Jallikattu: Protests and Anti-Nationalism – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu

JournalistJallikattu remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized … it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. … The bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powder in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc. – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport conducted in the villages of a few districts of Tamil Nadu, was banned by the Supreme Court of India in May 2014. Though there were attempts to remove the ban in 2015 and 2016 during the Pongal festivals, the attempts failed and the ban seemed to settle permanently bringing the centuries old tradition to a grinding a halt. However, this year the country witnessed a week-long statewide protest involving youth and students, culminating in the passage of an ordinance by the State Assembly which was immediately enacted as a law. But in the process, the state also witnessed a sort of revival of separatist and anti-national movements in the name of Tamil culture utilizing a supposedly genuine student movement. Before going into the details of the protests, a look into the history of Jallikattu will be in order.

Ancient Hindu tradition

The original name of Jallikattu is “Yeru Thazhuvuthal” (Hugging the Hump of a Bull) and its history dates back to the days of Lord Krishna, as evidenced by Srimad Bhagawatham, which talks about Lord Krishna taming seven bulls in order to marry Naknajeeti, daughter of King of Koshala. The same is sung by famous Vaishnavite Saint Periyazhvar, who describes Naknajeeti as “Nappinnai” in his “Paasurams” (Hymns). Other Vaishnavite Saints like Thirumangai Azhvar and Nammazhvar have also mentioned it in their hymns.

The excavations of Indus Valley Civilization have also given an idea on such a tradition of bull taming in practice those days, as evidenced by the seal excavated from the site. The seal depicts the sport in which a bull tosses a man. Scholars like former archaeologist late Iravatham Mahadevan have confirmed this fact. Dr Kalyanaraman, Director of Saraswati Research Foundation has also confirmed the usage of Bulls in agricultural practices during the times of Indus-Saraswati civilization which dates back to 5000 years.

Yeru Thazhuvuthal has also been mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature like Kalithogai. Chozhan Nalluturhiranaar, a Sangam age poet, has sung in detail about this sport in his song named Mullaikal. Epigraphic inscriptions are also available for the practice of this sport for centuries in Tamil Nadu.

The sport has also helped the production and preservation of native breeds, as Tamil Nadu has a tradition of “temple bull system” which  is an agricultural practice clubbed with devotion and sport. The temple bulls have a special privilege of mating with number cows in its village and the same has also been exchanged with the bulls of other villages. Also during the conduct of Jallikattu, the temple bull will be the first to have a free run from the “Vadivasal” entrance chute to the sport arena) which will not be touched by the participating youth, as a mark of reverence. Pujas will be offered to it along with the temple Deity, as it is considered as Nandi Bhagwan, before the beginning of the sport.

In some districts a slightly different tradition is followed in the name of “Manju Virattu” or “Eruthottam” which is just chasing the bulls crisscrossing the village without the practice of taming them.

Hence Jallikattu is undoubtedly a Hindu religious and cultural tradition dating from the time of Lord Krishna to the present times through Indus-Saraswati civilizations and Sangam ages.

History of Jallikattu in the courts of law

The village sport remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized and the government started using it as a tourist attracting sport for the sake of revenue, it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. Untraditional practices got into the system and the bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powders in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc.

Apart from cruelty heaped on hapless bulls, the sport also took the lives of youth and bulls too. Scores of youth have lost their lives; thousands of youth have been grievously injured and maimed for life over the years.  All these happenings attracted the attention of animal lovers and animal welfare organizations leading to cases being filed in the courts of law against the sport. In fact, the animal welfare organizations have been fighting against the sport for more than three decades. The legal history of Jallikattu goes as follows:

South Indian Humanitarian League and Blue Cross of India have been taking up the issue and submitting memorandums to the State Legislative Assembly against the  conduct of the sport for almost thirty years, with a request for a permanent ban.

2004: On a petition requesting for the conduct of Rekla sport in Ramanathapuram, Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla gave permission to conduct the sport without hurting the bulls.

2006: A petition requesting for the conduct of the sport was filed in Madurai Bench of the High Court. An aggrieved father, who had lost his only son in Jallikattu, also filed a case seeking ban of the sport. Justice Banumathi, taking into consideration the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 in its totality, banned all sports involving Bulls such as Jallikattu, Rekla, Bullock cart race, etc.

2007: On an appeal filed against Justice Banumathi’s order, HC Bench comprising Justices Elipi Dharma Rao and Janardhan Raja allowed Jallikattu, but, with some regulations under the supervision of District Collector, District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Animal Welfare Doctors and Animal Welfare organizations. Organisations like AWBI and PETA filed an appeal at the Supreme Court and on 27 July 2007, the SC issued an interim stay order.

2008: Later on 11 January 2008, Justice R. V. Ravindran and A, K, Patnaik ordered permanent ban of jallikattu. But surprisingly, they permitted Rekla Race, which is still worse and crueler. However, within a couple of days, the state government filed an appeal and the same bench revoked the ban and allowed the conduct of jallikattu albeit with regulations.

2009: Tamil Nadu government brought an ordinance (Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009) in the state assembly, making an amendment in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. The government however failed to obtain the mandatory Presidential assent to the Ordinance.

Between November 2010 and March 2011, the Supreme Court allowed the conduct of sport with regulations and under the supervision of district authorities and animal welfare organizations.

2011: Environment and Forest Minister of UPA government Jairam Ramesh issued a notification including bull (and its progeny) in the List of Performing Animals.

2012: Animal Welfare activist Radha Rajan filed a case at the Madurai Bench of High Court seeking ban of the sport. Bench comprising Justice Chitra Venkatraman and Justice Karuppaiya almost decided to ban the sport and pronounced the order orally on 12 January 2012. But after witnessing the huge hue and cry and commotion created by the Jallikattu enthusiasts and the pro jallikattu advocates in the open court, they gave 24 hours time to the Advocate General of the central government. The next day, on 13 January 2012, the same bench permitted the sport.

In the meantime, between 2009 and 2013, AWBI recorded the cruelty heaped on the hapless bulls and submitted the recording and documentation to the Supreme Court.

2014: On 7 May 2014, SC Bench comprising Justice K. S. Radha Krishnan and Justice Pinaki Chandrabose gave the land mark judgment banning Jallikattu and other sports involving  animals (bull and its progeny, cocks, etc.). In their judgment, they also emphasized the fact that the animals also have fundamental rights and freedom rights.

Steps taken by BJP government

Right from the day it took office, the BJP led NDA government has been acting in support of Jallikattu. Minister Pon.Radhakrishna from Tamil Nadu has been taking the required steps by taking the issue up with Prime Minister and other concerned ministers.

On 7 January 2016, the center released an order removing bull (and its progeny) from the List of Performing Animals. However, based on a petition by animal welfare organizations, the SC stayed the order on 12 January 2016. Then after hearing the arguments put forth y both the central and state governments, the SC ordered a permanent stay of Jallikattu on 26 July 2016. However, the center preferred an appeal.

In the meantime, the office bearers of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum met Senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy and sought his help and legal guidance. When Dr Swamy approached SC on 7 December with his impleading petition, he was asked to submit his arguments in writing. On 14 December he submitted written arguments, which contained the following significant points:

Jallikattu is protected by Article 29(1) of the Constitution, as it is a religious and cultural tradition in practice for centuries. (He had placed all the facts from Srimad Bhagawatham to Sangam literatures and Temple Bull tradition, etc.)

Jallikattu is a part of Tamil Hindus’ fundamental duties to preserve the cultural and religious traditional values and hence it is protected by Article 51(A) (f) of the Constitution of India.

There is no provision in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 that could support enforcement of a permanent ban on Jallikattu or even for a limited period. Even if a ban on Jallikattu could be made based on the provisions of the PCA Act, 1960, such provisions would be hit by Article 13 of the Constitution of India.

A ban on Jallikattu—an ancient practice that is both cultural and religious—is not only unconstitutional—it is also in violation of the Doctrine of Proportionality. Apart from the above points, Dr Swamy has also dealt with in detail regarding how Jallikattu helps in the preservation of native breeds leading to healthy agricultural practices. He has also mentioned about the medicinal values of dung and urine of native breeds.However, the SC refused to deliver the judgment before Pongal.

Jallikattu protests

The social media like Facebook and WhatsApp were on fire with news and reports in favour of Jallikattu and the fire spread fast far and wide, creating a sort of uprising among the youth and student communities. Jallikattu was projected as Tamil pride and Tamil culture and a sustained campaign carried out through the social media platforms resulted in a statewide movement. Youth and students started congregating at the Marina Beach in Chennai, Thamukkam grounds in Madurai, V.O.C. Park in Coimbatore and other such venues across the state from 17 January onwards. They indulged in peaceful protest demonstrations seeking to ban PETA in India and also to lift the ban on Jallikattu.

As the demonstrations were peaceful, government and the police preferred to be mute spectators and just regulated the protestors. The protesters also cooperated with the police, without disturbing the traffic and commuting of general public. The college managements and parents also extended their support to the students.

The student uprising across the state surprised both the central and state governments. However, they preferred to allow the peaceful protests, probably in order to send a message to the Supreme Court. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn assured all supports to the state government to pass an ordinance. Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan for his part took the office bearers (Mr.Rajasekar and Mr Karthikeyan Senapathy) of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum to Home Minister, Law Minister and Environment and Forests Minister for a detailed presentation of the issue and further consultations. The center also requested the Supreme Court to postpone the final hearing for a week, in order to facilitate the passage of ordinance.

Infiltration of anti-national forces

Noticing the student uprising and the government’s passive reaction to it, anti-national outfits which have their own agendas to grind, intended to utilize the Jallikattu movement to their advantage. They started infiltrating the protest venues from the end of the second day onwards. The students also allowed them believing that they are from the general public coming in support of their movement. Although they refused to entertain film starts and political leaders in the beginning, in due course they could not stop film personalities and leaders of small outfits taking charge at the venues. Other major opposition parties sent their cadres disguised as students. Soon, anti-national outfits were seen very actively protesting against the central and state governments in the protest venues across the state.

Slogans against national integration and the idea of united India and slogans in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation were shouted. Slogans personally attacking Chief Minister and Prime Minister were also shouted. Banners and posters having such anti-national slogans were also carried by the protesters. Vulgar songs were also sung and some elements indulged in obscene dancing too.

Although the media have been in support of the protesters in general, one particular TV channel, News-7, was very active and it also had the full support of protesting outfits.

Political observers are of the opinion that some forces inimical to the state and central establishments could be behind the uprising right from the beginning.  They also said that the role played by News-7 needed to be investigated.

Anti-national outfits and their agendas

The following anti-national outfits infiltrated the protest venues and changed the direction of the movement, in order to achieve their hidden agendas.

People Art and Literature Forum / Students Federation of India / Democratic Youth Federation of India are well known outfits functioning with Communist ideologies. They act as fronts for Maoists and Naxals and their activities are always against the establishment. As the Naxal and Maoist movements have been terribly affected by Prime Minister’s demonetization, they were waiting for a chance to create law and order unrest and violence. This Jallikattu protest came as a blessing for them in the state level and they utilized it as much as possible.

Revolutionary Youth Front / Revolutionary Students Front act in support of not only Maoists but also Tamil separatists. The cadres of these outfits conducted funeral procession carrying Prime Minister’s effigy.

They raised slogans personally attacking PM and were holding vulgar posters too.

May 17 Movement, which was founded during the Eelam War IV, was in the forefront of Jallikattu protests. But, the cadres were shouting slogans not in support of Jallikattu but in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation. They also propagated for a separate Tamil national flag through social media and wanted to thwart the Republic Day celebrations. Thirumurgan Gandhi, who is the founder president of the outfit, was seen openly instigating the crowd through his speeches. He also gave interviews to TV channels.

Nam Thamizhar Katchi is a political party founded by actor/director Seeman. This party also supports Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation ideologies. The cadres of this party conducted pro Jallikattu rallies much before the student movement began. They have a tacit understanding with Islamic extremists. Known for his chameleon characteristics and double standards, Seeman has also supported the jihadis on cow slaughter and beef eating.

Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath / Social Democratic Party of India / Popular Front of India are some of the Islamic militant outfits, which infiltrated. These outfits are known for strategies of operating in the guise of social service, as they operate ambulance services and blood banks in many places. Through such services, they indulge in conversion activities and involve those converted people in acts of extremism. The cadres of these outfits infiltrated in the guise of doing services like serving food and water to the protesters. The gullible students allowed them, as they were starving without food and water. It was a sad irony that the Jallikattu protesters were served beef biriyani by these outfits.

These outfits are well known for their anti-national activities such as smuggling, spreading counterfeit currencies, indulging in hawala transactions, bomb blasts and murdering leaders and functionaries of Hindu organizations. Many of them have been arrested by state police and NIA for various offences. These cadres were seen carrying posters of terrorists Osama bin Laden and Palani Baba during the protests.

It must be noted that these outfits were also terribly affected by PM’s demonetization steps, as they could not indulge in any of the illegal activities.  So, they wanted to extend the protests for a few more days in order to sabotage the Republic Day celebrations and allegedly had plans of causing extensive damage to life and property. As a confirmation of the allegation, two jihadis were arrested in Madurai on the eve of Republic Day, for carrying pipe bombs.

Facebook and WhatsApp were fully utilized by these outfits for instigating their community to utilize the jallikattu protests to carry out anti-national activities.

Foreign funded NGOs and Congress Party have played a major role in instigating the protesters against central government. Ever since the BJP government took office, the Union Home Ministry has started cracking down on the shady activities such as religious conversions, etc., of these Church sponsored Christian NGOs. Those NGOs which have not submitted their financial accounts as per FCRA were brought under the scanners of IT department and Enforcement Directorate and thousands of such NGOs have been asked to shut their operations in India. Hence, backed by the Church and the Congress party, these NGOs played their role of instigating the students against the central government.

Minority educational institutions have also voluntarily sent their students to join the protests in large numbers, as they are also against the new education policy of the BJP government.

Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK), a dalit party, though against Jallikattu, has utilized this protest, to instigate the crowd against the central government. This party has close relations with jihadi outfits and hence, preferred to support them to carry out their anti-national agendas.

Dravidar Kazahagam (DK) the parent organization of all Dravidian parties in the state is a rank anti-national outfit right from its formation. Though the party’s policy is against Jallikattu, it allowed its cadres to infiltrate the protest venues, just to instigate the protesters against the central government. These cadres were seen shouting slogans against PM, BJP and RSS.  This party also has very close relations with Jihadi and Xian organizations.

DMK, the primary opposition party, also sent its cadres to infiltrate the movement in large numbers in the guise of students, in order to instigate them against the state and central governments. Although the party played its own role in bringing a ban on Jallikattu during the previous UPA regime, it projected itself as a pro Jallikattu party during the protests, with an ulterior motive of whitewashing its crime and bringing a bad name to BJP government.

High Command of AIADMK party played a very significant role during the protests with a motive of bringing down the chief minister, so that, it can occupy the chair.  In my previous cover story published after the death of former CM Jayalalithaa I had mentioned about Mr Natarajan, husband of Sasikala as follows:

The most important thing for the center to do is to keep a close watch on Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. It must remember that Natarajan has allegedly been the Sutradhari all these years, scripting each and every move and act of Sasikala in controlling the party, government and its leader Jayalalithaa. Natarajan is not an ordinary force. He has close acquaintances in all the parties and has good political connections across the country. He has been flirting with pro LTTE elements and also Tamil separatists. One of the most significant things which Jayalalithaa did was keeping him away from political limelight. But it’s a different matter that he took it to his advantage and carried on his shady activities. Now he has come out in the open and he must be kept under surveillance.

Things have happened during the Jallikattu protests in such a manner proving my above comments. The party high command of late, has become wary of Chief Minister Panneerselvam, as he seemed to be very accommodative of center listening to its advice and suggestions and acting accordingly for the well being of the state and its citizens. The CM earned the praise of general public for the way he had handled the Vardah cyclone.

As the Jallikattu protests started, he preferred not to clamp down on it and instead instructed the police to allow the protests to continue. On the other hand, he moved swiftly and coordinated with the center, met the Prime Minister personally and initiated required actions for the passage of the Jallikattu ordinance in the assembly. Fearing that Panneerselvam’s position would become stronger if the Jallikattu issue is solved, the Mannarkudi Mafia acted in haste by instigating the crowd.

The party high command was also in the center of controversy over the secrecy surrounding the hospitalization and death of former chief minister Jayalalithaa and it seemingly fears an investigation on the same. The knife of disproportionate assets case hanging on its head is another concern for it. So, it wanted to make full use of the jallikattu protests and capture the CM’s chair.

News-7 TV channel is run by mineral baron Vaikundarajan, who is close to Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. Political commentators, who closely observed the Jallikattu protests and the coverage done by News-7, are of the firm opinion that both Natarajan and Vaikundarajan had played a huge role behind the scenes, instigating the protesters to act against both the state and central governments. Confirming this point, Tamil daily Dinamalar in its issue dated 21 January, carried a five column report on CM-PM meet alleging that the CM had reported the shady activities of Natarajan to the Prime Minister.

Violence and riots

After getting the assurance of both the state and central governments that an ordinance would be passed immediately and a special session of the assembly would be convened to pass the ordinance as law, Jallikattu Forum announced the withdrawal of protests and appealed to the student community to withdraw from the protest venues immediately. Accordingly most of the students left for their homes.

As committed, the state government tabled the ordinance in the assembly and it was passed as a law on 21 January.  However, all the above mentioned anti-national outfits, and a small section of students, who were blinded by their propaganda, remained at the venue and refused to withdraw their protests. Although the senior police officials explained them in detail several times about the passage of ordinance and promulgation of law for the smooth conduct of Jallikattu, they refused to withdraw from the scene.

Meanwhile, in many places in Tamil Nadu Jallikattu was conducted peacefully though it took the lives of three persons including one policeman. Chief Minister, who proceeded to inaugurate the famous Alanganallur Jallikattu was stopped in Madurai itself, as the protesters continue their protests in Alanganallur. The CM however, preferred not to act in haste and came back to Chennai.

As the anti-national outfits were taken aback by the swift action of both the governments which brought immediate end to the protests, contrary to their expectations, they remained at the protest venue making demands like immediate ban of PETA, permanent solution for Jallikattu, etc.

Times of India reported that the people from nearby kuppams (fishermen hamlets) were offered 20,000 rupees per house for arranging food and 500 rupees per person to join the protests, by inimical forces which are against the central government. Even during the week-long protests the churches in the vicinity were seen supporting the protest demonstrations, as the coastal belt is predominantly populated by Christian community. So, the Times of India’s report must be seen with this fact in mind, so that the role of foreign funded NGOs could be understood.

Unable to digest the developments, they resorted to rioting and violence on Monday 23 January. Police stations were set on fire knowing fully well that a few personnel are inside. Policemen were attacked, women police were molested, police vehicles were torched, traffic was blocked in many places, cars and motorcycles were smashed and torched, public and private property were damaged and violence was unleashed across Chennai city and many other parts of the state. In the violent process, animal welfare activists were also not spared and their residences and offices were intentionally attacked.

The state police swung into action and brought the situations under control within a day. They were very restrained in their act, without harming the student community. They dealt only the anti-national elements with an iron hand and arrested many such elements across the state.

Thoroughly exposed anti-national elements

The week-long Jallikattu protests have thoroughly exposed the anti-national outfits and their devious agendas. The photographs and video clippings being shared on social media would serve as strong evidence against them. The state police also have got irrefutable evidences against these outfits, as confirmed by the senior police officials during their press meet which was organised after the protests were brought under control. Based on these evidences, both the governments must act immediately and enforce a total permanent ban on these anti-national outfits. Elements involved in violence and other anti-national activities must be brought to book. Any slackness on the part of governments would only help the revival of these forces leading to a Kashmir like situation in Tamil Nadu.

The youth, students and the general public have a huge responsibility. Through this firsthand experience they must understand the difference between democracy and anarchy, whom to support and who not to support. Based on such an understanding, they should strive to help the government, police force and the security agencies by rejecting and isolating the anti-national elements, which would help the development of the state and progress of the nation and prevalence of peace and harmony. – Uday India, 8 February 2017

» Thamizhchelvan is an independent senior journalist in Chennai.

Chennai Protests Jallikattu

Hafiz Saeed’s Detention: More smoke and mirrors in Pakistan – Indranil Banerjie

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Indranil BanerjieHafiz Saeed, don of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa [now called Tehreek Azadi Jammu and Kashmir] outfits, is a creation of the Pakistani military establishment, designed to sow misery in India and other parts of the world where Islamabad feels it necessary to wreak havoc. – Indranil Banerjie

Pakistan might be viewed as a failed or failing state but there is one area where it continues to be hugely successful: in using terrorism as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from the rest of the world.

The recent incarceration of terrorist mastermind and mass killer Hafiz Saeed by Islamabad is the latest manifestation of this dynamic.

Saeed, don of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa [now called Tehreek Azadi Jammu and Kashmir (TAJK)] outfits, is a creation of the Pakistani military establishment, designed to sow misery in India and other parts of the world where Islamabad feels it necessary to wreak havoc. He has served his purpose, at least for the time being, and is being reined in temporarily to reap desperately needed benefits.

Saeed is just one pawn in Islamabad’s inventory of terrorist assets. He like others remains critical to Pakistan’s grand strategy of using terrorism as a bargaining chip.

Zia-ul-HaqThe late Pakistani dictator, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who deserves to be titled the father of jihadi terrorism in South Asia, was a man of enormous vision, albeit of a jaundiced kind. He envisioned harnessing the power of Islamist extremism to further his country’s larger geopolitical aims.

Although he was killed in an air-crash before he could see the complete efflorescence of his dream, the general had sown the seeds of a virulent dynamic that would haunt South Asia and the rest of the world for decades to come. He successfully bargained with the United States, charging billions of dollars for helping the Afghan Mujahideen.

At the same time, he ensured that the entire Mujahideen opposition fighting during the Eighties to free Afghanistan of Soviet troops was Islamist and loyal to the Pakistan Army.

The Pakistan military’s secret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, oversaw the distribution of the flood of arms and money from the US and Arab sheikhs.

The ISI kept a large chunk of the inflows to itself and channelled the rest to “loyal” Islamist Afghan groups. This strategy led to the defeat of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan but also unleashed the Islamist Frankenstein in the region.

It precipitated religious civil war in Afghanistan which continues to this day and which has resulted in the death of millions of Afghans.

The seeds of the Kashmir jihad too were sown by Gen. Zia but it was his successors in the Pakistani establishment who nurtured the anti-India movement in the Valley.

Parvez MusharrafGen. Pervez Musharraf, the mentor of militant Islam, mastered the use of terrorism as a bargaining chip.

After the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US, when Washington threatened to bomb Pakistan out of existence, Gen. Musharraf squealed in fright and promised to abandon the Taliban.

The Taliban fled from Afghanistan but Musharraf secretly provided them a safe haven and once things had quietened down began financing and arming them once again.

Over time, the resurgent Taliban became a powerful threat to US forces in Afghanistan, forcing Washington to tacitly accept defeat and pull out most of its troops leaving behind a token military presence.

Today, the Taliban, armed and funded by Pakistan, controls vast swathes of territory in Afghanistan and shows no signs of battle fatigue.

It could well be the long-term victor. Even Washington acknowledges that peace in Afghanistan would be impossible without an accord with Islamabad.

Thus, the strategy of using and manipulating extremist Islamist forces has worked. Why would the generals in Islamabad want to abandon it?

In the Kashmir Valley, rabid Islamists control the forces opposed to New Delhi. These forces have successfully radicalised the majority of the population of the Valley and have emerged as a permanent or long-term threat.

Pakistan’s generals have also widened the scope of terrorist groups originally created for the Kashmir jihad to strike in different parts of India and other selected parts of Asia.

Thus, Saeed was directed to participate in one of the worst terrorist carnages in history, the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

A number of intelligence agencies, including those of the US, picked up and identified the electronic chatter generated by communications between the Mumbai terrorist attackers and their controllers in Pakistan. Saeed’s group was identified and so were serving Pakistan Army officers.

Zakiur Rehman LakhviZakiur Rehman Lakhvi, LeT commander and a right-hand man of Saeed, was implicated and later imprisoned (only to be released in time). Everything pointed to the Pakistani establishment and its murdering henchmen.

Yet, Washington sat back and instructed its diplomats in New Delhi to restrain the Indian leadership and to ensure that it did not carry out military strikes against Islamabad.

Pakistan remains a key factor to Washington’s larger West Asian strategy as well as the only physical gateway into Afghanistan. Islamabad also holds the extremist card so crucial for the West.

In 2008, the US was even more dependent on Pakistan than it is today given that over a hundred thousand active combatants and tens of thousands of American civilians, allied soldiers and support personnel in Afghanistan were totally dependent on access routes running through Pakistan.

Washington was busy on several fronts, including in Kosovo where it was pitched against Serbian and Russian interests, in quietly fuelling conflict in Georgia and in shadow fighting with Iran.

The US itself was shaken by a financial crisis and Barack Obama had just been elected president. A crisis in Pakistan was the last thing the Americans wanted. New Delhi therefore had to lump it.

The newly-elected US President, Donald Trump, is viewed as a disruptive force in world politics and a person unlikely to gloss over Islamabad’s continued ambivalence towards Islamist extremism.

Saeed’s arrest has thus been attributed to Mr Trump’s election. The director-general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, confirmed that the decision to put Saeed under house arrest “is a policy decision that the state took in the national interest”. Much was left unsaid.

New Delhi is not impressed given Islamabad’s track record. The cynical view is that things will return to normal once the desperately required dollars flow into the depleted coffers of the Pakistan Army.

Given the history of Islamabad’s manipulations, can New Delhi’s mandarins be faulted? – The Asian Age, 4 February 2017

» Indranil Banerjie is a free lance journalist and a foreign policy analyst. He is the founder and executive director of the SAPRA India Foundation, an independent think-tank that focuses on national security related research.

David Coleman Headley born Daood Sayed Gilani

26/11: Pakistan attacks Mumbai!

What is Hinduism? – N.S. Rajaram

Nataraj

Dr. N.S. RajaramIt is a very great error to say that all religions say the same thing. They emphatically do not. When Krishna says, “Those who worship other gods with devotion worship me,” and Jesus says, “He that is not with me is against me,” they are not saying the same thing. – Dr N. S. Rajaram

Many Hindus, including some who see themselves as leaders and thinkers are stumped when asked to describe what they see as the essential features of Hinduism. This being the case, it is not surprising that young people should be confused—mistaking ritual and traditional practices for the essence. What is given here is a rational description that does not rest on the beliefs and practices of any sect.

The first thing to note is Hinduism cannot be viewed as religion deriving its authority from a book or the teachings of a founder: these are just sects. The appropriate term for what we now call Hinduism is “Sanatana Dharma”. It is not a creed like Christianity or Islam, but a philosophic system that has spiritual freedom as its core. Any path that accepts the spiritual freedom of everyone may be considered part of Sanatana Dharma. It has no national or geographical boundaries. Unlike Mecca for Islam and Jerusalem for Christianity, any land in any country can be the Holy Land for Hindus.

OmHinduism is anadi (beginning-less), and apaurusheya (without human founder)

The basis of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is the quest for cosmic truth, just as the quest for physical truth is the domain of science. The earliest record of this quest is the Rigveda. Its scripture is the record of ancient sages who by whatever means tried to learn the truth about the universe, in relation to Man’s place in the cosmos. They saw nature—including all living and non-living things—as part of the same cosmic equation.

This search has no historical beginning. This is not to say that the Rigveda always existed as a literary work. It means that we cannot point to a particular time or person in history and say: “Before this man spoke, the Rigveda did not exist.” On the other hand, we can say this about Christianity and Islam, because they are historical religions.

This brings up another important facet of Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism: it is a-paurusheya, which means it is not originate in any man (purusha). That is to say it has no historical founder like Christianity has Jesus Christ and Islam has Prophet Muhammad. We can say that Jesus is the purusha of Christianity while Muhammad is the purusha of Islam. These religions cannot exist without their founders. Christianity and Islam are therefore paurusheya. Hinduism has no such purusha on whose authority it exists.

Hinduism is a-paurusheya in a deeper sense also, which brings it close to science, and brings its spiritual quest close to the scientific method. In paurusheya religions, the word of the purusha (founder)—be it Jesus or Muhammad—must be accepted without question. This gives rise to an enforcing authority known as the clergy to ensure that no one deviates from the ‘true path’ as shown by the founder, but in reality as dictated by the human representative who claims to be the true spokesman of the purusha. He is the enforcing authority of the true faith.

This naturally leads to men exercising political power in the name of God. This is what we call theocracy. The authority is the scripture, which is said to represent the word of God as conveyed through his medium (thePurusha). In this scheme, the medium invariably becomes more important than God. For example, it is Jesus not his God that defines Christianity. Also, the sacred book becomes also the law book in the hands of its enforcers.

Hinduism on the other hand leaves the individual free from any religious authority. If any work is considered great, it is because of its merit and not because of the authority of the author. Similarly, a teacher is considered great because of the greatness of the teaching. For example, Vishwamitra is considered a great sage because of the greatness of the Gayatri Mantra, which he enunciated. If someone else than Vishwamitra had given us the Gayatri Mantra, it would still be considered great because of its message. It is the same with Krishna and the Gita. It is the message of the Gita that has led to people revering Krishna as a great teacher. Also, a Hindu is free to question or reject any part or all of a religious work.

It is different with revealed religions like Christianity and Islam: Jesus and Muhammad are invoked as authority to justify teachings that sometimes cannot be justified on their own merit. No such authority exists in Hinduism: the teaching must stand or fall on its own merit. This is what makes it apaurusheya. Cosmic truths existed before the arrival of Vishwamitra and Krishna. These sages, who first expressed them, were historical persons but the truth of their message is eternal and always existed.

This feature—of focusing on the message and its truth rather than the authority of the source brings Sanatana Dharma close to science and the scientific method. In science also, a principle or a theory must stand or fall on its own merit and not on the authority of anyone. If Newton and Einstein are considered great scientists, it is because of the validity of their scientific theories.

In that sense, science is also a-paurusheya. Gravitation and Relativity are eternal laws of nature that existed long before Newton and Einstein. These are cosmic laws that happened to be discovered by scientific sages Newton and Einstein. But no one invokes Newton or Einstein as authority figures to ‘prove’ the truth of laws of nature. They stand on their own merit. The same is true of the Gita and the Gayatri Mantra.

Hinduism recognizes the freedom of the individual. It recognizes no prophet’s claim as the possessor of the “only” truth or the “only” way.

This is probably the greatest difference between Sanatana Dharma and revealed religions like Christianity and Islam. One can see this in a recent proclamation by the Vatican. In a document titled “Declaration of Lord Jesus” [Dominus Iesus] the Vatican proclaims non-Christians to be in a “gravely deficient situation” and that even non-Catholic churches have “defects” because they do not acknowledge the primacy of the Pope.

This of course means that the Vatican refuses to acknowledge the spiritual right of others (including Hindus) to their beliefs and practices. It consigns non-Christians to hell; the only way they can save themselves is by becoming Catholics and submit to the Pope. It also makes the Pope more important than both God and Jesus.

It is worth noting that this statement has nothing to do with God, or noble conduct. A non-Christian who lives a life of virtue is still consigned to hell because he refuses to acknowledge Jesus as the only saviour and the Pope as his representative on earth. The same is true of Islam: one must submit to Prophet Muhammad as the last, in effect the only prophet, to be saved. Belief in God means nothing without belief in Christ as the saviour or Muhammad as the Last Prophet.

One who believes in God but does not accept Jesus or Muhammad as intermediary is still considered a non-believer and therefore a sinner. They simply do not tolerate pluralism. This is what makes both Christianity and Islam exclusive. The rejection of this formulation is also what makes Hinduism pluralistic and tolerant.

From this it is clear that what governs a revealed religion is not God but the founder who claims to be God’s intermediary. (The clergy acting in the founder’s name becomes the enforcing authority or the thought police.) A believer is one who accepts the intermediary as the savior. God is irrelevant. He is even dispensable but not the intermediary who is all-important.

Hinduism recognizes no intermediary as the exclusive messenger of God. In fact the Rigveda itself says: “ekam sat, vipra bahuda vadanti,” meaning “cosmic truth is one, but the wise express it in many ways.” The contrast between exclusivism and pluralism becomes clear when we compare the following statements by Krishna and Jesus Christ.

Krishna of the Bhagavadgita says: “All creatures great and small—I am equal to all. I hate none nor have I any favorites…. He that worships other gods with devotion worships me.” Jesus of the Bible says: “He that is not with me is against me.”

This means that Krishna has no favourites and accepts all forms of worship—even worship of other deities. But revealed religions like Christianity and Islam could not exist without favorites or intermediaries like the Prophet or the Son of God. The Bible says that God is jealous. Reflecting the “jealous God” of the Bible, the chosen intermediary is also jealous.

This is reflected in both the Bible and the Koran. “He that is not with me is against me,” says Jesus of the Bible (Matthew 12.30). So a devotee cannot know God, but can only go through the intermediary who jealously guards his exclusive access to an equally jealous God.

Hinduism is the exact opposite of this. Anyone can know God and no jealous intermediary blocks his way. And the Hindu tradition has methods like yoga and meditation to facilitate one to know God. Further, this spiritual freedom extends even to atheism. One can be an agnostic or even an atheist and still claim to be a Hindu.

In addition, there is nothing to stop a Hindu from revering Jesus as the Son of God or Muhammad as a Prophet. In contrast, a Christian or a Muslim revering Rama or Krishna as an avatar would be rejected as a heretic. This is also what makes Christianity and Islam exclusive, and Hinduism pluralistic and inclusive.

From this it is also clear why revealed religions always claim to be monotheistic: One God allows only One Intermediary. So every monotheistic religion also tends to be monopolistic. It also requires a thought police to enforce this belief system, just as every earthly dictator does. So they invariably become theocratic political systems. In contrast, in Hinduism, God is internal to the seeker. As a result each seeker has his or his own version of God. Different traditions like Dvaita, Advaita and others represent different pathways. They exercise no authority and there is no clergy to enforce.

Swastika: Motif on ancient pottery found in BulgariaHinduism and spiritual freedom

So the single most important theme of Hinduism is the freedom of the spirit. Just as science insists on freedom in exploring the physical world, Sanatana Dharma embodies freedom in the exploration of the spiritual realm. There are no dogmas or prophets—or their agents—to block the way. This allows Hinduism, like science, to grow and evolve with time. Dogmatic religions on the other hand are frozen in time. (In fact, a good deal of the effort by the priesthood in Islam and Christianity is to ensure that the original teachings do not become corrupted due to change.)

This freedom of spirit is most concisely expressed in the famous Gayatri Mantra, which prays: “dhiyo yo nah pracodayat”— which means, “Inspire our intellect.” So the greatest prayer in Hinduism is for clarity of thinking. It does not ask anyone to accept anything on blind faith in a prophet or any other agent of God. Teachers in Hinduism are only guides who suggest pathways. They have no authority. The seeker has to find his or her own way, with the help of guides if needed.

In the light of this, “conversion” to Hinduism entails accepting a way of looking at the world and not simply changing faith and adopting a new mode of worship. Above all it means acknowledging spiritual freedom and rejecting exclusivism. It is like accepting the scientific method, which also is a way of looking at the world. It cannot be done by force or with promises of profit.

As a result, it is a very great error to say that all religions say the same thing. They emphatically do not. When Krishna says, “Those who worship other gods with devotion worship me,” and Jesus says, “He that is not with me is against me,” they are not saying the same thing.

A Hindu is one who recognizes this difference—and the code founded on the principle of everyone’s right to spiritual freedom, while Christianity and Islam reject and even punish this freedom. The method of worship and the deity or deities one may choose to worship are secondary as long one acknowledges everyone’s right to this freedom and is prepared to defend it. So the only enemies of Sanatana Dharma are those that oppose spiritual freedom.

Swami Vivekananda on a-paurusheya: “Our philosophy does not depend upon any personality for its truth. Thus Krishna did not teach anything new or original to the world, nor does Ramayana profess anything which is not contained in the Scriptures. It is to be noted that Christianity cannot stand without Christ, Mohammedanism without Mohammed, and Buddhism without Buddha but Hinduism stands independent of any man, and for the purpose of estimating the philosophical truth contained in any Purana, we need not consider the question whether the personages treated of therein were really material men or were fictitious characters. The object of the Puranas was the education of mankind, and the sages who constructed them contrived to find some historical personages and to superimpose upon them all the best or worst qualities just as they wanted to, and laid down the rules of morals for the conduct of mankind. ” – Vijayvaani, 8-9 January 2016

» Dr Navaratna Srinivasa Rajaram is an Indian mathematician, notable for his publications with the Voice of India publishing house focusing on the “Indigenous Aryans” debate in Indian politics.

Encyclopedia of Hinduism

On 3–4 April 2010, a blessings ceremony for the Encyclopedia of Hinduism was held at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh. It was attended by H.H. the Dalai Lama, M.M. Swami Gurusharananand, Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza, Swami Ramdev, Sant Shri Morari Bapu and other religious leaders as well as top political leaders, including Shri L.K. Advani and then-Governor of Uttarakhand Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, and India Heritage Research Foundation board members and trustees.

Righting a Historical Wrong: Bring back Bose and the INA on Rajpath – G. D. Bakshi

Subash Chandra Bose with his Indian National Army

G. D. BakshiThe post-Independence Intelligence Bureau (IB) and sections of the bureaucracy ostensibly remained loyal to the erstwhile British masters. For almost a quarter century after Independence, the IB kept reporting to MI-5 about the whereabouts and activities of Netaji’s kin. The INA men were treated as traitors and not taken back into the Indian Army. – Maj. Gen. (Retd) G. D. Bakshi

The nation enters its 71st year of Independence in 2017. With this, the upcoming Republic Day parade will mark a significant milestone in the life of the Republic. It would be a time to reflect and see where we are going. It would also be a suitable occasion to set right a grave historical wrong. The basic issue concerns the narrative of state the Nehruvian dispensation had crafted for itself in 1947. It had claimed that India was a unique state that had gained its Independence solely by the use of soft power tools of non-violence, persuasion and non-cooperation. Force and violence, they claimed, had no role, whatsoever, in India’s freedom struggle.

This narrative was deliberately crafted by the spin doctors of Nehru to gain political legitimacy and the right to rule. It was designed to counter the legend of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army (INA). Of the 60,000 INA men, 26,000 perished in the war in Burma. Was that non-violence? The historical fact, however, is that non-violence had dismally failed to get India its Independence. Its last charge was the Quit India Movement of 1942. Unfortunately, the British had employed some 57 battalions of white troops to crush it ruthlessly. All Congress leaders were flung into jails and released at the end of the war. Many of them, while in jail, had struck Faustian bargains with the British. So how and why did the British quit India just two years after the end of war? This is the critical question of our freedom struggle.

Azad Hind FlagThe key British decision-maker in this exercise was Lord Clement Attlee who took over as the British Prime Minister at the end of the war. In 1956, he visited Kolkata as guest of Justice P. B. Chakraborthy, then Governor of West Bengal. The two had a long conversation about the events of the freedom struggle. Chakraborthy asked Attlee point blank, “The Quit India Movement had failed dismally in 1942. Why then did you leave in such a tearing hurry just two years after the war ended? Attlee’s reply was direct, forthright and unequivocal, ‘It was Subhas Bose and his INA.’” He explained that though the INA had lost the battles of Imphal and Kohima, the post war trials of the INA officers had enraged the people of India. There had been major mutinies in February 1946 in the Royal Indian Navy and the Air Force, and finally the Army.

The British decided to leave. The original date was 1948, but Mountbatten preponed it to August 1947. Thus the prime catalyst and trigger for the British to leave was Bose and his INA. Unfortunately, the British had their final revenge by handing over power to an Anglophile elite. They made Mountbatten the first Governor General of free India. The post-Independence Intelligence Bureau (IB) and sections of the bureaucracy ostensibly remained loyal to the erstwhile British masters. For almost a quarter century after Independence, the IB kept reporting to MI-5 about the whereabouts and activities of Netaji’s kin. The INA men were treated as traitors and not taken back into the Indian Army.

The Nehruvian dispensation blanked Bose and the INA completely out of the history books. The court historians fabricated a new history of the freedom struggle based entirely on non-violence and Satyagraha. To live up to this exaggerated narrative, Nehru became a great pacifist. He told General Sir Roy Bucher, India’s first Army Chief, that independent India didn’t need armed forces. Police forces were sufficient! He marginalised the military and sidelined it. He starved it of resources till we met the disaster of 1962 at the hands of the Chinese. That abject humiliation opened our eyes and made India’s leaders turn to real politic. Armed forces were expanded and modernised. It did well in the 1965 war with Pakistan and won in Bangladesh in 1971. – The New Indian Express, 24 December 2016

»  Maj. Gen. (Retd) G. D. Bakshi has served two tenures at the Directorate General of Military Operations where he dealt with Information Warfare and Psychological Operations.

British troops leaving India in 1947.

India must stand firm against predatory proselytisation by American missionaries – Suhag Shukla

Compassion International

Suhag ShuklaCompassion International is only one player in an industry of humanitarian aid created by American missionaries where the only accepted currency is poor souls. Its marketplace is the 10-40 Window—home to the majority of the world’s Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Its marketing strategy is predatory and not at all concerned with the aid recipients’ religious freedom. – Suhag Shukla

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) placed US-based Church, Compassion International, on its prior permission list earlier this year. The Church came under investigation for allegedly transferring funds to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) not registered under the Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) as required by law. In an unusual show of support from the highest levels of the US government, a special request first came from US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Ministry of External Affairs on the Church’s behalf. On Tuesday, 6 June, the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing admonishing India for singling out Compassion International. Compassion International is one amongst several American NGOs currently under scrutiny by the MHA’s FCRA division.

Compassion International’s president and chief executive officer, Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, shared in an Op Ed on The Hill, a heart-wrenching story about a 16-year-old Indian girl named Rinki. As an American of Indian descent, who frequently visits India, I have sadly met many such Rinkis—children and families who are suffering under the crushing weight of poverty, hunger and illiteracy. I’ve also seen, first hand, and supported, many humanitarian NGOs that work in India to alleviate suffering through transformative assistance and empowerment programmes.

Mr Mellado’s article was a continuation of a theme-of-the-week of sorts. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a full committee hearing on 6 December entitled, American Compassion in India: Government Obstacles, during which several members of Congress admonished the Government of India for placing restrictions on Compassion International’s ability to carry out its work there.

Mr Mellado presents Compassion International as primarily a humanitarian organisation, which just happens to be founded on “Christian values”. However, its stated mission attests to it being a response to the Great Commission and existing “as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.” As a Hindu American, a lawyer, and a civil and human rights advocate, and proponent of religious pluralism, I have several concerns both about Compassion International’s methods and our government’s endorsement of them.

First, there is no doubt that there is economic poverty in India. But, I am at a loss as to what Compassion International means by “spiritual poverty” in a deeply religious and tremendously diverse and pluralistic India—an India, which has not just inspired and spoken profoundly to the millions born into the Indic traditions, but scores of seekers and prolific thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Aldous Huxley, to name only a few. What I do know is that there are millions of Christians who wouldn’t find Compassion International’s message or methods very Christ-like.

Second, I am stunned that the House Foreign Affairs Committee would expend resources and diplomatic capital to hold a hearing that unequivocally endorsed Compassion International, an American Church operating in India. The thought of the American government body privileging a particular faith, even as it impinges on the faiths of the majority of a strategic partner country of a billion, is inconceivable, but it did happen.

Caruna Bal VikasThird, why should the US government interfere in the sovereignty of a strategic, democratic ally on behalf of a single non-governmental entity? According to Indian media reports in 2015, investigators found that Compassion International, through its Indian affiliate Caruna Bal Vikas, was distributing funds to NGOs not registered under the Foreign Contribution Act of 2010 (FCRA). This act governs the ability of Indian NGOs to accept foreign contributions and how they are distributed, requiring any NGOs receiving foreign funds to be registered. Caruna Bal Vikas was also found to be distributing funds to many religious NGOs—as opposed to social service NGOs—contradicting their own FCRA application. Mr Mellado’s suggestion that Compassion International is being targeted because it is Christian betrays the fact that consistently the top FCRA approved donors and FCRA recipients of foreign funds are Christian—evangelical and Mormon—as are a good portion of the tens of thousands of FCRA registered NGOs.

Rinki’s parents, like scores of other poor Indian parents, enrolled her in one of Compassion International’s child development centres, where she “enjoys nutritious meals, tutoring and counseling that counters poverty’s debilitating message that ‘you don’t matter’.” Dr Dan Brewster heads the academic programming administered in those centres. He also happens to be a renowned expert in missiology and proponent of the 4/14 Child Ministries and Mission Strategy. 4/14 targets children age four to 14 for evangelising and conversion because of their impressionability and receptiveness, as well as the unique mission opportunities that arise as a result of the vulnerabilities caused by their poverty. Mellado claims that his organisation is being singled out because they demonstrate Christian values—that they serve children and families in India of all religions. But donors are assured that the most important impact of their $38 sponsorship is that their “sponsored child will hear about Jesus Christ and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.” Outcomes are monitored in part by the assistance recipients’ “…demonstrated commitment to the Lordship of Christ.”

World Council of ChurchesBy Compassion International’s own methods and measures, desperately needed humanitarian assistance is conditioned on religious conversion—something that both the Vatican and World Council of Churches have called un-Christian and unethical. Where the American government has partnered with faith-based organisations to provide social services both here and abroad, it’s deemed such conditioning illegal. That the government of India should want to curb the exploitation of its poor by foreigners or its own people then, is not only its right, but duty.

It is not my intention to single out Compassion International—its alleged violation of Indian law and our government’s unmerited defence has simply placed it in the spotlight. In reality, Compassion International is only one player in an industry of humanitarian aid created by American missionaries where the only accepted currency is poor souls. Its marketplace is the 10-40 Window—home to the majority of the world’s Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Its marketing strategy is predatory and not at all concerned with the aid recipients’ religious freedom.

India Crossed-OutThe fruit of conversion to a brand of exclusivist Christianity is a cycle of inner, familial, communal and inter-religious strife, and even violence. I’ve heard firsthand accounts of converts, who are often asked to repudiate their community and family, reject traditions and customs that have been passed down for generations, and instructed to avoid attending religious ceremonies and celebrations that are the very basis of daily life. In some instances, converts are paid visits from Church volunteers to ensure that the convert, who may have received a seat for their child in a Church-run school, or much needed medical treatment at a faith-based clinic for their sick spouse, isn’t reverting to the practice of their original faith.

Where in the corpus of human rights law and widely shared notions of dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism should a person ever have to choose between remaining faithful or being full? The Foreign Affairs Committee made the wrong choice this week, but I hope that the Government of India does not relent in protecting its poor against predatory proselytisation. – Swarajya, 10 December 2016

Suhag Shukla, Esq., Executive Director and Legal Counsel, is a co-founder of HAF. She holds a BA in Religion and JD from the University of Florida. As Legal Counsel, Ms. Shukla has helped launch the Foundation as a leading voice for religious freedom.

Nepalese Children

10/40 Window Religions

10/40 Window Map

Indian media must stop being naive about terrorists – David Frawley

Media

Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)Terrorists seem better defended and have more tears shed for them by the media than the numerous people they have killed. Whether it is Ishrat Jahan, Afzal Guru or Burhan Wani, the media has inflated their importance, turning them into propaganda images. – Dr David Frawley

The war on terror has become a big media event, perhaps the biggest today. It is also a big political event. Terrorist attacks can be viewed for possible major electoral gains. India is perhaps more caught up in media news about terrorism than the rest of the world. That Pakistan has been a jihadi state promoting terrorist attacks on India highlights the issue.

Political gains

Part of this media event consists of glorifying terrorists as victims or heroes, posting their pictures and expressing sympathy for their causes. This includes questioning whether such individuals should be called terrorists, and if it is lawful to try to eliminate them by preemptive measures.

Some journalists emphasise protecting the human rights of terrorists, making sure they have fair trials before being punished, to the extent of trying to ignore their atrocities. Unlike India, the USA promotes its war on terrorism by trying to eliminate as many terrorist leaders as possible by drone attacks. No media reporting or scrutiny is part of the process. India has terrorist encounters along its borders and inside the country. The media expects to be given all possible information and to monitor the battles against terrorists in person if possible. It appears that the media feels that without their presence and approval such battles cannot be legitimate. The media seems to function as if they were an independent branch of government, necessary for validating the veracity and success of terrorist operations. But they seldom keep track of the victims of terrorism.

While terrorists gain fame, those they kill fall into obscurity. The media fails to note that by excusing terrorism or overemphasizing the rights of terrorists, they may further abet terrorism. Since India has a sizeable Muslim minority, raising questions about Islamic terrorism has special possible electoral advantages.

We are reminded of Digvijay Singh of Congress who went so far to promote the release of a book claiming that the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were actually done by the RSS, not by Islamic terrorists at all. Not surprisingly, after terrorist attacks, the opposition seems to come together to defend the rights of terrorists against India’s central government, which they want to denigrate as anti-Muslim. This use of the terrorist card in an effort to gain the Muslim vote is cynical and manipulative.

Don’t be naive

Terrorists seem better defended and have more tears shed for them by the media than the numerous people they have killed. Whether it is Ishrat Jahan, Afzal Guru or Burhan Wani, the media has inflated their importance, turning them into propaganda images.The media claims that there may be something illogical about the details of terrorist encounters.

Naturally if there are terrorist attacks, or any type of fighting, there are bound to be uncertain or unexpected factors, as in the chaos that surrounds any battles—as well as different accounts as to what exactly transpired. Terrorists cannot be treated like professional soldiers or ordinary criminals, expected to fight or surrender in a predictable manner. Terrorist groups, which now include suicide bombers, are not rational people that you can have a fair discussion with.

Proxy war

Can there be excesses in the war on terror? Certainly, perhaps more than in ordinary wars. A major consideration on the battlefield is to try to avoid civilian casualties along with those of your own soldiers. In dealing with terrorists, the best way to be certain of this is to deal with terrorists quickly. It is better to err on the side of protecting the possible victims of terrorist aggression,rather than trying to insure terrorists are always treated kindly and with due legal process. Terrorism is not a law and order problem. Terrorism is a proxy war that has not only religious but also political implications.

Terrorism today is supported by various nations, either directly in the case of the Islamic State or Pakistan, or indirectly in the case of other countries. Terrorists are not criminals but guerilla fighters, specially trained to inflict as much damage as they can, and deception is one of their primary modes of operation. To treat them like misguided criminals is naïve, and may provide them more opportunities to inflict damage and further harm the innocent. – Daily-O, 5 November 2016

»  Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is the director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies and the author of more than 30 books on yoga and vedic traditions.

Indian army at Nagrota

Tunnel from Pakistan side to Nagrota

Pakistan grenades recovered from jihadis in Nagrota Cantonment Jammu

Nagrota Indian Army Officer's cremation near Pandharpur Maharashtra

Wikileaks: Statement on the US Election – Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Wikileaks LogoWe publish material given to us if it is of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical importance and which has not been published elsewhere. When we have material that fulfills this criteria, we publish. – Julian Assange

In recent months, WikiLeaks and I personally have come under enormous pressure to stop publishing what the Clinton campaign says about itself to itself. That pressure has come from the campaign’s allies, including the Obama administration, and from liberals who are anxious about who will be elected US President.

On the eve of the election, it is important to restate why we have published what we have.

The right to receive and impart true information is the guiding principle of WikiLeaks—an organization that has a staff and organizational mission far beyond myself. Our organization defends the public’s right to be informed.

This is why, irrespective of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election, the real victor is the US public which is better informed as a result of our work.

The US public has thoroughly engaged with WikiLeaks’ election related publications which number more than one hundred thousand documents. Millions of Americans have pored over the leaks and passed on their citations to each other and to us. It is an open model of journalism that gatekeepers are uncomfortable with, but which is perfectly harmonious with the First Amendment.

We publish material given to us if it is of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical importance and which has not been published elsewhere. When we have material that fulfills this criteria, we publish. We had information that fit our editorial criteria which related to the Sanders and Clinton campaign (DNC Leaks) and the Clinton political campaign and Foundation (Podesta Emails). No-one disputes the public importance of these publications. It would be unconscionable for WikiLeaks to withhold such an archive from the public during an election.

At the same time, we cannot publish what we do not have. To date, we have not received information on Donald Trump’s campaign, or Jill Stein’s campaign, or Gary Johnson’s campaign or any of the other candidates that fufills our stated editorial criteria. As a result of publishing Clinton’s cables and indexing her emails we are seen as domain experts on Clinton archives. So it is natural that Clinton sources come to us.

We publish as fast as our resources will allow and as fast as the public can absorb it.

That is our commitment to ourselves, to our sources, and to the public.

This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election. The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility towards whistleblowers. I spoke at the launch of the campaign for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, because her platform addresses the need to protect them. This is an issue that is close to my heart because of the Obama administration’s inhuman and degrading treatment of one of our alleged sources, Chelsea Manning. But WikiLeaks publications are not an attempt to get Jill Stein elected or to take revenge over Ms Manning’s treatment either.

Publishing is what we do. To withhold the publication of such information until after the election would have been to favour one of the candidates above the public’s right to know.

This is after all what happened when the New York Times withheld evidence of illegal mass surveillance of the US population for a year until after the 2004 election, denying the public a critical understanding of the incumbent president George W Bush, which probably secured his reelection. The current editor of the New York Times has distanced himself from that decision and rightly so.

The US public defends free speech more passionately, but the First Amendment only truly lives through its repeated exercise. The First Amendment explicitly prevents the executive from attempting to restrict anyone’s ability to speak and publish freely. The First Amendment does not privilege old media, with its corporate advertisers and dependencies on incumbent power factions, over WikiLeaks’ model of scientific journalism or an individual’s decision to inform their friends on social media. The First Amendment unapologetically nurtures the democratization of knowledge. With the Internet, it has reached its full potential.

Yet, some weeks ago, in a tactic reminiscent of Senator McCarthy and the red scare, Wikileaks, Green Party candidate Stein, Glenn Greenwald and Clinton’s main opponent were painted with a broad, red brush. The Clinton campaign, when they were not spreading obvious untruths, pointed to unnamed sources or to speculative and vague statements from the intelligence community to suggest a nefarious allegiance with Russia. The campaign was unable to invoke evidence about our publications – because none exists.

In the end, those who have attempted to malign our groundbreaking work over the past four months seek to inhibit public understanding perhaps because it is embarrassing to them—a reason for censorship the First Amendment cannot tolerate. Only unsuccessfully do they try to claim that our publications are inaccurate.

WikiLeaks’ decade-long pristine record for authentication remains. Our key publications this round have even been proven through the cryptographic signatures of the companies they passed through, such as Google. It is not every day you can mathematically prove that your publications are perfect but this day is one of them.

We have endured intense criticism, primarily from Clinton supporters, for our publications. Many long-term supporters have been frustrated because we have not addressed this criticism in a systematic way or responded to a number of false narratives about Wikileaks’ motivation or sources. Ultimately, however, if WL reacted to every false claim, we would have to divert resources from our primary work.

WikiLeaks, like all publishers, is ultimately accountable to its funders. Those funders are you. Our resources are entirely made up of contributions from the public and our book sales. This allows us to be principled, independent and free in a way no other influential media organization is. But it also means that we do not have the resources of CNN, MSNBC or the Clinton campaign to constantly rebuff criticism.

Yet if the press obeys considerations above informing the public, we are no longer talking about a free press, and we are no longer talking about an informed public.

Wikileaks remains committed to publishing information that informs the public, even if many, especially those in power, would prefer not to see it. WikiLeaks must publish. It must publish and be damned. – Wikileaks, 8 November 2016

Julian Assange