December 09, 2016

Secular Action Network -December 2016

Newsletter of All India Secular Forum Volume. 11 No.9 December 2016 C O N T E N T S Editorial 1. Forum News -TOT on National Integration, Peace and Justice 2. CSSS News - Seminar on RSSS ideology versus Ambedkar’s ideology 3. Bhopal Fake Encounter 4. Appreciating the Humamn Rights Defenders 5. Profiles in Peace 6. Poem - What is wrong if ‘You” don’t have cash in your hand? 7. A note on historical similarities 8. Freedom of Religion – UN Report 9. A Satire on Ache Din 10. नोटबंदी: कारपोरेट की अगुवाई में मोदी का जनता पर हमला – भाकपा (माले) रेड स्टार 11. Interview - Trust and openees: Essential Ingredients of Inter-faith Dialogue – Interview with Dr. Loyd Allen 12. Resource - E-Digest - Gandhi’s Assassination - Godse and RSS Connection -Book on Ambedkar and Hindutva Politics -------------------------------- Ph. 022-26149668, 022-26135098 E-mail: csss2work@gmail.com Editor: Ram Puniyani, ram.puniyani@gmail.com, www.pluralindia.com Advisory Board: L.S. Hardenia, Irfan Engineer, Dhirendra Panda, Mohammad Arif. -- From the Editor’s Desk The month was dominated by the fall outs of demonization. Nearly 86% of circulating currency has been demonetized creating havoc with the life of average people. The seventy deaths in queues have raised several questions about the motive of the step by Modi Sarkar. One guess is that it is to deflate the opposition parties in the forthcoming elections of UP in particular. Another point is that this Government has written off huge debts for the corporate world, making the bank coffers empty, and this is meant to draw out the money of average people to bank deposits to fill the big gap created by Corporate’ loot. The dilemma is that despite many people standing in queues they seem to be supporting the move as being good in the long term. It seems the propaganda of this government is too strong, but any propaganda cannot sustain for long. Even those who have done this hoarding of black money in big quantum seem to be undisturbed by this move. As such what has been demonetized is just five percent of the black money as 80% of black is deposited in banks abroad, what is called ‘safe heavens’, and fifteen percent is in the form of real estate, jewelry etc. Modi had promised that he will bring back the black money from those banks so that Rs fifteen lakhs will be deposited in everybody’s account. This is being quoted by people off and on. It seems one of the reasons behind this move may be to show that he is serious about black money and is doing so much for that. Surely, this move is a cover up to hide his failure to fulfill his promise and large number of citizens will gradually realize the pain and discomfort caused by his ill conceived move. The interview by Vinod Sharma carried by us, sums up the issues very well. Ram Puniyani (Editor) - Link http://www.csss-isla.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/SAN-December-2016-New1.pdf

India: Triple talaq is neither constitutional nor a Quranic form of divorce (Irfan Engineer)

Hindustan Times - Dec 09, 2016

Triple talaq is neither constitutional nor a Quranic form of divorce

by Irfan Engineer

The observations of Allahbad High Court on Thursday stating that the Muslim personal law on triple talaq didn’t give unbridled authority to a Muslim male to unilaterally divorce his wife would be welcomed by Muslim women who have been victims of misuse of the provision in particular, and to Muslim women in general, who face the threat of capricious use of the authority not granted to men by the Quran.

Though the court refused to comment on the legality of triple talaq enabling Muslim men to unilaterally divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” thrice, its observations are a tight slap on Muslim Personal Law Board, which had claimed in its affidavit before the Supreme Court in a writ petition filed by Shayara Bano case that the court had no jurisdiction to hold triple talaq as invalid from of divorce and claiming protection of Article 25 of the Constitution, under which every person is entitled to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.

The right granted under Article 25 is subject to other provisions of the chapter on fundamental rights in the Constitution. Right to practice religion is therefore subject to Article 14 — right to gender equality.

Severing marital relations instantly by pronouncing the word “talaq” thrice is not only anti-constitutional, it is also anti-Quranic. Quranic verse 2:229 states: “A divorce is only permissible twice: After that (the parties should either hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you, (men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. . If you (judges) do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she gives something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by Allah; so do not transgress them, if any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong (themselves as well as others)”.

Pronouncing talaq in one sitting was a pre-Islamic practice which was not validated by the Quran. The second khalifa Hazrat Umar invoked this pre-Islamic form of divorce and made it irrevocable to punish men who would cheat their second wife they wanted to marry. They would claim that they had divorced their first wife by pronouncing “talaq” thrice knowing that it was not valid divorce.

This is not the first time that a high court has held triple talaq to be invalid in law. In Rukia Khatun’s case, the division bench of Gauhati High Court at para 13 held that the correct law of talaq, as ordained by Quran, is: (i) that “talaq” must be for a reasonable cause; and (ii) that it must be preceded by an attempt of reconciliation between the husband and the wife by two arbiters, one chosen by the wife from her family and the other by the husband from his. If their attempts fail, “talaq” may be effected.

Upholding these observations of the Gauhati High Court, the Supreme Court in the case of Shamim Ara v/s State of UP held, “A plea of previous divorce taken in the written statement cannot at all be treated as pronouncement of talaq by the husband on the wife on the date of filing of the written statement in the court”.

Triple talaq is neither constitutional nor a Quranic form of divorce. Observations of the Allahabad High Court would be before the Supreme Court for consideration in the writ petition filed by Shayara Bano strengthening the petitioner’s case.

Irfan Engineer is director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai

India: For the second consecutive year, Jaipur Art Summit disrupted by goons of the Hindu Right [dec 2016]

Friday, Dec 09, 2016 | Last Update : 02:27 PM IST

Jaipur art show disrupted over nude painting

Published : Dec 9, 2016, 1:33 am IST
The police managed to resolve the issue amicably and the painting was returned to the artist.
Lal Sena leader Hemlata Sharma alleged that a painting of Radha Vinod Sharma was indecent, thus an insult of women. (Representational image)
 Lal Sena leader Hemlata Sharma alleged that a painting of Radha Vinod Sharma was indecent, thus an insult of women. (Representational image)
Jaipur: For the second consecutive year, Jaipur Art Summit has been mired in controversy. If last year it was cow vigilantes, this year the moral police disrupted the summit over an alleged indecency after a US-based Indian artist showcased a nude painting.
The women members of Lal Sena flanked by members of Rashtriya Ekta Manch arrived at Ravindra Manch where the summit is being held and Lal Sena leader Hemlata Sharma alleged that a painting of Radha Vinod Sharma was indecent, thus an insult of women.
She also snatched the painting from Mr Sharma’s hands and came out with it alleging that “such indecent depiction of mothers and sisters” should be stop under the garb of art. “Such lewd paintings can’t be described art, she said while asking if the artist would make such painting of her mother and sister.
She said that there should be action against such people and took the painting to the local police station to file a complaint. Thereafter, the organisers and artists participating in the summit also reached the police station to put forth their point of view.
However, the police managed to resolve the issue amicably and the painting was returned to the artist.
Later, artist Radha Vinod Sharma, who belongs to Tripura but is living in the US for nearly two decades, said that the Indian culture runs into his blood and that he respects women. “This painting is of an American model who herself gave permission to me to showcase it,” he said. According to him, one should not object without the knowledge of the art. “If my painting is lewd, what are Khajuraho temples? Shouldn’t they be demolished?”
He said that taking away his painting was a crime, while other artists rued that there was no security at the summit where they have been displaying art work worth lakhs. Founder of Jaipur Art Summit, Shailendra Bhatt, also defended the artist saying there was nothing indecent in the painting, though he said that art work displayed in the summit would be reviewed once again.

December 08, 2016

India: Jaipur Art Summit being held from December 7-11, 2016 comes under attack from Right-wing group Rashtriya Hindu Ekta Manch who vandalise & take away artwork

India Today

Right-wing group Rashtriya Hindu Ekta Manch vandalised Jaipur Art Summit

Hemlata Sharma, president of an outfit called Lal Sena, was seen in a video trying to incite vandalism at the event.
Praveen Shekhar  | Posted by Ankit Misra
New Delhi, December 8, 2016 | UPDATED 23:04 IST
Picture for representational purpose only.


  • 1 Bajrang Dal, VHP activists ransacked Garden Gallery of Arts and Textiles in Surat.
  • 2 Rashtriya Hindu Ekta Manch had earlier taken offence to Raju Hirani’s movie PK.
  • 3 Sri Ram Sene members destroyed several MF Husain paintings in a Delhi exhibition in August 2008.
Some miscreants barged into the venue of the ongoing Jaipur Art Summit on December 8, vandalised paintings and thrashed one of the painters. They also took away with them a painting displayed at the high-profile art fair. This act was to protest against the display of a semi-nude painting at the summit.
The culprits have been identified. A police investigation is on.
Someone by the name Hemlata Sharma, president of an outfit called Lal Sena, can be seen in a video gesturing, shouting and trying to justify her vandalism with the chant “does freedom of expression allow you to call this art�?

December 07, 2016

India: Police charges against mention how the Hindutva outfit Sanatan Sanstha has been administering psychotropic drugs at its 'healing clinics'

The Indian Express

Pansare chargesheet: ‘Sanatan Sanstha administered drugs meant for schizophrenia, other psychiatric conditions’

Wives of accused list ‘divine medicines’ administered at ashrams, which they found were ‘amisulpride’, ‘resperidone’.

Written by Rashmi Rajput , Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai | Updated: December 7, 2016 12:40 pm  Govind Pansare STATING THAT the Sanatan Sanstha administered drugs meant for schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions to its sadhaks in its ashrams, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of CPI leader Govind Pansare has said the wives of two accused have given accounts of these drugs.
According to the chargesheet filed by the SIT, the women have not only given detailed accounts of life in the sanstha’s ashrams, they have also listed the drugs administered to them as ‘divine medicines’ during their stay there.
In her statement, Dr Nidhi Tawde, the estranged wife of accused Dr Virendra Tawde, has said that between 2013 and 2014, during her stay at the Panvel ashram, she was given a medicine for ‘spiritual healing’. When she looked at the drug prescribed by the ashram doctor, she found it was ‘amisulpride’, a medicine used to treat schizophrenia.
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Elaborating how the outfit gave the sadhaks psychiatric medicines claiming this was ‘divine water’, Nidhi has said, “Every day at 8 ’o clock, Sadhika Sudheshana Pimpale used to fetch me a small glass of water in which two drops of some ‘divine medicine’ was added. We were told that it was tirtha or nectar. After drinking the said ‘divine medicine’, I used to feel a bit dizzy. Subsequently, I discovered that the ‘nectar’ given to me was actually ‘resperidone’ (a psychiatric drug),” she said.
“Later, I also learnt that around 30 to 35 sadhaks in the ashram were given the dosage of this psychiatric medicine every day. I also found out that the said dosages were given on the advice of Asha Thakur (one of the office bearers of the outfit). Other than resperidone, the sadhaks were also administered with different psychiatric medicines,” she added.
Nidhi claimed that when she confronted her husband over the medicines, he said they were meant to heal her. “I also learnt that my husband was also on the said dosages,” she said. Nidhi’s statement has been recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Meanwhile, Shraddha, the wife of wanted accused Vinay Pawar, has detailed the life of sadhaks at the ashrams in Goa and Panvel.

Shraddha stated that a normal day would begin at 8 am with an aarti performed in the main prayer hall. The aarti was performed twice a day — at 8 am and 6 pm — and the sadhaks were given prasad (food) at 11 am.
Talking about the organisation’s founder Dr Jayant Athavale, Shraddha said a blue toilet mug used by Athavale was kept in the sadhana room where sadhaks prayed. “It is believed that due to the ‘divine powers’ of Athavale, the colour of the mug was fading. In the said hall, there were some clothes of Athavale which had ‘daivikaan’ (divine particles) on it. Athavale worked towards preaching religious scriptures to members of public,” her statement read.
Athavale professed that people who oppose Hindu religion are ‘durjan’ (villains). “While I never met Comrade Pansare, I read about him in the Sanatan mouthpiece which stated that Pansare was working against the Hindu religion,” her statement added.
On Vinay’s disappearance, Shraddha said, “Soon after the 2009 Goa blast, Vinay told me that he is going out of town for ‘sadhana’ and would return in a month’s time. However, I had the faith that he would return someday and therefore I never approached the police.”
On February 16, 2015, two motorcycle-borne persons had shot at Pansare and his wife Uma Pansare when the couple was on a walk near their residence in Ideal Society, Sagarmal in Kolhapur, around 9 am. A bullet hit Uma’s head, causing a fracture in her skull. She survived the attack but suffered paralysis. Pansare was shot with a 7.65-mm firearm.
Last week, the SIT filed a supplementary chargesgeet against Tawde and had named wanted Goa blast accused Rudra Patil, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar as wanted accused in the case. Sameer Gaikwad, a Sanatan Sanstha member has already been chargesheeted in the case in 2015.

December 06, 2016

India: Violence in Bombay and the Death of an Old Milkman (Saeed Mirza)

The Wire

Violence in Bombay and the Death of an Old Milkman

There are always those who say let’s move on, but then what do we move on to?

Rioters in Bombay, January 1993. Credit: Sudharak Olwe
Rioters in Bombay, January 1993. Credit: Sudharak Olwe

Violence began in Bombay almost immediately after the events in Ayodhya on December 6, when a huge, frenzied mob of religious bigots brought down a medieval mosque because they believed it was built over the birthplace of a Hindu God. Muslims fanatics in the city had retaliated by burning public property and a few of them were shot dead as the police tried to quell the rioters.
I still remember those days when my friend Anand Grover and I travelled around the city to see for ourselves the mayhem and slaughter the thugs of a political party had unleashed on a hapless Muslim population. Quite a few innocent Hindus died too in those xenophobic times. They were butchered by Muslim thugs. I apologise for dividing deaths by religion but when more than 90% of the fatalities in communal rioting are of people belonging to one community anybody with any sense of balance would know it was a targeted massacre.
We visited the camps at Govandi, Jogeshwari and Antop Hill, and heard the stories of the poor. It was heart-breaking as these people actually believed we could be of help as they recounted tales of slaughter, callousness, savagery. We did, occasionally, hear tales of hope and compassion as these same people told us of the help and protection extended from the ‘other’ side.
Later I travelled to other areas of the city, especially on the eastern side and the sights I saw were horrific. More than a thousand people were killed, whole neighbourhoods destroyed and the empty shells of shops, trucks and workshops burnt down. It was a graphic message sent out to the minorities that it would take a long time for them to rebuild their lives.
I had read and heard stories of other communal riots that had regularly occurred in the country in the north and west of the country over the years, but what I was seeing now was a first-hand experience of violence on this kind of scale.
In all of this devastation the image that stayed with me the most was that of an elderly milkman on a bicycle who tried to furiously peddle away to safety from a mob baying for his blood. The mob caught up with the old man and lynched him and then burnt his bicycle and trashed his milk cans.
I remember seeing that image as the broken man lay face down on the road as blood flowed down from a head wound. His battered bicycle lay a few feet away and his overturned milk cans on the other side. It was an image that turned my stomach.
Then, after several days of violence, an eerie silence descended upon the city. The silence exploded in January when the political party I mentioned earlier, organised their storm-troopers and let them loose onto the streets. And, for about fifteen days as the state administration looked on helplessly, many say deliberately and callously, the rioters were given a free hand to kill, loot and burn. Even in the residential societies of mixed middle and upper middle-class neighbourhoods, nameplates of all Muslim residents in their building lobbies were removed for fear of an attack. It was a fascist onslaught. It was also surreal as identities and existences were erased.
After the second round of violence another uneasy calm descended upon the city. I was left numbed and a thought kept creeping into my mind: If this slaughter and mayhem could happen in the heart of the financial and entertainment capital of India what would the future be like?
Finally, less than two months later, the silence ended when a series of bomb blasts ripped through the city and killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Two of the blasts were so huge that several buildings in the vicinity were reduced to rubble and body parts of human beings were splattered all over. It was sickening and also an act of random, indiscriminate reprisal. Behind this brutal retaliation was hand of another thug, a Muslim underworld don, and his cronies.
I am aware that I have once again reduced these events on the basis of religion: Hindu and Muslim. In fact, it disgusts me. What further disgust me are the empty slogans that camouflage deep-seated bias: ‘Terror is terror’ thunders the prime minister. His home minister echoes the same thought. ‘Don’t give terror a religious colour’ they say.
It sounds good in principle because that’s the way the law ought to be and its enforcers ought to think. What I have noticed in my country, however, tells another story. In fact, over the recent years, the role of religious identification has gotten much worse. It almost seems that there is a tacit arrangement for religious bigots to attack with impunity as an administration looks the other way. Very often innocents belonging to the minority community are falsely arrested for crimes they never committed, shoved into jail and horribly tortured and then finally released for lack of evidence. There is enough documentary evidence of hundreds of such cases by civil rights activists, investigative journalists, honest police officers and even senior judges that have revealed what really happens on the ground.
Can anyone imagine the scars these encounters leave behind? It will soon be 25 years since those ghastly events occurred in the city in which I was born and as my own memory begins to fade the only image I can remember vividly is that of the old man, his battered bicycle and his trashed milk cans.
I wonder about the members of the mob who lynched him. Did any of them feel ashamed of what they had done? How did they sleep that night? What dreams did they have?
And then I think of the old man. Who was he? Where did he live and who were the members of his family? Did he have children, grandchildren? What were the dreams that he had for them? On the day of his murder did his children try to stop him from leaving home under such stressful circumstances? Did he have a choice of staying home for a few days till things calmed down or was there none? Did he not know how dangerous it was to go to work as riotous mobs were on the streets destroying everything that came into their path? Did he not know that for an uncaring administration it did not matter whether he lived or died? And finally, does anyone even mourn him?
The other, greater tragedy about those terrifying days is when people today say ‘It happened a long time ago…we need to move on.’
‘Move on to what?’ I wonder.
Saeed Mirza is an award winning filmmaker.

December 05, 2016