physical activities? Why is it that these life-hollowing drugs the more a man becomes addictive to, wouldn’t probably do away from us? Even after, having felt its repurcusions, why is not he able to take control over himself, or left himself uttering “I were to have stopped it that time and this time while dying in self-pity!?” Or is there some kind of mystery that lies with the drug-ridden? The answer to all these hardly-contemplated-over-questions is that: of all the drug-addicts, more than 70 percent of its populace have already been suffering from depression, stress, anxiety and many other psychological disorders that seem too difficult to put up with. So, in order to give to the mind a ceaseless rush of dopamine, a chemical in our brain responsible for mood boosting- or giving a temporary feeling of relief, consuming drugs becomes the fitting choice.

There are different drugs available to be sold and each of them has its own features. The way cannabis can give momentary a sigh of relief, couldn’t probably cigarettes do and the continuous cycle of consuming one over other becomes the nasty priority! Drugs are the cruelest killers disguising as relief and mood boosters. A sign of stress is indicative of mind demanding something to get the relaxation from; and here the depressed folk becomes an easy prey to drugs – finding it as swifter working alternative than anything else could be doing! When a man has a huge stress over something, to put in this way, he is bound to consuming the substance having mammoth influential features. So that, the temporary relief from the mess could be achieved; but, that is where a man starts to grow addictive.

Drugs, cruelest killers, have a plethora of dreadful effects on our lives. It’s been found that taking drugs reduces oxygen level in our viens, therby affecting our heart. Others (experts in morphology) would say that it alters the inner structure of mind, thus giving rise to to the life-snatching pshychological disorders – and then one grows paranoid. Many fears take up his mind and tend to neglect the society. She becomes socially bereft! Some would even – for the inability in dealing with people – consume drugs thereof in secret. Substatial number of them are seeing no way to reclaim their lives, thus adding only to the woes and life becoming sheer predicament.

Having refrained from taking these silent killers, I can say that those that are used to devouring or snuffing or whatever ways they take them in should at least check the status of thier lives. They should ask themselves what is it that prompts them to become the easy victim of drugs. Anaylysing the root causes would do plenty in helping one recover from the predicament. If there is any kind of stress or depression or strain, as the major causes remain so at most of the times, despite the fact we don’t comprehend it at the moment, self-control, meditation etc should be considered, wholeheartedly, instead; or even if one is most glued with these drugs, reduce the quantity of it each time. Wait for the due course. Rise to the occasion and stay away from these killing stuff.

It is noteworthy to mention that those who, fortunately, have not become the victim of these killers, must pay no heed to it ever, for once it has been consumed, one fails to understand what to do and what not. The need of the hour is to aware the unawares regarding the downsides – trap – of taking drugs. We must impart in our education sysyem the whole conept of drugs as to how it affects the health and pshychology; and, most importantly, how to waive off our uneasiness at times by mental excersises to keep us calm, secured from the lure of drugs.

There is an urgent need to start a campaign, protest against those dealers and smugglars who dispose of different kinds of drugs whether in manifest or secret to the mentally disturbed victims. The adminstration ought to put more effors in busting such elements. At the same time, instead of penalizing the drug takers, they should be given counselling sessions to squeeze out the things that prompt them to take these drugs. Furthermore, parents must keep a vigil eye on thier children: from where they are coming, who are they friends with, why are they coming late, what has been done to the pocket-money are the questions which every parent must pose on their children. Talking freely with your children is an another thing which is needed to reduce any strain taking up their minds.

We will have to do these things for the sake of our people in general. Our children, who are our future generations, in particular. 

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