Thursday, November 29, 2007

PETITION: Granting of Citizenship to Ms Taslima Nasreen
Please Click on Link to Support Petition !

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil
President of India

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India

Granting of Citizenship to Ms Taslima Nasreen

Honourable President, Honourable Prime Minister:

We are writing this petition to you for granting citizenship to Ms Taslima Nasreen, the exiled Bangladeshi writer & a human rights defender, who currently lives in Kolkata.

Nasreen has been terrorised in Kolkata during the week beginning 17 November 2007 by certain groups of Islamic fanatics. The latter’s methods of terrorising included assaulting police, burning cars, and holding school children hostage.

In August 2007, a group of Muslim fundamentalist MLAs & their party political cadres committed criminal acts with impunity by targeting Nasreen in Hyderabad where she was invited to speak.

Hate crimes come naturally to these violent & criminally inclined people and, they pose a great danger to & bring instability in a civilized democratic country that value pluralism, human rights, freedom of expression & peaceful assembly. Such people should be regarded as unfit for public office & continual citizenship in any democracy because of deliberately violating the constitution or charter of rights. Further, they should be charged with criminal activities committed against a lawful resident.

Nasreen, a writer & a human rights defender, has a right to live in an Indian city of her choice, doesn’t have to go into hiding in a free country & should be protected from terrorism. (Terrorism needn't always be committed through use of firearms & bombing of civilian targets but can also be perpetrated by violent bigots threatening civilians through assaults, death threats, eviction threats, inciting hate, & spreading fear.)
(Dr.) Talisman Nasreen (a child specialist turned writer & human rights defender) should be given favourable consideration for Indian citizenship, as well as honoured for her exemplary courage with which she expresses her thoughts on abuse of human rights

Indians of all faith should admire her unique work "Lajja” (“Shame”.) It's not just a novel (as some Bengali writers & readers tend to make out), Lajja reveals more including a vivid account of the atrocities at the time that led to 2,500+ Hindu women being attacked & brutally raped in one single week of December 1992. (Indians of all faith groups and, the world media/ politicians/ governments should be ashamed of themselves for not condemning such heinous crimes.) There is more. 3000+ Hindu temples were razed/ desecrated in that same week, and, there were murders and burning down of Hindu owned shops & businesses located a short distance away from the seat of the then Government & Dhaka Police head quarters.

Taslima received fatwa not for insulting Islam (although it’s never difficult to whip up one) but for telling the truth for which Bangladeshi Islamic cadres, mullahs & politicians should be held to account. One can charge the Pakistani Sunni army for raping 200,000 Hindu girls & women as their ‘comfort women” and for slaughtering 2 million Hindu civilians between March & Dec 1971: but in December 1992, thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims, who could have been annihilated by the West Pakistani army without India’s help & intervention, committed crimes against humanity.

Nasreen has been facing death threats & fatwas in Bangladesh, her country of birth, for last 15 years. So we understand why she is restrained in expressing her outrage on the unprecedented level of minority cleansing & the thousands of gang rapes of minority women in Bangladesh that have been ongoing since October 2001.

It is unacceptable the way Nasreen is being moved around at this time. The Government of the Indian state of West Bengal is wrong on not safeguarding her as a human being & for sending her to Rajasthan. India should not cowed by any home grown &/or imported religious extremists.

India has accommodated millions of persecuted people (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Sufi Muslims) over many centuries and, during last 50 years, India has incurred the wrath & enmity of China for welcoming Dalai Lama, given shelter to Burmese dissidents & refugees, housed 10 million displaced East Pakistanis during 1971, and, taken Tamils fleeing earlier atrocities in Sri Lanka.

Nasreen is a naturalised Indian and should be favourably considered for citizenship. She should be allowed to live and write without fear of persecution and any kind of threats from religious fanatics. A freethinking citizen from any faith or a human being who seeks justice & freedom would strongly support the cause of granting Indian citizenship to her. It’s only to save her from the bigots and religious zealots, Taslima, the writer & the human rights defender, is now a "saranagata" in India.

Taslima Nasrin: 'India is my home. I would like to keep living in this country until I die'. Photograph: Getty

Ultimately, the Indian Government should protect Nasreen adequately through all available means. In Indian citizenship law there simply is no place of taking the side of one faith that discriminates or terrorises.

We urge you to grant Taslima Nasren citizenship rights, and, protect India’s core values of pluralism, individual human rights, and freedom of expression.
Yours truly:

Copy to:
Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Leader of the House
Shri Lal Krishna Advani, Leader of Opposition
H.E. Dr. Louise Arbour
Ms Irene Khan
Ms Catherine Baber

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

''Bengal is my home''

I am a Bengali and Bengal is my home and feel at home in Kolkata, I know I am loved by the people there. I am not a political person. I am an ordinary human being who writes for equal rights. I don't write about religion, I write about human rights, women rights and secular humanism--

Taslima Nasreen

Taslima-Nandigram mix brings Army out

Md Safi Shamsi / Ravik Bhattacharya / Subrata Nagchoudhury

Fearing communal flare-up, West Bengal calls in Army, clamps curfew in parts of Kolkata after angry mob clubs Bangla author’s presence with Nandigram violence.


For the first time since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, the Left Front government in West Bengal called out the Army and imposed night curfew in central Kolkata after mob violence following a protest against the presence of Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen in the city and attacks on Nandigram villagers by CPM cadres.

The Army’s presence brought peace on the main streets but lanes and bylanes seethed with tension until late tonight forcing the government to clamp curfew from 10 pm to 6 am in areas under five police stations, including Park Street, Park Circus and Ripon Street.

By evening, the clashes had left a trail of injured — 35 policemen, including a Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police. The police arrested 57 people. Mobs attacked a couple of CPM offices close to the party headquarters in Alimuddin Street.

Nasreen, hounded by fundamentalists in Bangladesh, has been in the city since 2004. And several hardline Muslim groups have earlier too protested against her presence.
What was of concern to the government today was how little-known groups got together to bring both Nasreen and Nandigram together — a majority of the victims in Nandigram of CPM violence are Muslim — to confront the CPM and the government.

While police are still trying to figure out the key players, The Indian Express spoke to several eyewitnesses, police sources and protesters to find that the rallyists included fundamentalist Islamic leaders, Opposition politicians from Trinamool Congress and Congress and religious Muslim organizations.

Their “cause” was a potentially explosive mix of Taslima Nasreen and Nandigram, both on full display in the placards they carried and the slogans they shouted.

bThe dramatis personae:

Officially, the rally was organised by the All India Minority Forum headed by Idris Ali of the Congress. This organisation in the past has never been able to mobilise more than 40 people for a rally. Police officials don’t know how, given its limited logistical capability, it could spark off such widespread violence today.

• FurFuraSharif Foundation, a religious organization with a sizeable following of Bengali Muslims. On several occasions, it has officially interacted with the government — over a year ago, it held a protest rally against a madrasa textbook on Islamic history that it alleged contained “objectionable references.”

• Said its leader Maulana Toha Siddiqui: “Our protest was against the atrocities by CPM cadres against Muslims in Nandigram and Taslima Nasreen’s visa extension. A magazine patronized by the CPM, Path Sanket, ran an anonymous letter in which a blasphemous comment was made against the Prophet. The same issue had a piece by Biman Bose, CPM politburo member. We made our displeasure known to the government and called for a ban on the magazine.”

• Quami Awaz Welfare Society: Roshan Ali of this little-heard organization was one of the three leaders arrested from Park Circus prior to the outbreak of violence. Sources said that Quami Awaz is a new organisation, more religious than political.

• Opposition political activists: The mob had a large following from both the Trinamool and the Congress. One of those arrested was Mumtaz Alam, a former Congress councillor. In Linton Street and Tantibagan Lane, the epicentre of the violence, the mob was being led by Fahim, a local Trinamool leader. In Ripon Street and Goltala, the mob was led by Iqbal and Sultan Ahmed, who have shuttled between the Congress and the Trinamool.

• A section of the followers were from the Milli Ittehad Parishad — a conglomerate of 12 Muslim organizations formed in August this year as a pressure group in close touch with the government on the Taslima issue. It has sent letters to the Governor and the Chief Minister protesting against her presence.

• Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind’s Sidiqullah Chowdhury, who is one of the prime movers behind the Nandigram protests, has been one of the most vocal protestors against Taslima too. Just six days ago, he led a massive procession holding placards demanding her “eviction” from the state and India. Although his banner was absent today, police said the rally had members from the People’s Democratic Conference of India — the Jamiat’s political wing.

• In the evening, the government sent Syed Md. Noorur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of the Tipu Sultan Mosque, to the troubled areas to appeal for peace. After his visit, Barkati, known for his allegiance to both the Congress and Trinamool, said: “Messages have been conveyed to the people and things will soon be under control.”

Such a gallery of characters made for a controversial mix. “Communal sentiments were involved and the issue is also sensitive. We will now work along with Army men to maintain peace,” admitted police chief Gautam Mohan Chakraborti, facing his first trial by fire after taking over from Prasun Mukherjee who had to resign over the Rizwanur-Priyanka case.

Attack on Durga Puja in Birbhum

by Asim Kumar Mitra

Yet again Durga Pratima (Idol of Devi Durga) of a community Puja pandal was attacked by the Muslims of Murarai in the district of Birbhum in West Bengal . Last year also they attacked Saraswati Idol of a community Puja pandal and desecrated it in the same place i.e. Murarai. Police and bosses of administration had, as usual, promised to take action against the culprits. That was nothing but a tactics to divert the attention of the people. Fact remains that nothing was done about it. And now a repetition of the same kind of attack on the sentiments of Hindus. This time they have killed one person and injured six persons who have been hospitalized in Rampurhat Sub Divisional hospital. Among the injured hospitalized, condition of one person is very serious. The venue of this incident was Paschimpara of Rudranagar under Murarai sub division of Birbhum district. Police had already arrested three persons on the allegation of murder, rioting , looting and arson.

The attack took place on 22nd October, at about 6 p.m. The Muslim attackers came with full preparation. They were armed with lethal weapons. As the distribution centre of electricity in that area was located in Muslim area, they conveniently switched off the power supply. Suddenly, the whole area immersed into deep darkness and Muslims started their action on the devotees and onlookers. The organizers of the Durga Puja committee were taken aback as they were not prepared. By the time they could put up any resistance a person named Bhabesh Bhuimali (54) was killed by the attackers. After some time police came to the spot and deployed police picket in the village so that no further escalation of the incident could take place.

Actually this incident was preceded with another incident which took place in the morning and where Muslim young men were involved in teasing the young Hindu girls. Every year, in the morning of Dussera, bullock race used to be organized. This was the specialty of Rudranagar village. Hindu young men did not tolerate the audacity of Muslim young men and they opposed the acts of Muslims. Muslims realized that Hindus were organized and their number was also large. So they fled away. Hindus thought that nothing would follow, because they had got a good lesson. But Muslims could not digest this defeat and they came back on the scene with full preparation. Hence this attack was there. The Hindu Muslim population ratio in Murarai and Rudranagar was 50: 50.

The Superintendent of Police, Birbhum district, Satyasankar Panda had tried to divert attention from the actual incident and said that there was an old quarrel regarding the harvesting of paddy from the field. The attackers came to take revenge of that. He further said that recently there was theft of fishes from a pond of that village and this had prompted the incident. Because of this incident, immersion of the idol in a nearby river could not take place. Residents of Rajbansipara said that when the preparation of immersion was going on Muslims from Suryapara fully armed with lethal weapons attacked them. Among the attackers some known criminals were also there.

Those who witnessed the incident from a very close quarter had confirmed that the attack was a pre planned episode. Not only that the electric supply was stopped by them, they had fixed their target beforehand. According to that plan they had chased Bhabesh Bhuimali and some six-seven people applying their own tactics singled him out and killed him by beating. Although the attackers thought that Bhabesh had died, but he was still living. Anyhow Bhabesh could crawl to his house, but ultimately he had succumbed to his injuries in Rampurhat Sub Divisional hospital at about 12 in the night.

On the other hand, under the strong Police ‘bandobast’ Durga idol was immersed at midnight.

The police had lodged criminal cases against 14 persons but they could not arrest all those 14 criminals. Only three alleged criminals could be arrested and their names were Tonic Sheikh, Husmat Sheikh and Sherafat Sheikh. They were produced before the Rampurhat court and they were remanded to jail custody for 14 days by the court’s order. SDPO (Sub Divisional Police Officer) of Rampurhat Mrinal Majumdar said that search for other alleged criminals were on. He had promised that stern action would be taken against these anti-social elements.

In this connection grave concern has been expressed by responsible citizens of the state. Because Birbhum district is situated on the western bank of Ganga river which is far away from the Bangladesh border. Naturally, pressure of Muslim infiltration from Bangladesh should not be there. In fact, Birbhum is not a Muslim majority district. But there are few pockets e.g. Nalhati, Murarai, etc. where Muslims are dominating and they have made the lives of Hindus hell. These Muslims indulge in all sorts of activities to irritate Hindus. Eve-teasing has taken a dangerous shape in these areas. Cow slaughter on the open street is a regular feature. Police do not stop them in the name of secularism although this is an illegal act. Hindus living in these areas have become victims of theft, robberies and abduction of girls from their families. Hindus are not always sure that they will be in a position to bring home the yearly harvest of paddy, wheat or other products. Cultivation of fish in ponds has again become a risky proposition for these Muslims as they use to steal or at times forcefully loot them. Police and administration are simply slipping over these things for fear of political interference.

On the one hand continuous efforts to build up communal harmony by the majority community with all sincerity is going on and the on the other, minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, are indulging in increasing number of incriminating incidents by taking advantage of majority community’s magnanimous attitude towards them. If all political parties, perhaps without any exception, pursue such a policy then what will be the ultimate fate of this country.

It is surprising that the media, as a whole, had tried to hush up the whole incident as Muslims are involved in this attack. One or two newspapers published the news without disclosing the identity of those criminals. This type of self-defeating news catering has made the situation more complicated.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Islamist-Communist Alliance in South Asia: Hyperbole or Hazard?

Sanjay Upadhya | Bio <>
01 Nov 2007

Patterns of a resurgence in cooperation between Islamic extremists and
radical communists -- faint in some places, more pronounced in others -- are
emerging. While much of the current focus is on parts of Europe, South Asia
could emerge as the principal arena for a communist-jihadist alliance.

Depending on whom you talk to, an alliance between Islamic extremists and
radical communists is either more sinister war-on-terror hyperbole or a
clear and present danger. At the most basic level, the two groups are
divided by their outlook on the supreme being. For Islamist extremists,
killing in the name of and dying for God is an investment in the hereafter.
But the communist's variety of death and destruction is motivated by a
worldview rooted in materialism.

Yet the two philosophies clearly have much in common. Both profess a disdain
for the excesses of Western capitalism packaged as globalization. Like Marx
and Lenin of the last century, today's jihadists have a utopian vision of a
chaste internationalism. Their glorification of death is an act of piety.

Both groups also are strategic pragmatists. They have a history of joining
hands with unlikely allies to destroy the primary enemy of the day. Like
Joseph Stalin's alliance with America and Britain to defeat Hitler,
jihadists had worked with the United States to defeat the Soviets in

Earlier this year, media organizations in India's Jammu and Kashmir state
received a video recording in which al-Qaida purportedly declared war on the
country. New Delhi has long blamed the Pakistani military's Inter-Service
Intelligence (ISI) for fomenting violence in the Himalayan territory, which
Islamabad has claimed since both nations gained independence from Britain 60
years ago. But the timing of al-Qaida's threat worried many Indians. It came
amid a resurgence of a Maoist insurgency across vast swathes of the world's
most populous democracy.

Known locally as "Naxalites," after the district of Naxalbari in the
northern state of West Bengal where they mounted an uprising in 1967, Indian
Maoist rebels were virtually wiped out in a massive government crackdown in
the 1970s. Since last year, however, they have spread
across rural and
impoverished hinterlands in at least 11 of India's 28 states, prompting
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to equate Naxalism with terrorism as the two
big threats to the country's internal security.

Indian Maoist groups have strenuously denied ties to Islamist extremists.
Skeptics contend that Indian law-enforcement authorities may be whipping up
fears of a non-existent alliance to bolster their authority and influence.
In May, India's Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, acknowledged his government
had no hard evidence of a formal association. But, he said, the government
possesses enough circumstantial information to suggest coordination.

A report prepared by Indian security agencies two years ago suggested the
Maoists may be using other Indian separatist groups to get arms and
ammunition from the ISI -- a link that continues to be highlighted by the
Indian media with each rebel attack.

As India and Pakistan trade tirades, the issue has gone beyond the two
nuclear-armed rivals. Some Indian analysts claim that almost all recent
terrorist strikes on their country had links to neighboring Nepal, where
Maoists have such sway that the country's mainstream political parties
invited them to join the government
earlier this year.
Islamic militants involved in terrorist attacks in India, the South Asia
Terrorism Portal points out, either used Nepal as a transit point between
Pakistan and Bangladesh or masterminded operations from Nepalese towns.

Days after deadly bombs ripped through commuter trains in India's financial
hub of Mumbai in July last year, Nepalese police arrested two Pakistani
nationals in a Katmandu hotel for their alleged involvement. New Delhi
regularly accuses Pakistan of using Bangladesh and Nepal as bases for
anti-India subversion, a charge Islamabad, Dhaka and Katmandu deny equally

Bangladesh, which won independence from Pakistan in 1971, has seen a growing
Islamist presence in politics. Indian officials accuse that country's
intelligence services of promoting armed wings of these political parties to
perpetuate hostility toward their giant neighbor.

Although Nepal is a predominantly Hindu nation, its small Muslim population
is heavily concentrated along the 1,000-mile open and largely unregulated
border with India. Meanwhile, Nepal's decade-long Maoist insurgency claimed
13,000 lives before a tentative peace was reached last year. After signing a
peace treaty with the government, Maoist leader Prachanda conceded at a
conference in New Delhi that Pakistan had offered to arm and train his
group, which he said he had declined.

In the past, however, the Maoist leader's rhetoric has been similar to the
pronouncements of Islamist groups like al-Qaida. Two years ago, while still
fighting to overthrow Nepal's monarchy and multiparty democracy, Prachanda
called his struggle "a totally new 21st century war [against] the evil of
the imperialist world, the hypocrisy of so-called democracy that a
superpower like the U.S. represents." He enjoined like-minded groups from
around the world to join in his epic struggle.

That kind of summons has largely ebbed. But after joining the peace process,
some reports indicate the Nepalese Maoists continue to attend secret
meetings of South Asian allies, joining in pledges to turn the region into a
revolutionary zone. The former rebels may have laid down their guns, but
Nepal's mainstream political parties as well as principal donor governments
accuse them of continuing a campaign of abduction, extortion and

Some Indian security officials believe former Nepalese insurgents are
actively involved in Maoist attacks in their country. By making new demands
in Katmandu earlier this month that have delayed
scheduled elections, the Maoists have bolstered suspicions of their real

In February, Indian police arrested an alleged Nepalese Maoist gunrunner
who, they said, offered clues of ties between the Maoists and Islamic
militants. Although the Nepalese Maoists denied having ties with the man,
Indian security agencies consider him a key link to a network of terror in
and around India.

One arrest, to be sure, may not amount to definitive proof. Yet the motive
and opportunity for cooperation between Islamist and communist radicals may
be too compelling to ignore.

Sanjay Upadhya is a Nepalese journalist who divides his time between the
United States and Nepal. A Fulbright Scholar at New York University from
1993-96, he has worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Times
of London, Inter Press Service and the Khaleej Times.