Monday, May 2, 2016

My right to enter the sanctum - Written by Trupti Desai - The Indian Express

My comments posted on Trupti Desai's article:My right to enter the sanctum published by The Indian Express

Ghulam Muhammed
It is ironical that the same Indian secular constitution, that bars the State to interfere into freedom of religion, is being referred by the Ms. Desai to grant her constitutional right to equality in the protected boundaries of religions. In fact, even though she says she is not against religion, she is zeroing only on religion, to seek equality, while women suffer inequality in all social, economic and even in state policies of education, employment and health. Her Leftist liberal agenda against religion in all its form is highly transparent and so is the make-up of her supporters and her cronies. All of a sudden a letter-head organization of Muslims for Secular Democracy had sprang up to revive its own dead existence by holding a ten-men Press Conference, that was covered by another fellow- traveler in a prominent newspaper. This smacks of some conspiracy to create civil strife and to sow seeds of division and disruption of peace. The Mumbai police had for once understood the fake nature of the protest and seen to it, that she does not create law and order problem at Haji Ali Dargah, where incidentally there is no 'sanctum' to compare with what Hindu temples have. She is therefore being pushed by some vested interests to run where angles will fear to tread. Mumbai police had seen to it that she is back to her Pune abode in one piece and in peace.
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The Indian Express

My right to enter the sanctum

We have little doubt that we will be able to break these wrong traditions and set in motion a new era where women in this country will enter places of worship with their heads held high, not as second-class citizens. 

Written by Trupti Desai 
Updated: May 2, 2016, 0:54

About Author

  • trupti desai 400

Trupti Desai -The writer, 32, is founder president, Bhumata Brigade 

Barely a few months after we started our campaign for entry of women into the sanctum sanctorum of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, it has now entered a decisive phase. After gaining entry into the inner sanctum of the Shani Shingnapur temple and then at Trimbakeshwar in Nashik, we will now try to enter the mazar of the Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai.

After Haji Ali, the Sabarimala temple of Kerala — where they say there is 100 per cent literacy — will be our target. We have little doubt that we will be able to break these wrong traditions and set in motion a new era where women in this country will enter places of worship with their heads held high, not as second-class citizens.

We have been repeatedly asked a question: Why are we trying to break “paramparas (traditions)” that have been observed for ages? My counter-question to those who ask this: Why can’t we break such age-old paramparas that seek only to denigrate women and give them secondary status in a country that has given them equal status? 

This male-dominated society has, for ages, sought to carry on with traditions that suit them. They have conveniently carried on with tradition that subjugates women, snatches their identity and smashes their self-esteem. In a nutshell, bad traditions have been given a strong push for centuries by this male-centric society in a bid to maintain their upper hand and dominance.

We are being asked why women — who go through menstrual cycles — should be allowed to go near gods? Some are branding women as impure and unfit to enter the sanctum sanctorum. The mere raising of such issues and talk about purity and impurity in the 21st century reflects the mindset and quality of these people. Thankfully, not many think on these lines or cling on to outdated and highly objectionable ideas that seek to push women into dark corners. 

My question is: What connection does a menstrual cycle have with the entry of women into the inner sanctums of places of worship? How can anybody even term “impure” the changes that a woman’s body undergoes? In today’s scientific world, how can they even ask such despicable questions? Do these men call the women who gave birth to them impure? Will they call their own births impure? If they call the process through which they come into this world impure, then, by their standards, they themselves are impure. But why even bring up such issues that have downgraded the status of women who have, in fact, been exalted by age-old scriptures that stipulate that man is incomplete without woman, and so on. We believe that god brought man into this world. But who brings men and women into this world? Obviously, women. Then who is a woman? Does she not have the status of a god? 

We are not terming entry into inner sanctums as a victory. If the Constitution of this country has given us equal rights, then we want to assert these rights. If men are allowed to enter inner sanctums at places of worship, we, too, want that right. By entering the inner sanctum, we are seeking to do away with the wrong traditions that exist in this country. For instance, in several communities, including amongst the upper classes, widows are not allowed to remarry. It is considered sacrilegious. On the contrary, if a woman dies, the husband is hurried into re-marriage. Such double standards that heavily favour men have continued for ages. As if women have no feeling or desire. Why should there be double standards in this age and time? All the harsh rules of society are reserved only for women. And all the positive norms seem hugely bent in favour of men. 

Our fight to enter inner sanctums is not targeted at any particular religion. Our fight is not against religion but wrong practices of religion. No scripture forbids women from entering the inner sanctums of places of worship. Yet, such wrong practices continue against the spirit and tenets of the religion. By seeking entry into the sanctum sanctorum, we are not challenging Hindu sanghatanas or any other religion. But we don’t understand what they will gain by stopping us. 

All the organisations that are opposing us tooth and nail should join us and help in giving women pride of place, which they richly deserve. Look at the Shani Shingnapur temple now. Women can enter the inner sanctum with pride and dignity — and nothing “bad”, as some had predicted, has happened. We are thankful to the trustees of the temple for changing their stance and giving women their rightful place. We have faced severe opposition to our entry into inner sanctums so far. We have been threatened, called names, abused using unprintable language, even beaten up. But we are not giving up. In fact, our agitation has become a national movement. After Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar, on to Haji Ali and Sabarimala.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

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So, I’ve been giving it some thought lately (mostly because I’ve been feeling pretty homesick) and just for the sake of my conscience, I’ve been trying to concur an evaluation – weighing the pros and cons of both cities. However, when it boils down to it, Toronto and Dubai are two very different cities (externally, generally) but they do share many similarities. For example, there are probably as many Arabs here as there are in Dubai, the Lebanese food here is crap in comparison undoubtedly, but there’s something about the Saudi’s in their Canada Goose jackets that just reminds me of home. Toronto has incredible summer weather (ranging from 20 ℃ to 30 ℃) whilst ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ are understatements for Dubai’s summer weather (goes up to 50 ℃). But, everything is centrally air-conditioned and Dubai winter can be compared to Toronto’s early fall, and Toronto winter.. Well, that’s an entirely different story.
Toronto: 0       Dubai: 1
Nobody knows how taxes work in Dubai, because there aren’t any. When I first came to Toronto I had no clue how taxes worked (until much later I realized that 0.13% of how much you spend is added onto the ‘before tax’ equation leading to a ridiculous sum that you have to pay) and yes, tax return may exist but it’s still a hassle and somewhat of a buzzkill. In terms of taxes, Dubai evidently wins this one. In terms of lifestyle, a luxurious money-oriented lifestyle is obligatory in Dubai, at least for the majority of residents. If you don’t have money, you’re nobody. I don’t particularly appreciate that sort of mindset, I mean luxury is great – who doesn’t want a $500,000 car and a $2.8 million apartment that overlooks the Persian gulf? However, it’s not a necessity. I’m more fond of Toronto because of this, everyone is equal. Of course people have money here, but people respect you more for what you do, and for your abilities rather than how much money you have in the bank, or whether you wear a Patek Philippe or a swatch.
Toronto: 1       Dubai: 1
Another characteristic that comes to mind when seeking differences between the two is people. You’re treated exceptionally differently in both cities, and you treat others differently too. Canadians are generally polite, well-mannered, decent people (minus the few assholes you come across) working in a restaurant for the last three months has shown me how respectful and appreciative people can be for your hard-work and efforts. However, in Dubai, nobody gives a shit to be completely honest with you. Tips are considered optional, as are ‘thank yous’. People who work in the hospitality or service industry are considered as the lower-working class and even expats who come from places like the US and the UK eventually succumb to treating those in the service industry in a demeaning manner, you adapt to the different norms wherever you are. Due to these differences, people believe they can treat those ‘lesser’ than them like shit, with absolutely no remorse and no regard – however in Canada, it’s completely different. I adapted to the snobbish, pretentious-like qualities that people possess back in the Middle East, but it definitely made me unattractive – and I still get along better with people from back home.
Toronto: 2       Dubai: 2
I’ve always believed Dubai to lack anything authentic culture, it’s ‘cool’ to try and adapt to the ‘lochal‘ life-style whereas in Toronto cultures are divided and each area has it’s own unique feel due to the accumulation of one ethnicity (e.g. Little Portugal is literally, little Portugal). Toronto is known as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and Dubai brims with Indians, Pakistanis, Persians, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Arabs of all sorts and then you have the splatters of expats here and there – but as I said, if you’re not Emirati you’re not an equal. Also not to mention Dubai’s double standards regarding religious norms – No public displays of affection but a blind-eye is turned to it’s nightlife. Four years in prison if you’re caught with marijuana, but we all know who can bend those rules. I don’t even want to get started on the idiocy of Shariah Law – I do find it disturbing, this is my own opinion. Dubai may be ‘the land of opportunity’ but you, yes you without an Emirati passport, you don’t matter one bit. Toronto provides you with the greatest opportunity – freedom. You can be whoever you want to be, with no judgement or chains to prevent you from doing so (especially no dickhead ‘shoortas’ in their lambos). Let’s not forget Toronto’s endless things-to-do on a daily basis – concerts, shows, TIFF, Nuit Blanche, Luminato etcetera.
Toronto: 3       Dubai: 2
Yes, shopping is way better in Dubai. Shopping in Toronto sucks, unless you’re a hipster or into the vintage thing.
Toronto: 3       Dubai: 3
So, we’re at a tie and I’ve run out of generic, generalized points to consider for evaluation. Now when it really comes down to it, I live in Toronto completely alone. I am alone and I have no form of comfort whatsoever. In Dubai, I have a home. I have a sense of security, I can feel and be a child – I don’t have a worry in the world. Yet here, being in the ‘real world’ I’m constantly on my feet, I worry easily, I am completely and utterly independent. Sure, it’s a great feeling to be able to fend for myself – but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind being able to order some Zaatar w Zeit, watch a film at Mercato and grab a ‘little mermaid’ crepe and cruise around.
I can’t wait until December. ✈
Winner: Dubai

Desh Deshantar - Malegaon acquittal: Media trials, biases and rule of law

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Abu Asim Azmi On Malegaon Bomb Blast Victim

After SC [Supreme Court] order, Maharashtra releases highest number of under-trials - Written by Zeeshan Shaikh - The Indian Express

The Indian Express

After SC [Supreme Court] order, Maharashtra releases highest number of under-trials

This number of released prisoners accounts for nearly 24.74 per cent of Maharashtra’s last-known undertrial population of 19,895 prisoners and has made activists skeptical about the claims of the government. 

Written by ZEESHAN SHAIKH | Mumbai | Updated: April 30, 2016 2:20 am
If numbers are to be believed, at least 4,923 undertrial prisoners have been released from Maharashtra’s jails between July 2015 and January 2016. Their release has been in pursuance of a Supreme Court directive that asked states to release on bail those prisoners who had served at least half the sentence they would have been awarded if convicted.

This number of released prisoners accounts for nearly 24.74 per cent of Maharashtra’s last-known undertrial population of 19,895 prisoners and has made activists skeptical about the claims of the government.

A total of 5,819 prisoners were released across the country after the SC’s order, with Maharashtra accounting for nearly 85 per cent of these released prisoners. The second largest number is from Uttar Pradesh, with 198 released undertrials.

These numbers were made public in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday by MoS Home Affairs Haribhai Chaudhary.

In June 2013, Justice R C Lahoti, a former Chief Justice of India, had written a letter to the then CJI, inviting attention to the inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across India. The letter was taken up as a public interest writ petition, and on April 2015, the SC passed an order, directing steps be taken to improve the conditions of prisons.
Among the various directives, one was to ask all the states to ensure that the Under Trial Review Committees of each consider the cases of undertrial prisoners, entitled to the benefit of Section 436A.

Under this section, all those undertrials who have served half of the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed for the offence they are accused of, can be released on bail. The only rider is that the prisoner should not be an accused of an offence punishable by death.

“The Under Trial Review Committee should specifically look into aspects pertaining to effective implementation of Section 436 of the CrPC and Section 436A of the CrPC, so that undertrial prisoners are released at the earliest and those who cannot furnish bail bonds due to poverty are not subjected to incarceration only for that reason,” a two-member bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice R K Agarwal had said in an order, dated February 2016, while evaluating the implementation of the previous recommendations.

The state has, meanwhile, claimed that all the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) had been requested by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to urgently take up the cases of the undertrial prisoners, entitled to the benefit of Section 436A of CrPC, and to instruct the panel lawyers to urgently meet such prisoners and move appropriate application before the courts for their release.

“Under Trial Review Committees have been established in every district across the country, comprising of district judges as chairman and secretary, district legal services authorities as one of the members to monitor and review the cases of aforesaid under-trial prisoners for their early release,” Haribhai Chaudhary said in Parliament.

When contacted, Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary Vijay Satbir Singh said that he was on leave. ADGP (Prisons) BK Upadhyay could not be contacted.

Activists have been skeptical about the high numbers shown for Maharashtra. “The SC directive had explicitly named Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in its order, due to their high undertrial population. 

However, the number of persons released account for nearly 24 per cent of Maharashtra’s undertrial population, which is a huge number. Interestingly, when we had sought these numbers through an RTI application, they had refused to share them,” said Sugandha Mathur, Project Officer, Prison Reform Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative.

Malegaon blasts case: SP MLA seeks action against ATS officers | Petitions allege bias by investigating agencies

The Indian Express

Malegaon blasts case: SP MLA seeks 

action against ATS officers

Azmi was speaking at a function he had organised for Muslim youth 

recently discharged in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: April 30, 2016 3:01 am
During the meeting, some of the youth discharged spoke about their experience and the brutality they faced in custody. (Archive Photo) - 

Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi on Friday claimed there was danger of Muslim youth taking up guns in reaction to police brutality. Azmi was speaking at a function he had organised for Muslim youth recently discharged in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case.

Azmi said ATS officers should face legal consequences for trying to falsely implicate innocent persons. “The state needs to be careful that young men are not forced to take up the gun in reaction to brutality of police,” said Azmi at a meeting called by Milli Tehreek. The meeting was called to seek justice and compensation for Muslim youth discharged by a special MCOCA Court from charges of planning and carrying out the 2006 Malegaon blast.

“I demand that all these police officers who brutalised these men in lock-up are punished. The then ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi had once said if these Malegaon accused were ever found innocent, he was ready to face punishment. I ask him today, he should remain true to his words and be ready to face justice,” Azmi said.

During the meeting, some of the youth discharged spoke about their experience and the brutality they faced in custody.

“The ATS tortured me non-stop for 48 straight days. They used to tie us up and hit us on soles of our feet. They threatened to bring our women and degrade them in front of our eyes if we did not confess,” Noorul Hudda Shamshudduha said.

Raees Ahmed claimed the ATS staff celebrated the day he signed the confession letter. “They beat me up for a one whole month and partied the day I signed the confession under duress. Soon after I signed, one of the police officers came up to me and said ‘Tumhari na hi bomb banane ki na hi bomb lagane ki aukat hai’,” Raees Ahmed Mansuri said.

Another pointed out how police would massage him with oil a day before they were to be presented for a medical check up or in front of courts.

They opened the gates of hell for me for 28 straight days. They would stop hitting me only a day before I was supposed to be taken for a check up or to court. That day, they would massage us with oil and offer us haldi in our food to help us hide our marks. The thrashing would begin as soon as the check up ended and we returned,” Mohammed

Zahid Ansari said.


Malegaon blasts case: Petitions allege bias by investigating agencies

A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Prakash Naik has asked state and investigative agencies to produce orders in the case.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: April 30, 2016 3:33 am
malegaon blast, mumbai blast, 2006 malegaon blast, 2006 mumbai blast, plea heard, malegaon blast suspects, indian express
A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Prakash Naik has asked state and investigative agencies to produce orders in the case. (Express archive)

Following a special court discharging Muslim youth in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case, the issue of bias on the part of investigating agencies during investigation of terror cases was raised before the Bombay High Court on Friday. The court said the “matter will have to be heard”, and asked for the orders in the case to be submitted before them.

A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Prakash Naik has asked state and investigative agencies to produce orders in the case.

The court was hearing several petitions which alleged that there was a pattern of investigative agencies picking up Muslim men as accused in terror cases, including the Pune German Bakery blasts, 7/11 blasts and the 2006 Malegaon blasts.