Theatre of the Absurd

Our cops seem to be eager to perfectly fit the mould that Bollywood/Indian cinema has set for them.

The Hyderabad police have registered a case against controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who was recently attacked by workers of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) in Hyderabad, for allegedly creating ill-feeling among communities.

The writer has been booked under IPC Section 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language etc) on a complaint registered by MIM legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi, police said.

The best we can say in their favour is that they’re largely helpless.

Some hooligans/legislators attack Taslima Nasreen a few days ago. All news channels do their bit by assaulting us repeatedly with the footage. The footage shows a man who first yells at the folks on the rostrum, and then hurls a chair at an elderly gentleman who’s visibly shaken. Somebody flings a badly-mangled bouqet that lands on Nasreen, somebody else charges at the gentleman and smacks his forehead badly. He bleeds. TIMES Now shoves this whole visual drama down our throats. I was having a hearty lunch. Life is good.

Life gets better thereafter because–to my knowledge–no frothing-at-the-mouth editorials appear after this disgraceful incident. It is relevant to recall media and blogsphere reactions during the Baroda art incident. Where are those chapter-long essays on freedom and liberty by eminent bloggers now? I guess it is because while fascism reigned in Baroda a few months ago, the goons who attacked Taslima exhibited exemplary behaviour of democratic protest. I now understand why the defenders of free speech didn’t find this incident blogworthy.

But there’s something deeper. Barbar Indian digs up various news sources on this and concludes that

Only headlines from western news sources such as Reuters, Voice of America, Washington Post etc. (and surpsigingly some from Malaysia and Gulf too) had the word “Muslims” in them. Most Indian headlines read: Tasleema heckled, Tasleema roughed up etc.

It’s amazing how the shrillery on freedom, liberty etc works in India. And Taslima is just about the perfect example of this.

Taslima is the poster girl of the Left/liberal intelligentsia. She’s the rebel woman writer/thinker. And she’s a Muslim woman who dared to expose some dreadful things about Islam in Lajja. Surprisingly, she’s still alive and still breathes fire against all kinds of injustices, and says all the right things about humanism, etc. She also smokes! The perfect role model for our Leftist/liberal darlings in the academia and media. But. What she stands for is violently unpardonable in Islam’s eyes. The book ban in Bangaladesh and in a few states of India, continual threats to her life, the present attack, etc. As much as they admire her, our Left/liberal darlings are careful not to admire/support her too much. Now, these eminences danced jubilantly when Kamala Das aka Suraiya converted to Islam citing “repression of women in Hinduism” as the reason for her conversion.

Then we have intellectual giants like Shabana Azmi who are free from the shackles of religion but do not criticize Islam. They adore non-Islamic practices like Vipassana, and roar against the fascism of Hindu fundamentalists. Atanu hints at a possible reason for Shabana’s non-criticism of Islam in this superb post:

…at its core, Islam proclaims that it is the perfect religion and therefore unalterable and is the final word of god. Any change or dilution of the core beliefs is by definition not Islam. Islam’s claim to be the only true and perfect faith automatically relegates all other faiths to be false and evil.

Ultimately, the Indian press is just a little more than a stooge of the government. All talk of free speech/press freedom is to self-reinforce our illusion that everything is okay. From the same post by Barbar Indian:

Let us remind our readers that Tasleema’s repeated appeals for an Indian citizenship are ignored by our Government (the same Government which was demanding an Australian visa for alleged terrorist Haneef merely a week ago).

And our media plays along with this, doesn’t utter a word criticizing the government’s refusal to grant her the said citizenship.

In this case, what doesn’t get widely reported is Taslima’s own statement that:

Controversial Bangladeshi novelist Taslima Nasreen says her attackers at a book release function in Hyderabad earlier Thursday were intent on killing her, but she would not be cowed down and would continue to write.

The Muslim leaders were bent on killing me. They broke open the door of the Hyderabad Press Club and hurled brickbats at me. Had they been armed, they would have killed me,” she said after returning to her Rawdon Street home in central Kolkata.

What had me ROTFLing is the charge the cops have framed against her:

IPC Section 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language etc).

Life is wonderful.

Update: I read this bit after I’d finished composing my post. The link to this Pioneer news item may not work and I’ve excerpted just the relevant parts.

Akbaruddin Owaisi, the floor leader of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) in the Andhra Assembly on Friday said, “It is legitimate to kill Taslima Nasreen under Islamic law, but unfortunately we could not do it”. [.] MIM president and former Member of Parliament Salahuddin Owaisi lauded his party legislators and workers for targeting Taslima stating that she had insulted Islam and Muslims all over the world and she was still continuing her mission enjoying the hospitality of the Left Government in West Bengal. […] Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), the rival of MIM, went to the extent of saying that originally it was their plan to implement the fatwa of death issued against Taslima… The fatwas issued to kill Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen should be implemented, he added.

All this said on the floor of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.

Crossposted on Desicritics and INI Signal.

18 comments for “Theatre of the Absurd

  1. Anonymous
    August 16, 2007 at 9:18 PM

    The state where *fear* and *repression* are permanent residents, has cornered a quarter of all nationwide investments in the country

    Bravo ! Gujarat and Modi for displacing Maharashtra from the number 1 slot. As a helpless Marathi manus, i am still proud of you.

  2. August 16, 2007 at 12:33 PM

    >>> Yes, fear and repression may be permanent citizens in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.

    Barkha Dutt, as usual, is obsessed with Modi and Gujarat. In fact, Gujarat is one of the states that are most free of fear and repression.

  3. Anonymous
    August 14, 2007 at 10:43 PM

    Some acknowledgment of the double standards followed in the mainstream media is seen in Ms Dutt’s essay. This is refreshing.

    But she could have done without these –

    “Yes, fear and repression may be permanent citizens in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.” (How does Modi come into picture?)

    “Yes, unlike the BJP, which was brazen enough to defend the use of violence in Gujarat, the Congress and the Left have been quick with their condemnation.” (How’z Gujarat riots even remotely related?)

    “Ironically, but not surprisingly, the only party that called the censorship of Nasreen’s work “undemocratic” was the BJP. A party that has unapologetically hounded artist M.F. Husain out of India for “hurting Hindu sentiments” saw no contradiction in suddenly playing the torchbearer for artistic liberty.” (BJP hounding the millionaire
    Husain? I thought it was the Bajranj Dal!)

    She is spinning round and round. The language, the tone, the aggression which so passionately comes out against BJP is not be seen this time.

    But nevertheless, we lesser mortals, we hindu fundamentalists, blood-sucking Muslim killers will do with this for now. It’s not a 180 deg turn but there was a subtle acknowledgment of what the “Hindu Brigade” and chaddiwalas like me have been saying all along.

  4. August 14, 2007 at 1:35 PM


    BJP is pretty strong in Hyderabad. The usual numbers game comes into play for MIM in Hyderabad – the large non-muslim vote is divided into Congress, TDP and BJP and MIM wins with the entire old city voting for the MIM tugs with Owaisi clans ruling with Saudi money. Saudi patronage, in exchange for a flow of young pre-teen muslim girls for geriatric arabs, is huge, especially to Owaisi family.

    There is lot of street battles between the MIM and BJP with Congress bending over backwards for MIM and TDP somewhere in the middle but always worried about Muslim vote. Hyderabad mayoral elections are also taken over by MIM and of course consistent number of Hyderabad MLAs are MIM people. Hence their political clout – for example the 5% reservation for Muslims is championed by MIM. I won’t surprise if this guy has terror links.

    In any case, the physical area of Hyderabad was officially greatly expanded recently (was opposed by Owaisi, of course), and MIM power in numbers has just diminished with lot of people migrating to new parts of Hyderabad from other parts of the state and from the rest of the country.

  5. Palahalli
    August 14, 2007 at 10:34 AM

    Or did I hear Barkha Dutt being mentioned??

    Sandeep…my guess is that the “Cu’bd” and the “Dutt’ed” are reading and following your blog 😉

  6. Palahalli
    August 14, 2007 at 10:01 AM

    Did somebody miss taking on the “cubed” and “squared” fellows??

  7. Right Winger
    August 14, 2007 at 1:07 AM

    I wonder where is that Amit Varma guy who claims to support “Freedom of everything” or some crap like that.

    Wonder why the media is treating this issue with kid gloves….always MIM MLAs..never Islamic fundamentalists..

    Take a look at NDTV’s reporting of the Baroda incident and this one.

    “The faculty of Fine Arts at Vadodara’s MS University is up in arms as the Hindu brigade damaged two paintings during the internal assessment at the university on Wednesday.”

    “But the saffron brigade claimed that outsiders were viewing the exhibition and that the paintings were offensive.”

    “The attack by BJP activists on the Fine Arts Faculty of Baroda’s MS University is part of a growing evidence that the institute is being sucked into the communally charged climate of Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.”

    “‘It is a state university so can’t say much, but there are certain things that are universal and freedom of expression is one such right and the example set by the university has not been very wholesome. UGC has tried to settle the matter at a very harmonius level. I hope it will get settled,” said Arjun Singh.

    “The Minister also critised the gagging of freedom of expression at the campus.”

    OK now on to the Taslima Nasreen attack reporting

    “Controversial writer Taslima Nasreen was attacked by an unruly crowd at the Hyderabad Press club on Thursday.”

  8. Anonymous
    August 14, 2007 at 12:23 AM

    Does that Amit guy still write stuff? Was he the one who claimed to have an impartial outrage on such issues?
    I am not sure if there were a spate of comments by him about how he was above board as far as criticizing such issues was concerned.
    Has he taken the usual politically correct route and gone into hibernation before he can come up with another stinging article on freedom of expression.

    Had “Times Now” invited Anil Dharker for a discussion on “freedom of expression”.. or has Barkha Dutt spoken at length and lectured us in “we the people”..

    Not sure, was just checking if any one heard something about this…

  9. August 13, 2007 at 3:09 PM

    Where are the secularists? Who can confront hurt sentiments of a certain community.Nanditas, Teestas and Arundhtis of this country know when not to speak and save their backs from onslaught of the minority community. Even eminent “secularist” bloggers will not take out a protest march for Tasleema.

  10. Sriram
    August 13, 2007 at 2:58 PM

    It must be remembered that the same article 153(A) was used in the infamous Calcutta Quran Petition to ban the Quran. The Sitaram Goel book is available here.

  11. Sriram
    August 13, 2007 at 2:51 PM

    Simple. The liberal media is waiting for the next excess by Hindutva-wadis, so that a moral equivalence can be drawn at which point normal service will resume. We will have a special episode of “we the people” and Barkha will promise to come back to Taslima Nasreen episode after the break, which will never happen.

  12. nkota
    August 13, 2007 at 8:43 AM

    looks like owaisi’s have a good deal of global standing, no wonder they are so brazen

  13. socal
    August 12, 2007 at 10:29 PM

    Muslim fundamentalism isn’t surprising. And the fight against it is just now beginning, with people like Christopher Hitchens speaking against vociferously to take action against it. Question is, how can Taslima be put on a faster course to Indian citizenship? What we would expect is some newspaper to publish the procedure so that we common folks can pose the question and speak for her.

    Swapan Dasgupta’s article on MIM and its fascist Razakar origins are an eye-opener. He even tells that the MIM has won Hyderabad Loksabha since 1971, which means the millions of Hindus in Hyderabad have never had any meaningful voice for over three decades now. Shocking indeed.

  14. Pavitra
    August 12, 2007 at 8:25 PM

    SAHMAT,Nandita Das,Teesta have all vainshed or are busy trying to find linkage to the rise of the Hindutva and muslim goonda giri.Shameless scums.

  15. sandeep
    August 12, 2007 at 6:16 PM

    where is teesta n co where is “intellensinga” coz the rest of us r all dumb people u see!!! why the “intelleensinga ” dont speka now haha

  16. August 12, 2007 at 3:53 PM

    Superb post Sandeep. I am going to link it on my blog.

  17. Pankaj
    August 12, 2007 at 4:06 AM

    It won’t be out of place to file complaints/lawsuits against these MIM cadre for threatening life. Also, I wonder if these people have read the book to know what kind of enmity she is spreading? Those professing killing, out in the open, need not be immune from law.

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