New Delhi: In a major embarrassment to the BJP, which has spearheaded the Ram Temple movement and Hindutva agenda, the party’s Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani today termed Ram, the protagonist of Ramayana, as a “bad husband”.
Speaking at a function to launch a book on a man-woman relationship, Mr Jethmalani said “Ram was a bad husband. I don’t like him at all. Just because some fisherman said something, he sent that poor woman (Sita) to exile.”
He went on to take a jibe at Lakshman by saying he was “even worse”. He said, “When Sita was abducted, Ram asked him to go and find her as she was abducted during his watch. Lakshman simply excused himself saying she was his sister-in-law and he never looked at her face, so he wouldn’t be able to identify her”, Mr Jethmalani said.
Mr Jethmalani’s remarks came only days after his party president Nitin Gadkari’s faux pas when he equated the IQ of spiritual leader and patriot Swami Vivekananda and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in Bhopal on Sunday. Mr Gadkari later regretted his remarks but said he was quoted out of context.
Ironically, Mr Jethmalani had supported his son Mahesh’s decision to quit BJP’s National Executive Committee after Mr Gadkari’s remarks. He said, “I fully approve of the action of my son after this Vivekananda episode. I think we don’t need to be associated with the party which he (Gadkari) is leading… nothing against him personally.”
SINDH has no equivalent of Saadat Hasan Manto as a chronicler of Partition. And the absence of a Manto-like figure in Sindhi literature on that count is good news. It shows the resilience of Sindh’s tolerant culture at a time when Punjab had slipped into fratricidal mayhem.
While Amrita Pritam called out for Waris Shah to rise up from the grave to witness the blood-drenched rivers of Punjab, Sindhi woman writers such as Sundari Uttamchandani were not forced to ask Shah Latif to do the same.
The tragedy of Partition inflicted different types of pain on the Punjabi and Sindhi communities and these peculiarities shadowed and shaped post-Partition communal relations between people of different faiths who traced their roots to these regions. What Manto endured and witnessed in 1947 and afterwards, became, through his eloquent writings, simultaneously an elegy and indictment of Punjab losing its sense of humanity at the altar of religious politics. The political air in Sindh was filled with religious demagogy but it did not turn into a communal orgy.
Urdu literati and historians interested in Partition and its impact on the subcontinent have used Manto’s birth centennial, that was recently observed, to remind us of his scathing sketches of lives destroyed by Partition. Ayesha Jalal in her essay ‘He wrote what he saw — and took no sides’ published in the May issue of Herald, writes Manto “looked into the inner recesses of human nature…” to “fathom the murderous hatred that erupted with such devastating effect” …in “his own home province of Punjab at the dawn of a long-awaited freedom”.
There was no eruption of murderous hatred between Sindhi Hindus and Muslims. They did not lynch each other en masse as was the case in Punjab. The violence against Sindhi Hindus and their mass migration to India was a tragic loss scripted, orchestrated and implemented by non-Sindhis in Sindh. As result of varying trajectories of interfaith relations during the Partition period, the intelligentsia of Sindh and Punjab evolved and adopted different views towards Hindus and India.
The collective memory of the Partition days in Punjab is marked more by the stories and silence of the victims and perpetrators of violence. Even the journey towards the safer side was fraught with danger. People who survived had bitter memories of the ‘other’.
The Sindh story is not the same. Ram Jethmalani, a leading lawyer in India today and a member of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was a young advocate in Karachi in 1947. His senior partner was none other than A.K. Brohi, a right-wing Sindhi lawyer who became federal law minister during the Zia period.
Jethmalani has no compunction in saying that there was no love lost between the two because of Partition. Jethmalani stayed back in Karachi and only left for Mumbai in 1948 when Brohi told him he could not take responsibility for his safety as the demography of Karachi had changed with the arrival of migrants from the northern Indian plains. That arrival was accompanied by violence against Sindhi Hindus.
Kirat Babani, a card-carrying communist, chose to stay in Sindh after 1947 and was thrown in prison in 1948. Released 11 months on the condition of leaving Karachi within 24 hours, Kirat took up a job with Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi, pioneer of the peasant struggle in Sindh. The administration pressured Jatoi for harbouring an atheist. Jatoi advised, much against his desire, Kirat to go to India. Even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that groomed L.K. Advani, a native of Karachi who later became India’s deputy prime minister, acknowledges that Sindhi Muslims did not push Hindus out of the province.
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Huston, TX: Ram Jethmalani, the former Indian Union minister, the former member of Rajya Sabha and president of the Supreme Court of India, said that I am the representative of the scattered Sindhi people living around the globe. He was speaking in Houston at the 26th annual convention of the Sindhi Association of North America as a Chief Guest. He said that I was forcefully separated from my motherland during partition of subcontinent. I have experienced living as a refugee but I’ve never thought about revenge. In the refugee camp, I had thought that if India and Pakistan will not become friends, then they will both be destroyed and with that belief I have lived in India. He said that I want to claim that Pakistan doesn’t have any better friend then me in India. He said, I respect all religions and every person has a right to live his life according to his religious beliefs. He said, “Please have courage to speak the truth. We are going through a very delicate situation today if our youngsters do not learn and pick up the courage to speak the truth. The democracy will never survive and the freedom will disappear from our hands.” His emphasis was on the need and importance of education. He said “no society can survive without education.” and “Democracy without education is hypocrisy without limitations.” He said there are two signs of Sindhi sabhita (Sindhi culture). “One is internal which is to serve the people and the other one is language. He said the essence of sindhyat is secularism”.
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