Hindus demand land for burial

Source – http://dawn.com/2013/01/28/hindus-demand-land-for-burial/

RAWALPINDI, Jan 27: Low caste Hindus, who bury their dead, unlike the upper caste Hindus who cremate them, have requested the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) to provide land for the burial of their dead.

While municipal officials claim that they have already provided two burial sites, the Hindu community said the sites are full to capacity and there are issues with security.

On the other hand, upper caste Hindus said the low caste Hindus were welcome to cremate their dead at the Shamshan Ghat (area designated for cremation) but would not allow them to bury there as space was limited. The Shamshan Ghat is located on Tipu Road in front of Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC).

Security and capacity
The two sites provided to low caste Hindus for burial has its own problems. The most contentious is the site near Benazir Bhutto International Airport area.

According to the Hindu community they avoid burying their dead in the locality because of security concerns, as a Pakistan Air Force base is located next to the airport.

“The area is also surrounded by security departments and the Hindus avoid going there, fearing security checks,” said a Hindu community member.

However, it is a self-imposed restriction as the administration has never stopped them from utilising the space.

Cremation grounds
The cremation ground, Shamshan Ghat, has its own problems.

“We have a Shamshan Ghat on Tipu Road but there is no place to bury the dead there. One of our community members had to bury his daughter in a Muslim graveyard but later had to exhume the body after a year,” said Pandit Chana Lal.

In another context, although related, there is also an issue with privacy at the Shamshan Ghat.

“When we go to Tipu Road Mandir (Temple) and Shamshan Ghat to cremate our dead, all the people residing in the adjacent buildings come out on the rooftops and see our religious rituals, making us feel very uncomfortable,” said Pandit Lal.

He said the Hindus were left with no option but to request the administration to allocate more land for burial and cremation.

“The low caste Hindus are poor and they will not be able to purchase land for their graveyards,” said Mr Lal.

Highlighting the anomalies in low caste Hindus, Pakistan Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council (PHSSWC) President Jag Mohan Kumar Arora, said: “Scheduled Hindus (Balmekee) in Rawalpindi bury the corpses and do not cremate them. However, the same caste Hindus in Kohat and even in India burn their dead.”

Mr Arora said in Hindu religion, the corpse of a sanyasi (Saint) and children below a particular age are buried and not cremated.

He said low caste Hindus wanted to use the Shamshan Ghat on Tipu Road for burial but they were not allowed as it was meant for cremation.

“We told them (low caste Hindus) that if they wanted to burn their corpses, then we would allow them, otherwise the place could not be used for burials,” he said.

Local administration
Potohar Town Municipal Administration (PTMA) Town Officer Regulation, Mohammad Kamran, told Dawn that he had conducted a survey after receiving an application from the Hindu community but found that they already had two graveyards, one on Rawal Road and the other in Lal Kurti.

He said he had invited elders of the community to his office, on Monday (today) and would check the record and present the position of the Hindu graveyards.

He said the PTMA would submit its report to the district coordination officer.

On the other hand, DCO Saqib Zafar said the Hindu community delegation met him and he had sought details from PTMA.

He said after deliberations, he would submit a report to the Punjab government for the final decision. He said in all probability space would be allotted in the outer areas of the city.


Is Colonel Purohit guilty?


– RSN Singh

RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW

Date : 18 Jul , 2012


Lt Col Srikant Purohit Going by the selective and flip-flop leaks by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra, and the manner in which the media is lapping it up, it appears that there is a concerted and rather a desperate bid to make an ‘Osama bin Laden’ out of Lt Col Purohit and prove that the Sadhavi Pragya and her accomplices are the new ‘Hindu Jehadis’.  The credulity of the general public is being stretched on various scores.


Firstly, the speed at which fresh revelations is being disseminated by the ATS on a daily basis, in complete disregard to professional propriety and in gross prejudice to the ongoing investigation.


Secondly, the unprecedented number of ‘Narco Tests’, the accused are being subjected to.


Thirdly, there is a total blank-out with regard to the version of the accused.


Fourthly, with every passing day, the network is being enlarged, as if to suggest that the entire country is being consumed by ‘Hindu Terrorism’, and has pan-Indian rather regional and global dimension.


The approach of ‘two wrongs make a right’ or ‘one wrong is equal to another wrong’ does not address the root causes of a problem.


Fifthly, if intercepts of some of the accused was available much prior to the blasts as suggested, then why no pre-emptive measures were taken.


Sixthly, no army representative has been included in the interrogation team.


Seventhly, the most intriguing aspect is the timing and the developing political tenor of the investigations i.e. during the eve of elections.



No two security problems especially those having religious and social overtones have the same character, motivation and orientation. Any attempt to draw parallels between terrorism of all kinds though politically beneficial can be counter-productive, and detracts the security agencies.


Each form of terrorism, whether home-grown or externally inspired—like Maoist, religious, social, secessionist, and political terrorism—has to be dealt on different planes. Even though, one terrorism feeds on another, the tendency to link various terrorisms, as is happening in the wake of ‘Malegaon case’, must at all costs be avoided.


This is not to say that the entire investigation process is a miscarriage of truth and justice. It was only expected that the chain of terrorist strikes across the nation over the years, wherein innocent people and the country’s integrity and economic interests have been targeted, would at some point of time provoke retaliatory measures in unknown ways. Although words like ‘retaliation’ or ‘reaction’ have become blasphemous in the present Indian context, it however cannot be wished away.



It is an exercise of responsible and perspicuous governance to ensure that the retaliatory susceptibilities are contained, rather given a positive direction. The approach of ‘two wrongs make a right’ or ‘one wrong is equal to another wrong’ does not address the root causes of a problem. It only contributes to creation of new undesirable elements and organizations, and further polarizes the society.

In my interactions with various segments of the society, the polarization inaftermath of ‘Malegaon blasts’ , appears to have grown more acute.


The  investigation following the ‘Malegaon blasts’, is extremely complex in nature due to the alleged involvement of an Army officer belonging to the Military Intelligence. The media therefore needs to be extremely cautious and circumspect about the manner in which it reports the briefs by the ATS. I have deep apprehension that the complete truth, as and when it unfolds in the future, could have several unsavoury and damaging twists.

The Colonel is a legitimate intelligence operative. Interaction with the police authorities, other intelligence agencies, desirable and undesirable elements was very much a part of his duty, without which no intelligence can be gathered and no counter-intelligence operation can be effected. No intelligence agency issues written orders in pursuance of intelligence operations. The entire system is based on trust and faith. It is yet to be established how much of disconnect is there between the legitimate and illegitimate activities of the officer during the course of his duty.


The level and extent of intelligence interaction and cooperation with other intelligence agencies that this officer had, is also not known. That is why, it was very important to have a representative of the Military Intelligence, when the interrogation of the officer began. To that extent, a state police organization is not only under-equipped but also out of sync with central intelligence agencies in dealing with an official of Military Intelligence.

There can be no greater travesty in the suggestion by certain quarters that the alleged involvement of Lt Col Purohit is symptomatic of a deeper malaise taking roots in the Indian Army. An officer of the Military Intelligence is not in direct command of troops.  He has only a small complement of personnel working under him.

  A Military Intelligence officer is hardly competent in providing training on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Importantly, the nation must trust in the legal procedures of the Army, which is far more stringent. The Army will brook no ideology, which impacts on the established secular character and credentials of the organization.

  As and when Lt Col Purohit is handed back to Army custody, it is inevitable that he will be meted out the appropriate punishment, if found guilty, notwithstanding any misplaced sense of patriotism that he may attempt to invoke. I would therefore request the media to be patient and for the time being spare the Army.

Think before you talk – Hindu Editorial

The chintan shivir was a party session, and Sushilkumar Shinde seemed to have been in some confusion over his roles as senior Congress leader and as Union Home Minister when he attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for “inciting Hindu terrorism” through “training camps.” While he had every right to criticise the BJP and the RSS for their policies and programmes at a party forum, Mr. Shinde should have realised his responsibility as Union Home Minister and not triggered a fusillade of allegations that were short on substance and long on rhetoric. There is a larger irony in Mr. Shinde’s over-the-top rhetoric. For the longest time, the intelligence agencies and police across India refused to take the threat posed by Hindutva extremists seriously and framed innocent Muslim youth for the blasts in Hyderabad and Malegaon. When evidence first emerged of a Hindutva terror network, the authorities took forever to connect the dots. Instead of punishing those in the police who tortured innocent men in Hyderabad and elsewhere, and quietly but doggedly going after the real perpetrators, the minister has reduced the problem to one of politics. Not only did Mr. Shinde fail to provide evidence for his allegations, he has no explanation for his government not having acted on these serious charges. If he really has proof that the opposition party is inciting terrorism, why has he not prosecuted its leaders? There is no doubt that some BJP leaders interceded on behalf of those accused of the terrorist bombing in Malegaon. But surely the worst they are guilty of in that case is bad judgment, not abetment or incitement.

Mr. Shinde’s use of the phrase ‘Hindu terrorism’ to describe terror acts committed by fanatics in the name of their religion is as objectionable, and inaccurate, as the use of the term ‘Muslim terrorism,’ but the BJP should not be in denial about the fact that such acts do indeed take place. Independent India’s first terrorist crime was the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, a man driven by the ideology of Hindutva. As for the present, the police have said the bomb blasts aboard the Pakistan-bound Samjhauta Express, and at mosques in Hyderabad and Malegaon, were carried out by extremists with “links” to the RSS and other Hindutva-oriented factions. It is possible, even likely, that those arrested are just the tip of a bigger iceberg. Nevertheless, Mr. Shinde had no business blithely connecting these incidents to the BJP without proof. India has enough trouble facing up to the terrorist threat without it being made a political tool by the Congress to fling reckless charges. Empty rhetoric can only aid, not hurt, terrorism.


‘Yes, we spent money on paid news ads’


P. Sainath

Confessions by politicians to EC belie claims of innocence by top newspapers

The political class is more honest than the media when it comes to ‘paid news’ during elections, judging by the fact that several poll candidates have owned up to this corrupt practice. At least, after the Election Commission and the Press Council of India shot off notices to them and held inquiries into the matter. They have acknowledged guilt by belatedly adding their “news” buying expenses to their election statement of accounts. Some candidates have accepted in writing that they bought what are now called, somewhat oxymoronically, “Paid News Advertisements.” But not a single one of the newspapers they say they gave their money to has accepted any wrongdoing. These are not just any papers. In readership terms, they include three top-ranked dailies.


In some cases, the battles are still on, involving both the politicians and newspapers concerned. On January 15, the EC found that Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Minister Narottam Mishra “failed to lodge his accounts of his election expenses in the manner prescribed by law.” He faces possible disqualification. The EC’s notice to Dr. Mishra concerns 42 news items on him during the November 2008 state elections. These, it pointed out, “read more like election advertisement(s) in favour of you alone rather than (as) news reports.” The EC names four newspapers in its notice: Dainik Bhaskar, Nai Duniya, Aacharan and Dainik Datia Prakash. Dainik Bhaskar is the second most-read daily in the country.


Less than a month earlier, the Press Council of India held quite a few dailies guilty of doing much the same thing during the 2010 Bihar assembly polls. These include Dainik Jagran, the newspaper with the highest readership in the country. The others are Dainik Hindustan, Hindustan Times, Dainik Aaj and Purvanchal Ki Raahi. Also, Rashtriya Sahara, Udyog Vyapar Times and Prabhat Khabhar.


In many cases, the route to exposure followed the pattern set in the classic case of the former Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan. His 2009 poll campaign for the State legislature drew scores of full pages of “news.” Not a single one of those pages ever mentioned the name of Madhav Kinhalkar, his rival for the Bhokar seat. In a 2009-10 investigation into paid news, The Hindu found a hagiographical article on Mr. Chavan appear word for word in three major rival publications. In two of them, on the same day, in all of them under different by-lines (The Hindu, Nov. 30, 2009).


The 2010 Bihar polls saw a similar pattern. This time, though, one paper came up with a truly novel defence. Same story in different papers? That’s not paid news, argues Udyog Vyapar Times. It submits that other newspapers “hack their computer site and publish the same news.” So what might look like paid news, contends Udyog Vyapar Times, is merely the outcome of desperate rivals hacking into the internal network of this Aligarh-based daily to steal their national exclusives.


How did the candidates issued ‘Paid News’ notices for the Bihar polls by the EC react? All but one seem to have accepted their guilt. According to the EC, they did so by simply adding “the expenditure included by them on account of these ‘news’ in their accounts of election expenses.” In fact, the District Election Officer of Muzaffarpur in Bihar stated flatly that the dailies had carried “news for payment.” He even had letters from the candidates owning up to buying “news.”


The Press Council of India, acting on the matter referred to it by the EC, issued show cause notices to Dainik Jagran, Dainik Hindustan, Hindustan Times et al, between July and September 2011. On December 21, 2012, the PCI, on the basis of its own inquiry committee’s report, got tough. Of the high-profile line-up, only Prabhat Khabhar escaped “the highest penalty” of the Press Council — censure — under Section 14 (1) of the Press Council Act of 1978. This was the only case where the paper and the candidate both firmly denied the charge. (In all the other cases, the candidates accepted they had purchased “news”.) And Prabhat Khabar’s own record — it has strongly campaigned against paid news — added weight to its defence. The paper offered to apologise if the EC produced proof of any such aberration. It was “cautioned for the future.”

All the other dailies denied the charges, too. But, as the PCI’s inquiry committee puts it, “in all these cases, the candidate in question admitted before the Election Commission of India that he paid for the impugned material.” These dailies were found “guilty of having carried news reports that were in fact self-promotion material provided by the candidate in the fray,” and so faced the highest penalty of censure.

So quite a few politicians seem willing to confess to their paid news sins. They face penalties, too. Just 16 months ago, the EC disqualified Umlesh Yadav, then sitting MLA from Bisauli in Uttar Pradesh, for a period of three years for failing to provide a “true and correct account” of her election expenses. She had skipped any mention of her spending on advertisements dressed up as news during her 2007 poll campaign. She was the first legislator ever to bite the dust on grounds of excessive expenditure (and paid news). Dr. Mishra, Health Minister in the BJP government of Madhya Pradesh, now faces charges of the kind that got her disqualified.


Ashok Chavan case


Oddly enough, the Ashok Chavan case, which triggered off a spate of such cases, is itself bogged down in both the EC and the Supreme Court. The case of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda is likewise held up in the courts. Judicial delays could have a serious and possibly adverse impact in the fight against Paid News in the 2014 general election.

But what action do habitual offenders in the media face? The Paid News Committee constituted by the Election Commission has concluded that those 42 “news items” involving Dr. Mishra “appear to be advertisements in the garb of news” and fall “within the definition of ‘Paid News’.” The Press Council defines Paid News as “any news or analysis appearing in any media (print or electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration.” A Press Council team appointed by PCI Chairperson Justice Katju found last month that Paid News had been rampant in Gujarat during the State polls there in December 2012.

So what happens where media outlets concerned are found guilty? Where the “highest penalty” is censure and that draws not even an apology? Of course, Paid News is not only about elections, though that’s where it does greatest damage to the greatest number. It is an everyday activity in much of the media. The cloying coverage that powerful corporations get routinely reeks of it. You can see it in some completely corporate “sporting” events or “partnerships.” Governments, too, buy “news” sometimes. You can see it at work in Davos, too. Who funds journalists and channels from India at that World Economic Forum event each year is worth looking at. But that’s another story. Watch this space.