1. FESTIVAL: Geeta Jayanti is celebrated every year on Margshirsha Shukla Ekadashi, this year it falls on 6th December. The "Bhagavad Gita" was revealed to Arjuna by Sri Krishna himself in the battlefield of Kurukshetra (in present day Haryana, Bharat) a little over 5000 years ago. The text is written in third person, narrated by Sanjaya to King Dhritarashtra as it transpired between Sri Krishna and Arjuna. Sanjaya, the secretary of the blind King Dhritarashtra, had been blessed by his Guru, Vyasadev, with the power to remotely view the events taking place on the battlefield as they transpired. On this occasion, reciting of Geeta and discourses based on it are propagated all over world by eminent scholars. Some organizations also distribute copies of the Gita for free to promote the message of this Holy Scripture.
2. ‘RSS TO CELEBRATE 150TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF VIVEKANANDA’ – H. DATTATREYA: Sri Dattatreya Hosabale, Joint General Secretary of RSS addressed Press Persons on October 22nd, at Bangalore.
“It will be the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on January 12 of 2013. Sangh has decided to launch large scale nationwide celebrations on Vivekananda during this year. This task will be headed by Swami Vivekananda Kendra of Kanyakumari. “Even after 150 years, Vivekananda is still an inspiration for social workers” says Dattaji. The issues focused will be Vivekanda and his thoughts on Women, Youth and Rural Bharat. Vivekananda was very much keen on Rural development specifically the upliftment of poor and backwards. His quotes like ‘Daridra Devobhava’ symbolises his deeper concerns on common man,” Dattaji opined.
While informing about the deliberations at the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal baithak held at Gorakhpur, Datta ji said that RSS is to launch campaign from November 1st till November 20th against the proposed Communal and Targeted Violence Prevention Bill-2011 which is fabricated to appease minority. RSS already condemned and clarified the stand on the bill saying that it is an anti-Hindu Bill.
3. DADHICHI BLOOD DONATION: A GRAND SUCCESS: A very unique scheme DADHICHI BLOOD DONATION was organized by Hindu Help Line on October 30, 2011 all over Bharat at over 1000 locations. In all states Over 5000 places DADHICHI BLOOD DONATION had taken place & around 1,00,000 blood donors were expected to donate blood on the same day! Renowned Cancer Surgeon & VHP International Secretary General inaugurated Dadhichi blood donation in Delhi.
In U.P. Devaria the DM himself inaugurated the blood donation and in Patiala the SSP inaugurated and donated blood himself. Cutting castes, creed, gender, posts & social stratum, all have come ahead to make a difference under Hindu Help Line’s blood donation to give life to the needy through blood!
DADHICHI BLOOD DONATION scheme has been tied up with Blood Banks & Hospitals at over Bharat. The blood received in this will be made available to the hospitals & blood banks as listed with Hindu Help Line centrally & also with the Hindu Help Line Conveners at various locations.
4. NAVY TO DEPLOY AIRCRAFT, SHIPS IN MALDIVES ZONE: As part of its plan to increase its presence in the Bharatiya Ocean and help the littoral countries on its rim, the Bharatiya Navy will deploy aircraft and ships in Maldives starting October 19. The Navy is already undertaking patrolling and reconnaissance missions in Seychelles and Mauritius; while a Dornier aircraft of the Bharatiya Navy will be deployed for three weeks in Male for anti-piracy maritime reconnaissance and patrolling and protecting the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Maldives, sources said.
Bharatiya Ocean has assumed strategic importance for Bharat as most important sea lanes including Malacca Strait pass through it. Moreover, piracy off Somalia in the Gulf of Aden is posing a serious challenge to sea trade and Bharat along with navies of the world including the US, UK, France and China is patrolling the 500 nautical mile piracy infested channel.
5. EKAL FOUNDATION TO PLANT 10 LAKH SAPLINGS WITHIN A YEAR: Keeping the importance of trees in mind, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation has undertaken sapling plantation programme under its Swabhimaan Jaagran Abhiyaan. Central office-bearer of Swabhimaan Jaagran Abhiyaan Lalan Kumar Sharma informed that the foundation has vowed to plant 10 lakh saplings in the coming year.
Student who plants the sapling will also tag his name with the sapling so that his emotional relation will be maintained with that plant. When the sapling will turn into a tree, it will give a great satisfaction to that student. A variety of saplings such as medicinal herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc will be included in the drive. Saplings that will give furniture wood will also be included. This will help in the propagation of a variety of plants at various places in the country.
The drive was initiated on the occasion of World Environment Day at Shri Santram Mandir, Nadiyad (Gujarat). Pujya Swamiji planted a neem sapling in the temple premises in presence of Central Incharge of Ekal Movement Shyam Guptaji and others.
Paryavaran Sanrakshan Sankalp Yatra was also organized to mark the occasion. Kendriya karyakartas and Pollution Control Board officials participated in the procession with great enthusiasm.
6. SHRI EKADASHA RUDRA JAPAM BY VHP AUSTRALIA will be organized for world peace on 13 November, 2011 between 7:00 am – 1:30 pm at Shri Shiva Mandir – 201 Eagleview Road Minto, NSW 2566. VHP Australia is doing various projects to "Preserve the authenticity of the teachings of Hindu Dharma and pass that heritage on to future generations". All proceedings will go to Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia for promoting “Hindu Dharma” classes in NSW Public Schools, Sydney Veda Patasala, Sanskrit Classes for children, youth and adult.
7. 102-YEAR-OLD WOMAN ELECTED AS WARD MEMBER IN TN: At an age when most would happily retire to the company of their loved ones and recount tales of the days gone by, a 102-year-old woman has been elected as their ward member by the residents of Pudukulam village in Madurai district of Tamilnadu district in the recent civic polls held in the State. Hundred and two year-old Thadahathi has dispensed medical care to the village for decades and won the elections due to her positive attitude, according to P Muthuramalingam, President of the village. "She would go and help any person in distress voluntarily," he said when asked how they expected a candidate as old as Thadahathi to be an active worker for them. "Even at the age of 102 she works in the field and is a beneficiary of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. She is an expert 'Maruthuvatchi' (village doctor who is conversant with traditional medicine) also, and has helped the local women deliver nearly 1,000 babies." The centenarian is also the oldest elected member in the local bodies in the State.
8. TRADITION SHOULD BE MAINTAINED ABOUT TEMPLE TREASURE: ADVANI: BJP leader L K Advani on October 29 said tradition should be maintained with regard to the huge treasures found in the vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple and praised the Travancore Royal family for keeping such an enormous wealth intact for centuries.
Advani, in Kerala as part of his Jan Chetana yatra, said it was all the more significant that the royal family had shown great responsibility, honesty and uprightness in looking after such a huge wealth, estimated to be worth Rs one lakh crore, in the atmosphere of corruption in the country. "The royal family must be complimented and praised", he added.
On suggestion from certain quarters that part of the wealth should be utilised for public welfare, Advani said that the tradition of the state and the temple should be maintained in the matter.
9. HINDU FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS GOES MAINSTREAM: Happy Diwali! Happy Di what? : It's a Hindu holiday -- and an important one -- celebrated this week by Hindus all over the world, including an estimated 2 million in the United States. But do most Americans even know what Diwali is all about? Many Hindu Americans say no, and they're working to change that, but not with educational billboards or "A Charlie Brown Diwali" special on network television.
Instead, they're encouraging fellow Hindus to be a little more open about their celebrations -- to tell friends, colleagues and their children's teachers that Diwali is a big deal within Hinduism, the world's third largest religion.
"Someday it's my hope that you'll say, `It's Diwali,' and the boss will say, `Oh, OK, you'll take the day off,"' said Suhag Shukla, managing director of the Hindu American Foundation. "That's progress -- the feeling that as a Hindu, you don't have to explain."
Dr. Rasik Shah, a pediatric lung specialist in New York City, said he used to be a little shy about taking Diwali off. "But over time," he said, "I have been a little more bold, a little more vocal. We have to say what we want." Often, he said, he'll have to explain it.
For starters, it's the celebration of (one of the many dates for) the Hindu New Year, not all that different from Judaism's Rosh Hashanah, with equal parts of Hanukkah's festival of lights and Fourth of July sparklers thrown in. On a deeper level, Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Celebrated by Hindus and some Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains Diwali draws on the legends of each religion.
Most of Bharat, where 80 percent of its 1.2 billion people are Hindu, is off for Diwali. Families pray at Hindu temples, and deliver their best dishes to friends. At Diwali parties, there's dancing, variety shows and fireworks.
In the United States, the celebrations are more subdued, given the relatively small Hindu population and -- as many Hindu Americans point out -- stringent laws on fireworks.
Many U.S. Hindus don't take the holiday off, even the key day, which falls on Wednesday (Oct. 26) this year. And that's just fine with most Hindu "pandits" or priests, including Muralidhara Bhatta, the spiritual leader of Durga Mandir, a Hindutemple in Fairfax, Va. Bhatta expects a crowd at the temple on Wednesday night, but in his and many other American Hindu temples, the biggest celebrations will occur over the weekend, when he expects more than 1,000 people. "What we want is people's involvement," said Bhatta. "So we'll celebrate in a different way."
Vivek Dwivedi, a NASA engineer who lives in Maryland, said he will observe Diwali American-style by taking a half-day off, going to temple for prayers, decorating his house with Christmas-style lights, and visiting friends and family.
NASA and the federal government are good about allowing people to use earned personal days to celebrate religious holidays, Dwivedi said. Still, he added, it would be nice if more Americans knew a little about his religion and culture.
Part of the problem may be that non-Hindus haven't bothered to learn, but it's also Hindus themselves, he said. "I don't want to blame the Hindu community, but maybe Diwali should be advertised better." To that end, he praises Mindy Kaling, who stars as Kelly Kapoor, a Hindu employee on NBC's hit series "The Office." An episode called "Diwali," written by Kaling, centers on the boss's clueless attempts to get his employees to appreciate Bharatiya culture. The episode, which first aired in 2006, represents perhaps the brightest spotlight ever shone on Diwali in the United States. The White House first celebrated the holiday in 2003, and President Obama in 2009 became the first U.S. president to attend the festivities. Shukla called the gesture significant.
"It sends a message that Americans of all faiths and of no faith are being acknowledged," Shukla said.
Raised in India and New York, Padma Kuppa sees Hindus winning greater recognition and acceptance in the U.S., but said she has to keep working at it in her adopted home of Troy, Mich. In Troy, where Hindus make up a majority of the student body in at least one public school, district officials readily agreed to avoid scheduling parent-teacher conferences on Diwali. But then, at her older daughter’s high school, where about 10 percent of the students are Hindu, they scheduled homecoming on Diwali.
Her daughter didn’t go to homecoming that year.
“It’s a question of acculturating and accommodating,” Kuppa said.
(By Lauren Markoe for Religion News Services) 10. CITIES HAVE MORE WOMEN TODAY THAN EVER: CENSUS: Women constitute a larger proportion of the population of Bharatiya towns and cities today than has ever been recorded in Bharatiya history. This startling fact is despite the child sex ratio (the number of girls for every 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age group) having fallen alarmingly in recent decades.
Data from the 2011 census reveals that the population of urban women grew at a brisk 34% in the decade spanning 2001 to 2011. In the same period, their rural population grew by just over 12%. As a result, the sex ratio for urban areas jumped from 900 women per 1,000 men in 2001 to 926 in 2011, the highest decadal increase since Independence. In rural areas, the sex ratio increased nominally from 946 to 947.
According to research by the Centre for Women's Development Studies, a Delhi-based research institution, the answer to this mystery may be in increased migration of women from rural to urban areas.
11. ITBP TO RAISE HIGH SPEED BOATS FOR BHARAT -CHINA BORDER PATROL: The ITBP is procuring high speed boats to guard the water bodies in the Himalayan region.
“We had asked the Government to give us a water wing so that we can patrol along the large water bodies on the border. Government has accepted it. We are now raising it. It is not operational yet. We will be buying high speed boats. Personnel will also be trained for it,” Director General of ITBP Ranjit Sinha told reporters here on Oct 22.
About 55,000 personnel strong mountain range force guards the 3488 km long Bharat -China border from Karakoram pass in Ladakh region to Jechap La in Arunachal Pradesh.
Besides, it is involved in internal security related duties like anti-Naxal operations, security of vital installations and VVIPs, election duties and disaster management among others.
12. BHARAT SEEKS FAIR TREATMENT OF TRI-VALLEY STUDENTS: Bharatiya ambassador Nirupama Rao has asked US authorities to view the cases of hundreds of Bharatiya students affected by the closure of "sham" Tri-Valley University in a "fair and reasonable manner". The Bharatiya students of Tri-Valley University have undergone hardship since the closure of the university and their cases must be viewed in their totality with understanding and in a fair and reasonable manner, she told US authorities, according to a note put out by the Bharatiya embassy.
US authorities have approved the transfer of 435 Bharatiya students of the California-based Tri-Valley University to other institutions, the embassy was informed Friday. While 145 Bharatiya students were denied transfers and about an equal number were issued with Notices of Intention to Deny (NOIDs), the remaining cases of transfer are still under examination.
13. DIWALI ACROSS THE GLOBE: 10 DOWNING STREET & WHITE HOUSE: Diwali, a Hindu festival is now being celebrated across the globe as Hindus abroad are joined in the celebrations by locals, artists, influential businessmen and heads of states. British Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon David Cameron MP lit up Diwali celebrations on Thursday 20th October 2011 when he invited prominent members of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities along with Parliamentarians. The Prime Minister praised the contribution of Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities in enriching Britain. He acknowledged their contribution in business, sport and in the Armed Forces. He felt happy as on that day the Libyan people who had deposed their dictator like Lord Rama did of Ravana a few thousand years back. He further said the departure of the Libyan dictator marked the beginning of a new dawn for the Libyan people. He also said Diwali represented light and knowledge which conquers darkness as well as ignorance.
Continuing his Diwali celebrations in White House in 2009, US President Barrack Obama highlighted the universal message of Diwali of "victory of light over darkness, hope over despair", while lighting a traditional diya to celebrate Diwali at the White House complex.
Recalling his visit in Bharat on the eve of Diwali last year he said,” "Diwali is the time to celebrate victory of light over darkness, hope over despair. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists consider the day sacred. The message of this day is truly universal,".
Obama acknowledged the contributions of the Bharatiya -American community in every field in the country, from New York taxi drivers to the teenager who won the Google science fair this year.
14. MA.LAKSHMANRAO BHIDE – ADHUNIK DADHICHI RELEASED: “Shri Lakshmanrao ji Bhide was the backbone of Sangh work outside Bharat”, said Vandaniya Pramilatai Medhe while releasing the book on Lakshmanraoji Bhide, first Sangh pracharak who worked outside Bharat. The book is a Marathi translation of the Hindi biography written by Shri Yadavrao Deshmukh. Describing him as flagpost of the work, she narrated how Lakshmanrao ji insisted on participation of matrishakti in the work. The function was held at Baljagat, Nagpur on 29th October 2011. Others present on the dais were Dr.Sadanand Sapre, sah samyojak Vishwa Vibhag, Dr.Shankarrao Tatwawadi, former samyojak Vishwa Vibhag, Shri Prabhakarrao Mundle and sister of Lakshmanraoji Durgatai Phatak.
15. VJ VAGHASIA IS NEW NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF LAGHU UDYOG BHARATI: Shri VJ Vaghasia was unanimously elected new national president of Laghu Udyog Bharati (LUB). Shri Omprakash Mittal was elected general secretary, while Shri Ghanshyam Ojha was elected treasurer. The election took place at the annual general body meeting of LUB held at Aurangabad, Maharashtra, on September 24.
16. DR VIRENDRA HEGDE RELEASES BOOK ON SADANAND KAKADE: A book on veteran VHP leader, late Sadanand Kakade, was released in Bengaluru on October 15. Dr Virendra Hegde of Dharmasthala Temple released the book at Keshavashilpa Hall of Rashtrotthana Parishat. Dr M Rama Jois, former Governor and Chief Justice of Punjab-Haryana High Court, presided over the function. Senior RSS Pracharak Shri Chandrashekhara Bhandary spoke on the life and contribution of Sadanand Kakade, and recalled his contribution for the growth of VHP work in Karnataka and southern Bharat.
Dr M Shivakumar Swamy, editor of the book, Sri Babu Rao Desai, VHP central committee member, Sri Raghav Reddy, treasurer of VHP and several other leaders were also present at the function. The late Sadanand Kakade was a senior VHP functionary and dedicated his whole life for the Hindu society. He passed away on July 12, 2010. He hailed from Belgaum and had joined the RSS at the age of 20. .
17. DIVALI NAGAR, A HINDU THEME PARK: The Divali holiday in Trinidad and Tobago coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Divali Nagar, the first Hindu theme park in the world.
In the week leading to Divali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, over ten million deyas [clay lamps] are lit in homes, temples, offices, streets and parks. This festival has become the second-largest, open-air, national festival in multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago, after Carnival.
The hub of all Divali celebrations in the island is the Divali Nagar site in Central Trinidad, which was established in 1986. Indeed, the Nagar is the most-frequently visited entertainment centre in the country during Divali, second only to the Grand Stand in the Queen's Park Savannah during Carnival.
The Nagar provides a public stage for local, regional and international performing artistes. These models, singers, dancers, musicians, choirs and orchestras entertain locals, as well as visitors from the rest of the world. The Nagar has grown to epic proportions, attracting many artistes and tourists to this international spiritual tourist destination. They come from Belize, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Suriname in the Caribbean. Others come from French Guiana, U.S.A, U.K., Holland and Bharat.
For nine nights, the Nagar is transformed into a blend of the sacred and secular, where the bustle of commerce mingles with the melody of prayer. Booths showcase and sell products and services to approximately 150,000 visitors. Commercial booths sell mainly Bharatiya clothes, footwear, jewellery, accessories, music, movies, furniture, appliances, and religious and household items. In recent years, the Nagar has also accommodated an Bharatiya Trade Fair. This is a flea market operated by about 25 businessmen from Bharat.
18. THOUSANDS TURN OUT TO WITNESS THE GUYANA DIWALI MOTORCADE: Thousands of Guyanese lined up outside the Campbellsville Mandir and along the kitty seawall to witness the well-lit and designed vehicles with various depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses which formed part of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha’s annual Diwali motorcade last evening.
Some 20 floats participated in the event which started in 1974 by the Sabha’s president, Reepu Daman Persaud,. Thousands of Guyanese gathered at the la Bonne intention community centre ground to enjoy the cultural presentations by various Bharaiya groups and witness the highlight of the festival of Diwali, the motorcade.
President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud said the event has brought people of all races and religion into a single unit.
He notes that Diwali is one of the festivals that attract so many persons from all walks of life in and outside of Guyana.The Pandit said the motorcade showcases people’s creativity and vision through their depictions.
Youngsters from the Dharmic Sabha’s cultural youth arm mesmerized the audience with their performance, while the Dharmic Nritya Sangh captivated the audience with their superb dances. President Bharrat Jagdeo also took time out to visit the booths and mingle with the crowd.
19. PAKISTANI HIGH COURT VERDICT: HISTORICAL HINDU TEMPLE TO REOPEN DOORS: A 160-year-old Hindu temple in Peshawar is preparing to welcome worshippers after 60 years.
The Goraknath Temple, situated in the city's archaeological complex Gor Kattri, opens for worship on the Hindu festival of Diwali.
"In accordance with the September 15 verdict of the Peshawar High Court, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Department of Archaeology handed over the temple's keys to Phoolvati and her son Kaka Ram last week," their attorney Pervez Iqbal told The Express Tribune. A provincial minister joins the reopening ceremony of the temple, said Iqbal who spent almost a decade pursuing protracted litigation to win custody of the temple on behalf of Phoolvati. Although Phoolvati and her son are now custodians of the temple, authorities have barred them from renovating the building, saying it is 'protected' property and changes cannot be made to it.
20. ASHA BHOSLE ENTERS GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS: Asha Bhosle has achieved a Guinness World Record for recording the largest number of songs. The 78-year-old was awarded the honour at an awards function held in London on October 20.
"Now I feel I am a recognised singer in the world. I thank my fans and hope they will continue to love me," Bhosle said. The legendary Bollywood playback singer has recorded up to 11,000 solo, duet and chorus-backed songs in over 20 Bharatiya languages since 1947.
21. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitors: Ajay Agrawal – Nairobi Pravas: Shri Ravikumar, sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag left Bharat on a tour to Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Anything that brings spiritual, mental or physical weakness, touch it not with the toes of your feet. Religion is the manifestation of natural strength that is in man. A spring of infinite power is coiled up and is inside this little body, and that spring is spreading itself...This is the history of man, of religion, civilization or progress. – Swami Vivekananda
JAI SHREE RAM
REVIVING LOST VEDIC TRADITION
Woman is the nucleus of Indian culture. She plays various roles such as mother, daughter, sister, wife, etc and in each role she plays, lies the welfare of the nation. Mother is regarded as the first Guru of the child. She grooms the child so as to make him a responsible citizen. Maitreyi Gurukulam has revived the tradition of Vedic education for women that was lost in the passage of time.
The Gurukulam for women has been started so as to induce ideal womanhood and make girl child service oriented. It is obviously through her that the ideal society of the future is going to be shaped. The project is run under the aegis of a local Trust that is a part of Hindu Sewa Pratisthan, Karnataka.
The Gurukulam is situated in a serene atmosphere in Moorukaje village, 4 km off Vittla, Bantwal taluka, Dakshin Kannada district, Karnataka. Hindu tradition does not approve commercialization of education, medicine and food; the three essentials in life. Maitreyi Gurukulam being true to tradition does not charge fees from the students. Education including lodging and boarding is provided free of cost in the Gurukulam that is run on public contribution. The education being free of cost, being supported by a philanthropic society in the vicinity of the project, was looked down by many as the Gurukulam sprouted initially. However the society has recognized this endeavour and now the entrance test qualifiers only get the admission.
Gurus sit on the platforms and the shishyas sit on the floor, right beneath the huge ‘cool’ green trees. No blackboards, chalk pieces and dusters; the oral tradition being practiced flawlessly in a modern world where no one understands a concept unless it is presented through visuals. Most of the girls come from rural areas. The admission is open to all Hindu girls above 10 years of age without any consideration for caste and class with only 20 students per batch. The first phase consists of six-year course and the admission to the higher course is given on the successful completion of the first phase. The evolution of a personality is being experimented in this lab of human performances.
Two decades ago, an old couple , the owner of over 100 acres of land costing some crores, used to live happily on that land with some 200 dogs and they served the dogs as the service to the Almighty. However, after the demise of the husband, the old lady wished to donate this land to some voluntary organization working for welfare of women and approached a Sangh karyakarta. The karyakarya rejected her offer with a premise that he does not have enough manpower to take care of the huge plot.
The noble lady had her road map drawn clear in her mind. One day, she handed over the papers to that karyakarta and walked away triumphantly! She left for heavenly abode in a week with the satisfaction in her heart that she has handed over the property to a correct person. A team of karyakartas started working day and night to turn the dream of the noble lady into reality. Now the dream has come true as Maitreyi Gurukulam.
Salient feature of the Gurukulam:
1) Learning through the medium of the mother tongue-Kannada.
2) Working knowledge of conversation Sanskrit.
3) A perfect blend of traditional knowledge and modern information. Hence Vedas, Yoga, agriculture, native medicines and modern science form the core subjects of this multidimensional curriculum. Revival of the tradition of women learning Vedas is also an important aspect of the Gurukulam.
4) Motherly care of in-charge matrons.
5) Learning with a spiritual outlook.
6) Extra facilities to study literature, music and other fine arts.
WHY AFSPA SHOULD CONTINUE
The Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, has recently suggested that the provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 could be made inapplicable to some parts of the State. This has triggered a controversy since the security forces and the Ministry of Defence have consistently maintained that enforcement of the provisions of the Act in the State of J&K is necessary. It is therefore necessary to examine the provisions of the law and the need for their enforcement and applicability to the State.
Jammu & Kashmir has been a disturbed area for more than two decades. It has been the victim of cross-border terrorism. Certain domestic groups have also disputed the status of the State as an integral part of India.
It is an effort of the entire country and the State administration that peace and normalcy in the State should be restored and that the people of the State should be protected from any form of violence or subversion. Terrorism and separatist violence needs both a political and security response. The security response may adversely impact the day-to-day civilian life. It is harsh but necessary. In case there is laxity in terms of security, the inevitable consequences would be that deterrence of those indulging in violence and separatist activities would disappear.
Beside the State Police, the ‘armed forces’ of the Union also assist the administration. The ‘armed forces’ is not merely the army and certain other military forces but they also include other armed forces of the Union, namely, Border Security Force, CRPF, Assam Rifles and ITBP. Once the whole State or a part of the State is declared as a ‘disturbed area’, the armed forces are called in aid of the civil powers in order to maintain peace and tranquility in the State.
Armed forces do not investigate crime. Their personnel are entitled to take necessary steps for maintenance of public order and use force after giving due warning to those who threaten law and order. They can enter into a premise and search them. They can destroy any dumps or fortified shelters from which armed attacks are made. They are entitled to arrest without warrant and even take the arrested person to the nearest police station without delay along with a report of such arrests.
Thus, with regard to declaration of an area as a disturbed area it is an assessment and opinion formed by the Government that the civilian administration and local State police are not enough to maintain the law and order in the State. If the local police alone can maintain law and order, the declaration of that area as a disturbed area would not be necessary.
The decision thus to continue the State or a part of the State as a disturbed area or otherwise has to be taken on security considerations and not political considerations. Even in districts where the Army is withdrawn, the CRPF and other armed forces are still deployed. The local State police would be inadequate in most of these districts also.
The powers given to the armed forces of the Union are not substantially different from the powers which the local police have. The local police can also make arrests, searches for the purpose of maintaining law and order. They can also use reasonable force required to maintain peace and tranquility. They can also destroy any arm dumps or fortified positions or shelters from where armed attacks are made by violent groups.
The only protection provided to the armed forces of the union is that before any prosecution, suit or legal proceedings is initiated against any personnel of the armed forces for acting under this Act, prior sanction of the Central Government would be necessary.
When I visited the State last year as a part of the all party delegation I was informed by the officers of the paramilitary forces that more than 2500 applications for prosecuting personnel of armed forces were pending with the Central Government.
The Act, therefore, gives protection to the personnel of armed forces that they cannot be prosecuted without the sanction of the Central Government. In case this protection is withdrawn it would empower various vested interests to prosecute officials of the armed forces and other paramilitary forces indiscriminately.
Obviously, this would disincentivise personnel of these forces from taking adequate steps against the separatist groups. When the security forces are in favour of retention of this law, it would be highly imprudent to allow anyone to seriously argue that political considerations require that this law be withdrawn or its enforcement be restricted only to certain areas.
We seriously hope that a situation does emerge in future that the applicability of this law is either not necessary or is restricted only to some areas. That situation does not seem to have arrived as yet. The withdrawal of this law would leave the administration of the unprotected districts only in the hands of the local police and thus incentivising the separatist and violent groups to increase their activities in these areas.
It would, therefore, be politically more prudent for the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir not to initiate a debate at a stage when circumstances still warrant the continuation of the operation of the law.
(Writer is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha) The Pioneer, Friday, 28 October 2011