Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In Hindi literature, the use of the word "mahaajana"

In a recent article, Professor Arvind Sharma of McGill University, says that in Hindi the word "mahaajana"is used in the sense of "prominent worthies" as well as in the sense of "the great masses of people".

I am, however, not aware of the second usage at all. Has "mahaajana" really been used in the sense of "the majority" or "the masses"?

If so, I should be glad to have the quotations with authors, please. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The truth about "Lord Macaulay's Address To The British Parliament - February 2, 1835"

As a quote with the above title has been doing the rounds and came to my attention, I though it worth checking with the only authority on the period who I know personally, Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi. I summarise his response below:

The text is a complete forgery. Macaulay was in India from 1834-38. There is no way he could have even addressed the Parliament in 1835. The forger has not read even one of Macaulay's speeches. However, there is some similarity with one quote from the "Macaulay Minute" of 1835, PROVIDED one twists that quote (as many do!) to misrepresent what Macaulay was saying. A number of people keep using that quote without actually reading the "Minute".

BTW, the whole of the "Minute" is reprinted in Dr Vishal Mangalwadi's book "India: the Grand Experiment" - if you would care to read the "Minute". Sphere: Related Content

Air travel rules and regulations becoming intolerably complicated and confusing

As I travel quite a bit, my travel agency does me the courtesy of informing me of changing rules and regulations, and I must say that these are now becoming a nightmare - only because of the incompetence of the global agencies such as IATA.

When we are constructing global rules for so many things, why can't we have global rules for the maximum allowed baggage in each class, and minimum seat space? Why can't we have uniform rules for simple things such as Lithium Batteries?

Believe it or not, that is the latest thing on which there are now guidelines from the USA. But there are no such guidelines from other countries - with the result that you are allowed to carry them in checked baggage from India, Switzerland and the UK for example, but you will probably be arrested on arrival in the US :-)

The US will, however, allow you to pack spare batteries in carry-on baggage provided the terminals are covered/insulated - though it is not clear what these terms mean.

By the way, "travelers may check bags that contain batteries, as long as they are installed in electronic devices".

But would you really want to put electronic devices in checked bags?! If so, more fool you: don't expect to have them at the other end!

Though if you have just put electronic devices in your just-checked baggage, I pray you get lucky. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hindu violence and land grabbing

A Hindu friend writes today: " Ever tell you about ... in 1997? XXX and I surrounded by the Head Priest and 300 thugs. Our government car - from the Home Secretary - no use at all. Driver fled. So did two local cops (later tracked of course). Touch and go. I had thumb and index on Mr. Head P's vagus nerve (old training), the rest of his head in a headlock. Had I showed any fear, or yielded - it would have been over. The usual gag - one pushes the other - someone with a knife... Mr. Head P of course alluded to all this latent horsepower, but I told him I would convert him to mincemeat before that. All I asked for - and insisted softly - was a "Sorry". Got it, and the rest of them melted away like cats. XXX's first and last encounter with a mob. Took her a week to get over it."

My closest such experience was a couple of years ago when driving along a forest road in Madhya Pradesh. However, dear Reader, in order to understand the following account, if you don't know what "prasad" is, I need to enlighten you: it is food symbolically offered to an idol and then offered to devotees.

I noticed a mass of people doing something about 400 metres from the road. We had already had a LOOONG drive, so asked the driver to stop in order to have a look at this tamasha and stretch our legs. Somehow, someone in the mass of people at the event must have noticed us stopping. Anyway, the chief honcho interrupted the proceedings and ran all the way up to our location on the road - the rest of his mob following. He asks us to accept prasad. We ask what is going on. He tells me that the worship of certain idols is in progress with a view to a temple being built on that land. *I* decline on the grounds that I don't worship idols. He is furious - as are his colleagues. There is a back-and-forth in which he claims to be insulted and I gently but firmly insist on my right to remain unblessed by the idol. "His" crowd gets increasingly restive. The situation is finally saved by my host (who looks like some kind of guru, in dhoti/kurta) who strokes his long beard and says in an ever so soft voice to the honcho that, according to our scriptures, prasad is not prasad if accepted unwillingly. The honcho is taken aback - retreats with his mob - though I have not yet been able to discover whether our scriptures really do make such a statement

The question in my mind was: why did the Chief Honcho interrupt his obviously important worship of his idol and hot foot it such a long distance to offer us prasad?

The reason: many, if not most of the temples that have been built over the last 20 years in India have been built on grabbed land.

As we were passing by in cars, it was clear to the Honcho and mob that we "must be important". They interrupted their worship and offered us prasad in order to neutralise our possible opposition to their land grab: if we accepted the prasad, we were unlikely to act against the land grab.

That also explains why they were so upset at my refusing to partake of the prasad. In refusing to accept the prasad, I was (unwittingly, but clearly from their point of view) putting myself in a position where I could potentially oppose the land grab.

All this was not clear to me then. It had to be explained to me by a colleague. Regretfully, I was only passing that way, or I might have opposed the grab - particularly of forest land.

Perhaps someone ought to raise a question in Parliament about whether any record exists of how many temples have been built on grabbed land. If not, why not; and if so, what the figures actually are. Sphere: Related Content

Poor ex-priests of the Lower Himalayas

I am told that the RSS has usurped the hill temples of all the traditional pujaris (priests) and put in young RSS activists instead.

Haven't seen any press coverage of this (if there has been, could someone draw this to my attention?)

Also, not sure whether this applies to "all" the hill areas or only some of them.

On my recent visit to Hardwar, I did think that the central area was rather overflowing with people who I would now (in the light of the above information) classify as "priest beggars".

If these are indeed the "replaced priests", it is rather sad to see them without the traditional respect that would have been accorded them as pujaris - and now reduced to begging rather than the usual fees for services rendered. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 14, 2008

Indiafacts - Speedpost

How long does Speedpost take to get a package of material from the capital of one state in India to the capital of another state in India?

Three days.

That was from Kolkata to Panaji (Goa) last week. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Should Kosovo be allowed to become Independent?

Professor Emeritus Raju G. C. Thomas apparently argues against the independence of Kosovo.

A friend asks what I think about Thomas's point of view.

My response: one's attitude depends on whether one believes that politics should be based on Realpolitik or on principle.

And, if the latter, on WHAT principle?

I am totally committed to the principle of self-determination for all peoples who wish to be independent – and I am often told that this is impractical.

However, I am aware of only one alternative to my point of view and that is Realpolitik (which is based on the power of dominant elites to impose their will and to sustain the costs of doing so).

As I do not and cannot believe that international politics can any longer be based on Realpolitik, self-determination and voluntary association are the only principles that I find myself able to defend – but if anyone can suggest another principle, I am always open to considering it. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Orissa Riots 2007-2008: First Official Report

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Report of the NCM visit to Orissa, 6-8 January 2008

[Note from aicc: On Dec. 27, 2007 a Christian delegation including aicc leaders met the chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Mohamed Shafi Qureshi, in New Delhi. They requested that investigators be sent to Orissa as soon as possible. Local aicc leaders met with the two visiting NCM members in Bhubaneswar on Jan. 8, 2008, late in the evening. The NCM was established by the "National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, No. 19" and protects the rights of religious minorities in India. More info is at]

A semblance of normality appears to be returning to the violence hit districts of Orissa. The reasons for the outbreak of violence on the eve of Christmas are far more varied than was apparent from media reports, but there is no doubt that the Christian community and its
places of worship were the principal target of attack. They bore the brunt of violence and suffered the maximum damage. As a result, the Christian community continues to live in fear and feels insecure and unsafe. It may take months and even years to restore their confidence.

This will depend, above all, on the State Government's ability and willingness to address both the immediate and long term issues that were responsible for the violence. This is the overall conclusion reached by the NCM delegation.

Members Zoya Hasan and Dileep Padgaonkar visited Orissa from 6-8 January 2008. During their stay in Bhubaneshwar and visit to Phulbani in Kandhmala district, the Members met a cross-section of political, civil society, religious groups and organizations and the affected
people. The team held meetings with district officials engaged in restoring peace and normality in the disturbed areas. They apprised the team of the measures taken by the administration in the past two weeks to restore peace. In the State capital the Members met the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, DG (P) and other senior officials before calling on the Chief Minister. The team also paid a courtesy call on the Governor.

Several factors were at work and converged to create tension and violence which started on 24th December 2007 and continued until 27th December 2007.

The long simmering Kondh-Pana conflict was in part responsible for the agitation and violence. The Kondhs are Scheduled Tribes (STs) who constitute 51.96 percent of the population in Kandhmal district, the Scheduled Castes (SCs) (many of whom are Pana) are 16.89 percent,
and Christians are 18.20 percent. A section of Christian Panas have been seeking inclusion in the ST category which would entitle them to the benefits of reservation. Their demand is based on their linguistic and cultural affinities with the Kui group. However, the Kuis have been resisting this demand on the ground that they were ethnically different from the Panas.

This issue has been complicated by the High Court order of July 12, 2007. An NGO filed a petition in the High Court demanding ST status for the Panas on the ground that the amended Presidential Order of 2002 shows Kui community as ST and as Pana caste speaks the Kui dialect. Therefore their caste should be changed from Pana as mentioned in the revenue records to ST. The court order directed the Government to look into matter and make the necessary corrections in the record of land rights as per the Presidential Order 2002. Soon after the High Court Order was given the Phulbani Kui Jan Kalyan Sangh started a campaign that all those recorded as SC Pana in the revenue records will now be treated as STs. The Kui Samaj Sewa Samiti of Phulbani and several other Kui organizations reacted by organizing rallies and processions demanding the deletion of Kui from the Presidential Order.

But there are other reasons which Kuis cite which are that taking advantage of their illiteracy etc the Panas have acted as middle men to exploit them notably by grabbing their lands. The Kuis also allege that SC Christians obtain false certificates as Hindu SCs to take the benefits of reservations. It should be noted that the SC category excludes Christians whereas they are entitled to inclusion in the ST category and the reservation benefits that go with it. Hence the
efforts of some Christians groups to get included in the ST category.

The Government is presently conducting an inquiry into these charges and has informed the NCM about that the culprits would be speedily brought to book. It has also been alleged that SC Christians have reconverted to Hinduism while continuing to practice their Christian faith with a view to availing the benefits given to the SCs.

A second, if not more important factor, is the anti-conversion campaign conducted by the VHP and the Sangh Parivar organizations for the past few years. The campaign has aimed to prevent the conversion of tribal and Dalits to Christianity. Swami Saraswati Lakshmanda, the leader of the anti-conversion campaign, established an Ashram in this area in 1969 and has opened educational institutions for tribal boys and girls.

The 1991 Census shows the Christians constituted 75597 of the population of Kandhmal district whereas in the 2001 Census their population had gone up to 117950. While the increase in population in percentage terms is substantial, there is no evidence whatsoever that this increase occurred under duress or on account of inducement to conversion.

A stringent law regarding conversion the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act has been on the statute books for the past four decades. The NCM Members asked both district officials and senior officials in the State Secretariat whether any cases had been reported or filed with regard to infringement of this law over the past 10 years. Not one incident of forcible conversion was cited or adduced. We also inquired from the Church representatives whether they keep a register of conversions. Such a register is a routine practice at the time of baptism. The Church representatives confirmed that they indeed maintained such a register. But no one has apparently bothered to check it. In fact the Archbishop of Bhubaneshwar told the NCM team
that neither he nor anyone in the Diocese was ever summoned by the authorities with regard to matters relating to conversion.

From the above the NCM team has inferred that there is no basis whatsoever to justify the anti-conversion campaign. On the other hand, this mischievous campaign has created an atmosphere of prejudice and suspicion against the Christian community and Christian priests and organizations. The role of the Sangh Parivar activists and the anti-conversion campaign in fomenting organized violence against the Christian community deserves close scrutiny. This is especially urgent in view of the official explanation to the effect fact that the recent incidents in Orissa are largely of an ethnic nature rather than motivated by an anti-minority intent. The NCM team noticed that there was a concerted effort on the part of government officials to evade
and prevaricate on the communal dimension of the conflict and to explain the violence in terms of the Kondh-Pana conflict.

The NCM team discussed in detail the chronology of events with all its interlocutors. The responses were far from uniform because of the endeavor of groups consulted to engage in a blame game. However, the team has been able to construct a factual account of the tragic
turn of events.

As early as 22nd December the Church authorities informed the Sub-Collector that they apprehended trouble on Christmas and asked the district administration to take the necessary measures to prevent anti-social elements from exploiting the situation to create the trouble.

Church authorities informed the Sub-Collector that the Kui Samaj had given a call for a bandh on 25-26 December to press their demands regarding various issues. They requested the district authorities to remain alert and preempt any trouble. On 24 December a group of 150-200 people started demanding that an arch put across the road by Christians should be removed in Brahmanigaon even though the Christian community had received official permission for putting up the pandal and for the use of loud speakers. The district administration
confirmed the grant of permission.

Two reasons were advanced to halt work on the arches and pandal. (i) It would affect business. (ii) The pandal was sought to be erected on the very site used by the Hindus to celebrate the Durga Puja festival in October. Protestors then sought to close the weekly market on 24
December. They also tried to close all the shops in the area. The Christian shopkeepers refused to comply which led to an altercation between the two sides. More than 20 shops were looted and destroyed in the forenoon of 24 December. Two shots fired in the air created a panic and people ran helter skelter. Police officers and the Collector arrived on the scene to help sort out the issue. Even as they were making these efforts news came in of an attack on the vehicle carrying Swami Lakshamanda to Brahmanigaon by a group of Christian youths. This inflamed the majority community even though the nature and scale of injuries sustained by the Swami is yet to be established. From this point the situation took a turn for the worse.

The very fact that the Swami was on his way to Brahmanigaon to raise the "morale of the majority community" is indicative of his desire to exacerbate communal tensions. Meanwhile the Kui tribes people felled close to 2000 trees on the roads leading to the district to prevent Shri Padmanabha Behera, Minister for Steel and Mines, from taking his supporters to Bhubaneshwar where a massive rally was to be held for celebrating 10 years of BJD. Shri Behera belongs to SC Pana and has been the target of opposition of the Kui Samaj leaders and has since then resigned. There is a long history to this conflict and the rivalry goes back to 1994 when large scale mobilization of Kuis by Lambodhar Konhar had taken place culminating in widespread clashes and violence. But the NCM team was given other reasons for blocking of roads. This was to prevent the police from reaching those places where Christian churches, prayer halls, convents, were being targeted by miscreants.

This raises several important questions which remain unanswered by the official account. How can so many trees have been felled within a matter of hours without planning, organization and large numbers of people involved in felling? Why were the state intelligence agencies not aware of the felling of trees which is against the law? The answers received by the NCM team to these questions were far from convincing. Nor could they tell the team of the extent of complicity
between Kui tribes and the VHP. One senior Kui leader regretted that the Sangh Parivar had used the leadership of the tribals for its own ends. Another leader acknowledged that the VHP had penetrated the ranks of the Kui Samaj and always put them in front in such conflicts.

Before the VHP's anti-conversion campaign the tribal Christians and non-Christians had lived in harmony but the Parivar's efforts had succeeded in creating a chasm. It must be remembered that Swami Lakshmanda has been working among the STs since 1969 when he established his base here. He enjoys a big following in this area and Christians allege that there is some degree of complicity between the tribal leaders and Sangh Parivar outfits.

Attacks took place in various places between 24-27 December. We were informed that Christian properties destroyed in these incidents include parish churches, village churches, convents, presbyteries, hostels, a vocational training centre, a leprosy centre, and scores of shops and houses. Incidentally Hindu owned properties were also destroyed though the number is a fraction of the losses sustained by Christians. The Orissa Government is yet to give its full assessment of the damage. Three persons were killed: one Christian, one Hindu while the identity of the third is yet to be established.

Destruction on such a large scale in places which are difficult to access could not have taken place without advance preparation and planning. The manpower and logistics required to damage so many Christian properties is immense. We visited an NGO and a Revenue Inspectors office on our return to Bhubaneshwar. The RI office was completely gutted which indicated a high level of planning and use of incendiary materials in the attack.

The sense of insecurity runs deep in the Christian community. As many of them were left with nothing except the clothes they were wearing. Children and women including nuns had to seek refuge in the forests. The Government has provided some immediate relief.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

1. Throughout the fact finding mission one question rose again and again and this was whether the choice of 25th December for holding a bandh by the Kuis was a mere co-incidence. A second bandh called by Swami Lakshmananda to protest the attack on his car was also fixed for the same day. We find it difficult to believe that this too was entirely fortuitous. The authorities were warned well in advance by the Christians that trouble was brewing during the Christmas season.
In this background it is extremely difficult to understand why the district authorities did not take active steps to defiuse the situation and ensure that peace was maintained.

2. The official accounts sought to stress the complexity of the situation in Kandhamal district and attributed the violence to the confusion over the High Court Order on the inclusion of SC Christians in the ST category which is vehemently opposed by the Kui tribes in the area. The situation is certainly complex and overlaid with multi-layered contradictions. The conflation of caste-tribe-communal issues has contributed to the aggravation of social conflicts in this area.
But none of this complexity detracts from the principal issue which is that the Christian minority was the target of organised attacks. The State agencies if they had been vigilant could have prevented the violence arising out of the two bandhs on Christmas.

3. The State Government must look into the speeches of Swami Lakshmananda to determine whether they amount to incitement to violence and take appropriate action.

4. The State Government must issue a White Paper on the conversion issue to dispel fears and suspicions that have been assiduously raised about the Christian community and the role of its institutions.

5. Rehabilitation package announced by the Orissa Government needs to be reviewed to provide rehabilitation keeping in view the actual loss suffered by the victims of violence.

6. Augmenting the number of police personnel and providing them with adequate training and equipment was also imperative. Moreover for reasons that have not been explained the State Government was reluctant in reaching out to civil society and NGOs working as they do work at the grassroots can provide authorities with advance information about simmering tension and co-operate in the prevention of such incidents.

7. Orissa does not have a State Minorities Commission. The State Government must take the necessary steps to set up a statutory Minorities Commission for safeguarding the rights of minorities.

8. The confusion created by the High Court Order needs to be swiftly cleared to prevent further outbreak of tensions between STs and SCs. The government must address the obvious tensions that will arise from the different treatment given in the matter of reservation to Christians belonging to the SC community and the ST community. If Christian tribals are backward Christian SCs are no less so. To create an artificial distinction between the two is simply to communalise poverty and drive a wedge between two homogenous groups who are among
the most deprived. The group therefore, recommends that the reservation given to Christian tribals should be extended to cover Christian SCs who are of exactly the same background and are subject to exactly the same disadvantage.

9. None of the above must detract from the social and economic backwardness of the district. Every indicator points to acute poverty, illiteracy, ill-health, lack of infrastructure, in short, an absence of development. Nearly two thirds of the people in this district live below the poverty line. Even as the authorities are called upon to show greater vigilance to prevent the outbreak of violence, the Government must urgently address issues of social exclusion and structural inequities.

10. The terrible fact remains that in parts of Orissa Christians were unable to celebrate their most important festival. By preventing Christians from celebrating Christmas, the VHP and its affiliates have ensured that the minority should not be in a position to enjoy the rights guaranteed to it by the Constitution. The action of such forces is blot on the Republic a matter which deserves more attention and consideration from authorities both at the level of State and Centre.

(Source:, retrieved on 23
Jan. 2008)

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What is the Orissa Government trying to hide?

A five member Fact Finding Team that had gone to the Phulbani area of Kandhamal district in Orissa on Saturday, 29th December 2007, was forcibly expelled by Inspector General of Police Pradeep Kapoor.

What exactly is the State Government trying to hide?

Meawhile, the Fact Finding team was able to establish that, among other structures, the School of Social Work set up by Member of Parliament Dr. R K Nayak suffered extensive damage.

Here is the message from Mr Dayal:


I report with deep sorrow and anguish that I and a five member Fact
Finding Team that had gone to the Phulbani area of Kandhamal district
on Saturday, 29th December 2007, was forcibly expelled by Inspector
General of Police Pradeep Kapoor who ordered the Phulbani Town Police
Inspector to ensure that I left the district that night. The Town
Police Inspector then made us follow an armed police escort for a one
and a half hour drive through the night darkness till we reached the
border of Ganjam district, where he left us. We could return to
Bhubaneswar by 4 am today, 30th December 2007, deeply distressed and
feeling very frustrated with the experience.

The fact finding team was set up at a meeting of activists in the
Swasti Hotel in Bhubaneswar on 28th December 2007 to get an authentic
first hand account of the developments and the violence in the
Kandhamal district because rumours, absence of authentic media reports
and often inaccurate government accounts of the casualties, had left
the people confused. There were also fears that lack of authentic
information would impact on the confidence building measures and the
peace process. I was requested to lead the Fact Finding Team in view
of my experience in Gujarat, Nandigram, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh,
Rajasthan the North east.

As a matter of abundant precaution, I wrote to the Director General of
Police, Orissa, on 28th December 2007. I, inter alia, said "I am a
Member of the National Integration Council, Government of India, and
the National President of the All India Catholic Union. I am part of a
Fact Finding team set up by Civil society and Human Rights groups to
assess the situation in the violence affected areas of Orissa for us
to be able to formulate People's initiative for confidence building
and peace. The team, consisting of six persons including me, intends
to leave Bhubaneswar on the morning of 29th December 2007 and return
in the evening of 31 December 2007. We will have a night halt in
Phulbani. We will appreciate any assistance and facilitation we can
get from the Orissa Police and in particular from the Police forces of
the District. I am sure your office will take the necessary steps, and
inform the District Police of the area."

We drove to Phulbani on 29th December; reaching safely and without any
problems, by about 5 p.m. En route we were able to assess the damage
done to the NISWAS School of Social Work set up by Dr. R K Nayak, IAS
retired and currently a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha. We also saw
the damage done to the Carmelite Convent and the Carmel English
School. Nuns we interviewed told us how attempts were made to set the
convent on fire even as the Nuns were cowering in a room where they
had locked themselves in. Two sisters who could escape injured
themselves in the process.
Later, we went to the Offices of the Police Superintendent to discuss
with them our onward journey to Balliguda that evening or early next
morning, and to see if here was need for Curfew Passes, which are
normally given to Media and other groups.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Kapoor, the Divisional
Commissioner and the Deputy Inspector General of Police were present
in the room. I was questioned in some detail, always very politely, by
Mr Kapoor who wanted to know about my membership of the NIC, my
credentials as a journalist and the books I had authored. He also
photographed my colleagues and me with his Mobile Telephone camera. I
gave a patent reply to every single question. I also pointed out that
this was not a government enquiry, but that I would prepare a report I
would submit to the authorities and which would also help facilitate
the National Minority Commission members who are scheduled to visit
the spot on 6th January 2008. I reminded the police were a peaceful
group, and our team included an Advocate, apart from interpreters and
with expertise in ethnic studies.
Mr Kapoor was ever polite, but remained adamant. My colleagues felt
hey were being interrogated in a police station.
Mr Kapoor said he would not allow me to proceed, or even to remain in
Phulbani. He said it would not be safe for me, or for the persons with
whom I would stay. He said the Rapid Action Force had been deployed in
Phulbani town and I had to draw my inference from this fact about the
situation and tension in the place. I told him there was no way we
would be crashing police barriers. It was not for fear of our lives
but in deference to the rule of law that we would go. He was
apparently not satisfied. He called the Phulbani police officers and
ordered them to escort me out.
The Kandhamal region needs not just media coverage and government
relief operations. The rescue, relief and rehabilitation programme has
to be done in a transparent manner. Already there have been too many
complaints of police and administrative apathy, complicity and even
aggressive force against one community, the victim community.
Independent fact finding teams and the information they give help in
maintaining transparency and positively contribute to the peace

I hope we will be able to visit and record the situation in every
affected village as an important part of building long term peace,
harmony and in ensuring relief, compensation and rehabilitation

John Dayal (dated 31 December 2007) Sphere: Related Content

88 places of worship now destroyed or damaged in violence starting Christmas Eve and still continuing

The following letter to the President of India mentions 50 places of worship destroyed or damaged in the Phulbani District of Orissa (that was the right figure to the best of public knowledge then).

However, the best figure available now is 88 places of worship destroyed or damaged.

Loss of life and injury to individuals as well as to property continues....

To Her Excellency the President of India
-through His Excellency, Mr S C Jamir, Governor of Goa

Your Excellency Madam President

We the undersigned members of the Writers' Forum assembled here in Goa for our second annual meeting, taking note of the international damage to India's reputation due to events of the last few days:

1. Are horrified to hear of the destruction of 50 places of worship in 5 days of ongoing violence so far in Orissa, beginning on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2007), with attendant loss of life and damage to property, due to a premeditated and well-planned campaign of violence which was prepared for with public statements from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and associated bodies regarding their intention to launch such a campaign (and we note that they are still making public statements regarding their intention to continue such a campaign);

2. Are grieved at the relative inaction of the Central Government, with not even a statement condemning the violence let alone asserting the determination of the Central Government to ensure the peace and security of the Indian people;

3. Note with astonishment the reported statement of the Union Home Minister that he cannot ensure that the guilty parties will be brought to justice - such a statement is tantamount to shirking the responsibilities he has taken upon himself;

4. Denounce the failure of the Orissa State Government to learn the lessons of the history of such planned campaigns in other parts of India as well as in Orissa itself, for example at the time of the murder of Graham Staines and his two young sons; if the State Government had learnt the lessons of those campaigns, it would have put measures in place to prevent a recurrence of such things;

5. Recognise the complicity of the machinery of the State Government in the violence by means of deliberate delays in registering FIRs and responding to unfolding events, and then providing unbelievably weak excuses for their failure;

6. In view of the above-mentioned complicity, we reject the appointment of the Judicial Probe by the State Government, and insist on the institution of a CBI probe into the events, including the behaviour of the Orissa Chief Minister, the Orissa Home Minister and the relevant Police Authorities; and

7. Call for the banning of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on the grounds of their being organisations that have publicly stated and now repeatedly demonstrated in practice their intention of subverting and opposing some of the basics of the Indian Constitution by illegal and violent means;

Finally, Madam President, we call on you to intervene in order to ensure that the Central and State Governments do not continue in their failure to fulfil their most basic duty to protect life and property within the Indian Union.

Respectfully submitted

Dr. A. Y. Aghamkar
S. A. Aghamkar
S. Andrade
J. Chacko
E. S. Daliya
N. M. Daliya
A. Fernandes
P. S. Guptara
P. M. Guptara
R. Guptara
S. Guptara
J. Guptara
I. Kostka
R. Mangalwadi
Dr. V. Mangalwadi
B. Verghese

- the Prime Minister,
- the Union Home Minister,
- the Leader of the Opposition
- the Chief Minister of Orissa, and
- the Press and Media. Sphere: Related Content