The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

August 27, 2009

Did Varun Gandhi call Sikhs 'Khalistanis' ?

BJP MP Varun Gandhi, who has faced flak for his allegedly anti-Muslim speeches could be in further trouble after he was accused of using the word 'Khalistanis' for Sikhs.

The particular speech directed against Sikhs was delivered at Desh Nagar. Earlier these speeches were not quoted or reported in the media. However, Congress leader VM Singh's voluminous complaint that has transcripts of the speeches, includes it.

Already probe is on for his anti-Muslim speeches during the election campaign in Pilibhit. Now, the fresh charges could prove an embarrassment for the BJP that is currently in disarray.

Incidentally, Varun's mother Maneka Gandhi, who earlier represented Pilibhit in the Lok Sabha, is a Sikh. VM Singh, a farmer's leader, had contested the election on Congress ticket and had lost.

He had earlier complained to the Election Commission. "As they didn't take any action, I have now approached the State government", he said. The UP government officials say that they have received the complaint along with the audio recording.

TIH Bureau

August 20, 2009

Arvinder Singh Lovely in soup for anti-Urdu comment

Delhi's education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely is in trouble as he faces strong criticism from the Muslim community for his controversial anti-Urdu remark.

Lovely had told a delegation of Muslims that there is no need for students to study Urdu and spoil their future. This has led to strong protest from the Urdu-speakers who are planning demonstrations.

Clerics, religious leaders, poets, prominent personalities and people from all walks of life are up in arms againt the statement. Lately the Urdu newspapers of Delhi are full of reports and statements by prominent figures who have condemned the statement.

The fact that Lovely heads the education department, which has failed to take action in the appointment of Urdu teachers and providing Urdu textbooks to Urdu-medium schools, has further angered the community.

"When he has such a strong anti-Urdu bias, how can we expect that he would take steps to improve the educational scene in Delhi", said Jamiluddin Qadri, a religious scholar.

Poet Noor Hasan Noor condemned the statement and reminded Lovely that Urdu played a vital role in the feedom movement. "The 20 crore strong Urdu-speaking populace that also includes non-Muslims, will decide what it has to read and what it has to reject. Lovely better not interfere in this matter", he said.

TIH Bureau

August 19, 2009

Jinnah-struck: BJP expels Jaswant Singh

BJP has expelled its senior leader Jaswant Singh from the party after his remarks on Jinnah had 'embarrassed' the Saffron outfit. Congress had termed BJP as Bharatiya 'Jinnah' Party.

At its brainstorming session that began in Shimla on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to expel Sing. His primary membership of the party has also been cancelled with immediate effect.

Singh's recent book on partition, presents a different picture of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and terms him a secular pesonality. Jaswant Singh also called him a great Indian and said that Nehru, rather than Jinnah, was responsible for partition.

In an interview he had also said that India had demonised Jinnah. Earlier Advani had also termed Jinnah a secular person. The hardliners in the party were outraged at the pro-Jinnah stand of Jaswant Singh.

They felt that his criticism of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, and the praise of Jinnah had sent wrong message to the party workers and the electorate. It was felt that this would create ideological confusion.

TIH Bureau

Mangalore college imposes ban on burqa

A college in Mangalore has stopped a Muslim girl from wearing burqa (or hijab). The government-run Sri Venkataramana Swamy College's move has led to outrage among Muslims.

The girl, Ayesha Amin, who is a student of B.Com was asked to stop wearing burqa. The college principal Dr Seetharamayya said that the rules were mentioned in the prospectus.

Incidentally, there is no such rule in the college prospectus. The girl's parents have decided to approach higher authorities and have written to the Vice-chancellor about the allegedly biased diktat.

Mangalore, earlier a tolerant city, has lately been in the news for wrong reasons. The City has witnessed communal tension and the cadre of right-wing Hindu organisations have beaten Muslim youths on the campuses.

However, the move by a college comes as a surprise. Interestingly, girls in schools and colleges in India have been voluntarily wearing burqa for decades, say the parents.

Muslim organisations have expressed shock and anger over the unilateral decision of the college. The local organisations protested the move and said that it was not an RSS or Bajrang Dal run institution but the college administration's decision pointed towards their fanatic right-wing leanings. Other non-Muslim groups have also opposed the decision of the SVS College administration.

TIH Bureau

August 18, 2009

'America overdid Shah Rukh Khan's questioning'

American authorities overdid the detention of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan, said Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, who assured to take the issue with top US officials.

The union minister said that even if a person has to be frisked, it is quite enough to finish the job in 10-20 minutes but by detaining Shahrukh for nearly 2 hrs, the officials overdid that.

Chidambaram expressed surprise that the movie actor was not even allowed to use his cell phone when he was held for questioning at Newark airport and only after 2 hrs, he was given his mobile phone back.

The Indian government has taken strong exception to the manner in which the superstar was screened, apparently because of the 'Khan' surname. The home minister regretted that secretaries welcome US dignitaries on tarmac upon their arrival in India.

However, on the contrary Indian our celebrities are treated harshly. Civil Aviations minister Praful Patel has also said that the matter would be raised at the highest level with American government, specially the manner in which Indian citizens of a particular religion are frisked and detained.

TIH Bureau

August 17, 2009

Another BJP leader praises Jinnah

After LK Advani, another veteran leader of the BJP Jaswant Singh has praised Mohamed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in his book that is all set to create a major controversy.

Singh feels that Jinnah was neither the villain of partition, nor a communal person. Rather he feels that Jinnah was misunderstood and even demonised in India. The book 'Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence' is scheduled to be released on Monday.

In an interview with Karan Thapar, Jaswant Singh said that Jinnah was a great personality who created Pakistan out of nowhere. Singh also recalls the statement of Gandhi, who had called Jinnah a 'great Indian'.

Though Jaswant Singh says that the book contains his own views and his interpretation of history, it is bound to create a controversy. The BJP is a political outfit of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), that considered Jinnah a villain for dividing 'Akhand Bharat'.

Four years ago LK Advani had praised Jinnah during his Pakistan visit. This had caused consternation within the Parivar. He was made to clarify and had to face embarrassing situation due to the comments.

He also said that Indian Muslims were not treated fairly after independence and seen as aliens. Jaswant Singh, a former Union foreign minister, is certain to invite the ire of BJP and RSS' hardline leaders.

Meanwhile, the Congress spokesperson has already called BJP, the Bharatiya 'Jinnah' Party instead of Bharatiya Janata Party. Jaswant however maintains that the book is not a party document rather his personal views.

TIH Bureau

August 8, 2009

Fresh probe in Ishrat Jahan encounter

Ray of hope has emerged for the family of Ishrat Jahan, the Mumbai girl, who was termed a terrorist, and gunned down in an allegedly fake encounter in Gujarat, five years ago.

Apart from Ishrat, four other persons were also killed in the encounter by Ahmedabad police. It was claimed that they were militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) who were sent on a suicide mission to Gujarat.

Her mother, Shamima, had approached the High court seeking a CBI probe into the circumstances surrounding the encounter. She had asserted that her daughter was an innocent girl who was murdered in cold blood.

The Gujarat High Court has now sought a list of top officers of the rank of Additional Director Generals of Police (ADGs). Of these, the High Court will select three officers who will conduct the probe into the encounter.

Ishrat Jahan's husband Praneshkumar Pillaia was a Hindu, who had converted to Islam, and had changed his name to Javed. Recently, the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government had received a setback over the court order in the Sohrabuddin case.

TIH Bureau

August 5, 2009

NHRC faces criticism over Batla House inquiry

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is facing flak from several sections for giving clean-chit to the Delhi police in the infamous Batla House encounters' case.

Mass circulated Urdu newspaper Roznama Rashtriya Sahara questions whether the NHRC has become Police Protection Commission (PPC)? It goes on to raise serious doubts over the probe report.

Senior journalist Aziz Burney says that the NHRC's ambit was limited to determining whether the action of police to fire on the youths inside the house in Jamia Nagar, was correct or not.

By dissecting the entire episode and analysing the turn of events, Burney writes that the plea taken by NHRC that the police shot at the youths in self-defence. Besides, civil rights groups have strongly condemned the report.

They claim that there was no independent inquiry and the witnesses were not examined. Muslim members of Parliament (MPs) including JD(U)'s Ejaz Ali have said that the police was guilty of excesses.

Rajya Sabha MP Mahmood Madani has also refused to accept the report and asked the government to conduct a judicial inquiry. Social organisations have also expressed surprise on the nature of inquiry.

Various other groups and organisations like People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Anhad and Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group have said that the report is merely based on police version and doesn't bother to take into account any other version.

TIH Bureau

August 4, 2009

Pay compensation to Suhrabuddin's kin: Apex Court

In a big blow to Gujarat government, the Supreme Court has asked state to pay compensation to the kin of Sohrabuddin Sheikh who was killed in a fake encounter.

Sohrabuddin and his wife, Kausar Bi, had mysteriously disappeared from near Ahmedabad. It was later alleged that they were killed in a fake encounter in November 2005.

The Apex court's order again puts the the Gujarat government, especially the role of state police, in a tight spot. Already, the Chief Minister Narendra Modi's role during the post-Godhra riots in the State, is under inquiry.

Three officers of the elite Indian Police Service (IPS)--DG Vanzara, RK Pandayan and MN Dinesh, the last belonging to Rajasthan police, are alleged to have masterminded the encounter.

The couple was abducted from a bus and kept at a farmhouse. Later they were separated and Sheikh was taken away. First, Kausar Bi was shot dead. Later Sohrabuddin Sheikh was shot by four inspectors, who fired eight rounds at him.

Kausar Bi's body was burnt by the policemen. After the couple went missing, Sohrabuddin's family approached the court and the fresh investigation led to the arrest of senior IPS officers.

The damning court verdict has again brought to fore the serious human rights abuse at the instance of state. Custodial tortures and killings in fake encounters have been rampant in BJP-ruled Gujarat but it seems the law is finally catching up with the culprits.

TIH Bureau

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