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2008 December 7 [Sunday]

Does religion ask you to be violent?

The one thing that refuses to go away from my mind .... reading reports of the Jewish hostages being tied up and tortured before being killed. That they were killed painfully is extremely disturbing and for personal reasons. Around 195 died and included Hindus, Christians, Muslims, who who were killed in the attack but the terrorists didnt ask any of them the religion before they killed them except the Jews, who they decided to torture and then slaughter. That sounds so much like Aurangazeb torturing the last Maratha Peshwa alive, slowly skinning him whilst hanging him by his legs, for refusing to convert. That the last Peshwa chose to die a slow painful death on the 21'st day of torture, instead of converting to Islam, was something never taught in our history textbooks.

That lack of tolerance for another is similar in this singling out of the Jews. It irks me because I've lived for years in close proximity, shared innumerable laughs, tears, jokes, Sabbath's and Puja's with one such family who treated me as they would their own child. They were more Indian than most Indians - think long hair, sari, bindi .... and you know what I mean. I still remember the disapproving look I got for cutting my waist-length hair.

And that is why, it is disturbing and scary to even imagine that people you have known as a child and have grown-up with could be tortured and cruelly killed because they follow a different religion than you do.I am yet to overcome the fact that for some people religion is all about intolerance and fanaticism. Its a harsh truth, but it is.

Julio Riberio says his ancestors were Hindus from India and they never had an issue with getting along with other religions. I cant argue with that fact but its scary to think what India is degenerating into. We Indians are selfish, as after walking at a protest rally or blogging (like this), we will return to our excitingly mundane daily life until the next incident occurs and its time to repeat the circus all over again. Not to forget all the publicity-hungry stars who will hog the media bytes with inane comments about the spirit and tolerance of the the great Indian (re)public !! Talk of collective amnesia !! Easier to hold hands, have a candlelight vigil, and just impossible to control who gets voted from our constituency. THAT and Corruption would be two root causes of our misery. Our apathy is just icing on the cake for a public servant.

For a change the US got tough talking with Pakistan who acknowledge the terrorists were its nationals trained by the army and LeT. This has significance for both USA and other countries. Now that the LeT has tasted success it can strike at will anywhere in India, target all foreigners who come to India whether for business or pleasure. Since the LeT wants to take Jihad all over India and Jammu&Kashmir is their entry point in India they can almost succeed because there is not a single state in India without a sizable Muslim population which Indian politicians love to play around with. Its their vote-bank politics of divide and rule. If nothing else we have something to learn from the Americans who after 9/11 changed the way the world looks at terrorism. Yeah individual freedom and liberty was curbed but who wants a democracy where one can get away with murder, just like that!! Almost impossible in India due to vote-bank politics and public servants (read politicians) who will equate slain martyrs with dogs, whilst claiming the tag of 'world's largest democracy' ... but that exists only for them with the Z+ security, government bungalows and other perks that they enjoy at the expense of the tax-payers money. They need to learn a thing or two from TATA's generosity.

This slaughter would not have been possible without local traitors to help them in planning and logistics. Do we have the courage to kill the enemy within our midst? Isnt the quintessential chalta hai (take it easy!!) attitude responsible for the current mess? We talk of corruption, corrupt politicians, but are unable to do anything because it needs collective action. One individual cannot do it. It has to be a mass movement and should start with the public servant's accountability to the Indian tax-payer and voter(s). Each voter has a right to petition for a "Reject Candidate Vote" which was lost when the electronic voting was bought in. Earlier one could stamp on two candidate and nullify one's vote as a form of rejection. With electronic votes that is impossible. So I am forced to vote for a candidate I dont like (or choose the lesser evil) or Not vote at all (which is not even an option imho). So do we really have it in us to stop corruption once and for all or are we going to turn the other way because it didnt happen to us. Why are we waiting instead of being proactive? It should be mandatory for every 18 year old person (including women) to serve in the military for a period of 10 years. That would give people a real life perspective and force them to be more patriotic and live *equally* as common citizens which is not the case now.

In all this I feel sad for Moshe, the 2-year old orphan ...i wonder if he will ever overcome the trauma of his parents brutal murder just two days before his birthday. That will be a horrific fact he will have to relive all his life just days before his birthday each year. How cruel - What kind of religion asks you to be cruel, terrorize and indulge in mindless violence?

2008 July 25 [Friday]

bomb blasts in bengaluru

I was wondering why I was getting so many "are you ok?" sms [Yeah, I am OK], since my phone was jammed and I could not make any calls nor internet access.  That is when I came to know that there were 7 bomb blasts in Bangalore in the afternoon today and the police opine that the terror outfits SIMI and LeT are behind it.

Terrorist killings continue in Srinagar (capital of J&K) and in Jammu despite the J&K govt having been arm-twisted into withdrawing the order (40 ha land granted to the Amarnath board) amidst the strikes and attacks, or was this just coalition political gimmicks.

The fact is the Shrine board took years to get permission for the land as is wont when a country calls itself secular because it has for decades used the taxpayers money (RS.280 crores annually) to fund Hajj (pilgrims are flown for free to Mecca from Mumbai and Delhi by both national carriers, Air-India and Indian Airlines). Now some local Christian churches want the same concessions that the Indian government gives Hajj pilgrims [from DhimmiWatch (Indians use the word kafir so the word dhimmi to denote non-muslims is new)].

Its tragic when innocent citizens lose their lives in bomb blasts across Indian cities but there continues to be political apathy in taking firm action against terrorism.  This like many other crimes is going to be yet another statistic since the Indian governments has always lacked the political will power to bring criminals to justice and highlights our non-existent justice system.

2006 July 18 [Tuesday]

violent identity politics

Today, Mumbai will pay homage to victims of the terror attack and we decided to take it to the streets with candles and silence at 18:24 IST. All along the 7/11 blast has been linked by the media to the Kashmir issue which has been an on-going tussle for 5+ decades, much before the advent of the 90's which changed the face of terror all over India. There is definitely no excuse and no root cause for terrorism, and violence should not be justified with illogical reasoning.

All our life we constantly struggle to define and understand human identity based on factors we perceive as important like religion, race, social / financial status, nationality or entirely out of imaginary mental feelings. Our experiences and circumstances also conditions behaviour and attitude in life which explains somewhat, why some people resort to violence in pursuit of an identity.

Probably change could start with : ‘Who am I?’ , which addressed individual identity via self-inquiry but this "non-attatchment to self" theory is also echoed in some sections of Theravada philosophy, both converging and sometimes taking parallel paths to self-discovery, an internal process.

2006 July 15 [Saturday]

no fear life will go on

Firstly, thanks to all those who expressed their support for the horrific terrorist attack in Mumbai. Although I had a close escape twice, I never blogged, but I guess if one is not alive there is nothing to blog anyway and I still cant overcome my intense dislike for politics.

TBH, terrorism is not new to India Sulamita, especially Mumbai which has experienced multiple bomb blasts since 1990. Violence against innocent citizens has increased in the last few decades but Indian intelligence & investigation agencies almost never apprehend, prosecute and convict terrorists who kill innocents in the name of politics, religion and faith. According to some defence analysts its easier to use India as a training ground with help from educated Indians for planning and executing such attacks regularly.

For an ordinary citizen the price is a single life and statistics show that the conviction rate of for the terrorist perpetrators of the 1993 blasts, Akshardham temple attack, Delhi Diwali blasts of 2005, the Bangalore attack, Varanasi temple bombings, and the innumerable Kashmir killings is abysmally low. Some years ago my Kashmiri friend sent me an this article by Francois Gautierand she mentioned that Kashmiri women (like herself) are not allowed to own any property in the Jammu and Kashmir state if they marry a non-Kashmiri man. This was news, since not many Indians outside of J&K are aware of this. I always believed that we had equal laws all over India but it seems otherwise.

Communal riots is what the terrorists want but instead citizens returned to work the next day and schools, offices, colleges or business establishments were not closed. Even Western Railway resumed rail services barely 4 hours after the blast on Tuesday and within 12 hours full services were resumed. So although it seems like people dont care enough we do remember friends and/or family members lost in such carnages and I certainly would not know where to begin (or end) describing the loss. Yet for those living it would take more than the fear of death to stop life.

2006 July 11 [Tuesday]

bomb blasts

Earlier in the day we heard of 5 bomb blasts in Srinagar, but a little over an hour ago, there were 6 bomb blasts on the Western Railway in Mumbai. The situation is chaotic as we dont really know the full details yet and since all the phone lines are jammed (including cell phones), this is a heads-up to say 'am ok.

Landlines and cells are jammed with no network coverage which is really stupid and short-sighted as it prevents people from informing friends and family that they are alive or get help or contact anyone who can atleast get help to them or know the status of their friends. Seemingly its been done to prevent rumours from spreading...get real, this is not disaster management, rather its compounding the difficulties by creating more stress and chaos in an already desperate and disastrous situation.

Update : The horrific synchronised terror attack has claimed 147 innocent people and hundreds more injured. The situation at each of the 8 sites where the bomb blasts occured is chaotic but the exact figures would definitely be higher. In 2003, I was plain lucky to have left the blast area five minutes before it happened and yet hearing about the blast did send a chill down my spine.
The railways is the lifeline of the city with 7 million people using it as basic means of transportation. Now that the trains have stopped plying people are walking along the roads to reach home but all major roads are jammed with traffic.