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गुरुवार, 5 जनवरी 2012

The Wahhabi Invasion

Saudi charities pump in huge funds through hawala channels to radicalise the Valley

 The famed Sufi tradition and spirit of Kashmiriyat in the Valley, already ravaged by decades of insurgency, faces a new challenge. Wahhabism, an austere, puritanical interpretation of Islam promoted by Saudi Arabia, is making deep inroads into Kashmir due to the efforts of the Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, which calls itself a religious and welfare organisation.

Swelling congregations flock to about 700 mosques that the organisation, which registered itself way back in 1958, has built across the Valley. Practically every village along the picturesque, poplar-lined, 60-km stretch northwest of Srinagar towards Gulmarg has one or more Ahl-e-Hadith-funded mosques. The new mosques and their attendant madrassas make for a contrasting picture with the hundreds of dilapidated mosques built over centuries in the age-old Sufi tradition. Unlike worshippers at the older Sufi shrines, Ahl-e-Hadith mosques are overtly more conservative: women wear burqas or at least a headscarf, while the men sport beards and don skull caps; their traditional salwars end just above the ankle in accordance with Wahhabi tenets.

Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, CPI(M) legislator
"Young Kashmiris are restive and disillusioned. To them, Ahl-e-Hadith is a new, more committed and determined option."
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, CPI(M) legislator
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police and Central intelligence officers say Ahl-e-Hadith's funding comes primarily from Saudi Arabia. Based on US intelligence, they believe that the House of Saud, rulers of Saudi Arabia, had in 2005 approved a $35-billion (Rs.1,75,000 crore) plan to build mosques and madrassas in South Asia. "Wahhabi groups across Jammu and Kashmir were beneficiaries of this largesse," says a senior police officer.

Intelligence sources say Saudi charities and private donors route zakat (charity) money to J&K through illegal hawala channels. It increases during the Eid season. Whenever mosque managements are questioned about it, their explanation is that it is donation or goat-skin money. All organisations registered under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976, have to submit their annual balance sheets to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). "Not one organisation registered under the FCRA in J&K accounted for money coming in from Saudi Arabia," says a senior MHA official. However, there is no way to keep track of funds received by organisations that are not registered with MHA. Most of the organisations, which have contributed to the growth of Wahhabi and Ahl-e-Hadith movements in Kashmir, are not registered.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau admit that they are aware of the large-scale illegal funding, but add that they cannot do much due to the sensitive internal situation. "We have taken up the issue several times with the state police but nobody wants to get into it. It suits them to ignore it," claim sources.
Paramedics at a diagnostic centre run by the Jamiatahl-e-Hadith in Barbarshah, Srinagar.
Paramedics at a diagnostic centre run by the Jamiatahl-e-Hadith in Barbarshah, Srinagar.
Admitting massive cash inflows to the Valley, a senior state police officer says that the bulk of the illegal funds meant for Wahhabi groups and other hardline factions are physically transferred across the Line of Control and and at the trading station in Uri in the form of hard currency-both real and fake Indian currency notes-taking advantage of the barter trade being permitted between J&K and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. "Checks by customs officers are at best cursory. There are no X-ray machines and other standard international border control equipment. The army merely observes the goings-on," he says. The officer adds that it is impossible to quantify the smuggled funds and that no agency-Central or state-has made any effort to do so. What concerns police and intelligence officials more is the possibility of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen militants relying on Ahl-e-Hadith members to provide them hideouts. "Indoctrinated Wahhabis are the least likely to turn in Islamist militants to the police," says a senior intelligence official.

Mehbooba Mufti
"A knee-jerk response could be dangerous. The organisation is doing a lot of good work and has a considerable following."
Mehbooba Mufti, People's Democratic Party chief
Scarcely visible a decade and a half ago, Ahl-e-Hadith now claims over 15 lakh members, over 16 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir's Muslims. Besides the 700 mosques and madrassas it built, Ahl-e-Hadith is believed to have funded 150 schools, several colleges, orphanages, clinics and medical diagnostic centres. It has also proposed a Rs.200-crore Islamic university, Transworld Muslim University (TWMU), in Hyderpora, Srinagar, affiliated to leading Saudi institutions. The proposal was referred to a select committee after state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz opposed it in the Legislative Council on October 9, 2010. TWMU is planned as a multi-disciplinary institution with a stated mission to "facilitate a new generation of leaders in medicine, science, technology and religion based on the Shariahâ". Ahl-e-Hadith is already engaged in setting up key faculties within its existing institutions across Srinagar. Accepting responsibility for halting the proposal, Soz was reticent about his reasons for refusing permission, since the proposal was cleared in February 2008 by then Congress Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Official sources claimed it was blocked, following intervention by J&K Governor N.N. Vohra on the advice of security agencies. Both the ruling National Conference and the Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) had supported the bill. PDP head Mehbooba Mufti cautions that any decision to scuttle the university must be preceded by a thorough investigation into Ahl-e-Hadith's sources of finance. "A knee-jerk response could be dangerous. After all, the organisation is doing a lot of good work and has a considerable following," she says.

Wahhabi codes run counter to the age-old Sufi tradition.
  • Wahhabis forbid invoking names of prophets or 'pirs'; Shrines are viewed as 'deviant' and forbidden.
  • Stringent dress codes are prescribed for both men and women. Men must grow beards, wear a prayer cap and keep trousers just above their ankels; women must observe purdah.
  • Music and dance, even loud laughter and demonstrative weeping at funerals, is actively discouraged.
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other stimulants are prohibited.
  • Women are dissuaded from working except where their families are in financial distress.
  • Gender segregation is actively enforced. Men and women are discouraged from socialising in public forums.
The organisation's rapid proliferation and increasing popularity among youth is making Kashmir's predominantly Sufi-Hanafi community anxious. "Opportunities for better education and secure future draw young Kashmiris for whom Ahl-e-Hadith represents a new, untested alternative," says CPI(M) legislator Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami. The conservative Jamaat-e-Islami, too, is nervous at the prospect of ceding political ground. Ahl-e-Hadith's feisty General Secretary Abdul Rehman Bhat, 65, insists, "Delhi is unwittingly playing into the hands of separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who are opposed to our university." Hurriyat leaders Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq belatedly voiced support for the university in a joint statement in November. Non-committal on the Wahhabi proliferation, Geelani says the greatest threat to Kashmiriyat is from "the occupation forces deployed by India". But Tarigami says Ahl-e-Hadith is contrary to the Jamaat's ideological framework: "The Jamaat- e-Islami leadership perceives a dilution in their own brand value."The Jammu and Kashmir Peace Foundation (JKPF), a Hanafi organisation devoted to reviving historic Sufi shrines, believes that a sinister process of "fundamentalist indoctrination" is under way in Wahhabi madrassas and schools. Based on a district-wise count, JKPF's Chairman Fayaz Ahmad Bhatt, 40, says nearly 7,000 mosques, including 911 in Srinagar, preach the orthodox Wahhabi brand of Islam. Kashmir's non-Muslim minority, too, views the Wahhabi ingress as a "conspiracy to Talibanise Kashmir". "The Taliban had also sprung from Pakistani madrassas funded by the Wahhabis," says former Kashmir University professor Kashi Nath Pandita.
Ahl-e-Hadith leaders vigorously deny all links to Islamist extremist groups. "We are more liberal than those that criticise us," says Bhat. He points out that former Ahl-e-Hadith president Maulana Showkat Ahmad Shah was assassinated by Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen militants outside a mosque in Srinagar's Maisuma locality on April 8 because he opposed extremism.
Bhat talks about the Ahl-e-Hadith-run English coaching institute for adolescent girls just above his Barbarshah, Srinagar, office and the diagnostic facility and pharmacy on the floor below that offers services at concessional rates. "No one is turned away, not even CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) jawans,: he says. He also points to the Salafia Muslim Institute, the co-educational school with 800 children on Srinagar's airport road in Parraypora. "We get strict about scarves for girls only after Class VI," says Principal Mufti Altaf. Students are segregated by gender after Class II.
Ahl-e-Hadith has two registered charities that are eligible to receive foreign funding under FCRA. But the organisation denies receiving any Saudi money after 1996. Bhat, however, admits there are grants and scholarships for students to go for studies in Jeddah. He claims that the money spent on building new mosques and schools is raised via zakat. The total annual collection from all 700 mosques Ahl-e-Hadith claims to run across the state is around Rs.2.5 crore. Even if one were to accept Bhat's claim that it costs them only Rs.10 lakh to build a new mosque, the organisation would have ended up spending much more in building the 350 new mosques it has since 2004 than what it gathered through zakat.
Mehbooba is not overly worried about the Wahhabis because she believes Kashmiris would never surrender their inherent freedom so easily. "Sufism is not merely a religious belief but a way of life. Women here did not take to the burqa even when militancy was at its peak," she says. Her confidence is cold comfort, given the rapid growth of the Ahl-e-Hadith's influence.

- Asit Jolly With Bhavna Vij-Aurora
Source: India Today.
Read original article here:

सोमवार, 12 दिसंबर 2011

Hinduism- What They Said

"Hinduism and Buddhism offer much more sophisticated worldviews (or philosophies) and I see nothing wrong with these religions."
---Richard Dawkins 
"Religious faith in the case of the Hindus has never been allowed to run counter to scientific laws, moreover the former is never made a condition for the knowledge they teach, but there are always scrupulously careful to take into consideration the possibility that by reason both the agnostic and atheist may attain truth in their own way. Such tolerance may be surprising to religious believers in the West, but it is an integral part of Vedantic belief."
---Romain Rolland 
"A millennium before Europeans were willing to divest themselves of the Biblical idea that the world was a few thousand years old, the Mayans were thinking of millions and the Hindus billions."
---Carl Sagan 
"Land of religions, cradle of human race, birthplace of human speach, grandmother of leagacy, great grandmother of tradition. The land that all men desire to see and having seen once even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the globe combined.
It is a good and gentle religion, but inconvenient."
---Mark Twain

गुरुवार, 8 दिसंबर 2011

60 Hindus Forced to 'Become Muslims'

War hero testifies against Sayedee

Resuming his deposition yesterday, Ruhul Amin Nabin told the International Crimes Tribunal that Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee and other collaborators had compelled 60 Hindus to convert to Islam during the Liberation War in Pirojpur. He said they also helped the Pakistani army rape several women in 1971.
Freedom fighter Nabin, who was 21 years old at the time, said some of the Hindus of Parer Haat area, forced to convert, fled to India as they were unable to deal with the humiliation. They, however, returned after the liberation of Bangladesh and followed their own religion, he said.
Now 61, Nabin began his deposition Wednesday and resumed and completed giving his testimony yesterday. He is the second prosecution witness to testify against Sayedee, who has been charged with crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 war.
Detained Sayedee, 71, was present in the dock of the tribunal during the testimony.
A three-judge tribunal led by its Chairman Justice Nizamul Huq recorded the testimony of Nabin. It fixed December 11 for cross-examination of Ruhul Amin Nabin and Mahabubul Alam Hawlader, who completed his deposition Wednesday. There are 66 more prosecution witnesses yet to testify in the case.
Nabin yesterday narrated how during the Liberation War Sayedee helped the Pakistani occupation forces loot valuables from Awami League activists, freedom fighters and the Hindu community in Pirojpur.
The Pakistani occupation forces went to Pirojpur district on May 3, 1971. Around 52 members of the force arrived in 26 rickshaws at Parer Haat area of Pirojpur on May 7, Nabin told the court, a fact which supports the statement of Hawlader made a day before.
Sekandar Ali Shikder, Danesh Ali Mollah, Mawlana Mosleh Uddin and Sayedee, among other collaborators, welcomed the Pakistani force led by one Cap Ejaz. Fluent Urdu speaker Sayedee managed to form a close and friendly relationship with the Pakistani occupation forces, Nabin said, echoing witness Hawlader's statement made on Wednesday.
With the help of collaborators, the Pakistani force looted over 50 houses and shops in the area, including the shop of a local businessman Makhan who had around 20kg of gold (22-sher) and silver jewellery buried under his shop.
They looted eight more houses in Pirojpur's Badura Chithalia village the following day and torched them, he said.
“On a Thursday sometime in mid-June, I took a boat to Parer Haat to gather rations for freedom fighters…It was a haat day [weekly bazaar]…I stood in front of Masud's store and observed the atmosphere of the surrounding area,” Nabin said.
It was then that he saw Sayedee in the distance. “He was wearing a panjabi and lungi,” said Nabin, adding, “He carried a corrugated iron sheet in one hand, and brass utensils in a wooden basket on his head.”
Nabin watched Sayedee, then known as Delwar Hossain Shikder, make his way to a shop, which used to be known as “Panch Tahabil”.
He directed passerby Moulvi Nurul Haque's attention towards Sayedee and said, “See, Delwar Saheb is taking away the loot.”
Nabin, who carried a revolver then, turned angry and told Nurul Haque, “I will shoot this robber right now!”
“Nurul Haque stopped me and said if I created a scene the Pakistani occupation forces would torch the remaining houses too and commit genocide.”
Nabin then made his way towards another shop in the bazaar area where he learnt from locals that Madan Saha's shop had been looted. He then saw Sayedee appear with five men. They began demolishing Madan Saha's shop.
The looted goods were then taken to Sayedee's father-in-law's house in the area, Nabin said.
According to Nabin, the collaborators took over two shops in Parer Haat to store the booty. Sayedee was in charge of the shops, Nabin said.
Nabin told the court that during their stay in Parer Haat the Pakistani occupation forces raped a number of girls with the help of the collaborators.
The collaborators also forced 50 to 60 Hindus to convert to Islam. The victims included Rony Saha, Makhan Saha, Dr Ganesh Chandra, Dr Sudhir Chandra Roy, Gouranga and Ajit Chandra Roy, he added.
“Everyday, they were taken to mosques and forced to pray five times. They were also forced to learn two to four suras [verses of the holy Quran] and were provided with materials for prayers.”
Unable to accept the insult, many of them escaped to India, he added.
On June 21, 1971, Nabin along with a number of freedom fighters went to India to receive guerrilla training. On his return, he took part in armed warfare against the Pakistani occupation forces, Nabin said.
Nabin, along with his fellow freedom fighters, returned to Parer Haat on December 18. The freedom fighters then searched different houses to get hold of the collaborators.
While some were arrested, identified collaborators like Danesh Ali, Maulana Mosleh Uddin and Sayedee could not be apprehended, he said. “We came to know that they had fled,” Nabin told the court.
Some looted goods were recovered from the houses of the collaborators. They were handed back to their original owners.
On behalf of the freedom fighters and the victims of the atrocities committed during the Liberation War by the Pakistani occupation forces, Nabin pleaded for justice.


शनिवार, 26 नवंबर 2011

NDTV Juggles Funds, Shares Abroad, Avoids Tax

NDTV, through its foreign subsidiaries, is suspected to be indulging in gross violations of Indian tax and corporate laws. NDTV Network Plc, UK was set up in November 2006. Its balance sheets were not filed in India. This company has raised and invested huge sums of money in its subsidiaries, NDTV Imagine (now sold), NDTV Lifestyle, NDTV Labs, NDTV Convergence and NGEN Media Services. The main activity of the company seems to be that of buying shares, as detailed later. Even now, most of the deals being struck by NDTV are being transacted through this UK subsidiary, with no money seemingly coming to India by way of tax.

NDTV India group raised funds worth Rs 804.6 cr between April 2008 and September 2009 out of a total of about Rs 982.2 cr through foreign sources, primarily through its subsidiaries in UK and Netherlands.
NDTV Network Plc is registered in the UK, and its address — Seventh Floor, 90 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6XX — is an "accommodation address". The address also has Olswang Solicitors in the same premises. Olswang Cosec Ltd is Plc's company secretary and represents many other companies. CoSec stands for company secretary. Companies like Olswang Holdings, Olswang LLP and others operate from the same address. Plc does not have any employee.
But while the names of the directors of the UK subsidiary are available on UK's Companies House website and statements about its balance sheets, it is difficult to obtain information on the largest shareholder, NDTV BV as it is in Dutch. The only thing known about BV is that it is a subsidiary of NDTV India.

The accounts of these subsidiary companies were not attached with NDTV's balance sheet/annual report of 2006-07. It claimed exemption which was not available to it on the date of signing the annual report. This is required by Section 212(8) of the Companies Act 1956. The balance sheet was signed on 22 May 2007, and the company made an application to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on 24 May 2007 for exemption in relation to nine subsidiaries, including overseas subsidiaries. So NDTV presumed it would get the exemption on the date of signing of accounts, at a time when it had not even applied to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The exemption was granted on 8 June 2007. The MCA overlooked the lapse. The Registrar of Companies too failed to penalise the NDTV for this offence.
To trace the financial jugglery involved in the whole process light must be shed on how these companies have been operating. In 2006-07, New Delhi Television Limited set up a legal entity in the Netherlands under the name NDTV BV, which in turn set up the NDTV Network Plc in the UK. The Indian company invested around Rs 57.45 lakh in the shares of NDTV Networks BV, thus making it its 100% subsidiary. NDTV BV, in turn, set up Plc as an indirect subsidiary.

Even now, most of the deals being struck by NDTV are being transacted through their UK subsidiary, with no money seemingly coming to India by way of tax.

NDTV Networks BV invested Rs 43.58 lakh in the shares of NDTV Network Plc UK, thereby making NDTV Network Plc UK a subsidiary of NDTV Networks BV, Netherlands, which, in turn, is wholly owned by the Indian company. Thus the Indian company is also the owner of the fellow subsidiary, i.e. the UK company through channel holding and NDTV admits NDTV Network Plc as an indirect subsidiary.
In 2007, NDTV promoted and set up as its subsidiaries five companies in India: NDTV Imagine, NDTV Lifestyle, NDTV Labs, NDTV Convergence and NGEN Media Services. Eventually these were made subsidiaries of the UK company. Of these five, NGEN is a 50:50 joint venture with Genpack.
NDTV also owns NDTV News Ltd, Value Labs and Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Malaysia.
In 2006-7, the Indian company also raised for working capital term loans to the tune of Rs 175 million. Stock options (ESOP) were also given to employees at concessional valuation when compared to the valuations made for raising capital overseas in the UK company from undisclosed sources. But, as mentioned earlier, NDTV's balance sheet/annual report of 2006-07 did not attach the accounts of these subsidiary companies. Was this done to avoid exposure in India of the financial jugglery in the accounts of the subsidiary companies, namely NDTV Network Plc UK and NDTV Networks BV, Netherlands?
According to the financial statements of the year ending 31 March 2008, "Shareholders agreement dated 23 May 2008 was entered into by NDTV, along with its subsidiaries NDTV BV, NDTV Networks BV, NDTV Networks International Holdings BV and NDTV Networks Plc with NBC Universal Inc and one of its affiliates Universal Studios International BV ('NBCU'), to divest to the NBCU affiliate a 26% effective indirect stake (on a fully diluted basis) in the Company through NDTV Networks International Holdings BV (a Netherlands based subsidiary of NDTV Networks BV) The said stake is divested at a price of US$ 150 million The agreement also contemplates that NBCU will be granted an option to acquire an additional effective indirect stake of upto 24% in the Company through NDTV Networks International Holdings BV in the third year of the joint venture at the then fair market value of the shares, subject to receipt of all necessary consents and approvals"
NDTV India further borrowed a substantial amount of money to fund its fixed assets in India.
The UK subsidiary also raised $100 million by issuing convertible bonds through private placements. NDTV's annual report of 2007-08, under the category of "contingent liabilities not provided in respect of" section, Page 67, says, "During the year, NDTV Network Plc (NNPLC) has raised funds by issuing $100 million convertible bonds due 2012. In connection with this, the company has given an undertaking to provide a corporate guarantee for and on behalf of NNPLC, as and when required. The estimated potential dilution on conversion will be between 20% to 30%." The entities to whom the private placement was made is not known.
In October 2009, NDTV announced a buyback of the 26% shares held by NBCU. In December 2009, New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) informed the BSE that the company had entered into a conditional agreement with Turner Asia Pacific Ventures, Inc. (TAPV) for the sale of most of its indirect stakes in NDTV Imagine Ltd (Imagine), which was held through its indirect subsidiary NDTV Networks Plc, UK. The total transaction size is $117 million and involves a sale of 76% of NDTV Imagine for a consideration of $67 million, together with the subscription of fresh shares in Imagine by TAPV for $50 million. Prior to the issuance of primary shares to TAPV, NDTV Networks Plc will retain a stake of 5% in Imagine. The transaction is subject to receipt of an approval from the board of Time Warner Inc (the parent of TAPV), and from regulatory authorities.
NDTV Network Plc, according to the annual report of the NDTV group for 2008-09, has invested a little over Rs 400 cr in its subsidiaries: Rs 383.43 cr in NDTV Imagine, Rs 14.64 cr in NDTV Convergence and Rs 29 cr in NDTV Lifestyle. The parties involved in these investments are not known. Moreover, on at least two occasions in 2009, the UK subsidiary, which holds a major stake in NDTV Imagine, bought shares of NDTV Imagine at astonishing valuations, as given below.
According to Form 2 filed by the company for Return on Allotment, on 7 July 2009, Plc bought 13,64,208 equity shares of NDTV Imagine at a price of Rs 776 per share (face value of Rs 10, premium of Rs 766) and raised Rs 105.98 cr. There is no information available in the public sphere on how these valuations were arrived at and whether a foreign agency was involved in valuing the shares of NDTV Imagine at such high prices. Interestingly, on the same day, the market value of NDTV shares was Rs 126 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange. This means that the shares were bought by the British subsidiary at more than six times the value of the parent company shares. Similarly, Form 2 filed for Return on Allotment on 3 December shows that the British subsidiary once again bought 920,632 shares of NDTV Imagine at Rs 788 a share, when the market value of NDTV shares were Rs 139. The total amount raised including premium was Rs 72.57 cr.

Mention must also be made of a November 2010 report that says US based Scripps Networks is acquiring 69% stakes in NDTV Lifestyle for $55 million. NDTV Lifestyle is held by NDTV Network Plc, UK. Take another November 2010 report, which says, shares of NDTV shot up by over 7% after the company announced that NDTV Networks Plc, has repurchased the $100 million coupon bonds due 2012.
Is wealth being created and retained abroad without any benefit to NDTV shareholders?

बुधवार, 23 नवंबर 2011

Homing In On Romeo Jihad

Govt asks police to probe inter-faith love marriages in last 3 yrs 
Order from DGP office wants all instances of kidnapping, eloping and marriage between Hindu or Muslim boys and girls of other faiths to check forced conversions

By Gitesh Shelke
Posted On Monday, November 21, 2011
In what appears to be based on reported incidences of love jihad or Romeo jihad in the state — Muslim youth marrying non-Muslim girls or Hindu youth marrying non-Hindu girls only to convert them to their faith and then ditching them — and the Kerala High Court’s cognisance of the existence of this new social evil, the office of state Director General of Police has issued an order asking police to probe all marriages between such parties that have taken place in the past three years.

Nearly nine months ago, Pune rural police had received a complaint alleging that a Muslim organisation based in Khed on the Pune-Nasik highway was offering Rs 3 lakh to Muslim youth who marry non-Muslim girls with the latter’s consent.

While the police investigation didn’t throw up anything substantial, the complaint had alleged that non-Muslim girls were being trapped with false promises of love and marriage by Muslim youth. After convincing them to convert to Islam for the sake of marriage, the youth abandoned them to their own fate.

The DGP office order expects all incidents of elopement, kidnapping, forced marriages and other exploitations involving Muslim or Hindu men and women of other faiths are to be probed by the police, if there are any.

According to the order, police stations across the state should locate such couples where a non-Muslim/Hindu girl had married a Muslim/Hindu man after the man had professed his love for her, or in which the non-Muslim/Hindu girl had eloped with a Muslim/Himdu boy and had got married.

There are also chances of kidnapping and forced marriages by Muslim/Hindu boys, in which cases the girl of another faith is forced to convert — a strategy that is suspected to have been developed by a section of fundamentalists to convert others to their faith.

‘Love Jihad’, also known as Romeo Jihad, is an alleged surreptitious activity under which young Muslim boys and men target college-going girls or single women from non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love. In India, this could well be working in the other way too, where Muslim girls are entrapped by Hindu youth.

Many Hindu and Christian organisations have demanded probes into such marriages where a non-Muslim girl has got married to a Muslim boy. Such incidents were first reported in Kerala and Karnataka following which state officials have taken serious steps and investigations were ordered in 2009 to decipher the truth behind such marriages.

However, Muslim organisations in these two states denied such incidents of forced marriages or that women are being allegedly trapped in love by Muslim boys to convert them to Islam. It is suspected that some Muslim organisations are funding such youths to indulge in such activities. The organisations are said to pay handsomely.

The state government in its order, issued by the DGP’s office, states that every police station must probe such marriages that have taken place in the recent past (within 2-3 years). The DGP office has demanded this information from police stations pertaining to such incidents, number of such marriages.

A state-level meeting has been called in Mumbai next week to discuss further steps to probe such incidents in the state. The DGP office will conduct a review study and a detailed report will be submitted to the state government.

A senior police officer with the city police commissionerate said police will try to locate such couples as there are directions to the effect from the state government. “I cannot comment more on the orders as the outcome of such a study will be out only after the state government prepares a detailed report,” he said.

Source: Pune Mirror
Courtesy : Neeraj Diwan

The Hijacking of Shivaji Maharaj By Vested Interests

Francois Gautier in DNA

               Marathas should not only be proud that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a Maratha, but they should also acknowledge that he has had a lasting influence on the Marathi psyche, which makes their people more nationalistic and self confident than those of many other Indian states.
               At the same time, Shivaji should be elevated to the status of a ‘national hero for modern India’, for he embodied all the qualities that are so badly needed in today’s Indian politicians: Shivaji was fearless and his courage was extraordinary. He was devoted to his own country, call it Bharat or Bhavani Bharati, or India. He was truly secular, never harming his enemies’ wives and children and though he was a devoted Hindu, he never destroyed a mosque.
              He was a great administrator; whatever he conquered, he saw to it that it was justly administered. He was absolutely free of corruption and cared little for his own comfort. He had great vision and wanted to unify India. Because of his sacrifice, India’s culture, spirituality and social fabric is better preserved from Mumbai to Kanyakumari.
There are a few who have tried to hijack Shivaji and bind him for their own purposes. One such is Marathi writer and activist Sanjay Sonavani, who wrote a piece in Lokmat on November 19, attacking the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism for building a shrine and a museum in Pune. First, the article is full of glaring errors: the Foundation has erected a shrine dedicated to Bhavani Bharati, not Shivaji; second, FACT is trying to build a museum of Indian history named after Shivaji and which honours him, but Shivaji’s history will only be a part of the museum.
                Sonavani attacks FACT on three counts: he says FACT is trying to make a god out of Shivaji; he objects to the fact that Shivaji is associated to Bharat Mata; and he says FACT is trying to link Shivaji to the Vedas. But FACT never said Shivaji was god, we only quoted Aurobindo Ghosh who wrote that he was a Vibhuti. A Vibhuti is not god but an instrument of god. Sri Aurobindo had also written that Napoleon was a Vibhuti and that he was the first one who had a vision of a unified Europe. Nobody ever protested that.
Then, as far as Shivaji’s connection, or non-connection with Mother India or Bharat Mata, there are two undisputed facts: that Shivaji was extremely devoted to his own mother, who played an important influence in his life; secondly that he was as devoted to his own country, and that he wanted to rid her of her enemies. If that is not love for Mother India, then what is? That Hindus have, since time immemorial, chosen to associate their country to the feminine element is highly laudable. The Romans had done the same: Patria.
                 I am a Frenchman brought up in the ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity and to me it is absolutely irrelevant what caste Shivaji belonged to, who his father or guru was. He was an extraordinary being. It matters not either, whether he related himself to the Vedas or any Hindu scriptures. I doubt it: he was a warrior who wanted to preserve his culture and protect his people. What is for sure is that he was a Hindu, as are a billion Hindus today, whether they are Marathas or Tamil. The theory of the Aryan invasion has been proved false by numerous recent discoveries, it has been opposed by every saint, whether Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; yet it is still used today by Christian missionaries, Marxist historians and Muslim scholars to divide India between South and North, Hindi and Dravidian, Brahmins and Shudras. Sanjay Sonavani plays into their hands.
                 Finally, the biggest enemies of Hindus are Hindus, not Muslims or Christians. India could never have been conquered if Hindus had not betrayed Hindus. The last great Hindu empire, Vijaynagar, which was so extraordinary that its history will have pride of place in FACT’s museum, could not have been razed by Muslims if the Lingayats had not betrayed their brothers and sisters. Shivaji’s most dangerous opponent was a Hindu, Jai Singh who served Aurangzeb. It is sad that even today Hindus are so divided, undermining each other and the few supporters of their great history and spirituality. It is also a great shame that in the town of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, one cannot find a single museum worth the name to honour his memory and the spiritual and martial inheritance he left behind him. FACT only wants to remedy to that
The writer is editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde and author of A New History of India


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