Tag Archives: sufism

A UNIQUE EXHIBITION ON TERRORISM UNLEASHED

 

François Gautier

Source: Kashmir herald

 

Do you know the FACTS about Kashmir?

Over 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits, constituting 99% of the total population of Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley, have been forcibly pushed out of the Valley by terrorists. Since 1989, they have been forced to live the life of exiles in their own country. Terrorism has unleashed in Kashmir a systematic campaign of terror, murder, loot, arson and rape against Hindus in Kashmir. About 70,000 of them still languish in makeshift refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. Scores of temples in Kashmir have been desecrated, destroyed, looted. More than 900 educational institutions have been attacked by terrorists. Properties of Pandits have been vandalized, businesses destroyed or taken over, even hospitals have not been spared.

Did you know that this huge human tragedy is taking place in Free India?

Kashmir was known as “Sharda Peeth” , the abode of learning. Now the Pandits, the original inhabitants, have been forced to flee. 5000 years of civilization is at stake. 

THE ROLE OF PAKISTAN IN KASHMIRI TERROR is clear: Terrorism in Kashmir is an ideological struggle with specific fundamentalist and communal Agenda.

Terrorist violence aims at the disengagement of the state of Jammu and Kashmir from India and its annexation to Pakistan. It is a continuation of the Islamic fundamentalist struggle. The major dimension of terrorist violence in Kashmir is the terrorists’ commitment to the extermination and subjugation of the Hindus in the state, because Hindus do not subscribe to the idea of separation from India, nor will they allow governance by the tenets of Islam. Kashmiri Pandits have always been in the forefront of the struggle against secessionism, communalism and fundamentalism. Hence this peace loving minority with a progressive outlook became the main victim of terrorist violence.  

The strategies involved in the terrorists’ operation against the Hindus in Kashmir are simple:

– The extermination of Hindus, i.e., subjecting Hindus to brutal torture, to instill fear among them in order to achieve their submission.

To engineer a forced mass exodus of Hindus from the land of their ancestors by way of issuing threatening letters, kidnappings and torture deaths on non-compliance of the terrorists’ dictates and ensure the destruction of the secular and pluralistic character of Kashmiri Society.

Attacks, molestations, kidnappings, gang rapes of the women folk of the Hindu Pandits to instill fear and humiliation.

Destruction and burning of residential houses of the Hindus who have been compelled to abandon their homes.

Looting of their properties and appropriation of their business establishments are undertaken to ensure that they do not return.

Attachment of the ancestral and landed property of Pandits. Destruction of the social and religious institutions of the Hindus by the desecration and destruction of their places of worship.

Appropriation of the property of the Hindu shrines.

BURNING BOOKS, LOOTING OF CULTURE is also a very important part of the plan. Kashmir was the crucible of Knowledge, Spirituality, a hallowed centre of learning and the cradle of Shivaism. Kashmiri Pandits excelled in philosophy, aesthetics, poetics, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, astronomy and astrology. Sanskrit was studied, propagated and spoken by women and men. Scholars and saints such as Kalhan, Jonraj, Srivar, Abhinavgupta, Somanand, Utpaldev, Somdev and Kshemendra created here an intellectual centre of unrivalled repute. Fundamentalism and terrorism have been ruthless in their assault on “Sharda Peeth”, zealous in ravaging its heritage, and consistent only in bloodthirsty intolerance. The destruction of Hindu places of worship, forced conversions of Pandits and death and ignominy to those who resisted, were accompanied by a savage assault on literary activity. This process has been going on since centuries.

Commencing 1998, the assault on learning began afresh. How else to erase 5000 years of civilization? The Jammaat-i-Islami, a fundamentalist organization, launched a campaign to ransack libraries in the educational institutions and flared ban on books which did not correspond to their ideas about man, world and God. The Kashmir university funded by the University Grants Commission and headed by the Governor of the state was denuded of two thousand books including the works of Milton, G.B. Shaw, Shakespeare, H.G. Wells and tomes on Hindu Philosophy. Book-shops were looted in broad daylight at Batamaloo, Srinagar. The library of the Information Centre run by Government of India was looted and set on fire.

As a correspondent covering India for more than 20 years, I have witnessed the terrible damage that terrorism in Kashmir has inflicted upon people’s lives, their family, their culture, the very fabric of society, not only of the Kashmiri Pandits, but also of the Muslims of the Valley, who after all, are the victims too of Pakistan’s bloody designs.

Hence, with two journalist friends, we started a Foundation: FACT – Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism. The first task of FACT has been to mount an exhibition on terrorism, focusing on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, so that the people of India who do not suffer directly from terrorism understand what it does to others.

We need your support and we invite all of you, whatever your class, caste, religion, or ethnic origin, to come and witness it. Come and see the FACTS. Later, we would like this exhibition to travel not only to all major India cities, but also to the United States, England, France and Switzerland, so that the world understands what India has been going through in the last fifty years. 

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different
Source: The Sunday Indian
Terrorist attacks in India will stop if Indian Muslims stop actively participating in them
Francois Gautier

French Journalist

Islam in India is different. It is the inheritor of a long tradition of Sufism – the blending of Vedanta and the best of Islam – and a certain philosophy of acceptance. I remember when I was covering Kashmir in the late seventies, one could still see remnants of that tradition and observe Hindus and Muslims worshipping in dargahs and visiting each other’s homes during their respective religious festivals.

Then the Sunni Wahabite influence, via the Paksitani and Afghan jehadis, who supplanted the early JKLF movement, seeped in and everything changed for the worst. I was there in 1995 when the last Sufi shrine – the magnificent Chrar-e-Sharif, tomb of Sheikh Nuruddin, which was a sumptuous brick-and-cedar building with architectural and aesthetic roots right out of Central Asia – was burnt to the ground.

Though it has been rebuilt now, its destruction signalled the end of Sufism and tolerance in Kashmir. The 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus who had to flee their ancestral homeland are the living testimony of it.

For a long time, the present Indian government has been able to blame the successive terrorists attacks – Jaipur, Varanasi, Mumbai train blasts, Hyderabad, etc. – on the ISI or Bangaldeshi outfits and get away with it. The Delhi blasts signal the end of the charade and for the first time – barring the Ahmedabad blasts, where the Centre did not have much to do with the investigations – it was recognised that they were the handiwork of Indian Muslims.

Yet, the Indian government went on with the same pattern it used repeatedly after a terrorist attack in the last four years: (a) condemn ‘in the strongest terms’ this ‘barbarous act’; (b) appeal for calm and ‘communal harmony’; (c) give a few lakhs each to the families of the deceased or injured, so that they shut-up; and (d) never catch the culprits and go on as before till the next terrorist act.

But look at America, the most hated and targeted country in the world: it has not suffered a single terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. Which Indian politician will have the courage to call a spade a spade and tackle terrorism with courage and determination?

Does the UPA think that the common citizen of India is a nitwit and does not understand that Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi have never pronounced once the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ not only because of the matter of vote banks in times of coming elections, but also because of the fact that politicians in India want to keep a blindfold on their citizens and pretend that nothing is happening?

Muslims should also realise that their Hindu brothers and sisters are angry now. Hindus gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world – from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted) to the Armenians, and the Tibetans today. The first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, flourished in Kerala, thanks to Hindu tolerance; Arab merchants were welcomed by Hindu rulers to do trade and live in India, while freely practicing their religion, from very early times. It’s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindus brothers and sisters, the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Ultimately, Islam in India can still preserve its difference, show the rest of the world that Muslims can live in peace with their brother and sisters and practice an Islam which is faithful to its own creed, while accepting other religions. But for that, terrorists attacks have to stop in India – and they will if Indian Muslims stop participating actively in them.

Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said, “Mohammed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”.

Thus, Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: what kind of Islam do you want to practice? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a scripture, the Koran, which is not only not relevant to India, but which was meant for people living 1,500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian ? Or do they want to practice an Islam which is ‘Indianised’, which accepts the reality of other Gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha.

Do India Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave-up all riches and honours of the world because he thought his brother deserved the throne more than him?

Dainik bhaskar article:

Monday, July 7, 2008

image from: Dainik bhskar article by Francois Gautier (francois’ columns appear every 15 days)
From francois Gautier’s Article in New Indian Express:(francois’ columns appear every 15 days)

“Reading in Paris about Kashmiri Muslims rioting because of land transferred to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) and the People’s Democratic Party pulling out of the Jammu and Kashmir Government coalition, one feels a little bit surprised. The Amarnath pilgrimage is an ancient tradition
and after all, Kashmir, much before some of the inhabitants of the Valley were converted to Islam, is the seat of Shaivism, the place where thousands of yogis, sadhus, holy men, prayed, meditated and often attained realization, for at least
3,000 years.

“Millions of devotees have flocked to Amarnath over the centuries—and Muslims from Kashmir should show them generosity, because in India, although Muslims have been a minority since the beginning, Hindus have always respected the religion of Islam. Indeed, Muslims in India have had a freedom that Hindus or Christians do not enjoy in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.
“Furthermore, Indian Muslims returning from the Gulf, have built, in the last 20 years, tens of thousands of mosques, thanks to the Gulf money, often with land donated by the Indian Government and without the Hindus ever protesting.

“Kashmir is also the land of Sufism, where the best of Islam and Vedanta blended, which allowed many generations of Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims to worship together in mosques and temples and attend each other’s festivals.
Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, a hard Sunni fundamentalism has entered the Valley mainly with Pakistan and Afghan jihadis, and four lakh Kashmiri Hindus have been forced by death, terror and violence, to flee the valley of their ancestors, one of the biggest ethnic cleansings in human
history.”