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Rebuilding Lives a Struggle: Three years on, Muzaffarnagar Riots victims await justice

The affected families got Rs 5 lakh each as compensation from the Uttar Pradesh government which they used to buy plots on the outskirts of Kandhla and built houses with the help of NGOs

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Source: wikipedia.org

KANDHLA(Uttar Pradesh), September 8, 2016: “I never saw such communal tension in my life,” Abdul Waheed, 65, recalls as his smile gives way to disarrayed wrinkles on his countenance.

Only moments earlier, Waheed — formerly of Hasanpur village in Shamli district — came across as a contented, cheerful, elderly man, cracking jokes with fellow villagers gathered around him.

But a question about what happened on the night of September 8, 2013, in his village unsettled him.

“We were holed up in Sanjeev’s compound. A frenzied mob waited outside to butcher us. They could have stormed in had Sanjeev not been an influential person,” Waheed recalled, seated on a cot outside his new house in a rehabilitation colony some four kilometres from their original village.

The Sanjeev Waheed was referring to is Sanjeev Singh, a Jat landlord who is now head of the panchayat under which Hasanpur falls. Waheed’s is one of the 100-odd families which escaped from their village during the Muzaffarnagar riots which claimed over 60 lives and left thousands homeless. Their escape was largely due to some of their Hindu neighbours who kept the mobs at bay.

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In Lisadh village, barely a kilometre away from Hasanpur, several Muslims were killed that night. The frightened Muslims fled to Jaula village and lived in a refugee camp for almost a year. Waheed shudders as he speaks.

A silence has descended on the small gathering that was minutes ago laughing and pulling each other’s legs. All of them stared at death only three years ago.

“A few in the village tried to foment trouble but some of the prominent villagers drove them away,” said Mehr Deen, a teacher, breaking the silence.

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The affected families got Rs 5 lakh each as compensation from the Uttar Pradesh government which they used to buy plots on the outskirts of Kandhla and built houses with the help of NGOs. The area has come to be known as Nai Basti.

“After the riots, people from our village met us and asked us to return. But we refused,” Deen said.

The first person to make the appeal was Sanjeev Singh, now the village head of Hasanpur and Lisadh.

“A few of us have been asking them to return. We want them back in their homes,” Sanjeev Singh told IANS over the telephone.

He recalled how he withstood pressure from his own community — he is a Jat — while protecting the Muslims. “A few were baying for their blood but I put my foot down and told the rioters that they will have to kill me as well. Then a few others (Hindus) supported me,” Sanjeev said.

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Chaudhary Narender Singh, an elderly Jat from Hasanpur, said he was happy for the Muslim families now that their lives are back on track. The Jats have even offered to repair the houses of the Muslims damaged during the riots. And a few Muslim families have returned.

Narender Singh had come to see Hanif Siddiqui and other villagers in their new settlement on his old Bajaj scooter.

“They have built pucca houses. I am happy for them though I would like them to return. But there is no point in asking them now,” Narender Singh said.

The new settlement is surrounded by Muslim-dominated villages. However, the affected Muslim families miss the traditional support system they once had in their original village.

There, the Muslims — petty traders or labourers — often borrowed money from well-off people on easy conditions. Now, the borrowing doesn’t come easy.

The local Muslims here usually keep a distance from the new settlers. “We don’t interact with the locals except for Zeeshan pradhan (headman),” said Shamshad, a labourer.

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There is also an undercurrent of resentment over the Rs 5 lakh compensation the settlers got from the government. “They would have returned, like a few others, but the money spoilt their brains,” a Jat villager of Hasanpur who did not wish to be named told IANS.

Muslims who have lived here traditionally were also critical of the newly-arrived Muslims for not offering regular prayers at mosques.

Amidst all the societal pulls and pressures, the affected Muslims are trying to build their lives anew. They await electricity and a two-kilometre pucca road till Kandhla town. (IANS)

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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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Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here

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Hinduism. Pixabay

Oct 06, 2017: Have you ever wondered what being a Hindu means? Or who is actually fit to be called a Hindu? Over centuries, Hindus and Indians alike have asked this question to themselves or their elders at least once in their lifetime.

In the 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal” the court identified seven defining characteristics of Hinduism but people are still confused to what exactly defines being a Hindu in the 21st century. It’s staggering how uninformed individuals can be about their own religion; according to a speech by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya there are various common notions we carry about who a Hindu is:

  • Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu
  • If your parents are Hindu, you’re are also inevitably a Hindu
  • If you believe in reincarnation, you’re a Hindu
  • If you follow any religion practiced in India, you’re a Hindu
  • And lastly, if you are born in a certain caste, you’re a Hindu

After answering these statements some fail to remove their doubts on who a Hindu is. The question arises when someone is unsure on how to portray themselves in the society, many people follow a set of notions which might/might not be the essence of Hinduism and upon asked why they perform a particular ritual they are clueless. The problem is that the teachings are passed on for generations and the source has been long forgotten, for the source is exactly where the answer lies.

Religion corresponds to scriptural texts

The world is home to many religions and each religion has its own uniqueness portrayed out of the scriptures and teachings which are universally accepted. So to simplify the dilemma one can say that determining whether someone belongs to a particular religion is directly related to whether he/she follows the religious scriptures of the particular religion, and also whether they abide to live by the authority of the scriptural texts.

Christianity emerges from the guidance of the Gospels and Islam from the Quran where Christians believe Jesus died for their sins and Muslims believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism emerges from a set of scriptures known as the Vedas and a Hindu is one who lives according to Dharma which is implicated in the divine laws in the Vedic scriptures.By default, the person who follows these set of religious texts is a Hindu.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth 

Vedas distinguishes Hindu from a Non-Hindu

Keeping this definition in mind, all the Hindu thinkers of the traditional schools of Hindu philosophy accept and also insist on accepting the Vedas as a scriptural authority for distinguishing Hindus from Non-Hindus. Further implying the acceptance of the following of Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana, Puranas etc as a determining factor by extension principle as well.

Bottom Line

So, concluding the debate on who is a Hindu we can say that a person who believes in the authority of the Vedas and lives by the Dharmic principles of the Vedas is a Hindu. Also implying that anyone regardless of their nationality i.e. American, French or even Indian can be called a Hindu if they accept the Vedas.

– Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram                                                                

(the article was originally written by Shubhamoy Das and published by thoughtco)

One response to “Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here”

  1. Hindu is a historical name for people living “behind the river Indus”. So, everyone living in India is a Hindu, eventhough he might have a different faith.

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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