The communal violence that has engulfed pockets in Basirhat sub-division of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district are indeed worrisome
Violence erupted between two communities at Baduria on July 3 night over a Facebook post by a youth
In no time the violence spread to various pockets in Basirhat
Kolkata, July 10, 2017: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Monday said there is a “reason to worry” over the communal violence that has engulfed pockets in Basirhat sub-division of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.
“Why is it happening? Is it because someone is inciting it? We are all worried. How much political mischief is to be blamed for this? We have to ponder all these. There is a reason to worry over this,” Sen told a television channel here when asked about it.
“Bengal has a culture of co-existence of Hindu-Muslim communities and for a long time this co-existence was possible without any communalism, and suddenly this returns. We can’t be dismayed over this and let this be, thinking there is nothing to do in this matter… We have to take measures to get rid of these things,” he said.
The celebrated economist is in the city to attend the screening of a documentary on him directed by Suman Ghosh.
Chandigarh, October 6, 2017 : Haryana police have issued summons to 45 members of a committee of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect to appear before it regarding the violence that erupted following the rape conviction of the Dera chief on August 25, police sources said on Friday.
Police sources said a hard disk, which reportedly contains details of transactions worth Rs 700 crore, including property and hawala deals, of the Dera has been recovered and sent for detailed examination.
The 45-member committee, which included the Dera’s headquarters campus (near Sirsa) chairman Vipassana and vice chairman P.R. Nain, is being accused of planning the violence in Panchkula and other places that left at least 38 people dead and 264 injured.
Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape.
The Haryana Police had last month issued a list of 43 ‘Most Wanted’ people of the sect, including top functionaries Honeypreet Insan and Aditya Insan, who are the closest aides of Ram Rahim, for their role in the violence.
Honeypreet was arrested from neighbouring Punjab on Tuesday after being fugitive for 38 days. She was booked for sedition and inciting violence.
The disgraced sect chief, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, is now lodged in the District Jail in Sunaria near Rohtak. (IANS)
New York, September 21, 2017: The US will provide a humanitarian aid package worth $32 million to the Rohingya Muslim minority who have fled violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh, the State Department announced.
The funding “reflects the US commitment to help address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent humanitarian needs of the Rohingya people,” said the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw on Wednesday at the ongoing UN General Assembly here.
He added that the US hoped its contribution would encourage other countries to provide more funding as well, reports CNN.
The aid package comes a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Myanmar de facto leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi and “welcomed the Myanmar government’s commitment to end the violence in Rakhine state and to allow those displaced by the violence to return home,” according to the State Department.
Tillerson “urged the Myanmar government and military to facilitate humanitarian aid for displaced people in the affected areas, and to address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations”.
The State Department also said the aid “will help provide emergency shelter, food security, nutritional assistance, health assistance, psychosocial support, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, social inclusion, non-food items, disaster and crisis risk reduction, restoring family links, and protection to the over 400,000 displaced persons”.
Henshaw said Wednesday’s announcement brought the total US aid to Myanmar refugees, including Rohingya, to nearly $95 million in fiscal year 2017.
Some 415,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the ongoing violence broke out on August 25 when Rohingya rebels attacked police checkposts in Rakhine resulting in the deaths os 12 security personnel, CNN reported.
Speaking at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence called on the world body “to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis” of violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar to an end.
“The United States renews our call on Burma’s security forces to end their violence immediately and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term solution.
“President (Donald) Trump and I also call on this security council and the United Nations to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis to an end.”
Pence also spoke about how the violence in Myanmar is a perfect example of the kind of problem the UN should help solve. (IANS)
Kolkata, Sep 15, 2017: For over 200 years, the Nandi family in West Bengal’s Hooghly has been feeding Muslim fakirs during the Hindu festival of Durga Puja. To the Nandis, this annual ritual has its roots in a family legend that is testimony to the generosity of the local Muslim community.
It is also one of the myriad instances of the festival — the biggest in Bengal — exemplifying communal harmony at a time when the world grapples with religious animosity and social polarisation.
According to 80-year-old Satipati Nandi, the ninth-generation descendant of the family that claims to have been the “largest importer of betel nuts in eastern India once upon a time”, this Hindu-Muslim syncreticism comes naturally.
“It may sound as a big deal today but it all started centuries ago. It is said that two brothers, Kuber Shankar and Kama Shankar, were selling pakodas (fried snacks) in Halishahar in North 24-Parganas when they chanced upon a fakir who gave them a gold mohar (coin) to start an enterprise… revolving around the first thing they spot,” Nandi told IANS.
The rest is history.
The Nandis ventured into the betel nut business and eventually branched out into real estate, acquiring multiple properties across the state, including the present family residence at Pandua in Hooghly as well as land in Garia in south Kolkata.
“In remembrance of the generous fakir, we feed two fakirs on Navami (the ninth day of the festival). Now we usually do not find fakirs; so we offer khichdi to any two members of the Muslim community,” Nandi explained.
This communal integration has spilled on to the state capital Kolkata as well.
In the heart of Kolkata is Kumartuli — the potters’ enclave — which is in a state of frenzy with Durga Puja that is round the corner. The clay idols of Durga and her pantheon are being daubed in paint and their curves clothed in vibrant saris.
Their bald heads are carefully draped in jute wigs that have been painstakingly fashioned into braids and curly tresses for the Hindu goddess by Muslim craftsmen.
Neither blinding rain nor religion get in the way of business in this buzzing maze-like colony of potters and their assistants, labourers, decorators and tourists with selfie sticks — the point of origin of around 5,000 clay Durga idols each year.
Around 400 “shilpis” (craftsmen) churn out Durga and her children in crammed 6 by 10 foot studios, cloaked in tarpaulin sheets. The final touches, which begin around a fortnight before Mahalaya (September 19), include decking the idols in accessories.
“Draping the hair is an essential part of the process. The jute wigs are fashioned by Muslim families from Parbatipur near Howrah and other areas. A typical ‘sabeki’, or traditional idol, usually dons a curly and wavy wig. Essentially, they are mostly black but we do have variants of the wig in dark brown, rust and beige,” Babu Pal, a spokesperson for the potters, told IANS.
Slightly rough in texture, they are almost indistinguishable from your average wigs. Packed in bundles starting off at Rs 100, these are available as plaits, straight extensions for the sides or as wavy locks.
“Everyone comes to look at the idols. They admire, take pictures and go away. But it’s not just the idols… you have to assemble the goddess piece by piece. Muslim craftsmen usually fashion the dress material and the wigs. You may talk about cow politics and put a religious spin on it, for us it’s the way of life here… no one talks about this (Hindu-Muslim issues)… it’s business,” Pal elaborated.
According to Indologist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, Hindu-Muslim integration during the Durga Puja was not uncommon in undivided Bengal.
“It has continued despite geographical barriers because the festival now is a huge industry. It provides employment to people from all communities. It’s only some politicians and communal-minded people who give it a different spin. During immersions too, everyone comes together to bid adieu to the goddess and family. She is looked at as a source of strength and not as a religious symbol,” Bhaduri added.
And you don’t have to look further than Begampur town in Hooghly district to see several Muslim families celebrating Durga Puja as a symbol of the common culture of the festival that unites Hindus with other minorities, at least in Bengal.
(This story is part of a special series that will showcase a diverse, plural and inclusive India and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at email@example.com)