Parasites In The Lands Of The Infidels

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In an interview, Amr Adly discusses his recent Carnegie paper on Egypt’s large private enterprises.

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A test for the Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt’s changing foreign policy

Egypt beyond Mubarak

The dissolution of the NDP

Remaking Cairo from below

Why Egypt should join the ICC

No citizenship without social justice

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Terrorising Muslims in the Name of Countering Terrorism

  by: : Yoginder Sikand

In the face of a seemingly unending wave of fake encounters, killings and
arrests of innocent Muslims across the country falsely accused by the police of
being ‘terrorists’, a three-day Peoples’ Tribunal was recently held in
Hyderabad on ‘Atrocities Committed Against Minorities in the Name of Fighting
Terrorism’. Organised by three noted Delhi-based human rights organisations,
ANHAD, Peace and the Human Rights Law Network, it brought together eminent
journalists, retired judges and social activists who listened to the testimonies
of over 40 Muslims from different parts of India who have been victimised or
whose relatives have been brutally terrorised by the police and the state
machinery in the name of combating ‘terrorism’.

Introducing the purpose of the Public Tribunal, Apoorvanand, a Delhi-based
social activist, critiqued the so-called ‘mainstream’ media for its
obsession with what it terms as ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islamic’ terrorism while
maintaining a studied silence on the terrorism unleashed on a far more menacing
scale by the state and by right-wing Hindu organisations, in which, over the
years, tens of thousands of people, mostly Muslims, have lost their lives, with
their culprits having faced no punishment whatsoever. He remarked that now, in
addition to working-class Muslims who earlier bore the brunt of police
brutalities, Muslim professionals, such as doctors, computer scientists and
engineers, are being arbitrarily arrested by the police, tortured in jails and
branded as ‘terrorists’ for crimes for which no confirmed evidence of their
involvement has been produced. ‘Earlier, poor Muslims were arrested, branded
as ignorant lumpen elements by the police
and, hence, as terrorists. Now, they are catching well-educated Muslims and
accusing them of being terrorists, claiming that they have access to
sophisticated technology,’ he remarked. Literally hundreds of Muslims have,
in recent years, been picked up by the police or even killed on such fake
charges, he added. The mass media simply parrots the police line, thus playing a
major role in fanning anti-Muslim hatred. At the same time, he went on, the
police, the so-called ‘mainstream’ media and the state machinery turn a
completely blind eye to the terror being openly engaged in by Hindutva outfits.
On a similar note, Colin Gonsalves, Supreme Court advocate and convenor of the
Human Rights Law Network, noted what he called the ‘fear psychosis’ that had
spread throughout the Muslim community in the face of police and state terror.
Several Muslim victims from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh who wanted
to testify at the Public Tribunal were intimidated by the police not to do so,
being threatened with further trouble if they refused to comply with their
orders, he said. He bitterly castigated the state for refusing to ban Hindu
terror outfits and for not taking any action against the killers of literally
thousands of Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. He pointed out that the police was
rounding up large numbers of innocent Muslims and, through brutal torture, was
forcing them to confess to terror crimes which they did not commit. For their
part, the courts, too, were dragging their feet on a whole host of cases
involving massacres and
unwarranted arrests of religious minorities across the country.
Suresh Khairnar, an intrepid human rights activist from Nagpur, rebutted the
police’s claim about the alleged role of Muslim militants in the attack on the
RSS headquarters in Nagpur and in several other such bomb blasts in recent
years. He claimed that the Nagpur attack was a stage-managed incident, and that
the three Muslim men who were killed by the police, whom the police claimed were
behind the attack, were actually done to death in a fake encounter. Khairnar
also raised the case of the Nanded blasts, in which some Bajrang Dal activists
who were making bombs in order to attack mosques were killed. Scores of Hindutva
activists were also involved in the conspiracy, but, Khairnar said, no action
was taken against them. Nor did the media give this, as well as other proven
cases of Hindutva groups being engaged in fomenting terror, much coverage.
‘This is the last battle for survival for India’s Muslims. I cannot even
dare imagine how dreadful must be the insecurity of ordinary Muslims in this
country,’ Khairnar opined, adding that the state, rapidly hurtling towards
full-blown fascism, was hell-bent on quashing all dissent. ‘While Muslims
demanding justice are branded as Islamic terrorists, those of us, like myself,
who have Hindu names, are being targeted as Naxalites,’ he said. No political
party was seriously taking up the cause of the Muslims who are being thus
unfairly targeted, he pointed out, and in large parts of the country
pro-Hindutva lawyers have made it impossible for anyone to take up their cases.
The situation was grim not just in BJP-ruled states but also in states ruled by
the Congress and the CPI(M), he added, where the attitude of the police towards
Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis was, with a few exceptions, equally hostile.
‘They are fiercely anti-Muslim despite not
having gone to RSS shakhas and despite being paid by a so-called secular
state. They are doing the work of the Bajrang Dal’, he remarked.
Zakia Jowher of Action Aid , who has been closely involved in the struggle for
justice for Muslims in Gujarat, spoke about the continued harassment of Muslims
in the state, of police forcing innocent Muslims through torture to confess to
bomb blasts crimes that they did not commit, even going to the extent of
threatening to kill them in fake encounters if they refused. Yet, in the face of
all this, the state remains a mute spectator. Even sections of the judiciary are
complicit in this gross denial of justice and there is little or no transparency
in the investigations. ‘ We are paying the price for being Muslims. This is
a total subversion of the Indian Constitution. Gujarat was an exception’, but
now, she added, ‘it is rapidly becoming the norm’, with witch-hunts against
Muslims in the name of countering terrorism spreading to the rest of the
country. ‘There’s no difference between the Congress and the BJP on this
score,’ she
Ram Puniyani, noted Mumbai-based human rights activist, argued that there now
appear to be ‘two separate judicial systems in this country—a separate one
for oppressed communities like Dalits and Muslims and another for the elites.
There seems to be no scope for justice for oppressed groups. Investigations into
charges and atrocities against them are being dictated by oppression, deceit and
lies.’ This sentiment was echoed by the well-known scholar-activist Asghar
Ali Engineer, who remarked that ‘the governmental apparatus has become
monstrous’. He questioned the police’s claims about the banned Students
Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) as being behind a recent chain of deadly bomb
blasts in the country, on the basis of which hundreds of hapless Muslims have
been arrested and tortured in prisons. ‘SIMI has been banned for several years
now, so how can it suddenly become so powerful? SIMI activists have been
carefully watched, so how come
these attacks have happened?’ , he asked. Numerous other blasts attributed
to Muslims by the police, the state authorities and the media, he said, were
probably engineered by other elements. The media, however, only accepts the
police version of the story, and no action is ever taken against highly communal
Hindu newspapers, which spread vitriol against Muslims, he pointed out.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha called these chains of
dastardly events as ‘signs of fascism, an attack not just on Muslims but also
on democracy, indicating a total collapse of the Constitutional system’. She
mentioned how Hindu fascist organisations regularly organise training camps for
instructing their volunteers in the use of arms and also carry weapons in
processions in the streets but are not stopped by the state machinery. ‘Yet,
if Muslims just raise some religious slogan like Allahu Akbar they can be
branded as terrorists ’, she said. ‘I thought the judiciary was the safest
institution for protecting the rights of minorities but this is not so.
Several unfair judgments have been delivered and if we protest against them we
run the risk of being accused of contempt of court’, she decried.
After listening to the heart-wrenching narratives of hapless Muslim victims of
police and state terror who had assembled from various parts of India, members
of the jury of the People’s Tribunal announced their ‘verdict’.
Jury-member and noted human rights activist from Hyderabad K.G.Kannabiran
accused the government of ‘an assault on Muslims and subjecting them to
tremendous repression’. ‘Such mis-governance and such blatant denial of
justice’, he said, ‘can only produce terrorism, not stop it.’ Likewise,
Justice (Retd.) Sardar Ali accused powerful elements in the police and the state
apparatus of seeking to ‘destroy the fundamental character of the Indian
Constitution’ and even claimed that ‘an undeclared emergency has been
declared against the Muslims of the country’. This, in turn, he remarked,
‘poses a grave danger to the very concept of India.’ And, voicing the same
concern, Justice (Retd.) S.N.Bhargava gave a
similar verdict, stating that Muslims in large parts of India were ‘living
in fear’ and were being effectively denied their right to live with honour and