Thursday, August 15, 2013

I had met Ishrat Jahans mother, Shamima--Subhashini Ali*

Aug 14, 2013 6:26 PM
Shamima and her supporters felt threatened
                                       Courtesy photo
Subhashini Ali*
Some years ago, I had met Ishrat Jahans mother, Shamima, at a meeting in Azamgarh.  We did not have much opportunity to speak, but her quiet dignity impressed me.  This year, as soon as I knew that I would be in Mumbai for Eid, I contacted her and asked her if I could visit her home and wish her and her children on an occasion that is celebrated with so much joy and festivity all over the world but which can also be an occasion of sorrow and longing for a loved one who is not present.  And for this family the sorrow and longing must be so much more intense because of the tragic and brutal way in which their young and innocent Ishrat Jahan’s life ended.
Shamima welcomed my proposal and Sonya Gill, Maharashtra President of AIDWA, and I reached Mumbra just as the Eid prayers ended.  Mumbra is part of Thane district which has become a Muslim-dominated area.  It is home to Muslim migrants to Mumbai from all parts of India.  Many came here several years ago when they first migrated from their homes; many more followed them after the 1992-93 riots and now it has become a destination for new migrants every year.  
When we reached Mumbra, the streets were overflowing with young and old people on their way home from the prayer or on their way to visit friends and relatives or just enjoying walking around with their friends.  The sidewalks had plenty of shops selling biryani, kababs, sevai, toys and all kinds of bric a brac.  The children all around looked especially festive in their new clothes, fancy shoes and many different kinds of dark glasses!
We found the apartment where Shamima has been staying for the last few months with her children.  They have had to leave their old and crumbling set of rooms which were too well known and too exposed for their safety.  Ever since the CBI court in Ahmedabad started hearings of the encounter case and especially after the CBI filed its first chargesheet against senior officers of the Gujerat police indicting them for their role in the encounter (all the accused have been in jail since 2004 because of their involvement in the Sohrabuddin encounter case), Shamima and her supporters have been felt threatened.  Once, men claiming to be policemen, tried to force open her door in the middle of the night.  On another occasion, the car in which she was returning from a hearing in Ahmedabad was shot at.  A deep sense of insecurity forced her and her children to leave their home and take refuge in a flat belonging to a sympathetic supporter for a few months.
Shamima’s face was wreathed in warm and welcoming smiles when we entered.  She hugged us Eid Mubarak and was followed by her daughter, Masarrat.  Two younger daughters were a bit shy to begin with but soon regained their lively, youthful exuberance. Their brother, Anwar, was very much the young man of the house, conscious of his role as the only earning member of his battered family.  Very soon we were eating delicious Sheerkorma and listening to several chattering voices.  
Shamima and her husband both belonged to Patna.  Masarrat and one of her sisters were sent to their nani there soon after Ishrat’s death.  They have been studying there since.  But, like all Mumbai girls, they consider Patna to be little better than a village!  Masarrat has a serious point.  She says that for members of a poor family like theirs it is much easier to find work in Mumbai.
Anwar maybe the only family member with a job – he works in a call center after having given up his education because of lack of money – but everyone contributes to the household.  Shamima and her daughters take in sewing and embroidery work and they told us, quite proudly, that, of course, they had stitched their new clothes for Eid.
Speaking of working of course, brings memories of Ishrat flooding back.  It was the necessity of finding work to pay for her own education and for her family’s expenses that had made her take up a job with ‘Uncle Javed’.  Two months later, her bullet-ridden body lay next to his and to the bodies of two other men on a road outside Ahmedabad.  An AK 47 lay next to her.  It did not, however, have her fingerprints.
Shamima wipes away just the one uncontrollable tear and composes herself. She says, my daughter could earn only two months’ salary.  She gave me all the money she received but made sure that her college entrance fees for the next academic year were paid well in time.  Once college started again, she would stop working for Javed and go back to studying and then taking tuitions for the children of the locality.  Something she had been doing for several years.
Masarrat will soon finish her studies and maybe getting married after that.  She is determined to work, however.  The two younger girls too dream of studying and then working.  All three girls are determined to lead happy, normal lives and to see at least some of their dreams fulfilled.  Anwar is already quiet for his age.  He feels the burden of his responsibilities but does not resent them.  
Shamima is the quiet and still center of the family.  She is the lightening rod that has absorbed the shock and trauma of her daughter’s cold-blooded murder.  From a woman leading a life of seclusion, she has grown into a woman who has faced police interrogation, heart-rending encounters with the cold and unfriendly corridors of justice, the suspicion, indifference and hostility of her neighbours and the intrusive cross-examinations of the media.  Through it all she has retained her innate graciousness.  Her unshakable belief in her daughter’s innocence and her absolute determination to fight for justice so that the black stain of being a terrorist can be wiped off forever from her child’s innocent, angelic face has given her the immense and incredible courage that was necessary to face what were, truly, unsurmountable barriers.
Today, justice seems within her grasp but she knows only too well that it may yet prove elusive.  Still, the knowledge that millions all over the country are now convinced of her daughter’s innocence fills her with the hope that her sons and daughters will be allowed to live the dreams that were so tragically snuffed out in Ishrat’s young heart.
We take leave of Shamima, happy that we have been able to participate in the celebrations of this brave band of unarmed warriors and humbled by the courage they display despite the cruel strength of the enemy that they know only too well.                --Subhashini Ali*

*Subhashini Ali is the daughter of Colonel Prem Sehgal and Captain Lakshmi Sehgal who were aa active part of the Indian National Army. 
She is also an active Trade Unionist and leader of the All India Democratic Women's Association.
Subhashini Ali also designed period costumes for 1981 classic, Umrao Jaan

I had met Ishrat Jahans mother, Shamima--Subhashini Ali*

I visited the home of Akhtar Mujahid-Subhashini Ali

Afghans Lead the Fight in Afghanistan, General Says

08/14/2013 01:22 PM CDT                                       Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 11:03 PM
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2013 - Afghan security forces are in the lead and continue to grow in capacity and capability in the fight against insurgents, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command-East said today.
Army Maj. Gen. James C. McConville also told Pentagon reporters via satellite that even with the progress made by Afghanistan's security forces they are likely to need U.S. support beyond 2014.
Afghan forces are winning, he said, but aren't yet dominating the enemy in a way that takes away their will to fight. It will also take time before the Afghan air force is at full capacity, the general said.
However, when the Afghan air force reaches full capacity, he said, the enemies of Afghanistan "are not going to be willing to continue the conflict."
Meanwhile, ISAF's draw down is progressing, McConville said. Since March, he noted, the number of coalition bases has declined from 58 to 17.
"We have moved into an advise-and-assist role," said McConville, who's also the commander of the 101st Airborne Division. "Afghan security forces are in the lead [and] they are doing most of the fighting."
Two Afghan army corps -- the 201st and the 202nd -- operate in Regional Command-East. Those units, McConville said, are currently conducting integrated operations involving ground troops with indirect-fire and air support.
"In fact, the 201st just did the largest air assault in recent Afghan history with six Mi-17s and two Mi-35 [helicopters]," he said.
As Afghan forces have taken a higher-profile role in securing Afghanistan, the enemy is facing a propaganda problem, the general said.
"They used to be able to say that they were fighting foreign occupiers," he said, "and they can no longer really say that anymore because they're fighting Afghan security forces and they're fighting against the Afghan people."
There are only about two months left in the fighting season in Afghanistan, McConville said. And, with winter approaching and the holy month of Ramadan over, the general said he expects the enemy to come out fighting.
"We're expecting a spike in violence," he said. "We expect the enemies of the Afghan people to come out and try to achieve those objectives that they've not been able to achieve."
Now is a critical time, McConville said.
"This is the first time that the Afghan security forces have been in the lead during the entire fighting season," he said. "And they believe they're winning and I tend to agree with them."

Friday, August 09, 2013

Harmandeep Kaur became Miss Punjaban

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM
A colorful event at MTSM college
Ludhiana: 8 August 2013: (Rector kathuria): Teej Festival cum Fresher’s Party was celebrated at Master Tara Singh Memorial College for Women, Ludhiana to present an authentic Punjabi Culture with the blends of modern hues. The whole atmosphere was filled with gaiety when college girls dressed in elegant traditional as well as western attires staged their dance performances, skit, folk songs and modeling.
       College Principal, Dr. (Mrs.) Parveen Kaur Chawla gave a hale and hearty welcome to the new entrants and also focused on the significance of Teej Festival in Modern Era.
        Arshdeep Kaur was crowned ‘Teeyan di Rani’, Harmandeep Kaur and Navdeep Kaur were titled Miss Punjaban and Miss Majajjan respectively.  Ashwarya was crowned as Miss Fresher Shifali & Harpreet Kaur as first & second runners up respectively. Sukhpreet Kaur got the title of Miss Diva whereas Garima was declared Miss Crowning Glory. The tag of Miss Beautiful smile went to Gurleen Kaur.Various competitions like traditional style of pleating hair, Beautiful Pranda, Ethnic jewelry, Mehndi Application, Beautiful Bangles and were held and the winners were given prizes. S. Swarn Singh Ji (President, College Managing Committee) and S. Kawalinder Singh Ji (Secratery, College Managing Committee) graced the occasion and stressed on the need for maintaining our rich Heritage and culture in the Modern times.
        College Principal, Dr. (Mrs.) Parveen Kaur Chawla stressed on the need of being aware of our elementary traditions and values. The celebration was culminated by adding another leaf in the book of unforgettable memories of the college.

Teej Festival cum Fresher’s Party was celebrated

Save Punjabi as Subject of Study in the Colleges of Delhi

Remembering Sahir Ludhianvi

An Afghan Uniform Police