Skip to main content

Top rights activist objects to Gujarat PUCL organising celebration of Prophet Mohammad's birthday

Shabnam Hashmi
By Our Representative
There is no end to controversy surrounding well-known human rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in Gujarat. If earlier it drew attention from top Gujarat activists for praising RSS mouthpiece in Gujarat, “Sadhana” for its “fearless” journalism (click HERE to read), now it has invited disapproval over a recent plea it made to NGOs, individuals and mediapersons to be present in a programme to "celebrate" Prophet Mohammad’s birthday on January 4 in Ahmedabad in the name of communal harmony.
Eyebrows were raised, as one of the chief organizers of the programme happened to be Gujarat PUCL chief Gautam Thaker, who forwarded the invitation of what, apparently, was a religious function. 
Of all persons, well-known human rights activist, known for her sustained anti-Narendra Modi campaigns, Shabnam Hashmi, has emailed a rejoinder to Thaker telling him that there is already “considerable overdose of religion all around”, adding, “If civil society also starts doing this then whatever little spaces are left for debate and discussion will also vanish.”
Hashmi, interestingly, has not just send her objection by email to Thaker alone, but forwarded it to about 100 others, including scribes, to whom Thaker had forwarded the invitation to celebrate Prophet Mohammad’s birthday.
Among invitees were Mirza Hajibhai Cementwala, a municipal councilor, Haji Zaid Ahmedabad, and Haji A Rehman Mithaiwala. The invitation said the programme would be held off Juhupara, near Muskan Garden, Vejalpur, Ahmedabad, and among those who would participate would be “society’s intellectuals, voluntary organizations, leaders of social organizations and social workers”. The main idea of the programme was to promote “communal harmony”, it added.
Housing more than two lakh people, Juhapura is one of India’s largest Muslim ghettos, set up following frequent communal riots in Ahmedabad.
Gautam Thaker
Hashmi’s objection followed an email by a person who was asked by Thaker, to be present at the programme – Yogesh Kamdar or the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Mumbai. Karmdar, in his email, again sent out to all the persons to whom Thaker had invited, acknowledged and thanked for forwarding the invitation. But at the same time, he asked Thaker to hold such type of “communal harmony programmes” on Christmas, Buddha Jayanti, Khordad Sal (birth anniversary of Zoroaster), Mahavir Jayanti, Ram Navmi, and Shiv Jayanti.”
If the invite is any guide, the programme to celebrate Prophet Mohammad’s birthday was to be presided over by Congress leader of opposition in the Gujarat state assembly, Shankarsinh Vaghela, and “main guests” were to include the Mahant of Lord Jagannath Temple, Ahmedabad, Gyani Ratan Singh of Gurudwara Govinddham on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway, Milli Council’s Mufti Rizwan, Father Rajeev of St Xavier Social Service Society, Indukumar Jani, editor, Nayamarg, among others.
What appears to have particularly upset Hashmi, who is known to be closely associated with civil society activists across India, including those in Gujarat, is that among the organizers of the religious event was representative of India’s topmost civil rights organization, PUCL, operating in Gujarat under Thaker. Other organizers included a Sarvodayist, Rajnibhai Dave, of the Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal, apart from a few other social organizations.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.