At a time when our nation is seeing a rise in intolerant behaviour, crossing every cultural line, whether based on race, religion or sexual orientation, we seem simultaneously stuck with a national news media TV3 that is preoccupied with conflict and controversy when we desperately need one that weighs facts and reports unfairly. A recent national news programme reinforced these concerns. Let me explain what I mean.
Imagine a respected TV3 television show with the title, Should Malayganging around urban scenes, looking scary. Imagine the zoom-in close up of a shoulder tattoo, proclaiming “thirst for chinese blood”.
this man is the prime minister Najib said “soak the kris in Chinese blood” got so much baggage on his shoulder
This is the biggest airhead UMNO has ever produced!
This is so thick skin that when he tell fucking lies, he face won’t change color, not a bit.
This has so many scandals that the Wikipedia needs 3 pages of articles to introduce him!
“The prince”, in its various meanings, perhaps offers a crude and simplistic insight into Najib’s possible behaviour as Prime Minister.
A story carried in TOI’s Ahmedabad edition last week is illustrative of the present state of affairs in Gujarat. It reports a tale of peaceful demonstrations accompanied by Ram dhuns in front of a bungalow owned by a Hindu in the city of Bhavnagar in Saurashtra. The bungalow was being sold off to a Muslim and the saffron brigade laid siege till the Hindu bungalow owner acquiesced and called off the deal. The story notes how in the last few months many such deals – of Hindus trying to sell property to Muslims – have been stymied in Bhavnagar, the only city in Saurashtra to witness riots during 2002.
Several Umno veterans including former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today met Perkasa in “near secrecy” to avoid being labelled as racists.
Lim Guan Eng today called on Datuk Seri Najib Razak to take responsibility for Perkasa’s words and deeds after openly backing the right-wing Malay group.
The DAP leader said that having the prime minister’s wife grace Perkasa’s fund-raiser last Saturday shows that Najib’s Barisan Nasional (BN) government and its lynchpin party, Umno, endorses everything the Malay group says and does.
The Bagan MP added that Perkasa’s founder-president, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, had last Saturday openly pledged his group’s support of Najib and his administration’s policies, adding that that he was “in awe of (Datin Seri) Rosmah (Mansor’s) leadership”.
“Najib is playing a dangerous game by supporting and sponsoring Perkasa while at the same time supposedly promoting moderation and national unity through his empty 1 Malaysia slogan,” Lim said in a statement today.
Citing Ibrahim, the DAP secretary-general claimed that Najib had said, “I am also a politician … The Malays are split (so) I have to play this game”.
He reminded the PM of Ibrahim’s provocative actions and statements in the past one year, from offering to fight a “crusade” against Christians and torching a picture of Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and labelling her a “dangerous Hindu woman”, to warning the Chinese against taking part in the mammoth July 9 rally because “anything can happen”.
Lim also highlighted that “no action whatsoever has been taken by the Barisan Nasional government to moderate Perkasa’s extremist rhetoric”.
He further warned the PM that he risked losing support from the centre with his open backing of Perkasa.
“All Malaysians who value moderation must be very worried indeed when Perkasa declares itself to be in full support of all the Barisan Nasional government’s policies,” said Lim, who is also Penang chief minister.
The debate could be conducted in Malay and English and should be broadcast live on television, Ibrahim said, adding that it must feature an independent moderator but no audience.
“I will produce the facts and figures, all the paper clippings, all the resolutions to prove that DAP is racist and out to make trouble,” he told reporters at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here.
“With the record with I’ve kept since the May 13 tragedy in 1969, I can put across to the public so that they remember how DAP has consistently played the political game, which, to us, is purely chauvinist and racist.”
The Pasir Mas MP was speaking after a closed-door meeting with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Malay issues.
Ibrahim added that Perkasa will sue Lim for allegedly defaming the group during the latter’s debate with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek on Saturday.
Lim had repeated unfounded allegations that Perkasa was a group out to cause chaos, he charged.
“I have instructed Perkasa’s lawyers to study the video (of the debate) and we will sue Lim Guan Eng,” he said.
“We can’t allow him to continue making such accusations… He just wants to hide DAP’s racism by hurling accusations at others.”
Ibrahim said Perkasa will subpoena the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to clarify whether the group was indeed racist, as claimed by Lim.
He pointed out that Perkasa had never broken any laws and was only fighting to safeguard the constitutional rights of the Malays, Bumiputeras and Muslims.
“We would like to go to court and settle this with Lim Guan Eng once and for all,” he said.
Yes, “ten years after madness” things remain quite the same in Gujarat. True there has been economic growth and Ahmedabad is well on the way to becoming a major automobile industry hub. There has also been a marginal improvement in social indicators but society remains polarized like it was a decade ago. In Ahmedabad, you can be a well-to-do Muslim with enough moolah, but still can’t buy property in “posh” enclaves or middle-class areas. Certain areas are demarcated for Muslims in Ahmedabad and they can only stay there. There are hardly any exceptions to the rule.
It is not that the Muslims are living a wretched life in Gujarat. All depends on what you define as “wretchedness”. If you have accepted the disadvantage as a given, as something that cannot be changed, and are being practical, then you have made your peace. Many Muslims in Gujarat – especially those from the better-off sections have made their peace. Some of them have benefited too. A Muslim living in the Paldi area of Ahmedabad on the bank of the Sabarmati river, when asked how he benefited by the Modi raj, told me: “Earlier slums dominated the river bank in this area. Now they have been removed. I think that this is a feelgood factor for us.” Another Muslim who was active in an anti-Modi campaign earlier has given up. He says: “Who the heck cares about Modi? We will march ahead whether Modi stays or goes.” Implicit in the cockiness shown by this gentleman is the belief that the worst that could happen to Muslims in Gujarat has happened. Now things can only improve. “Modi can’t afford any more riots. That is the guarantee for our welfare,” he says. Also unsaid is this gentleman’s understanding that Modi will surely win the polls again. The polls are slated at the end of the year. “The Congress can never get its act together,” he says.
But to blame the Congress may not be exactly fair. Polarization is so deep in Gujarat that a secular and middle-of-the-road party stands no chance. A former Congressman said: “My eyes opened when my brother told me that he would not vote for me if I stood on a Congress ticket. I changed my line. If you stand firm on ideology there is no hope in this “Hindu” state.
One of the untold stories of 2002 is the massive ideological support that the rioters received from the upper- and middle-class Hindus. No journalist from the national press said this because it would have looked like demonizing a significant section of the Hindu community. So the entire blame fell on the head of Modi, who as the chief minister was of course fully to blame for this breakdown in the administration. But the point is that the rioters could not have done what they did without the moral support of upper- and middle-class Hindus. Maybe without this “moral support”, Modi could not have taken the self-righteous stand that he took and got away by labelling his detractors as anti-Gujarat.
To be fair, Modi did not start this process of polarization in Gujarat, though his actions deepened it. I recollect numerous instances during the riots of 2002 when leaders of civil society would call me or meet me and sternly tell me that the coverage of our paper was “unbalanced” and “pro-Muslim”. Needless to add, there was no dearth of abusive mails, making me wonder how reporting the atrocities on one community could be termed as being “unbalanced”. We were, however, able to resist the pressures.
It was in May 2000 that I arrived in Ahmedabad as the Resident Editor of TOI. Within a few days I called on the then chief minister Keshubhai Patel. His very first words still ring in my ears: “Badal dalo isko badal dalo. Aapke paper ka pro-minority stand badal dalo.” On seeing the quizzical expression on my face he added: “Main nahin kahta, log kahte hain.” Keshubhai was upset that TOI in 1999 had accurately reported the anti-Christian riots in Dangs in Gujarat.
The process of polarization had got a fillip since the early nineties when the BJP came to power in Gujarat. The party has stayed in power ever since. The process of “Sanskritization” began and the lower castes began emulating the ways of the upper castes. Gujarat, where a significant section of the populace (especially the lower castes) were non-vegetarians, slowly turned vegetarian as the BJP propagated the values of the upper castes and the state government officially became vegetarian and banished even eggs from state functions and circuit houses. (Vegetarianism as a personal way of life may be laudable but hardly as an instrument of state policy). Text books also started perpetuating upper-caste Hindu values. The rise of the BJP was also coterminous with the rise of a certain hitherto peasant caste whose members with their enterprise and hard work took the fast lane to prosperity. This intermediate caste took the higher-caste way of life and became the backbone of the BJP.
In a way, Gujarat has bucked the nationwide trend where the OBCs have thrown the upper castes out of power in state after state. It is even more ironical that the flag bearer of this upper-caste agenda is an OBC. Narendra Modi is an OBC, a member of the “ghanchi” community (those whose traditional business is dealing in edible oil).
In some senses the Gujarat story does not begin with the BJP coming to power. It begins in the early seventies when Congressmen Jinabhai Darji and Madhavsinh Solanki conceptualized the KHAM formula of consolidating the Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim votes to bring the party to power. The strategy succeeded and Madhavsinh Solanki romped home. But as he introduced reservations to empower the underprivileged he ran foul of the upper castes. Gujarat was rocked by anti-reservation riots through the 1980s. The upper-caste votes consolidated with the help of the votes of the rising intermediate caste (which also perceived that reservations blocked their upward journey) and the 1990s heralded the entry of the BJP to power. In its long period in power, the BJP has been able to capture the Harijan and Adivasi vote of KHAM and weld them as part of the upper caste voting machine. But whether their status in life has improved remains a moot point.
It was also being speculated that not only had “Hindus” been allowed to vent their feelings, they had been given “three days” to do this. Then defence minister George Fernandes who had been sent to Ahmedabad by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also knew of this “three days” and I personally can vouch for this. With a view to figure out what he was up to, I had called on Fernandes on Saturday, March 2, 2002, in Circuit House in Ahmedabad. Initially, I had some apprehension about how much time the minister would give me because he was on a mission and the riots were on full blast. But I was pleasantly surprised that he had all the time in the world for me. Very soon I could figure out the purpose Fernandes was so keen to engage me in conversation: he wanted to cross-check the facts of the riots that he had heard. It was a long three-hour meeting. At one point the chief secretary, G Subba Rao, and additional chief secretary Ashok Narain, along with a senior army officer, came into the room. They had been confabulating with the minister before I dropped in. Leaving them behind, Fernandes took me to his room. Now the officials wanted to know if they should wait or could leave. The minister asked them to leave and resumed his conversation with me. Fernandes spoke about a whole lot of things, how Ahmedabad had changed, how he had come to the city when there was a massive riot in 1969, how he had walked to the Governor Shriman Narayan’s house from the airport at that time, etc. With the evening advancing and the need for me to go back to the office, I excused myself. Fernandes persisted but I went out. As I climbed down the stairs, the defence minister beckoned me once again from the top of the stairs and said that I should have dinner with him. In the end, I retraced my path. While having an early dinner, Fernandes who was beating around the bush for so long suddenly let it out: “ I have heard that the rioters have been allowed three days time before any action is taken?” I shot back: “ Ya, I have also heard it.” The minister said: “Humm. I see.” We continued on the dinner silently. I must admit that there was no talk about the Modi meet about which Sanjiv Bhatt has now filed an affidavit. But very soon our meeting was broken. Harin Pathak, the minister of state for defence and the BJP MP from Ahmedabad and a hardliner himself, walked into the room with decisive steps and plonked himself on the sofa. In the manner that he walked in it seemed that Pathak was aware that we were having a long meeting and wanted to be privy to the conversation. Immediately after the dinner, I left the place.
A couple of months later, the Outook magazine ran an exclusive report on a serving minister of the Gujarat government having deposed before a citizens’ commission about the Modi meeting on the evening of January 27 where the chief minister had talked about allowing the Hindu reaction. The minister was not named but I instinctively knew that it was Haren Pandya. So I called Pandya and said: “So you tendered evidence before the commission?” Pandya demanded: “How do you know?” I said: “I can make out because you have told me this before. Though I am not sure about others because there is some speculation that it is Suresh Mehta ( another minister). But I am sure your boss Modi can make out too.” The minister said in a dismissive tone: “Who cares about him.” Then I told Pandya: “But your testimony is second hand. Why don’t you get me somebody who attended the meeting and confirm this to me?” Pandya thought for a moment and replied: “Chakravarthi (director general of police ) can.” I told him: “I don’t know him. But since you were close to him and once were his boss as home minister, why don’t you set up a meeting.” Pandya said: “Let me get back to you.” He was back on the line in 10 minutes. “I have spoken with him. Here is his cell number. You have to ask him the questions but he will answer only in yes or no. He is not willing to go any further.” OK, I said and kept down the phone. In the event I did not call up Chakravarthi. The reason: I had written an article for the edit page about the guilty men of Gujarat and had named Chakravarthi and this was going to appear in the paper the next day. I did not think it morally right to get information from a source one day and next day publish an article that would put him on the mat. Moreover, the prospect on a yes or no answer did not appeal to me.
A few months later when I came to know of the names of officers who were present at that fateful meeting, I asked one of them about what had transpired. The officer, Anil Mukim, then private secretary to Modi and now a joint secretary to GOI told me: “Not while I was there.” My specific query was: “Did Modi say that a Hindu reaction be allowed?”. I noted from media reports recently that this is also exactly what Mukim told the SIT on the Gujarat riots. If I recollect correctly Ashok Narayan, the additional chief secretary (home) who had attended the meeting told the Nanavati Commission that there were instructions that the bodies of all those perished in the Godhra train carnage be allowed to be brought to Ahmedabad. This is what Sanjiv Bhatt has also said as part of his affadavit about what had transpired at the meeting.
Incidentally, it seems that on the evening of February 27 there were two meetings that had been convened by Modi. The first one was a law and order meeting with top cops and secretaries, which Sanjiv Bhatt is supposed to have attended. The other was a meeting of ministers. Haren Pandya had told me that at this meeting some of the ministers said that the bodies of those who died in the Godhra carnage be brought to Ahmedabad. Haren said that he resisted because he felt that this could lead to an outpouring of sentiments leading to a serious law and order situation. Pandya said that he was outshouted at the meeting and mentioned a minister (I am withholding the name, but it was not Modi) who said that this is what we want. “Our party strength is in Ahmedabad. We want everything to happen here. It will help our party.”
Haren Pandya was murdered under mysterious circumstances in early 2003, so he cannot come back to life to testify whatever is attributed to him by me. I am acutely aware of this. I am also aware that George Fernandes is suffering from Alzhiemer’s, a disease that robs its patients of all his memories.readmore https://muslimmalaysia786.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/mahatir%E2%80%99s-malay-extremist%E2%80%99s-army-and-hindu-extremist-shiv-sena-shiva%E2%80%99s-army/