A Veteran General And Former AMU VC Writes to the PM “In Anguish”

Hon’ble Prime Minister,

Jai Hind from a Longe Wala veteran of 1971.

You have known me since 2002 when I commanded the force which restored peace in Gujarat after the conflagration which engulfed the state. I met you several times when I was Vice Chancellor of AMU. I expressed my anguish twice to you. Once, for the treatment meted out to me by a Member of your Council of Ministers. I told you that an old soldier, and the head of a premier University deserved to be show more respect and courtesy. The second time I reported that some AMU ‘ parasites’ were spreading the calumny, which the media had lapped up, that I had swindled 120 Crores of University funds. Your words gave me strength and confidence. You simply said ‘ Go and tell them that I have known you for 15 years’.

Sir, I am writing to express my anguish again about the treatment being meted out to deprived and weaker sections of society by the so called ‘ Gau Rakshaks’. You are the person who can put an end to this madness. Despite the recent stricture of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India there has been no abatement to this hate crime, principally because of complicity of some political leaders and the police. They need to take a lesson from the inclusive and even handed nature of our Armed Forces.

I am writing a book titled the ‘ Sarkari Mussalman’ which is due for release shortly . I must quote why my family chose to stay in India

Partition was another trauma my family faced. Those members who owed loyalty to the Muslim league migrated to Pakistan. My immediate family, who had full faith in the inclusive nature and large heartedness of our society, decided to brave it out in India. Our confidence was not misplaced, till recently. There were no riots in our home town, Sardhana, ( Dist Meerut) principally because of the firm hold of my Nana (maternal grand father). He threatened swift retribution to any community which indulged in rioting. As a child I did, however hear horrific tales of the mayhem, arson and murder during partition. It affected me, though I never spoke about it. I could only drive out the ghost from my system after I entered the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla. In this great institution I was warmly welcomed, treated fairly and experienced affirmative action, being the lone Muslim in my Course of about 250 cadets.

My wife and I took care to never talk about the horrors of partition to our children. It is a closed and forgotten chapter. But it took three generations to forget. My parents who experienced it, my siblings and myself who heard about it were affected. It did not affect our children as the matter was never discussed at home. It is there fore very important for parents not to sow the seeds of discord and hatred in the minds of their young children.This is the polluting danger of periodic communal riots that rock the country. It will take three generations for the aggrieved families to forget. Those adversely affected by riots would have no stake in the country of their birth.This would certainly impact on the closely woven social fabric of our country.’

I am writing to a person who possesses grit and determination and who is scrupulously honest. I am writing because of the deep impact, on me, by a quote of Nelson Mandela Jr ‘ In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends’.

Profound Regards.

Yours in Anguish,

Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah ( Veteran)

AMU torn between ghost of Jinnah and growing fascism in the country

Aligarh Muslim University woke up to a harsh reality of things shaping up in the country on May 2nd, 2018. At Around 11.30 in the morning, a group of 15-20 right wing activists tried to enter the AMU campus through Bab-E-Syed (The main gate of AMU). They were shouting provocative slogans demanding the portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, hung in Union hall, to be taken down. The security officer of AMU posted at the gate caught hold of these fringe elements before they could enter the campus and handed them to the police, which released them in no time without registering any complaint against them.

At around 12 Noon, Ex Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari arrived at the university to deliver a speech (as part of a workshop), and was also supposed to be conferred with lifetime membership of AMU Students’ Union. He was staying in Guest House No 3 of the university, which is mere 50 steps away from Bab-E-Syed. Around 2 PM, while he was taking a stroll along with members of Student’s union in the garden of the guesthouse around 25-30 armed activists of right wing group again tried to enter the campus. This time their target was Dr. Ansari, these activists were escorted by the police officials, as per the students’ account. Before they could enter the campus, the students present near the gate and the members of the student’s union approached the gate to stop these elements from entering the campus.  Presence of Dr. Ansari made the situation precarious and students were concerned for his welfare.

Continue reading “AMU torn between ghost of Jinnah and growing fascism in the country”

An Open Letter to Indian Muslims

DEAR Muslims,

I am writing this with full responsibility and knowledge of the situation on the ground. I live thousands of miles away from Indian shores but visit thrice in a year and closely follow events and remain in touch with friends and acquaintances.

Please do not get me wrong, this shouldn’t be interpreted as a patronising lecture. I understand the sentiments you express on social media and share the anger and frustration over events taking place in several states. However, please understand that nothing is permanent and what goes up is bound to come down. The prevailing climate will change very soon. I can see that happening. Things that happened six months ago are no longer happening. There are signs of change in every sphere of Indian society. Issues of bread and butter are a great leveler and hurt indiscriminately, regardless of your caste and religion. It has started to hurt people — businesses are suffering, jobs are vanishing, sources of livelihood are shrinking. In a short span of time, these issues will consume all the sections of the society. Religion or ideology can’t fill tummies, create jobs or propel growth. People will understand this very soon, they have begun to understand — protests by farmers in Maharashtra and anger of Patels in Gujarat are good examples. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Indian Muslims”

Time for the broader Hindu community to speak up

DEAR Hindus,

The brutal murder of a poor Muslim labourer recently is not intended to terrorise Muslims, a community that is becoming immune to such threats after a series of targeted killings. In the last three odd years, they have seen many such killings by mobs and individuals in the name of Hinduism.

The real motive behind these killings is to terrorise you, Dear Hindus. Yes, don’t be surprised, Muslims are just a pawn — to add muscle and momentum to a specific political narrative.

For those who propagate the ideology of hate, their real enemy is the moderate, well-meaning Hindu who believes in the idea of India, an India that is home to 1.25 billion plus people of diverse faith, race, languages and appearance. Continue reading “Time for the broader Hindu community to speak up”

Romanticisation alone is not helping our heritage

In 2003, during a visit to Fatehpur Sikri, we were taken to the private residence of the caretaker of the Saleem Chishti Dargah located inside the complex. Once inside, we were warmly received by the caretaker, an elderly gentleman and his family. We were served sharbat and shammi kababs. Soon after, in our presence, the caretaker received another group of Indian men and women, all dressed in expensive clothes and they spoke to each other in English with a distinct American accent.

“Ye sab sap hi logoN ka to hai,” [This all, is all yours only] the caretaker said to them before introducing the family to us. We were delighted to discover that they were direct descendants of Akbar, the emperor who built the magnificent complex.

We spent some time with them and left the residence to take a round of the complex. In the central courtyard, I was horrified to see carts of vendors selling bangles, cosmetics and cheap snacks. The carts were stationed in front of the Dargah and all the vendors were Muslims. In another section of the complex, I saw banana peels, discarded footwear and paan stains on the walls. I left the complex disappointed. Continue reading “Romanticisation alone is not helping our heritage”

The Story behind AMU Tarana

Union Hall Lawn, AMU

MILLIONS of AMU students and alumni around the world sing the university tarana every year. It brings back so many Aligarh memories to me and countless others. The tarana itself is a fine piece of Urdu poetry and the story behind it is an interesting one.

One of AMU’s most famous student and an Urdu poet of the highest calibre, Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz, attended the university between 1930 and 1936.2 It was 1936 that he penned his famous poem Nazr-e-Aligarh.Majaz first recited it the same year in the Union Hall, in the presence of the Pro-Vice Chancellor (PVC) A.B. Ahmed Haleem.

Haleem stopped the recital and walked out when Majaz reached the lines “YahaaN ham ne kamandeN daalii haiN, Yahan hum ney shabkhooN (night raids) maaray haiN; YahaN hum nay qabaayeN nochii haiN, yahan hum nay taaj utaarey haiN” (Trans: We have scaled buildings here and ambushed here, We have torn garments here and removed crowns here).4

The huge gathering of students asked him to continue but Majaz did not. He had to relent later, and completed it in the Union Hall’s lawns (between Morrison court and Union building).3
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New research finds Allah and Ali in Viking Age patterns

Viking age patternsWHAT was previously thought to be typical Viking Age patterns in silver on woven bands of silk in Viking Age graves are actually geometric Kufic characters as per a new research at Sweden’s Uppsala University. The Arabic characters appear in burial costumes in Viking Age boatgraves, as well as in the chamber graves clothing of central Viking Age sites such as Birka in Mälardalen.

“One exciting detail is that the word ‘Allah’ is depicted in mirror image,” says Annika Larsson, researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University. “It is a staggering thought that the bands, just like the costumes, was made west of the Muslim heartland. Perhaps this was an attempt to write prayers so that they could be read from left to right, but with the Arabic characters they should have. That we so often maintain that Eastern objects in Viking Age graves could only be the result of plundering and eastward trade doesn’t hold up as an explanatory model because the inscriptions appear in typical Viking Age clothing that have their counterparts in preserved images of Valkyries.”

It was while working to recreate textile patterns for the Viking Couture exhibit at Enköping Museum, Enköping, Sweden, that the researchers discovered that the woven bands contained ancient Arabic script, Kufic characters, invoking both Allah and Ali. The Kufic characters were found in the Viking Age in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums, primarily in Central Asia. Similar Kufic characters appear in the grave costumes in Viking Age chamber graves in central sites such as Birka in Mälardalen, as well as in boatgraves in the area around Gamla Uppsala. Continue reading “New research finds Allah and Ali in Viking Age patterns”

Minus the politics, triple talaq verdict is a welcome move

An Muslim wedding in IndiaTHE HISTORIC judgement by the Supreme Court striking down the ridiculous practice followed in some sections of the Muslim community is commendable. About time it was done away with. It is noteworthy, however, that the same has already been banned years back by several Islamic nations, including our favourite neighbour.

Triple talaq or should I say the instant triple talaq had of late become everyone’s favourite whipping boy (comes second only to the four wives conundrum) and though as a Muslim woman I do find it an extremely regressive and outdated practice, I know it has more to do with the patriarchy deeply embedded in our society than anything else! When I say our society I do not mean Muslim, I mean Indian. So while I’m glad it is out of the way, can we be as bothered about ‘all’ women across religions, castes, and  economic demographics? Because, frankly, I think the status of women is elevated only by a single factor – economic independence. No religion, no law, no sharia, no nothing!

Continue reading “Minus the politics, triple talaq verdict is a welcome move”

भारतीय मुसलमान: डर के साये में?

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पूर्व उपराष्ट्रपति श्री हामिद अंसारी के एक हालिया बयान से जिस प्रकार मीडिया ट्रायल हुआ और उसको राजनितिक मोड़ दिया गया वो गिरते वैचारिक मानसिकता और मुद्दों को संवेदनशील बनाकर राजनीति करने के नए तरीके का परिणाम है। हामिद अंसारी के कथन को समझने के लिए सिर्फ बीजेपी के इस तीन साल का ही विश्लेषण नहीं होना चाहिए वरना ये राजनितिक विश्लेषण होकर रह जाएगा। इसको समझने के लिए हमें कम से कम एक सदी और उसके बाद के मुसलमानो के हालत को नज़र में रखना होगा।

स्वतंत्रता संग्राम में हिंदुस्तानी मुसलमानो की भागीदारी और बलिदान को किसी के सनद की आवश्यकता नहीं। मुसलमानो ने अपनी आबादी और हिस्सेदारी से अधिक बढ़-चढ़ कर इस लड़ाई को लड़ा और जीता। लेकिन पाकिस्तान के बंटवारे ने जिस प्रकार भारतीय मुसलमानो को मानसिक, सामाजिक, आर्थिक और राजनितिक रूप से तोड़ा उससे हम दशकों निकल नहीं पाये। शिक्षित, आर्थिक रूप से संपन्न, सरकारी नौकरियों के बड़े ओहदेदार भारत छोड़कर एक नए देश में अपना सुख तलाशने जा चुके थे। बचा था दबा, कुचला , पिछड़ा और अशिक्षित मुसलमान जिसको अपने पुरखों की विरासत को छोड़ना किसी हाल में गवारा नहीं था।

पकिस्तान बनने की आत्मग्लानि, जातीय राजनीति के बढ़ते ज़ोर में बिना नेतृत्व के खौफ के माहौल से मुसलमानो को उबरने में एक लंबा समय लगा। जब उबरने लगे तो पाकिस्तान की भाँती ‘धर्मांधता’ की राजनीति भारत में भी शुरू हो चुकी थी। हमें इस बात को महसूस करना होगा की पाकिस्तान में बचे अल्पसंख्यक भी इसी पीड़ा से गुज़रे होंगे। फ़र्क़ इतना ज़रूर है की भारतीय मुसलमानो के अधिकार की बड़ी बड़ी लड़ाई यहाँ के बहुसंख्यक समाज ने लड़ा और आज भी वो लड़ते हैं।

मुझे हामिद अंसारी साहेब की बातों को समर्थन करने में कोई हिचक नहीं। आज भारतीय मुसलमान डर में है। वो पाकिस्तान बंटवारे के बाद भी डर में थे और आज भी डर के माहौल में जी रहे।

इन सब चीजों में जो एक चीज़ छूटी वो है मुसलमानो की समाज निर्माण में हिस्सेदारी की कमी। उसके कई कारण हैं जिसपर एक लंबी चर्चा की आवश्यकता है। 70 साल का अंतराल किसी समाज को सम्भलने और अपने हालात को सुधारने के लिए कम नहीं होता। आप सिर्फ दूसरों पर इलज़ाम लगाकर अपनी ज़िम्मेदारी से नहीं बच सकते। मुसलमानो में शिक्षा के प्रति रुझान बढ़ा है। ज़रुरत है अपनी सामाजिक ज़िम्मेदारियों के प्रति सोचने, इसपर निरंतर चर्चा कर एक दिशा देने की। मैं आओ सबको आमंत्रित करता हूँ इसपर एक बहस शुरू हो और मुख्यधारा से जुड़कर काम आगे बढे।

 

Continue reading “भारतीय मुसलमान: डर के साये में?”

Leave Cricket of all the sports alone!

INDIA-PAK cricket showdown was there before also. And those matches were not played during peaceful times either. The matches were prone to hyper nationalism ventilation as well. Just like the present, but with a difference. The sports page handlers of media houses then were sane enough to separate the chaff from the wheat. The winners were given prominent coverage, the perennial hostilities not withstanding. The editorial policies were relatively fair when it came to sports.

Now, we are in a more hyper sensitive era with media playing the three-in-one tone with finesse. Aggrieved, aggressor and the clueless. This two ‘A’ and one ‘c’ mode is incongruous with the five ‘W’ notion that’s the bedrock of journalism. The perfect example is india’s leading English paper’s coverage of Pakistani team. The insiders say the desk hands were told not to give significance to Pak players. Yeah, you heard right! Even if they had the best day on field. Continue reading “Leave Cricket of all the sports alone!”