Volume 15-08 No:176
Jaipur: In an outrageous act, a historic mosque near Asind town in Bhilwara district in South Rajasthan was demolished by a 300-strong mob in connivance with the VHP and RSS activists in the last week of July. And in a style reminiscent of what happened in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, a temple was constructed at the site of the demolished mosque in no time by raising a new marble platform and installing an idol of Hanuman. A battalion of the Mughal army had built the mosque in the 16th century.
The ghastly incident has led to tension between Hindus and Muslims in district. The district administration initially tried to conceal the destruction of mosque under the garb of a dispute over the passage to a nearby Dargah, but it had to constitute a Peace Committee following the matter reported to the Rajasthan Waqf Board. The mosque was situated near a centuries-old temple, which was granted 700 bigha land by Mughal emperor Akbar.
According to the records available with the Waqf Board, the mosque was known as “Masjid Sawai Bhoj” and was used for regular namaz till 1956. It was abandoned thereafter presumably because of thin population of Muslims in the area. It had a mutawalli by tradition, Sher Khan, when the Waqf Board’s survey was conducted in 1955-56. It goes without saying that the mosque was in legal possession of Waqf Board despite the discontinuation of prayers.
The trouble started during the Urs celebrations in the nearby Badia Dargah. The monument, which is about 200 years old, is situated at some distance from the temple premises. Its traditional way used to pass through the temple complex, but the temple trust had recently provided a new route to the visitors through the nearby Khari river. There was a strong resentment against the trust’s decision among those visiting the Dargah.
The temple is also known as Sawai Bhoj temple and is visited mostly by the members of the Gurjar community, classified as an Other Backward Class (OBC) in Rajasthan. According to the local traditions, the temple was given the ownership of 700 bigha land around its structures by Akbar, after his army which was returning from Chittaurgarh following a battle built the mosque adjacent to it. The army had stopped over briefly near Asind in the vicinity of the temple, which had existed at that time, and constructed the mosque to mark the place.
The dispute between the temple trust and the visitors to the Dargah took a Violent turn on July 27 when a mob took objection to raising of tents in the Dargah compound for organising qawwalis during the three-day Urs. The mob attacked and burnt down the tents set up for the occasion. Even as the two sides were busy trying to solve the dispute, the mob attacked the mosque and razed it to the ground. The policemen deployed at the spot to keep a vigil around the Dargah remained mute spectators to the despicable act.
Mr. Rafiq Ahmed, head of the Waqf Committee of Asind, told Islamic Voice that the mob of hoodlums, accompanied by the activists of VHP and RSS, swiftly constructed a platform of marble at the site and installed an idol of Hanuman - kept ready for the purpose - on it by the evening. With an obvious intention to humiliate Muslims, the temple has been named “Mandir Peer Pachhar Hanuman Ji” (temple of Hanuman Ji who vanquished the Peer).
The mosque had been built in the “Qalandari” style, prevalent during the Mughal rule in India. It had no roof over it and had a single wall erected on the western side, facing Makkah. It had a raised platform and three minarets. The mob took very little time in carrying out the destruction of the mosque as the structure was already fragile, having endured the vagaries of the nature for over 400 years.
In addition to the Waqf Board’s documents, the mosque also finds a mention in a book Bagrawat Deo Narain Mahagatha written by the noted historian of the State, Rani Laxmi Kumari Chudawat. The Waqf Board had conducted videography of the spot in 1997 as part of its survey and has the video cassette intact as an evidence of the existence of the mosque.
Muslims are heavily outnumbered by the Gurjar community in Asind. They are obviously not in a position to take up the cudgels against powerful Gurjars, who were backed by the late Congress(I) leader, Mr. Rajesh Pilot. A big function was organised in the town recently to install a statue of Rajesh Pilot. Besides, the VHP has launched a sustained campaign in the area for converting the Cheetah Mehrat Muslims - descendants of Rajputs - back to Hinduism.
The Chairman of the Rajasthan Waqf Board, Mr. Nasir Ali Naqvi, was furious. “The district administration has shown utter negligence in dealing with the situation,” he said while demanding immediate removal of the idol and restoration of mosque to the Waqf Board. He also alleged that the demolition had been planned well in advance, as could be seen by the way the platform was built and the idol installed.
Mr. Shabbir Ali, a local businessman, said the VHP and RSS activists had joined the mob of hoodlums to guide them how to demolish the mosque. He alleged that the police personnel, led by an Additional Superintendent of Police, acted in a partisan manner to ensure that the demolition was carried out as early as possible.
Jaipur: The district administration of Bhilwara has formed a Peace Committee after receiving information about the razing of the mosque and construction of a temple in its place. It has reportedly prevailed upon the temple trust to hand over the mosque site back to the Muslim community, but the trust has raised a dispute over the size of the land where the mosque was situated. The two sides have exchanged documents in the meeting and the committee is scheduled to meet in Asind again on August 6.
Meanwhile, though the Muslim community has lodged two cases against the assailants, including a BJP activist, police has not made any arrests so far. In fact, the administration announced after the meeting that the two sides would maintain status quo at the site until the committee meets again and the administration would not arrest anybody during the period.
The Rajasthan Minorities Commission has, as usual, failed to intervene in the issue in time. The Commission's Chairman, Dr. Nizam Mohammed, told Islamic Voice that he had yet to receive full information about the incident. The Commission has deputed one of its members, Mr. Asghar Ali Naqvi, to visit Asind for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
The Pradesh Congress Committee(I) too has appointed a three-member committee to look into the incident. The BJP MLA from Asind, Mr. Ramlal Gurjar - who attended the Peace Committee meet - has reportedly assured the administration that a resolution of the issue would be worked out soon. The people of both the communities can only hope that the situation does not flare up any further until a solution is evolved.
Inspite of tall promises by the ruling Democratic Front government and all the hype over the implementation of the recommendation of Srikrishna Commission only one indicted cop has been suspended. While other seven will go scot-free. Criminal action has been initiated against nine policemen only. Eight of them face murder charges, six for allowing a mob to kill a Muslim goonda at Colaba, and two for the Suleman Usman Bakery incident. This includes R. D. Tyagi. Head constable A. M. Ghadi of Antop Hill police station, part of the police squad who were found to have not stopped the burning alive of three Muslims inside a Maruti car on January 14, 1993, was suspended last year, and issued a show cause notice for dismissal on June 15.Another cop, A. S. Naik, was issued his dismissal order last month. He was caught rioting and arrested. Naik is presently in Thane jail in connection with another case. Of the seven who will go free, the Special Task Force (STF) set up to implement the Commission’s report, has recommended no action against five, and has exonerated two others after a departmental inquiry.
In the affidavit, the STF has recommended that five of the 31 indicted cops be reverted to the minimum pay scale of a constable for periods ranging from one to three years. Their Misconduct: four of them, already under suspension, failed to protect Muslims in Pratiksha Nagar, Antop Hill, in January ’93. The negligence of one of them, V. R. Shelar, resulted in a Muslim, who was in his custody, being murdered by a Hindu mob near Musafirkhana, at Carnac Bunder. The rejection of Tyagi’s bail by the high court has triggered off demand to arrest 16 other accused in Suleman Bakery incident and other similar incidents. Sixteen of the accused in the Suleman Usman Bakery firing incident has been charged for murder along with former police commissioner R. D. Tyagi under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Despite the murder charge filed against them, these accused have not yet been suspended from service. While Tyagi sought anticipatory bail, these officers have made no such application and arresting them would require government sanction. These were the officers who actually confronted the inmates inside the bakery and the madrasa. Witnesses before the Srikrishna Commission provided graphic descriptions of their role inside.
Fifteen of the 16 are still serving policemen. Thus inspite of repeated assurance by the state governments justice is still eluding the victims of the police high handedness. For the survival of any civilised society justice is not only important but it’s the foundation on with it is based. Any society which does not guarantee justice to its citizens Can it call itself civilised?
A hornets’ nest seems to have been stirred up by the revival of the issue with its characteristic communal overtone. And it comes as a godsend to the Sena-BJP combine, which had run out of issues. Now their cadres have been galvanised and they have swung into action, holding demonstrations and rallies all over the eight districts of Marathwada. Beginning from district level, the Sena is carrying out protests right to panchayat levels and will pitchfork the issue again back to the state level soon.
The Democratic Front (DF) government in Maharashtra last month, reversed the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP alliance’s proposal to rename Aurangabad and Osmanabad cities. “The government has decided to withdraw both the notifications issued in this regard,” said Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
The notification aimed at renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar was issued by the saffron combine government on November 9, 1995 while that of renaming Osmanabad as Dharashiv was issue on Janaury 1, 1999. It may be recalled that Aurangabad is named after sixth Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who expanded the Delhi sultanate in South India while Osmanabad is named after the seventh Nizam of Hyderbad Mir Osman Ali Khan. Osmanabad, now in Maharashtra, was part of the Hyderabad state till its accession to Indian Union in 1948.
Both the notifications were challenged in the high court, which had directed the government to maintain the status quo. Deshmukh said, “Instead of fighting the battle in the court, the government has decided to scrap both the notifications”. By doing this, the Congress-led Democratic Front Government has breathed a new life into Aurangabad issue and revived the flagging spirits of the Shiv Sena-BJP.
Sena chief Bal Thackeray had always wanted Aurangabad renamed after Chhatrapati Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji. But he could never get the renaming past the Supreme Court. Now even diehard supporters of the original names are perplexed as to why the Maharashtra Government decided to withdraw a notification issued by the former Sena-BJP regime, renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv.
Cradled within the craggy and desiccated Deccan Plateau, Aurangabad is tinged with a distinctive Arabian aura. The city was earlier known as Khadke. Thousands of travellers tromp to Aurangabad using it as a base for exploring the caves at nearby Ajanta and Ellora.
Politically far right Shiv Sena city councillors, meeting in the shadow of the Deccan’s only mughal monuments during their rule voted to rename Aurangzeb’s capital in honour of Shivaji’s son and Maratha hero in his own right, Sambhaji. Their efforts like most of their kind however seem an ineffectual charade of semantics; few use the new name, Sambhajinagar and the city’s Muslim flavour endures amid the tourist boom and the economic development typical of Mumbai’s hinterland.
CIPLA, India’s third largest drug maker, has slashed the prices of its anti-AIDS drugs in the country for the fourth time in the past nine months.
This time round, the company has cut prices of its triple drug regimen by as much as 39 per cent. The three-drug combination of Lamivudine, Stavudine and Nevirapine which has the potential to reduce the HIV virus in the body to very low levels, will now cost the patient Rs. 2,130 per month down from Rs. 3,495 per month.
Cipla has also cut prices of other anti-AIDS drugs Zidovudine, Indinavir, and Didanosine which it sells in India. The across-the-board price cuts which range from 14 per cent to 54 per cent were put into effect three days ago, a Cipla official said.
The most hefty price reduction has been on the Stavudine range. Stavudine is one of the drugs used to prevent HIV from spreading to uninfected cells in the human body. The prices have been cut by roughly 50 per cent for different dosages of the drug.
Cipla has also launched a combination of two drug Lamivudine and Stavudine for the first time in India to improve patient compliance. On the anvil is another drug Efavirenz.
All these drugs have been launched in the global market by research-driven multinationals and patented by them. In India, product patents are not recognised giving companies like Cipla a chance to replicate these drugs by a different process at a fraction of the multinationals’ costs.
AIDS is wreaking its incurable devastation fastest among the world’s poorest populations, but they are the ones least able to obtain the expensive drugs that treat the disease. More than 90 per cent of the 36 million people currently infected with HIV live in developing countries - a grim statistic that prompted the head of the United Nations AIDS programme to urge the world’s big pharmaceutical companies to widen access to their drugs.
Dr. Yusuf Hamied agreed to supply it at resonable cost. Hamied is the chief executive of Mumbai based Pharma giant Cipla. Hamied is offering the poorest nations a year’s worth of a three-drug cocktail: Cipla manufactures copies of the drugs from the tightly held patents of the Western firms that developed them. Cipla sell its Aids drugs to the international relief agency ‘Doctors Without Borders’, which has won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work providing food and medicine to victims of war and natural disasters but has sought to expand its role to include delivering drugs to people with HIV or AIDS.
Hamied, a Cambridge-educated chemist whose father founded Cipla in 1935,denies the charges that he is copying the patent of other pharma companies. “Please understand that the patent of Stavudine is not held by Bristol-Myers Squibb, it is a United States government patent. It was licensed to Squibb by the American government on an exclusive basis, so the government has the option to revoke that license if it wants to,” said Hamied.” Even Lamivudine patent is not owned by the Glaxo -, the patent is with BioChem’s (a Canadian drug company). This is what I’m trying to say: They say they spend millions and millions on research, and these products are not theirs”.
According to Hamied Even AZT is not actually a Glaxo product, it was an NIH (the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health) product. “What I’m trying to say in a nutshell is the following: I’m a scientist, I’m willing to make these tablets, I’m willing to make the raw materials, and I’m willing to offer it. What I said in Brussels is that I’m offering an opportunity; it is for the international community to make use of the opportunity I’m offering. I’m not running after them, I’m not running after any African government. Let them come to me. I’ve offered them technology free - let them come to me and take it. I’m not chasing anybody, I’m not running after anybody, whether it is any of the African governments, the Indian government or anybody. That’s my attitude. I hope I’m correct. I’m doing my bit, let others do their bit” said Hamied.
Hamied strongly believes that Third World and poor countries cannot afford a monopoly. “I’ve never been against patents. I’m just saying that the countries of the Third World - a country like India with a billion population - we simply cannot afford a monopoly situation. What we are therefore saying, particularly in key areas like health and food, there has to be compulsory licensing or licensing rights. By the way this is absolutely legal within the framework of GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and TRIPS (the World Trade Organization’s rules on trade in patented goods; they take effect in 2005). It’s totally legal, because the patent laws are national laws, they’re not international laws. And, being national laws, it is for the national governments to decide for themselves what they want,” he said.
New Delhi: The National Conference on Saffronisation of Education held here on July 21 has rejected the National Curricular Framework of Education as anti-democratic, anti-secular and anti-national and as a road map for the communalization of education. It urged the NDA government to have act transparently if it wanted to change the National Educational Policy in any material aspect and should consult the states and the educational fraternity and table a policy paper in the Parliament. The National Conference jointly convened by a conglomeration of 12 Muslim organizations and educational bodies expressed concern at the attempts at reorienting the school education in line with the long term goals of the RSS, particularly through NCERT’s Curricular Framework of Education, 2000 which substitutes moral instruction by ‘value education’ and reduces academic space for languages and limits it as far as possible to Hindi and Sanskrit, thereby effectively eliminating scope for minority languages. It also regretted the introduction of Vedic astrology, Purohitya and Vedic Mathematics despite protests from eminent scientists. It opposed the compulsory introduction of Sanskrit in schools even while recognizing its importance as a national heritage.
The Conference demanded that value education at the school level be limited to moral instructions i.e., teaching of universal moral values and cultural norms, so that it is not used a vehicle for the propagation of the cosmology, theology and mythology. It condemned the deliberate and systematic rewirting of Indian Hisotry as a Hindu history with the object of selectively emphasizing religious conflicts rather than cultural interaction, social systhesis and creative cooperation in the development of composite national culture.
The Conference was addressed by former prime minister V. P. Singh who appealed the people to fight the forces trying to divide the people in the name of religion. Among others who spoke at the conference were Dr. Amrik Singh, Archbishop of Delhi, Prof. Shaukatullah Ansari, Prof. Abeda Samiuddin, Prof. Iqbal Ansari, K. M. Arifuddin from Hyderabad, Ashfaque Ahmed of Jamaate Islami Hind’s education cell, Maulana Asrarul Haq of Milli Council, Aneesur Rahman Qasimi of Imarat e Shariia, Maulana Asad Madani and Abdul Hameed Nomani of Jamiatul Ulema Hind, Maulan Sirajul Hassan and Md. Jafar of Jamaat e Islami Hind etc. Message of AICC president Ms. Sonia Gandhi was read out by Congress leader Abdur Rahman Antulay.
Bangalore: The Technical Training Centre for the Deaf invites deaf persons for admissions into various vocational courses. Principal Mohd. Hussain has appealed to the members of all the communities to avail of the excellent opportunity that exists in the spacious building of the Centre located on Haines Road (opposite Abdul Bari’s High School) in Bangalore. The Centre provides free accommodation and training. Students, both boys and girls, from other states are eligible.
The Centre’s courses are recognised by the National Council for Vocational Trades(NCVT), Directorate of Employment and Training, Ministry of Labour in Govt. of India.
The Centre was started by a group of five persons, all deaf, in 1982 in order that the deaf persons could join the mainstream of civic life. The training programme is headed by a very able Project Coordinator Mrs. G. William. The last date for admission is August 31, 2001. Only SSLC passed boys are eligible for Fitter and Turner trades while for Electronic and Mechanical trades boths boys and girls are eligible. For Deaf girls who have completed PUC, the Centre provides Computer Operations and Programming Assistant Trades. For details contact: Principal Mohd. Hussain or Project Coordinator Mrs. G. Williams, The Technical Training Centre for the Deaf, No. 28/2, Haines Road, Near New Bamboo Bazaar, Bangalore-51, Phone: 080-5364588.
Trivandrum: Nine works of veteran Malayalam novelist Haji Muhammed Zubire, popularly known as Subair, were released in a single function held here on July 24 at the Town Hall. The books have been published by publications houses of the language like Current Books, Kottayam, TBS, Calicut and Cosmos, Thrissur etc. The six novels, 2 collections of short stories and one collection of his own song written for cinema were released at the function by five Kerala ministers namely G. Karthikeyan, M. M. Hassan, N. Soopy, Dr. M. K. Muneer and Babu Divakaran along with Pirappancodu Murali MLA (Editor, Grandhalokam), Dr. T. N. Jaya Chandran (Former addl. chief secretary) and Dr. N. A. Karim (former pro-vice chancellor).
Since never before so many books by a single author were released simultaneously, the Guinness Book of World Records is being approached for mention.
Subair hailing from Kollam, started his career as a bank officer in Chennai. He is a nephew of former union minister and Governor A. A. Rahim. He had authored many works, published in Malayala Manorama etc. He had been associated with several newspapers as a writer and critic and scriptwriter for cinema. He now heads the ‘Variety Middle East Inc’ in Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai, after serving as General Manager to Habeeb Zurich Bank in the Gulf. He is 66.
Bangalore: Of the 21 new engineering colleges permitted to take admissions in Karnataka from this academic year, only two are from the Muslim minority. These are Khader Nawaz College of Engineering in Bangalore set up by the KNS Society headed by former railway minister and MP C. K. Jaffer Sharief and the Kallerawan Charitable Trust in Gulbarga headed by Karnataka Housing Minister Qamarul Islam.
Final approval by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) was granted recently to 21 of the 34 who had earlier obtained the viability certificate. Among those minority applicants who could not pass the muster of the AICTE are Hira Education Society of Obaidullah Sharief, Editor, Urdu daily Pasban and chief of the KPCC Minority Cell; Al-Badar Education Society headed by Gulbarga MP Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi and SECAB of Bijapur headed by Shamsuddin Punekar.
Only two Muslim institutions passed the muster in Karnataka in the final approval by the All India Council of Technical Education(AICTE) .
Elected: Shahid Malik retained his seat on the National Executive Committee of the Britain’s Labour Party for the second successive term. He is the first Muslim and the only ethnic minority representative on the 33-member NEC. Only 12 of these are chosen by the trade unions and the remaining ones come from among ministers, MP’s etc. NEC oversees the direction of the Labour Party. Election for the NEC were held on June 11.
Appointed: Anees Ahmed, an officer of the KAS cadre took over as the managing director of the Karnataka State Minorities Development Corporation (KSMD) on July 27. He succeeds Mr. F. R. Jamadar. Anees was earlier deputy commissioner of the Bangalore Municipal Corporation. KSMD has a Rs. 14 crore annual budget disbursed mostly as loans to small entrepreneurs among the minorities.