Decimation ‘As a Kashmiri, saw the warm, loving side of Indians at JNU, and they call JNU anti-national’

Students are today rising on their own, be it here or in France. This is the opportunity to focus on our real issues: fee hikes, employment, research funds being cut, caste and gender discrimination. As union members, we have a responsibility to steer these movements, or be left behind by them. The RSS will lose no chance to twist such movements. IIT Kharagpur students protested against the fee hike, and immediately, Giriraj Singh said: `Nine out of ten IIT students eat beef.' They defame a university and then use that to cut its funds.''

JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid was in town to address a public meeting along with union president Kanhaiya Kumar and other student leaders, just one in a series of meetings across the country to which these students have been invited. 

Shehla admits to being overwhelmed by the response the JNU incident generated all over. "Maybe this is because what happened in JNU resonated with the repression all over, where the moment you criticise the government, you are labelled anti-national. I got a call from an RSS member saying that the JNU events were an eye-opener for him; that after he heard Kanhaiya's, Umar Khalid's and my speeches, he left the RSS, and he was asking his RSS friends to hear them too.''

"Even in JNU, apolitical students were initially shocked by the turn of events, but they soon came out in support of us. Our politics are transparent, they know who we are. Till then, they would dismiss our talk about saffronisation of education as conspiracy theories. Suddenly, they realised it was true." Shehla, a Kashmiri, refused to talk about herself, but after much prodding, admitted that her identity had been targeted in the recent events. 

"I don't want to say anything about the Kashmir issue. I've been brought up in such a censored, violent environment, and my voice has never been heard. Indian and Pakistani diplomats meet in five star hotels to decide Kashmir's future, but where's the Kashmiri voice in all this? Has there ever been a process of open debate with us on this issue? Has our voice been taken seriously? Why then should I take a position in this atmosphere?" Interestingly, when she was voted to the JNUSU, most students didn't know she was a Kashmiri.

"In Kashmir, I've seen India as an oppressor. But in JNU, I saw a different face of Indians - caring and warm. And this is the university the government calls anti-national!" Shehla said there had always been differences between Kashmiris and non-Kashmiris at the NIT in Srinagar, but the police had never entered the campus until now."This is the BJP government's policy -- to destroy the autonomy of universities, appoint RSS puppets as vicechancellors who will follow orders, and militarise these centres, which are nonconformist by nature." 

The series of events that took place in JNU had one outcome - the decimation of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on the campus. "They've been exposed as goons who can only use the police to target their opponents. They've filed an FIR against one of the best professors, Nivedita Menon, whose classes are always packed to capacity. They don't have the capacity to debate," Shehla said. Finally, being an MPhil student at the Centre for Law and Governance in JNU, does she get time to study? "Yesterday, I presented my synopsis. I am carrying a book here that I have to finish reviewing. In JNU, we bring real life experiences to our studies, that's why it's the best," Shehla concluded. 

Source: Mumbai Mirror -- By Jyoti Punwani,

India on top in exporting beef

India retains its top spot as the world’s largest exporter of beef, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has extended its lead over the next highest exporter, Brazil. It must be noted, however, that the U.S. government classifies even buffalo meat as beef.

According to the data, India exported 2.4 million tonnes of beef and veal in FY2015, compared to 2 million tonnes by Brazil and 1.5 million by Australia. These three countries account for 58.7 per cent of all the beef exports in the world. India itself accounts for 23.5 per cent of global beef exports. This is up from a 20.8 per cent share last year.

Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows that most of India’s buffalo meat exports go to Asian countries — Asia receives more than 80 per cent, while Africa takes around 15 per cent. Within Asia, Vietnam is the largest recipient, at 45 per cent.

India’s buffalo meat exports have been growing at an average of nearly 14 per cent each year since 2011, and fetching India as much as $4.8 billion in 2014. Last year, India for the first time earned more from the export of buffalo meat than it did from Basmati rice.
Several databases, including the United Nations Food and Agricultural Outlook, show that meat consumption in India is increasing. However, the data also shows that beef consumption has been falling over the years, down -44.5 per cent in 2014 from the level it was in 2000. This fall in consumption has been taking place regardless of the political party in power. Chicken consumption, however, was up 31 per cent in that period.

Laws on cow slaughter

  • Fully banned
  • Andhra Pradesh, Telangana , Bihar, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand
  • Allowed with slaughter certificates
  • Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal
  • No ban
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala (animals above 10 years)​, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura

Cattle Slaughter, In Varying Degrees

State Variations: The Average Person From Nagaland Eats Half A Kilo Of Beef Per Month, While The Average Person From Punjab, Chhattisgarh And Himachal Pradesh Doesn’t Eat Any.
Read More »

The Meat Of The Matter

There Are Two Parts Of Food Habits That We Find People Always Have A Lot Of Interest In: Regional Differences, And Meat-Eating.
Read More »

Vegetarianism, tolerance and discrimination

"Where the executive is making intolerant orders and the courts are routinely upholding them"
Read more »

Updated: August 10, 2015 03:25 IST | TCA Sharad Raghavan
Source: The Hindu --

A call to oppose increasing military and trade ties with Israel

A statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee in India

Narendra Modi is all set to be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel.
This is what this “first” really means: closer military and trade ties with Israel.
Closer military ties with Israel make India complicit in Israel’s war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Israeli military industry, the largest industry in the country and perhaps the main prop of the national economy, is fully a part of the Israeli war machine that occupies Palestinian lands, makes Gaza an open air prison, and imposes apartheid policies on Palestinians.
India’s desire for closer military ties comes at a time when even Israel’s close supporters in the international community, are staying away from arms trade with Israel. Many countries such as the UK and France have declined to participate in the seventh annual Israel Defense expo that has just opened in Tel Aviv.
Closer trade ties with Israel means that India will flout a growing international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and help whitewash Brand Israel — by conducting business as usual with a country that does not respect international law.
Added to this, is the hypocrisy of pretending that closer ties with Israel, which is occupying Palestine in open violation of various UN resolutions, can be forged side by side with “continued support to the Palestinian cause”. The announcement of PM’s visit shows that the Indian government has forgotten what Gandhi, Nehru and India’s freedom movement said about Palestine. No wonder Israel’s Ambassador Daniel Carmon celebrates this loss of Indian official memory by saying “High level visits between both countries… are a natural ingredient of tightening relationship between Israel and India.”
We, as Indian citizens of conscience, protest this “tightening” relationship, and demand that the government put an end to military, trade and other ties with apartheid Israel.
Githa Hariharan, Sukumar Muralidharan, Prabir Purkayastha, Pushpamala N,
Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI)
The Palestine Solidarity Committee in India

Men, Migration and Pain of Homelessness – by M Tariq Ghazi

Mass migration is a human peculiarity. Large numbers of people have been moving from place to place for various reasons: natural calamities like famine and drought, floods and storms, earthquakes and landslides, in addition to man-made disasters like wars, massacres, genocides, economic blockades, social boycotts and exclusion of defenseless and voiceless communities, etc.

A little less than 1500 years ago Muslims, a minority in Makkah, the City of Peace, endured incessant physical torture, economic exclusion, social boycott by their own kith and kin. Many were forcibly evicted from their home and hearth, properties and businesses.

Finally they were welcomed by the people of a town that was destined to be known one day as the blessed City of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Reception of the Immigrants by the Ansar and experience of the Muhajirin in The Madinah remains an incident that was never again repeated in human history. The rest of the humanity was not as fortunate as the Muhajirin from Makkah.

Another unique feature of this mass migration was that the newcomers did not displace the local population, causing another human misery – a common occurrence throughout human existence.

History of calamities is long and painful. Macedonian monarch Alexander did not earn the title of ‘great’ without leaving a trail of massive devastation behind him. Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, Abu Abdullah As-Saffah and Abu Muslim Khorasani are notorious for organizing massacres of thousands of innocent people, a large number of them being scholars of great repute, including Sahabah and the men of succeeding generation.

Mongol chieftains Genghis and Hulagu completely destroyed the world’s most illustrious civilization causing immeasurable human tragedy. Spain’s crusadist rulers Ferdinand and Isabella and their crusadi Cardinal Ximénez de Cisneros and his cohort Archbishop Talavera have the dubious honor of masterminding the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Jews and displacing a far greater number of peaceful and productive people from flourishing cities of Andalusia.

They presided over a crusadist genocide of more than 50,000 Muslims in one day, on All Saints’ Day in 1570CE by murderous gangs, according to British historian Stanley Lane-Poole. After 1857 War of Independence, British general and bureaucrats massacred about 24,000 Muslim scholars, in addition to many more thousands of Indians in spite of the efforts of Hakim Ahsanullah Khan, (later Sir) Syed Ahmad and Debendranath Tagore.

The Second World War, primarily a conflict of economic interests among Europe’s colonialist nations, broke all previous records of reciprocal savagery ending in the death of an estimated 25 million combatants; the numbers of non-combatant “innocent civilian” casualties being abnormally higher.

The twentieth century, nicknamed the Century of Genocides, witnessed unprecedented massacres and genocides in every continent where an estimated total of more than 59 million innocent people died for no fault of theirs: the largest casualties being in Asia followed by Africa. These histories of satanic side of human nature displaced millions of people. The Second World War produced 12,000,000 refugees in Europe alone.

These cold facts are provided without emotions by historians who generally ignore human misery caused by forced displacement of people. Alexander headed an army of 100,000 when he launched an offensive war. Few of those troops who could survive a 12-year war could return to their homes and families, a vast majority had lost their identity in the Balkans, Greece, Anatolia, Egypt, the Levant, Iran, Iraq, Turk-arazi, Afghania.

In his 7-year campaign against the Achaemenid Empire Alexander demolished the Persian civilization, captured treasures of Darius III and let his troops plunder the city for several days, following which the Persian capital was put to fire. Nobody knows what happened to the dispersed survivors of that ill-fated city.

Those who had been wallowing in their wealth on the day before the battle were made paupers overnight. That was repeated in the Levant, Iraq, Afghania, and Turkarazi. History fails to record tales of that human misery.

Abu Mansur Abd al-Malik Tha‘labi (961-1038CE) clubbed Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, with Abu Harb, Abu Muslim Khorasani and Babak Khurrami in a group of four who massacred a minimum of 100,000 persons each. Umayyad governor of Iraq Hajjaj did not merely kill 100,000 persons, he destroyed 100,000 families. On the other hand, Abu Abdullah as-Saffah, meaning ‘Murderer’, who founded the Abbasid dynasty, and his agents-provocateur let a reign of terror loose against scions of the Bani Umayyah and others living in Iran and Khorasan.

Wanton massacres in every center of civilization run over by Genghis and Hulagu caused such disruption of life from Transoxania to Baghdad that millions of people fled town to jungles in search of a shelter that was not available. The Mongols did not claim to be civilized tribes. They were proud to be savage, yet modern lords of civilization are equally proud to make slavish dash to the descendants of Genghis to bow at the altar of inhumanity.

It is this era that prides in genocides – and wholesale displacement of millions – in such proportions that dwarf all the massacres combined from the time Abel was assassinated until 31 December 1900.
Human history has more instances of displacing rather than rehabilitation of the dispossessed. In an ethnic cleansing move Stalin forcibly moved 1.5 million people, mostly Turk Muslims, to Siberian wasteland.

Half century later his successors caused displacement of more than six million Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks during the invasion of Afghanistan. In 1948 the United Nations uprooted 725,000 Palestinians who were turned refugees in their own homeland. Khmer Rouge potentate Pol Pot killed or displaced 2.5 million of his own Cambodian people.

In Algerian struggle for independence French troops killed a million people, while lives of a similar number was claimed by the civil strife following the annulment of an election result. In African country of Burundi ethnic Hutus massacred up to 200,000 Tutsis.

The British plan for independence of South Asia uprooted 10 million people, with one million of them being massacred. US invasion of Iraq dislocated two million Iraqis, while three million Syrians have been dislodged as a result of a foreign-funded violent rebellion and retaliation by the regime.
All these massacres and genocides, except the war-related casualties during Alexander’s campaign, occurred after the resettlement of the Muhajirin in the Madinah.

After the Second World War the United States provided assistance to rebuild totally shattered European economies, but the aid was conditional against spread of communism, another European ideology that opposed capitalism and private industrialism.

On the contrary the Ansar had not demanded anything in return.

In none of these and similar incidents the refugees or immigrants were offered such material assistance and moral support as to regain their previous economic and social stature, or even improve it within a short time.

The Ansar of the Madinah stand out distinctively among all the peoples of the world of any era of history to provide assistance to the Muhajirin at a scale that the newcomers were able to forget the miseries and torment meted out by the pagan forces.

That was the Hijrah of the Ansar, no less significant than the Hijrah of those who were displaced by their relatives from their ancestral city of Makkah.

The first gesture of the Ansar was to accommodate the immigrants. They had opened their doors and arms to house all the Muhajirin and their families. They had numbered in thousands. They offered the newcomers everything they owned. The process of Mawakhat – Fraternization – was to make brothers and the Ansar took the Muhajirin as their own brothers and sisters. Although behavior of every Ansari was ideal, some of them set such astonishing examples that still have no parallel in history. 
Muhammad Tariq Ghazi is an eminent Indian journalist and scholar based in Canada. He served as Managing Editor of Saudi Gazette for several years.

Zionists have hijacked the Jewish religion

The Jews who are true to Torah are against Zionism.
Jewish religion has a history of thousands of years but Zionism is only a hundred year old.

A 10 minute long video which gives a quick and true introduction to Zionism.

The Jewish Rabbi interviewed by a Turkish Television

Tribal Barbarism In The Name Of Islam

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Dec 17, 2014

On December 16, 2014 a barbaric incident occurred in Peshawar. Seven terrorists of Tehrik-e-Taliban launched an attack on the Army Public School. The militants were clad in the uniform of the Frontier Corps and entered the school from the rear. They stormed the premises and held it in a nine-hour siege. During this time they moved from classroom to classroom, killing about 141 people, 132 of them students, and injuring hundreds.

This is undoubtedly an inhuman act. Killing innocent children is a crime so heinous that there is no word in the human dictionary to express its barbarity. What was the reason behind this attack? The TTP spokesperson said: “We took this extreme step as revenge. We will target every institution linked to the army unless they stop operations and extra-judicial killings of our detainees.” However, this is no justification for such attacks. It is like justifying a wrong by committing another wrong.

Revenge may be permissible, but strictly on one condition, that is, one should take revenge only from the person who has caused harm. Killing somebody else with the plea of taking revenge is the worst human crime. Both reason and religion completely disown this act.

One of the survivors of the attack narrated a very strange aspect of the incident. He said, “The militants first asked us to read the Kalima and then started firing indiscriminately.” By doing this, the perpetrators became witness against their own act. There is a very relevant verse in the Quran in this regard. It says: “If anyone kills a believer deliberately, his reward shall be eternal Hell.” (4:93) 

According to this verse, anyone who intentionally kills a believer will certainly go to Hell. The above report tells us that the militants killed those children knowing that they were believers. Thus, they confirmed that they were perpetrating an act which is without doubt punishable. The incident proves that these people have nothing to do with Islam.

This bloody incident has given a chance to Muslims, especially of this area, to reconsider the whole matter. Only one more event of this kind has been reported in the past. It was also carried out by Islamist terrorists in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia in 2004. Muslims must think why such events take place in the Muslim world, while these have never occurred in the non-Muslim world.

It is a fact that both Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan were formed in the name of Islam. But, the result was counterproductive as both became centres of un-Islamic activities. The reason is that both Pakistan and the Taliban were products of negative reactions, and not products of Islam in the true sense of the word. The saying, ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’, holds true for both. Reaction can never lead to a positive result. Anything that comes into existence as a result of hate culture can only lead to further hate and violence. This is what is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Condemnation of this incident is not enough. It requires reassessment. The event sends out only one message to Pakistan and Afghanistan: both the Pakistan ideology and the Taliban ideology have proved to be wrong. They must accept this fact and correct their way of thinking. People of this area should bring about reform in their culture and foster the culture of love. They should adopt the way of peace and abandon the path of violence.

The right message for both Pakistan and the Taliban is: Forget the past and rebuild the future. 

Out of six largest meat suppliers in India four are Hindus

A view of M.K.R Frozen Food Exports packaging centre.
By Muslim Mirror Special Correspondent ,
New Delhi, 4 Nov 2014 :Muslims are unnecessarily blamed maligned and targeted for excessive meat consumption while   the fact is that Christians and Jews are  the highest meat consumer communities. The world’s largest beef meat exporter country is Brazil followed by India,Australia, USA and UK.
When we see this matter  in an Indian perspective we would be surprised to know that out of six largest meat exporters of India four are Hindus.In spite of these  facts Muslims are  harassed and targeted and as beef eaters. In several cases they are beaten severely by Hindutva brigades and put behind bars by the  police. Many times communal riots took place only due to this blame game. These communal elements become more active during Eid ul Azha festival only to communalize the atmosphere.
But the same Hindutva brigades forget the Hindu animal sacrifice festivals which get media attention  world over  in which thousands of animals are killed ruthlessly.
A view of Gadhimai Hindu animal sacrifice ritual which was held in Nepal last month.
There’s a ritual of sacrificing cow which is still performed in many temples of Himachal Pradesh, Surprisingly  the high court had to intervene to stop those animal killings in the premises of Mandir specially at the Pashupatinath Temple
Recently in Nepal around a  quarter million animals were killed during Gadhimai  Hindu rituals festival .
A view of Gadhimai Hindu animal sacrifice ritual which was held in Nepal last month.
Ironically many Hindu Businessmen  are the largest beef suppliers of India.Following are the four   largest  beef exporters who are Hindus.
1) Al-Kabeer Exports Pvt. Ltd.
Its owner name: Mr. Shatish &Mr. Atul Sabharwal
Add: 92, Jolly makers, Chembur Mumbai 400021
2) Arabian Exports Pvt.Ltd.
Owner’s name: Mr.Sunil Kapoor
Add: Russian Mansions, Overseas, Mumbai 400001
3) M.K.R Frozen Food Exports Pvt. Ltd.
Owner’s name Mr. Madan Abott.
Add : MG road, Janpath, New Delhi 110001
4) P.M.L Industries Pvt. Ltd.
Owner’s name: Mr. A.S Bindra
Add : S.C.O 62-63 Sector -34-A, Chandigarh 160022
December 4, 2014
Source: Muslim Mirror 

Bradford synagogue saved by city's Muslims

Faced with closure a year ago, today Bradford's synagogue's future is bright, a model of cross-cultural co-operation

Helen, Friday 20 December 2013
Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques, and Rabi Rudi Leavor inside Bradford Synagogue. Photograph: Gary Calton
It was around this time last year that the trustees of Bradford's final remaining synagogue faced a tough choice. The roof of the Grade II-listed Moorish building was leaking; there was serious damage to the eastern wall, where the ark held the Torah scrolls; and there was no way the modest subscriptions paid annually by the temple's 45 members could cover the cost.

Rudi Leavor, the synagogue's 87-year-old chairman, reluctantly proposed the nuclear option: to sell the beautiful 132-year-old building, forcing the congregation to go 10 miles to Leeds to worship.

It was a terrible proposition, coming just after the city's only Orthodox synagogue had shut its doors in November 2012, unable to regularly gather 10 men for the Minyan, the quorum of 10 Jewish male adults required for certain religious obligations.

But rather than close, Bradford Reform Synagogue's future is brighter than ever after the intervention of Bradford's Muslim community, which according to the 2011 census outnumbers the city's Jews by 129,041 to 299.

A fundraising effort – led by the secretary of a nearby mosque, together with the owner of a popular curry house and a local textile magnate – has secured the long-term future of the synagogue and forged a friendship between Bradfordian followers of Islam and Judaism. All things being well, by Christmas the first tranche of £103,000 of lottery money will have reached the synagogue's bank account after some of Bradford's most influential Muslims helped Leavor and other Jews to mount a bid.

This burgeoning relationship is perhaps unexpected. When David Ward, one of the city's MPs, had the Liberal Democrat whip withdrawn over disparaging remarks about "the Jews" and Israel as an "apartheid state", he was publicly supported by many of his Muslim constituents. George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West and an open opponent of Israel, has organised convoys to Gaza and was praised by many of his voters after refusing to engage in a debate with an Israeli student at Oxford University earlier this year.

The cross-cultural co-operation is warmly welcomed by Leavor, who moved to the city from Berlin as a refugee in 1937. "It's fantastic," he said this week, in a joint interview with Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques. "Rudi is my new found big brother," said Karim, who is on the board at the central Westgate mosque a few hundred metres up the road from the synagogue. "It makes me proud that we can protect our neighbours and at the same time preserve an important part of Bradford's cultural heritage."

A fundraising effort led by the secretary of a nearby mosque has secured the long-term future of the synagogue. Photograph: Gary Calton
Now the two men get on so well that when Leavor goes on holiday he gives the synagogue keys to Karim, as well as the alarm code. They have begun what they hope will be a lasting tradition, whereby the Jewish community invites local Muslims and Christians to an oneg shabbat (Friday night dinner) and Muslims return the invitation for a Ramadan feast and Christians during the harvest festival. For the latter, Karim provided halal mince for the shepherd's pie.

At the start of December, Karim and other Muslims attended a hanukah service at the synagogue. Yet until a year ago, Karim didn't even realise the synagogue existed. "The Jewish community kept themselves to themselves," he said. Since the last race riots in the city in 2001, there has been no sign to mark the building. "We didn't want to be the cause of potential trouble, so we took the plaque down over 10 years ago," said Leavor, who said there was an incident a few years ago when one man left the synagogue wearing his kippah, or skull cap, and was spat at by two Pakistani men passing in a car.

The Muslims only started to help the synagogue by chance, explains Leavor. He had been approached by Zulficar Ali, owner of Bradford's popular Sweet Centre restaurant, which is just a few doors away from the synagogue. Ali wanted Leavor to help oppose a planning permission for yet another curry house in the area. Leavor agreed and together managed to block the application. Ali then introduced Leavor to a local social enterprise, the Carlisle Business Centre, which awards grants to worthy causes. They gave several hundred pounds for emergency roof repairs, and a local businessman, Khalid Pervais, donated a further £1,400.

It was only after getting involved that Karim learned that the mill where his father worked after emigrating from Pakistan in the 1960s was run by a Jewish descendent of Joseph Strauss, the rabbi who founded the synagogue in 1880.

Once all of the lottery funding comes through, together with £25,000 pledged by Bradford Council, work will begin to renovate the synagogue. The kitchen will be cleared up, disabled access will be improved and it will open for educational visits from school groups throughout the week. Karim is convinced such initiatives will help build tolerance. "You look at those who killed Lee Rigby, supposedly in the name of Islam. The question is: what makes these young men so radicalised, so angry, so intolerant? I really, really deeply, strongly feel that the way forward is interfaith dialogue – perhaps through food, perhaps through visiting a synagogue or other places of worship."


Heart in a Box - Amazing Heart Transplantation

Heat in a Box. Amazing heart transplantation technology - GE Focus Forward. Excellence of medical science.
Courtesy: Youtube

Richard Eaton: "It’s A Myth That Muslim Rulers Destroyed Thousands Of Temples"

The next time you are stuck in a conversation on whether India was ruled by oppressive Muslim kings or not, whether Hindus were converted en masse to Islam in medieval India, just ‘Richard Eaton’ the phenomenon and you will get your answers.

REVATI LAUL  | @revatilaul
TEHELKA, 2013-11-23 , Issue 47 Volume 10 

Richard Eaton is the Wikipedia, the Google and, many would argue, the last word on medieval and Islamic history in India. His bibliography is too vast to list, but the vast repertoire includes Islamic History As Global History, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204­-1760 and Social History of the Deccan, 1300­-1761: Eight Indian Lives. After the destruction of the Babri Masjid and a myriad speculative conversations around how many temples Muslim rulers had destroyed in India, Eaton decided to count. That became a book titled Temple Desecration and Muslim States in Medieval India. In other words, he is the best myth-buster there is and that’s precisely what he did to the audiences at THiNK. Eaton explains why it’s crucial today for us to get our history right. Especially on the period he writes about.

Richard Eaton
Historian at Arizona University - USA


You are now working on a magnum-opus history of medieval India, often construed as ‘the Muslim period’. Can you explain why the descriptor ‘Muslim period’ doesn’t work for you?
The book I’m working on now is called The Lion and the Lotus. The lion represents Persia and the Lotus, India. It’s the story of two intersecting megapolises — Persian and Sanskrit. The idea is to escape the trap of looking at this period as the endless and dreary chapter of Hindu-Muslim interaction, if not conflict, which is the conventional and historically wrong approach.

Can you explain why this is historically wrong?
Because religion is anachronistic. Contemporary evidence does not support the assumption that religion was the primary sign or indicator of cultural identity. That is a back projection from the 19th and 20th centuries, which is not justified by the evidence. For example, a word that was typically used to describe rulers who came from beyond the Khyber Pass was not ‘musalmaan’ but rather Turushka or Turk. An ethnic, not religious, identity. What’s fascinating is that the early Turkish rulers, the Ghaznavids, began as foreigners and conquerors; over time, they were behaving more and more like Rajput dynasties. Like Mahmud of Ghazni, for instance. He took the basic credo of Islam — “There is no god but Allah” — translated that into Sanskrit and put it down on the coinage to be freely minted in north-western India. It was an attempt to take Arabic words and structure them into Sanskrit vocabulary. This is a history of assimilation and not imposition. In Vijayanagar in the Deccan, you will find that most of the government buildings were built with arches and domes. You think you are inside a mosque but you are not. Vijayanagar had Hindu kings. This means that the aesthetic vision of Iran has seeped into India so much now that it’s accepted as normal.

What about the masses in this period from 1000 to 1800 AD, who were Hindu?
Okay, let’s talk about ordinary people. You find that languages like Telugu, Bengali, Kannada and Marathi have absorbed a huge amount of Persian vocabulary for everyday concerns. Take another example from the Vijayanagar empire in the south. I talk about south India because that’s where Islam did not have as long a penetration as in the north. The Vijayanagar kings had these long audience halls described as hundred-column and thousand-column palaces — hazaarsatoon. A concept that goes all the way back to Persepolis where you literally do have a hundred columns. You take the floor plan of Persepolis, Iran, in the 4th century BC, which is pre-Islamic, and place it side by side with the floor plan of a palace at Vijayanagar. It’s exactly the same. Neither was built by Muslims. Persepolis was built by Zoroastrians in the 3rd or 4th century BC. And Vijayanagar was built by Hindus in the 14th century AD. Neither has anything to do with religion, but both have everything to do with power. It’s like the present day spread of Coca Cola or Tuborg beer. It’s aspirational but not religious. And it all happens over a period of time.

Which is why you also don’t like the use of the word ‘conversions’ for this period? You say conversions suggest a pancake-like flip, which is not how Islam spread. What do you mean by that?
I hate the use of the word ‘conversions’. When I was studying the growth of Islam in Punjab, I came across a fascinating text on the Sial community. It traces their history from the 14th to the 19th century. If you look at the names of these people, you will find that the percentage of Arabic names increased gradually between the 14th and 19th centuries. In the early 14th century, they had no Arabic names. By the late 14th century, 5 percent had Arabic names. It’s not until the late 19th century that 100 percent had Arabic names. So, the identification with Islam is a gradual process because the name you give your child reflects your ethos and the cultural context in which you live. The same holds true when you look at the name assigned to god. In the 16th century, the words Muslims in Bengal used for god were Prabhu or Niranjan etc — Sanskrit or Bengali words. It’s not until the 19th century that the word Allah is used. In both Punjab and Bengal, the process of Islamisation is a gradual one. That’s why the word ‘conversion’ is misleading — it connotes a sudden and complete change. All your previous identities are thrown out. That’s not how it happens. When you talk about an entire society, you are talking about a very gradual, glacial experience.

You also examined at length the destruction of temples in this period. What did you find?
The temple discourse is huge in India and this is something that needs to be historicised. We need to look at the contemporary evidence. What do the inscriptions and contemporary chronicles say? What was so striking to me when I went into that project after the destruction of the Babri Masjid was that nobody had actually looked at the contemporary evidence. People were just saying all sorts of things about thousands of temples being destroyed by medieval Muslim kings. I looked at inscriptions, chronicles and foreign observers’ accounts from the 12th century up to the 18th century across South Asia to see what was destroyed and why. The big temples that were politically irrelevant were never harmed. Those that were politically relevant — patronised by an enemy king or a formerly loyal king who becomes a rebel — only those temples are wiped out. Because in the territory that is annexed to the State, all the property is considered to be under the protection of the State. The total number of temples that were destroyed across those six centuries was 80, not many thousands as is sometimes conjectured by various people. No one has contested that and I wrote that article 10 years ago.

Even the history of Aurangzeb, you say, is badly in need of rewriting.
Absolutely. Let’s start with his reputation for temple destruction. The temples that he destroyed were not those associated with enemy kings, but with Rajput individuals who were formerly loyal and then become rebellious. Aurangzeb also built more temples in Bengal than any other Mughal ruler.

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 47, Dated 23 November 2013)

The Guns & Godmen Of Ayodhya

With a large section of the sadhus in Ayodhya involved in serious crimes, the holy town is in a terrible mess. Brijesh Singh reports...

February 1992. In the midst of a political storm stirred by the Ram Mandir movement, Mahant Lal Das, the then chief priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple inside the Babri Masjid complex in Ayodhya was murdered. The search began for a new mahant, one with a clean reputation and free of any criminal charges or political motives. It was after much difficulty that Satyendra Das was appointed the new mahant.

The sadhu and his gun Mahant Janmejai Sharan accused of murdering his guru,
Photo: Hindustan Times
21 July 2013. In a land dispute, the supporters of two mahants — Bhavnath Das, national president of the Samajwadi Party’s Sant Sabha, and Hari Shankar Das Pehelwan, a BJP supporter — opened fire at each other. One man was killed and a dozen injured.

These two incidents, separated by two decades, represent the sinister reality of Ayodhya. With bloody clashes over land disputes, murder of mahants and rape of minors, the “holy city” has turned into a living hell. According to RKS Rathore, a former SSP of Ayodhya, many sadhus are involved in criminal activities.

Most of the 7,000 temples and maths in Ayodhya have become centres of crime. Over the past few years, more than 250 sadhus have been booked for crimes, including murder; some have been killed in police encounters. For instance, Mahant Harinarayan Das, who was killed in an encounter near Gonda last year, had several criminal charges against him, including murder. Mahant Ram Prakash Das was shot dead by the police in 1995.

According to police sources, more than 200 sadhus have been killed in Ayodhya in the past decade. A few days ago, the chief priest of the famous Hanuman Garhi temple, Hari Shankar Das, was shot six times by one of his disciples. Last year, the then mahant Ramesh Das and a priest alleged that some sadhus were planning to murder him. And a few days later, another priest of the temple, Gauri Shankar Das, alleged that his guru Ramagya Das’ killer, Mahant Tribhuvan Das, wanted him dead too.

The mahants of some temples are accused of illegally taking over the property of other temples, murdering their chief priests or expelling them by force. Many of Ayodhya’s “saints” are busy accumulating property, fighting legal battles and arranging for bodyguards.

“Tribhuvan Das, Hanuman Garhi temple’s former chief priest, was the first to allow criminals into Ayodhya in order to establish his supremacy in the area,” says Vairagi Sadhu Ramanand. “Das set up his own math after he was expelled from Hanuman Garhi because of his criminal activities.” Adds another priest of the Hanuman Garhi temple, Gauri Shankar Das, “Tribhuvan is behind the murder of more than 100 sadhus.”

Arjun Das, the mahant of Ramcharitmanas Bhavan, alleges that all of Tribhuvan’s disciples have criminal background. “He made many disciples when he was in jail. They came to Ayodhya looking for him after being released,” he says. “Tribhuvan’s temple became a haven for criminals from Bihar.” Despite being accused in a number of criminal cases, Tribhuvan is still thriving in Ayodhya.
The pioneer? Mahant Tribhuvan Das was allegedly the first sadhu to actively facilitate the entry of criminals into Ayodhya,
Photo: Pramod Singh
Several mahants of the Hanuman Garhi temple have been targets of violent attacks. In 1984, Hari Bhajan Das was shot dead by his own disciples. In 1992, Deen Bandhu Das was attacked several times and forced to relinquish his position and lead a life of anonymity in Ayodhya. In 1995, Sadhu Naveen Das and his four accomplices murdered Mahant Ramagya Das in the temple premises. In 2005, two Naga sadhus hurled bombs at each other. In 2010, sadhus Bajrang Das and Harbhajan Das were shot dead by an unknown assailant. The next year, Mahant Prahlad Das was shot dead by a gang of sadhus. Also known as “goonda baba”, Prahlad Das had a number of charges against him, including murder, and the Faizabad district administration had slapped the Goondas Act on him.

The head of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas, Nritya Gopal Das, is also accused of criminal activities. “This man is not a saint, but a land-grabber and a goon,” says a mahant on the condition of anonymity. “If he likes a piece of land, you have two options: either give him the land or die.”

In her book, Portraits from Ayodhya, Scharada Dubey narrates a chilling incident: “A retired government servant had a house in the Pramod Van area of Ayodhya. Nritya Gopal Das saw the house and liked it. He sent his emissaries several times to make offers for the property. But the owner refused to part with his house. He was fatally knifed in the street by unknown men, and his grieving family had to subsequently shift to a neighbouring state.”

Dubey narrates another incident that took place at the Bindu Sarovar temple: “Triveni Das, the mahant, had an altercation with Nritya Gopal Das over some internal matter. When he was going for a bath in the Sarayu river, at 4 am one morning, he was run over by a truck and succumbed to his injuries.”

Nritya Gopal Das’ land-grabbing tactics was on display in 1990 when he illegally took over the Marwadi Dharamshala in Ayodhya. Sadhu Prem Shankar Das, who witnessed the incident, recounts, “The dharamshala was home to around 70-80 students from the nearby villages. One day, when they were at college, a mob of armed sadhus barged into the premises and occupied it. They gathered the students’ belongings at one spot and set them on fire.” An FIR was filed against Nritya Gopal Das and others under Sections 347, 348 and 436 of the IPC.

However, Gopal Das too has been the target of violence. In May 2001, he was seriously injured when country-made bombs were flung at him and his disciples. Initially, he blamed the ISI for this attack, but it was discovered later that the crime had been triggered by a property dispute. Gopal Das had used his influence to get the then mahant of Rama Vallabh temple, Devram Das Vedanti, removed from his post, and the disgruntled former priest sought revenge by attacking him.

Vedanti’s record is no less notorious. In 1995, the police arrested him with a minor girl from a hotel at Bhagalpur, Bihar. Vedanti was accused of kidnapping the girl and a Spanish pistol was also recovered from him.

Why sadhus take to crime
The main reason is greed for the title of mahant. “Many disciples are so impatient to get to the top that they cannot wait ununtil the mahant is dead. They are ready to kill them,” says Sadhu Ram Narayan Das. Sheetla Singh, editor of the daily Jan Morcha, says many mahants have got their title after murdering their gurus. For instance, the mahant of Janaki Ghat Bada Sthan, Janmejai Sharan, was accused of the murder of his predecessor, Maithili Sharan Das. “Honour comes with money and power. Sadhus want all of it. And they want it fast,” says Singh.

A few years ago, when the mahant of Mumukshu Bhavan, Swami Sudarshanacharya, went missing from the temple, one of his disciples, Jitendra Pandey became the new mahant. A month later, Pandey fled with jewellery and cash from the temple. Another month passed and then Sudarshanacharya’s brother started some construction work at the temple. When a sewer tank was opened, it was found filled with mud. Suspecting foul play, the police was informed. The bodies of Sudarshanacharya and a female disciple were recovered from the tank, chopped into pieces. Pandey was arrested later. “He confessed to having hired some goons to get the mahant murdered. The disciple was murdered because she had witnessed the crime,” says the current mahant, Ramchandra Acharya, who was a co-disciple alongwith Pandey. “Jitendra was impatient to be the mahant and feared that Sudarshanacharya might choose me as his successor.”
Holy land-grab Mahant Nritya Gopal Das (wearing garlands) is accused in several cases of land-grabbing,
Photo: Pramod Singh
Another reason why sadhus are drawn to crime is their greed for another temple’s property. For instance, a gang of sadhus prevented the mahant of Rang Nivas Mandir from entering the temple premises and occupied it. Now, the ousted mahant lives in penury.

Usually, a mahant decides who would succeed him. In other cases, a committee of sadhus from different maths and temples elect the next mahant. That’s where lobbying comes into play. “A friend of mine was a priest in a temple. His guru passed away without appointing a successor and so a four-member selection committee was set up,” shares a local contractor. “My friend told me that he wanted to be the mahant even though there were other more deserving disciples. Two of the committee members were against him. I bought a new Nokia handset and approached one of them. I told him, ‘Only five sets of this model are in the market. I especially ordered the sixth one from abroad for you.’ When I told him my friend wanted to be the mahant, he asked me to bring him a still newer version next time I came to see him. Finally, my friend was elected the Mahant with three votes against one.”

Locals claim any sadhu can become a mahant by paying the right price. “The highest bidder gets the title,” says Mahant Yugal Kishore Shastri.

Rivalry between various ashrams is another factor leading to crimes. “‘My god and my temple are more authentic than yours.’ That’s the mindset at work,” says Raghuvar Sharan, a sadhu.

Why criminals become sadhus
The holy city has its share of criminals-turned- sadhus. “Several criminals have turned into sadhus and settled in Ayodhya,” says Mahant Gyan Das of Hanuman Garhi temple. “Their appearance may have changed but not their actions.” Take the case of Kamdev Singh, a notorious gangster from Begusarai, Bihar, who had been accused of murdering several communist activists. Before he was killed in an encounter with the police in 1983, he was in Ayodhya for a long time in the garb of a sadhu.

“Kamdev started a trend. Many criminals followed in his footsteps and sought refuge in Ayodhya,” says a police officer. “They took advantage of the fact that the police don’t raid maths and no questions are asked there about their antecedents.” After Kamdev’s death, many of his gang members arrived in Ayodhya dressed as sadhus. Ram Kripal Das, an expert bombmaker, was one of them. He became the disciple of Mahant Lakshman Das and was involved in numerous cases of murder, extortion and land-grabbing before being killed in 1996. “He made crime a lucrative business in Ayodhya,” says Sadhu Ramsubhag Das.

In the past few years, the sadhus have also been accused of harbouring criminals. “Sriprakash Shukla had a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head. He stayed in a math in Ayodhya after killing BSP leader Birendra Pratap Sahi, and again after killing a police officer,” says a senior police officer posted in Faizabad. Sources reveal that he killed Mahant Ram Kripal Das on the orders of another mahant in 1996.

Sadhus as moneylenders
Moneylending is a flourishing activity in Ayodhya, with the involvement of the priests of several temples, especially Hanuman Garhi. “The maths and temples generate huge revenue, but there is hardly any expenditure. So the sadhus started lending money on interest,” says Ranjit Verma, a lawyer. “There was a time when these sadhus did not even have slippers on their feet. But today crores of rupees are lying in their backyard.”

Moneylending has also promoted crime with instances of sadhus harassing the debtors, taking over their property, and in some cases, even murdering them.

Sadhus and politics
“After the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, money poured into Ayodhya and so did the criminals,” says Sadhu Harinarayan Das. Many sadhus in Ayodhya hold the VHP responsible for the criminalisation of the city. They allege that the VHP often intervenes in property disputes or tussles over the position of mahant, in favour of one of the parties. Locals point out several instances where the outfit used muscle power or money to install its own men as mahants.

The ‘holy’ arms race
“There is a race among the sadhus for weapons and gunmen. Many of them have licensed pistols, though there is a greater demand for illegal weapons,” says a police officer. An intelligence officer claims that since the police do not search the temples, they have become the safest places to hide firearms. Many sadhus trade in illegal arms. Weapons are smuggled from Munger in Bihar and sold here. Some time ago, the local police arrested three sadhus with a US-made revolver and other modern firearms. Mahant Jagdish Das was recently arrested for forging his address to get a gun licence.

Sadhus also compete over the number of gun-toting security men under their command. “Why would a sadhu need a gunman?” asks Mahant Sant Ramdas. “It’s just a status symbol.”

Sadhus, alcohol and sex
“Despite the sale of liquor and narcotics being strictly prohibited in Ayodhya, sadhus enjoying a drink by the Sarayu is a common sight,” says Sant Premnarayan Das. Demand for liquor has shot up in recent years where both the peddlers and the customers are mostly saffron-clad men. DIG (Bareilly) RKS Rathore recalls how a bootlegger he once caught turned out to be a sadhu.

There are many sadhus who claim to be celibate but have wives and children. “There are very few sadhus here who strictly adhere to these principles. Most of them are married men with children. Many have mistresses,” a sadhu told Tehelka on condition of anonymity. Ranjit Verma points at the case of Bada Sthan Sadhu Raghuvar, who had two wives despite being an outspoken proponent of celibacy. In 1991, Hanuman Garhi’s Ram Sharan Das, who was charged with several murders, was killed in a police encounter while visiting a mistress at a hospital. Moreover, over the past few years, along with increasing wealth, Ayodhya has also witnessed a rise in prostitution, claims Yugal Kishore.

Matrimony has become a prime reason why some disciples hold a grudge against the gurus. “Earlier, the mahants used to remain celibate and their successor was chosen from among their disciples,” says Sadhu Hariprasad. “But today all sadhus and mahants are getting married. After their deaths, their children succeed them as mahants instead of the disciples.”

When murders started taking place for the position of mahant, it was thought that if the charge of the temple is handed down to a family member, the murders would stop. So, the mahants decided to appoint their own relatives as successors. This has severed the ties of gurus with their disciples.

There are also charges of child abuse by sadhus in Ayodhya. In December 2008, the police arrested Sita Bhavan Mandir’s Mahant Ganga Ram for raping the 8-year-old son of a rickshaw puller. The rickshaw puller alleged that the mahant used to take his son into his room on the pretext of giving him prasad.

Sadhus and the land mafia
Most members of the land mafia in Ayodhya belong to the sadhu community. “Shankar Das sold the temple he had seized from his guru,” says Bimla Sharan. Ayodhya has a number of such cases. The gangs eye the property of temples and maths spread across the country worth crores of rupees. The property of most of Ayodhya’s temples is not allotted to any person, but to the god worshipped there. Therefore, the mahant becomes the de facto owner of the property. “Buying and selling of temples is rampant in Ayodhya,” says Krishna Pratap. According to Ranjit Verma, 90 percent of the cases in Faizabad’s civil court are from Ayodhya. “And 99 percent of these involve holy men,” says Verma. “Most of the cases are related to disputes over mahantship and property. Almost half the temples and maths are implicated in some legal battle or the other.”

Divided by caste
Caste plays a significant role in the rivalry among sadhus. Bhumihars, Thakurs, Brahmins and Yadavs all make such different groups. A sadhu hailing from one caste tries to undermine those belonging to the others. Factionalism arising from caste divisions is witnessed in many temples, including Nau temple, Badhai temple, Vishwakarma temple, Sant Ravidas temple, Halwai temple, Dhobi temple and Chitragupta temple.

So who will clean up the mess?
Even as Ayodhya reels under a growing crime rate, neither is the community of sadhus interested in expelling the black sheep among them, nor does the administration seem keen to take any steps to control crime. Many administrative officials believe that their tenure is too short to clean up the mess created by the sadhus. Even if a clean-up were attempted, one would have to deal with political pressure, among other things. What can the officials do then? When Tehelka posed the question to a police officer posted in Faizabad, he replied, “Leave them alone. Let them fight and kill each other.”

There are yet others who are making easy money out of the situation. They allow the goons to have their way in return for a “convenience fee”. “Everyone knows they have a lot of money. This is why the police turns a blind eye to the crimes, for a suitable price,” says a police officer. “I know at least one fellow officer who made crores of rupees in Ayodhya by taking money from the sadhus.”

Mumukshu Bhavan’s Mahant Ramacharya Das recounts that the police asked him for money in lieu of their support when there was a controversy over his appointment as the mahant. “Anyone who is ready to pay the right amount gets the administration’s support,” he alleges.

The consequences are quite alarming. Ever since the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid controversy, the city has become a political cauldron. A standing committee meeting is held after every three months in which Central and state government officials discuss the security arrangements at the Ram Janmabhoomi premises. “After the terror attack near Ram Janmabhoomi in 2005, I tabled a proposal that we should immediately start a verification procedure to identify the sadhus residing in Ayodhya. What if a terrorist is living under cover as a sadhu? But no steps were taken in this direction,” says a senior official who has participated in many of these meetings.

However, Faizabad SSP KB Singh claims that the police is seriously considering carrying out a verification drive among the sadhus.

Hanuman Garhi’s Mahant Gyan Das believes that registration of sadhus would be a welcome step, but he is not very hopeful that the city can be rid of criminals in the near future. “The criminal elements are far stronger than the genuine sadhus,” he rues. “They have money and political backing. Who can take them on?” Clearly, Ayodhya’s future as a holy city depends on how zealously the administration takes steps to confront the criminality that has taken root among many of the “holy men”. As yet, there is little sign that any such effort is on the anvil.

Translated from Tehelka Hindi by Naushin Rehman
(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 49, Dated 7 December 2013)