Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Mufti’s remarks on Muslims should be treated with the contempt it deserves

Aaj-Ki-Baat_frame_42857 (002)The vice-chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Personal Law Board and the Deputy Grand Mufti of the state Nasirul Islam has asked Muslims in India to demand a separate country, alleging that the minorities are being harassed in the name of ‘love jihad’, cow vigilantism and triple talaq.

We should know some facts about Mufti Nasirul Islam. His father is the Grand Mufti Bashiruddin in Kashmir. Mufti Bashiruddin had opposed the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley. Mufti Nasirul Islam had earlier opposed the Supreme Court verdict which had declared Shariah courts in the valley as illegal. And now, Mufti Nasirul Islam is speaking about a second Partition.

It should be clear to everybody that Muslims in India will never support Mufti Nasirul Islam’s venomous remarks. Muslims are equal citizens like others in this great country. Had the Mufti made the same statement in Pakistan, he would have been whisked away by the Pakistan army. By making such intemperate remarks, Mufti Nasirul Islam has only exposed himself. His remark should be treated with the contempt it deserves.


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How rumours fuelled communal tension in UP town

Aaj ki Baat_frame_11115On January 26 afternoon, a group of Muslims in Kasganj town of Uttar Pradesh were about to hoist the national tricolour in a small locality. At the same time, a Tiranga rally led by bike-borne young men wanted to pass through the area. After some verbal duels, somebody from the crowd shot Chandan Gupta, who succumbed to injuries. Soon mayhem spread, and shops and vehicles were set ablaze. The local police was late in reacting to the situation as it unfolded. The next day, a local leader came to the area, and soon after Chandan’s funeral, there were more instances of arson. The situation was later brought under control.

In the meanwhile, social media went on overdrive. I want to point out how morphed pictures and fake audio created the multiplier effect as rumours began to spread across western UP. A rumour was spread that some people shouted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. Later it was found that the audio was superimposed on a video. Similarly, a picture of one Rahul Upadhyay went viral showing him lying dead. This picture was widely circulated on social media.

On Monday, the local police produced Rahul before the media. Rahul said he was in his village, and had not visited Kasganj on Republic Day. That nailed another lie. But think about the losses that common men had to suffer because of violence and arson.

This is not the first time that lies were spread through social media. I remember how several years ago, people from North-east left Bengaluru in panic, by trains, planes and buses, after a message was spread through social media that they would not be spared. People who want to divide our society are using social media to sow seeds of confusion and hatred. We should be collectively on our guard. The Kasganj police has promised to arrest those who spread such false videos on social media. My appeal to all of you: Please be alert. Do not trust every video that is spread on social media. Nobody knows how much of it is true or false.

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Seating Rahul in the sixth row at R-Day parade was not a good idea.

Aaj-Ki-Baat_frame_42857 (002)I did not like that  the national president of India’s oldest political party  was made to sit in the sixth row at the 69th Republic Day parade at Rajpath. Three times that visual appearedon TV and it didn’t leave a good taste. Why should national president of India’s oldest party not be given place in the front row? One argument forwarded was  that its nothing new. In the past BJP presidents Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari were offered seats in the 11th row with the bureaucrats.  And the government was carrying on the same tradition. But if that is true why was Sonia Gandhi offered place in the front row during last three years of BJP government. Why did this change for Rahul Gandhi ? The second reason that was given was that Rahul was never a minister at the Centre, and that’s why he was given a seat at the back. Then the question arises: Sonia Gandhi, too, was never a minister, and yet she sat on the front row at the parade for the last three years. All these reasons that are now being given are meaningless. We should understand that Rahul is now the national president of India’s oldest political party and he is the head of the main opposition party. The role of opposition in a democracy is vital. The opposition should get its due respect. Those in the government, at whatever level they be in, should keep this in mind while deciding about seating arrangement. The common man, who watched the parade live on television, may not have liked seeing Rahul sitting in the back row. One should however praise Rahul for opting to sit at the back row, despite knowing a day before that he had been allotted the fourth row. He attended the parade, and he did not look annoyed. He did not make an issue out of it, when he was asked to sit in the sixth row instead of the fourth. One should appreciate Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, also for sitting with Rahul at the back and not making any fuss about it. I think that it would have been appreciated by public if Rahul was given due respect irrespective of how Congress government treated past BJP Presidents.

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Padmaavat : A million cinegoers score a resounding triumph over vandals

_aa Aaj-Ki-baat_frame_10030 (002)It was heartening to note that more than a million cinegoers across the country bought tickets and watched the movie Padmaavat peacefully and came out in praise of the actors and the director. On the other hand, the Shree Rajput Karni Sena leaders looked crestfallen at the end of the day and they admitted that they failed to gauge the response of the general public.

One thing is clear from the first day of screening: wherever the state government and police remained extra alert, vandals and hooligans failed to indulge in unruly acts. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanaath made it clear from Day One that he would keep the sentiments of Rajput community in mind, and if required, would stay the screening of the movie. But once the Supreme Court gave the green signal, the chief minister made it clear that violence would not be tolerated at any cost.

It goes to the credit of Yogi that he sensed the mood of the general public, but the same cannot be said about the governments of Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. It is because of their pusillanimity that vandals indulged in arson and stoning. Haryana government, in particular, took a long time in waking up. It was only after there was nationwide outrage over the stoning of a school bus that the state police took a tough stance against miscreants and arrested some of their leaders.

The ultimate winner in the entire sordid episode was the common cinegoer. He or she paid money to buy tickets, watched the movie and came out to give a thumbsup to the movie makers. The common cinegoer had nothing to do with any political party nor any caste combination. He or she came out of the theatre to certify that there was not a single scene or dialogue that hurt Rajput pride and valour.

It is now upto the Karni Sena leaders to stop vacillating, watch the movie themselves and call off their agitation which they had launched on a non-issue.

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Padmaavat row: States not acting tough because of votebank politics

aaj ki baat_frame_10582Exactly a day before the movie Padmaavat was set to be screened in cinema theatres across India, multiplex theatre owners came out with their decision not to screen the movie in four states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa. The cinema hall owners have been watching the situation as it unfolded and have found to their dismay that the state governments and their police were not acting tough against the protesters, who have been indulging in vandalism, stoning of buses and arson.

The most despicable incident took place in Gurugram, where vandals stoned a school bus and children had to hide behind the seats to save their lives. In Gujarat, an ambulance was attacked by protesters. No true Rajput will indulge in such condemnable acts. Descendants of Rana Pratap will never attack school children or an ambulance. Those who did this must be brought to book. Such vandals bring a bad name to the Rajput community, and not Padmaavat.

The movie Padmaavat has been cleared both by the Censor Board and the Supreme Court, and the cinema going public, by and large, is in favour of allowing it to be screened, but a handful of protesters are still indulging in vandalism, without any fear of being arrested. These vandals are tarnishing India’s image across the world, and there is nobody to stop them.

I think votebank politics has a major role to play behind the stance of state governments. Political parties in these states are worried about their Rajput vote banks. It was because of this that the governments of four states had declared, much before the SC order, that they would not allow screening of Padmaavat, in UP, Haryana, MP and Rajasthan. The Supreme Court specifically asked these state governments to remove the ban. The state governments filed their review petitions and these too were set aside. By doing this, the state governments are trying to convey to their vote banks that they tried to their best to prevent the screening of the movie. The state governments provided security at multiplexes, but police was told to be soft while dealing with the protesters.

There could be two reasons behind this. One, the message would go to the Rajput community that the government strongly sympathises with them, and, two, if the police acted tough, the outfit called Karni Sena would gain an upper hand by making a big issue out of it. The Gujarat government has already seen the consequence of police using its power against Dalits. In Haryana, during the Jat reservation agitation, police resorted to lathicharge and firing, and yet the agitation intensified. The state governments are therefore wary of taking tough measures, and Karni Sena is taking full advantage of this. I still believe the protests will die down, once the protesters watch the movie themselves.

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State governments must ensure security for screening of Padmaavat movie

Aaj Ki Baat_frame_39259Handful of protesters ransacking cinema theatres in different cities to stop the screening of the movie ‘Padmaavat’ are posing a challenge to the authority of the state, and trying to create an atmosphere of fear, which is unacceptable. These protesters are trying to intimidate both cinema theatre owners and filmgoers.

It is the duty of each state government, to abide by the Supreme Court order, and provide full security to such cinema halls. The visuals that we have been seeing for the last two days clearly show that the security arrangements are inadequate. People trying to create disturbance must be arrested.

If people refuse to accept the Censor Board’s decision, and if every person tries to become a censor himself, no film can be released. If people do not follow the country’s apex court order, how can there be rule of law? And what is the controversy? A film should not be screened. And who are those people making this demand? Those who have not seen the film themselves.

There are crores of filmgoers who deserve the freedom to watch the movie. This is a question of freedom for all citizens, and that freedom must be respected. The institutions of the state and the law must be obeyed. I will again appeal to people who are setting fire to tyres on road and are damaging public property, to watch the movie first, so that their doubts are cleared.

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Kejriwal is blaming others for his own mistakes

22-01-News at-2100_frame_95408On January 19, the Election Commission communicated to the President of India that 20 MLAs of Aam Aadmi Party should be disqualified for holding office of profit by being parliamentary secretaries to cabinet ministers in the Delhi government. Acting on this advice, the President disqualified all the 20 MLAs. The party legislators will now approach the Delhi High Court to challenge the President’s notification. The new Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat has said that the AAP MLAs could have sought oral hearing before the EC, but they did not.

Therein lies the problem. Whenever AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal loses elections, he blames it on electronic voting machines. When his colleagues are charged in criminal cases, he blames Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘witchhunting’. Now that his party’s 20 MLAs have been disqualified, his party is levelling charges against the Constitutional authorities like the EC and the office of the President of India. Kejriwal forgets that he had 10 months in hand to place his arguments before the EC, but he did not use this option.

It now seems clear that neither Kejriwal nor his party leaders know how to run a government or an assembly. Because of their mistakes, 20 MLAs lost their seats. And now, the sword hangs on 27 other AAP MLAs in Delhi. Kejriwal clearly seems to be heading for a lot of trouble.

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My appeal to Karni Sena: watch Padmaavat movie first, then decide

Aaj-Ki-Baat_frame_5204The Supreme Court on Thursday invoked the Right to Freedom of Speech & Expression granted in the Constitution, and ordered the state governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh to lift the ban on screening of the movie ‘Padmaavat’. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra reminded the state governments of their obligation to protect the fundamental right granted in the Constitution by ensuring law and order.

I have two points to make here. One, the country is run by rule of law. The Central Board of Film Certification is the competent authority to decide whether a particular film is meant for public viewing or not. If the CBFC clears a film, and the state governments impose ban on its screening in the name of maintaining law and order, then this is not a right step. If outfits like Karni Sena threaten to carry out violence at cinema theatres and intimidate cinemahall owners and audience, then it is not acceptable.

Two, I had seen the movie exactly two months ago, on November 17, and I had then clearly aid that the Rajput community will feel proud once it views the character of Rani Padmaavati in totality. There is not a single scene which shows Padmaavati with Sultan Alauddin Khilji. There is nothing in the film which goes against Rajput pride.

The Supreme Court on Thursday also said that the movie was shown to historians and other representatives of society, before it was granted certificate, and there was no need to protest. My view is that, if the state governments bow before the will of a handful of people bent on creating unrest, then it will send a wrong message. It will set a wrong precedent.

I again appeal to Karni Sena to watch the movie first and then air their opinion. I am confident that the Rajputs who will watch the film, will come out of the cinemahalls, with their heads held high, and those who are presently abusing the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, will hug him with respect.

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The mystery behind seizure of Rs 97 cr demonetized notes

vlcsnap-9768-07-30-23h18m47s169The recent seizure of Rs 97 crore demonetized currency notes in Kanpur by UP police and NIA raises several questions. Since the currency notes are no more legal tender and are worthless pieces of paper, why were these currency notes kept hidden? UP police says, the currency notes were seized from a locked house and “negotiators” who promised to get these exchanged were arrested. Sixteen persons, including a builder and a professor, have been arrested and Income Tax officials have been informed.

One theory that is being floated is that the demonetized notes might have been kept for exchange through the Nepal, Bhutan routes, but the Reserve Bank of India clarified that demonetized currency notes were no more legal tender in those two neighbouring countries too.

Another theory was forwarded that several rural cooperative banks were yet to deposit demonetized notes with RBI, but Finance Ministry officials ruled out any such possibility. UP police officials have decided to seek the help of RBI to decide about what to do with the seized notes. RBI officials say that the demonetized notes are now nothing but worthless pieces of paper. The question that remained unanswered is: then why were these demonetized notes kept hidden? Any logical answer can come only after interrogation of those who have been taken into custody after the seizure of these notes.

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Withdrawal of Haj subsidy is a right step

aaj ki baat_frame_40745 (002)The government of India had been giving air travel subsidy for Haj pilgrims since 1954. On Tuesday, after a gap of 64 years, the government decided to fully withdraw the subsidy and the money saved would be spent on education of Muslim students. There has been persistent demand from sections of society to remove the subsidy completely. The Supreme Court had, in 2012, asked the government to completely phase out Haj subsidy. On the face of it, the subsidy was not benefiting Haj pilgrims, but the airlines, who were getting the subsidy directly from the government. Muslim clerics, the ulema and Haj pilgrims understand this, but leaders like Azam Khan are looking for political motive behind this decision. The withdrawal of subsidy is a step in the right direction and there is no need to politicize the issue.

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Use of louspeakers at religious places in UP

aaj ki baat_frame_42381 (003)The Allahabad High Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to remove all unauthorized loudspeakers from religious and all other public places by January 20, following which surveys are being carried out by district authorities. Managements of such religious places are being asked to obtain permission from authorities by January 15, failing which loudspeakers and other sound equipment will be removed by the deadline set by the court.

This is undoubtedly a Herculean task and the time given to enforce the order is limited. According to rough estimates, there are nearly 3.5 lakh religious places where loudspeakers are being used. These are spread in almost three lakh villages, and the task of enforcing it as truly a gigantic one. In Lucknow, police went to most of the temples and mosques on Thursday and spoke to priests and moulvis. It is reassuring that priests and moulvis are fully cooperating with local authorities, and there seems to be no scope for politicking because the order has come from the High Court, which is a welcome step.

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Terrorists in Kashmir are using armour-piercing steel bullets

aaj-ki-baatThe year-end attack by Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorists on a CRPF camp in Kashmir’s Pulwama, in which five jawans were martyred, revealed that the attackers had used armour-piercing steel bullets. The bulletproof jackets worn by our jawans could not stop these bullets. This is a worrying revelation. Terrorists are changing their strategy regularly in Kashmir. They are adopting different methods to attack our forces. Our forces too change their strategy whenever required. Our jawans are brave and are ready to face any challenge, but the worrying aspect is that terrorists, of late, have been using weapons and ammunition that were supplied by the US to the Pakistani army to fight Taliban terrorists on their soil. These weapons and ammunition have now reached terrorists in the Valley. It is now time for the United States to not only shut off all monetary aid to Pakistan, but also stop military supplies to our hostile neighbour.

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