Scam Alleged in Haj Flights Chartering
International Islamic Medical Meet Interaction of Physicians, Ulema Emphasised
NDA Partners Warned Against BJP's Hidden Agenda
Azeez Sait is Karnataka Minorities panel Chief
AMU to Institute Ali Mian Chair
Women's Iftar at Chennai
Justice Shameem to head Minorities Commission
New West Bengal Minorities Commission
Quran Translation in Kashmiri
Tamil Islamic Literature Dept in Madras University
Telugu Book on Muslims' Role in Freedom Struggle
Old Aircraft to Ferry Pilgrims
By. A. Staff writer
NEW DELHI : With the Haj flights commencing operations from February 7, a major scam involving chartering “mediocre” aircraft by pushing a controversial deal has landed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre in a soup. The officials at the Ministry of Civil Aviation reportedly at the behest of Prime Minister’s Office have pushed the controversial deal concerning the annual Haj pilgrimage when the country was experiencing the trauma caused by the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft.
Sources said that not less than Rs. 17-20 crore have been paid as kickbacks to the concerned officials responsible for hiring 30-year old aircraft, Flouting the flight safety norms set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The agreement also violated the tender guidelines set by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The opposition Congress party has already demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the deal and called for a disciplinary action against the concerned officials and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Sensing foul play in the Haj operations, the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Prof. Chamanlal Gupta had sought fresh global bidding from Airline companies early October last year to transport 77,000 pilgrims to Jeddah. But, the officials all through 1999, tried to avoid tenders from being floated on one pretext or the other and argued for the continuation of the old arrangement. After much persuasion, when the tenders were floated, the officials ensured that the other five bids got rejected and the deal was re-awarded to MIDOS. The American Airliner MIDOS, which has been transporting Indian pilgrims for past three years, had been blacklisted by none other than the former civil aviation minister Ananth Kumar after he found that the US company had not only offered old aircraft, but they were also technically not airworthy.
The United Front government led by H. D. Deve Gowda had awarded a two-year contract to MIDOS in 1997 as it found that Air India could not divert its fleet from regular routs to carry Haj pilgrims. Sources, however, see foul play in the decision of the then aviation minister C. M. Ibrahim saying, “the Air India was plucked out of Haj arrangements, because the bureaucrats could not mint money by employing the government-owned company.”
Soon the MIDOS was pressed into service, the complaints about poor service, obsolete planes started pouring in. The previous Central Haj Committee (CHC) had even asked the government to annul the contract and seek alternative arrangements even the midst of Haj operations. But, the officials always overlooked these recommendations and the reasons best known to them continued leasing planes from the US based company. The MIDOS that operates at some domestic routs in the US has a very small fleet of six aircraft including two Boeing 747 and four small planes of the capacity of 300 passengers. Therefore, the transportation of luggage would once again create problems to the pilgrims. Moreover, the deal has been awarded at about US $491 per passenger plus variation in fuel charges that adds to $15 dollar as configuration charges for the pilgrims who embark the plane at two new points Cochin and Ahmedabad. Last year the deal had been finalised at about US $490 per passenger. A senior official at the Haj Committee told Islamic Voice that there was no justification in charging additional $15 dollars to the pilgrims of Kerala and Gujarat. “The civil aviation team should have argued to the MIDOS that Cochin and Ahmedabad are quite nearer to Jeddah as compared to Mumbai and Delhi,” he said, claiming, “this too reflects hanky-panky in the deal.” The annual Haj pilgrimage involving atleast Rs. 460 crore is the biggest air operations for any airliner. The Civil Aviation ministry officials claim that the government of India has spent Rs. 126 crore this year subsidising the tickets for the pilgrims. The Haj Committee officials, however, object to the word “subsidy,” adding, “the word is a misnomer and it is actually the “concession” passed on to the pilgrims, that is granted by every airliner in the world to its customers if the tickets are purchased in bulk.” Therefore, the stakes involved in the negotiations for hiring the aircraft for Haj are considerably high. According to a source in the aviation, the price negotiations for every seat could cost as much as $10 to $30. That leaves much room for the under hand dealings and a section of officials, thus, do not want the MIDOS deal disturbed at any cost, he added.
HYDERABAD: The five-day fifth international convention on Islamic medicine organised jointly by International Institute of Islamic Medicine (IIIM) and Islamic Medical Association, North America in Hyderabad from January 13 to 17 called for greater co-ordination between Muslim physicians and religious scholars to find solution to the new problems posed by recent advancements in science and technology in the light of Qur’an and Hadith.
The participants in the conference from United States, Britain, Pakistan, Turkey and some other countries agreed on the need to constitute a committee comprising people from medical profession and religious scholars to sort out the controversial issues.
A conference is also proposed to be held in next few months to discuss issues having ethical implications. Despite a detailed discussion on the issues of cloning, genetic engineering, sperm banks and surrogate motherhood, organ transplantation and euthanasia the meet failed to arrive at a consensus and it was decided to refer all controversial issues to the proposed conference to be organised by IIIM and Fiqh council of North America.
Chairman of IIIM Hussain F Nagamia agreed with the other speakers that these issues could not be decided either by medicos or religious leaders alone. They were unanimous on the need to have a permanent co-ordination committee for the purpose. The proposed conference in United States is expected to make a beginning in the right direction. Another major decision taken at the conference was to start a one-year distance education course in Islamic medicine for medical practitioners on Internet.
It was also resolved to start courses in nursing and physiotherapy for the paramedics. The conference also decided to open a chapter of the US-based IIIM in India. This will be converted into a full-fledged institute. Another decision taken at the conference was to prepare a master plan document on the education, training and research and medical care requirements of the Muslims. Chairman of the conference Dr Fakhruddin Mohammed said the proposed document would be useful for the Islamic countries as well as Muslim communities across the world. The convention which was attended by 700 delegates including 100 from foreign countries witnessed discussion on variety of subjects, the problems faced by Muslim physicians, moral and religious implications of recent advancements in medical sciences and on the very basic question whether a thing like Islamic medicine exist. It is interesting to note that practitioners of allopathy, unani, homeopathy etc. came together to discuss revival of Islamic medicine in the new millennium. Although the prominent speakers admitted that there was no established system of Islamic medicine, any system of medicine which does not go against the Holy Qur’an and Shariah was Islamic medicine. Eminent interpreter of Qur’an Dr Zakir Naik said though Tibbe Nabavi and Unani medicine were considered Islamic medicine, any system which does not violate the limits of ‘Halal can be termed as Islamic medicine. He, however, said the recent advancements in science and technology had created new problems of the community. He said while some issues needed to be discussed from all aspects, certain other issues were clear. On abortion, he said it was not allowed by Shariah except in cases where there is a threat to mothers life. Similarly, the ultrasonography test cant be used to determine the sex of the foetus in womb. The test, however, can be used for identifying the complications during pregnancy. About cloning, Dr Zakir Naik said Qur’an had challenged human beings to create living thing from nothing. He said man could never meet this challenge till Qayamat. He said even during cloning living cells were being used. He was of the view that cloning could be used for research in science but made it clear that it should not be used to interfere in the natural process. On euthanasia, he said mercy killing was not permitted in Islam. However, if a patient is brain dead and the family was incurring huge expenditure in keeping him alive with the support of machines and if there is no hope after removing the machines, the family could remove the machines. About organ transplantation, he said it was permitted if the donor suffers no major damage on account of donating an organ like one kidney and if the recipient was benefited. He, however, said sale of human organs was not allowed. Dr Zakir Naik pointed out that Qur’an at several occasions had told the mankind that honey had great healing power. Similarly, the efficacy of milk was also explained in the Holy Book. The IIIM, which was formed in 1993 under the patronage of Islamic Medical Association of North America. Four earlier conventions were held in USA, Britain, Pakistan and Malaysia. Participants from various parts of the country and abroad presented 80 papers at the conference. Dr Muhammed Ibrahim H I Surty, senior lecturer, CSIC university of Birmingham, England presented a paper on ‘Honey in the sharia and Islamic medicine. Hakim Abdul Hannan, principal, Hamdard college of Eastern medicine, Hamdard University, Karachi presented a paper on ‘some notable contributions of Muslim pioneer towards simple drugs (Mufradat) studies and indexation.
A.B. Masoud in New Delhi
NEW DELHI: Former Union Minister Prof. Saifuddin Soz has asked the secular partners of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to save the country from the communal agenda being pursued by the RSS through the BJP.
In a letter faxed to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Railway Minister Mamata Banerji, Communication Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav and Lok Shakti Chief Ram Krishan Hegde, Soz cautioned these leaders to ponder over this situation.
Soz said: “Like an iceberg, the entire agenda is not visible, but whatever has been revealed, it is something that cannot be allowed if India has to be a democratic and secular country.” Specifying a few incidents, he asked the NDA partners ascertain how funds were flowing into NGOs with RSS background. He alleged that the HRD Ministry had put up people with RSS background to man certain prestigious organisations under it.
“The only qualification of the present chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has been that of a die-hard RSS propagandist. The HRD Minister had the temerity to appoint Krishan Gopal Rastogi on the top selection committee and two Advisory Boards in the NCERT. The Minister overlooked the fact that it was Rastogi who boasted in his autobiography titled ‘Aapbeeti’ that while he was part of a gang attacking Muslims in a locality in 1947, he had himself shot dead a beautiful Muslim woman who was according to him deflecting the attention of Rastogi’s companions...”
In Gujarat, Soz said, the RSS had recently made the State Government to withdraw a 14-year-old order banning Government servants from joining the RSS.
In Uttar Pradesh, he said, a legislation had been recently passed making it compulsory for people to seek permission to build a place of worship or shrine. “The majority community will not be put to any inconvenience as its temples are built by big business....It is the minorities, particularly Muslims for whom difficulty has been created,” he said. A senior minister Lalji Tandon had already spelled out the intention of this law, saying, “there was a mushroom growth of mosque and madrassa in UP, particularly in border areas and , therefore the enactment of law became necessary.”
Soz also took strong umbrage at the campaign being unleased against Madrassa’s by some vested quarters declaring them as ISI nurseries. Asserting that while any Madrassa promoting activities of Pakistan’s ISI should be banned, he, however, said “branding madrassas at random as institutions promoting ISI activity in India is a slander which no sane person can accept.”
He urged the NDA leaders to intervene and save the secular character of the country. Former Minister added: “Inspite of your close association with the BJP, many of us never doubted your secular credentials. We thought your association signified a strategy to share power for certain goals for the foreseeable future. But, now, the BJP’s hidden agenda is unravelling itself and your continued silence is interpreted as your agreement to what is happening around in pursuit of RSS agenda.”
BANGALORE: Azeez Sait, several times minister in Karnataka was appointed the Chairman of Karnataka State Minority Commission on January 7. Sait represents Narasimharaja constituency of Mysore city in the Assembly. He figured in the list of aspirants for ministerial berths but was denied induction because of his old age.
ALIGARH: Aligarh Muslim University will institute a chair in memory of Islamic scholar, Late Maulana Syed Abdul Hasan Ali Nadwi. Dr. Rahman, vice-chancellor said. Condoling the demise of Ali Mian, the vice-chancellor said, in his death, not only the Indian Muslims but the Muslims of the world had lost a great defender of faith and one of the exponents of national unity and cultural harmony. In his death, Dr. Rahman said, India has lost an able supporter of her cause in the Muslim world.
CHENNAI: (By Sheema Naaz): An exclusive iftar for women was hosted here on January 1,2000 by the Indian Union Women’s League (IUWL), women’s wing of Muslim League. TMC member of Parliament Jayanthi Natarajan presided over the occassion. She said religion should be a uniting force. Hajja Fathima Muzaffar highlighted the virtues of Fasting and Zakath. Mrs Natarajan later distributed sewing machines among widows.
NEW DELHI: Justice Mohammad Shameem, sitting judge of the Delhi High Court, was appointed the new chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, succeeding Dr. Tahir Mahmood, who demitted office two months ago. Hailing from Hapur in Meerut district of Utter Pradesh, Justice Shameem is an AMU alumnus. He took his LL.B. from Meerut University. He entered the judicial services in Uttar Pradesh in 1974. The newly constituted commission includes Trilochan Singh, press secretary to former president Giani Zail Singh; Vijay K. Dar, a kashmiri pandit; Shamim Kazim, formerly with Bombay Mercantile Cooperative Bank in Delhi; A. M. Sethna, a Parce; T. K Lochen Tolku, a Buddhist; and John Joseph, a Christian.
CALCUTTA: The West Bengal government has reconstituted the State Minorities Commission. Justice Khaja Muhammad Yusuf has been appointed the chairman. Adi Bapuji Rabadi is deputy chairman. Dr. Muzaffar Hussain MLA, Ms. Costa Hurt, Principal Goldsmith School, Calcutta have been appointed members.
NEW DELHI: Commentary of Holy Quran in Kashmiri language by late Mirwaiz Maulana Mohammad Yusuf Shah has received international recognition. Saudi Arabia based King Fahad Holy Quran Printing Complex has published the commentary entitled Bayanul Furqan for free distribution world-wide.Thousands of copies have reached India for free distribution.
By a Staff Writer
CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu chief minister M.Karunanidhi has announced setting up the department of Tamil Islamic Literature in Madras University. The announcement came recently at the 6th International Conference of Tamil Islamic Literature here under the aegis of Islamic Literary Society. Currently Madurai Kamraj University has a Tamil Islamic Chair. Nearly 1000 Tamil Islamic books were on display at the exhibition. Delegates from several South East Asian countries and the US participated. The first Tamil Islamic Literature was held in Trichy in 1973. The 7th conference will be held in Malaysia nest year.
A Telugu book on Muslims in India’s freedom struggle has been broughtout by Syed Naseer Ahmed. The 32-page book focusses on Muslim freedom fighters of India and is priced at Rs.5. The book traces the origin of the Muslim participation from Fakir-sanyasis revolt. It is titled, Bharatha Swathanthrodyamam Muslimu. His first book on Muslim women in Indian freedom struggle was widely reviewed. The book can be had from :
Syed Naseer Ahmed
D.No: 11-252/A, Polakampadu-52250, Guntur, AP.