Ganga Sagar – “Freedom Gagged” – Francois

FREEDOM GAGGED

Ganga Sagar, located on the western edge of the Sunderban Delta in West Bengal, is for many Hindus a very renowned Place of Pilgrimage, because there the Ganga river has a confluence with the Bay of Bengal. At the edge of Sagar town – adjacent to the beach – is an ancient temple dedicated to Kapil Muni, the sage responsible for initiating the chain of events that ultimately resulted, according to the legend, to ‘Mother Ganga’ descending to the earth from heaven and giving mankind an opportunity to wash away its sins in her pure water. The earliest mention of this place is found in the Mahabharata where a sage explains to Bhishma the significance of taking a dip at the confluence of Gangasagar. Thus, millions of Hindu pilgrims visit this holy place all year round to take a dip in the Ganges, particularly during the Kumbha Mela and Makara Sankranti festivities. Last Thursday, a Hindu social group, named the Hindu Sanghati, led by its National convener, Sri Tapan Kumar Ghosh, had started conducting there for 180 men, women and children, a three-day Yoga and meditation camp in a building close to the confluence owned by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. After attending the first Yoga and meditation session in the morning, the group went to take a dip in the Ganga Sagar confluence, and thereafter to pay obeisance in the Kapil Muni shrine. On its way, the group chanted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Jai Sri Ram”. This was enough to anger the local people, mostly immigrant Bangladeshi Muslims. Later in the day, led by Sheikh Ismail, who happens to be CPI(M)’s Panchayat Samiti seat winner in the area, about 3000 men reached the building were the pilgrims were put up, and started throwing gas cylinders and petrol bombs (Molotov cocktails) and kept on attacking incessantly for a few hours, till all 180 of the camp were trapped inside this burning camp along with Tapan Ghosh. The local police-appeared to side more with the Muslims than the Hindus, maybe just out of plain fear, and only very small posse of 15 policemen was sent, totally inadequate for resisting such a huge armed mob. The police could not control the mob of Muslims even after firing several rounds. As a result, quite a few Hindus attending the camp have been injured in the carnage, and at least 7 of them are in critical condition, apart from 2 others who could not be identified because of serious facial burn injuries. 2 policemen have also been seriously injured due to the assault by the Muslim mob. Apart from throwing petrol bombs to incinerate the camp building, the mob also attacked and seriously damaged some nearby houses of the local Hindus as well as an adjoining Kali temple and a ‘Yatri Nivas’ (Travellers’ Lodge) run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. In a travesty of justice, 15 of the pilgrims were arrested by the local police, and booked under Sections 147, 148, 149, 307, 310 and 323 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) for inciting “communal disharmony”. Out of these 15, the organiser of the camp, Tapan Ghosh, and one other have been remanded 7 days’ police custody in Kakdwip Thana (Police Station) in West Bengal and it is feared they will be tortured. A pilgrim who was injured in the clash, said: “We got beaten up only for chanting religious slogans; Jayanta Mukherjee, the SDPO of the area also abused us and arrested many of our members.” Ironically, not even one of the attackers was arrested by the police. It seems like a reverse logic: instead of punishing the attackers, you penalize the attacked ! The communists, by allowing knowingly hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis to settle in West Bengal, out of ideology (Muslims are our allies), but also for electoral purposes (they are furnished fake identity cards, so that they vote for them) have created a monster that will come back to haunt India, not only in Nandigram, but other places, such as Jaipur or Varanasi, though communists, once more have shown that they will side with Muslims if they attack Hindus. One has to laud Nehru’s concept of protecting the oppressed and the minorities, but is it not now going overboard, with the police seeming to side increasingly with minorities, at the expense of the majority community of India, the Hindus, who have been known throughout their history to be extremely tolerant and to accept diversity? Is it a common pattern? Yes ! the same thing happened in Chennai when on the 7th March 2008, the Tamil Nadu police vandalized an exhibition on Aurangzeb and threw some paintings on the ground, shattering them. Yet it was an artistic exhibition on the great Moghol emperor using his own records and firmans (edicts), many of which are still preserved in Indian museums, such as the Bikaner archives. Aurangzeb was truly a pious Muslim, copying the Koran himself, stitching Muslim skullcaps and enforcing strict laws. Nevertheless, according to his own documents, he was a very ruthless and cruel emperor. Forget what he did to Hindus : re-imposing the humiliating jiziya tax, forbidding them from riding horses, elephants or palanquins and ordering all temples destroyed (Among them the Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujurat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya), he was also a monster to his own family, having his father poisoned, his two brothers killed, and imprisoning his own son. The day before the Nawab of Arcot, local Muslim leader, had visited the exhibition and had been enraged by two miniatures — the first depicted Aurangzeb’s army destroying the Somnath temple and the second showed the destruction of the Kesava Rai temple in Mathura. Soon, the nawab sent a group of Muslims from TMMK (Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam) and MNP (Manitha Neethi Paasarai) to pick up arguments with the volunteers, most of them elderly women from decent family backgrounds. They came back again on 7th afternoon, screaming on top of their voices in Tamil and in English that this exhibition was absolutely false and that unless it was closed immediately they would come back in force tomorrow (Friday) to break it down. The volunteers tried to reason with them, that these were all documents from Government archives, that they could explain everything to them, that they could even debate on TV, but they shouted even louder and got more threatening. Then the police openly sided with the TMMK, vandalized the exhibition and closed it down. This raises the question of what kind of freedom exists in India at the moment. We understand that without the support of the communists the present Government would collapse. But does that mean that the Congress leaders have to turn a blind eye to what the communists are doing to the social fabric of India and South Asia? There is such a thing as Karma. By allowing hundreds of Bangladeshis to settle in India, or having helped the Maoists to take over Nepal, or letting artistic freedom be gagged, these people, who soon will be out of power, will hand over to the next government extremely difficult situations to handle.

– François Gautier

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One thought on “Ganga Sagar – “Freedom Gagged” – Francois

  1. aslam durani

    Aurangzeb, Emperor Shah Jahan’s sixth son, was born on 24th October 1618 at Dohad in Madhya Pradesh, and wrested India’s crown from his father before the end of June 1658, after defeating his brother Prince Dara Shukoh’s armies, first at Dharmat near Ujjain (15th April 1568) and the second, led by Dara himself, at Samugarh on 29th May 1658. The War of Succession to the richest throne in the world was practically over with this victory, and Aurangzeb secured his position by making Murad, his brother and accomplice in his impetuous pursuit for power, his prisoner, by treachery, on 25th June. He had already made his old father Emperor Shah Jahan a prisoner in the Agra Fort (8th June 1658).

    Shah Jahan survived his confinement by nearly eight years and the disgraceful manner of his burial (Exhibit No. 5) will ever remain a stigma on this unscrupulous son Aurangzeb’s advent to the throne in his father’s life time was not welcomed by the people of India, because of the treacherous manner it was achieved; but public opinion became all the more hostile towards him when Prince Dara Shukoh, the favourite son of Shah Jahan, the translator of the Upanishads (Exhibit No. 2), and a truly liberal and enlightened Musalman, was taken prisoner on the Indian border, as he was going to Persia. Dara was paraded in a most undignified manner on the streets of Delhi on 29th August 1659. The French Doctor, Bernier, was an eye-witness to the scene and was deeply moved by the popular sympathy for Dara (Exhibit No. 3) which so much alarmed Aurangzeb that he contrived to have a decree from his Clerics announcing death-sentence for his elder brother on the charge of apostasy (Exhibit No. 4).

    Throughout the War of Succession, Aurangzeb had maintained that he was not interested in acquiring the throne and that his only object was to ward off the threat to Islam, which was inevitable in case Dara Shukoh came to power. Many, including his brother Murad, were deceived by this posture. After his formal accession in Delhi (5th June 1659) he posed as a defender of Islam who would rule according to the directions of the Shariat, and with the advice of the Clerics or Ulama for whom the doctrines, rules, principles and directives, as laid down and interpreted in the 7th and 8th century Arabia, Persia and Iraq, were inviolable and unchangeable in all conditions, in all countries, and for all times to come.

    One of the main objectives of Aurangzeb’s policy was to demolish Hindu temples. When he ordered (13th October 1666) removal of the carved railing, which Prince Dara Shukoh had presented to Keshava Rai temple at Mathura, he had observed ‘In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple’, and that it was totally unbecoming of a Muslim to act like Dara Shukoh (Exhibit No. 6, Akhbarat, 13th October 1666). This was followed by destruction of the famous Kalka temple in Delhi (Exhibit No. 6, 7, 8, Akhbarat, 3rd and 12th September 1667).

    In 1669, shortly after the death of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber, a general order was issued (9th April 1669) for the demolition of temples and established schools of the Hindus throughout the empire and banning public worship (Exhibit Nos. 9 & 10). Soon after this the great temple of Keshava Rai was destroyed (Jan.-Feb. 1670) (Exhibit No. 12) and in its place a lofty mosque was erected. The idols, the author of Maasir-i-Alamgiri informs, were carried to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque built by Begum Sahiba in order to be continually trodden upon, and the name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad. The painting (Exhibit No. 13) is thus no fancy imagination of the artist but depicts what actually took place.

    This was followed by Aurangzeb’s order to demolish the highly venerated temple of Vishwanath at Banaras (Persian text, Exhibit No. 11), Keshava Rai temple (Jan.-Feb. 1670) (Persian Text, exhibit No. 12 and Painting, Exhibit No. 13), and of Somanatha (Exhibit No. 14).To save the idol of Shri Nathji from being desecrated, the Gosain carried it to Rajputana, where Maharana Raj Singh received it formally at Sihad village, assuring the priest that Aurangzeb would have to trample over the bodies of one lakh of his brave Rajputs, before he could even touch the idol (Exhibit No. 15)

    Aurangzeb’s zeal for temple destruction became much more intense during war conditions. The opportunity to earn religious merit by demolishing hundreds of temples soon came to him in 1679 when, after the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur in the Kabul Subah, he tried to eliminate the Rathors of Marwar as a political power in Rajputana. But Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar, in line with the great traditions of his House, came out in open support of the Rathors.. This led to war with both Mewar and Marwar during which the temples built on the bank of Rana’s lake were destroyed by his orders (Exhibit No. 23, Akhbarat 23rd December 1679) and also about three hundred other temples in the environs of Udaipur. (Exhibit No. 25, Text), including the famous Jagannath Rai temple built at a great cost in front of the Maharana’s palace which was bravely defended by a handful of Rajputs (Exhibit Nos. 20, 21).

    Not only this, when Aurangzeb visited Chittor to have a view of the famous fort, he ordered the demolition of 63 temples there which included some of the finest temples of Kumbha’s time (Exhibit No. 22). From Marwar (in Western Rajasthan) alone were brought several cart-loads of idols which, as per Aurangzeb’s orders, were cast in the yard of the Court and under the steps of Jama Masjid (Exhibit No. 19). Such uncivilized and arrogant conduct of the Mughal Emperor alienated Hindus for ever, though they continued to be tolerant towards his creed.

    In June 1681, orders, in a laconic two-liner, were given for the demolition of the highly venerated Jagannath Temple in Orissa (Exhibit No. 24, Akhbarat, 1st June 1681). Shortly afterwards, in September 1682, the famous Bindu-Madhav temple in Banaras was also demolished as per the Emperor’s orders (Exhibit No. 27, Akhbarat, Julus 26, Ramzan 20). On 1st September 1681, while proceeding to the Deccan, where his rebel son Prince Akbar, escorted by Durga Das Rathore, had joined Chhatrapati Shivaji’s son, Shambhaji, thus creating a serious problem for him, Aurangzeb ordered that all the temples on the way should be destroyed. It was a comprehensive order not distinguishing between old and newly built temples (Exhibit No. 26, Akhbarat, Julus 25, Ramzan 18). But in the district of Burhanpur, where there were a large number of temples with their doors closed, he preferred to keep them as such, as the Muslims were too few in number in the district. (Exhibit No. 28, Akhbarat 13th October 1681). In his religious frenzy, even temples of the loyal and friendly Amber state were not spared, such as the famous temple of Jagdish at Goner near Amber (Exhibit Nos. 30, Akhbarat, 28th March and 14th May 1680). In fact, his misguided ardour for temple destruction did not abate almost up to the end of his life, for as late as 1st January 1705 we find him ordering that the temple of Pandharpur be demolished and the butchers of the camp be sent to slaughter cows in the temple precincts (Akhbarat 49-7).

    The number of such ruthless acts of Aurangzeb make a long list but here only a few have been mentioned, supported by evidence, mostly contemporary official records of Aurangzeb’s period and by such credible Persian sources as Maasir-i-Alamgiri.

    In obedience to the Quranic injunction, he reimposed Jizyah on the Hindus on 2nd April 1679 (Exhibit No. 16), which had been abolished by Emperor Akbar in 1564, causing widespread anger and resentment among the Hindus of the country. A massive peaceful demonstration against this tax in Delhi, was ruthlessly crushed. This hated tax involved heavy economic burden on the vast number of the poor Hindus and caused humiliation to each and every Hindu (Exhibit No. 18). In the same vein, were his discriminatory measures against Hindus in the form of exemption of the Muslims from the taxes (Exhibit No. 31, Akhbarat 16th April 1667) ban on atishbazi and restriction on Diwali (Exhibit No. 32), replacement of Hindu officials by Muslims so that the Emperor’s prayers for the welfare of Muslims and glory of Islam, which were proving ineffective, be answered (Exhibit Nos. 33, 34). He also imposed a ban on ziyarat and gathering of the Hindus at religious shrines, such as of Shitla Mata and folk Gods like Pir Pabu (Exhibit No. 35, Akhbarat 16th September 1667), another ban on their travelling in Palkis, or riding elephants and Arab-Iraqi horses, as Hindus should not carry themselves with the same dignity as the Muslims! (Exhibit No. 36). In the same vein came brazen attempts to convert Hindus by inducement, coercion (Exhibit No. 41) or by offering Qanungoship (Exhibit No. 44, 45, 46) and to honour the converts in the open Court. His personal directions were that a Hindu male be given Rs.4 and a Hindu female Rs.2 on conversion (Exhibit No. 43, Akhbarat 7th April 1685). “Go on giving them”, Aurangzeb had ordered when it was reported to him that the Faujdar of Bithur, Shaikh Abdul Momin, had converted 150 Hindus and had given them naqd (cash) and saropas (dresses of honour) (Exhibit No. 40, Akhbarat, 11th April 1667). Such display of Islamic orthodoxy by the State under Aurangzeb gave strength and purpose to the resistance movements such as of the Marathas, the Jats, the Bundelas and the Sikhs (Exhibit No. 46).

    On the 12th May 1666, the dignity with which Shivaji carried himself in the Mughal court and defied the Emperor’s authority, won him spontaneous admiration of the masses. Parkaldas, an official of Amber (Jaipur State) wrote in his letter dated 29th May 1666, to his Diwan. “Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence Shivaji has shown such audacity and returned harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more …” (Exhibit No. 37). When Shivaji passed away on April 1680 at the age of 53 only, he had already carved a sufficiently large kingdom, his Swarajya, both along the western coast and some important areas in the east as well.

    Aurangzeb could never pardon himself for his Intelligence in letting him escape from his well laid trap and wrote in his Will (Exhibit No. 48) that it made him ‘to labour hard (against the Marathas) to the end of my life (as a result of it)”. He did not realize that it was his own doing: the extremely cruel manner ‘even for those times – in which he put to death Shivaji’ son, Shambhaji (Exhibit No. 38) made the Maratha king a martyr in the eyes of the masses and with that commenced the People’ War in Maharashtra and the Deccan which dug the grave of the Mughal empire.

    Till the very end Aurangzeb never understood that the main pillars of the government are the affection and support of the people and not mere compliance of the religious directives originating from a foreign land in the seventh-eighth centuries.

    His death after a long and ruinous reign lasting half a century, ended an eventful epoch in the history of India. He left behind a crumbling empire, a corrupt and inefficient administration, a demoralized army, a discredited government facing public bankruptcy and alienated subjects.

    Complete Exhibition: http://according-to-mughal-records.blogspot.com/

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