Lessons from the questions

The news of a Malayalam professor whose hands have been cut off by a group of Muslim extremists is the talk of Kerala these days. Professor Joseph’s right palm was cut off by a gang of six people while he was returning home from Church on a Sunday. Two Popular Front activists have been arrested in connection with this incident. Popular Front, of which the accused are members of,  is alleged to have links to Islamic terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India) as is read from their Wiki page.

The incident has to be condemned and the culprits should be brought to justice, as we cannot excuse any form of terrorism or extremism, regardless of which community it comes from – the majority or minority. But there are a couple of issues attached to this incident.

The problem arose when Mr. Joseph, a professor of Malayalam in Newman College Thodupuzha, included a narrative in a question paper that he prepared for the students of the college. The narrative was from an article written by film maker/politician P T Kunjumuhammed. Kunjumuhammed had written about the script that he wrote for his award winning movie “Garshom”. He wrote that the scene in which the protagonist of his film talks to God was inspired by a lunatic in his hometown. So the lunatic would call God and God would respond “what is it, you son of a dog“? (I am unsure that “Son of a dog” interprets it’s Malayalam usage “Naayinte mone” well though). The question that came with the narrative was to supply the punctuation.

P T Kunjumuhammed’s article:

Kunjumuhammed's article

The controversial part of the question paper:

Courtesy: Mathrubhumi.com

Prof. Joseph took the passage and instead of leaving the lunatic nameless (as in the original passage) he added a name (which he did not have to do) and the name he chose was Muhammed (which also he did not have to do as there are many other common Muslim names if he had to give one). This was really unnecessary for Prof Joseph to include such a twisted version in the question paper. When this became a controversy, the college management and Church apologized for having to hurt the Muslim sentiments and they suspended Joseph when the question paper became a controversy which was a rightful thing to do.

But this gruesome act of extremists leads us to another thing – how a group of radical Islamists have begun to unleash their terror openly in the Kerala society. They are in large numbers and comes in different names. They have infiltrated into the liberal, democratic and political spheres in disguise. And if they are not stopped now, Kerala will soon become an Islamist playground. The under current is already on.

Revenge or Justice?

“Justice is done” was the initial response of many Indians in the online and offline world, when the court verdict on Ajmal Kasab came out yesterday. I don’t understand what justice is being done here. Let me clarify – I am not talking about human rights and all that when it comes to Kasab. He deserves a severe punishment for the kind of crime he did. And a death row is definitely not a severe punishment for Kasab, because we are ending up doing LeT’s job for them. Kasab came here to kill as many people as he could and also either to kill himself or get killed in the process. And ironically, in the name of justice we are giving him what he really wanted – death. His masters would be happy that a country’s judicial system is doing what they originally intended to do – to kill a low-level suicide militant. Is that justice done to the victims of 26/11?

And is this going to send any message to LeT or such terrorist outfits? Is hanging Kasab going to stop them? Kasab’s masters would get a thousand Kasabs to replace him for their on-going or future operations. They have no use of getting a Kasab back, when they have new, unknown and enthusiastic Kasabs ready to kill themselves for their masters.

So what result is hanging Kasab going to bring? Kasab, the scapegoat of his terrorist masterminds in Pakistan, has now become the scapegoat here too. The government with all it’s intelligence failures and the inability to track down the mastermind roots will now gloat that we could kill a terrorist (after he’s done what he came here to do). The issue of our police force not being equipped with the right and proper armor (Karkare, a brave man, gave his life because of such ill-planning) will now die down.

I am not asking for mercy for Kasab, but a severe punishment; severe than a death sentence. And I think the best way to punish Kasab would be a rigorous life sentence as actor Rahul Khanna has tweeted. There would be more suffering than ending your life in a moment. With the hanging of Kasab, we are just taking a revenge, not doing justice.

And that’s got me thinking – When a victim takes revenge, it is called a Crime. When the state does that revenge for a victim, it is called Justice. Isn’t that funny?

NYT calls the terrorists “Militia”

A New York Times article says this in the title: “Militia Charged With Plotting to Murder Officers“. Digging down into the news I could read the following:

In an indictment against the nine unsealed on Monday, the Justice Department said they were part of a group of apocalyptic Christian militants who were plotting to kill law enforcement officers in hopes of inciting an anti-government uprising, the latest in a recent surge in right-wing militia activity.

Going by the news piece above, what should you call this group of people? A “Militia” or a group of “Terrorists”? Since NYT chose to use a lose term “Militia” instead of “Terrorists” in their news article, let us have a look at what Princeton University, a prestigious institution of America,  says about a terrorist:

“A terrorist is a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities”.

Now look back into the NYT news piece to see how they described the “Militia” and if that matches with the definition of a terrorist –

  • part of a group of apocalyptic Christian militants (read from the definition – “uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities“)
  • who were plotting to kill law enforcement officers (read from the definition – “employs terror” as they were planning to kill the guardians of law and thus terrorizing the society)
  • in hopes of inciting an antigovernment uprising (read from the definition – “employs terror as a POLITICAL WEAPON“), the latest in a recent surge in right-wing militia activity“.
  • They also “organizes with other terrorists in small cells” as you can read from the report.

And what is a Militia? Wiki says

“The term militia (in English, pronounced as milisha) is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens[1] to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service.”

A “Militia” is something like Salwa Judum in India. And even such Militias can terrorize (like many accusations have risen against Salwa Judum since it’s formation). But even though there are clear definitions, NYT takes it lightly with the all-white, Christian “Militia”.

Evidently, if this was any other “militia” as such, particularly of Asian Muslims, the Western media would immediately tag them with terrorism, but when it comes to a Christian terrorist group, it is called a “Militia”. This is something like what went here in India when a Hindu terrorist group was caught. Many people declined to call them the terrorists. In the public eye, they were, at the most, fundamentalists, fanatics or extremists. Not the terrorists. As for the public, we associate terrorism with a certain group of people and no one else.

CNN article: Right-wing extremism may be on rise, report says

Info via a tweet from @flyyoufools

The ‘Trailer’ of 26/11

Dan Reed’s documentary on 26/11 terrorist attacks on Mumbai has been aired on Britain’s Channel 4 just a few days ago. The documentary has original CCTV footage, survivors and police accounts, telephonic conversations between the terrorists and their masterminds, and Kasab’s testimony.

“This is just a trailer,” the controller in Pakistan warns. “Wait till you see the rest of the film…”

Here are the links:

Part Ihttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7hTRozowjY
Part IIhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vButNJDHIUA
Part III http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFrpIk-h2Pc
Part IVhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQylElFV8iY
Part Vhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQjOAnQ4k0g

(Update: The YouTube links have been moved due to a copyright claim by Channel 4 and the video is now available at Desi Video Network.)

Thanks to Anupam for the links.

Indian Taliban back in action

The names change, from Bajrang Dal to Sri Rama Sena, but the radical Hindutva organizations continue to assault the countrymen in the name of ‘protecting Indian culture’. This time they attacked women. When I had written against such groups earlier in this blog, there were people protesting and saying that calling them Indian Taliban is too much. But just read the news quote given below and tell me how these Senas are any different from Taliban. Also tell me how come we are vocal against Taliban but so silent on such home-grown organizations.

The Sena activists accused the women of involving themselves in immoral activities, including consuming alcohol, dressing indecently, and mixing with youths of other faith”.

And don’t think that they would stop having fun now. The day when these organizations conduct their annual ritual of cultural protection is coming up. And yes, you guessed it right – the Valentines Day on February 14th. Last year, it was the turn of Bajrang Dal to clean up the culture. We got to either speak up against these groups or get ready to be Talibanized in the near future. Taliban too, started out with small scale operations.

Related posts: The Hindutva hypocrisy again

(Image courtesy: Times of India)

The distance from Taj to CST

The Mumbai terror attack has reaffirmed the fact that there are two faces of India. The common man’s India and the VIPs’ India. The thriving creamy layer has space everywhere and it’s opinion matters while the other India is nothing but some mere objects to use for power. Oh and I ‘m not talking about the political class yet, but the media.

The media reports on the Mumbai terror attacks make us feel like that the CST/VT shootout never happened. It was mentioned in the initial news reports, and then slowly pushed to the back bench. Taj and Oberoi had come in by that time. I can understand if it was because the fight in the Taj was the longest one in the whole terror episode. But even after the whole mess was over, little has been mentioned about the CST/VT shootout where 55 people were killed by the terrorists. But media loved Taj more. The images of Taj with flames filled the background of the news desks and TV channels everywhere. When 26/11 became India’s 9/11, the Taj was called as the Twin Towers of India. An icon of India, they said. The TV cameras couldn’t hold off it’s eyes from Taj even after the whole mess ended up. The common man and his CST was of no interest to them. Then came the elite – TV and movie stars, high-profile writers – right infront of the camera and began recalling their nostalgic memories of the hotel. Shobha De was furious. So was Ratan Tata.

India’s elite and creamy layer have got the clear message – that they could be the next possible victims of a terror attack. It many not always be those people who travel in the packed trains carrying thousands of ordinary people. It may not always be those pan wallahs, or sabji vendors who get killed by a time bomb. And that fear has made the elite spoke like they never did. And I guess the government would listen to them now.

In an article titled “Hotel Taj : icon of whose India?“, Gnani Sankaran writes:

And the TV cameras did not go to the government run JJ hospital to find out who those 26 unidentified bodies were. Instead they were again invading the battered Taj to try in vain for a scoop shot of the dead bodies of the page 3 celebrities. In all probability, the unidentified bodies could be those of workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh migrating to Mumbai, arriving by train at CST without cell phones and pan cards to identify them. Even after 60 hours after the CST massacre, no channel has bothered to cover in detail what transpired there.

The so called justification for the hype the channels built around heritage site Taj falling down (CST is also a heritage site), is that Hotel Taj is where the rich and the powerful of India and the globe congregate. It is a symbol or icon of power of money and politics, not India. It is the icon of the financiers and swindlers of India. The Mumbai and India were built by the Aam Aadmis who passed through CST and Taj was the oasis of peace and privacy for those who wielded power over these mass of labouring classes. [ Hotel Taj : icon of whose India? ]

Meanwhile, V P Singh, a former prime minister of India, who was fighting cancer for a long time passed away and not many people have noticed it. The media did not cover the news with the due importance even after the terror attacks. They were after banking upon the emotions after the terror attacks.

Deepak Chopra on Mumbai Terror Attack

Deepak Chopra talks sense in Larry King show. Excerpts given below:

Chopra: And right now, one of the questions, you know, after I heard Barbara Starr talking about how coordinated this is, that there are militant groups that cross international boundaries, is who is financing this? Where is the money coming from? We have to ask very serious, honest questions. What role do we have in this? Are our petrodollars funding both sides of this war on terrorism? Why are we not asking the Saudis where that money is going that we give them? Is it going through this supply chain to Pakistan?

It’s not enough for Pakistan to condemn it. Pakistan should cooperate with India in uprooting this. They should be part of the surgery that is going to happen. It’s not enough for Indians to blame Pakistanis. Indians should actually ask the Pakistanis to help them.

And it’s not enough for us to worry about Westerners being killed and Americans being killed. Every life is precious over there. We have got to get rid of this idea that this is an American problem or a Western problem. It’s a global problem, and we need a global solution, and we need the help of all the Muslims, 25 percent of the world’s population, to help us uproot this problem.

King: What does India immediately do?

Chopra: India at this moment has to contain any reactive violence, which is very likely and possible. So India has to condemn that by not blaming local Muslims. They have to identify the exact groups.

And the world has to be very careful that they don’t go after the wrong people. Because if you go after the wrong people, you convert moderates into extremists. It happens every time, and retribution against innocent people just because they have the same religion actually aggravates and perpetuates the problem. [Chopra: Attack prompts tough questions]

(via email from Jayswami. Image via CNN.com)

Mumbai Terror Attack – Some thoughts

Mumbai Terror Attacks

After watching all the gunfires, blood, gore and fire in Mumbai through live TV streaming, I went to sleep today by 4 in the morning. By the time I woke up, more than 100 people were killed and 200 injured (reportedly, 125 people killed as of now including 14 policemen and left 327 injured). The financial capital of India was taken under control by a group of terrorists. The fight was and is on. More than 24 hours passed and our police and army is still fighting with terrorists.

The attack seems to be planned and executed well, and it doesn’t look like it is done all alone by a home-grown terrorist outfit. Seeing the kind of massive ammunition and logistics they have (remember, they are still fighting us even after 24 hours), there must be some strong support from outside. Could it be global terrorist outfits like Al-Qaeda? Or is it the terrorist outfits rooted in our neighborhood Pakistan (and possibly supported by home-grown terrorists here)? Nobody has the answer yet, but the interesting thing is that the Pakistan’s foreign minister is on a 4-day visit to India from yesterday. So the attack could also be seen as an attempt to worsen the relationship between India and Pakistan.

Then I saw our Prime Minister’s face in the channels and by the time he opened up his mouth to “talk tough on terrorism“, I changed the channel as I was not in a mood to hear comedy. If these terrorists could take control of an entire city and kill more than 100 people and still fighting with the army, what kind of security do this country offer to it’s citizens? In India, only politicians and bureaucrats are sacred and valued, not the ordinary people who get killed in such terror acts. Oh, on that note, let me add, I really had wished (I know it’s a cruel wish) that a couple of our politicians were killed in one of these terror attacks, because it seems that only then the government would wake up.

It was a horrible scene to watch the Taj burn. And it took some time for the firefighters to reach to the spot. I’m just wondering, do we have any aerial firefighting method or was that option not feasible at the time? We spend money on so many feel-good projects, how about making our lives secure and feel-good? Is our government going to listen?

On the other hand, there are people who use this chance to spit venom on certain communities. The first thing that a colleague friend said in the morning was “I told you, all Muslims are terrorists“. Such blatant generalizations would only help to worsen the situation and cause unnecessary tension at the wrong time. I asked him if any Muslim was spared from the attacks or if only members of a particular religious community were killed. Well, it is better to ignore such people, but you can’t help just watching them spread hatred at this crucial hour.

My heart goes out to those who have been killed and their families. My salutes to the brave men who fought against the terrorists and those who have been killed in the process – Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and additional commissioner Ashok Kamte. We can also not forget the service of the Firefighters, Police, Anti Terrorist Squad, National Security Guards, Army, the people who helped and still helping the helpers, those who are donating blood, those who are helping in every way they can. We should also appreciate the journalists, particularly the TV channels like NDTV and IBN covering all the events from several parts of the city, giving continued updates.

India is indeed incredible. And our government can perhaps change the tourism slogan to “Terrorist Devo Bhava“. You are welcome here fellow terrorists; please do come and bless us with your bullets.

(Image courtesy: nytimes.com)

From Goondaism to Terrorism

Whenever the bomb blasts, terrorist attacks and religious riots have made their way to the news headlines, Malayalees believed that nothing as such would happen in their part of the world. We always thought that such things happen because of the lack of education and since we have 100% literacy in Keralam, nothing will happen here. But this comfort zone has been busted with the news of two terrorists from Keralam killed in Kashmir.

This news and the investigation followed have brought out some terrible truth. That the state has become a major recruitment center for terrorists of the border. The newly recruited terrorists were taken for training in Pakistan and then later get ‘appointed‘ in Kashmir to fight the Indian Army. What is more interesting is the reason that attracted the Malayali youth to terrorism. One of the dead terrorists was a goonda prior to joining the terrorist group. Varghese Joseph, a born Christian who later converted to Islam, was a member of the notorious gang of Thammanam Shaji, a notorious gang leader. The investigative agencies say that Shaji has helped recruiting many youngsters to the terrorist groups. These goondas do not have any religious motive other than the financial gains. So they join the terrorist groups and they get benefits – motor vehicles and a monthly allowance. This money comes from the terrorist groups like Lashkar-E-Toiba.

So goondas turn to terrorism, but what leads the youngsters to goondaism? It is their penchant for easy-money. I can quote an example here. I remember the time when my neighbor was building his house. There was this young boy, not more than 18 years old, who came to do the masonry. You could hear him use the swear words aloud and that little fellow used to scold the older women in the team. Everybody had noticed him back then. By the time I saw him next, he had turned out to be the infamous pick-pocketer and small-time ganja dealer of the area. After a couple of years, I saw his photo in the newspaper. By this time he had become one of the most notorious goondas in the town. He and his gang mates were arrested for killing someone from the opposite group and their photo was in the news paper.
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