Recalling the mass conversion in Meenakshipuram in 1981 that had changed the name of the village to Rahmat Nagar, the Organiser editorial expresses concern over the alleged conversion in Rampur, where some 800 villagers “were forced to consider conversion to Islam to save their houses from demolition.” The editorial says UP minister Azam Khan is allegedly behind the demolition to construct a shopping mall: “The role of Azam Khan in UP politics and his reign of ghettoism and fear is reported time and gain… the proposed road to the mall where the recent protest by [the] Valmiki community took place is actually planned for the Zohar University, a pet project of the Rampur strongman…” The editorial alleges that the reactions from “from media and ‘liberal-secular’ intellectuals were more disgusting because instead of questioning the apathy of [the] local and state administration, there were stories of caste discrimination: “Why both the Congress and the communists are keeping mum now, when they had left no stone turned to raise loud protests against ‘Ghar Wapsi’ a few months ago? Surprisingly, the votaries of ‘Dalit’ rights, including BSP leader Mayawati, are also conspicuously missing from the scene. Are they too afraid of talking about Azam Khan in UP?”
The Organiser issue, with a cover story on India’s evacuation of its citizens from Yemen, has an interview with Union Minister V.K. Singh, who oversaw Operation Rahat. Singh offers interesting details about the difficulties involved, explaining how the government had to simultaneously coordinate with the ATC authorities in Djibouti and Sana’a, whose airspace is controlled by Saudi Arabia. “Initially they wanted us to fly through Eritrea but the relations between Eritrea and Djibouti are already strained, so both of them were denying permission. To cover the long distance, two hours timespan was just not sufficient. So we tried hard to get the straight route clearance and finally succeeded. When we started the operation, we thought we would have two rounds of evacuation, but the actual air journey itself took more than two and a half hours. Boarding and deboarding… took another 40-45 minutes,” he says. Singh himself went to Sana’a and stayed there at night to assess the difficulties.
The other issue was immigration. “As most of the Indians work there on contracts, their passports were with the owners of the companies. So they did not get the visa to leave the country.” He adds: “There were other issues as well. For instance, a person went there on a tourist visa but was staying there for over six years. Yemen authorities were also perplexed… There were many peculiar cases and most of them did not have money to pay the penalty,” says Singh.
The Panchjanya editorial talks about how reports about “snooping” on family members of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has eclipsed the shining star of Jawaharlal Nehru. This is an issue the Nehru-Gandhi family is nervous about: “The workers have disappeared and the family is hiding as the exposed facts have torn away their mask of innocence…” It says Nehru was confused, a look that does not go with his established image: “If Nehru was above the ordinary mindset or silly things like snooping, what was that letter he sent on November 26, 1957? Why did he write to then foreign secretary Subimal Dutt, seeking to know what Bose’s nephew Amiya Nath Bose was doing in Tokyo?” The entire nation was sad at the disappearance of Netaji. At a time when it was necessary to support his family, they were spied on. The editorial asks why the Congress was keen on claiming Netaji was dead and at the same time trying to get information about his being alive.
Since the political environment has undergone major change, the editorial warns that the suppressed chapters of India’s history are being disclosed. More disclosures about the Congress will emerge.
Compiled by Liz Mathew