Blasphemy, Bohras, Anti-Sikh riots, Euthanasia
Killing a minority voice in Pakistan
The killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, the minority affairs minister in the Pakistan People’s Party should alert the government beyond making mourning sounds and attempting cosmetic changes or creating a martyr ethos.
Bhatti was a Christian and he obviously opposed the Blasphemy law. The blanket term “Islamic extremists” is not enough to save Pakistan, for Pakistan is an Islamic nation. Why can it not have a minister for minority affairs from the majority community? Everybody knows these are sop portfolios reserved to further put sections of people in ghettos. Bhatti was the only Christian minister and treated differently by his own party, so let us not get into those who killed him:
Although Islamabad police chief Wajid Durrani said Bhatti was provided a security detail in view of the threats to his life,at the time of the attack,he was not accompanied by any bodyguard. Unlike most ministers who enjoy privileges such as bulletproof vehicles and high-walled houses in Islamabad’s Ministers Enclave, Bhatti was deprived of these facilities.
I think a Muslim minister will be forced to attend to the grievances as a responsible citizen and face the music when needed. And it does not have to be a prominent person. Often the problem lies in this public display and heroism.
Are Dawoodi Bohras being tagged?
Ejamaat is an internet database where every Bohra must enter his or her personal and professional details. It’s an electronic encapsulation of this information—a sort of identity card. Both the database and the cards are controlled by the dawat, a centralised clergy based in Mumbai. The use of powerful technology has sent ripples of anxiety in the community.
This means that every person belonging to the community will be open to scrutiny regarding their prayer habits, their attendance and religious and social functions and other related matters. The community already has a reformist segment which does not strictly adhere to everything that the Syedna deems right, even though they are believers.
At one level the ejaamat is a technological breakthrough, but what a person quoted in a report says is rather worrying:
“By monitoring even more strictly whether we pay our religious taxes, visit the mosque, pray and fast, the card will help us become better Muslims.”
Better than who or what? While diligent devotees have always followed diktats, there are others who prefer to make the choice regarding such norms. Where does it say in the Quran that you must pay religious taxes?
What happens to those who do not gain points for toeing the line? Will this work as a credit card that you can get reward points for and how do you redeem them? And if you renege on ‘payment’, as in doing any of the things ordained, will there be a penalty?
Apparently, the community spokesperson thinks this is a good way by which to show their gratitude to the Sydena who celebrates his 100th birthday on the 25th of this month. It is unlikely that he will be keeping tabs; it will be the second and third rung clerics who will do so and consolidate their position.
1984 Sikh riots trials in the America?
A federal district court in New York issued summons to the ruling party in a class action lawsuit filed by Sikh organization Sikhs for Justice, which has offices in New York and India. The Sikh group has charged the Congress with “conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out organized attacks on Sikh population of India in November 1984”.
Can a court in another country try a political party in India? This is a private organisation, so what is its locus standi? Who is funding it and does it have foreign patrons?
I have repeatedly said that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots must get priority and we have the names of the Congress leaders who incited or watched the violence quietly. But this is an issue about India that has to be sorted out in India. We cannot outsource justice anywhere.
It is time for the Congress to wake up and get its act together or else we will have outside interference. It is bad enough that our expats are quietly helping out many rightwing parties of every stripe. Oh, well, some leftwing ones too.
Aruna Shanbaug cannot die…yet
Since 1973 after being raped she has been lying in a hospital bed in a vegetative state.
Opposing a euthanasia plea filed on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a vegetative state at KEM Hospital for 37 years, Vahanvati said western parameters seldom applied to Indian conditions and culture. “We do not lead our terminally ill parents or kids to death. Who decides if one should live or die? Who knows, tomorrow there might be a cure to a medical state perceived as incurable today. And won’t leading the terminally ill impede pro-life medical research?” argued the attorney general.
There are indeed several aspects to this case, but I would really like to know why no one is interested in bringing her tormentor to book when they know where he is.
I have already had my say in the article Whose Euthanasia Is It, Anyway?