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Kashmir: the map of horror
By MC Menon, Thiruvananthapuram

For General Musharraf at Agra, Kashmir was a major ‘dispute’ or ‘issue’. For the much embarrassed Indian side led by ‘moderate’ Vajpayee, the ‘sensitive’ Kashmir was ‘untouchable’. For the saffron bunch of Shiv Sainiks and RSS brains, operating from Mumbai and Nagpur, Kashmir was the main agenda for patriotic preaching and existence in mainstream politics on the mainland.
MAP: The lines of contention: Kashmir as seen from the other side of LoC

But, for many in Kerala, 3000 kms. away from Kashmir, the geographical picture of Kashmir continues to haunt them as a map of horror for years. Kerala has the dubious distinction of registering the largest number of criminal cases, especially under the non-bailable 124-A (sedition charge) related to publishing or exhibiting Kashmir maps. Notably, the law acted selectively tough against Muslims caught on Kashmir map issue and was lenient whenever non-Muslims were charged with the same crime. This unending tale of horror related to Kashmir map goes on under the dispensations of both Congress-led UDF and Marxist-led LDF in Kerala, the state which has not yet had elected a single BJP MLA or MP so far.

The Malayalam version of Islamic Encyclopaedia published by Olive Publications, Kozhicode, in 1994, during UDF Government, presents a clear case study. This huge volume is only a reference book dealing with Islam throughout the world, its history, origin, etc. in each country, province or region. Its very opening page contained a world map to serve as a demographic sketch in different colours to show Muslim population in different areas. Accordingly, the highest number of / or more than 50% Muslim-populated areas were shown in green colour. Although the international borders were clearly shown with black line, both Kashmir and Pakistan as well as the Sinkiang province of China were shown in green. This was enough to hurt the patriotic sentiments of the RSS who, to ‘protect national interest’, staged a mayhem, including burning of the volume, at a book exhibition soon after release of the book. And, that propelled then Congress Chief Minister, K. Karunakaran, to issue immediate orders banning the Islamic Encyclopaedia in the name of ‘protecting law and order’.

Three years later, under the Marxist Chief Minister E. K. Nayanar, the honorary editor of the volume, Prof. P. Koya, was arrested under 124-A on the basis of the 1994 case instituted by the Congress-led UDF Government. Attached with English Department in the Government Arts and Science College, Kozhicode, Prof. Koya was suspended in 1998 under ‘special orders’ of the Education Minister. He is still under suspension while the ban on the volume continues to exist. Interestingly, when the Islamic Encyclopaedia was banned in 1994, the then UDF Education Minister E. T.Mohammed Basheer (of Indian Union Muslim League) was among the prominent personalities among its Editorial Advisory Team, alongwith veteran Malayalam litterateur, late Vaikom Mohammed Basheer. But, no action was taken against any one of them. Protests by intellectuals and human right activists failed to move the government to withdraw either the ban on the volume or the criminal case and suspension of Prof. Koya till today.
Compare this with another episode. The Indian Institute of Social Sciences (IISS), New Delhi, held an International Conference on ‘Europe and South Asia 500 Years’ at Kozhicode and Kochi on May 16-20, 1998. Inaugurated by Vice-President K. Kishan Kant, its valedictory session was attended by, among others, then Chief Minister E. K. Nayanar and his Education Minister P. J. Joseph. Several foreign diplomats, apart from prominent delegates both within and outside India, participated at the conference. However, the world map printed on the posters and brochure of this Conference depicted Kashmir as belonging to Pakistan. Neither the Police Commissioners of Kozhicode nor Kochi took any action against the organizers.
In an apparent attempt to test the equality before law, the Kerala Civil Liberties Committee (KCLC) gave a complaint to the Director General of Police on June 2, 1998 (No. 107/PWS/ DGP/ 1998-PHQ), which said : ‘We consider that this map was published in connection with such an important International Conference as a deliberate, motivated and calculated act by some or all the members of the organizing committee in order to weaken India’s claim on Kashmir and to help the Pakistani claims. We also suspect that this might have been done in connivance with the Pakistani Government or its intelligence wing, the ISI, all of which warrant a detailed and indepth probe/investigation. The failure of Kerala police to take stringent and deterrent action against the culprits will only tend to justify and endorse this anti-national activity to favour and benefit the Pakistani claims on Kashmir. As this International Conference was attended by top dignitaries like Indian Vice-President and Kerala Chief Minister, apart from foreign dignitaries and diplomats, the Pakistan Government is most likely to use this poster map at International forums like U.N. to support its claim on Kashmir. Apparently, the Police Commissioners of Kochi and Kozhicode were reluctant to take criminal action against the organizers of this conference because of their political clout, social status and/or financial power.’

Seeking action under Cr.P.C. 124-A against IISS and the 19 Organizing Committee Members, most of whom leading figures with pro-CPM-Congress and even BJP leanings, the petition also named all of them: 1) Prof. U. R. Ananthamoorthy (Chairperson), 2) Dr. M. R. Raghava Varier (Convenor), 3) Prof. K. K. N. Kurup, 4) Prof. M. A. Oommen, 5) Prof. M.G.S. Narayanan, 6) Dr. M. Gangadharan, 7) Prof. M. P. Sreedharan, 8) Dr. Babu Joseph, 9) Prof. Kristakumar Nicholas, 10) Mr. Michael Tharakan, 11) Dr. Mubarak Pasha, 12) Mr. V. K. Madhavankutty, 13) Prof. K. N. Panikkar, 14) Dr. N. A. Karim, 15) Dr. Rajan Kurikkal, 16) Dr. K. V. Kunjikrishnan, 17) Dr. M. Leelavathy, 18) Sr. Emeline, and 19) Dr. George Mathew. No action, however, has been initiated till now.

After filing of this complaint the controversy reached new heights with the Convenor of the Organizing Committee, Dr. Varier, publicly claiming that the map was ‘an error committed by an artist’ and that steps were taken to correct the map as well as expressing regrets for some copies escaping scrutiny and correction. Terming these claims as ‘astonishingly feeble arguments that belittle the status of all the Organizing Committee members’, the KCLC asked : ‘How can the political and geographical map of a country, involved in half-century long territorial disputes, be left to the imagination and freedom of expression of an artist by the learned intellectual-organizers of this important international conference inaugurated by the Indian Vice-President and attended by foreign delegates, including from Pakistan?’ A country’s map is a valid and authenticated document which can never be left to the figment of artistic imagination, the KCLC maintained. Demanding further explanation on Dr. Varier’s expressing regret over ‘some copies escaping their scrutiny and correction’, the KCLC said that they should have altogether withdrawn this ‘anti-national poster’ before the conference instead of taking the Herculean task of correcting the map on each printed copy with hand. ‘Dr. Varier should also explain where the poster was printed as it does not carry the printer’s name, which is yet another contravention of the existing law. In order to ensure total transparency, he should also furnish details as to which agency or Found from U.S., Holland, Denmark, Netherlands and/or Pakistan had financed this International Conference’, the KCLC counter-statement added. Noting past instances of several cases booked and arrests made for the same offence in Kerala and outside, the KCLC reiterated its demand for immediate action as pleaded in the complaint to the DGP, and warned : ‘Any failure on the part of Kerala Government in this regard will be taken to Court as discriminatory implementation of law by the State Executive machinery.’ It added: ‘The Sangh Parivar, who boasts to hold patent right of patriotism and Hindu nationalism, especially in matters related to Kashmir, is silent on this issue as Dr. Varier’s 19-member Organizing Committee include known pro-Saffron intellectuals. Do the Sangh Parivar, who launched repeated fascist attacks against Dr. M. F. Hussain’s paintings, also share Dr. Varier’s claim that India’s political map can be left to artistic freedom of expression?’

As against total inaction by the authorities on this incident, in joint operations by Kollam and Kochi police, the office and printing press of ‘Muslim Review’ Malayalam monthly was raided and sealed on the charge of publishing an erroneous map of Kashmir on the cover of its June 1999 issue. With Abdul Nazar Madani as Honorary Editor, who is in Tamil Nadu prisons for the past three-and-half years as one of the key accused in Coimbatore serial bomb blasts of February 14-17, 1998, the magazine was edited by his brother, T. A. Jamal Mohammed, against whom arrest warrant was issued. Several shop-keepers were also taken into custody for the ‘crime’ of selling this duly registered publication. Madani’s father held a press conference at Thiruvananthapuram disclosing that the map was taken from a computer CD-ROM, ‘Corel Gallery 2’, sold openly in India, from which the same erroneous map was published by many others, including ‘The Indian Express’ in its Science Express special on June 9, 1998. Since no action was taken against any such publication, why the selective action was initiated only against ‘Muslim Review’, the old man wondered. Obviously, in the absence of an official response, the action against the monthly has not yet withdrawn and the whole publication came to a halt.

Kashmir also belongs to Pakistan in the map in ‘World Resources’ volume (ISBN 0-19-52-1407-2) published by the World Resources Institute, Washington, and distributed by Oxford University Press in India. Widely regarded as an authentic volume on environment and resource mobilization, this was published with Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, former Adviser of Central Agriculture Ministry, as Chairperson of its Editorial Advisory Committee. While no action was taken against it, its copy available in Kerala University Library duly affixed a rubber seal on the controversial map proclaiming that ‘The External Boundaries of India as Depicted in the Maps are Neither Correct nor Authentic’.

One of the main reasons for this ‘criminal error’ is the foreign computer CD-ROM firms only depending upon United Nation’s official maps, which still depict the whole of Kashmir as a disputed territory. All the U.N. maps display Kashmir as UNMOGIP (United Nation’s Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan), ever since the U.N. adopted the plebiscite resolution on Kashmir in 1949. That, however, never warranted the Viswa Hindu Parishad not only to exclude Kashmir but also Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana from the Indian map. Ironically, this strange feat was performed by VHP in its advertisement in Delhi edition of ‘Indian Express’ on May 15, 1992, calling to ‘Participate in the Renaissance of Hindu Rashtra!’ Issued by the Indraprastha Vishwa Hindu Parishad at Punjabi Bagh, Delhi, the advertisement ironically depicts Sri Lanka as part of India. Seven months after publishing this advertisement, the renaissance of Hindu Rashtra was apparently culminated in Babri Masjid demolition! More recently, a month prior to Agra Summit, even the BJP Today, produced by BJP veterans like KR Malkani, was caught on the wrong foot for publishing the Kashmir map on the wrong side. And, there was no action.

Coming back to Kerala, more than a dozen different criminal cases were registered in the name of Kashmir map during the past ten years, especially against Muslims or Islamic bodies, like SIO and SKSSF. The anti-national case on the basis of Kashmir map taken against SIO was for reproducing a demographic map published by somebody in London. The Kargil war period almost created an emergency-type situation heightening the watch, vigil and alertness of Kerala police looking for the anti-national activity related to Kashmir maps, especially in Muslim-dominated Malabar region. At Koduvally, somebody purchased from a shop a small globe meant for children and brought from Gulf. Somebody else reported to the police that the globe depicted Kashmir outside India. Apparently, under police advise, the buyer returned it back to the shop-keeper. Immediately thereafter, the shop-keeper was arrested, charged under sedition, and remanded to prison, while no action was taken against the buyer. Reason? The shop-keeper was a Muslim and the latter a non-Muslim Hindu!
The villain at Vijayaraj Hotel in Meenchantha, near Kozhicode, was an innocuous map pasted on the wall of its kitchen inside. Somebody identified its top portion missing – perhaps due to some mischievous rats. Following patriotic protests staged by RSS and Yuva Morcha activists, the Kozhicode police immediately arrested the hotel owner and 10 hotel servants. At the police station, all non-Muslims among hotel servants were set free while only the Muslims were remanded to prison.
During the same Kargil war, a group of Sangh Parivar activists blocked the private bus, ‘Moorjil’, on Marattu-Puthiyappa route near Kozhicode. Their patriotic objection was against a sticker-map on the bus without Kashmir. The bus was confiscated and its owner and staff were arrested by Nadakkavu police. All were Muslims.

The SKSSF students produced a special issue of their magazine, ’Sathyadhara’, with a rising sun in the middle of India. Because of the sun-rays, North India, especially Kashmir, was not visible. Taking cognizance of the offence, Kozhicode police duly swung into action against the issue and arrested the SKSSF student activists.

Compare this with the anti-national case of ‘Balarama’, the children’s pictorial magazine, published by leading newspaper group, ‘Malayala Manorama’. In a graphic map sketch related to a story on Kohinoor Jewel’s route, Kashmir was simply missing which prompted somebody to file a complaint. The Nadakkavu police registered a case (274/99) against ‘Balarama’. However, in its subsequent issue ‘Balarama’ published regrets saying that it was a sheer error without politics. They also recalled the century-old existence of ‘Manorama’ group and the services they rendered for the victims of Lattur earthquake. The police, who refused to listen to the explanations of SIO or SKSSF students who were sent to jail, duly spared ‘Balarama’ people from even formal questioning. No action was also taken against CPI-M State Headquarters, AKG Bhawan at Thiruvananthapuram, for exhibiting an erroneous Indian map with Kashmir on the wrong side.

Astonishingly, the main driving force behind all these selective police actions, or inactions, was a separate Sangh Parivar unit who scrutinize in detail all the publications brought out by Muslim bodies or individuals and also take the initiative to lodge prompt complaints. As in the case of banning ‘Islamic Encyclopaedia’, they also organize violent protests to elicit wider publicity and instant actions of ban and arrests. Surprisingly, both UDF and LDF administrators obediently followed the Sangh Parivar dictum in all these instances, largely due to the Saffronisation of Kerala police wings. Incidentally, of late, the former LDF government itself fell into this Kashmir map trap agenda of Sangh Parivar. . On August 14 last year, the Sangh Parivar organized protests and picketed the State Government’s Audio-Visual and Reprographic Sub-Centre at Erattupetta in Kottayam District for publishing India’s map sans Kashmir in a notice produced for a local cooperative bank and traders’ organization joint celebration of Independence Day. Although former Education Minister P. J. Joseph was the State Chairperson of the Centre, following a complaint lodged by Sangh Parivar, the Erattupetta police promptly raided the sub-centre and seized copies of software cassette, DTP, and of the map. The Reprographic Sub-Centre authorities claimed that the controversial map was feeded within the IBM computer and used by all other centres in the State. The Sangh Parivar charged that since the decision to purchase IBM computers was taken by LDF Government, they were conniving and abetting the pro-Pakistan anti-national activists in Kerala. Although the police registered a case, no arrests have been made. Going through the criteria adopted for arrests and releases in similar cases at Kozhicode and Malappuram districts, the Erattupetta police in Christian-dominated Kottayam district might not have found a Muslim linked with the sub-centre to be taken into custody.

Outside Kerala, too, the Sangh Parivar in its anti-Xian atrocities, use the Kashmir map as a convenient tool. When the Summit fiasco at Agra was reaching its dead-end on July 16, the police at Rajkot in BJP-ruled Gujarat was taking quick steps against the Xian management of St. Mary’s school, as well as the Haarshad Unagar printers, for producing a handbook in which India’s outline map had Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan. The local Sangh Parivar, who filed the complaint under Prevention of Insult to Nation Act of 1971, burnt the effigy of the school principal, called for a lockout of the school on July 18 and local bandh. The printers explanation that the map was taken from the computer graphics without any insult to unity of the country failed to convince the BJP-Shiva Sena controlled students’ ‘Pagla Samiti’ who insisted that the ‘Xian school management had deliberately allowed the mistake to go through against the national interest’.

Apparently, the show of patriotism at Rajkot was an offshoot of Agra Summit. Says St. Mary’s School Principal, Thomas : ‘It was purely a printing mistake which was corrected as soon as it was found by pasting school sticker on the controversial picture since April second week. For the past three months, there was no problem with the handbook and none of the parents or students had raised any complaint regarding the book’. Maintaining that the school management respects the feelings of those who expressed genuine concern over the error in the book through inadvertence, Thomas added : ‘But the indecent haste with which some leaders and organizations accused all the Christian institutions of the city being anti-national and Pakistani agents shows the real motive behind the controversy. It is also doubted that some people were trying to settle score with the school for not yielding to their unjust demands in the past’.

His last plea in utter helplessness was : ‘The St. Mary’s school which teaches its students to sing ‘Vande Maatram’ and also starts all its activities with ‘Vande Maatram’ is not anti-national and the error in the handbook was totally unintentional.’
But, in Gandhi’s Rajkot, there was none to listen to him. 
q

MAP: The lines of contention: Kashmir as seen from the other side of LoC

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