Perspective | Oped | Reflections


On Record
VHP not to forego claims on Mathura
and Kashi
by Rajeev Sharma

F Dr Praveen Togadia is a household name today, it is not because of his specialisation in cancer but because of his fiery speeches. He may soon have a rival. 

Kashmir Daughter’s Bill is in violation of the Constitution
by G.D. Sharma

n attempt is being made by certain vested interests to create a regional divide in Jammu and Kashmir by misinterpreting the provisions of the state subject rules.


Language matters
April 3
, 2004
Tohra the titan
April 2
, 2004
Broader vision
April 1
, 2004
Mature relationship
March 31
, 2004
Three cheers!
March 30
, 2004
So far so good
March 29
, 2004
‘Garib ka raj’ our main poll issue: Paswan
March 28
, 2004
Stealing the past
March 27
, 2004
Well done!
March 26
, 2004
Friend, not master
March 25
, 2004



Irfan: The wonder boy of cricket
by Harihar Swarup
olitics is a great divider of the people but cricket is indeed a great unifier. This stark truth prevailed more at the teenager bowler, Irfan Pathan's house in Vadodara than Lahore’s sprawling Gaddafi Stadium.

Comments Unkempt
No end to Muslim women’s deprivation
by Chanchal Sarkar
ery soon we became insensitive to the numbers game. Sixtyfive million, 76.1 per cent, only 9 per cent of Indian women are in work participation compared to an average Indian figure of 18 per cent.

Diversities — Delhi Letter
Works of art for Alliance Francaise
by Humra Quraishi
here is some refreshing news for art lovers: about 100 of our artists have donated their works of art for the new Alliance Francaise (at 72, Lodi Estate), which is in the process of completion. Artists such as Ram Kumar, Anjolie Ela Menon, Vishwanadhan, Paresh Maity, Shakti Burman, Subrata Kundu, Paritosh Sen, Pulak Biswas have all donated their works of art.

  • Politics dominate party circuit
  • MF’s new film: A different theme






On Record
VHP not to forego claims on Mathura and Kashi
by Rajeev Sharma

Vishwa Hindu Parishad All-India Secretary Surendra Jain
Vishwa Hindu Parishad All-India Secretary Surendra Jain

IF Dr Praveen Togadia is a household name today, it is not because of his specialisation in cancer but because of his fiery speeches. He may soon have a rival. Dr Surendra Jain, a Ph D in Internal Audit, is now busy in the internal audit of the people as well as the Sangh Parivar.

Dr Jain, the all-India secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a former national president of the Bajrang Dal and a contemporary of Togadia, is as well educated as Togadia himself. Jain is a graduate from Delhi’s Sri Ram College of Commerce and a post-graduate from Delhi School of Economics. Jain believes in calling a spade a spade. That is because he does not refrain from attacking the high and the mighty. Excerpts:

Q: How do you react to the recent Supreme Court verdict on Praveen Togadia in the context of the ban on his entry in Karnataka?

A: We don’t welcome this decision. It is a mockery of the judicial system that there is no restriction on people like Syed Bukhari who recently held an assembly in Delhi for the killing of Hamas leader in Gaza. But a patriot like Praveen Bhai Togadia cannot hold a rally in his own country simply because he is a Hindu leader who is raising the voice of the Hindus. We are studying the decision and would take whatever legal steps possible.

Q: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee have been talking of a negotiated settlement of the Ram Temple issue. What is the VHP stand?

A: There cannot be any negotiation on this issue. Over 1,40,000 Hindus have sacrificed their lives to get the Ram Janambhoomi back from the hands of the jihadis. Moreover, the Babri structure was a symbol of a foreign invader. Therefore, this issue is not negotiable. There can be no negotiation on national pride.

Q: The RSS has been talking to Muslim leaders to promote understanding between the two communities. Do you think this initiative would succeed given the past history?

A: If Muslim leaders come forward to understand the feelings of the Hindu society, it will lay the foundation stone for ensuring permanent understanding between the two communities. If the Muslims of India, more than 95 per cent of whom have Hindu ancestors, get themselves disconnected from foreign invaders like Mehmood Gazani, Babar, Aurangzeb etc, only then this initiative has any chance of success. The itching factor should first be identified and then be removed.

Q: In the backdrop of the RSS talking to Muslim leaders, don’t you think the VHP would become redundant?

A: Right from Mahatma Gandhi, there are several persons and organisations who have conducted talks with various Muslim organisations. VHP leaders were also included in many such talks but in vain. The VHP, as an autonomous organisation, has its own agenda and programmes. So there is no question of the VHP becoming redundant by the talks held by the RSS.

Q: Are you ready to forego your claim to the Krishna Janmasthan temple and the Kashi Vishwanath temple, if the Muslim community is ready to abandon its claim on the Ram temple in Ayodhya?

A: Many Muslim leaders have declared that if it is proved that certain mosques are built by destroying the Hindu temples, they will happily hand over these to Hindus. After the results of the Archaeological Survey of India, recently conducted by the orders of the High Court, the Muslims should themselves offer to surrender the Ram Janambhoomi. They would not be obliging anybody if they were to do that. It is the last chance to earn the goodwill of the Hindu society. There cannot be any bargain on these issues. Therefore, the Hindu society cannot forego its claim on the Krishna Janmabhoomi and the Kashi Vishwanath temples.

Q: What purpose Mr Advani’s latest Bharat Uday Yatra would serve? Will this help the BJP electorally?

A: The BJP, as a political party, has every right to go to people with its agenda and achievements in whatever legal way, they deem fit. Rath Yatra is a good mode for mass awakening and mass contact. It will definitely help BJP.

Q: At the peak of the Ram temple movement, the VHP had claimed that its coffers were full. How much do you have in the kitty now? Are you ready for an audit?

A: The peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement has not yet come. No doubt, we gained certain heights but the peak is yet to be achieved. We have a lot in our kitty and the Hindu society has extended its full-fledged support to us. Some people thought that the Ram Janambhoomi is an encashed cheque, which cannot be presented again. But in the movement of October 2003, people saw that every street and road of UP was in control of Ram Bhaktas despite all hindrances put up by the Central and state governments. People audit our programmes from time to time.

Q: The VHP claims to represent Hindus. What percentage of Hindus supports your organisation?

A: If we don’t represent, who else does? It is we who collected signatures of about ten crore Hindus and presented to the President in 1993. More than 20 crore of people have participated in our programmes since 1986. Barring a negligible minority we have the support of the entire Hindu society.

Q: If you are so sure of the Hindu support, why don’t you contest an election for giving a befitting reply to your adversaries who say that you along with other VHP leaders are only a vocal minority and that most Hindus do not support you?

A: The VHP is a socio-religious organisation. Our Constitution bars us from contesting elections. Crores of people participate in our programmes from time to time. This is the fittest reply to our adversaries.

Q: But ironically you have used the same argument to criticise the Hurriyat leadership saying that the Hurriyat Conference does not represent the Kashmiri people as it has never contested an election?

A: The Hurriyat conference is a political organisation and if they don’t contest elections on some pretext, it means they are afraid of getting exposed. But I think even the Hurriyat does not claim to represent the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes Ladakh and Jammu.

Q: The Hurriyat had said that PLO leader Yaseer Arafat had also never contested an election but yet is being recognised as a leader of the Palestinian people. Do you accept this argument?

A: This argument may be true for Arafat because no election has ever been held in Palestine. But this cannot be applied for organisations like the Hurriyat. Elections are regularly held in Jammu and Kashmir but the Hurriyat does not dare to participate.



Kashmir Daughter’s Bill is in violation of the Constitution
by G.D. Sharma

An attempt is being made by certain vested interests to create a regional divide in Jammu and Kashmir by misinterpreting the provisions of the state subject rules. The hastily drafted Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill has created a countrywide storm and voices have been raised against the Bill that seeks to deny state subject rights to those women who marry outsiders.

Coming to the legal aspects, there is no provision in the notification No. 1-L/84 dated April 20, 1927 issued by the then ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, or in the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir that on marriage with a non-permanent resident, the daughter of a permanent resident shall lose her status of a permanent resident of the state to hold, inherit and acquire immovable property in the state.

The status of being a permanent resident of the state that a woman acquires on her birth by operation of the law, i.e. by virtue of Note-II shall continue to hold as long as she remains the citizen of India. Undoubtedly, Note-III of the above notification dealt with the status of a female non-resident of the state being wife or widow of the state subject. She could retain the state subject of her husband so long as she resided in the state and did not permanently reside outside the state. As an instance, if her marriage with a permanent resident of the state is dissolved by divorce or on his death she goes permanently to reside outside the state, she will lose the status of permanent resident of the state.

Such a law was adopted by the then ruler to safeguard the interests of his subjects from the onslaught of outsiders, including the British who always wanted to grab the lands situated in picturesque places here. Ironically, the politicians are trying to misinterpret the issue and putting the blame on Maharaja Hari Singh. This is factually and legally wrong statement that is providing fuel to the separatist elements.

Unfortunately, the present controversy has been kicked off by the politicians following the judgement of the full Bench of the J&K High Court on Oct 7, 2002 while disposing off a bunch of 14 writ petitions pertaining to the issue of state subject. The court ordered that there is no provision in the existing law dealing with the status of a female permanent resident who marries a non-permanent resident and that the state legislature has powers under Section 8 of the J&K Constitution to make such a law.

In case the Bill becomes an Act, it will be violative of the fundamental rights of women as they shall be deprived of social, economic and political justice. They shall lose the right to inherit as well as retain ancestral property and also lose government jobs. Their right of equality shall also be a casualty.

Once the Bill becomes an Act, women shall be a victim of the casualty of the directive principles and their fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 (1), 16 (1) and 19 (1) (e) of the Constitution of India shall stand whittled down. The authors of this proposed Act are deriving force from the mandates of Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution.

The proposed Act is defining the classes of persons amongst the permanent residents of the state on the classification of genders. The female members from the category of genders marrying outside the state shall lose all the rights specified from heads (i) to (iv) of Clause (b) of the said Art. Clause (b) is an independent provision and not dependant on clause (a) so far as its second limb is concerned. Clause (b) envisages the conferring on defined permanent classes of persons under clause (a) any special rights and privileges, or imposing upon other persons any restrictions in respect to matters enumerated under heads (i) to (iv).

The female members who are classified under clause (a) under the Act could only be conferred any special rights and privileges under first limb of clause (b) of the Article. Their rights or privileges cannot be restricted under second limb of clause (b) of the Article and not to take of extinguishing their vested rights. Under this provision, restrictions can be imposed as enumerated under heads (i) to (iv) upon other persons i.e. persons who are not defined permanent residents of the State which means on non-residents or out-siders. In other words, the second limb of clause (b) of the Article is not applicable to permanent residents of the state.

A harmonious construction has given to clauses (a) and (b) of the Article in order to arrive at the desired result contemplated by the Indian Parliament. The Indian Parliament had never contemplated the growth and survival of fissiparous tendencies in this part of the country. The Act, if comes into force, shall breed hatred and conflict between male and female genders as well as between the inhabitants of three regions of the state on the basis of communal and political lines. Educated and progressive female members from the majority community too have married outside the state and in future they shall also be getting married even if the Bill becomes an Act. The Act will advance mischief and conflict in society instead of suppressing them. The Act lacks the legislative power of enactment as it falls outside the purview of Article 35-A. Rather it is violative of the spirit of this Article.

Article 14 gives them fundamental right to equality before law but under the Act males have been preferred because after marrying outsider females they will not lose the right of being permanent residents. A female from outside the state shall became permanent resident on marrying a male permanent resident of the state but a daughter who is a born State Subject will lose the right on marrying an outsider. Unreasonable classification between males and females and between females and females is against the spirit of Article 14.

The discrimination against any citizen on the ground of sex is hit by Article 15 (1). Clause (i) of Art 16 states that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state. The Act is violating this provision of the Constitution too as a female marrying a non-state subject shall lose employment and shall have no future right of employment in the state. Clause (e) of Article 19 provides that all citizens shall have the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India. The Act imposes a ban on the daughter of the state to reside and settle in any part of the country at the cost of losing the acquired constitutional right of the State Constitution as well as Indian Constitution of being a permanent resident of the state.

It is hoped that all the members of the State Legislative Council and State Legislative Assembly in their wisdom shall review their legal duty to bring this piece of legislation within the fore corners and ambit of the State Constitution and the Indian Constitution.

The writer is a former Judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.


Irfan: The wonder boy of cricket
by Harihar Swarup

Politics is a great divider of the people but cricket is indeed a great unifier. This stark truth prevailed more at the teenager bowler, Irfan Pathan's house in Vadodara than Lahore’s sprawling Gaddafi Stadium.

Irfan’s early spell had ripped through three of Pakistan’s top order and this was crucial for India to win. The young prodigy from Vadodara had done it . In the words of Captain Saurav Ganguly: “Irfan has been the best among the bowlers from both sides”.

His family members live in a house looking like shanty inside the walled city’s Jama Masjid and his father, Mehmood Khan, is the mosque’s caretaker. Barely two years back the area around the mosque was scene of communal carnage and the police stood by as mute spectator. Last week the cheering crowd, cutting across religious lines, was trying to enter Jama Masjid to greet Irfan’s father on the spectacular performance of his son at Lahore. In sharp contrast, it was the same police which was now regulating the crowd striving hard to enter Pathan’s house to join the victory celebration.

Irfan Pathan is barely 19, on the threshold of manhood, but still lovingly called “Guddu” by his parents, sister, brother and neighbours. A student of Standard VII, sister Shagufta was, in fact, counting each ball Irfan delivered; the tally touched 64 and these included three that routed Pakistan’s top batting order. Cricket lovers call him “magic in the air”, “wonder boy of cricket” and so on.

Ifran is one of the more poignant stories of Indian cricket. Son of a muezzin whose state was rocked by communal violence a couple of years ago, he represents the younger generation of a new India. In-built in him is the virtues of swing bowling. Irfan rose in international cricket like a meteor, refusing to be cowed down in Australia where he dismissed celebrities like A Gilchrist and Steve Waugh within a space of a few overs.

Irfan was drafted for the third one-dayer following an injury to Ashish Nehra. He made an instant impact, edging out powerful Shahid Afridi in his second over, and then claiming two more. He was India's best bowler in the fourth match too, pegging Pakistan back with two wickets in his opening spell.

However, more than his wickets, he has defied convention. Abandoning the safe first method of pitching the ball just short of a length, he has dared to pith the ball up, trusting his ability to swing it. Pathan has managed to defeat the lifelessness of the soil. India has unearthed some gems in a couple of years, and Irfan has the promise to be one of the brightest cricketers.

“Yeh sab Allah ki meherbani hai (This is thanks to God’s grace),” Irfan said after picking five wickets in the first Test against Pakistan. His faith in the Almighty helps him to do better on the field. “Offering Namaz not only makes a person humble, it also helps me concentrate better. That is one way I keep improving my performance,” he says.

Pathan’s four for 100 was instrumental in getting India to the doorsteps of the historic Test win. But in spite of this career-best performance, he says he will not get carried away with all the adulation that is following him after his entry into international cricket in Australia.”

“I will never be carried away with the attention I am getting. My feet are on the ground and Insha Allah, I will keep doing it,” he says. This is also what even Sachin Tendulkar wants from him. India’s leading batsman has requested the media to “let him remain Irfan Pathan”. “He is very good and has the knack of picking up wickets. At times he may be expensive but that is because he tries to get the wickets. But he still has a long way to go,” Tendulkar feels.

For Irfan’s father, a dream has come true. Both of Irfan’s parents, Mahmood Khan and Shamimbanu along with his sister Shagufta have received a Pakistani visa to be able to remain present during the Lahore Test. It will be a rare occasion for the family as this will be the first time that they will see their son live in an international match. “I used to watch some of his local matches. But after he was selected for the national side, I wanted to watch him play an international match. It will be a moment that I will cherish all my life,” says Mehmood Khan.

Moreover, the matches being played in Pakistan, in Lahore especially, are just a few hours drive from New Delhi, he adds. Irfan’s bother, Yusuf Pathan, says, “There are very few instances when my parents have gone to watch either of us play.” During his father’s absence, Yusuf will discharge his duties at the mosque.


Comments Unkempt
No end to Muslim women’s deprivation
by Chanchal Sarkar

Very soon we became insensitive to the numbers game. Sixtyfive million, 76.1 per cent, only 9 per cent of Indian women are in work participation compared to an average Indian figure of 18 per cent. They take on a forehead-burrowing reality when their interpretation is: 65 million Muslim women in India; 76.1 per cent rural Muslim women illiterate and only 9.6 per cent in work participation. Visual signals from the Charminar area of Hyderabad, Matia Burj in Kolkata or the walled city in Delhi are enough to show that the Muslims are the deprived community.

Readings like those from the Human Development Report of the 1990s show that the enrolment rate in school was only 62 per cent among Muslims while for all India is 72 per cent confirm this. Digging a little deep the observer would soon know that the women are in a much more difficult state.

Poverty, lack of education, no health care, no housing, premarriage demand, post marriage dowry demand for money and consumer durables are an obvious index. Peculiar to Muslim women there is another lot, — like triple Talaq — going against women, also lack of obligation to pay maintenance to abandoned or divorced wife, polygamy; and misinterpretation of the Quran.

In the first category, illiteracy itself leads to less work opportunities, made more so by not allowing women to go out of the home for work. The second category is much more painful. Not long ago meetings were held in six Indian centres. Women, usually, without a chance to express their feelings spoke about their plight. Abandoned with young children without any maintenance, divorced by the use of a single word, cases dragging on for years, short-lived ‘marriages’ with men from Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia are examples. Behind the last category is a misinterpretation of the Quran which, in truth gave many more rights to women in the times when Islam was ordained. With centuries of unfair discrimination the women themselves had come to accept the false interpretation.

The situation in the sub-continent is specially bad. There would be no point at all in teasing out a little pride by saying that the situation among Hindu women is better.

The story is not of comparison but of an examination of reality. Other Islamic countries, though by no means all, have reduced discrimination by changing the law, but the Indian situation, despite a few attempts in the British period, remains static. In India, for instance, attempts to change the law have met with stiff resistance from the conservative Muslim elders, saying that this was an attempt to change the personal religious law of the Muslims. In the Muslim world there has been a powerful burst of conservatism which has even touched the so-called modern states.

In France, there is a dispute over girls wearing a headdress in school, for instance. Turkey had a similar dispute and one woman fought in the law courts and won the right to wear a headdress in the university. It is not there or legal, but many women wear a headdress as we saw in the recent Pakistan-India cricket matches. The burqah is predominant in Afghanistan and has far from disappeared in Pakistan and India.

In Kashmir, powerful organisations of women have issued an edict that women must wear the burqah or face-attacks in the streets leading to slashing of the dress, throwing of acid etc. Fortunately, this has not yet spread to other states.

When the Muslim Women’s Forum encouraged women to a series of public hearings in Chennai, Kozhikode, Kolkata, Tejpur, Bijnor and Delhi some of the spontaneous statements of the women were truly pathetic. Here are some examples:

“I was married but was sent back after ten days as I had white patches on my skin. I went back many times but was not accepted. Talaqnama was sent by post and I was made to sign it under false pretenses that it was just a “registered” letter”. “Three months after my marriage my husband started demanding my jewellery. I gave it but he never returned it to me. The divorce case was filed three years ago. I want Mehr and maintenance.”

“I married my daughter to a man living in Saudi Arabia. She had two children. One day I was told that my daughter had died of burns. The police are not arresting the culprit and he threatens the family. I am fighting for the custody of my 12 years old grandson, return of dowry and punishment for the culprit”.

“I was married for one year. My husband deserted me. He has not shown-up for eight years. Will there be any insaf for me?”

“Despite women’s secure position given by the Quran women are not respected by society. Talaq which Allah has permitted as the last resort, has been used freely bringing injustice, privation and indignity to women. I also want to speak about the rising trend of some people who believe that every Muslim is a Pakistani.”

“Most Muslim women are not aware of Muslim Personal Law. This ignorance has made women suffer in silence.”

The Quran puts great emphasis on education for men and women. As a result, the very large proportion of illiterate and uneducated women are desperately keen to see that their daughters are schooled and educated. In many such matters the people from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes are not significantly ahead of the Muslims in education, health care, etc but there has been affirmative action for them (the SC, ST) but much less for the Muslims.

What we saw in the pavilions and galleries were women from Pakistan and India well groomed and dressed, Many with flowing hair and uncovered faces. But very few of us stopped to think of the millions of women, jobless, illiterate, interned in poor homes and cramped by Quranic laws which are interpreted by men in a men-dominated society. Cricket may have seen the paying out of millions of rupees by those who can afford it and opened up a slit of enjoyment for a few days. But the deprivation of Muslim women remains awesomely grave despite 57 years.



Diversities — Delhi Letter
Works of art for Alliance Francaise
by Humra Quraishi

There is some refreshing news for art lovers: about 100 of our artists have donated their works of art for the new Alliance Francaise (at 72, Lodi Estate), which is in the process of completion. Artists such as Ram Kumar, Anjolie Ela Menon, Vishwanadhan, Paresh Maity, Shakti Burman, Subrata Kundu, Paritosh Sen, Pulak Biswas have all donated their works of art.

This weekend, French Ambassador Dominique Girard has invited the art lovers and critics to have a look at the prized collection. This would be followed by another relaxed evening at his residence, for one of those wine tasting get-togethers. Tasting is just the polite word, for on earlier occasions, I have seen people gulping down.

John Lane, is visiting the Viveka Foundation for the India launch of his book “Timeless Beauty — in the arts and everyday life”. As he writes in the book, “it was my desire to reinstate beauty as a vital aspect of everyday life. Beauty is critical to our future well being and a fundamental component of any civilised life. We neglect it at our peril. So if I were asked what I wanted to accomplish with this book, I would say it’s to contribute to a necessary vision of sanity and hope”.

And then, almost closing the season is the event at the India International Centre to highlight different aspects of New Zealand and the country’s people and culture. It began on April 2 at the residence of New Zealand High Commissioner to India Caroline McDonald.

Politics dominate party circuit

When people ask whether the coming elections would make some difference to the Page 3 party circuit in the Capital, I can just about think of two aspects — there would be lesser of those type of those parties for the prime characters and the movers and shakers on the social circuit would be either contesting or helping those contesting.

Spontaneously, the names that come rolling by are that of Subbirama Reddy, Amar Singh, Nafisa Ali, Naveen and Shalu Jindal, Maneka Gandhi’s sister Ambika Shukla, the Scindia sisters, and Dr Farooq Abdullah.

Then, the other trend which has already picked up is that at each get-together, the talks centre around the coming elections with each person coming up with his or her views, whether it's the ongoing Indo-Pak dosti pact or Rahul Gandhi’s big jump going. No, there is no other talk except that of politics.

MF’s new film: A different theme

April 2 was also the launch day of M.F. Husain’s new film, “Meenaxi: Tale of 3 cities”. A very different theme alright, what with a woman looking for perfect love and so going from city to city (Hyderabad, Jaisalmer and Prague). And a writer is sitting all tight with the proverbial writer’s block throttling him.

What’s to be seen is how much artistry has Husain woven into it all. And let’s not forget Delhi Government’s cultural inputs for the season’s end, programme after programme, whether it was last weekend to mark 10 years of Dilli Haat or the programme in the name of sufi Khusro or the upcoming Bhakti festival.



All sins are eliminated with the supreme nectar of God’s love.

— Guru Nanak

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

— Saint Francis of Assisi

It is always better to forsake false beliefs.

— Swami Dayanand Saraswati

No man can pass into eternity, for he is already in it.

— Farrar

Fear of death and fear of life both become piety.

— H.L. Mencken

Manners are stronger than laws.

— A. Carlyle

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