Saturday, September 30, 2006

Politicizing a terrorist hanging

The way political parties cutting across party lines are asking for clemency for Mohd.Afzal, the mastermind behind the attack on Indian parliament attack is pathetic to say the least.

This shows the mindset of the leaders of this country, who on one hand talk about being tough on terror and on the other ask for pardoning a terrorist, just because he is a Kashmiri.

Appeasement of minority if followed so drastically will cause harm to the country’s unity and integrity to such an extent that these politicians couldn’t even imagine. One cannot politicize each and every issue, but sadly this is what these leaders have been doing.

The PDP, the NC, the APHC, the Left and even the Congress have been vocal in asking for showing of leniency to Afzal. Violent protest has become a daily part of Srinagar even since the Supreme Court announced and confirmed the death sentence.

Linking the peace process with Afzal can never be justified, and this is what is being tried by these ‘people’s representatives’. The argument that Afzal being a Kashmiri, hanging him will have serious repercussions against the peace process is absurd. A terrorist cannot hold the peace process to ransom, and if he does then there is something seriously wrong with the whole process. How can someone ask for pardoning a person who tried his best to destroy the entire political structure of the country? Does he deserve sympathy just because he belongs to a particular state (Jammu & Jammu )? Would these parties reacted the same way if the terrorist had been from some other state and not of the minority community? These are some questions that need to be answered by the people who are asking for clemency for Afzal.

The local parties who talk about Kashmiriyat have, from inception tried to project Jammu & Kashmir as a separate part of India, so as to strengthen their demand for autonomy. Political gimmicks like these is not anything new in relation to the Himalayan State. They need to understand that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India, and their far-fetched dream of an autonomous J&K can never be true. Their demand is based on an illusion that one day Kashmir will be given autonomy, but one cannot achieve anything substantive if he’s following an illusion. A Kashmiri cannot be governed by a different set of law just because he belongs to Jammu & Kashmir.

According to All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), hanging Afzal will turn him into a martyr! One must be out of his mind to term Afzal a martyr. And if he is on his way to become a martyr, then surely Nathuram Godse, Kehar Singh were all martyrs. They all had their independent notion of ‘Right and Wrong’ and for that they killed the people whom they thought should be killed. Kehar singh killed Indira Gandhi, because he thought Mrs. Gandhi had committed a crime against the whole Sikh community. Is he a martyr? Is Godse a martyr? Or for that matter the people involved behind the assassination of Rajeev Gandhi a bunch of martyrs?

In Palestine, anyone who dies fighting against Israel is a martyr. Is this what the parties like APHC trying to portray? Are they asking the International community to view J&K as an International problem? A conflict between two states?

The history, issues and the ground realities in Palestine are very different from J&K. Jammu & Kashmir is a problem that is a result of Pakistan’s evil plans, much like what they tried in Punjab. In North we have Kashmir, in South and Central India we have the naxalites and in the North-Eastern states we have the ULFA separatists. One can call it by any name, Militancy, Terrorism or Naxalism. The truth is that terrorists are terrorist, anywhere and everywhere; they do what they are best at doing; spreading terror. One cannot term them as freedom fighter. Are not terrorist active in Balochistan? Or they should also be termed as freedom fighters?

Afzal is not being hanged without being heard, the due process of law has been followed in his case, and the three tiers of judiciary have confirmed his sentence. If anyone deserves the capital punishment, its Afzal, because what he did was truly a rarest of rare case. Had he succeeded, then this country’s security would have been jeopardized, internally and externally.

This case doesn’t deserve any clemency and certainly it doesn’t deserve the political highlight that it has been getting.

( HT published this article and after that i received no less that 40 emails from various quarters including some from the seperatists group operating in Kashmir.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Love Lives

She asked him whether he can promise her that he will take her on a candlelight dinner, on the coming full moon which was coinciding with her birthday, just the two of them sailing in a boat. He said, "Yes".

Though, he was scared, but then also Joshua was convinced that he would be able to do what he had promised. Perhaps his belief in love convinced him, perhaps.

The day arrived; it was the birthday of her beloved, the day when Joshua was expected to fulfill the promise. He waited for the night to arrive, the moon to rise and sparkle, and then he brought her, his love.

The small boat was waiting, inviting the lovers. The phobia of water, of drowning which was a part of Joshua's life had surprisingly vanished. Presence of love had perhaps overcome the fear, love is more mightier than any fear; believe in love.

He started to row. Helped by the soft breeze, soon they were in the middle of the lake, just the two of them.

The calm, silent blue water had silently accepted the intrusion of the small intruder. The breeze that was blowing was slow and soft, singing a love couplet for the two.

When in love, people become careless, worldly affairs become of no importance, the feelings that arise from deep within the heart, engulfs your mind, hear and soul. So neither of them were surprised when they discovered that the pizzas, the pastas that was a part of their candlelight dinner was not there.

Joshua, was happy, for there will much more time to look into each others eyes, more time to spend while holding each others hand, and just that extra time to bid the final goodbye, the last farewell.

As if with magic, Joshua took out a bottle of champagne, it was as old as their love and as pure. She was astonished, but he was not. After its content was emptied, it was allowed to drift in the waiting arms of the lake.

Their was no need of speaking, for words would have betrayed what they wanted to say, and even if they spoke words would have failed to express their feelings and emotions which only can be comprehended by those who have experienced it. Joshua then spoke, the expressions on his face were that of calmness, as if he had been waiting for a moment and that moment was finally about to arrive. He only wanted to live this moment, and he desired the moment to last forever.

Softly he said " Why were u leaving me behind?" for he knew that she only had few days to keep her eyes open to breath, to feel any emotion, for after those few days, all these things would cease to exist, for she herself would cease to exist, she was dying, her heart had failed her.

Emotions got the better of him, and after a while he spoke, the dilemma, the pain, visible in his eyes. "My dear, my love sometimes you and many times I, must have thought of living happily, spend the remaining life with each other, hand in hand, but fate was not on our side, and like true lovers we shouldn't try to go against our destiny, and it has been decided that we will slowly embrace death, welcome it with open arms, for the champagne we just drank will not allow us to live for more than the moments we need".

She just kept staring, as if to say that she was now happier, more content, and they slowly embraced. They fell into each other's arm, and they waited.

The boat drifted, the moonlit sky turned black, the moon was covered by a patch of clouds and it rained. They died, their love didn’t.

( Wrote this in 2001)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Students and Youths-Losing their way

Politics they say is an art which like every other art is learnt after coming into existence, mytho-logically Abhimanyu was an exception who learnt this art when he was still in his mother’s womb.

Every national party like the Congress, the BJP has a youth wing which grooms the future national leaders. Indian Youth Congress (IYC), the youth party of Congress is often regarded as the doorway to enter the mainstream Congress party. Same goes for the Akhil Bharti Vidyarthee Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of BJP.

ABVP was news recently in, albeit for reasons which it won’t cherish much. A recent incident in Ujjain in which a professor was beaten to death allegedly by the members of the ABVP has caught the entire nation’s headlines.

The ABVP, is said to be the youth front of BJP, so I guess for the BJP a youth is allowed to exercise the rush of adrenaline, lose his cool and manhandle a professor, just because the teacher postponed the student elections. It’s true that with youth, vices like anger, sentiments are associated and to somewhat extent they are acceptable too, but is it acceptable in the present case? The Madhya Pradesh CM ,Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who himself rose from a being an ordinary member of ABVP to the present position of CM termed the incident as an unfortunate one, and went on to say that it was an incident which shouldn’t have occurred. Yes, It was unfortunate and one that shouldn’t have happened, but it became more shameful when the ruling BJP tried to shield the accused just because they were members of ABVP.

The kind of abusive languages used by the ABVP activists on the professors in presence of police was not heard or seen in the past. Leaders like, Bihar deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, former union information and broadcasting minister,Ravishankar Prasad and Arun Jaitely, all are products of the ABVP, but they must not have treated their teachers like the modern ABVP leaders did at Ujjain. Their party is in power in Madhya Pradesh and it appears that this very power has gone into the heads of the Parishad leaders.

The recent week has seen a many a student movement or more aptly student ‘protest’. There was the Ujjain incident, then the students of MCM DAV Girls College, Chandigarh went on a strike after one of their colleague was slapped after she broke the rule of not using mobile in the college campus, then the students of Charan Singh university Meerut went on a rampage, burning vehicles, blocking roads after gross irregularities relating to evaluation of answer sheets was discovered in their university.

India has a glorious history of student raising their voices whenever they felt that something wrong was being committed against them and against the society. After Indira Gandhi imposed the emergency, the students under the leadership of JP Narayan proved a to be more than a handful and it would not be an exaggeration to say that it was the student movement which forced Mrs. Gandhi to take back the emergency. Similarly in the early 90’s the whole of the youth came out on the roads when the then PM VP singh tried to implement the reservation policy. The same reason again inspired the whole generation of youths and students to again use their force collectively in 2006. Youth has only one thing that gives them the authority, the recognizition and to some extent the reason to fear them; their “collectivity”, their knack of being united whenever the situation demands.

During the Freedom movement too the students actively participated in the movement for independence. This was very clearly evident in 1905, when students protested against Lord Curzon’s decision of the partition of Bengal. Young revolutionaries like Khudiram bose, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh etc. caught the imaginations of millions of students and youths all over the country. At that time the cause for which the students protested was for the independence of India.

The youth is seen as an essential tool for the politicians, which act as the “foot soldier” if we can term it that way. They are entrusted with the job of spreading the party’s ideology, that is, if they have anything which can be even vaguely termed as an ‘Ideology'.

Earlier the politically affiliated youth parties undertook social welfare activities like mass literacy campaign fight against untouchability, spreading of primary education etc.Similarly in 1962, the Youth Congress played a great role on the patriotic front against the Chinese aggression. Later they also undertook activities such as tree plantation, anti-dowry campaign, anti-hoarding, anti-smuggling campaigns. Campaigns on family planning and anti-dowry campaigns were also undertaken during this period.

Its not that these problems don’t exist today, they do. The only thing is that since these issues don’t command the media attention that the students crave for, the students don’t think it’s profitable or beneficial politically to indulge in these kinds of activities. After all beating a professor, staging a ‘chakkajam’ or burning vehicles makes them more visible in the eyes of their leaders and mentors.

A single individual collectively makes up the youth force of India. They should realize that they in themselves encompass a power which cannot be emulated. A power which if applies itself in a restraint manner and for the right purpose can change not just the whole of India but the whole world.


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