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FREEDOMS HEROES : In Loving Memory of Udham Singh & Shaheeds of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

 

 

Demonstration at Gujranwala

Two days later, on 15 April, demonstrations occurred in Gujranwala

 

 protesting the killings at Amritsar. Police and aircraft were used against the demonstrators, resulting in 12 deaths and 27 injuries. The Officer Commanding the Royal Air Force

 

 in India, Brigadier General N D K MacEwen

 

 stated later that:

 

I think we can fairly claim to have been of great use in the late riots, particularly at Gujranwala, where the crowd when looking at its nastiest was absolutely dispersed by a machine using bombs and Lewis guns.

 

 

Assassination of Michael O’Dwyer

See also: Udham Singh

 

 

 

 

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On 13 March 1940, at Caxton Hall in London, Udham Singh

 

an Indian independence activist from Sunam who had witnessed the events in Amritsar and was himself wounded, shot and killed Michael O’Dwyer, the British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab at the time of the massacre, who had approved Dyer’s action and was believed to be the main planner. Dyer himself had died in 1927.

 

 

 

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 Michael O’Dwyer

Will the historians of the future have to record that it was not the Nazis

 

 but the British ruling class which destroyed the British Empire?” Singh had told the court at his trial:

 

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Wide view of Jallianwala Bagh

 

Memorial

 

I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What a greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?

[52]

 

 

Regret

Although Queen Elizabeth II

 

 had not made any comments on the incident during her state visits in 1961 and 1983, she spoke about the events at a state banquet in India

 

 on 13 October 1997:

 

It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past – Jallianwala Bagh, which I shall visit tomorrow, is a distressing example. But history cannot be rewritten, however much we might sometimes wish otherwise. It has its moments of sadness, as well as gladness. We must learn from the sadness and build on the gladness.

On 14 October 1997 Queen Elizabeth II visited Jallianwala Bagh and paid her respects with a 30‑second moment of silence

 
 

. She removed her shoes while visiting the monument and laid a wreath at the monument.

 

While some Indians welcomed the expression of regret and sadness in the Queen’s statement, others criticised it for being less than an apology.

Prime Minister of India Inder Kumar Gujral defended the Queen, saying that the Queen herself had not even been born at the time of the events and should not be required to apologies .

 

Winston Churchill, on the 8th July 1920, urged the House of Commons to punish General Dyer.Churchill succeeded in persuading the House to forcibly retire General Dyer, but Churchill would have preferred to see the general disciplined.

In February 2013 David Cameron became the first serving British Prime Minister to visit the site, laid a wreath at the memorial, and described the Amritsar massacre as “a deeply shameful event in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as monstrous. We must never forget what happened here and we must ensure that the UK stands up for the right of peaceful protests”. Cameron did not deliver an official apology.

 

 

Amritsar Massacre

Jallian Wala Bagh

“The impossible men of India shall rise and liberate their Motherland”

Mahatma Gandhi, after the Amritsar Massacre.

Jallian Wala Bagh Memorial

 

 

“The incident in Jallian Wala Bagh was ‘an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation”…Winston Churchill

It started a few months after the end of the first world war when an Englishwoman, a missionary, reported that she had been molested on a street in the Punjab city of Amritsar. The Raj’s local commander, Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, issued an order requiring all Indians using that street to crawl its length on their hands and knees. He also authorized the indiscriminate, public whipping of natives who came within lathi length of British policemen.

On April 13, 1919, a multitude of Punjabis  gathered in Amritsar’s Jallian wala Bagh as part of the Sikh Festival “Baisakhi fair” and to protest at these extraordinary measures. The throng, penned in a narrow space smaller than Trafalgar Square, had been peacefully listening to the testimony of victims when Dyer appeared at the head of a contingent of British troops. Giving no word of warning, he ordered 50 soldiers to fire into the gathering, and for 10 to 15 minutes 1,650 rounds of ammunition were unloaded into the screaming, terrified crowd, some of whom were trampled by those desperately trying to escape.

Amritsar Massacre

 

 

“The Indians were ‘packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies’; the people ‘ran madly this way and the other. When fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed to the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for eight or ten minutes, and it stopped only when the ammunition had reached the point of exhaustion”…..Winston Churchill

Dyer then marched away, leaving 379 dead and over 1,500 wounded.

Back in his headquarters, he reported to his superiors that he had been ‘confronted by a revolutionary army,’ and had been obliged ‘to teach a moral lesson to the Punjab.’ In the storm of outrage which followed, the brigadier was promoted to major general, retired, and placed on the inactive list.

”I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.” ……Dyer’s response to the Hunter Commission Enquiry

General Dyer said he would have used his machine guns if he could have got them into the enclosure, but these were mounted on armoured cars. He said he did not stop firing when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep firing until the crowd dispersed, and that a little firing would do no good.

He confessed he did not take any steps to attend to the wounded after the firing. ”Certainly not. It was not my job. Hospitals were open and they could have gone there,” came his pathetic response.

However, the misery suffered by the people was reflected in Rattan Devi’s account. She was forced to keep a nightlong vigil, armed with a bamboo stick to protect her husband’s body from jackals and vultures. Curfew with shoot-at-sight orders had been imposed from 2000 hours that night.

Rattan Devi stated, ”I saw three men writhing in great pain and a boy of about 12. I could not leave the place. The boy asked me for water but there was no water in that place. At 2 am, a Jat who was lying entangled on the wall asked me to raise his leg. I went up to him and took hold of his clothes drenched in blood and raised him up. Heaps of bodies lay there, a number of them innocent children. I shall never forget the sight. I spent the night crying and watching…”

General Dyer admitted before the commission that he came to know about the meeting at Jallianwala Bagh at 1240 hours that day, but took no steps to prevent it. He also admitted in his deposition that the gathering at the Bagh was not a concentration only of rebels, but people who had covered long distances to participate in the Baisakhi fair.

This incredibly, made him a martyr to millions of Englishmen. Senior British officers applauded his suppression of ‘another Indian Mutiny.’ The Guardians of the Golden Temple enrolled him in the Brotherhood of Sikhs. The House of Lords passed a measure commending him. The Conservatives presented him with a jewelled sword inscribed “Saviour of the Punjab.”

http://www.amritsar.com/images/udham.jpgA young Sikh teenager who was being raised at Khalsa Orphanage named Udham Singh

 

 (aka Mohammad Singh Azad) saw the happening with his own eyes. He vowed to avenge the Amritsar massacre.

 

 On 13 March 1940 at 4.30 p.m. in the Caxton Hall, London, where a meeting of the East India Association was being held in conjunction with the Royal Central Asian Society, Udham Singh fired five to six shots from his pistol at Sir Michael O’Dwyer, who was governor of the Punjab when the Amritsar Massacre had taken place, to avenge the massacre.

On the 31st July, 1940, Udham Singh was hanged at Pentonville jail, London

“He was the real culprit. He deserved it. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I [had to] crush him.” Udham Singh, telling the trial court why he killed Michael O’Dwyer.

Listen to the shaheed song – “Jallian Wala Bagh” in honour of the sacrifices made by Amritsar to set India free. Click on play on the media player below.

 

There was an uneasy calm in the city on 11 April. In the evening that day, Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer (b. 1864, ironically at Murree in the Punjab), commander 45th Infantry Brigade at Jalandhar, arrived in Amritsar. He immediately established file facto army rule, though the official proclamation to this effect was not made until 15 April. The troops at his disposal included 475 British and 710 Indian soldiers.

Local leaders called upon the people to assemble for a meeting in the Jallianwala Bagh at 4.30 in the evening. Brigadier-General Dyer set out for the venue of the meeting at 4.30 with 50 riflemen and two armored cars with machine guns mounted on them. Meanwhile, the meeting had gone on peacefully, and two resolutions, one calling for the repeal of the Rowlett Act and the other condemning the firing on 10 April, had been passed. A third resolution protesting against the general repressive policy of the government was being proposed when Dyer arrived at about 5.15 p.m. He deployed his riflemen on an elevation near the entrance and without warning or ordering the crowd to disperse, opened fire. The firing continued for about 20 minutes where after Dyer and his men marched back the way they had come. 1650 rounds of .303-inch ammunition had been fired. Dyer’s own estimate of the killed based on his rough calculations of one dead per six bullets fired was between 200 and 300. The official figures were 379 killed and 1200 wounded.

According to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, who personally collected information with a view to raising the issue in the Central Legislative Council, over 1,000 were killed. The total crowd was estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000, Sikhs comprising a large proportion of them.

 

History

 

The 1919 Amritsar massacre, known alternatively as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre after the Jallianwala Bagh (Garden) in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, was ordered by General R.E.H. Dyer. On Sunday April 13, 1919, which happened to be ‘Baisakhi’, one of Punjab’s largest religious festivals, fifty British Indian Army soldiers, commanded by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, began shooting at an unarmed gathering of men, women, and children without warning. Dyer marched his fifty riflemen to a raised bank and ordered them to kneel and fire. Dyer ordered soldiers to reload their rifles several times and they were ordered to shoot to kill. Official British Raj sources estimated the fatalities at 379, and with 1,100 wounded. Civil Surgeon Dr Williams DeeMeddy indicated that there were 1,526 casualties. However, the casualty number quoted by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with roughly 1,000 killed.
On April 13, the holiday of Baisakhi, thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh (garden) near the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. Baisakhi is a Sikh festival, commemorating the day that Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa Panth in 1699, and also known as the ‘Birth of Khalsa.’ During this time people celebrate by congregating in religious and community fairs, and there may have been a large number who were unaware of the political meeting.
The Jallianwalla Bagh during 1919, months after the massacre. 
“The Martyrs’ Well” at Jallianwala Bagh. 
Cartoon in Punch 14 July 1920, on the occasion of Montagu labelling as “frightful” General Dyer for his role in the Amritsar massacreAn hour after the meeting began as scheduled at 4:30 pm, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer marched a group of sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Baluchi soldiers into the Bagh, fifty of whom were armed with rifles. Dyer had also brought two armoured cars armed with machine guns, however the vehicles were stationed outside the main gate as they were unable to enter the Bagh through the narrow entrance.

The Jallianwala Bagh was bounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had few narrow entrances, most of which were kept permanently locked. The main entrance was relatively wider, but was guarded by the troops backed by the armoured vehicles. General Dyer ordered troops to begin shooting without warning or any order to disperse, and to direct shooting towards the densest sections of the crowd. He continued the shooting, approximately 1,650 rounds in all, until ammunition was almost exhausted.

Apart from the many deaths directly from the shooting, a number of people died in stampedes at the narrow gates or by jumping into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shooting. A plaque in the monument at the site, set up after independence, says that 120 bodies were pulled out of the well.

The wounded could not be moved from where they had fallen, as a curfew had been declared – many more died during the night.

The number of deaths caused by the shooting is disputed. While the official figure given by the British inquiry into the massacre is 379 deaths, the method used by the inquiry has been subject to criticism.[by whom?] Officials were tasked with finding who had been killed during July 1919, three months after the massacre, by inviting inhabitants of the city to volunteer information about those who had died. This information was likely incomplete due to fear that those who participated would be identified as having been present at the meeting, and some of the dead may not have had close relations in the area. Additionally, a senior civil servant in the Punjab interviewed by the members of the committee admitted that the actual figure could be higher.

Since the official figures were likely flawed considering the size of the crowd (15,000-20,000), number of rounds shot and period of shooting, the politically interested Indian National Congress instituted a separate inquiry of its own, with conclusions that differed considerably from the Government’s. The casualty number quoted by the INC was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 killed.] Despite the Government’s best efforts to suppress information of the massacre, news spread elsewhere in India and widespread outrage ensued; however, the details of the massacre did not become known in Britain until December 1919.

As per regimental diaries kept by the Gorkha Battalion adjutants in the British Indian Army, the plan to attack the gathering in Amritsar was claimed to have been triggered by the news of a mob attack on a British school teacher Sherwood on April 9, which was later shown to be merely an excuse used by an incensed Dyer who commanded a brigade in nearby Jalandhar and the Lt Governor of Punjab Michael O’Dwyer who were convinced that they faced an imminent threat of mutiny in Punjab on the scale of 1857.

Back in his headquarters, General Dyer reported to his superiors that he had been “confronted by a revolutionary army”.

In a telegram sent to Dyer, British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer wrote: “Your action is correct. Lieutenant Governor approves.”

O’Dwyer requested that martial law be imposed upon Amritsar and other areas; this was granted by the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, after the massacre. The “crawling order” was posted on Aug 19 under the auspices of martial law.

Dyer was messaged to appear before the Hunter Commission, a commission of inquiry into the massacre that was ordered to convene by Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, during late 1919. Dyer said before the commission that he came to know about the meeting at the Jallianwala Bagh at 12:40 hours that day but did not attempt to prevent it. He stated that he had gone to the Bagh with the deliberate intention of opening fire if he found a crowd assembled there.

“I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.” — Dyer’s response to the Hunter Commission Enquiry.
Dyer said he would have used his machine guns if he could have got them into the enclosure, but these were mounted on armoured cars. He said he did not stop the shooting when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep shooting until the crowd dispersed, and that a little shooting would not do any good. In fact he continued the shooting till the ammunition was almost exhausted.

He stated that he did not make any effort to tend to the wounded after the shooting: “Certainly not. It was not my job. Hospitals were open and they could have gone there.”

The Hunter Commission did not award any penal nor disciplinary action because Dyer’s actions were condoned by various superiors (later upheld by the Army Council). However, he was finally found guilty of a mistaken notion of duty and relieved of his command.

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JALLIANWALA BAGH MASSACRE, involved the killing of hundreds of unarmed, defenseless Indians by a senior British military officer, took place on 13 April 1919 in the heart of Amritsar, the holiest city of the Sikhs, on a day sacred to them as the birth anniversary of the Khalsa. Jallianwala Bagh,. a garden belonging to the Jalla, derives name from that of the owners of this piece of land in Sikh times. It was then the property the family of Sardar Himmat Singh (d.1829), a noble in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), who originally came from the village of Jalla, now in Fatehgarh Sahib district of the Punjab. The family were collectively known as Jallhevale or simply Jallhe or Jalle, although their principal seat later became Alavarpur in Jalandhar district. The site, once a garden or garden house, was in 1919 an uneven and unoccupied space, an irregular quadrangle, indifferently walled, approximately 225 x 180 meters which was used more as a dumping ground.

In the Punjab, during World War I (1914-18), there was considerable unrest particularly among the Sikhs, first on account of the demolition of a boundary wall of Gurdwara Rikabgang at New Delhi and later because of the activities and trials of the Ghadrites almost all of whom were Sikhs. In India as a whole, too, there had been a spurt in political activity mainly owing to the emergence of two leaders Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi (1869-1948) who after a period of struggle against the British in South Africa, had returned to India in January 1915 and Mrs. Annie Besant (1847-1933), head of the Theosophical Society of India, who established, on 11 April 1916, Home Rule League with autonomy for India as its goal. In December 1916, the Indian National Congress, at its annual session held at Lucknow, passed a resolution asking the British government to issue a proclamation announcing that it is the aim and intention of British policy to confer self government on India at an early date.” At the same time India having Contributed significantly to the British war effort had been expecting advancement of her political interests after the conclusion of hostilities. On the British side, the Secretary of State for India E.S Montagu, announced, on 20 August 1917; the policy of His Majesty’s Government, with which the Government of India are in complete accord, is that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India …” However, the Viceroy of India Lord Chelmsford, appointed, on 10 December 19l7, a Sedition Committee, popularly known as Rowlett Committee after the name of its chairman, to investigate and report on the nature and extent of the criminal conspiracies connected with the revolutionary movement in India, and to advise as to the legislation necessary to deal with them. Based on the recommendations of this committee, two bills, popularly called Rowlett Bills, were published in the Government of India Gazette on 18 January 1919. Mahatma Gandhi decided to organize a satyagrah, non-violent civil disobedience campaign) against the bills. One of the bills became an Act, nevertheless, on 21 March 1919. Call for a countrywide hartal or general strike on 30 March, later postponed to 6 April 1919, was given by Mahatma Gandhi.

The strike in Lahore and Amritsar passed off peacefully on 6 April. On 9 April, the governor of the Punjab, Sir Michael Francis O’Dwyer (1864-1940), suddenly decided to deport from Amritsar Dr Satyapal and Dr Saif ud-Din Kitchlew, two popular leaders of men. On the same day Mahatma Gandhi’s entry into Punjab was banned under the Defence of India Rules. On 10 April, Satyapal and Kitchlew were called to the deputy commissioner’s residence, arrested and sent off by car to Dharamsetla, a hill town, now in Himachal Pradesh. This led to a general strike in Amritsar. Excited groups of citizens soon merged together into a crowd of about 50,000 marching on to protest to the deputy commissioner against the deportation of the two leaders. The crowd, however, was stopped and fired upon near the railway foot-bridge.

According to the official version, the number of those killed was 12 and of those wounded between 20 and 30. But evidence before the Congress Enquiry Committee put the number of the dead between 20 and 30. As those killed were being carried back through the streets, an angry mob of people went on the rampage. Government offices and banks were attacked and damaged, and five Europeans were beaten to death. One Miss Marcella Sherwood, manager of the City Mission School, who had been living in Amritsar district for 15 years working for the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, was attacked. The civil authorities, unnerved by the unexpected fury of the mob, called in the army the same afternoon. The ire of the people had by and large spent itself, but a sullen hatred against the British persisted. There was an uneasy calm in the city on 11 April. In the evening that day, Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer (b. 1864, ironically at Murree in the Punjab), commander 45th Infantry Brigade at Jalandhar, arrived in Amritsar. He immediately established file facto army rule, though the official proclamation to this effect was not made until 15 April. The troops at his disposal included 475 British and 710 Indian soldiers. On 12 April he issued an order prohibiting all meetings and gatherings. On 13 April which marked the Baisakhi festival, a large number of people, mostly Sikhs, had poured into the city from the surrounding villages. Local leaders called upon the people to assemble for a meeting in the Jallianwala Bagh at 4.30 in the evening. Brigadier-General Dyer set out for the venue of the meeting at 4.30 with 50 riflemen and two armored cars with machine guns mounted on them. Meanwhile, the meeting had gone on peacefully, and two resolutions, one calling for the repeal of the Rowlett Act and the other condemning the firing on 10 April, had been passed. A third resolution protesting against the general repressive policy of the government was being proposed when Dyer arrived at about 5.15 p.m. He deployed his riflemen on an elevation near the entrance and without warning or ordering the crowd to disperse, opened fire. The firing continued for about 20 minutes where after Dyer and his men marched back the way they had come. 1650 rounds of .303-inch ammunition had been fired. Dyer’s own estimate of the killed based on his rough calculations of one dead per six bullets fired was between 200 and 300. The official figures were 379 killed and 1200 wounded.

According to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, who personally collected information with a view to raising the issue in the Central Legislative Council, over 1,000 were killed. The total crowd was estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000, Sikhs comprising a large proportion of them.

The protest that broke out in the country is exemplified by the renunciation by Rabindranath Tagore of the British Knighthood. In a letter to the Governor General he wrote: “… The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in their incongruous context of humiliation, and I for my part wish to stand shorn of all special distinctions by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so-called insignificance, are liable to suffer degradations not fit for human beings….” Mass riots erupted in the Punjab and the government had to place five of the districts under martial law. Eventually an enquiry committee was set up. The Disorder Inquiry Committee known as Hunter Committee after its chairman, Lord Hunter, held Brigadier-General R.E.H. Dyer guilty of a mistaken notion of duty, and he was relieved of his command and prematurely retired from the army. The Indian National Congress held its annual session in December 1919 at Amritsar and called upon the British Government to “take early steps to establish a fully responsible government in India in accordance with the principle of self determination.”

The Sikhs formed the All India Sikh League as a representative body of the Panth for political action. The League held its first session in December 1919 at Amritsar simultaneously with the Congress annual convention. The honouring of Brigadier-General Dyer by the priests of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, led to the intensification of the demand for reforming management of Sikh shrines already being voiced by societies such as the Khalsa Diwan Majha and Central Majha Khalsa Diwan. This resulted in the launching of what came to be known as the Gurdwara Reform movement , 1920-25. Some Sikh servicemen, resenting the policy of non-violence adopted by the leaders of the Akali movement, resigned from the army and constituted thc nucleus of an anti-British terrorist group known as Babar Akalis.

The site, Jallianwala Bagh became a national place of pilgrimage. Soon after the tragic happenings of the Baisakhi day, 1919, a committee was formed with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya as president to raise a befitting memorial to perpetuate the memory of the martyrs. The Bagh was acquired by the nation on 1 August 1920 at a cost of 5,60,472 rupees but the actual construction of the memorial had to wait until after Independence. The monument, befittingly named the Flame of Liberty, build at a cost of 9,25,000 rupees, was inaugurated by Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, on 13 April 1961. The central 30-ft high pylon, a four-sided tapering stature of red stone standing in the midst of a shallow tank, is built with 300 slabs with Ashoka Chakra, the national emblem, carsed on them. A stone lantern stands at each corner of the tank. On all four sides of the pylon the words, “In memory of martyrs, 13 April 1919”, has been inscribed in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and English. A semi-circular verandah skirting a children’s swimming pool near the main entrance to the Bagh marks the spot where General Dyer’s soldiers took position to fire at the gathering.

Footnote : On 13th April 1919, a Sikh teenager who was being raised at Khalsa Orphanage named Udham Singh saw the happening with his own eyes and avenged the killings of 1300+ of his countrymen by killing Michael O’Dwyer in Caxton Hall of London. On the 31st July, 1940, Udham Singh was hanged at Pentonville jail, London.

 

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Brig.(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja: Hindus disclaim Muslims contributions in India

Hindus disclaim Muslims contributions in India

Asif Haroon Raja

Hindu Brahmans suffer from perpetual inferiority complex owing to historical reality that the Hindus had been ruled by Muslim rulers for nearly 1000 years. Historically, India in its entire history was never a single nation, nor a united country. Hindus forget that whosoever invaded India captured it and ruled it for centuries. No invading force was ever defeated. Hindus ignore the fact that the Muslim rulers had made India strong and prosperous and had brought remarkable improvements. Hindus were treated affably and their religious customs and traditions respected.

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Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, also known as Ahmad Khān Abdālī, was the founder of the Durrani Empire and is regarded to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan

Muslims were the last to arrive starting with capture of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 AD. His conquest laid the first brick of Hindu-Muslim antagonism which thickened over a period of time. With the decline of Arab power in Sindh, the sword of Islam passed into the hands of Turks from Central Asia. Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi after consolidating his hold in Afghanistan led his troops into northern India in 1000 AD. During his 30-year reign, he stormed India 17 times, toppling kingdoms after kingdoms. He detached Punjab up to River Ravi from India and made it integral to his Ghaznawid Empire.

Sultan Shehab-al Din Ghauri reinvigorated the downhill course of Ghaznawid Empire from 1173 onwards. He annexed Delhi, Ajmer and Kanauj in 1192 and practically captured all of northern India from Ravi to Assam with his capital at Delhi. Qutbuddin Aybek ascended the throne in 1206 and heralded the era of Sultanate of Delhi. Iltutmish (1211-36) contributed significantly to the advancement of Islamic architecture initiated by Qutbuddin.  He pushed back the invasion of Mongols led by Changez Khan in 1221. Ghiasuddin Balban (1267-1287) brought significant improvements in the field of administration and political machinery. He introduced intelligence network to keep himself informed, established Qazi courts to dispense cheap and speedy justice, and also kept the Mongols at bay.

Among the Khilji dynasty, Allaudin Khilji (1296-1315) proved to be most successful and historians rate him as the best Sultan of India. His rule was the first period in point of time when Muslims hold encompassed nearly the whole of India. Khiljis influenced the lifestyle of Indian people. Tughluqs, Sayyids and Lodhis didn’t make any significant improvements. Rather Tughluqs caused damage to the fabric of Indian unity and tempted Taimur to invade India in 1393 and devastate it. Zaheer-uddin Babur (1526-1530) raised the flag of Mughals in India in 1526 after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi at Panipat. He consolidated his rule in India in just two years and his kingdom stretched from Kabul to Bengal and from Himalaya to Gwalior. Humayun (1530-1540 and 1555-56) died just after six months of his return from exile in 1555.  

Sher Shah Suri during his five-year eventful rule spread network of roads throughout India including the famed Grand Trunk Road. He introduced revenue system, abolished Jagirdari system and did a lot for welfare of peasantry. He extended benefits to Hindu elites. Very few people could do so much in so little time.

Emperor Akbar during his fifty years rule (1556-1605) gave preferential treatment to the Hindus in order to create unity out of diversity. He befriended Rajputs who helped him in consolidating his power. He elevated Rajputs and Brahmans to high posts, married Rajput princesses and adopted Hindu customs. To appease Hindus, he abolished Jizya, cow and buffalo slaughter and doled out lavish grants for temples.  These measures helped in fostering common patriotic fervor and promoted stability. His effort to blend Islam with Hinduism through his experiment of Deen-e-Illahi so as to achieve national unity and to please high caste Hindus was ill-conceived. His brainwave dampened his tremendous gains, but the Hindus adore him to this date.

Jahangir (1605-1627) was a scholar of repute and known for his just dealings. He however, failed to nip the controversy of his father’s Deen-e-Illahi in the bud. He also followed the policy of his father to keep high caste Hindus pleased. Hindu power continued to grow in power. Shah Jehan (1628-1657) expanded the frontiers of Mughal Empire from Central Asia and Afghanistan in the West to Bengal in East and Deccan in South. He is acclaimed for his rich contributions in art and architecture and ushering in abundance of prosperity because of his sound agriculture policy.

Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707) has been censured the most by Hindu and British writers and dubbed as anti-Hindus. He had to undo the wrongs of his predecessors. It must not be forgotten that the Mughal Empire reached its highest glory under his rule and became the largest state ever known in Indian history. Unlike his predecessors, he led a very simple and pure life. His total earnings at the time of his death were from copying Quran and knitting prayer caps. He forbade his kinfolk not to build any tomb over his grave.  His death marked the beginning of end of Mughal Empire.    

Besides the contributions of the Muslim Sultans and the Mughal kings, the Sufi saints carried the message of equality and tolerance and in the process spread Islam. Their contributions in spreading the message of Islam between 8th and 11th centuries were stupendous. The Buddhists, Jains and low caste Hindus suffering under the coercive yoke of Hindu Brahmans flocked towards the peace loving Sufis and converted to Islam in big numbers.

High caste Hindus served the Muslim rulers loyally as long as the Mughal Army was strong and the rulers were strong-willed. Fun-loving Mughal kings who came after Aurangzeb took up a backseat and allowed disruptive forces to gain strength. Mughal power was given a crushing blow by Nadir Shah’s invasion of India in 1739 followed by his successor Ahmad Shah Abdali who ravaged India nine times between 1748 and 1767.  These invasions catapulted the Marhattas who had been defeated by Aurangzeb. They became so strong that they started dreaming of establishing a Hindu Empire and to completely eliminate Muslims as had been done by the Christians against the Muslims of Spain.  

Sensing their evil intentions, Shah Wali Ullah sent a distress signal to Abdali. He responded and shattered Marhattas dream in the 3rd battle of Panipat in 1761. The deadly conflict between the Muslims and the Marhattas weakened both and created space for the British to gain supremacy in India. Disunity together with chaos and confusion gave ideas to the British East India Company to wrest control. The British systematically broke the Muslim power by co-opting Hindus and courtier Muslims.

Battle of Plassey marked the beginning of British rule over Bengal in 1757. Defeat of Haider Ali and later elimination of Tipu Sultan in battle of Sirangapatam in 1799 and breaking the backbone of Marhatta power stamped the supremacy of the British rule in India and paved the way for full control of whole of India. War of independence was the last ditch effort by the Muslims to chuck out the British in 1857, but was failed by the Hindus, Sikhs, Punjabis and Pathans. The British eventually succeeded in dethroning Bahadar Shah Zafar in 1858 and establishing direct rule.

It took the British 100 years to end the Mughal rule and establish British Raj. The Hindus rather than joining hands with their erstwhile benevolent masters to fight the common enemy started serving the new masters and both jointly schemed to sink the fortunes of the Muslims. The Marhattas, the Sikhs and the British conjointly pulverized the foundations of Mughal Empire. Although the status of Muslims in India was reduced from lords to serfs and Hindus became lords, it didn’t lessen the hatred of Hindus against Muslims. The Hindus now disclaim Muslim contributions and claim that mythical ancient India was more prosperous and united.

The writer is a retired Brig, a defence analyst and a historian. Email:asifharonraja@gmail.com

 

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RICHARD SILVERSTEIN: Rabbi Yoffie Denounces Jewish Anti-Muslim Extremism

Rabbi Yoffie Denounces Jewish Anti-Muslim Extremism

It’s about time. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, leader of the Union of Reform Judaism, America’s most populous Jewish denomination delivered aringing affirmation of solidarity with this nation’s Muslim community at this week’s Islamic Society of North America conference. Not only did he endorse common bonds that tie Jews and Muslim like the fight against discrimination and our quest for spirituality in a secular world; he also directly attacked Jewish extremism that singles out Islam as a global threat. Frankly, I would’ve preferred that he come out swinging and named a few more names. It’s high time we take it to them. As it is, he only mentioned Dennis Prager by name. He left out the groups I’ve been battling here over the past few months like Campus Watch, Frontpagemagazine and the David Project.

I found it instructive in his speech where he discusses a mutual propensity to violence among extremists in both religions. Here is the ‘money quote’ in which he denounced the Jewish rabble-rousers among us:

The overwhelming majority of Jews reject violence by interpreting these texts in a constructive way, but a tiny, extremist [Jewish] minority chooses destructive interpretations instead, finding in the sacred words a vengeful, hateful God. Especially disturbing is the fact that the moderate majority, at least some of the time, decides to cower in the face of the fanatic minority — perhaps because they seem more authentic, or appear to have greater faith and greater commitment. When this happens, my task as a rabbi is to rally that reasonable, often-silent majority and encourage them to assert the moderate principles that define their beliefs and Judaism’s highest ideals. My Christian and Muslim friends tell me that precisely the same dynamic operates in their traditions, and from what I can see, that is manifestly so. Surely, as we know from the headlines, you have what I know must be for you as well as for us an alarming number of extremists of your own — those who kill in the name of God and hijack Islam in the process. It is therefore our collective task to strengthen and inspire one another as we fight the fanatics and work to promote the values of justice and love that are common to both our faiths.

This is a theme that I return to again and again here when pro-Israel nationalists attempt to paint Muslims as bloodthirsty fanatics and paint Israelis as reasonable people who merely want peace. Yoffie is precisely right in declaring that we each have violent elements within our respective traditions. Making peace means not only coming to terms with our enemy, it means overcoming the hatred within our own ranks as well.

Here again Yoffie tells his Muslim audience that Israel is a bedrock principle of American Jews in precisely the same way that Palestine is one for them:

American Jews have a deep, profound, and unshakable commitment to the State of Israel. We see assuring the security of Israel as one of our community’s most important accomplishments, and we see maintaining her security as one of our most important priorities. At the same time, we understand the ties of Muslim Americans and Arab Americans to the Palestinian people. The challenge that we face is this: Will we, Jews and Muslims, import the conflicts of the Middle East into America, or will we join together and send a message of peace to that troubled land? Let us choose peace. Let us work toward the day when a democratic Palestinian state lives side by side, in peace and security, with the democratic State of Israel.

Here I would’ve preferred more specificity from the Reform leader about what precisely American Jews must come to accept in order to fully recognize Palestinian rights. You’ll note there is no mention of a state, the issue of return or Jerusalem–all of which must be part of the solution for both sides:

The basic outline of such a peace has been clear for a long time. For peace to be achieved, territorial compromise will be required of Israel. Unconditional acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state will be required of the Palestinians. Jews will need to accept the reality of Palestinian suffering, and understand that without dignity for the Palestinians, there can be no dignity for Israel.

Here Yoffie again makes a significant point about maintaining the conflict as a political, rather than religious one. But again he only notes the danger of Arab anti-Israelism but not the equal danger of Jewish Islamophobia which is no less potent an enemy of peace:

Second, if the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is seen in religious rather than political terms, resolving it becomes impossible. If Israel is portrayed as “a dagger pushed into the heart of Islam,” rather than a nation-state disputing matters of land and water with the Palestinians, we are lost. As religious Jews and religious Muslims, let us do everything in our power to prevent a political battle from being transformed into a holy war.

As he concludes, Yoffie saves his most important admonition for last, telling us that in each of our traditions we must renounce holy war and terror as a means to protect religion or advance our interests:

And finally, to all those who desecrate God’s name by using religion to justify killing and terror, let us say together: enough. No cause in the world, and surely no religious cause, can ever justify murdering the innocent or targeting the uninvolved. You cannot honor a religion of peace through violence; you cannot honor God if you do not honor the image of God in every human being; and you cannot get to heaven by creating hell on earth. If we can agree on nothing else, let us agree on this, and let us remain united on this point, come what may.

My only criticism is Yoffie’s lack of specificity. He holds back from denouncing sufficiently strongly those in our community who preach hatred and violence. Why shouldn’t it be time to name the Daniel Pipes, David Horowitzes and Mort Kleins of the world as the obstacles to peace that they are?

For that reason, I’m glad to read that Jewish Week, in an article which otherwise stokes the fires of mistrust, did provoke a more particular debate between Yoffie and Pipes. Here Pipes does his usual ranting about Muslim hatred of Jews. You’ll note that Stewart Ain gives Pipes the dubious distinction of being a “counter-terrorism expert” when the only thing he is “expert” in is fomenting mistrust of Muslims and Jews insufficiently supportive of Israel:

Daniel Pipes, founder and director of the Middle East Forum and a counter-terrorism expert, called Rabbi Yoffie’s outreach to ISNA “well-intentioned but very misguided.”

“There needs to be an acknowledgment that ISNA is an Islamic organization, Wahhabi in outlook, which is deeply problematic,” he said.

Wahhabi Islam is said to be the primary religious movement behind extremist Islam.

“Beyond ISNA’s own character is the question of Jewish-Muslim relations and whether this can be fixed through ‘Kumbaya’-like sessions such as Rabbi Yoffie’s,” Pipes said, “or whether there needs to be a frank acknowledgment that there is a deep current of anti-Semitism among Muslims in the United States that needs to be addressed.

“It is not a mutual situation,” he continued. “You don’t see mosques and Muslim schools being surrounded by security as you do synagogues and Jewish schools. There is no parallel. And what Rabbi Yoffie did was to build his base on a parallel — saying that there are problematic texts in the Jewish Old Testament as there are in the Koran, and saying that each side has its extremists. I think that is a flawed analysis and one that will have mischievous consequences if it is widely accepted.”

Yoffie, for his part, finally engages Pipes and refutes his partisan animus against Islam:

“The perspective that [Pipes] represents begins from the premise that the Muslim-American community is a dangerous community filled with anti-Semites,” the rabbi said. “There is a big difference between saying there are elements of anti-Semitism in a community that is basically moderate and well educated and middle class, and suggesting that the entire community is somehow dangerous. If you see the community in that sense, it does not make sense to engage in dialogue.”

Rabbi Yoffie insisted that the Muslim community is “conceivably the best educated minority in America” and that there “are significant elements of that community who are untouched by extremism and who are anxious to cooperate with us and with others.”

He said that at the ISNA convention he heard ISNA’s American vice president, Ingrid Mattson, speak three times and she repeatedly called for Israeli-Palestinian peace and to “stop the tie between Muslims and extremism.”

“She gave a speech Jewish leaders would give,” Rabbi Yoffie insisted.

images-4I’m afraid that Yoffie will have to do much more to combat the hatred promoted by the Pipes’ of our community. We cannot assume that peace will just happen between Israel and the Arabs, nor that Jews and Muslims will somehow learn to get along. Besides reaching out to the other side, we must set our own house in order as well. The Plauts, Neuwirths, Pipes, Kleins and even Hoenleins and Foxmans of our community must be firmly rebutted in order for tolerance to grow.

I take strong exception to this passage from Ain’s article in which he attempts to question Yoffie’s tolerance project by noting INSA’s involvement in the Holy Land Foundation federal case:

what makes the effort problematic is that the Muslim group Rabbi Yoffie has chosen to dialogue with is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Dallas trial now taking place against the Holy Land Foundation. The foundation is accused of raising funds for Hamas, the terrorist organization that has vowed to destroy Israel.

What especially distresses me is that the Jewish press seems to accept lock, stock and barrel that the Holy Land Foundation is a supporter of terror and that the unindicted co-conspirators have somehow done something illegal in abetting the Foundation’s terror agenda. First, the government has by no means proven its case. In fact, many legal observers feel it has an especially weak one. Second, the categorization of INSA as “unindicted co-conspirator” has no substantive meaning in terms of associating the group with any tangible nefarious activity. And if it has, let Pipes and his crew tell us what INSA has actually done that is against the law or even remotely tainted. He can’t because they haven’t. It’s as simple as that.

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MUSLIM LEGAL FUND OF AMERICA: MLFA Applauds Dismissal of Case Against Florida Imam

MLFA Applauds Dismissal of Case Against Florida Imam
Organization continues funding defense of father imam after two sons are set free
 
DALLAS, January 22, 2013 – Representatives from the Muslim Legal Fund of America, a national civil liberties defense organization, are applauding a federal judge’s decision to dismiss the case against Florida imam Izhar Khan, 26, who was accused son of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (USA v. Khan, Hafiz Muhammad Sher Ali). 
 
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On Thursday, January 17, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola issued a judgment of acquittal due to lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case, which concluded on Wednesday. Scola stated that the government’s allegations were unfounded. According to a January 17 Miami Herald article, Scola said, “I do not believe in good conscience that I can allow the case to go forward against Izhar Khan.”
 
Izhar Khan spent 20 months in the Miami Federal Detention Center with his father, Hafiz Khan, while they waited for their trial. Most of this time was spent in solitary confinement. Imam Hafiz Khan is 77 years old. 
 
“We are overjoyed that justice prevailed to end this dark chapter in Izhar’s life,” said Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA. “This ruling is a strong testament to the weakness of the government’s case, and we pray that justice continues to prevail.” 
 
Izhar is the second son of Hafiz Khan to have charges dismissed in this case. Prosecutors dropped all charges against Izhar’s brother, Irfan, 38, in June of last year due to lack of evidence. After Scola’s ruling, Izhar expressed his gratitude for the community’s support of his family.
 
“I’m extremely happy,” said Izhar Khan. “I don’t even have words to explain my joy.” 
 
As an imam at the Jamaat Al-Mu’mineen Mosque in Margate, Florida, Izhar said he is looking forward to continuing his work with the youth, playing sports and getting married. 
 
The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MFLA) is a national civil liberties legal fund that defends the U.S. Bill of Rights by supporting legal cases involving civil liberty encroachments. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many of our nation’s civil liberties. To learn more about MLFA, visit www.mlfa.org.
 
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MLFA is 100% donor funded. We rely on your generosity to continue the struggle for fairness in the American court system. With your help, we are meeting these challenges. Donations to MLFA are tax-deductible and zakat-eligible.

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