The Hindustan Times – New York Times report on Delhi riots criticised by Indian Police Service Association

WSJ journalist faces another complaint

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 13 March 2020. The Indian Police Service Association has hit out at a report in The New York Times that blamed Delhi’s police force for being a part of the recent violence in the capital, and a senior representative of The Wall Street Journal was at the receiving end of a private complaint for “anti-India behaviour”.

In a statement, the Indian Police Service Association claimed India was governed by the “rule of law” and no one had “immunity from killing anyone”. The association said: “Our heart bleeds for every victim of a riot and the objective is to always minimise the loss and bring the guilty to justice.”

The NYT report said that two-thirds of the “more than 50 people” who were killed and have been identified were Muslim. “More evidence is emerging that the Delhi police, who are under the direct command of Mr Modi’s government and have very few Muslim officers, concertedly moved against Muslims and at times actively helped the Hindu mobs,” the report said.

NYT spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said, “Our story was rigorously reported by staff on the ground in New Delhi, and based on numerous witness statements, videos that are widely available and have been confirmed authentic and information provided by police officials. The facts in our story are not in dispute.”

The Association’s comments drew sharp reactions on social media, with a large number of persons posting videos of security personnel beating up men and forcing them to sing the national anthem.

Journalist Ajai Shukla tweeted, “Of course this is a foreign conspiracy! Don’t we all know what a skilled, incorruptible, professional and apolitical police India has!!”

Sidrah, another Twitter user, said, “There are videos of Delhi Police leading rioters, pelting stones with them; call records of lack of response from helplines; people being humiliated and made to sing the national anthem, Jamia brutalities, Daryaganj?”

Regarding the case of Eric Bellman, South Asia Deputy Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, the official spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Raveesh Kumar said the complaint against the senior journalist was filed by a “private individual” which was a “routine matter”.

However, Prasar Bharati News Services, tweeted that the Ministry had asked the Indian Embassy in the USA “to look into the request for immediate deportation of The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia Bureau Chief Eric Bellman for ‘anti-India behaviour”. The tweet was deleted later.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/new-york-times-and-wall-street-journal-in-governments-focus/article31063113.ece

Sikh24.com – SGPC releases amended Nanakshahi calendar for Samat 552

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 13 March 2020. On the eve of the beginning of a new lunar year, the apex Sikh body Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee today released the amended Nanakshahi calendar for Samat 552 (2020-21) at the Akal Takht Secretariat.

The SGPC has dedicated this year’s calendar to the 100th foundation anniversary of the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

This calendar consists of six pages, on which photos of SGPC run Gurdwara Sahibans, Educational Institutions, Gurmat Vidyalyas, Missionary Colleges, Medical and Engineering colleges have been published. Every page contains details of two lunar months.

Interacting with media, SGPC appointed Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh appealed the Sikh community to mark historic Gurpurabs as per this amended Nanakshahi calendar. He added that the upcoming centenaries will be enthusiastically celebrated.

It is pertinent to note here that there has been a widespread controversy over the amendments made by SGPC in the basic Nanakshahi calendar. The antagonists of these amendments say that the SGPC has converted the basic Nanakshahi calendar into Vikrami calendar i.e. a Hindu calendar.

However, the SGPC says that the basic Nanakshahi calendar, which was designed by Canada based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal and was implemented by SGPC in 2003, was deviating from the original Puranmasi (full moon night) and Massia (no moon night) due to which amendments were made.

A lunar year consists of 12 lunar months, which sums up into 354 days. This is in contrast to the solar year, in which there are 365.24 days. This is the reason why the dates of Gurpurabs get changed every year because the evidences about the dates of Gurpurabs are available in lunar format, not in solar one.

It’s impossible to fully map the traditional lunar calendar with the prevailing solar calendar.

1) Puranmasi (full moon night) and Massia (no moon night) are not Sikh festivals, the dates of these do not need to be on a Sikh calendar.
2) It is perfectly possible to calculate the solar date of for instance the birth or the death of our Gurus based on the lunar date and year.
3) No country with a substantial Sikh population lives by the Vikrami calendar or any other lunar calendar.

Man-in-Blue

SGPC releases amended Nanakshahi calendar for Samat 552

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Leuven NMBS

Gent-Sint-Pieters
01 February 2020

IC to Brussel and Eupen that will take me to Leuven

Leuven Bus and Rail station
De Lijn and Bay platforms
01 February 2020


De Lijn Busstation
The balloon was moved from
the Herbert Hooverplein to this location


Bay platforms, track C


Bay platforms, tracks B and C
‘s Gravenbrakel – Leuven all stations train


Track B‘s Gravenbrakel – Leuven all stations train


On the left the De Lijn bus station

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Pieter Friedrich – Cultural Malware: The Rise of India’s RSS

California – USA, 13 March 2020. In 2019, on Christmas Day, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) marched through the streets of the Indian city of Hyderabad in the state of Telangana. Armed with lathis, the iron-bound bamboo poles used by police, the uniformed cadres of the RSS paraded to the beating of drums and blaring of bugles.

The march followed a 3-day training camp to increase Telangana’s nearly 3,500 RSS shakhas (branches). At least 8,000 swayamsevaks (members) were expected to participate, reported The Indian Express.

It was a grand display of incredible discipline and military precision that, for some, conjured up images of another organization. “RSS today took a massive Nazi-style march,” wrote Ashok Swain, a professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Claiming the RSS was “inspired by the Nazis,” poet Meera Kandasamy wrote: “Their military style uniform, marching the way they go after one enemy is all in line with the fascists.”

The march also drew criticism for another reason: all other rallies in the city were banned at the time. Hyderabad’s population is 30% Muslim, more than twice the national average. It has been a stronghold for rallies against the newly passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Yet, seeking to quash dissent, the Government had specifically prohibited public assemblies, the only exception made was for the Hindu nationalist paramilitary, the RSS.

The RSS is probably the world’s oldest and largest paramilitary group. A secretive, unregistered organization, its size is unknown, but estimated at approximately six million swayamsevaks. It keeps no records and has no bank accounts.

It is uniformed, armed, and all-male. Women are only allowed in the separate women’s wing. It also has countless special-purpose subsidiary organizations, the most important of which are:

  • Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing, founded in 1949.
  • Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the religious wing, founded in 1964.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political wing, founded in 1980.
  • Bajrang Dal, the VHP’s youth wing, founded in 1984.

These groups maintain “symbiotic links” with the RSS, write historians Walter Andersen and Shridhar Damle, by recruiting swayamsevaks “who have already demonstrated organizational skills in the RSS,” a process which guarantees a “high degree of conformity” in behavioral norms and a “high degree of loyalty” to the mother organization.

According to M S Golwalkar, the RSS’s second and longest serving Supreme Leader (1940-1973), the mission of these affiliates was to serve “their own specific roles in their respective fields,” while also working as “recruiting centers for the Sangh from the ideological point of view.” He ordered them to “ideologically capture all other fields.” Their common ideology is Hindutva.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom calls Hindutva an ideology “which holds non-Hindus as foreign to India.” Amnesty International says: “Hindutva is the political ideology of an exclusively Hindu nation.” An exclusively Hindu nation is exactly what the current Supreme Leader of the RSS, Mohan Bhagwat, insists that India is and should be.

One of the many times Bhagwat reiterated this demand was in October 2019, at an event celebrating the foundation of RSS. “The vision and proclamation of the Sangh regarding the identity of the nation, social identity of all of us, and the identity of the country’s nature are clear, well-thought-of and firm that India is Hindustan, a Hindu,” he declared.

He also said: “I was the RSS chief in 2009 as well, but not so many people were here to listen to me. Today, there are more people, because of the growth of the RSS in various sectors.”

Indeed, the RSS has grown, or, rather, metastasized.

The RSS hoped to become “the core around which society itself would become strengthened and cohesive,” explains journalist Hartosh Singh Bal. It was intended to provide a foundation for the country by becoming a predominant group with a hand in every aspect of life in India.

Under Bhagwat’s leadership, today the RSS operates as a state within a state. It is essentially, a shadow government. It is more than just that, argues novelist Arundhati Roy.

“No longer a shadow state or a parallel state, it is the state,” she writes. “Day by day, we see examples of its control over the media, the police, the intelligence agencies. Worryingly, it appears to exercise considerable influence over the armed forces, too.”

It has taken decades of quiet, hard work for the RSS to achieve this level of social and political control. For a long time, the paramilitary was busy laboring at the state level. In 2002, for instance, Roy reported that “the police, the administration and the political cadres at every level” had been “systematically penetrated” in the state of Gujarat.

This is where Modi first cut his teeth as a BJP politician. It is also where the RSS conducted its first pogrom of the 21st Century, which the former leader of the VHP called a “successful experiment which will be repeated all over the country.”

“The traditional muscle power of the BJP has always been the RSS,” said a former US ambassador to India. “The RSS can survive without the BJP but the BJP cannot exist without the RSS. This inextricably links the BJP to the RSS’s Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) agenda. If the BJP does not toot the Hindutva horn, the RSS will not mobilize the Hindu voters.”

Today, however, the RSS’s role is much broader than merely mobilizing voters. It doesn’t just provide boots on the ground to help win elections, it pulls the strings of the party’s elected officials.

Indian attorney A G Noorani calls the BJP “a creature of the RSS,” adding: “Without it the BJP will collapse. Not only does the RSS provide the muscle, cadres who constitute the indispensable foot soldiers during elections, but also the top officials.”

The background of the country’s leadership clearly reflects this. In 2014, when Modi first took office as Prime Minister, 41 members of his government’s 66-person cabinet had an RSS background. Before reshuffling the cabinet in 2017, the BJP first held a “crucial coordination meeting” with the RSS. Today, 38 out of 53 ministers, nearly 75 percent, hail from the RSS.

That includes the infamous duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The two met in 1982, when Modi was 31 and Shah was 17; they became inseparable partners and rose to power through the labors of the RSS. Shah, who is now president of the BJP, acts as Modi’s lieutenant and probable successor.

Other cabinet members with an RSS background include: Defense Minister Rajnath Singh; Transportation Minister Nitin Gadkari; Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal (who is in charge of education); and Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is Minister of both Communications as well as Law and Justice.

With so much power in its hands, criticism of the paramilitary has become nearly an anti-national act of sedition. “Any form of dissent, or attempt to question the views of the RSS, the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is now framed as a threat to national integrity,” writes Hartosh Singh Bal. “In effect, the idea of the nation has come to be conflated with an ideology, a political party or an individual.”

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent. Discover more by him at pieterfriedrich.net.

www.pieterfriedrich.net

Scroll.in – ‘Gated’ colonies: Delhi’s riot-scarred neighbourhoods are fortifying themselves with new barriers

Fear of further communal violence is driving neighbourhoods to put up gates to keep out rioters

Shoaib Daniyal

New Delhi – India, 14 March 2020. Mohammed Wasil looks after Masjid Aqsa in the Chaman Park neighbourhood of North East Delhi. Until last fortnight, his duties involved paying the utility bills for the mosque, overseeing its upkeep and keeping it clean. But now another job has been added to that roster: creating fortifications to protect the place of worship from attack.

Wasil matter-of-factly explained the geography of the area. “Just on that side of the road is Shiv Vihar,” he said. “All through the riots there were constant attacks from that side. Many attempts were made to burn down the mosque.”

Wasil’s solution was to build a large, metal gate just outside the lane where the mosque stands. This week, he was overseeing the construction. “No one will come to save our mosque,” said Wasil. “We need to do it ourselves. That’s why we are making this gate.”

Wasil isn’t the only one building barricades. Rocked by a week of communal rioting in the final week of February, several parts of North East Delhi are building metal gates, walling off their neighbourhoods to stay secure in case of any mob attacks.

The metal gates stand as symbols of the fear that still courses through these narrow lanes.

Still fearful

In Indira Vihar, the fear is still palpable. “We stay up all night guarding out colony,” explained Wasim, who runs runs a plastic moulding unit and would give only one name. “Two days ago, we caught two unidentified people who ran away when we asked who they were.”

During the conversation, the flag march by a paramilitary contingent cleared the main road, as Muslims scurried back inside their lanes. “Every evening the police randomly pick up Muslim boys,” he claimed. “Khauf ka maahaul hai.” There a pall of fear.

One outcome of this alarm is that Indira Vihar, a largely working-class neighbourhood, is acquiring a feature that is a status symbol in the posher parts of Delhi: it is becoming a gated colony.

The barriers are a community effort. “Every person in this colony has paid [Rs] 500-1,000, 2,000” Wasim claimed. “People are paying what they can. If someone can’t pay, they don’t. Everyone realises how important this is. We all saw the riot.”

Building barricades

Bhagirathi Vihar’s gali 13/5 was one of the first places in the area to build a gate. It is the only one that Scroll.in came across that has been painted. Like in other Muslim neighbourhoods, the place is gripped with fear as a result of police raids. “The police is picking up anyone who is Muslim,” one resident said.

But he was hopeful the gate will protect them in case there was a repeat of the violence. “We will shut the gate at the first sign of trouble,” the resident said. “We need to save ourselves. We saw how the police behaved towards Muslims.”

A few lanes down, bakery worker Mohammed Irshad told Scroll.in that the rush to build gates is so high, there is a shortage of labour. Ironically, the construction of gates due to communal tension is being delayed due to communal distrust. Hindu labourers are wary of working in Muslim neighbourhoods.

A few kilometres away in Brahmpuri gali 10, there are now two metal bars at the mouth of the lane: the first step to gating this Hindu-dominated space. “So many Muslims had gathered there,” said a woman who runs a convenience store, pointing to the mouth of the lane.

“They didn’t come in because we had also gathered here,” she said. “But they kept throwing big stones, glass.”

Over in the adjacent gali 9, the gate is fully ready. The owner of a small restaurant next to it pointed to the road outside his colony and called it a “border”. “This is India and that is Pakistan,” he shrugged. “There were many attacks from that side. That is why we had to build this gate. The police are useless. Everyone loves their life, that’s why this is happening.”

While these gates are permanent, they follow temporary barricades that were put up in the area during the violence.

Forts or cages?

While most residents are convinced about the fortificatory uses of gates, there are some sceptics too. In Mustafabad, the imam of the Masjid-e-ahl-e-bait does not believe the structures will help this area in case there is another riot. “We are surrounded by Hindu areas. Gates won’t help,” argued Maulana Mehdi Hasan. “On the other hand, we will be trapped. It will be like putting someone in a cage.”

Narinder Kumar runs a dry goods store in Brahmapuri and, like Hasan, suddenly broke character to identify flaws with military precision. “What if people get locked out during a riot?” he argued. “Where will they go? Will they be killed?”

Kumar also suspects local corruption. “Local toughs are using this fear to extract money,” he said. “God knows how much is being spent on the gates and how much is being pocketed.

Jab time itna kharab hai, to log theek se sochna bandh kar dete hain.”

When times are bad, people stop thinking straight.

https://scroll.in/article/956113/gated-colonies-delhis-riot-scarred-neighbourhoods-are-fortifying-themselves-with-new-barriers