Saturday, March 6, 2010

GUJCOC: A Pandora Box for Minorities in GUJARAT

In spite of there being laws to curb social crimes and terrorism, Gujarat government is determined to shape the GUJCOC Bill into an act. Abdul Hafiz Lakhani senses into it a conspiracy against the minorities of Gujarat.

Narendra Modi ---the most hated face of Gujarat 2002 riots demands for Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) in his state Gujarat to control terrorism and anti--national activities. Though this GUJCOC is always under serious discussion for its anti-human rights provisions, Modi continues insisting on his stand.

Narendra Modi is widely called as the terrorist number one in the country. He is unleashing state-sponsored terrorism in Gujarat. In the name to curbing terrorism, innocent people are arrested and harassed.

Gujarat riot took place as per the instruction of Modi. He is still in power. The victims of the riot do not have any expectation for justice as long as he is in power. People have lost faith in the law and order system existing in Gujarat. It is human nature to take revenge.

When a boy sees his family members being brutally killed and is not getting justice, what will he do? Will he not become violent? Those who have been victimised should get justice, otherwise terrorism will not end.

Before analysing the Gujarat government's position and the effectiveness of a law like GUJCOCs in dealing with terrorism, let us look at some of its provisions.

Every offence punishable under GUJCOC is cognizable. Anticipatory bail provision is excessively stringent so as to keep the accused behind the bars for a substantial period of time without a trial. Confession made before a superintendent of police is admissible evidence, irrespective of how much an accused is tortured. Valid intercepted communication is also admissible evidence. An accused can be kept in police custody for up to 60 days.

The failure of police to chargesheet an accused does create a technical ground for bail.
There will be special courts and special public prosecutors to expedite the trials. The history of the accused shall have a bearing on the evidence against him. Special courts are permitted to have summary trials. Protection of witness and property of the accused will be on a reasonable ground liable to be forfeited. Having gone through some of the main provisions of GUJCOC, one question that comes to mind is “Is GUJCOC an anti-terrorist Act, meant to deal sternly with terrorism?”

Sections pertaining to interception were also scrapped from (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) MCOCA following a petition in the Mumbai High Court in the case involving film financier Bharat Shah. The GUJCOC Bill in its new avatar, too, is without these sections. Further, in sections referring to harbouring of criminals and holding property acquired from the said crime, (Prevention of Terrorism Act) POTA appears more compassionate than GUJCOC. For example, while the minimum imprisonment for harbouring a terrorist under POTA was three years, in the case of GUJCOC it is five years for harbouring a member of an organised crime syndicate. Besides, while POTA distinguishes between voluntary and forcible harbouring, GUJCOC has done away with the distinction.
Chief minister Narendra Modi may have upped his ante demanding immediate approval of the bill, but the Centre seems to have reservations on the draconian provisions it envisages that make it vulnerable to human rights abuse. Some of the controversial provisions provide for death sentence to even persons who may have unknowingly helped a criminal involved in organised crime. GUJCOC also provides for intercepting telephone calls, letters, emails and other communication and admitting them as evidence. The provisions also give wide powers to seize the property of the accused.

GUJCOC equates terrorist activity with murder and provides for death sentence or life imprisonment, besides a penalty of Rs. 10 lakh for terrorists. Gujarat Congress president Siddharth Patel has said, the BJP should tell the people the provisions that have been included in the bill. He added, "The provisions put the onus on citizens to prove themselves innocent, rather than the police proving the guilt of the criminal". It allows a police remand of 30 days without producing the culprit in the court and gives the police 180 days to frame the chargesheet.

Congress spokesperson Arjun Modhvadia called the GUJCOC law as hot as chilly and said it gave wide powers to police, something that even the British did not have during their rule in India. Like POTA, the provisions are bound to be misused, particularly against Muslims in the state. He pointed out that if one read the statement of objects given by the state of Gujarat, it did not appear to be so. It says, ‘the organised crime has for quite some years now come up as a very serious threat to our society.’ It knows no national boundaries and is fuelled by illegal wealth generation by contract killing, extortion, smuggling in contrabands, illegal trade in narcotics, kidnappings for ransom, collection of protection money and money laundering etc.

The illegal wealth and black money generated by organised crime is huge and has serious adverse effects on economy. It is noticed that the organised criminal syndicates make common cause with terrorist gangs and foster macro terrorism extending beyond the national boundaries. There is reason to believe that organised criminal gangs are operating in the state and thus, there is immediate need to curb their activities. It further states that the existing legal framework is inadequate to curb the menace of organised crime.

Does the statement of object not read more like justification for seeking a new law against organised crime than terrorism? Is it meant to deal with Dawood Ibrahim and his friends in Mumbai and not a bunch of Jamia Millia Islamia students who have no criminal history? But should not an Act that is being touted as Gujarat's answer to terrorism focus on these faceless, nameless men who are killing innocent people, seeking to avenge what they perceive to be collective failure of the state to protect religious minorities?
Do we mean to say that the terrorists in India are involved blowing up trains, killing innocent people in crowded markets, hospitals and theatres for pecuniary benefit and to get undue economic advantage? The answer is no. Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) was in force when terrorists killed more than 35,000 people, POTA could not prevent suicide bombers. Therefore, the question “are blasts taking place across the country because we do not have a law to deal with terrorists, or because of a failure on the part of state to respond to this new threat from those who actually belong to us?”

If the Gujarat police want to keep the accused behind the bars without prosecution, it has preventive detention laws. If it wants to prevent anti-socials from committing crimes, Gujarat has the Prevention of Anti-social Act. If we want to deal with terrorism we have the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which was amended at the time of repeal of POTA and which can further be amended. What we need is strengthening of the existing preventive, prosecuting and punishing mechanisms in India. We need to strengthen the institutions that can prevent young men from taking to terrorism. We need to strengthen the institutions that can effectively prosecute those who stray. And this can happen only when every individual who has not lost any near and dear one in a terrorist act feels the pain of those who did. And he or she should understand that we will continue to lose our loved ones to terrorist acts if we do not act like a citizen of India.

The country needs to collectively respond to this national problem beyond the politics of the two national parties, BJP and Congress and their everyday engagement in allegations and counter-allegations. There may be many a slip before the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) (Amended) Bill, 2003, passed in the State Assembly and becoming an Act.

Framed on the lines of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999, it may be the Modi government's riposte to the Centre, but the birth pangs were evident when former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam directed the deletions of all sections pertaining to communication interception when the NDA was still in power at the Centre.

Vipul Vijoy Singh says, “People involved in terrorist activities usually advocate some ideology and are not mercenary, while the motive in organised crime is money. But now underworld dons like Dawood Ibrahim have begun supporting terrorist organisations.”

Vadodara-based rights activist Rohit Prajapati refers to the attitude of the Gujarat government during the 2002 riots and says, “I have a strong feeling that in the name of countering “terrorism” Gujarat is becoming a terrorist state by looking for indiscriminate power in its hands.” According to him, the GUJCOC Bill will “legalise state terrorism.”

Now, President Pratibha Patil is still undecided about a green signal to this GUJCOC. Unlike MCOCA, whose raison detre is explained as tackling organised crime “fuelled by illegal wealth generated by contract killing, extortion, smuggling in contrabands, illegal trade in narcotics, kidnappings for ransom, collection of protection money and money laundering, etc,” GUJCOC does not bother to explain what comprises organised crime.
POTA also clarifies (which GUJCOC does not) that the sub-section on harbourers shall not apply to any case in which the harbouring is done by the husband or wife of the offender.

POTA says, “Whoever knowingly holds any property derived or obtained from commission of any terrorist act or has been acquired through the terrorist funds shall be punishable” whereas GUJCOC does not mention the term “knowingly”. GUJCOC reads much like POTA, with only “terrorism” and “terrorist organisation” being replaced by “organised crime” and “organised crime syndicate”.

After deletion of 12 sections pertaining to interception of communication and its treatment as evidence, GUJCOC's section 27, like POTA, allows a confessional statement by an accused before an officer not below the rank of superintendent of police, to be admitted in a court for trial, but is being severely opposed. Says Gujarat High Court lawyer Mukul Sinha, “the fact that they were eager to enact this law shows that it might be misused, just like POTA to differentiate their scope”.


Meanwhile the union home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, has recommended to the President Pratibha Singh Patel that the GUJCOC Bill, which was passed by the Gujarat Assembly for the fourth time on July 28 last year, should not be given approval as it still has two provisions which the Centre has earlier objected to.
The home ministry had earlier decided to delete two provisions in GUJCOC— admission of confession made before a police officer in a court and the clause that bars grant of bail to a person if the public prosecutor opposes it. However, the Narendra Modi government did not incorporate the suggested changes saying that GUJCOC Bill is almost similar to the MCOCA and, therefore; the Central government should give its assent to it.

Letter To The Editor

Stop Cow Politics
Sir, I was amazed to read Swami Vivekananda having said, “There was a time in this very India when without eating beef, no Brahmin could remain a Brahmin; you read in the Vedas how, when a Sanyasin, a king, or a great man came into a house, the best bullock was killed...In that period, five Brahmins used to polish off one cow." (Media Scan, February). If the ideal of RSS Vivekananda, has confessed so, the Hindu politicians should abstain from spreading hatred in the name of cow. They should follow the Vedic religion. S.B. Ramachandran, Chennai

Bring Forth Pune Blast Culprits
Just after the Pune blast, media was quick to suspect that some outfits with Muslim names were behind it. This is despite the fact that there are confirmed evidences to prove that there were/are Hindu fanatics who carried bomb blasts in different parts of the country.

It’s a known fact that Shaheed Hemant Karkare had exposed a nation-wide Hindutva terror net work that included prominent figures from Pune and even from Indian Army. Needless to say, almost eleven such champions are now behind the bars. Can't the recent bomb blast in German bakery be another 'milestone' achievement of the disciples or the mentors of such Hinduvites? Can't it happen? Why not? Mushtaque Madni, Pune

If Burqa Is Choice?
Dear Sir, Nazneen O. Saherwala has rightly written in her “Open Letter To French President” published in February issue of MS that France should not oppose head scarves for Muslim girls and that “Men should take women seriously and treat them as equals and not just chase them around for their bodies and physical looks”.

It does not suit France, one of the important protagonists of secularism to refuse a certain group to practice their religion. The development of a country is the contribution of all the citizens. It is important for women and girls to wear burqa, because the modesty is the natural attribute which leads to cover their bodies and faces.

Being covered gives a feeling of safety from molestation and all illicit behaviours. If some women are allowed to enjoy their choice and expose the bodies, then let also some others enjoy their choice of putting on veil. Muhammad Zakariya, Mumbai

Inject Fair Probe In More Fake Encounters

Sir, This is with reference to the article “SC Decision In Sohrabuddin Encounter...” (Media Scan, February). Never in his wildest dreams had former Gujarat IGP DG Vanzara imagined that he would encounter the CBI one day. Vanzara, who has credit of eliminating many a terrorists in various encounters proved himself wrong in the case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who was killed in a false encounter in 2005. The decision of the apex court to hand over the investigation to CBI is laudable. This probe can now bring out the required evidence to indict not just more police officers but also their political masters.

Serious inquiries are needed in the seven “encounters” in Ahmedabad as there is possibility of the state government’s involvement. In the past seven years, numerous allegations have been levelled at the Modi government. Md. Ziyaullah Khan, via email

Sexual Discrimination In West!

Dear Sir, The propaganda by the West that it gives equal rights to women was exposed when the Baroness Greenfield, the only female director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain throughout the 21 year history, was removed from her post. As she said, the factor was also “sexual discrimination” (UK Female Scientist Alleges Sex Discrimination, Media Scan, February). The incident depicts that they are not sincere in their slogan of equality for all. The major role left for females by West, in the name of equality, is that they work as toys and satisfier of males’ cardinal desire. When they remain of no use, there is no respected place them in the society. Abdul Aziz, UP

Hypocrisy Behind Cow Protection
Dear Sir, I thank Media Scan for publishing an informative article on “Cow Politics In Karnataka” in February issue. The effort to amend the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964” is politically motivated. BJP which seems to slowly lose its ground in Karnataka wants to garner Hindu votes exploiting the issue. If they were so sincere in cow protection, why do they not try to have a provision prohibiting the killing of animals also for “experimental” purposes or for “vaccine”? Prasad Gowda, Bangalore

America Lost War, India's New Headache

India always insisted that there would be no negotiations with Pakistan until Pakistan stopped all terror activities in India controlled from its soil. But there is a shift in its policy as it is being observed now. The situation in Afghanistan has brought about this shift in policy it seems.

If the international forces withdraw from Afghanistan in the near future, the Taliban will resurface and take control of the entire Afghanistan. Pakistan, who is a buffer state between India and Afghanistan, will then be required to contain the Taliban or the situation in Kashmir could get out of hand. Also, arms would flow freely in the whole of India.

It was a good opportunity for India to have its interests met in Pakistan after the arrest of Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed. India could have held talks with Pakistan and offered its co-operation and taken the matter further from there. Instead, it chose to bargain harder and insisted that the terror suspects be handed over before talks could resume.

Now, after the situation in Afghanistan is clearly emerging in favour of the Taliban, Pakistan has released Hafiz Saeed and lifted the ban on other terror organizations. The seriousness of the situation can be gauged by the fact that in spite of the release of Hafiz Saeed and the Pune blast, India wants to go ahead with the talks.

Though no major agreement on any important issue is expected, to start the dialogue itself will be the achievement. It might discourage those on both sides, who at any cost don’t want the talks to happen. It is another matter that after every round of confidence building measures between the two countries there has been more suspicion of each other. It has been seen that after every interaction there is a verbal war on either side accusing the other of being non cooperative and adamant. This time too they will talk but not beyond their limited interests.

Talks held just to show the world that the communication between the two countries is on will help. They should talk with boldness and with a resolve to find a solution. If there are positive results from talks, there will be no need to show to anybody that we are opening the route of communication. The message will reach all disruptive forces that the two countries and their people are mature enough to have understood the problem and are moving towards the solution. For this we need dynamic leadership, great statesmanship and the support of the people.

The Prime Minister of India is scheduled to visit Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the last week of February for talks. This visit is being undertaken after intelligence inputs from the civilian administration and defence forces. The Prime Minister will brief King Abdullah of the situation in Afghanistan. The India delegation would like to convey to the Saudis that there are 17 crore Muslims in India which is the second largest Muslim population in the world. Since the Taliban and the Pakistan government have good relations with the Saudi rulers, India wants the Saudis to dissuade the Taliban and Pakistan from harming India. But whether the Taliban or the Pakistan administration can be persuaded is doubted.

India is also spending billions of rupees in Afghanistan to have its influence increased in this country. It would have been a better approach by India, if it spends the same wealth for the welfare of the Muslims and other backward communities of India. India fears that if Taliban attacks India sooner or later, the Kashmiri community too will rebel and join the Taliban. This is being propagated by the right wing elements and unfortunately influences the Indian government policies. The fact cannot be denied that Kashmiris, since Independence, have been complaining that they are being deprived of the development that takes place in the rest of India and that their demands are not heard.

Notably, a united country need not seek help from outsiders. In India, unity does not exist because some of the communities living in it are not given their rights. If India spends the billions of rupees, which it is doing in Afghanistan, on the deprived Indians, offers every citizen their due and treats them equally, there will be no need of seeking assistance from Pakistan to be protected from Taliban.

If equality seizes to exist in India, there is no need for the Taliban to attack India. Naxalites, ULFA, KLF,AB and Shiv Sena etc. are sufficient to destabilize India.

If India was strong from within then there was no need to run to Pakistan for talks. All these years of mistreating the backward, the poor, the tribals, the minorities etc. is coming back to the government. It is more advisable for India to set right its own house first and then to protect itself from outside elements.

Shiv Sena Vs India

Shiv Senas slogan of Maharashtra only for Marathis, loses charm and results into the party losing grasp over Marathi votes.

While the whole security setup was diverted to tackle the vandalism by Shiv Sena over the film My Name Is Khan, the terrorists managed to strike the Marathi city, Pune. The situation in which the blast took place bears much resemblance to that prevalent before 26/11 when Marathi security officers including Hemant Karkare were killed. Shiv Sena couldn’t save them.

Taking the cause of Marathis is easier said than done. Shiv Sena and its offshoot Maharashtra Navnirman Sena are trying to convey to the Indians that ‘if you are not a Marathi you can go abroad to earn your livelihood or for education but in Maharashtra you will not be welcomed.’

Many mistake Shiv Sena to be the army of Hindu lord Shiva and hence offer their support to the party. It is a misnomer. Shiv Sena is nothing but a political party attributed to the veteran Maratha leader Shivaji and instead of talking about the welfare of all Hindus it has opted for supporting only the cause of the Marathis, apparently viewing political gain. Its offshoot MNS is a blind adherent to this ideology.

Their claim is that Maharashtran soil is only for Marathis. None other than them have any right to reside there or earn a livelihood unless he adopts Marathi culture and speaks Marathi. But even this diktat has its provisions. Foreigners, who are non Marathis, are welcome in Maharashtra. They have a right to live as they like in this land. The irony is that only poor Indians are forced to abide by the diktat of the Senas!

Going one step ahead those who are in the frontline of the anti-non-Marathi movement prefer English, which is a foreign language, when it comes to teach their children. But they compel others to learn Marathi. If a language is to be made compulsory, Hindi should have been given priority. Isn’t it the national language? Of course, a nation will find it next to impossible to protect its culture if it is not attached to the language of its forefathers. Language affects culture and who loses one’s own culture their identity is always threatened. To this extent the stand of both the Senas towards Marathi can be appreciated. They should promote Marathi and be concerned as to what measures can be taken to ensure the language thrives and manages to coexist despite odds. Ironically, the North Indians are asked to learn Marathi but the Marathi medium academic institutions, in Maharashtra, have become a victim of negligence and some of them ceased to exist. Why is this not surprising? No Marathi leader wants his children to study in these schools.
The ideal way, if one wants to promulgate anything, is to show it by example. It does not seem to be the case in this campaign. There is a lack of sincerity in what they are preaching?

The Senas seem to be opportunistic. They stood tall against a Marathi officer Hemant Karkare. He had started unveiling the face of some terrorists who were responsible for killing of scores of Marathis. Sainiks went against Karkare to an extent of threatening him of his life.

But, they were quick to support the non-Marathi Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur! The alleged terrorist Sadhvi is accused of having killed numerous Marathis in Malegaon blasts. Not only Thakur, but also other gang members who killed Marathis in Nanded and Sangli gained support from Shiv Sena. It indicates that “Marathi” is not the only cause.

Actually, Thakur and the other 10 terrorists arrested in this case got support because their goal matched that of the Sena, the politics of hatred.

Due to the regional and religious prejudice exploited jointly by Shiv Sena and MNS, both the non Marathi Hindus and Muslims staying in Maharashtra feel their security threatened. The Hindu from another state is afraid in Mumbai, rather Maharashtra, because tomorrow, the MNS and the Shiv Sena could call him a non-Marathi outsider. The Konkani Muslim may speak fluent Marathi and vote for Raj Thackeray’s MNS, but the Shiv Sena could still go after him because he’s not a Hindu.

The main entity behind all this vandalism is the Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who himself is a migrant to Maharashtra. He shifted to Maharashtra in 1955 from Madhya Pradesh.
For gaining power and money, Thackeray formed the political party Shiv Sena in 1966 and unleashed a hatred campaign against Gujaratis, South Indians and then Muslims .(though Thackeray does not have faith in Hindu Bhagwans as he threw out of his house the statues of Hindu god Ganesh when his wife Minatai died).

During the 1992-93 Mumbai communal riots, Thackeray openly inflamed the Hindus to massacre Muslims. In those days, a Muslim would find himself to be a Pakistani if the nonsense allegations of Shiv Sainiks were considered true. This is despite the fact that the Marathi icon Shivaji had a fair number of non-Marathas in his army, even quite a few Muslim soldiers and captains, especially in the cavalry.

The recent spate of attacks by Shiv Sena too was against a Muslim as he condemned the behaviour demonstrated during the IPL-3 auction with the Pakistani players. Shah Rukh Khan was asked to go to Pakistan, as occasionally everyone with a Muslim name is asked to do by communal elements, because Shiv Sainiks said he was a Pakistani. While the reality is that he brought honour to India in the world of celluloid. They had done the same with Amitabh Bachchan, a non-Marathi actor.

There are no limits to nefarious behaviour by the Senas with anyone. The so-called Marathi protagonists had ridiculed the Marathi cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar’s only crime, in their view, was that he did not isolate Maharashtra from India and said that (as every part of India is for all Indians) Mumbai (too) is for every citizen of India. If they were to support Marathi, then why oppose him?

This being their agenda, the Senas have no moral right to stop the Australian cricketers from playing in India. Australia must be condemned as Indian students are being attacked and that too by racists. But, how is it different then what Shiv Sena and MNS are doing with Indians in India?

The reason the Sena and its offshoot MNS give against the non-Marathis is that the uncontrolled influx from Bihar and UP has snatched the jobs of Maharashtrians. But, at the same time they forget that most Biharis and UP-walas are self-employed—driving autos and taxis or working as electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters and doodhwalas. These are jobs nobody stopped locals from taking up.

Serving the cause of only Marathis or fighting for them exclusively is, in fact, not the real aim of the Sainiks. The Marathis owe a great deal to the brave Maratha leader Shivaji, the founder of Maratha State. But he too, sometimes for political gain harmed the Marathis and attacked Maratha regions. Likewise, the so-called Marathi leaders have been exploiting the Marathi issue for nothing but political gains. The MNS activists during the swearing in ceremony had attacked the SP MLA Abu Asim Azmi apparently for not taking oath in Marathi, as dictated by Raj Thackeray, but were they deaf when other BJP and Congress leaders used Hindi or Sanskrit as the language of taking the oath..

If BJP plays a religious card to ascend to power, Shiv Sena and MNS believe in regional chauvinism for political mobilisation. Of course, religious prejudice too finds a well wisher in Sena. When it would spew venom against only a certain religious minority none was there to condemn it, but when regardless of religion the Senas started targeting North Indians everyone was quick to find it wrong. Yet the state government remains reluctant to take action against them.

The Maharashtra government led by Congress-NCP, for some reasons, remains a mere spectator over the activities of MNS. The MNS has the potential to destabilize the Shiv Sena. The government is unwilling to have the Shiv Sainiks involved in the Mumbai riots punished because it will go against the soft-Hindutva policy of Congress.

Much has been said as to why the secular Congress has allowed the Senas and their hoologanism to grow. They, at ease, beat up the North Indians, harass them and damage their shops. But when it was required, for the young Rahul Gandhi, security was beefed up and the Sainiks, who had intended to welcome him in Mumbai with black flags, did not even get a chance to protest.

The point is that if Rahul Gandhi was provided with such a tight security during his short visit, which made a laughing stock of the Shiv Sena in its home state, does not every citizen of India have the right to be protected in Maharashtra as well. This can be achieved, as it has happened in other states, if the government resolves to act in this direction.

Not to be caught on the wrong foot Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan tried to play the Marathi card as well, by announcing that 24,000 taxi licences would only be reissued to those who speak Marathi and have been resident in Maharashtra for 15 years. There are hardly any passengers who communicate in Marathi with the taxi drivers. That the taxi drivers did not face any problem while dealing with the passengers all these years is a witness to this fact.

Besides taxi driving, the North Indians have been playing a crucial role in shaping Mumbai. There are an estimated four million non marathis, out of the total 1.4 crore residents of the city, engaged in 40 large-scale businesses and small trades, from paan shops and milk vending to construction, transport and security services. The Mumbai stock exchange and Bollywood—the city’s two defining commercial institutions that directly and indirectly employ a large proportion of its inhabitants—run chiefly on outsiders’ steam.
Most of the big industrial houses based in Mumbai belong to non-Marathis—Reliance, the Tata group, ACC Cement, the Aditya Birla group, Mahindra & Mahindra, Century Mills, Bombay Dyeing, Piramal, Cipla, Lupin and so on. And the tax amount paid by the non-Marathis, in Mumbai, is manifold that of the Marathis.

Remember those who rushed to rescue Mumbai on 26/11 and the contribution of Marathis will be crystal clear. A common citizen asks why the Sainiks were not there to combat the Pakistani terrorists. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, the NSG commando who laid his life in the fight with the terrorists was a Malayali from Bangalore. Of course, many officers, including Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte were Marathis but NSG commandos had representation from North India, UP and Bihar too.

Does this not show the need for the Sainiks to understand that in times of need the same people it tries to demonise are the ones who protect their homes?

The silence of the congress party in this matter is criminal. Unfortunately, the Senas have sometimes, though unconsciously, played in to the hand of Congress-NCP. Bal Thackeray had announced that he would not stop the release of SRK’s film My Name is Khan but after interaction with the NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Thackeray came back to his old stand.

Now that the hooligans have been defeated by the countless fans of SRK and the Mumbai public it will be interesting to see who the next target of their criminal intimidation will be. The distinguishing features of looting and harassment which Senas continually exhibit against the non-Marathis are inherited ones.

The historian Abraham Early in his book “The Last Spring, The Lives and Times of The Great Mughals” writes that “Pillaging raids would remain a primary activity of Shivaji even after he made the transition from warlord to crowned monarch, and they would remain a part of the Maratha political culture well into the nineteenth century. ‘To plunder the enemy is to this day used by Marathas to express their victory, of which it is in their estimation the only real proof,’ says Duff, writing nearly 200 years after Shivaji’s time.” Till this day there is no change in this.

Their way of showing their power is by practicing regional chauvinism against the weak and those who are in a minority. They pose a constant threat not only to the sustenance but also to the life of non marathis.

Talking only for the cause of Marathis is tantamount to separating oneself from the rest of India. Political parties must raise regional issues. But they are expected to avert from politics of regionalism that harms the very unity of pluralistic India.

This kind of ideology must be wiped out of India. It has to be condemned in the strongest terms. The Maoists constitute a threat to India’s internal security as they massacre policemen mercilessly and have no respect for the law of the land. In North-East India, ULFA demands a separate state and runs parallel governments. Organizations, dreaming of a separate Kashmir continue to fight our security forces. All these are terrorists. Of course, they are. But, what stops our government from categorizing the Shiv Sena and MNS among the aforementioned outfits? They want to separate Maharashtra from rest of India. Some years back, the people from South India were terrorized by Shiv Sena and now it is the turn of the North Indians. Is it not a kind of terrorism when law abiding citizens have to live in fear of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena?

The “Senas” are not loyal even to the Marathis. Some days ago, Bal Thackeray after losing a considerable chunk of his Marathi vote bank in the Maharashtra assembly elections, has stated that he not only lost faith in God but in Marathis as well.

Now, when the RSS and BJP have distanced themselves from Shiv Sena expressing resistance over the slogan “Mumbai only for Marathis”, it is high time that rest of the Indians too alienate them from the society. Some may say that the decision of the saffron parties is in view of the upcoming Bihar assembly elections. There is a fear that if BJP continues its support for anti-North Indian campaign in Mumbai, it will have to pay the cost of this in Bihar. Sadly again this change in heart by the saffron brigade is not moral but political.

It is a tragedy of our times that those talking of unity of India are removed while who try to divide it are spared. The man behind the demand for separate Telangana State out of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Rashtra Samiti K. chief Chandrasekhara Rao, is alive and is allowed to get support, and the late Andhra Chief Minister YSR Reddy who opposed to divide Andhra Pradesh is no more among us. The Thackeray clan, Bal or Raj, continue to divide and rule while the country chooses to look the other way.

Shiv Sena Established, Split & Lost
1960: Through cartoons, Bal Thackeray displays Marathis’ helplessness to the South Indian migrants and creates a sense of insecurity among them
1966: He announces the formation of Shiv Sena in a rally held in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park
1969: Thackeray was arrested in the riots erupted in the aftermath of border dispute with Karnataka
1970: Krishna Desai, CPI MLA, is murdered and Shiv Sena is alleged to be behind it
1987: Thackeray sings Hindutva lyrics to win Vile Parle assembly seat. Court cancels election.
1989: BJP-Shiv Sena alliance formed
1995: The alliance comes to power. Thackeray is deprived of franchise over allegation of spreading communalism
1999: Shiv-Sena coalition losses state power to NCP-Congress alliance
2003: Uddhav Thackeray appointed new Shiv Sena chief
2006: Raj Thackeray quits party and forms Maharashtra Navnirman Sena
2009: Shiv Sena Faces humiliating defeat in 2009 Lok Sabha elections
2009: Shiv Sena-BJP alliance continues bad performance in assembly elections and seats reduced to 45, against 62 in 2004

By: A Hameed Yousuf