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Indian Press ( 18 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Press on Tablighi Acquittal, Ertugrul Ghazi and India-Pakistan War: New Age Islam's Selection, 18 December 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

18 December 2020

• Justice, Again: Tablighi Acquittal

The Telegraph Editorial

• Imran Khan’s Ertugrul Love Was Going Well. Until A Pakistani Tiktoker Joined The Party

By Naila Inayat

• Calling Bangladesh!

The Daily Pioneer Editorial

• 49 Years Later, Lessons That Remain To Be Learnt From 1971 India-Pakistan War

The Print Team

• Noor Ahmad: A Real Community Leader

By Hameedah Nayeem


 Justice, Again: Tablighi Acquittal

The Telegraph Editorial


Years ago, India’s premier investigating agency had earned the epithet, ‘caged parrot’, from the highest court of the land. The Central Bureau of Investigation, evidently, is not short of company inside this metaphorical enclosure. While acquitting 36 foreigners who had been accused of flouting Covid-19 protocols while ‘participating’ in a religious congregation organized by the Tablighi Jamaat in March, a metropolitan court in Delhi not only criticized the failure of the prosecution to prove that the accused were present at the said event but also — in a most damaging observation — acknowledged the possibility of the police picking up these individuals with the malicious intention of implicating them under the directions of the Union home ministry.

The strings that make India’s investigation agencies dance seem to have bobbed up to the surface, yet again. Incidentally, in August, charges had been dropped against eight other accused after the court found ‘no prima facie evidence’ against them either: they are among those who had — courageously — agreed to stand trial in India after 900 other foreign delegates opted to plead guilty as part of a plea bargain.

These acquittals are important because they expose the hollowness of the campaign that had been directed against the Tablighi Jamaat and, by extension, India’s Muslims who, the propaganda alleged, were instrumental in the spread of the contagion in India.

Perhaps the smear campaign had been necessitated to conceal the bungling of the authorities in the first place. The assembly had been allowed to take place even though there was evidence that the pandemic was surging around the world and in India. Some of the participants hailed from nations with rising Covid burdens but their screening was lax. The investigators seem to have taken their cue from their political masters, some of whom played a crucial role in fanning the communal fire, describing members of the Jamaat as ‘terrorists’ and ‘human bombs’.

The consequences were ugly: the disparaging comments worsened the strain on India’s inclusive social fabric and magnified the sufferings of minorities. It was the judiciary, once again, that stepped up to contain the poisoning. The Bombay High Court expressed its displeasure against this selective targeting and asked for the damage to be repaired. The latest verdict would strengthen the case for an apology and accountability from the powers that be.


Imran Khan’s Ertugrul Love Was Going Well. Until A Pakistani Tiktoker Joined The Party

By Naila Inayat

17 December, 2020

It seems like a lifetime when Ertugrul was imposed as a bona fide hero by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Pakistan. If it was possible, Ertugrul would have been named the first Pakistani ever. But all the hard work didn’t go to waste after all. Ertugrul Ghazi, the father of the founder of Ottoman dynasty and the destroyer of infidels and stuff like that, landed in Pakistan to rule the hearts and minds of the citizens and even get a gig or two, or not.

When the statue of Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh was being vandalised for the second time at Lahore Fort, Erutgrul’s statues stood tall in a residential community in the city. The man arrested for breaking the arm of Ranjit Singh’s statue was a supporter of hard-line cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi and was of the view that Singh’s statue shouldn’t have been built at all because he committed atrocities against Muslims during his rule. At least Ertugrul’s statue, carrying a sword and riding a horse, faces no such sudden fury. Not only statues but a Sindhi inspiration of the Turkish show, Dirilis: Ertugrul, an Ertugrul Ghazi chicken shop and even Ertugrul Ghazi family restaurant have popped up in Pakistan.

The ambassador of a fraud

Engin Altan aka Ertugrul’s host in Lahore was a blingy TikToker and a local businessman. Mian Kashif Zameer himself is no less than a star, only if Neftlix discovers his talent of making friends in higher places and walking around with four kilograms of gold jewellery and keeping a lion as a pet. He could even get his own version of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Zameer roped in Altan as a global brand ambassador for his Chaudhry Group of Companies, signing a million-dollar deal. The chief minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, facilitated the Turkish actor with a House Shield and a rifle. Altan even expressed desire to work in a Pakistani film or drama. Everything was looking up, it seemed as if PM Imran Khan had delivered on his promise of people coming from abroad to find jobs in Naya Pakistan. But then there was a twist in the kahaani.

The gold-laden TikToker turned out to be a wanted felon with as many as eight cases of fraud, robbery, betrayal of trust and car theft against him in Lahore, Toba Tek Singh and Sialkot. On Wednesday, police arrested Zameer in Lahore for threatening a local TV journalist for reporting on his criminal record. This is the Pakistani brand Ertugrul is an ambassador of.

Not only that, news reports suggested that Zameer only paid half of the promised $1 million to his ambassador. But Zameer, in an earlier statement, had said that haters are hating on him because he was the first one to bring Ertugrul to Pakistan and 50 per cent payment was part of the contract. Jealousy was the reason, according to him. However, no official statement has come from the Turkish actor so far.

You can profit only so much

All good things come to an end, but with such horror? That 4 kg gold is said to be only gold plated, the cars he uses aren’t his, the house he lives in isn’t owned by him. Was his clout of famous and powerful people real? And the pet lion, was it even asli? Zameer is Pakistan’s Bunty and Babli combined. As they say, Ertugrul ko chuna lag gaya. Wonder what the real Ertugrul with his Dirilis Axe would have done? Small mercies this Ertugrul isn’t the real one.

The trend of profiting from Ertugrul actors has continued throughout the year. The lead actress of the show, Esra Bilgic, also known as Halima baji (Halima Sultan) is now the face of a leading Pakistani clothes line, a mobile phone company, a telecommunication company and even a housing society. The same Halima baji whose posts on Instagram weren’t considered “decent enough”. But Ertugrul wasn’t lucky enough to even get a corner plot in Naya Pakistan — so much for the man who is a national hero.

In the past, Pakistani actors have spoken up against the government ignoring the talent at home while celebrating foreign content. In one scathing comment, actor Yasir Hussain had mentioned that local talent is “ghar ki murgi” and even garbage from abroad is considered profitable. Even in the times of coronavirus, when the industry has faced economic challenges, the government support has been missing while the focus remains on promoting Turkish dramas one after the other — that too, at a great diplomatic risk of irking the kingdom of Saudi Arabia by popularising Ertugrul.


Calling Bangladesh!

The Daily Pioneer Editorial

18 December 202

The reopening of the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link is aimed at reducing the diplomatic distance between Delhi and Dhaka

Given the heaving presence of China in the region and its debt-trapping ways with our neighbours, it is important for India to strengthen bilateral relations and invest in mutually beneficial infrastructure than depend on a historicity of ties. While the Narendra Modi Government has been aggressively pursuing the “look East” policy, it has been aiming to make Bangladesh the arrowhead of its diplomacy. This has become all the more important considering that the Sheikh Hasina Government has been equally keen on Chinese investment and developing a transactional relationship with our eastern neighbour and counter-weighing that edge in its relationship with India. So New Delhi has been making efforts to further enhance transport and connectivity between India and Bangladesh and has revived the 55-year-old Haldibari-Chilahati rail link. The neighbours had earlier decided to resurrect the six pre-1965 rail links between the sides which the war had cut off. The other links that are set to be revived between West Bengal with Bangladesh are Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India)-Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh) and Radhikapur (India)-Birol (Bangladesh). Diplomatically, this eases the trade corridor with Bangladesh, boosting bilateral trade in the region. Strategically and politically, it eases India’s mainland connectivity to the Northeastern States, particularly Assam. The new rail link between Akhaura (Bangladesh) and Agartala, which is being funded by India, is likely to be operational by 2021 end. Both are the fastest growing economies in South Asia, and Bangladesh is expected to graduate from the LDC status to a developing country by 2024. The GDP per capita is also projected to rise there. The more India strides ahead in connectivity, the more it can keep Bangladesh as a buffer against China.

Why do we need Dhaka even more now? On the face of it, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assured India of respecting the organic nature of historic ties and soothed anxieties over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam. But by foregrounding economic cooperation — one that spans connectivity, investment, power and infrastructure projects in her home country — she has also redefined the rules of bilateral engagement. The new reality has put us in a competitive slot vis-à-vis China, which has become one of the top trading partners of Bangladesh over the past couple of years. And in a multilateral world, where each nation is negotiating deals most beneficial to it and will not just pay obeisance to history, we can no longer afford to touch a raw nerve. There is a need to further woo Bangladesh, considering its deep discomfort over repeated statements from our Ministers on infiltration, minorities and the NRC. Particularly the idea that all “infiltrators” were “Bangladeshis”, repeatedly uttered in political speeches, has not gone down well among the people there. While many understand the difference between the political necessity of posturing and the diplomatic value, the overtly aggressive Hindutva messaging hasn’t quite sat easy with Bangladesh. So it is incumbent upon India to make Dhaka feel wanted at this juncture. Besides, Bangladesh is a key pillar in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s neighbourhood diplomacy, what with it being a littoral nation and crucial to our role in the Indian Ocean. China has been quick to tap into the acute shortage of power in Bangladesh and has already taken up two mega power projects, hoping to enhance its presence in the energy market there. And while India is also a player in the power sector, it is difficult for Bangladesh to overlook China given its energy demands. For its part, India is working on joint projects on ports and roadways. If the Modi Government wants to make a success of its ‘Act East’ policy, we must invest meaningfully in our neighbouring nation.


49 Years Later, Lessons That Remain To Be Learnt From 1971 India-Pakistan War

The Print Team

17 December, 2020

New Delhi: On 16 December 1971, India won a decisive victory over Pakistan after a 13-day war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. While it was a short and decisive war, 4,000 soldiers were killed and more than 8,000 were injured.

On the war’s 49th anniversary, ThePrint’s editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta unpacks the volatile decade of 1960s which preceded the war, in episode 641 of ‘Cut The Clutter’.

The 1971 war settled the problems for the people of East Pakistan, but did not solve India’s problem with Pakistan or Kashmir; in fact, it made the blood feud more intense, said Gupta.

“This gives us the lesson that wars rarely solve the central problem, even if they are decisive,” he added.

According to Gupta, the 1960s was a decade of wars in India that one should look back at, to understand present circumstances.

Goa annexation, war with China and Pakistan

Soon after the Goa operation (annexation of Goa from the Portuguese) in 1961, the Chinese attacked India in 1962. Then, in April 1965, Pakistanis came knocking at India’s door in Kutch, Gujarat, said Gupta.

Pakistan brought their brigade of troops and tanks, but India tactically did not deploy heavy forces in that area, which led Pakistan to believe that India was incapable of fighting a war and thus launched a full-fledged operation to take Kashmir back from India.

However, Pakistan realised soon enough that they had miscalculated the calibre of the Indian Armed Forces. Pakistanis, then, had a big technological advantage, but they were not able to use it, noted Gupta.

On the ground, he added, the war was a stalemate. But in principle, even though India did not win, Pakistan lost because their only objective of taking away Kashmir was not fulfilled.

War With China, Again

In 1967 came the big skirmish with the Chinese in the Nathu La pass in East Sikkim, which lasted a few days but was much more intense. The casualties on both sides were quite high.

But this taught India that they could withstand the Chinese and Chinese also learned that Indian Armed Forces were no longer a pushover.

During that decade, Naga insurgency was also at its peak.

In January 1966, Mizo insurgency also started and for the first time the government used the Indian Air Force against its own people.

Other separatist movements were also going on at the same time — Punjab and Haryana had separated in 1966 and the Dravidian movement in South India was also underway.

Lessons from 1960s

A lot of what is happening today has been determined by what happened during the 1960s, said Gupta.

India is currently going through its most insecure phase in history externally and internally.

“But to understand the crisis, we have to remember how we survived during the 60s. The second thing to remember is that even though a war is decisive, both the sides lose something, and war is a ‘messy business’,” Gupta added.

War also gives us an insight into the history, culture and ideologies of a nations, he noted

Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan are a minority and are not allowed to call themselves Muslims. And two war heroes from Pakistan were not celebrated as much just because they belonged to this community.

Gupta noted the Pakistan Army had occupied Chamb sector of Kashmir in both the wars.

In 1965, the commander was Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik who was an Ahmadiyya. But at that time when Pakistan had an advantage over India, President Ayub Khan decided to change the division commander and replaced Malik with Yahya Khan, who led the Pakistani army to surrender in 1971.

In 1971, Pakistan decided to attack Chamb again and the mission was brilliantly conducted. It ultimately broke Indian defences and Pakistanis captured Chamb again.

The operation was led by Major General Iftikhar Khan Janjua, who had also given India a “bloody nose” during the operation in Kutch, said Gupta.

However, he was an Ahmadiyya, too, and died in a helicopter crash during that war.

After the 1971 war, the Ahmadiyyas were victimised even more and then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto decided to take Pakistan towards more Islamisation.

While the creation of Bangladesh was a big success, after 1971, the re-Islamisation of Pakistan was a setback for the subcontinent, concluded Gupta.


Noor Ahmad: A Real Community Leader

By Hameedah Nayeem

December 18, 2020

Even though we have been incessantly in mourning  for a long time yet some moments of loss intensify it to new levels.  The passing away  of Noor Ahmad at this juncture in time is such a moment that left the entire Tral division orphaned and dwarfed, and its ripples have been felt far and wide. I  am extremely grieved by his  last journey as I  understand beyond personal grief, his communitarian significance and how almost impossible it is to fill the void left by his passing away. I have  known him from my teens and have been deeply impacted by his speeches. He was the first person for me who added intellectual dimension to Islamic teachings when I was at an impressionable age; a time when their was no internet  and no YouTube lectures of scholars to listen to diverse brilliant voices on the exegesis of Islam and the ‘ constructed theology’. Over the years he had outgrown the earlier stages of Tableeg  and expanded his scope of intervention in the society.

Out of four sons his father’s mantle fell on him and he proved himself more than worthy of it. His father was given the charge of Talimul Islam Tral when it was established by some prominent  community members when; my father was a child and Noor Sb offered to work on two rupees salary whereas he was getting fifteen rupees in Srinagar Islamia School at the time. He developed the school literally brick by brick and gradually developed it into the best school in the area. Noor Ahmad took the school to new heights by upgrading the school  to higher classes  and dividing  it into three full fledged branches namely Boys school, Al Banaat and Darul Aloom at three  separate locations. Darul Aloom is situated near Panzinag in our vicinity and a grand mosque, the only one of its kind, has been constructed in its compound  of eight kanals of land in the recent years where he would lead prayer and deliver  Khutba on every Friday as thousands of people from all directions would throng the mosque to listen to him.

What set Noor Ahmad arguably apart from all the current Ulema in Kashmir are his all encompassing teachings on almost all aspects of life  that are classified as: 1) Imaniyat and Tasdeeqaat 2) Aamaal and Ibadaat 3)  Adaab and Muashirat 4) Mamlaat and Siyasiyaat  and 5) Salooq and Maqamaat according to Islamic teachings.

This particular feature greatly impressed the younger generation and intelligentsia who are baffled by several contemporary issues and are  in search  of answers to many questions that modern life throws up. In the light of Islam. This also took him away from criticizing one sect or the other, which he used to do sometimes in the past, and concentrate on the core Islamic thought and philosophy of action. The result was, he was able to unify all sects under the broader contours of Islam transcending  hegemonic sectarian politics and competitive discourses that has done a lot of disservice to  the unity  and monolithic  grand narrative of Islam and  Muslims. This was testified  by the sea of people who came weeping for his Namazi Janazah, and to have the  last glimpse of their revered and beloved Imam. On every  Friday he would choose a particular theme  confronting society  besides other things and explain that in the light of Islamic ethos.

He had a sterling character, led a simple life, was taciturn by nature and constantly cultivated his spirit by zikrullah. He was devoted to his wife  and the couple had  a deep bond of love, fidelity and commitment to each other, and never allowed her to do tough domestic chores. He had so much love for her that when she was ailing and was to be taken to hospital for medical consultation, he put the shoes on her feet himself and did not let his daughters to do so (as told to me by his elder daughter). She further said that he never reprimanded his children but would point to their mistakes indirectly in a friendly manner.

In the earlier stages of his life he was not averse to Peer Muridi –  what is called tariqa.  and may have even criticized it but his evolution was apparent in seeking spiritual guidance first from  Masihulah Khan  and after his passing away from Hazrat Shah Abrarul Haq Hardoi from UP. Both these personalities were khalifas of  Maulana Ashraf Ali  Thanvi.

My regret has been that I did not get a chance to get education in MTI  under his guidance  as girls were not allowed those days, and I carry this sense of bereavement/ loss even  today. I always yearn to go back  in years  to my childhood through  the operation of some magic wand and join the school to learn everything afresh particularly languages – Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English, and Islamyaat from him. My siblings, two sisters and two brothers, were fortunate to be his students in the school. Though my father got the best teachers from this school to teach me at home yet I couldn’t get over this sense of loss of not  having learnt from him.

All those people who have done well in education in Tral have got their mental nourishment from this school. His father’s contribution to religious education is invaluable but Noor Ahmad stole a leaf over him by contributing to the holistic education as he was well versed in both. In a nutshell, he was a Mard E Momuin, who had achieved Tazkiyai Nafas, a genuine traditional scholar, a Qazi, an administrator, a Waiz, and a social leader. Tral, and its adjacent areas have lost an all protecting shield, a real community leader who played multiple roles and whose place none could replace at present. May God grant him the highest station in Jannah and strength to us to tread on the path he painstakingly showed during his mature life time.


Since I have gone down the memory lane I feel an irresistible urge to give more details related to Noor Sahab, and women’s education.

When Noor Sahab had come back from Deoband after completing his formal education there, he started preaching Tawheed and systematic Islamic thought and Ibadaat. He was persecuted by his brethren who mistakenly thought that he was attacking their beliefs, an attempt was made on his life and he leapt from the window to escape the bid on his life, and never returned to that home. He preached that the Prophet is the messenger of God and not a partner unto Him, nor has any saint any divine power. It is wrong to ask them for help. He bore all those torments and disgraces gracefully, but stuck to his beliefs. That time there were a handful of people who followed him. For the rest he was an untouchable. As education spread, the entire area came under the influence of his teachings and when he died on  23rd Jan 1993  swarms of people, in  lakhs, came from all regions to mourn his death, and his opponents paid glowing tributes to his service to Islam and people of the area.

Noor Ahmad didn’t have to go through all those trials and tribulations. He had a vast youth following when his father passed away.

I clearly remember Noor Sb’s evolution about women’s modern education. When I and my sister were sent to Govt school, Noor Sb had objected to my father for sending us to govt school, because sometimes he led prayers and people will object to his Imamat for sending his daughters to govt school, and that girls are at the risk of losing their values. My father had a great passion to educate his daughters and craved for some magical short cut to take us to higher classes. That is why I was directly put in the 2nd primary class at the insistence of my father and the school administration added four more years to my actual age for jumping up the ladder. My father disagreed with Noor Sb arguing that if he ever felt that his girls were going astray, he would call them back. My father thought Matric was the ultimate degree for girls at that time and wanted us to reach there faster. He promised to Noor Sb that he would let his daughters to have that degree if they stick to the right path. He told him that he was not committing any blasphemy that people could object to his imamat by trying to educate his daughters even in a govt school and quoted: Talabul Ilmu Bisceen; Talabul Ilmu Farizatan Alla Kuli Muslimin Wa Muslimah. In this hadith it was not said which kind of exclusive education one should get. In the lighter vein he told him that China would not have been  suggested as a favorite spot for acquiring religious education by the Prophet.

When I was appointed in the university and visited Noor Sb to give him the news, he asked me for his share in my salary in  a humourous tone. I reminded him again light heartedly of the general fallacy in the then Muslim society that women’s earnings are haram for men and how could he take my earnings. He debunked this fallacy very forcefully. Incidentally by this time all his progeny – his sons, granddaughters and grandsons were getting modem education  so much so that his granddaughters went to medical college and the university and became teachers, doctors etc.

The real liberator for me, however, from the dead weight of customs and conventional absurdities, and the slavery of the literal sense was Mohammad Akbar Ganaei Sahab who taught in the Islamia School and who tutored me at home. He was a mystic by nature and took me to the heart of Quran and Hadith beyond words and beyond literality of legal discourse in Islam. I could never repay him for opening up vistas of my mind and imagination and opening up the reality of things. My mental growth started with him and came to another level at the university where I was introduced to western philosophies. I had by this time the confidence of rejecting many philosophical ideas which were shorn from godhead. Otherwise I could easily have  been alienated from God. Ganai Sb would often say  that Noor Sb is a modern day Qutub. Bottom of Form Ganai Sb himself was no less than a Qutub.

More on that some other time as I owe it to him to tell his story even though this realization dawned on me belatedly .



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