Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Open Letter to Chief Justice of Allahabad regarding the norm of women covering their head in Bara Imambara

Open Letter to Chief Justice of Allahabad regarding the norm of women covering their head in Bara Imambara

Kind Attn: Justice Dhananjay Yashwant Chandrachud

Respected Sir,

This is with reference to the news report in the Hindu dated 11th March 2014(http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/women-entering-bara-imambara-will-now-have-to-cover-their-heads/article5771209.ece )  stating that now women visiting the bara Imambara, a famous tourist site in Lucknow (U.P.), will have to cover their heads. This rule suggested by the shia community has been accepted by the Imambara administration and this rule has become applicable now. The shia community suggested this regulation on religious grounds.

However, we think that this is not acceptable. Our concerns are following:
·         First of all, Bara Imambara, in its entirety, cannot be regarded as a religious site. The mosque next to it can be regarded as a religious site but not the labrynith (bhulbhulayah) and the bowli. Imambara is a historical site and so a heritage of the country not of any particular religious community. So if this is accepted then this rule may also become applicable to most of the other monuments. 

·      Secondly, while the mosque bars non-muslims from entering , the imambara permits and is visited by people irrespective of their religious faith. So such a rule cannot be accepted. 

·     Third, even for muslim women, we think that hijab and head covering should be a matter of choice. It should not be imposed, women should be given the right to decide for themselves. They are equal to men and have the right to form their own decisions. Such a rule should be seen as a violation of their rights. Infact, some progressive women rights’ groups have already registered their opposition against it.

We believe that visiting of monuments and sites protected by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) cannot be made 'private' on such basis with the 'autocratic' rules by religious groups. We also believe that equality on gender basis should come first and such rules cannot be made compulsory. We believe that it is against the fundamental right of practicing religion itself as even non hindus and atheists will be forced to enter a tourist place as per the rules of a particular group on religious basis. Moreover, rights of women cannot be ignored and their choice and desire cannot be compromised on such basis. 

In view of this, we hereby through this letter, condemn the decision of Imambara administration and hereby appeal to you to kindly intervene in this matter and roll-back this decision to safeguard the rights of citizens. 

Thanking You

Mission Bhartiyam 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

When Cricket 'threatens' The 'Integrity' Of A Country

"Where the head is held high and mind is without fear”, wrote Noble Prize Winner and Renowned Poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Rabindranath Tagore doesn't need an introduction for any Indian. The nation respects him and his thoughts. However, today it turns out that the nation that derives or rather claims to derive inspiration from his thoughts, have reduced this thought to mere words.
The reference is to the action of the State Government of Uttar Pradesh and Subharti University (a private university in meerut) taken against the kashmiri students who cheered for the Pakistani Cricket Team. Both the government and the university have maligned the concept of fearless minds. They have instilled fear in the minds of the citizens who shall now think before praising any country for any reason.
For the state government regarded the act of praising Pakistani cricket team and cheering upon its victory to be so dangerous that it booked the students with the charge of sedition. Similarly, the university had expelled these students. It had also not taken into account the fact that other students in their protest against the act of kashmiri students had broken windows and vandalised their hostel rooms. For it, their act was much more dangerous than their right to life that was also under threat. Isn’t that a problem?
This incident has several other aspects to it.
A very basic thing that comes to one's mind is that it is clear violation of freedom of expression. They were merely expressing their choice and preference. How can a government tell us whom we should cheer for? Will the state now govern our choices and preferences? It is yet another blot on the world's largest 'democracy'.
Also constitutionally speaking, supporting Pakistan or any country with whom we have a diplomatic relation and which India has duly recognized as a sovereign state, in no way constitute any crime unless and until it coupled with hatred or motive to destruct and a will against the Elected Indian Government or Constitution.
While it cannot be assumed that kashmiri students were cheering for Pakistani cricket team as a way to show their resistance against Indian oppression. However, even if they were, I think India should care more much about the oppression than the expression of resistance against it. They should be bothered more about why they are protesting.
Another point is that even if it was an expression of resistance can this method be seen as seditious? Cricket is afterall a game, just that and if not then may be we should start solving our international issues through it.
If we accept this today, let's be prepared for more such acts. Today, they do it with Kashmir and so we are silent but tomorrow, the state will come up with more definitions of sedition.
If merely speaking or cheering in favor of another country or condemning one's own country counts to sedition, then there have been innumerable situation wherein the Indian government itself should to be charged under sedition. Violating human rights of kashmiris, applying force on peaceful demonstrations of people and suppressing vioces should come under sedition because it degrades the fundamental essence of democracy that are the citizens.
The action taken by the university clearly shows how we are generating hatred, intolerance and radicalism through our knowledge-systems. Our knowledge systems should emphasise on the values of equality, justice and humanity. They should not become an apparatus of the oppressive state.
Needless to say, this incident has also raised questions on the country in the international sphere. The country or the so-called democracy is being condemned for this shocking and unacceptable reaction.
As we noted, this incident raises several issues. It forces us to think that where are we heading to?