Monday, 4 December 2017

Chip in the Madrasa: A Novel that unravels how Wahhabis maintain vice-like grip on Muslim Minds

"Chip in the Madrasa" is the story of a learned and progressive Maulvi Saheb who wants to teach mathematics, science and computers at his madrasa in an Indian village.

Maulvi Saheb, the protagonist of Chip in the Madrasa, is a devout Muslim and Islam for him is a religion and not a tool to fulfil political ambitions. But Maulvi Saheb's progressive move rattles the Wahhabis who are hell-bent upon using Islam as a political tool. The Wahhabi Clerics and Sheikhs sitting pretty in Saudi Arabia want to use local politicians and their proxies in India to establish Wahhabism as the only version of Islam. These local politicians and a major political party that receive huge funds from Wahhabis unleash a vicious game to break the spirit of Maulvi Saheb and other rational Muslims. They even foster a womanizer and crook as a knowledgeable Islamic cleric who issues Fatwas by the day but indulges in wine and women at night. A game is unleashed to establish the narrative around Wahhabi version of Islam and decimate Muslim rationalists led by Maulvi Saheb.
So, will Maulvi Saheb be able to withstand pressure of the powerful men who are backed by petrodollars and have the muscle power?
"Chip in the Madrasa" is an insightful tale that unravels how the Wahhabis play their vicious games and continue to maintain their vice-like grip on Muslim minds across the globe.
This Novel is now available for purchase across all Amazon online stores in India, UK, US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Vivek Sinha, the author of Chip in the Madrasa, is a Journalist and a Film Maker. He has been writing news commentaries for over a decade and over the last several years he has written news reports for leading newspapers of India such as The Times of India and Hindustan Times. He now writes opinion columns. Apart from writing, Vivek is also passionate about films and has made several short films and documentaries.
Please read the selected excerpts from the Novel published in 

Extracts from the Novel: Chip in the Madrasa

A couple of days back Jamil had entrusted Afroz with an important task. This task was to somehow overtake the day-to-day workings of Basera’s madrasa and then the adjoining mosque. It was precisely for this reason that Afroz had called for an emergency meeting of the madrasa management committee.
Earlier in the morning that day Afroz had tried to push his agenda at the madrasa management committee meeting. He was under the impression that since his father had taken the initiative to build the Basera madrasa other committee members will not go against him. But his efforts to corner Maulvi Saheb had failed as all committee members sided with Maulvi Saheb. He was rather worried that his inability to execute a simple task entrusted by Jamil will, in effect, put his nascent political career in doldrums.
He was in a pensive mood after the light lunch and was staring at the courtyard through the living room window. Rashid and his family were cleaning up the mess that had been left behind after yesterday night’s get-together at his bungalow. Afroz sniffed an opportunity when he saw Rashid create a ruckus at the news of Rukhsana clearing the exams for admission at Delhi. He carefully observed Rashid’s behaviour and broke into a wide grin when Rashid took out his slippers to hit Abdul, Maulvi Saheb’s son. All was not lost for him and there still was a ray of hope. Rashid was this hope.
‘I’d been trying to light up fire in a pile of wet logs when dry wood is readily available in my own courtyard,’ Afroz said to himself as he sneered at Rashid who was admonishing his wife and daughter. ‘Just a little spark and this man will turn into a rolling inferno,’ Afroz scoffed as he looked towards Rashid. He had then promptly asked for Rashid.
On their part, Jamil and Afroz had increased their influence. They had been pumping money into Basera and adjoining villages. So, Chacha’s tea shop now had a fridge and the makeshift shanty had been replaced with a well laid out concrete structure. Chacha now sold branded food packets, had four boys as helpers and had bought moulded plastic chairs for the customers.
Rashid had replaced his rusty old bicycle with a motorbike. He had also bought a new buffalo at his home, but his wife and daughters continued to do petty work in neighbouring houses for daily sustenance. Jamil had resumed his iftar parties at his bungalow and Afroz threw some crumbs for labourers brought in by Chacha and Rashid in the name of their Muslim brethren. Despite this, not a single soul in Basera could claim that their lives had transformed due to Jamil or Afroz’s initiatives. In fact, it was never meant to be that way.
This was a well thought over strategy. Keep the Muslims ignorant and keep them deprived. When there’s a dire need, give some scrap here and a speck there to make Jamil look like the saviour, and constantly harp on the victimisation of Muslims in the country.
Initially there were no takers for Rashid and Chacha’s brand of Islam but gradually through the lure of money they built a loyal fan base among the people who were at the lowest rung of social strata. They would often pay for the cuppa or buy a bottle of cheap rum for the daily wage labourers, occasionally they also paid for their food at road side eatery joints. Bit by bit and step by step these acts had helped them win friends over their side.
The educated and rational Muslims like Maulvi Saheb, Aftab Saheb, Maqbool and Naseem Bhai were strategically side-lined in this narrative so there was hardly anyone left to question this vicious but well thought-out propaganda.
Middle class is the conscience keeper of any society and Basera was no exception. It’s the educated and rational mind of middle class members in a society that has the potential to analyse the finer nuances of the rich and powerful elite. Basera’s middle class, led by Maulvi Saheb that had successfully staved off devious designs of the likes of Jamil had now withdrawn itself into a shell.
The lower strata, which is too engrossed in earning and fending for themselves and their family, are mentally ill-equipped to see through these deceitful stratagems. These are the most vulnerable groups to fall for the glib talks of politicians. Jamil, rather his handlers in Saudi Arabia, were smart enough to exploit this.
Gradually, the daily wage earners, masons, carpenters, blacksmith and butchers started to buy the argument put forth by Jamil and Afroz that they had to toil hard only because the entire system was anti-Muslim. They had begun to accept that all miseries of their life was a result of the systematic atrocities being committed on them due to their religious beliefs as a Muslim. The Muslim identity was gradually evolving. An increasing number of villagers were identifying themselves with the ‘Muslim as the victim’ notion and buying into the arguments put forth by Jamil & Co.
Rashid was an over-enthusiastic foot soldier of this game. His mandate was to bring these vulnerable Muslims within the network and thereafter the likes of Chacha, Bilal, Anwar and others took the indoctrination process forward. Almost always the discussions focussed about atrocities on Muslims in the name of Islam. Oftentimes they obliged this ‘vulnerable Muslim’ with some money or helped him bag some petty work, which the beneficiary looked upon as a help from his Muslim brethren whereas Jamil looked upon this as an investment that would offer rewards at the time of elections.
In return, they were expected to take active part in spreading the word about brutality on Muslims and how only a true Muslim like Jamil Bhai helped them.
Over the next phase these new recruits were instilled about the need and importance of following Sharia law, and how their ills were present only because the villagers did not follow Islamic rule of law. In proverbial terms, while the left hand created artificial scarcity of food the right hand threw some morsels and the mouth sang paeans about the right hand, hailing it as the benefactor.
“Aakash Bhai is this Maulvi, his madrasa and these computers this big a threat for us and our plans?” Afroz asked with a childlike expression. He looked towards Aakash and Jamil for answers. Jamil looked towards Aakash as if endorsing Afroz’s question.
Aakash was still engrossed in his thoughts. His discussions with Maulvi Saheb played like a record player in his mind as he grappled for a solution. Maulvi Saheb’s words still echoed in his mind when Afroz shot his question. Aakash sighed and leaned forward. He waved towards Anwar and Bilal standing near the door to come near and listen to him.
“All of you need to understand certain things very clearly. You win an election only when you are able to occupy the mind space of individuals. The Muslim minorities vote only for those whom they consider as their saviours and who they think would offer some benefits. So, in order to win an election we first create a fear psychosis among the minds of Muslims, and then project ourselves as the saviour of Islam and of Muslims. The Muslims then come and vote en masse ensuring victory for us in every elections. Anybody or anything that has the potential to free Muslims from this fear psychosis is a threat for us…” Aakash explained. He then turned towards Afroz.
“…the answer specifically to your question is a big yes. So, yes this Maulvi is indeed a big threat for us because he is working to occupy the mind space of Muslims in this village and other villages. His plans to introduce computers is the most dangerous as this will make information available to all. We will no longer be able to control the flow of information. An informed person thinks and his thoughts are guided according to the available sources of information… and since we will not control the information-flow, his thoughts will be beyond our control. All our plans to create a fear psychosis amongst the Muslims of this village and other adjoining villages will go haywire and with it our chances to win elections…”
“…this Maulvi and his plans to introduce computers at the madrasa is a deadly spark, and this spark has the potential to graduate into an inferno. It is better and easier to douse a spark than to smother an inferno. Just don’t underestimate this Maulvi and his plans,” Aakash said in a firm voice as everyone in the room listened to him with earnest attention.
A series of articles written by Maulvi Saheb and Aftab Saheb had denounced Wahhabism and its school of thought. Maulvi Saheb had even put a question mark on Wahhabism’s authenticity and had termed it as un-Islamic. He had explained the origins of Wahhabism as a tool into the hands of power hungry monarchs of Saudi Arabia during the eighteenth century and how this has been continuing till this day. He had warned the Muslims to stay away from the Wahhabi influencers. Written in chaste Urdu it was being widely shared on social media networks. Several of such articles were translated into Arabic and re-posted on social media networks that had reached the Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia. Late last evening the burly Wahhabi cleric from Saudi Arabia had called Nadeem.
“Why do you think we pump in billions of dollars every year in the name of Islam? Why do you think we suckle and feed businessmen like you?” the Wahhabi cleric had asked Nadeem. Without waiting for Nadeem’s response the cleric had himself answered, “…it’s only to cement our ideology in the Muslim minds. The billions of dollars continue to pour in only to erase all other competing versions and interpretations of Islam for Muslims, and for the rest of the world. These funds are put into the laps of shady businessmen like you so that you expunge all other interpretations and establish that Wahhabism is the only version of Islam. And yet you have allowed a petty village Maulvi and his madrasa to continue to rant against Wahhabism? And this has been happening right under your nose? Please remember Nadeem Khan that we are under no obligation to continue to fund your businesses…if need be we can replace you with somebody more efficient,” the Wahhabi cleric had said firmly. He did not shout, neither did he raise his voice but his cold and calculated words sent shivers down the spine of Nadeem. He felt weak in his knees and had meekly asked for a few days’ time to be able to set things right.
These are the excerpts from the Novel: Chip in the Madrasa. It was first published in
The Novel is available across all online stores of Amazon in India, US, UK, Europe, Asia-Pacific and on Flipkart.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The days of Romantic Terrorism are over in Kashmir Valley

The days of Romantic Terrorism are over in Kashmir Valley

Vivek Sinha

It was on July 8, 2016 when Burhan Wani, the poster boy of Kashmir’s terrorism network, was exterminated by Indian security forces. In the months that followed Wani’s encounter, the picturesque Kashmir Valley was seized by massive protests and countless incidents of stone pelting that paralyzed the state administration. During these months when a bunch of miscreants continued to create ruckus in the Valley, a section of media assumed the role of perception manager. These spin doctors started writing, discussing and debating that the Kashmir Valley has now slipped into chaos and has fallen into an unending abyss from where things will eventually lead to Azadi.

The Leftists sitting pretty at powerful positions in mainstream media organisations happily created a perception that the trigger-happy Indian security forces have been on a killing spree and blinding “innocent Kashmiris” with pellet guns. “…the brutality with which India and its Army is suppressingKashmiri aspirations is unparalleled and it has resulted in a massive uprising across Kashmir…,” wrote and propagated these spin doctors. During these months the hooligans in Kashmir were emboldened and incidents of stone pelting did increase, a section of mainstream media and Lutyens’ Delhi’s self-proclaimed intelligentsia (read five-star Communists) started publicizing that Kashmir’s secession from India has hastened by the death of Burhan Wani.

Well, nothing of this sort happened.

On the contrary, security forces continue to eliminate terrorists across Kashmir Valley with an ever increasing frequency and ease. Consider this: In the year 2014 around 107 terrorists were killed, this number marginally came down to 102 in 2015 and then in the year 2016—the year Burhan Wani was gunned down, close to 150 terrorists were exterminated. In the current year 2017, till October-end, around 170 terrorists had been liquidated. This crackdown on terrorists continues unabated and almost every week a couple of terrorists continue to be hunted down. Massive crackdown by security forces and the Indian Army have almost wiped out terrorism across the state of Jammu Kashmir. Telephonic intercepts of terrorists operating inKashmir Valley and desperate social media messages by their handlers in Pakistan clearly point to the fact that terrorism in Kashmir is on a decline.

Apart from our security forces doing a commendable job in eliminating Kashmir’s terrorism there’s another dimension to this crackdown. And that’s the silent support of local Kashmiris who provide credible intelligence and pin-pointed location of terrorist hide-outs to J&K Police, CRPF or to the Indian Army. While the Communist-Separatist nexus may find it hard to digest yet the fact remains that local Kashmiri population is just fed up of this Pakistan-directed violence and is silently working on with the security apparatus to eliminate gun-toting social-media warriors.
So while the nexus of Leftists and pro-Pakistani Separatists have managed to create a perception about the likes of Burhan Wani, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, Abu Dujana, Azad Malik and Bashir Lashkari etcetera as “freedom fighters of Kashmir” the local Kashmiri knows these boys as Romantic Terrorists who have picked up a gun only to fulfill their carnal desire for women.

One of the darkest kept secrets of Kashmir’s society has been regular sexual assaults on hapless Kashmiri girls by these Romantic Terrorists who land up at their homes in the dead of night. There have been countless instances when a Kashmiri has been forced to accede to the demands of these Romantic Terrorists due to threat to the family. During my recent visits to the Valley a few Kashmiris confided in hushed tones about these concerns and how the family had to take their girl for secretive abortions. These girls and their families who are forced into submission by these drug-addict womanizer terrorists take their revenge by silently ganging up and informing the precise hide-outs of their assaulter. The security forces then conduct the cordon and search operation (CASO) and then eliminate these Romantic Terrorists. It’s due to this reason that there has been a spike in elimination of terrorists in the Kashmir Valley.

In fact, even during the nineties when terrorism first came to Kashmir it were the Kashmiri women who were systematically assaulted. It was an era when Pakistan-sponsored foreign mercenaries from across the world were infiltrated inside Kashmir Valley. These foreign mercenaries who had come inside to fight for "Kashmir’s freedom" were at the forefront of exploiting Kashmiri women. During those years these mercenaries and terrorists simply barged inside the homes and demanded food and women from the hapless Kashmiri. Those that resisted were shot dead and others relented grudgingly. Women who were raped at gun-point had to then go for abortions. This naked assault of Kashmiri women led to massive heartburn among the local Kashmiri and they became informers of Indian Army and other security forces. It was this silent rebellion at which broke the backbone of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism at that time.

The present older generation of Kashmir knows about this dark chapter of Kashmir Valley and it is one of the reasons why they chose to stay away from this fresh wave of stone pelting incidents that started after Burhan Wani’s death in July last year. It was then that the Pakistan-sponsored Separatists roped in young children and pushed them to create mayhem across the Kashmir Valley. Most of these children and youngsters were born after the nineties and were oblivious of the systematic sexual assaults of yesteryear on the Kashmiri girls and women.

Separatists know this and have since roped in children for their devious games. Their system works through a web of paid agents across KashmirValley who work under diverse pseudonyms but for a common master. A human rights activist and an armed Islamic terrorist work in tandem in the same locality and are helped by several other proxies. Their modus operandi has been to target school children in the age bracket of five to fifteen years.

Over the years, Hurriyat Conference and other Pakistan-sponsored terrorists have used mosques and madrasas for recruiting young Kashmiri boys into joining their fight for Islam. They were subsequently indoctrinated into fighting the infidel Indian State. Thereafter these boys are segregated according to their commitment and inclination to be a terrorist who subsequently join ranks with LeT or Hizbul Mujahideen. The most vocal among these youngsters are sent for arms training and put into drugs and women. These Romantic Terrorists then pick up the gun and come in for glamour and for women.  The less virulent are asked to lead the mobs of stone pelters.

Roping in children has its own set of benefits. It is much easier to indoctrinate a school child at an impressionable age plus if he gets hurt (or dies) during stone-pelting violence then his picture is used for propaganda that helps play the victim card.

In public the Hurriyat leaders talk about Kashmir’s Azadi which is ably supported by the Left-leaning mainstream media thereby drumming up international support in favour of the right of Kashmiris for self-determination. 

All this has changed now due to the silent revolt of a Kashmiri against this Separatist-Terrorist nexus. 

It needs to be borne in mind that the pro-Pakistan rabble-rousers dubbed as “Kashmiri Separatists” are fighting a battle for their survival. These Separatist leaders live in Srinagar and yet wish that Jammu Kashmir should secede from India and join Pakistan. The entire coterie of KashmiriSeparatists that includes the likes of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Asiya Andrabi and Yasin Malik, among others, have their support base in only five districts of Kashmir Valley.

Interestingly, even in these five districts their hard-core supporters are confined to a few colonies. A large proportion of people in these five cities are either peace-loving or support these Separatists and their propped up Romantic Terrorists out of fear of being ostracized. These fence-sitters are average Kashmiri middle class people, who aspire to lead a happy and content life. Their children want to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, pilots, civil servants, singers, actors or have similar other career ambitions.  Several of these youngsters have even joined the Indian Armed forces.

Recent initiative by the Narendra Modi government to appoint Dineshwar Sharma, former Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) as an interlocutor for Jammu Kashmir is yet another master-stroke that will side-line all remaining sympathizers of Romantic Terrorists. The Kashmiri population battered at the hands of Romantic Terrorists needed someone to talk to and apprise them of their concerns. They want to move with the economic development and prosperity of India. And this is what frustrates these pro-Pakistani Separatists.

 (Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Film Maker and the Author of fiction novel “Chip in the Madrasa”. He tweets at @viveksinha28)

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

When Communists World Over have stood up against this man’s illegal detention, Communists in India are observing total silence

Vivek Sinha 
twitter: @viveksinha28

It’s a case of gross human rights violation. A popular leader of Kashmir has been under illegal detention for the last five years without proper trial. His crime was to demand compensation for the thousands of villagers who are displaced due to a “man-made natural calamity”. Interestingly, when every instance of human rights violation—alleged or fabricated, are regularly reported from Kashmir it is indeed a wonder that this particular case has been singularly left out.


The person I am referring to is Baba Jan and this matter refers to Gilgit-Baltistan that is a part of Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK). Yes, it can be argued that the issue is not “from” India and that Pakistan has a track record of human rights violation and that this is just one of those violations. Well, the basic fallacy in this argument is about acceptance that Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of Pakistan. It is not.

Gilgit-Baltistan is an integral part of Jammu Kashmir and when Maharaja Hari Singh, erstwhile ruler of princely state of Jammu Kashmir, signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26th, 1947 the entire state of Jammu Kashmir became an integral part of India. Though Pakistan continues to occupy large swathes of Jammu Kashmir, which includes Gilgit-Baltistan, that region belongs to India and all developments should be reported by the Indian media.

Let’s first understand this issue about Baba Jan and why it should concern us.

This matter dates back to January 2010, when a massive landslide hit the Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan that killed around twenty people and blocked a portion of River Hunza. Due to this landslide a huge artificial lake was created that submerged several villages in Attabad.

This landslide was the result of massive on-going construction activities under the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), thus making the landslide as ‘man-made’ rather than a natural occurrence. The CPEC is a $46 billion (Rs 2,96,400 crore) project that runs through Gilgit-Baltistan wherein massive construction activities, excavations and detonation of mountains continue unabated.

Baba Jan, the local leader, and the villagers felt concerned and rightly so. Their concern was that this newly-formed man-made lake in Hunza Valley (due to CPEC construction activities) might further overflow and submerge several other villages. Baba Jan led the villagers to apprise about their apprehensions to the Pakistan government, since Pakistan continues to illegally occupy this part of Jammu Kashmir and is the de-facto colonial master of Gilgit-Baltistan. His worries went unheeded and six months later in June 2010 the overflowing water submerged two more villages in Attabad.

Protests and demonstrations under Baba Jan’s leadership continued through the year and yet nothing moved on ground.

When in August 2011 a Pakistani minister came to Hunza Valley the angry locals blocked the road in protest. The Pakistani officials who are overly keen to prove to their Chinese masters that they are in full control of Gilgit-Baltistan are ruthless in supressing any forms of protest in POJK. As a result the Pakistani Police immediately swung into action to disperse the mob and in the mayhem a father and his son were shot dead by the police. This was followed by blanket arrests of protestors across the Hunza Valley that included Baba Jan.

In September 2011, Baba Jan along with sixteen other protestors were sentenced to seventy one years in prison. Ironically, since Pakistan has never recognised Gilgit-Baltistan as its province so Baba Jan could not appeal against this ruling in Pakistan’s courts. Yet Pakistan treats the area as its colony so it rules the entire POJK through proxies. All institutions across POJK, courts included, follow the diktats from Islamabad.

Last year in June a Gilgit-Baltistan court ruled against Baba Jan and justified his detention in an effort to muzzle the voice of people across POJK so that CPEC activities continue unhindered.

After several delays, the appeal against Baba Jan’s illegal custody that was scheduled for hearing at the Supreme Appellate Court (SAC) Gilgit-Baltistan on May 25th, 2107 has now been adjourned. The adjournment came on the request of the advocate general of Gilgit-Baltistan who came ill-prepared to argue in the case.

The court has now fixed the next hearing sometime in the first week of July after Eid.

However, the tricky and most disturbing aspect in this saga is that Baba Jan is a member of the socialist Awami Worker’s Party and is seen as a communist leader of Gilgit-Baltistan. Around 400 eminent communists and their sympathisers from France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Tunisia, Malaysia and other countries across the world have openly supported Baba Jan and have signed a petition urging Pakistan to free him. This list includes the likes of Naom Chomsky, Sami Amin and Gilbert Archer, among several others.

Even as the communists and their sympathisers across the world rally around Baba Jan the “illustrious” communists of India are nowhere in the picture. The likes of Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Arundhati Roy etcetera who are quick to voice their opinion on anything and everything related to Kashmir have maintained an eerie silence on the illegal detention of Baba Jan.

And the reasons are not hard to fathom. Indian communist leaders are hand-in-glove with the separatist leadership of Srinagar. The Hurriyat Conference, the JKLF and all other separatist parties based in Srinagar are the de-facto allies of Indian Communist parties. So, the Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and others are their brothers-in-arms. These Hurriyat leaders operate on the funds and directions from Pakistani establishments and they never-ever dream of going against the interests of Pakistan in Kashmir.

Ditto in the case of Baba Jan.

So what if Baba Jan is a communist leader of Gilgit-Baltistan who is demanding rightful compensation from Pakistan. If Islamabad feels that Baba Jan is wrong then in the eyes of Hurriyat and Indian Communists he ought to be wrong. Rather than take a principled stand where Indian commies will have to answer some tough questions they have chosen to maintain a weird silence on the issue.

And given the vice-like grip that Communists have on Indian media it is quite easy for them to black out news that is uncomfortable for them or puts them on a sticky wicket even if it’s about one of their own comrades across the line of control in Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir.

Baba Jan’s case has been adjourned till the first week of July and given the opportunist stance of Indian communists it would be good for him to re-think his ideological stance once he walks free.

(this column was first published in

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Open Letter to the Editor-in-Chief, Hindustan Times

Dear Sir,

Hindustan Times wrote an editorial under the headline “Journalism is different from PR” on June 23, 2017, taking a high moral ground about objectivity and journalistic freedom about an event that took place in the Indian Capital.

But I feel the editorial was a classic case of distortion of facts.

This editorial took a dig at Lok Sabha Speaker, Ms. Sumitra Mahajan’s speech at the Narad Jayanti awards organised by RSS-affiliate Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, New Delhi to felicitate journalists. The editorial scathingly said “varnishing facts helps no one”, in a reference to the Speaker's request to journalists to rely on in-depth reporting.

Ms Mahajan's speech is on the You Tube, editors of Hindustan Times must have a look at it, they should not be misled about comments made by the Speaker, and they should not twist copy to suit their needs.

The issue of reporting in India's maddening newsrooms, whether it is good, bad and ugly, and whether its truthful or not, is now a subject of major debate among journalists themselves. In recent cases, top news channels have even booked hoarding space to criticize rivals who have been extremely vocal.

So, in this very context, one needs to evaluate what Ms Mahajan said at the event. Ms Mahajan categorically said that a journalist needs to go beyond superficial byte-collections and touch the crux of an issue. She took the example of ongoing conflict in Kashmir Valley and the stone pelters to make her point. In very clear words she said that merely running around with a mic and collecting bytes will not help one understand the real reasons of stone pelting in Kashmir Valley.

She explained that journalists need to connect with the youth’s heart in Kashmir Valley that can possibly be done through beautiful language to strike a chord with Kashmir’s youth. She referred to balance in reporting.  

It was this “beautiful language” that HT lapped up in its editorial and attributed it to Ms Mahajan’s sermonizing journalists to desist from reporting and writing about unpleasant truth.

It would be worthwhile to read what HT wrote.

“By saying that journalists should try to avoid unpleasant truths, what does Ms. Mahajan mean? Should we varnish information and dress it up for the public, which incidentally is paying to get authentic news? Does this mean that we don’t talk about the shortcomings of government programmes and like good stenographers take down whatever figures are given to us? And can beautiful language hide difficult truths?.....” says the HT editorial that went ahead and extrapolated such vitriol to the “mythical character” Narad Muni. The editorial also included a famous one-liner from George Orwell who had once said: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations”.

And this is where most of the journalists, newspapers and news channels falter in India. Facts are suppressed and quotes taken out of context. Journalists have often been hauled over the coals for seeking favours, some have lost their jobs. The energy editor of Hindustan Times was fired for seeking favours from a corporate house, in her parting letter she opened a virtual Pandora's Box about how she routinely raised cash from hydrocarbon companies for the daily's annual, signature event. Worse, top editors have been caught on tape blackmailing corporate captains for cash and then landed up in jail, all leading to a big question mark on the credibility of journalists and media houses.

Never has the objectivity of journalists and news organisations been questioned as it is in present times. Ms Mahajan, gave another example of how three different newspapers quoted three different figures about funds allocated for roads in UP, such that one newspaper said it was Rs 10,000 crore, another mentioned Rs 50,000 crore whereas the third quoted Rs 1,00,000 crore. Surely, different figures quoted by different newspapers cannot be mere typos it can either be lazy reporting or a deliberate design to distort facts to put BJP-led UP government in the dock over misappropriation of funds. And this is what Ms Mahajan referred to during her speech.

Ms Mahajan never attacked journalists, nor their work. She merely highlighted an issue that has repeatedly been talked about by many independent editors themselves: The dangers of Biased news, Paid News.

I had expected the editorial writer to follow and understand the importance of the speech of Lok Sabha speaker, not turn it into a subject of ridicule.

In the age of mindless breaking news, where journalists call their visiting the site of the news Ground Zero reporting, words of caution are good. For the journalists, and all those in the profession.

I hope at least you, the editor of the daily, will agree.


Vivek Sinha
(former journalist with Hindustan Times)

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Kashmir Struggle is all about establishing Islamic Caliphate and Sharia

As different terror groups fight for dominance in Kashmir, they make it clear that resistance and struggle is only about Islamic Caliphate

As radical Islam spreads its tentacles in Kashmir an
increasing number of women can be seen in
fully covered veils (burqa) Photo: Vivek Sinha 

Vivek Sinha
twitter: @viveksinha28

Zakir Musa, the recently ousted terrorist commander of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Indian arm, has unveiled the motivations driving Kashmir saga for the world that had hitherto remained secretive and was never talked about in the open. In a series of video messages, Musa has clearly spelt out that Kashmir is part of Islamists’ agenda to establish Islamic Caliphate and there is nothing political about their “movement”.

Musa’s video message has come in response to a recent statement from Hurriyat Conference leaders where they claimed that Kashmir struggle is political and has nothing to do with Islam. But Musa was quick to denounce Hurriyat’s intent. He minced no words as he questioned the rationale of using mosques and Islamic gatherings as a platform through the years where Hurriyat leaders openly advocated Islamic Sharia and an ambition to establish Islamic Caliphate across Kashmir. “…we want to ask these political hypocrites if Kashmir is a political issue then what’s the meaning of these slogans? Azadi kaa matlab kya? La Illaha Ilallah, (What is the meaning of Azadi? There is no God except Allah), Pakistan say rishta kya? La Illaha Ilallah (What is our relation with Pakistan? There is no God except Allah).”

He went on to say that these (Hurriyat) hypocrites cannot be our leaders. “We warn these Hurriyat people not to interfere in our matters…remain with their dirty politics… otherwise we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk (Srinagar, Kashmir Valley),” Musa asserted.

Musa’s video initiated swift reactions and denials came quick. Hizbul Mujahideen issued a statement distancing itself from Musa’s remarks, which was followed by a second video message from Musa, where he claimed that he stands by his stand and announced his decision to quit as Hizbul’s India chief. He explained that he cannot be a part of any political movement and will fight only for the cause of larger Islamic resistance. Musa followed this by a third video wherein he categorically asked his comrades not to fall in the trap of nationalism and remain on the path to establish Caliphate. “Khilafat (Caliphate) Unites but Nation Divides” read the poster in his video message.

Abdul Gani Dar, a local leader of the ruling People’s Democratic
Party (PDP) 
was shot dead at this spot by terrorists at
Pulwama in Kashmir Valley.
Photo: Vivek Sinha
Genesis of this “Kashmir issue” lies in Pakistan’s belief that erstwhile princely state of Jammu Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of India’s partition.

When India was partitioned, the princely states had the option to join either the Indian or Pakistani dominions. On October 26, 1947 Jammu Kashmir’s Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India thus making the entire Jammu Kashmir as an Indian state. Pakistan has refused to accept and honour this accession which was the same for all princely states and has been stoking Islamic passions in the Kashmir Valley to fuel disturbances. It’s propped up political outfit, Hurriyat Conference is a conglomeration of different leaders in Kashmir Valley who officially maintain that Kashmir is a political problem, but recruit Kashmiri youth into their fold by drilling into their minds that Kashmir resistance is part of the larger Islamic struggle to establish a Caliphate and Sharia across the world.

This double speak continued all through the years, but as penetration of social media grew in the Kashmir Valley and sources of news flow increased, the local Kashmiri youth have come to realise this double speak of Hurriyat and their masters in Pakistan. It was this realisation that led Musa to come out openly against Hurriyat.

However, an open acceptance that ‘Kashmir struggle’ is all about Islamic Caliphate and Sharia weakens Pakistan’s case on Kashmir across international forums. And so Hizbul Mujahideen quickly disassociated from Zakir Musa and he was asked to quit as its India chief. The Kashmir saga has now begun to unravel and the layers within layers are getting exposed by the day. Hizbul Mujahideen is struggling to keep its flock together, even as its members break away to form other splinter groups.

Musa has announced to set up his new group, an Islamic Sharia Rebel Group. The group has already announced its goal to set up Sharia in Kashmir. They called upon a meeting with some Salafi and Wahabi groups and have rejected to toe the line of Pakistan propped Hurriyat leaders. Musa announced to play a separate role for Nizam-e-Mustafa.

The Hurriyat Conference found itself on a sticky wicket when its top leaders admitted on camera that they continue to receive regular funds from Pakistan to foment trouble in Kashmir Valley. Hurriyat has since suspended its leader Naeem Khan.

India’s NIA (National Investigation Agency) is now questioning Naeem Khan and other Hurriyat leaders.

As old comrades break ranks they are now desperate to prove their mettle for Islam. They need new recruits, arms and a name for themselves. Muslims in the Kashmir Valley are thus being forced to participate in this larger resistance to establish Islamic Caliphate. A couple of days ago, Syed Naveed Mushtaq, a constable in the Jammu Kashmir Police stole four automatic assault rifles and service revolvers and fled to join Hizbul Mujahideen. Hizbul’s spokesperson confirmed that Syed Naveed has joined ranks with them.

The coming days could see these splinter groups fight for supremacy and cement their place as the torchbearers of Islam in Kashmir. This, in effect, would mean more killings and an increase in terrorist activities. Last fortnight, five policemen of the Jammu Kashmir police and bank security guards were gunned down by the terrorists in Kulgam, Kashmir. This was followed by the murder of an unarmed Kashmiri army officer, Lieutenant Umar Fayaz, in cold blood. The only crime of Lt. Fayaz or the policemen were that they did not agree to play a part in establishing Islamic Caliphate in Kashmir.

( This article was first published at )

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

How new media ventures will change the meaning of "News"

Vivek Sinha  

The flow of information drives dialogue and discussions in a society, which is the bedrock of a vibrant democracy. The fourth estate comprising an army of Journalists aid and abet this information flow that in turn kick-starts societal discussions about legislative policies and executive actions. While doling out information Journalists rely on the five ‘Ws’ and one ‘H’ to apprise their audience, such that these five ‘Ws’ refer to What, Where, Who, When and Why while the ‘H’ refers to How. Several generation of Journalists have been taught and made to believe that of these six questions, ‘Why’ is the most important that requires the precision and trained eyes of a scribe to write a news report. This, ‘Why’ puts perspective to an incident by adding value to raw bits of information.

Interestingly, “Why” does an incident or an event becomes news worthy has undergone a sea change, for worse. To recall, in the pre-independence era newspapers were loaded with articles that castigated the British rule and dissected every decision taken by them thereby creating awareness about futility of British colonial rule in the Indian sub-continent. Why? Because the Journalists and Column Writers in that era were fierce nationalists whose aim was to initiate discussions about ways and means to gain independence from British rule. Things changed in the post-independence era and newspaper reportage was more about nation’s progress and talks centered on developmental issues.

However, over the last couple of decades the kind of news being reported has undergone a complete makeover. Entertainment has silently entered the lexicon and before we could realize it is now glued as a suffix to news and has given rise to the phrase ‘News & Entertainment’. Well, there is no anathema to Entertainment and happenings in the entertainment industry does have a news value, yet news and entertainment are of two different genres and attempts to club them together has deprived the sense of social responsibility that news dissemination once had.

This evolution has had far reaching ramifications. Now, events that have the potential to attract eyeballs and can boost TRPs (television rating point) are played up in the hierarchy of news importance. Reporters can be seen in pursuit of only those information-bits that have a sensational value or the potential to rake in moolah for their media houses.

In this scenario, news that is not 'sell'-able is no news at all. There is lure of money and in the process if ethos of Journalism gets eroded then so be it. This in effect explains attitude of the so-called “mainstream” Newspapers and News Channels where information presented as news have rarely any informative value or educative component. Pressing issues that concern well-being of our nation gets buried in the noise of ‘entertaining news’. The domino effect has led to constantly falling standards of discussions within the society with people shunning away all forms of social responsibility.

Ironically, all this is being done in the name of reader interest or the-audience-wants-it-so-we-give-it. Real news gets lost in this blind race to serve the lowest common denominator and discussions get skewed in a manner such that trivial issues take precedence on the nation’s center stage.

Thankfully, technology has been a great enabler in modern times that has opened new avenues across sectors, including news media. News dissemination is now no longer the preserve of a select few and rising Internet penetration has opened new possibilities for the exchange of ideas. The tech-revolution has pulled down the cost of setting up a new media venture. As a result, news portals are coming up across the world that raise issues untouched by big media organisations. 

Often the level of conversation in these newly born news portals through their incisive articles and columns is far superior than what the established media brands cater to their audience. Experts with vast experience in their respective fields of knowledge who were hitherto spurned by big media brands look towards these news portals to share their stories. New voices improve the texture, tenor and quality of discussions. 

This, indeed is a refreshing change but much depends on whether the momentum continues. Current indicators point that this momentum will build upon in the coming years. It should. Because healthy discussions lead to a better society.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Dream-Robbing of Young Kashmiris

How Islamic Terrorists are recruiting young Kashmiri boys to be play-things in their evil design

Vivek Sinha
twitter: @viveksinha28
Yet again the picturesque Kashmir Valley is in news for wrong reasons. This time the big talk is about violence that occurred during the by-elections in the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency, which led to the death of eight boys.
Over next few weeks there will be a barrage of news-analysis wherein reams of newsprint will be devoted to the “targeted killing” of “innocent” Kashmiris, and hours of newsroom debates will focus on how Indian state is losing the plot in Jammu Kashmir. Discussion and debates will underline the alienation of Kashmiri youth, plebiscite, UN resolutions, human-rights violation, AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and several others.
During the last months, flash mobs have indulged into targeted stone-pelting at security forces, leading to deaths. Immediately after such incidents there’s always a media frenzy that talks about Kashmir slipping into chaos.
In fact, this follows a pre-mediated script. There’s no deviation from the preconceived trajectory.
No, I am not undermining or belittling the deaths of Kashmiri youth killed in violence during the recent Srinagar by-elections. Of course, these deaths are unfortunate and should not have happened. However, my point is about the selective and prejudiced reporting of the events leading up to such incidents. It’s this biased reporting about Kashmir Valley that has created a vicious cycle of deaths and has helped to cement a farcical narrative about Jammu Kashmir.
Let’s take a hard look at the facts. Kashmir Valley is just 7 % of the geographical area of entire Jammu Kashmir state, which also includes Jammu, Laddakh, Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) and China-occupied Jammu Kashmir (CoJK). Of this 7 % geographical region, incidents of stone-pelting occur in only five districts of the Kashmir Valley—Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag, Shopian, and Pulwama.
So why do incidents of stone-pelting and violence occur at regular intervals in these five districts of Kashmir Valley?
It needs to be borne in mind that the pro-Pakistan rabble-rousers dubbed as “Kashmiri Separatists” are fighting a battle for their survival. These Separatist leaders live in Srinagar and yet wish that Jammu Kashmir should secede from India and join Pakistan. The entire coterie of Kashmiri Separatists that includes the likes of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Asiya Andrabi and Yasin Malik, among others, have their support base in only these five districts of Kashmir Valley.
Interestingly, even in these five districts their hard-core supporters are confined to a few colonies. A large proportion of people in these five cities are either peace loving or support these Separatists out of fear of being ostracised. These fence-sitters are average Kashmiri middle class people, who aspire to lead a happy and content life. Their children want to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, pilots, civil servants, singers, actors or have similar other career ambitions.  Several of these youngsters have even joined the Indian Armed forces. They want to move with the economic development and prosperity of India. And this is what frustrates these pro-Pakistani Separatists.
If an average Kashmiri chooses tourism over terrorism then the entire gambit of Separatists comes to a zero. The Separatists are well aware of this and know that their back is on the wall.
And when the devil (read Separatists) is pushed to the wall (s)he unleashes a devious design. So, they have developed a web of paid agents across Kashmir Valley who work under diverse pseudonyms but for a common master. A human rights activist and an armed Islamic terrorist work in tandem in the same locality and are helped by several other proxies. Their modus operandi, over the last several months, have been to target school children in the age bracket of five to fifteen years.
Roping in children has its own set of benefits. It’s much easier to indoctrinate a school child at an impressionable age plus if he gets hurt (or dies) during stone-pelting violence then his picture is used for propaganda and helps play the victim card.
The Left-leaning media is always eager to lap up such stories. That’s precisely the case in Srinagar by-election violence. None of the journalists who report from and about Kashmir ask a simple question: Why do kids come out during stone pelting? This obvious question was finally asked by the Indian Supreme Court a couple of days ago. “But what are children aged seven, nine and fourteen years doing in a mob? Why are they placed in front of the mob to confront security forces?” asked a Supreme Court Bench that included Chief Justice of India and two other Judges. The question was posed during an ongoing hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by J&K High Court Bar Association to ban pellet guns used by security forces to quell restive crowds.
A closer look at the stone pelting videos and pictures clearly shows that only a handful of masked youngsters are keen on throwing stones while the rest remain as passive bystanders. The ones who are keen to throw stones and Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) are the active cadres of these pro-Pakistan Separatists while the much larger crowd of bystanders are the kids who have been forced to come out. A further dichotomy of these bystanders reveals that a large group among these kids comprises of those who have been brought out with the lure of money, and most of them are paid between three hundred to five hundred rupees (USD 4 to USD 7.5)
The remaining and largest segment comprises of kids who have been literally dragged out of their homes. These children join ranks with the notorious Separatist elements only because if they do not, their family will be branded as informers of the Indian Army. Once that happens, the family comes on the radars of Islamic terrorists who work underground. The women from these marked families are mere lumps of meat for Islamic terrorists, who rape and molest them at free will. Every family wants its women to be safe and if the family’s young boys need to pay a price by being a face in the stone-pelting crowd, then so be it. The average Kashmiri has no option but to be a mute spectator during the stone pelting episodes and to take part in the funeral processions of terrorists killed by Indian security forces.
Over the years a perception has been assiduously built that local Kashmiris, especially the youth of Jammu Kashmir, are alienated with India and that they support and endorse Islamic terrorist attacks. This ‘perception management’ works in such a way that opinion, especially the Separatist’s viewpoint, is passed upon as news from the Valley. It is hardly reported that these Pakistan-sympathiser Kashmiri-Separatists and Islamic-terrorists are a mere handful and they do not enjoy the support of masses.
Of late, stories of high handedness of Islamic terrorists and Separatists have begun to trickle down, further eroding their support base. In order to stay relevant they have been desperate to play any kind of mischief.
Recent violence during Srinagar by-elections is a case in point. Whatever be the outcome of this election, it will have no bearing on the state or the national politics. Yet Sheikh Abdullah’s son Farooq Abdullah joined ranks with pro-Pak Separatists to save his National Conference from slipping into political oblivion. His party has lost support over the years due to anti-people polices and he knows that if he loses the by-elections, then its curtains for him and his party. A strategy was thus chalked out to disrupt election voting such that all those who are opposed to Farooq Abdullah are not able to come out to vote and only his supporters would vote, thus paving victory for him. The mere 7 % polling signals the success of these forces who kept common Kashmiris away from the polling booth. During re-polling this voting percentage dropped to a further 2%, such is the fearful atmosphere created in the Valley.
This indeed is a devious strategy. Farooq Abdullah will thump his chest at the electoral victory and yet claim to be a victim saying innocent Kashmiris lost their lives for his victory. The Separatists, on their part, will dismiss the elections as a sham, saying that the people of Kashmir had rejected India’s electoral process.
The fact remains that security forces faced grievous injuries. More than a hundred security personnel have been seriously injured due to stones targeted at them and the deadly Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) that were hurled upon them.  Yet, the most worrisome aspect in this saga is that the psychological warfare waged by Islamic terrorists in the laboratory of Kashmir may now be tested elsewhere in the world as well.

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