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Hashtags of hate: Trending hate in communally volatile UP

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Lucknow: During his interactions at Silicon Valley last month when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of social media platforms like Facebook and micro-blogging site Twitter as the new neighbourhoods, little did he know that in Uttar Pradesh, the state that sent him to parliament, this neighbourhood was fast turning fatally dangerous.

Statistics available with the state police suggest this as more and more communal flashpoints in the state over the past one year have been triggered by inflammatory posts, pictures and videos on social networking sites.

From the picture of a slaughtered cow in Dhaka to open requests to collect and stockpile weapons to protect the community, various posts doing the rounds on Facebook, Twitter and even Whatsapp have endangered the fragile peace in the state and in some instances led to communal clashes and loss of lives and property.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Daljit Chowdhary admitted of the menace being created by such objectionable and inflammatory posts and said that the police were vigilant and acting on everything reported to them. He said that the police, after identifying such elements, were invoking sections 153-A and 295-A of the Indian PeJnal Code (IPC) and the Gangster Act and the National Security Act (NSA) against such people.

Police, however, say that after the Supreme Court struck down the section 66-A, which aided in the arrest of people spreading hatred through computers, their hands have been tied to a large extent. The dangerous proportions that the social media is taking viz-a-viz inciting communal passions can be gauged by the fact that in the last one month, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had twice got the police to issue a Whatsapp number to which people can send objectionable posts for action.

And the number is flooded with complaints. In the last fortnight, it has got almost 2,500 complaints, a senior police officer said. A lab in Meerut is monitoring these complaints and the state government has also formed a committee under ADG (Technical Services) R.K. Vishwakarma to keep a tab on the social media. This panel would also have SSP Amit Pathak and IG Special Task Force (STF) Sujit Pandey as its members.

The state police have recently written to Twitter India, seeking the removal of certain tweets that were posted in the aftermath of the Dadri lynching. IG Prakash D informed that the DIG (Meerut), who monitors the special lab, has written to Twitter officials requesting that certain tweets be removed while a case has already been registered against the people who posted them.

The social media lab of the UP police, sources said, has also identified 120 catch words which would be kept under watch in future as they are being used by mischief-makers to spread hatred and communal unrest. And, as the UP police go all out against mischief and rumour mongers on the social media, their fear is not misplaced.

In the past, all major communal flash points in the state had the social media somewhere in the jigsaw. In Saharanpur some time back, a woman had posted a picture of a police sub-inspector who was mowed down by a truck.

She said the cop was run over by the truck driver when he tried to stop the truck that was full of cows being taken for slaughter.

It later transpired that the policeman was killed by people involved in illegal mining.

Similar mischief has been done through the social media’s misuse in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 and in Bahraich, Agra and Lucknow to stoke communal passions. A video on YouTube, shared extensively on social media platforms, had led to the Muzaffarnagar riots that left 63 dead and displaced several thousands.

(Mohit Dubey, IANS)

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Will India be able to get hold of Zakir Naik? India to now seek Interpol’s help locating the Controversial Islamic Televangelist

Naik, 51, came under the Indian government’s radar after Bangladesh media reported that at least two perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery café, where 20 hostages were killed in July 2016, were influenced by his sermons

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Zakir Naik
Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik speaks to Indian journalists in Mumbai during a video conference, July 15, 2016. Benar News

Mumbai, October 29, 2017 : India plans to ask Interpol to help track down Zakir Naik, an Islamic preacher accused of making inflammatory speeches that inspired attackers at a Bangladesh café in July 2016, an official said Friday, one day after the cleric was charged with inciting communal hatred.

In a charge-sheet filed in a Mumbai court late Thursday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) alleged that televangelist Zakir Naik was involved in a criminal conspiracy to foment terrorism and hatred among religious communities by lauding terrorist outfits.

The 61-page document viewed by BenarNews also accused Naik’s now-forbidden Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and his company Harmony Media Pvt. Ltd. (HMPL) of forwarding his agenda.

Naik, 51, came under the Indian government’s radar after Bangladesh media reported that at least two perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery café, where 20 hostages were killed in July 2016, were influenced by his sermons.

ALSO READ NIA to file Chargesheet against Controversial Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik

“We are already preparing papers to get him deported back to India,” an NIA official told BenarNews on condition of anonymity. Naik, who left the country in June 2016, is believed to be traveling between the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) president on Friday defended Naik against the charge sheet filed in India, the Malay Mail reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” Hadi said in an opinion piece on Islamophobia published in Harakah Daily.

Naik had been scheduled to appear at a PAS-organized gathering of Muslim scholars in Malaysia’s Kelantan state in July, but cancelled after India revoked his passport.

Arrest warrant issued in April

In April, the Mumbai court issued a so-called non-bailable arrest warrant against Naik after he repeatedly ignored summons issued by India’s Enforcement Directorate to appear to respond to allegations of misuse of foreign funds donated to his NGO.

The Indian government imposed a five-year ban on IRF in November 2016, citing violations by the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

“Since the money-laundering case against Naik hinged on the NIA investigation, it was necessary that the agency filed its charge-sheet,” public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar told BenarNews.

The NIA’s charge-sheet will allow the agency to approach Interpol for assistance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can then initiate the process of bringing Naik back, Venegaonkar said.

ALSO READ Enforcement Directorate (ED) files Money Laundering Case against controversial Preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation

The NIA accused Zakir Naik of praising late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, supporting suicide attacks and denouncing Hindu gods during sermons delivered through Peace TV. The channel partly funded by the IRF is banned in several countries, including India and Bangladesh.

The NIA has “firmly established that the incriminating public speeches have been in circulation through electronic media such as CD/DVD and web portals Facebook/YouTube etc.,” the charge-sheet said.

“The minutes of IRF board of trustees’ meeting disclose that IRF has approved, organized, promoted and funded public lectures of accused Zakir Naik, including his incriminating speeches. The seized material such as DVD and books list IRF as the publisher,” it said.

The agency also established the role of HMPL in editing the incriminating material and “forwarding [Naik’s] speeches to the Global Broadcast Corporation Dubai for broadcast in the Peace TV.”

“The derogatory and malicious remarks were not just confined to faiths and beliefs of Hindus or Christians but also included non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shia, Sufi and Barelwis,” the NIA said.

The charge-sheet cited cases of several youths who were allegedly influenced by Naik’s sermons and attempted to join the Islamic State.

The accused “never included any reference to alternative interpretations by Muslim scholars of the views he presented nor sought to mitigate the potential offence by providing sufficient context for his remarks,” it said.

Lawyer prepared to challenge extradition

Zakir Naik’s lawyer S. Hariharan said he would wait to decide the next course of action.

“I have yet to receive the charge-sheet. Although as per protocol the charge-sheet is handed to the accused. But in this case, the accused is not present in the country,” Hariharan told Benarnews without divulging Naik’s current location.

“We will most certainly be seeking discharge after we receive the charge-sheet and will also challenge demands for extradition,” he added. (Benar News)

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7 Most Famous Temples to Visit in Uttar Pradesh

show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not to miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

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Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir one of most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

The state of Uttar Pradesh is regarded as an enshrined pilgrimage junction since the inception. Devotees from across the world solicit spirituality by visiting these temples of divine importance. Uttar Pradesh is known for its special attraction especially for the Hindu devotees since it is the birthplace for Vishnu avatars, Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.

Undoubtedly, you must show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

The listicle shows you a tour of these famous temples worth giving a visit in Uttar Pradesh.

Prem Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir is one of the most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Built on the outskirts of Vrindavan, the Prem Mandir is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It was structured by the Fifth Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Statues of Lord Krishna and his followers cover the entire temple symbolizing the crucial events of Lord Krishna’s life and birth. The temple is known for its exquisite architecture and the sculptures. Devotees visit the Prem Temple to offer their prayings to Lord Krishna, during Janmashtami and Diwali.

Banke Bihari Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Banke Bihari temple main gate in Vrindavan. Wikimedia.

The Banke Bihari Temple of Vrindavan is a Hindu temple built by Swami Haridas, the solemn guru of the ancient singer Tansen. The temple is efficiently carved in Rajasthani style. The literal meaning of Banke is “bent in three places” and Bihari means “supreme enjoyer”, which suggests that the main idol Lord Krishna is in a Banke posture or the famous Tribhanga position. It has been claimed that Lord Krishna’s statue was hidden underground by a Hindu priest during the Mughal era. It was Swami Haridas who dreamt of Lord Krishna asking him to release the statue. Swami Haridas dug up the place, found the statue and built a temple for it.

Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Ram Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Although Ayodhya is presumed as the birthplace of Lord Ram, it was in the town of Ram Kot where he was actually born. This temple is known as Ram Janma Bhoomi marking the divine presence of Shri Ram. Travellers visiting Ram Kot in Uttar Pradesh pay their homage to Lord Ram and admire the inscriptions on the temple walls depicting the life of Lord Ram.

Goraknath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Gorakhnath Mandir in Uttar Pradesh.Wikimedia.

The Gorakhnath Temple is one of the most popular temples in Uttar Pradesh and is believed to have been structured at the exact spot where Saint Gorakhnath had meditated. The main feature of the temple is the garb griha where the saint is depicted as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Tourists also visit the pond next to the Goraknath Temple called Mansarovar for peaceful meditation or boat rides.

Shri Krishna Janbhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Sri Krishna Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh is the birthplace of Krishna. Wikimedia.

Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi is one of the most sacred places for Sanatan Dharmis (Hindus) since it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is a prison cell belonging to his mama (maternal Uncle) Raja Kans where Lord Krishna was born.

Located in Mathura on the banks of river Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi temple is approximately 145 km from Delhi. The prison cell, commonly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is the exact place where Lord Krishna was born.

Sarnath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
A Buddhist temple at Sarnath. Wikimedia

This famous Buddhist site in Varanasi, Sarnath Temple is popularly known where Lord Buddha addressed his first sermons. It is here where the lord set the ‘wheel of law’ in motion. Stupas like Dhamek Stupa and Chowkhandi Stupa are situated inside the enshrined temple. The temple aims to inculcate its thousands of visitors about the history and impact of Buddhist cultures.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Bharat Mata Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh has the Indian Map structure inside the temple. Wikimedia

The temple located in Varanasi is dedicated to Bharat Mata with the national flag in her hand and a tri-colored sari adorning the idol, who is regarded as a symbolized figure of unity in Diversity and integrity in India. It acquires a huge map of the Mother India on the ground denoting the statue of the Goddess or the Mother of India.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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The history and development of Indian Handicrafts

Handicraft production was the second biggest source of employment in the pre-British India

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History of Indian handicrafts
History and development of Indian handicrafts. Pixabay
  • Handicrafts are the products which are mostly made by hand.
  • The history of Indian handicrafts can be divided into three eras: Pre British, British era, and Post Independence.
  • Clay craft is the earliest form of crafts to have existed in India.

New Delhi, September 28, 2017: Handicrafts in India have a long history. From ancient to the contemporary times, handcrafters have preserved this art. This art has been passed on from one generation to the next. Pottery making, in fact, is one of its forms, whose existence can be traced back to the Harappan Civilization.

What are handicrafts?

Handicrafts are products that are produced either completely by hands or involve tools. Mechanical tools could also be used as long as the manual contribution of the artisan remains the central component of the produced object. The production of these crafts require great skill and represents a particular expression, culture or tradition. Handicrafts could hold a number of values, some of them being aesthetic, cultural, decorative, utilitarian, religious, functional etc.

Historical Perspective of Indian Handicrafts:

To understand the historical perspective of Indian handicrafts, we need to go back in time. Let’s take a look at the development and decline of the artisanal production under three different time periods: before the arrival of British in India, Under colonial rule, and after India got independence.

History of Indian Handicrafts Before the arrival of British:

Art and crafts, as we have already mentioned, has been a tradition in India since long. Textiles, the most important of the Indian handicrafts, reached the zenith of perfection during the Mughal period. While under Mughals, it was the art of weaving and silk spinning that scored refinement; it was metal works, ivory works and jewelry that reached great potential during the Gupta period. The handicrafts production during that time can be divided in four broad categories. The first category dealt with the village economy under the jajmani system, in which the products were articles of daily use. The second category was integrated with the urban areas, where artisans produced crafts mainly for the purpose of sale. The third category concerns the dadni system, in which the merchants advanced cash to the artisans for production. The final category includes the Karkhanas, where skilled artisans produced luxury crafts under the command of kings or high nobles. Handicraft production was the second biggest source of employment in the pre-British India.

History of Indian Handicrafts Under Colonial Rule:

Under the British rule, production of Indian Handicrafts faced a rather sharp decline. When the East India Company was in power, it forced monopoly over the production of artisans from Bengal, and the price of these products were fixed 15-40% lower than their actual market price. What came as the biggest blow to the Indian artisans, however, was the removal of most of the Indian princes and nobles, which as an effect, led to the destruction of the artisan’s major market.

History of Indian Handicrafts Post-Independence:

The plight of the artisans and the cultural importance of artisanal production was taken into accord after India got independent. The establishment of All India Handicrafts Board in November 1952, to look at the problems and find solutions concerning Indian Handicrafts; the Handicrafts and Handloom Export Corporation of India Ltd in 1958, to promote handicrafts exports; Opening of Crafts Mueseum in 1953 in Delhi, to develop people’s interest in handmade Indian goods, all alluded to the idea that India had finally realized the importance of its art and crafts, and did not want to leave any stone unturned for its development.

A brief history and development of different form of handicrafts in India:

  • Clay craft and pottery: Clay craft is the earliest form of crafts to have existed, in India or in the world. A simple earthenware made of clay or ceramic has been created and used by the rural population for centuries. Potters have had an integral traditional link with the villages. The earthen pottery has only been developing, with the addition of new colors, figures of gods and goddesses, and decorative elements like flowers.

Main centers: Uttar Pradesh (Nizamabad and Chinhat), where the pottery is dark black; Bengal which produces large figures of gods, especially on the occasion of Durga Puja; In Kashmir, Srinagar is the place where special glazed pottery is made; Terra-cotta roof tiles are a tradition in Orissa and Martha Pradesh; both Rajasthan and Karnataka are popular for their black pottery; Manipur in the northeast is also famous for its pottery.

History of Indian handicrafts
Clay craft or pottery. Pixabay
  • Wood craft: Wood craft is widely produced and used throughout the country, with the most important products being household furnitures, carts and decorative objects. Baskets for storage and Toys, both for play and decoration are also made on a large scale.

Main centers: The elegant use of wood by skilled craftsmen can be seen in the houses at Gujrat and Kerala. Kashmir acquires a special position in this category of craft, with the walnut and deodar being the most favorite woods there. Saharanpur in U.P is also quite famous for its wooden furniture and objects of decoration.

History of Indian handicrafts
Wood craft. Pixabay
  • Metal craft: Copper was the most widely used metal in India before Iron joined in. Utensils, jewelry, dagger, axe heads etc in the harappan finds suggest that casting of copper objects made use of moulds. Bronze was also an important metal for the artisan production. The skills of craftsmen on metals are of various types, such as embossing, engraving, moulding etc.

Main centers: Kashmir (Srinagar) and Ladakh (Zanskar) are the two main centres. In Uttar Pradesh, Moradabad, Aligarh, Varanasi are the main centres of metal craft. Kerala specializes in the bell metal, whereas Bidar in Karnataka is noted for its Bidri work. Tribal groups in India also appear to hold their specific metal craft traditions.

History of Indian handicrafts
Metal craft. Pixabay

Also readMedha Tribe which masters in Weaving unique Bamboo Handicrafts are facing threat of extinction in Mysuru Region

  • Stone craft: Stones, without a shadow of doubt, have been there with humans since the earliest. They have been crafted into various products such as tools, decorative objects, sculptures and even jewelry. Statue of Yakshi of Didarganj is one fine piece of stone sculpture and dates back to the Maurya period. Majestic Qutub Minar in Delhi, and forts at Agra, Delhi, Jaipur are all works of stone craft.

Main centers: Rajasthan due to a large availability of stones tops the list of most prominent places for stone works. Salem district in Tamil Nadu also makes it to the list along with Gaya in Bihar. The stone cutters of Orissa also share a long history with the craft.

Main centers of Indian handicrafts
Stone craft. Pixabay
  • Ornaments and jewelry: From grass jewelry to that of gold and diamonds, one can witness great diversity when it comes to ornaments and jewelry in India. Gold, gems, silver, diamonds, other metals and precious stones are some materials used for making ornaments. Bones, horns, sea shells, lac, glass etc are also used in many  parts of the country to create ornaments. The Harappan finds revealed a number of ornaments, indicating their existence since long. There are many references in Ramayana and Mahabharata of gold being precious objects.

Main centers: Western ghats and Matheran in Maharashtra are noted for grass ornaments. Gujarat and Rajasthan share a rich and long tradition of jewelry. Kashmir is one of the most prominent places, again, with its exquisite jewelry, Varanasi and Awadh of U.P. are famous for gold studded jewelry.

History of Indian handicrafts
Ornaments and Jewelry. Pixabay
  • Textiles: India had had one of the richest traditions of textiles made from different raw materials. It won’t be wrong to say that Indian textiles tend to reflect Indian culture and religious beliefs. Bengal was the chief center of cotton production and Carpet weaving reached its zenith at the time of Mughals. The most commonly knows fabrics are cotton, wool and silk. The three main techniques used for patterning are weaving, embroidery and dyes.

Main centers: Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are famous for ikat fabric, Gujarat and Rajasthan for bandhani, U.P. and Bengal for jamdani fabrics. Rajasthan is also noted for Masoria fabric.

Indian handicrafts
Indian textiles. Pixabay

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha