Category Archives: Forum

The SANSAD Forum is a space for the discussion of issues of urgent concern to members and friends of SANSAD. Its goal is to develop understanding, solidarity, and direction for change. People are welcome to propose issues that concern them, explaining their urgency if necessary, and focusing them into questions as much as possible. Both questions and responses will be published on the site at the discretion of the moderator. People who raise questions are advised to request particular individuals whose response they consider valuable by email. Comments can be posted directly on the site.

Published opinions are solely the responsibility of the authors and may not be attributed to SANSAD.

Indian justice disgraced by hanging Yakub Memon

The Hypocrisy of Indian Justice Revealed in Yakub Memon’s Execution

 Vinod Mubayi
The midnight vigil at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi failed. The 2.30 a.m. wake up call for justice addressed to the Chief Justice of India by eminent lawyers like Indira Jaising and civil society organizations failed.The Indian justice system, which Memon trusted enough to return to the country with his family, was shown to be a complete fraud. Yakub Memon was hanged by the neck simply because (1) his community and religion is not an important vote bank especially in his state, (2) the Hindu supremacists’ thirst had to be satisfied, and (3) every official organ, from the judiciary to the executive to the legislative as represented by the major political parties (BJP, Congress) was hell-bent on the execution.  There were some honorable exceptions. Justice Joseph of the Supreme Court who issued a dissenting opinion, individual members of mainstream political parties, all the left parties, former high-ranking retired judges, and the greater portion of the intelligentsia, including the editorial columns of leading newspapers like the Indian Express and the Hindu. Most pointed out the utter hypocrisy of the justice system from its lowest levels all the way to the Supreme Court in imposing and executing the death penalty.Rabindra Pal aka Dara Singh who committed the gruesome murders of Graham Staines and his small children was absolved of the death sentence because the judge cited proselytizing by missionaries as a mitigating factor in his case! Babu Bajrangi who carried out the truly horrifying killing of Kauserbi and her fetus by slitting open her belly and tossing her unborn child into a fire was never sentenced to death; probably the judge who convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment was afraid for her own life if she had pronounced the death penalty. If so, her fears were amply justified for the Gujarat government and its judicial system has now released this brutal killer, who boasted of his crimes, on bail, along with others like Maya Kodnani who were also given life imprisonment but barely served a year in jail, while the judge is now receiving death threats. Meanwhile, the killers of innocents on the Samjhauta express, the bombers of Mecca Masjid, and the purveyors of many other crimes and killings have remained fairly undisturbed, some on bail, some absconding, and a few in jail. In the new Hindutva dispensation, cases involving capital crimes committed by RSS members, followers, or sympathizers are turning cold as witnesses sensing the change in political winds are becoming hostile. This was stated by none other than a senior public prosecutor in Maharashtra, Ms. Rohini Salian, who related how agents belonging to central agencies are putting pressure on her to withdraw or go slow on cases against those close to RSS, even those accused of extremely serious crimes involving murder in the first degree.

This is the climate in which Memon was hanged. This foul deed not only smacks, it shrieks of official complicity and bias. More than a thousand innocent people, mostly poor Muslims, were killed by Shiv Sena and their associated goondas along with members of the Bombay police in Mumbai in the post Babri Masjid demolition riots. The names of those guilty and their abettors are amply documented in the Srikrishna Commission report. Yet no action has been taken against anyone remotely important; a few slaps on the wrist on a few low-level persons sufficed. Yet Yakub Memon has been hanged although his role was minor compared to others who got lesser sentences. Perhaps it was because his brother, the mastermind, remains beyond the arm of Indian law or perhaps official India had to produce a scapegoat as it had to last year in the person of Afzal Guru. Who can then blame a rabble rouser like Owaisi if he gives voice to the claim of systemic bias of all organs of the Indian state against the Muslim minority?

Meanwhile, we mourn again the passing of our comrade and friend Praful Bidwai, who powerful pen would have voiced our own outrage.

Vinod Mubayi is the editor of Insaf Bulletin,

Global Jihad and America

Indian Free Press Journal

Global Jihad and America

— By M.V. KAMATH,  October 05, 2014

Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year War Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. Taj Hashmi. Sage Publications; pages: 324; price Rs 995


Global Jihad and America questions the assumption if Islamist terrorism, or “Global Jihad,” poses the biggest threat to modern civilization in the East and West.

Ask anyone interested in politics what they think of Jihad and the finger will point at various Muslim organisations the world over as the perpetra¬tors of terror. There are books galore on jihad but hardly has any writer dared to point the finger at West in general and the United States in particular.
Taj Hashmi is practically among the first ones to do so and he has argued his case brilliantly. In the final analysis, who is to be blamed for global terror: the United States or the Muslim fraternity, based primarily in the Middle East.

Hashmi has no illusions. He makes a good case against the western world and the US specifically but at the same time he is very critical of Islamists. As he says, “many Islamists are out and out fascist in their outlook. They believe and promote the concept of global jihad or total war against all non-Muslims, either to forcibly convert them into Muslims or perform qital or mass slaughter of non-Muslims and deviant Muslims”. What has gone wrong?

The trouble with Islamists is that after a couple of centuries of Islamic ascendancy, the Muslim world went on a downward curve because of a number of factors such as complacency, lack of creativity, neglect of science and technology, internal feuds and the rise of European colonial expansion, Muslims were not only overtaken as great rulers but were subjugated. It understandably created international tension.
Hashmi quotes figures exten¬sively to show Islamic backwardness. A clash between the western world led by the United States and Islamists had become inevitable. But Hashmi argues that global jihad is a myth which only exists in the imagination of Islamic fanatics, misinformed people and most importantly in the vocabulary of Islamaphobia. As Hashmi sees it, the prefix ‘global’ only widens the scope of the holy war either to glorify it or to demonise it. “In sum,” says Hashmi, “as it is too simplistic to demonise all mujahideen as terrorist, it is equally wrong to glorify them as freedom-fighters. There is a fine line between them.”
While Hashmi dares to expose Islamist ‘terrorists’ he is not afraid to expose US terrorism, simultaneously. The death toll in World War II, he says, was between 60 to 85 million, but he points out that US-led invasions of dozens of countries since the Korean War, by 2013 led to more than 75 million deaths, mostly civilians. The US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 alone killed more than a million Iraqis by 2007. Since then “hundreds and thousands of Iraqis have died in sectarian violence. And in 37 countries the US invaded since the Korean War, the death toll has been between 20 to 30 million, some 9 to 14 million in Afghanistan alone. What kind of jihadi has the US employed in the circumstances, Hashmi wants to know.
In one chapter, Hashmi asks: “Is America the biggest problem towards world peace? Is not the American legacy of expropriation, mass murder of indigenous people, slavery and apartheid at the core of the American psyche, while the American dogma of freedom and democracy is quite superficial, not applicable to non-Americans?
Hashmi, in the circumstances, believes global jihad is a ‘loaded concept’. He has a warning to give to ‘narco jihad’ and state-sponsored terrorism such as emerging out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
As he sees it “trans-national conflicts, crimes and proxy wars always transcend sub-regional boundaries and, if not contained, they might adversely affect countries beyond particular regions or sub-regions.
One chapter is devoted to highlight “the extra-Islamic dimen¬sions of crime, terror and proxy wars that are destabilising South Asia and the adjoining sub-regions, posing serious threat to global peace. It addresses the issues that have turned Pakistan and Afghanistan into the eyes of the storm that is likely to hit the world very badly in the coming years.
Yet another chapter (Chapter VII) appraises the bogey of nuclear threat from Iran and other ‘rogue states’ in the Muslim world that justifies America’s post Cold War diplomacy or hegemonic behaviour and military intervention in the Muslim world. The point is made that the main challenge to world peace today comes from state-sponsored terrorism and one must be aware if only smaller states or Super Powers are also responsible in the promotion of state-sponsored terrorism and proxy war. Adds Hashmi: “We need to worry about the im¬plications of the New World Order – to perpetuate American global hegemony and the never-ending story of Islamist terrorism in the coming decades.”
Hashmi’s condemnation of the United States is total and unforgiving. Thus he says: “America’s divisive policies and promotion of Muslim autocracies are also responsible for the lack of democracy and civility in many parts of the Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iron and Pakistan. America’s post World War II policy to¬wards the Muslim world has not been about strengthening democracy, secularism and good governance. It was all about serving America’s short-term geopolitical interests. Its State Department hardly has any long-term vision and program, at least not in the third world.” If this isn’t the truth, what else is? For that reason one must give Hashmi the last word.

Hashmi deserves high praise for telling the hidden truth in plain words. We now get a better understanding of global jihad in all its manifestations and who else could have done it except a true-blue Muslim.

M. V. Kamath is a nationally awarded journalist and author in India.


Komagata Maru today


Thinking of the Continued Legacy of Komagata Maru


A report on the Desi Dialogues at Cafe Kathmandu, Vancouver on July 20, 2014

At this cafe, moderated by Summer Pervez, a group of 12 people held a vigorous discussion on the significance of the centenary of Komagata Maru. The discussion was positioned within the various events concerning the centenary in the Vancouver area. It was remembered that these events were in marked contrast to the situation 25 years ago, when only a few people in the South Asian community were concerned with Komagata Maru and the general public not at all. The Premier of the province at the time, Bill Van Der Zalm had even silenced an attempt to raise the issue in the legislature with a mocking comment. Today there were commemorative events in many places including public institutions, and the mainstream media were also reporting on the incident.

But very little had changed at a deeper level in regard to the policy of the Canadian government toward immigrants of color from the global South. A meeting in Edmonton had pointed out that if Komagata Maru had come to Vancouver today the passengers would not just have been kept from disembarking but would have been put into prisons, many of them charged as criminals. Gurdit Singh would have been imprisoned as a “human smuggler.” Any tendency to be smug about the positive changes in the status of our community should be tempered by the knowledge that those who come to these shores on boats today, as people from China and Sri Lanka recently have done, are not only treated as criminals by the government but face the same racist, exclusionary rhetoric from the media that the passengers of Komagata Maru did. The media and the government construct such immigrants and refuge seekers as illegal aliens, criminals and terrorists. And the public, even the South Asians who have now found their comfortable place as citizens, endorse these views just as the public did in the time of Komagata Maru.

Nor should we forget that there is a class as well as a racial basis to this exclusionary attitude. Those who come by boats such as Komagata Maru are vilified, imprisoned, or turned away. But the many more who come by planes generate no such assault of public outrage and are processed in the usual way.

We should also note that despite the apologies to the Chinese, the Japanese, and South Asian communities for past acts of conspicuous discrimination, the present government has pushed through an extremely discriminatory immigration act, Act C24, that has been severely criticized by immigrant justice activists and the legal community. This act makes family reunion more difficult and creates two tiers of citizenship, in which naturalized citizens only enjoy a conditional citizenship.

More blatantly than ever the government has placed immigration in service of capitalism, While citizenship is made more difficult the government serves the interest of business by increasing the number of temporary foreign workers who can be treated as indentured labour, without effective rights and always under the threat of deportation and blacklisting.

It was reported to the group that at one of the most important commemoration events held on Musqueam territory, the chief welcomed the South Asian guests saying that if Komagata Maru had arrived in pre-colonial Musqueam land the passengers would have been welcomed as the Europeans were when they first came on their ships. Just as imagining the arrival of Komagata Maru in our time revealed the continuity of the discriminatory racist-nationalist policies of the Canadian government the imagining of Komagata Maru in the past of pre-colonial Coast Salish territory uncovered the foundation of these policies in colonialism.

Yet there was another lesson in this event, in which the food served was Indian. It had seemed to the person who reported this event that the First Nations were serving their usual ceremonial function in Canada today while South Asians were affirming their privilege of citizenship, of belonging in Canada. We  need to remember that we live on unceded and treaty lands taken from the First Nations while the First Nations live as the most oppressed people on their ancestral territories.

Komagata Maru is a foundational event in the history of the South Asian community in Canada and remembering it is to place it in the consciousness of our youth to ground them in the past struggles of the community. Memory is an anchor of identity. But we must resist the attempt by some to claim it as the property of a particular group and use it as social and political capital, which serves the interests of political parties and governments. We must also resist the attempt to confine this story as a South Asian story and affirm it as a Canadian story, as a part of Canadian history. Its legacy is a lesson in historical injustice that should guide us toward the creation of a just society in Canada.

We should go even further and remember Komagata Maru as a part of the global history of migration, displacement, and quest for refuge on the one hand and the increasingly restrictive and punitive practices on the borders of nation states on the other. There are 50 million refugees in the world today. Countless millions are internally displaced and innumerable people will face displacement as a consequence of climate change. In response to this the nation states that have been our reality for the last 400 years have increasingly fortified their borders with physical barriers, laws, violence, and prisons. Remembering Komagata Maru should also make us reflect on citizenship in such a world, a world in which the rights and privileges of citizenship that we greatly desire also depend on the continued oppression of aboriginal people and the exclusion of those who want to cross our national borders.

Chinmoy Banerjee

Note: Desi Dialogues is an open discussion group that usually meets on the first Sunday of the month to discuss issues of urgent concern to the South Asian diaspora in the Vancouver area. The topics are chosen by the moderator, Summer Pervez, with input from those who wish to participate. They are announced on Facebook and through email. Previous sessions have addressed the attitude of the community toward LGBT and the persistence of caste prejudice in diaspora. All are welcome.


Challenging prejudice against LGBT in South Asian Diaspora

Thanks SANSAD for your news release of December 15. 2013.

I want to highlight that, in addition to what is going on in India, and elsewhere in South Asia, the local South Asian GLBT community also experiences prejudice, intolerance and ostracism from within (as well as without) the South Asian community in Greater Vancouver.

I hope that we too can reflect on our own levels of acceptance and whether we need to do further work in this regard toward local GLBT South Asians.

I propose that we use this forum to continue the discussion on challenging and overcoming our and South Asian diaspora’s prejudices toward LGBT South Asians as a step toward raising greater awareness of LGBT rights as essential human rights and freedoms.

Randeep Purewall