Kanyā haraṇa in Itihāsa

Searching for victims of heroes in itihāsa is an old preoccupation of the enemies of the spirit of old lore (purāṇa vairi-s). That is a way of undermining the qualities that the civilization sees as heroic, and replace in collective psyche their images with icons of lower stature, representatives of qualities that prevent higher civilizational aspirations. While the enterprise is a big one, highlighting victims of heroes of epics helps (a) bring a doubt about their character and loftiness of the heroes (b) highlight defects in collective morality that sees the heroes as heroes.

When epics are not dominant in the collective consciousness, villains of epics can be directly highlighted as martyrs – Mahiśa, Rāvana etc. When epics come more into the fore, as happened recently during the lockdown thanks to the epics telecast on Doordarshan, villains of epics for their moral decrepitude cannot be highlighted by the purāṇa vairi-s because they then start looking like villains themselves.

Though for decades Rāvana was praised and Rāma was called an Aryan invader in some regions, now in most parts that line is not publicly acceptable – a rapist and an abductor of women cannot be called a martyr instead of a villain given the recent public anger for crime against women.

So the purāṇa vairi-s take to a different set of victims. Those that are not inherently negative characters but fell “victims” due to the poor moral compass of the heroes and society that produces those heroes. Sīta, Draupadi etc.

We learned recently that Subhadra was a victim of misogyny, forcefully taken away and married by Arjuna, and that her victimhood is not even mentioned in discourse. So it makes occasion to look at her case.

It is also a good occasion to look at kanyā haraṇa itself. Subhadra was not an isolated case of kanyā haraṇa, in fact kṣatriyas are “permitted” as an alternate method of getting wife, apart from the known brahma and gāndharva modes.

A simple survey of epics reveals easily, the fact that heroes of epics are men who always stood for protecting not just woman but woman’s right to make her choice. That becomes a topic in itself, so we can limit the current topic to kanyā haraṇa.

 

Dharma

Needless to say, it is not an appreciable practice to take a girl by force. Yet, it was a “permitted” thing for kṣatriyas. At this point it needs to be understood that smṛti/dharma ṣāstra is not prescriptive – it does not say “do this, do that”. It says “this is the nature of things, doing this has such result, and this is therefore the most doable or most avoidable thing”.

In that sense if seen, the dharma ṣāstras do not say “kṣatriyas should do this” but “it is a practice among kṣatriyas to do this”.

The different modes of marriage are mentioned in dharma ṣāstra texts. One instance is Manusmṛti (starting from verse 3.27). Brahma is the best mode of marriage. Arṣa, daiva prājāpatya are good modes where there is a family level agreement. Gāndharva is allowed for kṣatriyas where there is a mutual consent between the man and the woman, and no formal approval from parents is sought. Rakshasa is a discouraged mode where the girl is taken by force.

Why would such a marriage be allowed in a civilized society, and why it is sanctioned without prohibition? Why is no penalty imposed on the man? That too in a civilization that has practices  like swayamvara, where woman’s choice is given primary importance? There are multiple reasons for this.

  1. Ultimately it is the woman that is the loser. Bride has no legitimate status if the marriage is not legitimized. The girl can leave the man when she is freed, in case of abduction and captivity. The fate of a girl isolated after abduction is kept in mind, and therefore it is nevertheless listed a marriage while heavily discouraged.
  2. It is also possible that the abduction happens with girl’s consent. Though this is still haraṇa, it is still a right thing.

The possibilities in life are many, and when it comes to the question of which of the choices is “right” and which is not, the pedagogy of dharma  ṣāstras also gives us simple tests: any action that begets negative consequences is not in line with dharma. In cases where there are uphill tasks, facing lot of struggle and suffering but eventually results are positive, the choice is in line with dharma.

Yudhiśṭhira’s choices in dice game are shown to have negative results, and he is shown as expiating for his wrongs. So the lesson there is clear as to whether one should stake property and humans in a dice game, whether one should play without being adept, whether a game should be used to decide anyone’s fate at all.

Kanyā haraṇa episodes also have such lessons, in which case the choice has positive results and in which case it has negative results.

We know of at least three instances of kanyā haraṇa in itihāsa. First is Bhīśma taking the three princesses of Kāśī raja. Second is Kṛṣṇa taking Rukmiṇi. Third is Arjuna taking Subhadra.

These three happened in three different circumstances, and the merit and permissibility of kanyā haraṇa is different in all three.

 

Case 1 – Ambā (Adi Parva Section 102)

Bhīśma wanted brides for his brother Vicitravīrya. Given Vicitravīrya was not known to be a great prince, by character or power or charm, not many kings came  forward to give their daughters.

Bhīśma comes to know of Kāśī raja who announces a swayamvara for this three daughters Ambā, Ambikā and Ambālikā. There is no invite to Hastināpura. Bhīśma took a vow to remain unmarried and childless for life, and he was among the most eligible bachelors in Bharata. Vicitravīrya does not have a good name and gets no invite.

This angers Bhīśma, and he barges into the swayamvara, challengs the court to stand him in a battle if someone wants to stop him from taking the three brides for his brother Vicitravīrya, the heir of Hastināpura throne. Given Bhīśma’s standing as a warrior none could face him. Sālva king challenges Bhīśma to get Ambā his lover, and fails. Bhīśma comes to Hastināpura with the three princesses. Ambikā and Ambālikā get married to Vicitravīrya, soon to be widowed. Ambā reveals her love for Sālva and Bhīśma sends her to Sālva. Sālva having lost her in a fair fight, declines to own up Ambā.

Ambā is left nowhere. She demands that since Bhīśma used his power to get her from her father as well as her lover, he must marry her. Bhīśma is bound by vow, and declines. Then Ambā requests Bhīśma’s teacher Paraśurāma to persuade Bhīśma, he too fails. Ambā does tapas for Rudra, leaves her body, a part of her becomes Ambā river and another part takes rebirth as Sikhandi who becomes the cause of Bhīśma’s death.

This is a kanyā haraṇa, and the wrongs committed here are many:

  1. Woman belongs to the man who won her. This is itself  breached when Bhīśma used his power to win brides for his ineligible and incapable brother. A woman can live with a man who sought and won her, but not with a man who needs proxies to get her. It was not a case where Vicitravīrya sought the girls and stood, while Bhīśma’s power came to rescue.
  2. Bhīśma ignores the fact that Kāśī raja announced a swayamvara and not a contest. Unlike Draupadi or Sīta “swayamvara” which was more a contest and the girl goes to one who clears a test, Kāśī raja announced a self-choice where the girl picks the man she wants to marry. Bhīśma’s show of power to overrule a self-choice is the second wrong.
  3. When Sālva challenged Bhīśma, it does not occur to him whether Ambā could also have been interested. Ambā gets her chance to talk only after reaching Hastināpura.

Eventually since Bhīśma could not break his vow, Ambā’s life is ruined and she became the cause for Bhīśma’s death.

The lessons here are clear: one cannot forcefully take a woman when her interest is elsewhere. Show of power style representation is not acceptable for marriages. Given the negative consequences Bhīśma and Hastināpura has, this case of kanyā haraṇa, its method, motive all stand wrong.

 

Case 2 – Rukmiṇi  

Kṛṣṇa’s story is too famous, but a quick recollection helps conclusions. Vidarbha princess Rukmiṇi has Kṛṣṇa in her heart. Her brother Rukmi a friend of Kṛṣṇa’s enemies, is keen on getting her married to the man he likes and not the man his sister likes.

Rukmiṇi, intent on marrying Kṛṣṇa, sends a messenger. Agni Dyotana, a respected and  learned man, goes to Kṛṣṇa and conveys the longing Rukmiṇi has for Kṛṣṇa, the constraints she has and asks him to take Rukmiṇi from Vidarbha. Kṛṣṇa waits at the outskirts  of capital where Rukmiṇi comes to pray to her deity, comes on a chariot and takes her. The chariot is pursued by Rukmi, Kṛṣṇa stops and instead of killing his to be brother-in-law he shaves Rukmi and dispatches him back to Vidarbha.

This is a classic story of heroism, romance, love. It is not only read with great interest as a story, there is a practice in several regions to chant the episode by girls with the belief they will get married to a suitable and good man.

The antecedent and consequent are also clear: when the girl is interested, go to any length to get her. Yes, this too is a kanyā haraṇa – a stealing of Vidarbha princess from Vidarbha perspective. Yet this is always mentioned only in a positive sense.

 

Case 3 – Subhadra  (Adi Parva sections 221, 222)

Arjuna goes on an expiation exile and as part of it reaches Dwaraka. He sees Subhadra Kṛṣṇa’s sister, and has an instant attraction for her. Kṛṣṇa suggests that Arjuna abducts Subhadra and marries her.

Arjuna picks her, just like Kṛṣṇa picked Rukmiṇi, from outside the temple on a hilltop outside the capital. He reaches Indraprastha and their marriage happens. Yādavas in Dwaraka are enraged and Kṛṣṇa pacifies them saying Arjuna is the best possible groom they can ever hope to get for Subhadra, and they give their acceptance to the marriage.

The difference however, is this was not a case of girl taking the initiative. This was also not a case of Arjuna getting Subhadra’s acceptance before he takes her. This is also not an episode that is as celebrated as Rukmiṇi haraṇa.

Yet, we see no negative effects of this in the epic. It can be argued that since Subhadra knew Kṛṣṇa’s relation with Arjuna she had no hope of getting support and reconciled with life once she knew it was Arjuna who abducted her. This is not a valid argument, because the Yādavas including Balarāma were still around if she really wanted to protest. Yudhiśṭhira the Dharma raja himself would not approve of a match had Subhadra protested her abduction once they reached Indraprastha. To the contrary, it can be argued that Balarāma was in favour of Subhadra’s alliance with Hastināpura and Kṛṣṇa favored Arjuna as a friend and also as a better human and warrior. He sought a better man for his sister and suggested abduction because Subhadra did not make any decision. Possible arguments are many.

One question that arises in the latter argument is what happens to the consent of the girl. What is ignored while asking this question is when the consent did not matter (because the girl did not exercise it, not because the consent was overruled), what matters is getting the right man. Arjuna’s character throughout the epic is blemish less. He declines Ūrvaśī’s advances because he does not see in her a lover but an ancestor. He was the one to get whom as a son-in-law, kings conducted sacrifices and begot daughters. He declines marrying Uttara because he saw in her a student. A man of impeccable character, a man who knew exactly when to advance and when to stop, cannot be blamed for applying force on a woman without realizing where he could cross the line.

There are multiple versions in this story, and according to some accounts Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna to abduct Subhadra. Some hold that Subhadra also had a liking for Arjuna and she went with him willingly, and was even driving the chariot. The implication in former version is that Arjuna abducted a lady who has not made up her mind (and was not against the alliance either) with the consent of her brother. The implication of the latter version is that this is another romantic story which is made out to be an issue for no reason.

But what is known is that Arjuna arranged for Subhadra’s meeting with Draupadi in a way their relation turns good. What is also known is that Subhadra is not known to have protested. What is also known is that Arjuna got a beautiful as well as affectionate wife in the form of Subhadra, and an illustrious son like Abhimanyu. There is no negative consequence coming out of this “stealing the girl” that came to Arjuna or Pānḍavās due to this that the epic narrates.

Because, unlike Bhīśma’s case, Arjuna wanted to win over his lady. Unlike Ambā’s case, this was also a great match – Arjuna was the best possible groom for a princess in that age, and had love for Subhadra. The bond between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, Arjuna’s character, every factor   was in favour of a happy marriage for Subhadra with Arjuna. Unlike Ambā’s case, Subhadra was also not having another man in her mind and was positively inclined to Pānḍavās due to Kṛṣṇa’s relation. From Subhadra’s viewpoint the only misgiving is not taking her acceptance, which, while being a major matter today, was hardly a big issue back then. When matches were arranged by elders barring exceptions, the boy and girl both go with the match arranged by parents. Given this, and given that Kṛṣṇa’s blessing was there, Subhadra had not a major reason to be unpleasant or express it.

 

Conclusion

While there are many other situations, these three reveal a fair diversity of kanyā haraṇa phenomenon along with their correctness, acceptability and consequences in the epic.

To conclude, kanyā haraṇa was not entirely proscribed because there were cases it had merit. At the same time, it was kept as one of the last chosen methods, to be resorted to after exhausting better ways and options.

Captain Baba Harbhajan Singh

Baba Harbhajan Singh has been on duty both before and after death in Nathula border. Baba Harbhajan Singh who died in 1968 on duty in Sikkim still does his duty on Nathula Border between India and China in East Sikkim. Both Indian and Chinese Army worship him. During the flag meetings between the two nations at Nathula, the Chinese set a chair aside for the saint.

Captain Baba Harbhajan Singh was born today in the year 1941 in Panjab. He died at the age of 7 at Nathula in Eastern Sikkim. But as per legends, he still does his duty in Nathula Border.

 

Some striking facts about Saint Captain as told by the Army officials I met at Nathu-La and Baba Mandir :

1. Baba warns the soldiers of any impending attacks atleast 3 days in advance. He is still guarding the international boundaries of the two countries.

2. During the customary flag meetings between the India and China, the Chinese army still sets a chair aside for Baba.

3. Baba Mandir today has three rooms, Baba’s office, store room and living room. In the living room every item of his need has been neatly kept. His bed, shoes, slippers, water bottle, ironed uniform, an umbrella – everything.

4. His room is cleaned every morning.

5. On some mornings, soldiers have found crumpled bedsheet and his muddy shoes in the room.

6. On a lot of occasions, soldiers have discovered that Baba still visits the camps and his post.

7. He still draws a Major’s salary every month.

8. He still gets 2 months of leave every year.

9. Every year on 11 September, his belongings are sent to his hometown. The train departs from New Jalpaiguri station, Siliguri, West Bengal.

10. A berth is reserved in his name and is left empty for the entire journey.

11. A team of soldiers accompanies him till his hometown.

12. The Army is on high alert when Baba is on leave.

 

Some soldiers never die .

Why BMS doesnt celebrate ‘May Day’ as Labour Day

– By Saji Narayanan CK.
-Courtesy Organiser 
“Why doesn’t BMS celebrate ‘May Day’ as Labour Day,” explains the national president of India’s biggest labour union
May Day is famously known as a commemoration of the agitation for 8 hour work which occurred in Chicago, US on May 1, 1886. But due to untoward handling of the issue, it ended in clash with Police and became known as a total failure in the history of labour struggle. Even before the incident, the Government had accepted the same demand and US Congress had passed a resolution on the same in 1868. The strike on May 1 was very peaceful and did not have anything special to be mentioned in labour history. The untoward violent incidents in Chicago happened not on May 1, but on 3rd and 4th which had no connection with the protest on May 1. The violence happened as a result of unhealthy competition between rival Trade Unions.
On May 3, the labourers of McCormick Harvesting Factory under the leadership of a weak Anarchist Communist group held strike and clashed with Police in which 4 labourers died. Next day they held a protest meet in the Haymarket Square which had to be dispersed because of heavy rain. Those who did not leave the place, threw a bomb on police and police fired back. In the fight, 4 labourers and 7 policemen died. Consequently, several leaders were in Jail and four leaders were hanged to death.
Thus the Trade Union movement which was fast growing in US met with a sudden fall. The struggle could not achieve anything. US labour movement rejected the violent Chicago incident. The US Trade Unions celebrated first Monday in every September as Labour Day. May Day was later celebrated in US as “Children’s Day”! Chicago is more known today for the historic speech of Swami Vivekananda on September 13, 1893. This was the first stage of May Day. Haymarket Square incident can be compared to the violent Chauri Chaura incident in India which strengthened our freedom struggle when Gandhiji took strong non compromising disciplinary stand against violence.
Great Communist Betrayal
The second stage reminds us of a great Communist betrayal of its followers. In 1889, the second Communist International that met in Paris decided to celebrate May 1 as Labour Day. But May Day became a contentious issue even in Communist International and finally in 1904 they dropped the idea of celebrating May Day anymore as Labour Day. It was celebrated for other political demands even though in Russia, Lenin urged people to celebrate May Day.
But when Hitler rose as an autocrat, Communists all over the world started celebrating May Day as “Anti Fascist day” from 1929 till 1940. Later, Russian Communist leader Stalin, when he had alliance with Hitler, the greatest dictator in History and who was responsible for World War II, had no other go but to stop celebrating it as “Anti Fascist Day”. So he betrayed Communists all over the world and asked them to start celebrating it as “Labour Day”. Thus the present way of celebrating May Day as Labour Day came into existence. It is being celebrated not only by Communists but also by non-Communists like INTUC, the Congress Trade Union not knowing the real story and falling in the Communist propaganda. Unlike many of the Indian Trade Unions, most of the Trade Unions in the world consider it as a matter of Communist betrayal and do not celebrate May Day as Labour Day. That is why BMS has chosen not to celebrate May Day as Labour Day. Instead it celebrates Vishwakarma Jayanti day as National Labour Day. Many States in India also have officially declared Vishwakarma Jayanti as Labour Day.
Work is a Yajna
Vishwakarma symbolises the dignity of labour which was given maximum respect by ancient India. India’s history of great personalities starts from the sacrifice of Vishwakarma who is believed to have created the Universe. He himself chose to be the Havis in a Yajna held to create the Universe (Rigveda 10.81.6). Thus he was raised to the status of a Deva. Rigveda (10.121) says he created earth, water, living creations etc. He was known as the great architect of Gods. He is also believed to be not merely a person. Those respectable personalities who served the society by their skilled work were all called ‘Vishwakarma’. Invention of many items mentioned in our ancient literature is attributed to him. The Sudarsan Chakra of Vishnu, Thrisula of Shiva, Spear of Kumara, the Chariot of Indra, Hastinapuri for Pandavas, Dwaraka of Sri Krishna, Indraloka, Vrindavan, Lanka, Pushpak Vimana etc. were all the creations of the genius of Vishwakarma. Vastu Architecture and all the Arts were his inventions. He was the first labourer in the world and was the Acharya of labour. Many people belonging to different caste divisions of labour, consider that they are the successors of Vishwakarma. He is a model for all the labourers.
His son Vritra was greedy and demonic in character and was the General of Hiranyakashipu. Vishwakarma himself created the special weapon to kill his son. Vritra was known to have been killed due to the great sacrifice of both Vishwakarma and Dadhichi. Another son Nala became a devotee of Sri Rama and he constructed the Sethu Bridge to go to Lanka.
Vishwakarma symbolises the paradigm shift in the present day thought process. Work is considered as a Yajna. Indian Industrial relations are traditionally based on family like relationship. BMS has accepted family as a model for industrial relations and put forward the great concept of ‘Industrial family’. This is in contrast with the master-servant relationship of the west or the class enemy concept of the Communists. We have imbibed the slogans “Tyag-Tapasya-Balidan”, “work is worship” “Nationalise the Labour” etc. from the life of great personalities like Vishwakarma. To bring uniformity, Vishwakarma Jayanti is celebrated on Septemeber 17 every year, since in many places it is celebrated both on Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami as well as on Magha Shukla Thrayodasi. May Day, imported from the west, fails to motivate labour positively where as Vishwakarma Jayanti can.
 
(The writer is National President of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh)

Tablighi Jamaat – its other, evil side

S. Gurumurthy

Except intelligence officials, national security experts and the wary among police officials, not many Indians would have heard of the name Tablighi Jamaat [TJ] before the explosive Nizamuddin corona virus episode gave it the publicity it studiously avoided. On the face of it, TJ’s six principles suggest Islamic piety in its extreme. But that is merely its cosmetic exterior, inviting the innocent and idealistic young Muslims into an ideological line that ultimately turns them as terrorists. The less known and dangerous side of the century-old TJ began unfolding the world over since 2001, but not in India.

Nursery and gateway to terror

“TJ is another system driver and integral element of Islamist Violent Non-State Actors’ internal dynamics; in many cases it has acted as nursery for indoctrinating Islamist terrorists,” writes Dr Farhan Zahid, a Pakistani counter-terrorism and security expert, in his analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat and its links with terrorism” [Foreign Analysis March 2015 Centre Francais de Reserche Sur le Renseignement]. Dr Farhan says, TJ “in a way plays the role of recruiter and sympathiser [for terrorism]. TJ’s congregation allows radical elements worldwide to meet and discuss violent activities and provide them with the best opportunity to coordinate”. Adding “many of its followers have dual and overlapping membership with jihadist groups”, Dr Farhan cites references and says “TJ has now been considered as a ‘gateway to terrorism’.

Terror record in Europe, US

Dr Farhan says since 2001, traces of links have been found between TJ and Islamists involved in acts of terror. Shoe bomber Richard Reid who attempted a trans-Atlantic airline bombing [2001], Jose Padilla who tried dirty bomb manufacturing [2002] in New York city, Barcelona terror plot [2008] and the arrest of American Taliban John Walker in Afghanistan [2001] were all linked to TJ. Its French Muslim recruits were found involved in planning attacks by the Portland Seven and the Lackawanna Six in the US.In his analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat: Jihad’s stealthy Legions” in Middle East Quarterly [Jan 8, 2016] Alex Alexiev writes that as 80 per cent of Islamist extremists have come from Tablighi ranks and the French intelligence calls TJ the ‘antechamber of fundamentalism’. In his investigative story titled “French Islamic group offers rich soil for militancy’ in The New York Times [April 29, 2005] Craig Smith lists Zacarias Moussaoui [charged in the US 9/11 terror]; Herve Djamel Loiseau, who died fleeing the 2001 American bombardment of Tora Bora in Afghanistan; Djamel Beghal, an admitted Al-Qaeda member, who was convicted in 2005 for plotting to blow up the US Embassy in Paris, as TJ terror activists of French origin. Freth Burton and Scott Stewart, writing in an analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat: An Indirect Line to Terrorism” in the Stratfor Global Intelligence Security Weekly, say that 12 out of the 14 men arrested in a pre-emptive raid on a mosque in Barcelona for plotting to attack targets belonged to TJ, adding that TJ’s name figured in the 2005 London underground bombings in which 52 people died and also in the attempted bombings in London, Glasgow and Scotland. Assistant FBI Director [US] Michael Heimbach says that TJ has significant presence in the US, and Al-Qaeda was found to have recruited TJ adherents [New York Post Dec 27, 2015].

Turned Pak into terror hub

The book titled On The Abyss — Pakistan After the Coup  [Harper Collins Publishers India 2000] authored mainly by Pakistani scholars, diplomats and writers, says that the largely Barelvi Islamic Pakistan, which accepted local variations, including Dargah worship and Sufi traditions, had been hijacked by Deobandi ideology through Tablighi Jamaat, the result of which was the growth of militancy. Khaled Ahmed, former diplomat and editor of Friday Times in Pakistan writes in On The Abyss: “Because of the rise of Deobandi militias…. the [Punjab] province is rapidly losing its Barelvi temperament.” What the authors had prophesied came true in the very next year when Pakistan was found involved in 9/11 attack on the US. Over the years, Pakistan has come to be known as the global terror hub. Says Dr Farhan, “Several mainstream Islamist violent non-state actors have taken their roots from TJ’s indoctrination and on the platform provided by TJ missionaries. It is the Deobandi ideology of TJ which provides potential jihadists a crucial link.”During the 1980s and 1990s, TJ became the recruiter of Islamist radicals for the Afghan war. Dr Farhan points out that Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami [HuJI] was formed by former TJ members Qari Saifullah Akhtar and Fazal ur Rahman Kalil along with others. From the HuJI platform emerged other jihadist outfits – Harkat-ul-Mujhahideen [HuM] Jaish-e-Mohammed [JeM], Sipah-e-Sahaba [SSP] and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi [LeJ]. All of them stand declared as terror outfits.

Terror merchant

An India Abroad News Service report on April 1, 2020 titled “Tablighi Jamaat shares links with terror outfits”, said: “As per WikiLeaks, some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay had stayed in the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, years ago. Tablighi Jamaat was also suspected to be involved in the burning of 59 Hindu kar sevaks in 2002 in Godhra, Gujarat, which led to mass communal rioting in the state. According to India’s intelligence and security expert, late B Raman, TJ in Pakistan and Bangladesh gained adverse attention for association with Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and members of the International Islamic Front formed by Osama bin Laden in 1998. Quoting Pakistani newspaper reports from the 1990s, Raman pointed out that the trained cadre of jihadi terrorist organisations like HuM obtained visas by posing as preachers of Tablighi Jamaat and went abroad to recruit young Muslims for terror training in Pakistan. Since millions of TJ proselytisers travel around the world, TJ also developed a large following in Chechnya and Dagestan areas of Russia, Somalia and other African countries. Raman wrote that intelligence agencies of these countries suspected that terror organisations based in Pakistan were using the cover of TJ preaching for creating sleeper cells in different countries. As a result, TJ was black-listed and its preachers denied visas.”

In Sri Lanka, too

In a piece titled “The road to Sri Lanka Carnage” on Rediff.com, the well-known security analyst Praveen Swami linked Mohammad Muhsin Nilam, a Sri Lankan, to Zahran Hashim who was responsible for the Colombo bombings. Also known as Abu Shuraya, Nilam was killed in Raqqa, the ISIS capital. Nilam’s story is key to understanding the networks thought to be responsible for the carnage in Colombo. Swami says that Tablighi Jamaat had begun to grow roots among Sri Lankan Muslims from the early 21st century. Swami says, “Educated in Sharia law at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, an institution where Osama bin Laden’s mentor Abdullah Azzam once taught, Nilam had encountered with the Tablighi Jamaat. In 2011, when Nilam returned to his home in Kandy in Sri Lanka, he first worked as part-time Urdu instructor at Colombo University. When he was principal of a school in Galewala, he played a key role in Zahran’s group. Then, in 2014, feigning to go on a pilgrimage with his six children, pregnant wife, and ageing parents, he took them to Turkey and disappeared across the border into Syria. He posted in his Facebook post: “We will kill every man, woman, child, Shia, Sunni, Zoroastrians, Kurds, Christians.” Nilam had recruited for ISIS 36 Sri Lankans, maybe 100, including his friend, Thauqeer Ahmed Thajudeen. Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamaat and Tablighi Jamaat have identical goals and their interests converge. Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaat is the mentor of Sri Lanka’s National Thowheed Jamaat, which delivered the bombs in Sri Lanka. There is no Thowheed Jamaat outside India and Sri Lanka.

Now, the climax

And now the climax, for the unwary. Where was this noble-looking evil born? India. Who founded it? Indian. Name? Maulana Mohammed Illyasi. When? In 1920s. Where is its global headquarters? Nizamuddin West Delhi! The place of its annual meet in which hundreds of Tablighis from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, China and other coronavirus hotspots participated. The outbreak was astonishingly in control in India till Nizamuddin exploded as a grave and dangerous national threat. TJ with its headquarters in India now functions in some 80 countries with some 80 million adherents.
In a 173-page paper titled “Tablighi Jamaat: Wolf in sheep’s skin [Sept 9, 2018; released to media again after the Nizamuddin episode] SalahUddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Zionist and multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist and a counterterrorism specialist, unravels the massive following of JT and its terror connections the world over. Thousands of TJ teachers from within and outside assemble in India and that is what they did in Nizamuddin. Is it just to memorize the six noble principles or as Dr Farhan says “to discuss and coordinate terror activities”, will never be known in India, as no government has the guts to enter any mosque, thanks to the way secularism is understood in our politics. Unless this limit is breached and the menace is outlawed, innocent Muslims attracted by its cosmetic exterior of Koran cannot be saved from becoming carriers of Kalashnikovs and makers and throwers of lethal bombs. Let the courts decide whether TJ’s right to mentor terror in India also constitutes minority right, as is so far being understood.

Courtesy: New Indian Express, 3rd April 2020