India Bound

india_censored

Written by Randeep Singh

The film Haider was released on October 2, 2014. The film is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the violent backdrop of Kashmir in the mid-1990s. Among other things, Haider looks at the atrocities of the Indian army. It has become one of the most critically acclaimed films in India this year.

On October 15, 2014, the Allahabad High Court issued notices to, among others, the film’s director, director and actors to respond to a petition. The petition was filed by the Hindu Front for Justice an organization which seeks to restrain the film’s screening on the basis that it insults the sovereignty, integrity and unity of India.

How does a film like Haider endanger the “sovereignty, integrity and unity” of India? Aren’t India’s restrictions on the freedom of expression, such as national security, public order and incitement to violence,  sufficient to deal with problems that may otherwise imperil the “sovereignty, integrity and unity” of India?

The “sovereignty, integrity and unity” limitation on freedom of expression merely enables the Indian power to curb any thought or opinion it deems “anti-national.” And what is more cherished to the Indian nationalist mythology than the idea that India is a benign, secular democracy, a view questioned by Haider?

In its stamping out of ideas, thoughts or opinions, which just may have a ring or truth to them, the Indian state privileges the right of an ambiguous and undefined the “nation” over those of democracy which relies on a free flow of ideas. The result is a narrowing of the Indian mind.

If Haider is restrained from playing in Indian cinemas, the Indian state and its fascist enthusiasts will have again (as they have done before with M.F. Hussain, Deepa Mehta, Sonali Bose, Arundhati Roy, Wendy Doniger) have privileged the rights of the “nation” over those of Indians themselves.

Film Review: “Haider”

haider 1
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, Narendra Jha, Irrfan Khan
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj

Reviewed by Randeep Singh

This third adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedies by Vishal Bhardwaj is not a tragedy in the same way as the play from which it is adapted. The tragedy in “Hamlet” comes from the hero’s fatal flaw, his indecision whether to avenge his father’s murder and the needless deaths which result along the way. In Bhardwaj’s “Haider,” the title role (played by Shahid Kapoor) is unwavering in his determination to murder his uncle, Khurram (Kay Kay Menon), contending only with chance and circumstance. There is no fatal flaw in the character of Haider and no tragedy as such.

The tragedy in Haider is the tragedy of Kashmir, the backdrop against which this modern-day Indian adaptation is told. It’s no irony that we see elections being conducted in a land where the day’s rhythms are determined by curfews and where the call to prayer is drowned out by army loudspeakers. The tragedy is most poignantly rendered in Haider’s search for his father, one of the many “missing” fathers, sons and husbands in Kashmir. It is realized visually too through the film’s stunning cinematography, the pure snow of the valley speckled with blood, veiled by smoke, partitioned by barbed wire.

Kapoor captures Haider as a sensitive young poet in the earlier part of the film, but gives a less nuanced performance when Haider experiences episodes of madness. The stand-out performance in the film is that of Tabu as Ghazala who hauntingly portrays a woman torn by loyalty as a mother, a widow and a new wife. Kapoor and Tabu are supported by an excellent supporting cast, particularly Menon as Khurram and Narendra Jha as Haider’s father, Dr. Hilal Meer.

The film isn’t entirely stellar. The climax, while effective, almost turns comical with the transformation of three elderly gravediggers into militia men. The madness and suicide of the Ophelia-adapted character, Arshi (played by Shraddha Kapoor), is also so rushed that it never really sinks in. The tragedy though as Bhardwaj makes clear is not that of Arshi or even of Haider. In closing the film with Faiz Ahmad Faiz’ poem “Intesaab” (‘Dedication’), Bhardwaj’s “Haider” becomes a dedication to the congregation of mourning that is Kashmir, a tragedy awaiting its final curtain.

8.5/10

The State of Jammu & Kashmir vs. Union of India

Disclaimer: This is not a legal document, judgement or academic opinion on the legality of the accession of Kashmir to India but rather an attempt to bring together some facts and legal principles pertinent to the accession question and have the reader come to his or her own finding through further inquiry if necessary.

433px-Kashmir-Accession-Document-a

Was the accession of Kashmir to India legal?

Facts

On August 14 and 15, 1947, India and Pakistan gain independence. The rulers of the 565 princely states of British India have to decide to join either India or Pakistan. The Maharaja Hari Singh is the ruler of the princely state of Kashmir and does not make a decision as to which country to join.

On October 22, 1947, Pathan tribesmen from Pakistan invade Kashmir. The Maharaja of Kashmir appeals to India for help.

On October 26, 1947, the Maharaja flees Kashmir and arrives in Jammu. Also on or about October 26, 1947, the Maharaja meets with a representative of the Indian Prime Minister and signs the Instrument of Accession. On October 27, 1947, India troops arrive in Srinagar (Kashmir). Recent British sources indicate that the Indian PM’s representative did not reach Jammu until the morning of October 27, 1947 by which time Indian troops were already arriving in Srinagar.

Issues:

  1. Did the Maharaja act of a free mind when he signed the Accession?
  2. Did the surrounding circumstances influence the Maharaja’s decision?
  3. If so, did those circumstances influence the Maharaja’s decision-making ability in such a way that he cannot be said to have acted of a free mind?

The Law

I look at three legal principles relevant to the issues above.

The question of duress: duress is legally defined as a situation where one party exerts pressure unlawfully on another party to compel that party to do something that he or she would ordinarily not do. For duress to apply against India, India would have had to have done something unlawful, such as threaten to use violence against the Maharaja, his family or threaten to seize his property and hold it ransom. The use of suggestion or persuasion on the part of India does not qualify as duress.

The question of undue influence: undue influence occurs in relationships where one party exerts pressure on a weaker party so as to overpower the will of that weaker party and thereby induce an agreement. In this case, India would have had to do something to influence the Maharaja – including making military aid to him conditional upon his signing the accession instrument – which was short of actual force, but stronger than mere talk, resulting in the signing of the accession.

The question of unconscionability: an unconscionable transaction is an agreement that no right-minded would ever make and no fair-minded person would ever accept. In this case, there would have to be an inequality in the bargaining power between India and the Maharaja of Kashmir. If there was, then the Maharaja also would have had to have made an improvident bargain, that is he would have had to sign the accession (for military aid) without proper regard for the future.

If that were the case, there arises a legal presumption of unconscionability against India which India would have to rebut.

Written by Randeep Singh

Further Reading:

Ganguly, Sumit, “Conflict and Crisis in South and Southwest Asia”, in Michael E. Brown, ed., The International Dimensions of Internal Conflict, Cambridge, MA:  The MIT Press, 1996a, pp. 141-172.

Ganguly, Sumit, “Explaining the Kashmir Insurgency: Political Mobilization and Institutional Decay”, International Security, vol. 21, no. 2, Fall 1996b.

‘Mumbai to Karachi’ India Pakistan Peace Caravan

A people-to-people peace initiative has begun with ‘Aman ke BaRhte Qadm’, an India Pakistan Peace Caravan planned for July-August 2010. This will be the second caravan organized for peace between the two countries, the first happened in 2005 from Delhi to Multan.

In a draft announcement, the organizers have noted the extreme religious agendas of fundamentalist forces on both sides of the border as divisive, and incorporates the 2007 demand of ‘Nuclear-Free, Visa-Free South Asia’. It demands from the governments of India and Pakistan to introduce less restrictive policies, and to strive for a resolution to Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the people.

View details on endorsement

‘Aman ke BaRhte Qadm’ seeks organizational endorsements on the basis of the following Draft Announcement.

India-Pakistan Peace Caravan – Amn ke Badhte Qadam
‘Probably nowhere in the world are people of two countries as emotionally entwined as are the people of India and Pakistan, and yet there is an enmity thrust upon them. The cruel turn of the wheel of history resulted in political separation, leading to a blood-spattered migration of countless people on an unprecedented scale, severing of family ties, and deep scars that have left an indelible imprint on the collective consciousness of the two nations.
‘Post-Partition, our tumultuous history has been interspersed with four wars and loss of innumerable innocent lives. Kashmir continues to be a sore point in our relations, threatening to take the two countries on a course of self-destruction. Fundamentalist groups within the religious and political space of South Asia continue to ensure that the fires of animosity are kept alive and take a heavy toll on both sides.
‘Targets of violence and of an atmosphere of antagonism, common people on both sides of the border want peace, friendship and normal relations to be established between the two countries. The ruling elites of the two countries are usually suspicious of each other, but whenever the common people of India and Pakistan get to meet, all reservations they might have about each other collapse and warm emotions of mutual affinity surge forth, very much like people of the same family meeting each other after years of separation. Enmity, hatred and distance melt away, warmth and friendship take over. In spite of the geographical boundaries forced upon us by historical circumstances, our common customs and traditions endure – our language, our music, our food and cuisine, the very mode of living on both sides of the border leaves no scope for scepticism in terms of our shared values and issues of common concern. The people are divided by borders but their hearts are one
‘We feel that if real peace and friendship has to be established between the two countries, the initiative will have to be taken by the people themselves. Various such initiatives have been witnessed over the last many years, the Indo-Pakistan Delhi to Multan Peace March in 2005 being one of them. Sufi saints and poets sang the song of love. The indelible imprints of this deep-rooted tradition are enshrined in the hearts and souls of the populace on both sides of the border. In consonance with this tradition, the March started from the dargah of the Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi , and culminated at the shrine of saint Bahauddin Zakariya in Multan , taking the message of love and brotherhood to the towns, cities and villages of the two countries. Subsequent to that, widening the scope of the initiative, a ‘Nuclear-Free, Visa-Free South Asia Convention’ was held in Delhi in August 2005, and in Lahore in 2007. Attempts to make it an annual affair have met roadblocks, the biggest being the prevalent visa-passport regime between the two countries.
‘Sustained efforts at the grassroots are required to bring about a change in mindset at the governmental levels. The problems and challenges we face are common – poverty, unemployment, the onslaught of globalisation and economic liberalisation endangering our economies, the dire need to look to the sectors of health and education. A loosening and gradual removal of barriers of trade and commerce, increasing movement of people across borders is bound to benefit both the countries. Economically strong India and Pakistan can bring about an era of peace and prosperity for the whole of South Asia . A spirit of give and take, of mutual co-operation, of creating an environment of friendship and peace rather than of jingoistic nationalism can see the two countries moving apace on a path of progress and development.
‘The last few years have seen the two governments taking steps for peace but these have been slow and intermittent, blow hot-blow cold attempts rather than being steady, continuous and sustained. The felt need of renewed efforts to pressurize the governments to listen to the voice of the peace-loving peoples of the two countries now emboldens us to take up another joint people-to-people peace initiative – the Indo-Pakistan Peace Caravan, Amn ke Badhte Qadam, from Mumbai to Karachi. This Peace Caravan will provide an opportunity to the peace-loving people of both countries to give voice to their urge for peace and friendship, and help build an atmosphere that should ultimately persuade the two governments to listen to the voice of sanity.
‘In the course of this Peace Caravan, we seek the support of people on the following points :
1. The movement of people across the borders should be made easier. At present there are all sorts of restrictions on such movement, some of which are apparently ridiculous. We would like these restrictions to be removed, for the people on both sides of the border have an intimate attachment with each other. There exists an emotional bond between the two – very much unlike the sense of animosity and mistrust that is reflected in the attitudes of the two governments. Due regard should be given to the wishes and aspirations of the people by the two governments, and they should be allowed to freely and easily meet, and inter-act with each other. In fact, the visa-passport regime should be done away with.
2. India and Pakistan must establish unconditional friendship forthwith respecting the wishes of common people of both countries and then try to resolve the issues. A solution to all contentious issues between India and Pakistan should be found peacefully through mutual discussions around the table. These issues include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (which, in our view, should be resolved by taking into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir ), and the issue of terror-related activities on account of which the people of both countries are suffering.
3. India and Pakistan should dismantle their atomic-nuclear establishments at the earliest. Both countries should destroy landmines laid in the border areas and send their forces back to the barracks. We want that both countries should stop wasting their valuable resources in the name of defence-budget, and plan for these resources to be used for the eradication of poverty in the sub-continent. Those who are a part of the Peace Caravan believe that real security lies not in the piling of arms and ammunition but in building a relationship based on mutual trust and faith. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the fact is that underground landmines and nuclear bombs rather than causing damage to the ‘enemy’, only end up causing much greater harm to your own people. It would, therefore, not be inappropriate to call these weapons anti-people.
4. The two countries must end proxy and/or low intensity wars against each other forthwith and restrain their intelligence agencies from fomenting trouble across the border.
‘Peace and development are possible only in an environment of trust and mutual goodwill : this, indeed, is the message of this Peace Caravan. We very well understand that our aims and objectives cannot be achieved through just this effort. We also believe that this Peace Caravan is just one element in the many initiatives being taken up by the two peoples for Peace. Let us, then, join hands for the SUSTAINED creation and development of an environment of mutual trust, goodwill and peace between the two countries – indeed, peace in South Asia as a whole.’

Names of (some) endorsing organizations (April 20)
South Asia Partnership (SAP)
Labour Party
CMKP
Peace Keepers
Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD)
Punjabi Khoj Ghar
Giyan Foundation
Seimorgh
Uddari Weblog

View details on endorsement

Information provided by Diep at saeedadiep@yahoo.com
Institute for peace and Secular studies
91-G johar Town Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Ph 042-5219862/ 042-5219863
Mobile 0321-844-5072,0300-844-5072
www.peaceandsecularstudies.org

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

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‘Mumbai Under Siege’ by Yoginder Sikand

O ye who believe! stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
(The Quran, Surah Al-Maida: 8)

Numerous theories are doing the rounds about the dastardly terrorist assault on Mumbai. The dominant view, based on what is being suggested by the media, is that this is the handiwork of the dreaded Pakistan-based self-styled Islamist and terrorist outfit Lashkar-e Tayyeba, which, ever since it was ostensibly proscribed by the Government of Pakistan some years ago, has adopted the name of
Jamaat ud-Dawah. This might well be the case, for the Lashkar has been responsible for numerous such terrorist attacks in recent years, particularly in Kashmir.

The Lashkar is the military wing of the Markaz Dawat wal Irshad, an outfit floated by a section of the Pakistani Ahl-e Hadith, a group with close affiliations to the Saudi Wahhabis. It has its headquarters at the town of Muridke in the Gujranwala district in Pakistani Punjab. The Markaz was established in 1986 by two Pakistani university professors, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Zafar Iqbal. They were assisted by Abdullah Azam, a close aide of Osama bin Laden, who was then associated with the International Islamic University in Islamabad. Funds for setting up the organization are said to have come from Pakistan’s dreaded official secret services agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). From its inception, it is thus clear, the Lashkar had the support of the Pakistani establishment.

The Lashkar started out as a paramilitary organisation to train warriors to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Soon it spawned dozens of camps across Pakistan and Afghanistan for this purpose. Militants produced at these centres have played a major role in armed struggles, first in Afghanistan, and then in Bosnia, Chechenya, Kosovo, the southern Philippines and Kashmir.

Like other radical Islamist groups, the Lashkar sees Islam as an all-embracing system. It regards Islam as governing all aspects of personal as well as collective life, in the form of the shariah. For the establishing of an Islamic system, it insists, an ‘Islamic state’ is necessary, which will impose the
shariah as the law of the land. If, the official website of the Lashkar announces, such a state were to be set up and all Muslims were to live strictly according to ‘the laws that Allah has laid down’, then, it is believed, ‘they would be able to control the whole world and exercise their supremacy’. And for this, as well as to respond to the oppression that it claims that Muslims in large parts of the world are suffering, it insists that all Muslims must take to armed jihad. Armed jihad must continue, its website announces, ‘until Islam, as a way of life, dominates the whole world and until Allah’s law is enforced everywhere in the world’.

The subject of armed jihad runs right through the writings and pronouncements of the Lashkar and is, in fact, the most prominent theme in its discourse. Indeed, its understanding of Islam may be seen as determined almost wholly by this preoccupation, so much so that its reading of Islam seems to be a product of its own political project, thus effectively ending up equating Islam with terror. Being born as a result of war in Afghanistan, war has become the very raison d’tre of the Lashkar, and its subsequent development has been almost entirely determined by this concern. The contours of its ideological framework are constructed in such a way that the theme of armed jihad appears as the central element of its project. In the writings and speeches of Lashkar spokesmen jihad appears as violent conflict (qital) waged against ‘unbelievers’ who are said to be responsible for the oppression of the Muslims. Indeed, the Lashkar projects it as the one of the most central tenets of Islam, although it has traditionally not been included as one of the ‘five pillars’ of the faith. Thus, its website claims that ‘There is so much emphasis on this subject that some commentators and scholars of the
Quran have remarked that the topic of the Quran is jihad’. Further, a Lashkar statement declares, ‘There is consensus of opinion among researchers of the Qur’an that no other action has been explained in such great detail as jihad’.

In Lashkar discourse, jihad against non-Muslims is projected as a religious duty binding on all Muslims today. Thus the Lashkar’s website claims that a Muslim who has ‘never intended to fight against the disbelievers [!] is not without traces of hypocrisy’. Muslims who have the capacity to participate or assist in the jihad but do not do so are said to ‘be living a sinful life’. Not surprisingly, therefore, the Lashkar denounces all Muslims who do not agree with its pernicious and grossly distorted version of Islam and its hideous misinterpretation of jihad,Sufis, Shias, Barelvis and so on, as being ‘deviants’
or outside the pale of Islam or even in league with ‘anti-Islamic forces’. The Lashkar promises its activists that they would receive great rewards, both in this world and in the Hereafter, if they were to actively struggle in the path of jihad. Not only would they be guaranteed a place in Heaven, but they would also ‘be honoured in this world’, for jihad, it claims, is also ‘the way that solves
financial and political problems’.

Astoundingly bizarre though it is, the Markaz sees itself as engaged in a global jihad against the forces of ‘disbelief’, stopping at nothing short of aiming at the conquest of the entire world. As Nazir Ahmed, in-charge of the public relations department of the Lashkar, once declared, through the so-called jihad that the Lashkar has launched, ‘Islam will be dominant all over the world’. This
global war is seen as a solution to all the ills and oppression afflicting all Muslims, and it is claimed that ‘if we want to live with honour and dignity, then we have to return back to jihad’. ‘Through jihad, the Lashkar website says, ‘Islam will be supreme throughout the world’.

In Lashkar discourse, its self-styled jihad against India is regarded as nothing less than a war between two different and mutually opposed ideologies: Islam, on the one hand, and Hinduism, on the other. It tars all Hindus with the same brush, as supposed ‘enemies of Islam’. Thus, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Lashkar chief, declares: ‘In fact, the Hindu is a mean enemy and the proper way to deal
with him is the one adopted by our forefathers, who crushed them by force. We need to do the same’.

India is a major target for the Lashkar’s terrorists. According to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, ‘The jihad is not about Kashmir only. It encompasses all of India’. Thus, the Lashkar sees its self-styled jihad as going far beyond the borders of Kashmir and spreading through all of India. Its final goal, it says,
is to extend Muslim control over what is seen as having once been Muslim land, and, hence, to be brought back under Muslim domination, creating what the Lashkar terms as ‘the Greater Pakistan by dint of jihad’. Thus, at a mammoth congregation of Lashkar supporters in November 1999, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed thundered, ‘Today I announce the break-up of India, Inshallah. We will not rest
until the whole of India is dissolved into Pakistan’.

The Lashkar, so say media reports, has been trying to drum up support among India’s Muslims, and it may well be that it has managed to find a few recruits to its cause among them. If this is the case, it has probably been prompted by the fact of mounting murderous Hindutva-inspired anti-Muslim pogroms across the country, often abetted by agencies of the state, which has taken a toll of
several thousand innocent lives. The fact that no semblance of justice has been delivered in these cases and that the state has not taken any measure to reign in Hindutva terrorism adds further to the deep-seated despondency and despair among many Indian Muslims. This might well be used by self-styled Islamist terror groups, such as the Lashkar, to promote their own agenda. Obviously,
therefore, in order to counter the grave threat posed by terror groups such as the Lashkar, the Indian state needs to tackle the menace of Hindutva terror as well, which has now assumed
the form of full-blown fascism. Both forms of terrorism feed on each other, and one cannot be tackled without taking on the other as well.

Mercifully, and despite the denial of justice to them, the vast majority of the Indian Muslims have refused to fall into the Lashkar’s trap. The flurry of anti-terrorism conferences that have recently been organised by important Indian Islamic groups is evidence of the fact that they regard the Lashkar’s perverse understanding of Islam as being wholly anti-Islamic and as a perversion of their
faith. These voices urgently need to be promoted, for they might well be the most effective antidote to Lashkar propaganda. Numerous Indian Islamic scholars I know and have spoken to insist that the Lashkar’s denunciation of all non-Muslims as ‘enemies of Islam’, its fomenting of hatred towards Hindus and India and its understanding of jihad are a complete misrepresentation of Islamic
teachings. They bitterly critique its call for a universal Caliphate as foolish wishful thinking. And they are unanimous that, far from serving the cause of the faith they claim to espouse, groups like the Lashkar have done the most heinous damage to the name of Islam, and are to blame, to a very large extent, for mounting Islamophobia globally.

At the same time as fingers of suspicion are being pointed at the Lashkar for being behind the recent Mumbai blasts, other questions are being raised in some circles. The significant fact that Hemant Karkare, the brave ATS chief who was killed in the terrorist assault, had been investigating the role of Hindutva terrorist groups in blasts in Malegoan and elsewhere and had received threats for this has not gone un-noticed. Nor has the related fact that the assault on Mumbai happened soon after disturbing revelations began pouring in of the role of Hindutva activists in terror attacks in different parts of India. That the attack on Mumbai has led to the issue of Hindutva-inspired terrorism now being totally sidelined is also significant.

And then there is a possible Israeli angle that some are raising. Thus, the widely-read Mumbai-based tabloid Mid-Day, in an article about a building where numerous militants were holed up titled ‘Mumbai Attack: Was Nariman House the Terror Hub?’, states:
‘The role that Nariman House is coming to play in this entire attack drama is puzzling. Last night, residents ordered close to 100 kilograms of meat and other food, enough to feed an army or a bunch of people for twenty days’. Shortly thereafter, the ten odd militants moved in, obviously, indicating that the food and meat was ordered, keeping their visit in mind, another cop added.

‘One of the militants called up a television news channel and voiced his demands today, but, interestingly, when he was asked where are they all holed him, he said at the Israeli owned Nariman House and they are six of them here”, one of the investigating cops said. Since morning, there has been exchange of gun fire has been going on and the militants seem well equipped to counter the cops fire. To top it, they have food and shelter. One wonders [if] they have the support of
the residents, a local Ramrao Shanker said.’

A Mossad/Israeli hand in the affair might seem far-fetched to some, but not so to others, who point to the role of Israeli agents in destabilizing a large number of countries as well as possibly operating within some radical Islamist movements, such as a group in Yemen styling itself ‘Islamic Jihad’, said to be responsible for the bombing of the American Embassy in Sanaa, and which is said to have close links with the Israeli intelligence. Some have raised the question if the Mossad or even the CIA might not be directly or otherwise instigating some disillusioned Muslim youth in India, Pakistan or elsewhere to take to terror by playing on Muslim grievances, operating through existing Islamist groups or spawning new ones for this purpose.

If this charge is true, although this remains to be conclusively established, the aim might be to further radicalize Muslims so as to provide further pretext for American and Israeli assaults on Islam and Muslim countries. The fact that the CIA had for years been in very close contact with the Pakistani ISI and radical Islamist groups in Pakistan is also being raised in this connection. The
possible role of such foreign agencies of being behind some terror attacks that India has witnessed in recent years to further fan anti-Muslim hatred and also to weaken India is also being speculated on in some circles.

Whether all this is indeed true needs to be properly investigated. But the fact remains that it appears to be entirely in the interest of the Israeli establishment and powerful forces in America to create instability in India, fan Hindu-Muslim strife, even to the point of driving India and Pakistan to war with
each other, and thereby drag India further into the deadly embrace of Zionists and American imperialists.

In other words, irrespective of who is behind the deadly attacks on Mumbai, it appears to suit the political interests and agendas of multiple and equally pernicious political forces, Islamist and Hindu radicals, fired by a hate-driven Manichaean vision of the world, but also global imperialist powers that seem to be using the attacks as a means to push India even deeper into their suicidal axis.

Sukhia Sab Sansar Khaye Aur Soye
Dukhia Das Kabir Jagey Aur Roye

The world is ‘happy’, eating and sleeping
The forlorn Kabir Das is awake and weeping

From:
http://openspace.org.in/book/export/html/805

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Autobiography of the Great Dada Amir Haider Khan (1904-1986)

A new edition of the out-of-print autobiography of Dada Amir Haider published in 1988 titled “Chains to lose: Life and Struggles of a Revolutionary – Memoirs of Dada Amir Haider Khan, Vol 1” edited by Hasan N. Gardezi (462 Pages, Rs. 350, Patriot Publishers, Delhi 1988) is now available. Here is the cover page of the new edition.

Life and Struggles of a Revolutionary, Memoirs of Dada Amir Haider Khan

Chains to Lose – Life and Struggle of a Revolutionary
– Memoirs of Dada Amir Haider Khan

Hasan N. Gardezi, Ed., (Karachi 2007)

The following book review on the 1988 Edition by Shafqat Tanvir Mirza was published almost 20 years back in Weekly Viewpoint, Lahore. Today, i am honoured to post it at Uddari as it brings together at least five individuals who have and are contributing to the enrichment of our cultural and political life in the most magnificent ways.

Dada Amir Haider induces tears of love and respect from anyone in the Punjab with a mention of his name; Shafqat Tanvir Mirza’s life in journalism shows us how to live and work with integrity under oppressive regimes; Hasan N. Gardezi has shaped our ways of thinking with his political and literary writings; Amarjit Chandan reminds us of the best traditions of our poets who fight for revolutionary change; and, Mazhar Ali Khan who brought out Viewpoint and kept it going in Lahore in the toughest of situations.

Because of this, today is a beautiful day at Uddari even when clouds are bearing down on Vancouver.

Dada Amir Haider

Dada Amir Haider Khan
By Shafqat Tanvir Mirza

CHAINS TO LOSE is the life story, in his own words, of a great revolutionary, a father figure, a living legend. Every inch of a rebel from his very childhood, this colossus of a man stands before us dominating a whole era. In these pages, for the first time in print, revolutionary and trade union leader Dada Amir Haider chronicles in graphic detail the class struggle in colonial India. The readers of these memoirs will see the events of an important era in our history from the perspective of a highly refined proletarian consciousness.

Dada Amir Haider Khan 1904-1986

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Dada Amir Haider (1904-1986)

This is how the publisher has introduced Dada and the first part of his autobiography, which was written in English in 1939 when the leader was denied personal appearance in a Bombay court. He was arrested in Bombay under the Defence of India Rules and lodged in the Central Prison, Nasik Road, on a two-year sentence. Dada filed an application in the High Court demanding that he be allowed to plead his own ease against his conviction. His application was rejected. Dada then decided to put down in writing what he wanted to say, and gradually resolved to preserve in writing the entire story of what his life and labour had taught him as a revolutionary activist. The narrative covered the period from Dada’s childhood to 1926 when he, for the last time, bade goodbye to the United States and sailed out for Moscow to get training in revolutionary work.

Dada has narrated the story in the minutest detail in the last chapter of the book. According to him, the C.l. (Communist International) was attempting to help all colonial countries which had industrial workers to develop Communist parties. With this in view the Cl was attempting to help train some revolutionary workers who would become party organisers and political workers m their respective countries. The Indian Communist Party was also asked to select some students. The job was assigned to M. N. Roy, who could not find any in India. Therefore, he asked the American Communist Party for help which in turn contacted the Ghadar Party. The Ghadar Party selected five students of whom Dada was one.

VD Chopra, an old political colleague of Dada in Rawalpindi, writes in the preface: “These memoirs in reality are recollections of the history of this Sub-continent and bring into sharp focus how the revolutionary urge of a peasant youth in the most economically and politically backward region of the Punjab before partition, the Pothohar region in north western Punjab – in Kahuta in particular gripped his mind. This was not an isolated development because from this very region a large number of young men had joined the INA. This fact is being recapitulated to make out that the national movement of united India did leave a deep impact on the common people of the entire country. Dada Amir Haider Khan was a product of this new national awakening who through a zigzag process became one of the founders of the Indian Communist Movement.”

Dada Amir Haider’s memoirs, therefore, are not only a narration of events and how these events moulded his life. They form a rich source material for historians and research scholars. However, the most important aspect of the memoirs is that they reveal how determined efforts were made by him, step by step and against heavy odds, to liberate our country from foreign domination and build a new social order.

The first volume of memoirs covers the first 22 years of the 20th century. Dada had a very, very hard life right from the beginning. He was born to a Chib Rajput family of village Sabbian of Kahuta. This family had its social roots in the Kashmir area. Dada’s first bitter experience was at a very tender age. At the time of the death of his grand father his father and his younger brother were minors. Therefore their brother-in-law was made their custodian. This gentleman cleverly deprived both the brothers of agricultural land left by their father. They were no match to their brother-in-law and therefore avoided confrontation and legal battles. Dada’s father selected a barren, rather stony piece of land and with his hard labour turned it into a small farm.

Dada was still a lad of hardly five or six years when his father died. Difficult days were ahead for him and his elder brother. The circumstances led their mother to marry the younger brother of her late husband. The stepfather’s attitude was almost hostile towards the young Dada who was very fond of education.

Unfortunately there was no school in the village, and the nearest one was four or five miles away. Anyhow his stepfather unwillingly agreed that Dada should go to a maulvi of the village who would teach him the Quran.

That was the beginning of Dada’s hardships. Dada went to many maulvis and then to schools but ultimately had to desert his home. Once he ran away and went to his elder brother, who was in the army at Peshawar. He was brought back but again forced to leave the house. This time he went to Calcutta where his elder brother after release from the army, had joined a gang of drug traffickers. The gang was headed by some Europeans. Dada was recruited in the gang. When this group was smashed he left Calcutta and went to Bombay where he got a job as a labourer on a ship. This assignment took Dada to Europe and America and it was there that his contacts with the American Communist Party and the Ghadar Party were established.

SS Leviathan is one of many ships Dada Amir Haider worked on

SS Leviathan is one of many ships Dada worked on.

What did Dada do after leaving America for Moscow in 1922? For that we have to wait for the next volume of his autobiography.

Ayub Mirza has written a biography of Dada in Urdu in the form of a novel. Both these books make extremely interesting reading. — SHAFQAT TANVIR MIRZA
[November 30, 1989. VlEWPOINT, Lahore]

The New Edition is available from Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, Karachi-752702007. Price Rs 800 (Vol I-II), Pages 793. Contact the Publisher Syed Jaffar Ahmed at pscuok@yahoo.com, and Editor Dr Hassan Gardezi at gardezihassan@hotmail.com.

More information on Dada, and a review of the 2007 Edition by literary and art critic Sarwat Ali, is posted here: nasir-khan.blogspot.com

Materials provided by Amarjit Chandan