Justice Denied:Ishrat Jahan

This post was originally written by me for a group blog I co-own named The Jalebi Chronicles.Check it out, it has some really good stuff.

Ishrat Jahan. The name is a common one in the media these days. Everyone is aware of the Ishrat Jahan encounter but not many truly know what it is about, except for the little knowledge gleaned from what the misogyny infested media reports.. For those who are unacquainted with the case, here are the facts of the story.

Ishrat Jahan was a 19 year old student from Mumbai who died on 15th June, 2004 along with three other men, namely Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh,) Amjad Ali Rana and and Zeeshan Johar. The four of them were supposedly killed on an empty road stretch between Ahemdabad and Gandhinagar. The Gujarat police claimed that the foursome were terrorists belonging to LeT i.e. Lashkar-e-Taiba and were plotting to assassinate Narendra Modi due to his apathy towards Muslims and supposed involvement in the Godhra riots of 2002. They claim to have acted on intelligence tips from the Maharashtra police and more importantly, the Intelligence Bureau. However, many dispute the claim arguing that the encounter was staged in cold blood to propagate Modi’s communal propaganda. These claims have been strengthened by strong evidence backed by incriminating reports filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) instituted by the Gujarat High Court and the investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Here are the undisputed facts. Jehan worked as Pranesh Pillai’s secretary. Pillai on the other hand, had been previously booked for four assault cases and charged with involvement in a fake currency racket. He had converted to Islam in the ‘90s and allegedly, two passports were recovered along with his body; one for each alias. It is interesting to note that neither of these two had any traceable links to the LeT. The other two, Amjad Rana and Zeeshan Johar have been conspicuously ignored by the media. . These two had clear links with the LeT and worked for them as terrorists. The only dispute in regards to them was their nationality. Their bodies were not claimed by anyone.

The names/groups in the below table mentioned in Column A believe the encounter was fake, while those in Column B lists the groups who believe the encounter to be real.

Indian National Congress(INC)
Bhartiya Janta Party(BJP)
Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI)
Intelligence Bureau(IB)
Gujarat High Court’s SIT constituted in 2011
Headlines Today
National Investigation Agency(NIA)
Hindustan Times
Tehelka, PUCL
Zee group

It never ceases to amaze us how politicians can turn even the most brutal of incidents into brownie points for their political vendettas. In put it simply, if this encounter is proven to be fabricated Narendra Modi will be viewed as a communal leader and shall allow the Congress to play the secular card against him. If Modi survives this, it shall simply add to the defence he puts up whenever he the buck is passed to him for the Godhra incident and its related mishaps. Both ways, the investigation reports will spell a massive victory for one or either sides and the fight has resulted in two things; a stalemate and the vilifying an innocent girl who is unable to defend herself because she is, and pardon me for using the phrase, ‘conveniently’ dead.

Ishrat Jahan has been called everything, from a terrorist to a promiscuous female (by BJP’s Meenaxi Lekhi because she was travelling with three men and, in her eyes, that is enough to doubt her character. One cannot help but wonder what her views are about her daughter going on school trips to Lonavala with 125 other students.)However, she has been denied the most vital of all human rights; the right to life. The police had no right to snatch away her life regardless of her being a terror operative or not. Posthumous justice is one thing, but the very fact that it is posthumous is disheartening and very disturbing.Being an 18 year old college student myself, I am, scared. As a plain and ordinary citizen, what is the guarantee that you, me or anyone else shall not be the next Ishrat?

Moving on to the extent of political involvement, my disgust rises. It is simply impossible to trust either of the parties involved because the holy troika of corruption, power and politics has changed the entire game. Since the CBI is in the Congress’ pocket, their stance is anti-Modi while the BJP is supposedly deriving support from the highly secretive IB. The media groups’ ownership defines the stance they take, and the view they present depends on whether the slander they spread shall benefit their corporate overlords or not. In the middle of this however, the common man loses out on the truth. All one can say is that Ishrat might have merely been ‘collateral damage’ as two out of the four killed were terrorists. Ishrat just happened to be at the wrong place, in the wrong time with the wrong people. Of course that does not give anyone the right to brand the innocent girl a terrorist and it certainly does not justify her death. In fact, this assumption may be a far departure from the truth, but with a heavy heart, I suspect that with the web of orchestrated facts, hidden agendas and misogyny infested opinions, justice shall lie buried and the truth shall never be exposed.

DISCLAIMER: The views presented in this article represent the views of the writer alone and not the others in general.

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The Agnostic Atheist or The Deist? A Take On Religion,Faith and God

As I sit writing this article, I’m slightly dazzled. In a matter of mere hours, my convictions, my beliefs and in essence my religious outlooks have been defined and changed. Sometimes, all of us live our lives believing that our perspectives are unique and non contextual for the world. To a great extent, my religious beliefs were similar. Born into a Hindu family with an educated background, I was brought up in a world of atoms, aartis, allah and atheists. I often meet people who were either religious preachers or atheists or agnostic, although the last one were a very few. Yet, I never could relate myself with any of these groups. I always had, always will and always shall believe in God but I always used to find the elaborate hoaxes of religion distributively economical cheating, puzzling and purely insulting.  How could I pass an exam with a black thread tied on my wrist? How can I be free from the supposed influence of a planet just by performing some absurd pooja? Wasn’t our creator supposed to be our friend, our guide? Why would he do this to us?
My concept of God had always been in transition. Agnosticism, Atheism, religious devout, detached but religious, non-practicing, the list of my phases goes on. But each phase left me unclear. Agnosticism although sounds cool, is simply an act of arrogance and to a large extent ignorance. It’s deliberate aloofness. “Maybe he exists, maybe he doesn’t”. Yet, you can conveniently blame it on God when everything goes wrong. How does that even make sense? Then there are buffs that take up religion seriously and abide by fictitious but spiritually enhancing books as the “Word of God”. Many such nuts denounce science, logic and analysis. Little do they realize that reasoning, analyzing etc form the crux of human civilization. As SOMEONE said, “Religion is the greatest invention of man.” Created to rein in civilization into order from chaos, religion is simply expounded by a bunch of idiots who just wish to commercialize the gullible nature of the masses. It’s my personal opinion that our God is not a punishment-giving strict care giver who will help us only if we do some particular things. Take the Hajj for instance. What about a person who can barely afford food or shelter in say, India? Do you really think that our God is so cruel and so full of himself that he will ask the said person to sacrifice his stomach’s need and make him spend a fortune to journey to a religious spot as an obligation? Another example.  In Hinduism, it’s a wide held belief that anyone who continually recites certain mantras for some years shall be absolved of all crimes and shall be guaranteed a spot in heaven. Rather convenient for rapists and murders isn’t it? Christianity has a similar concept with regard to rosary. All religions preach that God is righteous and treats everyone as equals. Then why do temples have special, short lines where some money gives your quicker divine access?
Bringing in atheism, I simply call them “unbending geniuses with a special corner for idiotic behavior ” Mostly comprising supposedly elevated individuals like scientists, atheists are adamant that God doesn’t exist. They hide behind numbers, equations, theories etc to prove this. Even the most respected Scientists now agree that the universe was created when a lot of energy was focused on to a single micro point, later exploding into sub-nuclear particles. They also agree that somehow, the conditions were just right and a delay of even a micro second would have caused the “Big Bang” to not take place. Still scientists say, “Where is God’s hand in this?” Quoting Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, “Is it really easier to deny the existence of God than to believe that somehow out of a deck of a billion cards, we simply picked the right one?”
Today, using equipment like the Large Hadron Collider and ultra microscopes along with sophisticated mathematical formula and techniques, Science has uncovered the so called “Time Zero + .00001 Second” activities of our universe, but has failed miserably to even remotely theorize the Time Zero or Pre-Time Zero events which religion heralds as proof of God’s existence. 
George Carlin somehow answers the question, “What about prayer?” He said, “People treat God rather rudely, asking trillions and trillions of wishes, begging for wishes on SUNDAY, his day off! Suppose your prayers are not answered. What do you say?  “Ah! its God’s will” If it’s God’s will and he will do what he wants, why bother praying in the first place?”
Still, I don’t place all my trust in science. For all the supposed unraveling of the universe, all it has done is flummox us and impress us with unproved assertions. When people ask scientists who created energy (the supposed source of the Big Bang), they answer with an arrogant assertion; “Energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. It just exists”. WOW Genius! It is appalling to know that people would rather place trust in a paradoxical statement and blindly assert that energy just existed rather than acknowledging the presence of a creator.
After all this, I arrived to this conclusion. I believe in God. A kind God. A merciful God. A God who loves me. A God who created this universe. A God who laid down the rules of science we worship. But my God will never ask me to partake in meaningless commercialization of his name. He also won’t promote the killing and hurting of my fellow human being due to fanaticism over absurd inventions of man. In steps Deism.
I won’t propound or advocate Deism but just tell you what it means. A Deist is a person who believes in the existence of God, has faith that in him or her but does not believe in religion or its rituals. Rather a deist trusts in reasoning and logic over blind faith in biased interpretation of ancient texts.
To sum it up, I end with some questions. 
To religious bigots: “If God is kind and ever powerful ( as the holy books of every religion claim), why does he demand worship? Why does he ordain a way out of every sin via money?
To all atheists: “If God doesn’t exist, who created the universe? Don’t say the Big Bang because a follow up is who created the energy? And please, no “Law of Conservation of Energy’ crap.
To all agnostics: “If you don’t believe in God’s existence, answer the atheist question. If you’re partly religious answer the one for the bigots.”
I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein)
I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings. (Albert Einstein)

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Why Does The Sun Rise In The East?

A trivial, baseless, inconsequential but ironically deep question jokingly posed by my Physics professor got my head cracking. Questions like “ Why is the earth round?” or “Why is the sky blue?” or” If energy is the creator, who created energy?” started popping, which when considered realistically, are simple paradoxical questions.
God v/s Science
The scientist (okay, the scientific part in me) shouted the answers as I knew them; Oblique terms like earth’s rotation, scattering of light etc. buzzed and I inconsequentially concluded that perhaps, science does have all the answers. A sudden drone dragged my attention back to class and I forgot this minor intrusion and immersed myself in some mind numbing calculus with its exhaustive derivatives and integrations.
However, my interest was piqued again in the next lecture itself as the Chemistry professor passionately spoke about atoms and how they are the basis of everything, and in their own sense, pretty much anything. As he droned on, I drifted into a mental debate. “If atom is the basis of everything, who created the first atom? Why is this bugging me so much?” I was immensely irritated by these Q&As which just bewildered me more.  If Einstein was right (which he nearly almost is), and God really didn’t play dice with the universe, why are we, after billions of years, still unable to decode the mystic code which he used? If it is simple, then are we incapable, and if it’s complex, then we are incapable.
Religion or Science
History is proof that science has always challenged religion while religion has always answered it( though not always convincingly).  Today, using equipments like the Large Hadron Collider and ultra microscopes along with sophisticated mathematical formulae and techniques, Science has uncovered the so called “Time Zero + .00001 Second” activities of our universe, but has failed miserably to even remotely theorise the Time Zero or Pre Time Zero events which religion heralds as proof of God’s existence. Science on the other hand raises the question as to if God created the universe, who created God? (This is a question which flummoxes even Religious scholars because you may be a believer or even an atheist but you would never deny the fact that nothing “Just Exists” or “Just Happens”. We are a thinking species and reason is what drives us)
Many people fight over the fact that Science and Religion can be one if both acknowledge this : “Energy is God. Some Energy just simply existed which did literally everything”. I however find this argument useless and ridiculously baseless. Science advocates that whatever activity created the universe or anything that happens (including the rising of the sun in the east) is governed by certain laws and happens due to precise conditions. Religion on the other hand says that a certain entity exists which runs and carries out its activities with a zeal, passion and emotion which is nearly human like in nature.
Cutting right to the chase, my point is that, some questions have literally leaded us into loopholes, black holes and any other hole imaginable. We grabbed on to a thread and followed it to realise that we reached where we started. Sounding pessimistic as well as optimistic when I say this, I believe that it is eminent that these questions shall be answered. Honestly, I did not write this piece to support either side or to come up with an answer or theory. I just wanted to emphasise that as a race or a civilization claiming to be “Super Advanced”, we still can’t answer the questions which we really want the answer to. For e.g.  At some point or the other, a child might have asked you one such question and we would have deflated it. This kid when he grows up, shall be able to quote the speed of light in vacuum up to 11 digits, but still won’t be able to answer the question, “Why Does The Sun Rise In The East?”

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Festivals; The Holes In Religious Fanaticism

This Christmas eve, I sat behind my laptop pondering over what could be a better way of passing time: Facebook or studies, when suddenly a thought comes to me which has bloomed into this blog.

Over the years we all have some how or the other seen religious discrimination or fanaticism. may it be in an open form( Wayward Hindu-Muslim jokes, Pope-Priest jokes or actual civil wars or fights where in people are hell bent on murder) or in behind-the-doors, closed whispers( woh Hindu hai usse dhoor raho OR yeh christans aise hee hotee hain). But still we(the current generation) has brought about a silent revolution which is unspoken and unconscious, but runs deep and affects all of us.

National Integrity

This effect is that of religious indifference. Despite of our religious prefrences or practicses(which have been ingrained into us from birth.), we still are a single bunch, a single youth that is not divisible by ambigous borders like religon becasue we are intelligent enough to recognise that at the end of the day we are all one and there is only one God who is common to all of us but we are diffrent just because of our ways to approach him/her.Confused?Let me explain with a story Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa(Swami Vivekananda’s Guru) told his disciples. he said that once there used to be a huge tank in the middle of a field. Everyday, a muslim man used to draw some water from it and called it pani. A hindu priest withdrew the same water and called it Jal and when a christan woman would do the same and name it water. But in essence of the subsstance, the immutable quantitiy or mass or water or jal or pani  or whatever you call it, remains the same. In the same manner, whatever you name the omnipotent force, it remains the same. So it boils down to this: Billions of people fight with each other over the fact that whose NAME is right?

Also proof that we are way above such nonsense and the inspiration behind this blog is Christmas itself or any other festival for that matter. How often we have seen a christan boy burn phooljadis or burst crackers on the Hindu Festival Of Diwali or a Hindu girl having kheer at Ramzan at her Rakhi brother’s house or a Muslim family attending Church on Christmas eve to be a part of the midnight mass? These occurences are not coincidence but rather proof that unity does not need to be forced upon us but it is infact already becoming an innate attribute of our nature.

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