Friday, September 21, 2012

Chief Justice Sarosh H. Kapadia: Pilgrim of Justice

Profile: Chief Justice of India. In his long legal career, he has served as a lawyer at Bombay Bar, a Bombay High Court Judge, a Special Court Judge, Uttaranchal Chief Justice, Judge Supreme Court

By Dinesh Narayanan | Forbes India

His Achievement
Age: 64
  • He is one of the finest judges and administrators
  • He has redefined judgeship

  • A judge, by virtue of his chosen profession, chooses to become an ascetic, distant from the society he lives in, yet immersed in it so deep that he is confronted with the rawness of its existential struggle every day. Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia is a person who understands it too well.
    “A judge must inevitably choose to be a little aloof and isolated from the community at large. He should not be in contact with lawyers, individuals or political parties, their leaders or ministers unless it be on purely social occasions,’’ Kapadia said while delivering the MC Setalvad Memorial lecture on Judicial ethics in April 2011.

    Since taking over as the Chief Justice on May 12, 2010, Kapadia has worked tirelessly to restore the diminishing dignity and credibility of the Supreme Court as the final forum for justice seekers. With a single stroke of the pen, he stopped reckless mining in Bellary. He disqualified the crucial appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner  (CVC) reminding the prime minister and his government that processes must stand the test of integrity. In the Vodafone case, Kapadia pointed out that laws are not open to unduly liberal interpretations. A corporate lawyer said that the Vodafone judgement reinforced to the world the independence of the country’s judiciary.

    Read more:

    Vicious Cycle of Islamophobia

    Ram Puniyani
    Ram Puniyani

    We are going through strange times. While the science, technology and rationalism has given us physical and intellectual tools to better the lot of humanity, we are witnessing the production of provocative material, literature and films in particular, which demonize the particular religion, Islam to be precise, and the prophet of Islam. On the other hand there is a section of community, feeling threatened and insecure coming to the streets to protest against such humiliation and insult of their religion. There are debates on freedom of expression, but how come the freedom of expression always goes to humiliate and demonize one particular religion only?

    Currently (September 2012), there are massive protests in different countries against the American embassies, resulting in death of four from the US staff, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, in Benghazi. Different countries are asking Google, the owner of YouTube, which is hosting this provocative and insulting video clip, ‘Innocence of Muslims’, to withdraw the film clip. At places the video clip has been withdrawn and blocked. US sticks to its ‘Freedom of Expression’ stance and the many protesters are still on the streets.

    The film clip, of around 14 minutes duration is part of the full length feature film made by Nakoula Basseley, a US based Christian. The film is very insulting to Islam. In this film large number of modern day mob of bearded Muslims is shown to be attacking Christians. It also takes the audience back in time to show a distorted life of Prophet Mohammad with negative and aggressive traits of personality. It is crude film, made in extremely poor taste and has generated strong reaction amongst large section of Muslims.  It must be pointed out that this is not the only type of reaction to this film. There are sections of clerics who have asked the Muslims to keep restrain. Quoting the moral precepts from Islam, Quran, they said that Islam is a religion of peace and no violent protests should be held. The best response to this despicable film has been from a section of Muslims distributing the book on life of Prophet Mohammad, the prophet of peace.

    During last several years, it has become a sort of standard pattern by many in the West and some here in India to demonize Islam. We remember the Danish cartoon of Prophet, where he is shown as a terrorist, with a bomb tucked in his turban. A Florida Pastor went on to burn this holy book, Koran, saying that Koran teaches violence. Some US soldiers in Afghanistan also burnt copies of Koran, on the ground that the terrorist elements had written messages on those copies.

    The demonization of Islam and Muslims has a pattern and agenda. The cartons and films are the outcome of the deeper political processes, which aim to control the oil wells in West Asia. The imperialist greed of United States marshaled the flag of “Islam the New threat” since Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran, overthrowing the US stooge Raza Shah Pahlavi. Later the slogan was worsened with US setting up Madrassas in Pakistan to train Al Qaeda-Taliban to initiate the Muslim youth to fight against the occupying Russian armies in Afghanistan. The word, Jihad and kafir were distorted to indoctrinate the Muslim youth in these Madrassas.  With later trajectories and the event of 9/11, World Trade Center attack, the US media with all its guile, popularized the phrase ‘Islamic Terrorism’. The phrase was picked up by the media all over the World and later became part of the social common sense. This is a major abuse of religion for political goals by the imperialist power. One can understand this demonization of Islam as a part of US policy, a cover to hide its agenda to control the oil. To understand it in the way Noam Chomsky ‘coined the phrase’ Manufacturing Consent’, the coining of the word Islamic terrorism is part of the US mechanism of manufacturing consent of the world to give assent to the US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.

    This US policy gas given rise to twin processes. On one hand the phenomenon like a Florida Pastor Terry Jones burning Koran or the Danish cartoonist drawing Prophet Mohammad as terrorist or the present film has been the outcome of the intense propaganda against Islam. This US propaganda has been backed up by the US sponsored ideology of ‘Clash of Civilizations’, according to which the current era of World History is the era of assault of backward Islamic civilization on the advanced Western civilization. This distorted perception, this ideology was used as a cover for US agenda in West Asia. The other process which got unleashed was that the psyche of global Muslim community started being affected. The perception came up that Muslims (Afghanistan and Iraq) are being attacked, they are under threat. In India the added aspect was the rise of RSS type politics, bringing up Ram Temple issue and starting hatred for Muslims. A large section of Muslims started feeling intimidated and besieged. It became easy for mobilizing them around identity issues. Any community which feels besieged, section of it becomes vulnerable to easy provocation and identity based mobilization.

    Protestors in London Photo: AP Photo/Sang
    It is a vicious circle, the Islamophobia on one side and besieged community on the other. In this scenario the Muslim clerics who are asking for peace are the beacon lights of hope for the community. The Muslims who are distributing the books on life of prophet need to be complimented. This is what the sane response from the community has to be. What about US, imperialist designs and its mighty propaganda machinery doing all the mischief in the world? Can there be a process of controlling that? Under Kofi Annan, when he was Secretary General of United Nations, a high level committee produced a report, ‘Alliance of Civilizations’. This report got lost under the barrage of Islamphobia. It is time the world as such takes note of the deeper humane values which have developed by humanity over a period of time, the values which have led to the reports of type of ‘Alliance of civilizations’, the UN conventions which have conceptualized the Human rights for all.

    The trigger which has incited the demonization process of religion and films like this one are provoking these insane reactions from a section of Muslims. Can United Nations be revived as a global platform for monitoring the norms for Nations, media and other aspects of our global life evolved to ensure that democratization and human dignity is promoted. Can the World come forward to check the aggressions of ‘The Super Power’? That’s when such films will cease to act as factors promoting violent reactions. And even such crude attempts at insulting others’ religion will come down. May be with such norms and restraints on US policies we can hope that such incidents will come down. Even if there are elements making some films like this there will be others making a film giving their own versions of Prophet’s Mission of peace in the World. 

    And finally we also need to preserve the concept of freedom of expression moderated with its limits. We also need to cultivate methods of protest where hysterical emotions are kept at bay and rational approach is brought to the fore. 
    Issues in Secular Politics
    III September 2012

    The contents of the article rest on the author. 

    Response only to

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Douse the Fire

    Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
    "America, hear us – don't insult our Prophet!" chant Beirut demonstrators.Courtesy (Reuters/Sharif Karim)

    By now it is an established pattern of US-EU-Israeli war against Islam, ill-concealed as war on terror. Before every physical attack on a Muslim country, during invasion, and after the war, they keep up a constant barrage of abuse and slander against Islam, its holy Prophet (PBUH), its holy book, its holy symbols.

    All these are part of a larger strategy. Over the centuries, hostile propaganda, vilification and disinformation have been part of warfare, especially relied upon and developed by Europeans and their descendants who today own America and Australia. Zionist settler colonialism, too, was built on the same model.

    The current phase of US-EU-Israeli aggression is backed by a huge hostile propaganda effort through film (including popular Hollywood cinema), book publishing (both fiction and non-fiction) journalistic writing in magazines, newspapers and Internet, on radio and TV.

    People who attack Islam are given the highest recognition. Salman Rushdie’s Booker and VS Naipaul’s Nobel are two examples among many. In their aggression against Islam they are like the opponents of Communism, Boris Pasternak and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whom the West honoured with Nobel in Cold War days, when Communism, not Islam, was regarded by it as Enemy Number One.

    Whether it is the Pope quoting some obscure person’s adverse observations about Islam made centuries ago, even without some apparent reason, some cartoonist caricaturing the Prophet (PBUH), or American pastor Terry Jones announcing to publicly burn the holy Quran, there is a lot of method behind this apparent madness. The new film seeking to insult the Prophet (who, infact, is beyond insult) is part of the larger campaign against Islam which, as I said earlier, has replaced Communism as West’s target after the Cold War.

    Pastor Terry Jones is a vocal backer of this film as are others of his ilk. These people know that Muslims are so deeply in love with Islam and its symbols that they would become emotional and react irrationally if Islam and its symbols are publicly ridiculed. This is what the enemies of Islam want.

    Attacks on American embassies across the Muslim world are part of this pattern: insult to Muslim religion makes them wild and they attack the offender physically. Why it is so is known to everyone who seeks to insult the Prophet (PBUH) and Islam.

    Muslims would not, never slander the Prophets of the offenders, whatever the provocation because seeking to insult Moses and Jesus (or any other prophet) is blasphemy in Islam. This, too, the culprits know.

    Instead of stopping the mischief at home, America is dispatching warships and drones to the region where the severest attack has occurred. This is what they want, and we oblige them unconsciously by getting caught in the trap laid by them.

    Today there are people on the Internet who are advising Muslims to insult Jesus. One person says if Muslims slander Jesus, the Jews of United States would not mind. I want to caution our youngmen and women against such advice.

    My advice to the US-EU-Israel alliance is to please stop this vicious game. To our own youth I would make an appeal: Don’t walk into the trap laid by others. Exercise restraint. Nobody can insult Allah, who is above blame, and no one can dishonor His Prophet (PBUH) whose name is announced five times a day by muezzins from their minarets all over the world. Nobody has been honoured thus, nobody will. Allah has told his Prophet (PBUH), And I have raised your mention (wa rafa’na laka zikrak), in the muezzin’s call.

    This raging fire of Islamophobia must be doused quickly. Let us, the Muslims of the world, take the initiative.

    The contents of the article solely rest on its author

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Recipe for Disaster

    Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

    Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, recently back from Assam, looks into the lethal mix of ethnic hatred and communal manipulation that has created the latest crisis in the state.

    As I mentioned in the first part of this series, Assam (as well as the entire northeastern region) is a boiling cauldron of ethnic suspicions and mutual hatred between over 400 tribal groups.

    If you add the communal manipulations of the Sangh and its affiliates you get a deadly mix that can explode into monumental violence anytime you want. And if the Congress Party jumps into the fray, trying to beat the Sangh at the Hindutva game with a higher dose of Hindutva, you are going to have a situation where violence, once it erupts, cannot be brought under control. This is what has happened in Assam.

    Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi

    The Congress Party in Assam tried to outsmart the BJP by appropriating the language and political space of the Sangh. For this Mr Tarun Kumar Gogoi made Maulana Badruddin Ajmal and his AIUDF the target of Hindutva hatred and (Gogoi) himself the champion of Hindu causes.

    For the sake of carrying conviction with traditional Hindutva voters he resorted to all the gimmickry associated with BJP. The result was that BJP’s voters shifted their vote largely to Gogoi’s Congress. The BJP and its ally Assam Gano Parishad were decimated. However, Muslims were made to pay the price because Congress government was compelled to play the Hindutva game as a bargain.
    Houses looted and burnt

    The Bodo Council area politics and the latest round of ethnic cleansing has to be seen in this particular background.

    After Congress and Maulana Ajmal’s AIUDF, the Bodo People’s Front came in third with 12 MLAs. As AIUDF has no share in power, the Bodo People’s Front, with its militant and exclusivist agenda, is the second most powerful player in government. One of its ministers, a Bodo, was seen carrying a rifle, leading marauding mobs to kill Muslims and destroy their homes.

    This is one major factor that inhibits government action against criminals and serious steps on rehabilitation of the victims. The Bodos in their hubris are not allowing Muslims to return. Bodo Council authorities are saying that Muslims who do not have their citizenship papers will not be allowed to return. This they are doing with full knowledge that the 4.5 lakh refugees driven out of their homes could barely pull out some of the valuables from their houses set on fire by Bodo mobs. Today, many of them may not have citizenship documents as they perished in the fire.

    Experts are of the opinion that so far the Bodo accounted for only 25 percent of the population of the Bodoland Territorial Administrative District (BTAD). Every now and then the Bodos have been trying to force other ethnic groups out of the area to get a clear majority over a period of time. So far they have been doing it with the help of BJP and AGP. Today they are doing it on their own and with the help of Congress.

    The BTAD is an anomaly that has to be scrapped at the earliest. This is also the main demand of the victims of aggression lying in the camps that I visited recently.

    Scrapping of BTAD is essential for any just and reasonable settlement of the issues. The sheer injustice of this is evident from the fact that Bodos, who are only one-fourth of the population in the BTAD, have cornered 80 percent of the authority for themselves.

    The foundation of this terrible mischief was laid down by the NDA in 1993 as Bodo Autonomous Council agreement. Gogoi implemented the agreement in 2003 with the establishment of BTAD. Before that the terrorist organisation Bodo Liberation Tigers was made to lay down its arms. However, everyone in Assam knows that they kept back most of the arms and surrendered only a few of them.

    Today, the Bodo terrorists are using those arms against Muslims. However, other ethnic groups are apprehensive that their turn would come soon. As I said in my earlier piece, non-Muslims, including non-Bodo Hindus, have been forced out of the area in the past. Many of them never returned.

    A Victim of the Riot

    The Bangla-speaking Muslims must be brought back to settle in the areas from where they have been chased out. The state and Centre must help them rebuild their homes, lives and livelihoods, and compensate them for their losses.

    Any proposal to settle them in Garo hills or Khasi hills must be rejected as it would be frought with great dangers.

    Finally, the culprits must be brought to book even if it is by using the constitutional authority of the Centre as the state has failed in its duty. There is no reason why the victims cannot be rehabilitated in their villages and why Armed Forces Special Powers Act cannot be employed to maintain peace in the face of Bodo terrorism. 

    The contents of the article solely rest on the author. 

    E.Ahmed disparages Modi for not conceding with Minorities’ welfare Schemes.

    Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu) September 8, 2012.

     “All the states conceded to share 10 per cent of financial input, and the Centre offered 90 per cent of contribution, for the Minorities’ Welfare Schemes, the unfortunate thing that the BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi bluntly refused to accept the minorities’ schemes and Muslims, students are deprived of such benefits” said E.Ahmed, Minister of State for external affairs and HRD, in a conference at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu on Saturday September 8,2012.

    Hon'ble Minister E.Ahmed
    The said conference was held on behalf of Indian Union Muslim League, at Meera Mahal, Kumbakonam, and Tamil Nadu. The subject focused was on The Educational Awareness of Muslims, and the status of reservation for them.

    Tanjore district Muslim League President, Mr.Hameed presided the seminar. Jamal Mohamed Ibrahim presented welcome address. Education Minister of Kerala Abdul Rab, Former Education Minister of Kerala, and present Member of Parliament E.T.Mohamad Basheer, Abdul Rahman MP, Vellore constituency, State President Mohammad Aboobacker, State Educational Secretary Shahjan were present.

    Professor K.M.Khader Mohideen, former Member of Parliament, National General Secretary, and State President of Indian Union Muslim League, presided the session.

    In his key note address Minister E.Ahmed said that Rs.1124 crores has been allocated for the benefits of minorities. “We made the Sachar Committee report to play an active role”. Countless Muslims are under ignorance, and below poverty level; worst than schedule castes and schedule tribes. The horrible situation of Muslims in Bihar, Utter Pradesh, West Bengal, and Assam are pitiful and sad.

    “We all went to Assam with my colleagues including with Abdur Rahman, the main attributes of living was tragic and doleful. Two railway wagons of clothes, essential commodities, and medicines,contributed by good hearts of Kerala were transported and distributed.
     ( Mr.Abdur Rahman M.P.writes in his Tamil Magazine “Pirai Maydai” ("பிறை மேடை") that Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi having said,”If any one man proves that any five infiltrators seen from Bangladesh, I shall immediately resign”-Issue dated September 1-12)

     Mr.Ahmed further lamented that Muslims in large are not concentrating obtaining quality and helpful education, and that is the predominant cause of backwardness. He went further to say that UPA Government has many schemes for minority communities, but they are not aware of them.Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal are executing great contribution for Education and formulated 15 points programme. The Central Government is providing three types of schemes by way of scholarships 1.Prematric 2.Post Matric 3. Merit cum means scholarship, and also improving educational infrastructure through the Maulana Azad Educational Foundation. He further commented on the funds on pre matric and post matric scholarships for 2011-12 academic year. Nearly 55.28 laks students have been benefited with an aggregate amount of Rs.614 crores. Similarly in Post Matric scholarship nearly seven lakh students have been benefited with sum of Rs.360 crores. 42000 students have been benefited in Merit cum Means scholarship the Central Government spending Rs.150 crores.

    Central Government of India has developed a plan for improving the quality of education for all Madarasa Education forming a committee, with 31 members as National Advisory committee, under the Chairmanship of Kapil Sibal, E.Ahmed as vice Chairman to analyse the ways and means of modernising the Madaras Education. K.A.M.Mohammad Abu Backer, Tamil Nadu State General Secretary IUML has been selected as member from Tamil Nadu.

    At the end of the function all top ranking students from tenth and twelfth standards were awarded cash honorarium.

    Please note: The last date of post matric online  scholarship is September 30,2012.

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    “How a Muslim Society be respectable and meritorious” extols Justice Akbar Ali.

    Justice G.M.Akbar Ali came heavily on disunited NGOs on community foundations and he wondered why each one is creating factions instead of appreciating each other, and shouldering each ones responsibility in mutual cooperation as NGOs.

    It was an elite gathering conducted as “Eid Milan” by age old “Tamil Nadu Muslim Movement (TMSM)”.The meeting was held on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, at Hotel Crystal Residency, Thousand Light Chennai. The General Secretary Professor Dr. Se.Mu.Mu.Mohamad Ali took comfort position to inviting each one introducing much particularised manner with describing their insrinsic skills; and this was unique and distinct while comparing such mini rallies held elsewhere.

    Presiding the event Honourable Justice G, M.Akbar Ali expressed great concern over the state of affairs how girls particularly Muslims in common are infatuated, and he felt nothing extraordinary to extol virtues as seen mostly these days. “They become a chick-foul to a vulture’s catch, and it is a culture shock to the parents who brought up the children with great hope, confidence, expectation, optimism and anticipation” His whole narrative was on the girls how they are being infatuated, how easily fooled by youths as gullible. Turning towards Muslim clergies, Justice Ali said, “I do not mean that the Muslim girls are restricted from being educated, but a home is great place where parents are role models, and training them appropriate manner from their childhood is a prime importance, It’s sort of struggle, “Jihad” to hack it for leading good life with good reasoning, instil aptitude and attitude, with high quality education, superior economic condition, excellent health and hygiene alone make our society a commendable, respectable and meritorious” he said.

    Great appreciation and tributes were passed on to Alhajj K.A.Mansoor, the Founder and Chairman of Tamil Nadu Muslim Movement (TMSM), a realtor, Dr.Mohamadali said, “While he purchases a land, first he (Alhajj Mansoor) allots one acre for a Mosque, and for a School.
    Alhajj Mohammad Sikanthar,who was recently elected member  in majority of votes of 273,for Tamil Nadu Wakf Board spoke that TMSM has received as contribution a sum of Rs.15,00,000 (Rs.Fifteen Lakhs) and huge clothes, and said,” Few more lakhs of rupees are expected, and a team from Chennai will leave for Assam and we will personally handover the funds collected to Moulana Badruddin Ajmal, MP from Assam.

    There  was also a surprise news  that TMSM choose poor boy and fostered him from his age six, and he became in flying colours in 10 plus 2, admitted as a rank student in an top engineering college, and he came out successfully. The curious issue of the boy is he cannot speak, and he cannot totally hear. Both the faculties are impaired.

    The overseas guests of the evening honoured by TMSM were Mr.Muduvai Hidayathullah, Secretary Indian Muslim Association, Dubai, Alhajj A.Rahmathullah, Jeddah, Mr.A.S.Ramkumar, Jeddah, Mohiyadeen Batcha, and Dubai.

    The get-together witnessed generous philanthropists, clergies from different Jamm’aths far and near, Muslim journalists, Muslim Media personals, Muslim Social activists and well wishers of Tamil Nadu Muslim Service Movement (TMSM). The assembly came to a conclusion with vote of thanks by Alhajj A.Haja Mohammad, a special supplication by Alhajj Moulavi O.S.M.Mohammad Ilyas Qasimi, with special reference for Assam Muslims as a servile and respectful appeal for higher power of mercy to shower  from Allah Subhana Taa’la.

    Apart from the feast of mind, the meeting ended with a sumptuous dinner.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Confront the Bully

    Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

    Fed up with endless obstruction of Parliament by BJP, Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam urges UPA and other democratically-oriented parties to take a firm stand.

    The amount of money spent on a single day of Parliament is so huge that it boggles the mind of an average Indian. The BJP has been holding Parliament to ransom for a better part of the session, flushing the country’s huge financial resources down the drain. That is not fair to millions of tax payers, not a patriotic act.

    The party is bad as ruler (how can you be good by being openly hostile to minorities, Dalits, tribals?) and worse in Opposition. It is frustrated and vengeful while in Opposition, which makes it irresponsible. It is not for the first time that it is behaving the way it is: earlier, too, it has blocked parliament for weeks.

    This bully boy tactics is a bad precedence for the Opposition of future. Tomorrow, if a BJP-led coalition (and that’s a big “if”) comes to power and the Opposition is peeved at its perennially bad ways, then it will find a continuous precedence (laid by BJP-led NDA) of throwing tantrums, as a way of making its presence felt. That would be a sad day.

    This party is supposedly outraged over direct allotment of coal blocks instead of auction. To begin with, direct allotment is not illegal nor is there any rule or precedence to force government not to allot and go by the auction route only.

    Although the CAG has raised the issue of coal only, the Supreme Court’s stance is more comprehensive as it calls for auction of all natural resources with possibly fewer exceptions like water, in future. Even the SC has not asked for the cancellation of earlier allotments.

    The government has initiated cancellation proceedings in case of more than two dozen earlier allotments, including seven allotments made by NDA government, on the ground that they have been sitting over coal blocks for last several years without starting to mine them. However, the Prime Minister has made it clear that there is no question of cancelling the present allocations. Direct allotments began in 1993, continued under NDA rule, were never stopped.

    BJP’s moral outrage over the allocations is not genuine. A party whose government has looted the nation’s resources earlier without any qualms would not suddenly become morally sensitive. While the whole nation was scandalised at Karnataka’s then chief minister Yedurappa’s robbery of Bellary coal mines in collaboration with the Reddy brothers, BJP behaved as if nothing was happening. Yedurappa was dropped only when he became a liability for the party, not because of moral outrage.

    Public memory is short, but not quite as short as BJP would like to imagine. Nobody has forgotten how during the NDA rule at Centre petrol pumps were allotted arbitrarily to BJP, RSS and VHP persons against all norms. This act of rewarding itself at the cost of the country brought it the name Bhartiya Janata Petrol Pump Party. The party was not morally outraged, nor its government. How can morality be an issue with the party whose earlier president was caught on camera accepting bribe?

    There are two major reasons for the party’s noisy disruption of Parliament. It is a diversionary tactic to distract the nation’s attention from the failure of its Gujarat Laboratory experiment. The second is its wish to obtain coal block allotments to its chosen businessmen. Interestingly, Narendra Modi opposes auction, which BJP as a party supports. The reason: Some of Modi’s supporters are beneficiaries of direct allotment.

    The party will gain nothing from putting its cause ahead of the national cause. Further obstruction of Parliament will only reinforce its negative image in the public. Parliament must be allowed to function, and government must be able to work. It must be kept in mind that the government has not been chosen by the BJP, but by the People of India. The will of the People must never be thwarted.

    Now, the food they cook is ‘untouchable’


    A host of Dalit women, who cook food for children at noon meal centres attached to schools in various villages in Kadayampatti Union in Salem district, say they are facing a social boycott.

    Caste Hindus in a few villages are preventing their children from having the noon meal cooked by Dalit women cooks, claiming that it is “a sin to eat food cooked by them.”

    The government-appointed Dalit women cooks, under the MGR Nutritious Noon Meal Scheme on a temporary monthly pay of Rs. 1300-3000, are not allowed to do their job.

    “I feel like dying,’ said S. Sundaravanitha, a Dalit woman cook, who had been facing boycott since her appointment on August 16, 2012.

    She told The Hindu here on Friday that she said she had been undergoing trauma since the day she was appointed as a cook at the Panchayat Union Elementary School at Rasipurathan Kattuvalavu village in Kadayampatti Union.

    “From day one, I have been hounded and harassed. The Vanniyars-only village feel ‘ashamed’ to permit their children to have the food cooked by a Dalit,” she said. The village panchayat president also expressed his inability to help her.

    After discussing it with local officials, the Salem district administration transferred her to the centre at the Union Middle School at Mookanur, which happened to be her native village, on deputation. But her woes were far from over. Since her village people knew that she was a Dalit, they too raised the caste issue against her.
    “Of the total 75 students who used to have noon meal, only 20 students, a majority of whom are Dalits, now have food at the centre. Others have been forced to abstain. A few youths barged into the centre recently and abused me in filthy language,” she said with tears rolling down her cheeks.

    An official in Kadayampatti Union said that to prevent any untoward incident, she was shifted from Rasipurathan village. “It is a sensitive issue. This village of Vanniyars strongly opposed her.

    As Mookanur has an equal share of all castes, we believed that her appointment would not create any unpleasant situation there,” he said, adding that they had been facing similar situations in two other centres in the Union.
    The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi alleged that seven Dalit women cooks in Kadayampatti alone were facing social boycott.

    Poomozhi of the Tamil Nadu People Rights Movement wanted action under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against those who promoted untouchability. The Democratic Youth Federation of India staged a demonstration on Saturday, demanding their arrest.