Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rama Setu: case in New York Supreme Court citing Sonia Gandhi and INC religious intolerance

Rama Setu: case in New York Supreme Court citing Sonia Gandhi and INC religious intolerance

1. Balagokulam

Bloomington kids mesmerize audience with Grand Ramayan Play

Published on June 12th, 2008

The great Indian epic Ramayan was presented by 60 kids from Bloomington - Normal, Illinois, USA with all fanfare and festivity on June 8 ,2008 at the prestigious Bloomington Center of Performing Arts (BCPA). This event was attended by more than 600 spectators who appreciated the talent and enthusiasm of kids enacting the scenes from this timeless epic. The occasion was the grand finale of "Kaun Banega Ramayan Expert" (KBRE) contest. This contest was organized simultaneously across towns in USA by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) . Preparation for the event extended over a period of three months. The kids ranged in age from 4 to 15. All the dialogs were in English while preserving the reverence and deep emotional fervor associated with Ramayan.The well choreographed enactment was interspersed with drama, songs & dances, war scenes and melodrama. This is the first time such a large revue on Ramayana was performed in Midwest America. The main objective of the event was to bring the spirit of Ramayan to every one in the community and lay the foundation of strong value oriented character among kids and adults. Mr. Shrinarayan Chandak (Vice President -HSS - Midwest region - USA, ) in his opening remarks dwelt on the significance of Shri Ram's message in our current life and times. He emphasized on how lessons from the Ramayan can help us become better leaders and generate lasting success in our social, business, corporate and political involvement. Mr. Saumitra Gokhale (North America HSS teacher) brought out significant and subtle relevance of being involved with Ramayan. Among others he also emphasized the valor of a bird called Jatayu in Ramayan who sacrifices his life fighting the powerful demon king Ravan. This episode reflects on the sheer conviction to fight for righteousness irrespective of strength. In another instance Lakshman decides to follow his elder brother, Shri Ram to the forest. Here the attachment and reverence of Lakshman was to the all noble and strong ideals of Shri Ram in addition to the unconditional love of a brother. Mr. Gokhale also stressed on how Ramayan is very relevant to our lives in spite being set in a very ancient time. The scenes from Ramayan that got enacted included 'Balakand', 'Vidyabhyas at Vishwamitra's gurukul', 'Sita Swamyavar', 'Ram Vanvas', ' Sita Apharan', 'Lanka Dahan', 'Setu Bandhan', 'Lakshman Indrajit yudh', 'Hanuman Sanjivani', 'Kumbhakaran yudh', 'Ram Ravan yudh', 'return of Shri Ram to Ayodhya' and 'Shri Ram Pattabhishekam'. The extravagant show was appreciated by all in the community. The evening concluded by handing over of prizes to the winners of the KBRE competition which included online and in-person Ramayan quizzes, painting on Ramayan themes, story telling and elocution.The contest was preceded by narrating Ramayan stories to kids in the community. The documentary on the ceremonious enactment of Ramayan in various cultures across the world from Siberia to Indonesia and from Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and beyond brought in focus the global hues in celebrating the glory and values of Shri Ram. An informative documentary on the resources available to the kids in the community through 'Balagokulam' – a Sunday school on divine Hindu morals, scriptures and inspirations was also presented. The HSS Bloomington chapter has been successfully conducting 'Balagokulam' for kids for quite sometime now. The evening of celebration left the kids and the audience ecstatic with divine joy commonly associated with Ramayan.

2. Case in New York Supreme Court citing Sonia Gandhi and INC religious intolerance

A historic case is being fought in the Supreme Court in the State of New York, USA. It is a libel suit by INOC Inc. against Narain Kataria, Arish Sahani and others. One of the issues raised relates to the involvement of Congress Party and its chief, Sonia Gandhi in destroying Rama Setu.

This case has implications for the ongoing struggle to protect the world heritage, Rama Setu.

Congress Party `has shown religious intolerance towards 900 million Hindus by blowing up Rama Sethu, an ancient Hindu heritage monument. This is similar to Taliban blowing up the Bamyan Buddhas'. One of the charges which will be framed in due course is a charge that Sonia Gandhi and her Congress Party had denigrated Hindu dharma by showing intolerance to Hindu religion.

The discovery process will reveal the role played by Sonia Gandhi in showing this religious intolerance towards 900 million Hindus by blowing up Rama Setu.

Cultural and the Customary Rites of the Hindus would be violated by the Setu Project
as Ram Setu is claimed by hindus to be their teerthasthaanam, a place of pilgrimage, where over 5 lakhs people gather every year on Ashadha amavaasya day to offer tarpanam remembering the ancestors (pitrus), led by Sri Rama: Sri Rama rama rameti vyapohati nasams’ayah is part of the samkalpa delineating the time and space of the prayers offered.

The destruction of Ram Setu by the Project will cause irreparable damage to the religious sentiments of Hindus as Ram Setu is considered as a holy place for performing religious ceremonies and oblations which is mentioned in various Puranas and Valmiki Ramayana. A duty is also cast upon every citizen of the nation to protect Rama Setu by the order of Shri Rama as Veda Vyaasa notes in the Mahabharata of the tradition in Mahabharata times: Ramasyaajnaam puraskritya dhaaryate girisannibhaah (By Rama’s orders, we are protecting the Setu).

Ram Setu is a sacred object for Hindus within the meaning of Section 295 of Indian Penal Code, and any action destroying, damaging or defiling the said sacred object will insult the religious feelings of Hindus under section 295 of Indian Penal Code.

In AIR 1958 SC 1032 at para. 7; p.1035, Supreme Court held: “Any object however trivial or destitute of real value in itself, if regarded as sacred by any class of persons would come within the meaning of the penal section” [ i.e., Section 295 IPC which penalizes any destruction, damage or defilement of any object held as sacred by any This Court further held in that matter that: “ Courts have to be very circumspect in such matters, and to pay due regard to the feelings and religious emotions of different classes of persons with different beliefs, irrespective of the consideration whether or not they share those beliefs, or whether they are rational or otherwise, in the opinion of the court”. By their actions, the Party led by Sonia Gandhi have shown utter disregard for the feelings and emotions of Hindus who venerate and perform pujas at Rama Setu which is a pre-eminent tirthasthaanam in Hindu tradition from time immemorial.
It will be exposed during the discovery process of the ongoing trial in New York that Sonia Gandhi has participated in this process and hence, will be liable under Sec. 295 and also for violation of Articles 48A, 49, 51A of the Constitution of India.

Article 48A of the Constitution casts the duty on the State to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country.

Article 49 of the Constitution casts a duty on the State to protect monuments or place or objects of artistic or historic interest from spoliation disfigurement destruction, removal, disposal or export as the case maybe.

Fundamental duties cast upon every citizen of India under Article 51A . 1) Article 51A (f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture; 2) Article 51A (g) to protect and improve the national environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion towards living creatures. 3) Article 51A (h) to develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of enquiry and reform 51A (i) is to safeguard public property and to abjure violence

During the discovery process, the Attorneys for Narain Kataria and Arish Sahani will surely call for documents on Sonia Gandhi’s involvement, if any (since she is the acknowledged leader of the UPA government in India), in the processes related to the filing of affidavits in the Supreme Court of India on the Public Interest Litigation petitions pending in this latter court.

One of the aspects of the discovery will be on the role of Sonia Gandhi and INC in the attempt to blow up Rama Setu as brought out in the following submissions to the Supreme Court on 31 August 2007:

The injunction orders to stop any work on Rama Setu were passed by Supreme Court on 31.8.07 and again on 14.9.07 after hearing both parties—Dr. Subramanian Swamy, the Petitioner and the Respondents. The prima facie validity of the case of the Petitioner was fully argued and the Respondents made every effort to rebut it but to no avail. It was also argued by the Petitioner that the injunction was urgently necessary because he had credible reports that the Respondent was proposing the present a fait accompli by using explosives to cut through the Rama Setu since the dredging operations had failed and the ship dredgers were seriously damaged. There were also media reports in respected news dailies, but were not contradicted by the Respondents. Moreover, neither these reports nor the averments of this Petitioner were denied by the Respondents even after the Court repeatedly asked the Respondents to make a declaration in court that they had no such intention. Detonating explosives on the Rama Setu would have been irreversible act of profound consequence, and a sacrilege that would have caused grave public disorder. It would have erased the cause of action of my Petition which has been admitted by the Court for a full hearing and appropriate disposal.
There were news reports (just prior to the filing of the affidavit by Govt. of India in February 2008 in Supreme Court), which said that Hon’ble Minister for Culture wanted more time to conduct archaeological investigations according to standard international norms to declare Rama Setu as a monument of National importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and as World Heritage under UN Law of Sea Convention, 1982. the UNESCO conventions on World Heritage and Underwater Cultural Heritage, to which India is a signatory. UNESCO is already considering submissions made to declare Rama Setu and Gulf of Mannar marine bioreserve as a World Heritage.

These reports were later negated when the Secretary of the Ministry of Shipping filed an affidavit on behalf of Union of India in the Supreme Court passing the buck to the Court stating that the State has no clue on how to conduct such a study.

Para 84 of the GOI’s response in the Supreme Court on February 29, 2008, contains an extraordinary submission and admission of the Respondents. It is stated therein (re: the contention of the Petitioners) as follows: “….in particular relating to archaeological, historical and cultural aspects. They have also made presentations in this regard before the Committee of Eminent Persons. It is submitted that archaeological investigations/studies have to be carried out as per established procedures and certain national/international principles, guidelines and legislation. Since no archaeological studies have been conducted, it is not possible to predicate the outcome in the event such investigations are carried out [emphasis added].”

“The Union of India is of the belief that it should not be called upon to respond to issues of faith, except in recognizing their existence”.[ref: COUNTER AFFIDAVIT para.88;p.59].
In the sworn written submission on behalf of the Union of India [UOI], the Additional Solicitor had on September 14, 2007 given to this Hon’ble Court two assurances which was expected to be honoured in the revised and new counter affidavit that the Respondent UOI would subsequently file. The withdrawn affidavit contained averments that hurt the religious and cultural sentiments of the people of India. The withdrawn affidavit had questioned the historicity and religious significance of Shri Rama, Ramayana and the Rama Setu. However these assurances have not been honoured in this new counter affidavit filed on February 29, 2008 almost six months later, despite the Respondent, viz., the Ministry of Shipping’s awareness of the same.

Did Sonia Gandhi authorize the averments made in the withdrawn affidavit (Sept. 14, 2007 after the chakka-jam of Sept. 12, 2007) denying Shri Rama and thus, did she intend to hurt the sentiments of a billion Hindus, by denigrating the very identity of the Hindu civilization and the integrity and unity of the nation governed by this vigrahavaan dharma – the very personification of dharma? Did she desire to desecrate Rama Setu, admittedly worshipped by millions of persons of a large number of creeds? [ref: APPLICATION OF UNION OF INDIA IN I.A. NO.1 of 2007, para. 7; p.24]

The earlier counter affidavit of the Respondent UOI had to be withdrawn when remarks of the non-existence of Sri Rama in the text led to great public indignation and protests. Most prominent and respected Hindu religious leaders came out of their religious seminaries and strongly objected. Hence, by doing or not doing, the Respondents could put public order at risk. Hence the Respondents in the case of Rama Setu must respond appropriately to issues of faith when such matters arise from government policy. This has been the practice in the past.

In the famous Shah Bano case, the Union of India was not called upon by this Hon’ble Court to respond to issue of faith in amending personal law of Muslims. Yet a Bill was enacted into law by the Parliament to in effect nullify this Hon’ble Court’s earlier judgment.

In the Delhi Metro Rail AIIMS-Qutab Minar Corridor construction, the Union of India intervened after an issue of faith was raised against the Corridor alignment by some Islamic NGOs. They contended that the overhead alignment proposed in the Detailed Project Report of the Rs.2358 crore project could threaten the Qutab Minar and some en route tombs by the vibrations of the Metro Rail service, and hence wanted the Alignment changed. The Union of India then directed the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to change the Alignment despite the project’s work being in full swing. At an additional cost of Rs 400 crores, the Corporation changed the chosen Alignment to meet the demands of faith [ref: ANNEXURE P-12 ] and re-worked a new underground Alignment.
The Rama Setu desecration matter, besides it being violative of Article 49 of the Constitution, the statutory provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites & Remains Act(1958), and the Indian Penal Code]Section 295], the demolition or damaging of the Rama Setu will have cataclysmic and profound consequences for the secular and public order of Indian society. It is well settled by case laws that Supreme Court may then intervene in such cases to judicially review the decision-making process so as not to allow injury to the public because of dereliction of constitutional and statutory obligations and duties on part of the Respondent.

Moreover, what to do, or not to do, so as to promote economic development while respecting issues of faith is a very important question that impinges importantly on Constitutional law and that requires urgent judicial determination by a Constitutional Bench of this Hon’ble Court. In the United States, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act[RFRA] holds that the Federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” in pursuing economic interests. On March 12, 2007, the three judge bench of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in a celebrated case set aside the clearance granted to an Arizona State ski resort vide the Final Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environment Policy Act. The ski resort’s plan, as cleared, was for use of treated sewage effluent of a small tourist destination city called Flagstaff, to make artificial snow and spread it on the slopes of a mountain held sacred by native American tribes. The case pitted 13 native American tribes such as Navajos, Apaches etc., who claimed hurt to their religious beliefs versus local economic interests of skiing tourism. The Court unanimously held that the clearance violated the RFRA and hence should cancelled.

The preferential treatment accorded to those observing Islamic faith and consistent efforts to destroy Rama Setu clearly demonstrate the anti-Hindu sentiments of the Party led by Sonia Gandhi.

Excerpts from the affidavit filed by Kornstein Veisz Wexler & Pollard, LP, New York, the Attorneys for Narain Kataria and Arish Sahani, in the libel case filed against them by INOC Inc. in the Supreme Court in the State of New York, USA.

Statements about the Indian National Congress Party …2.The ad allegedly accuses the Indian National Congress Party of `religious intolerance similar to the Taliban'. (INOC's Amended Complaint 31 18)'.

Here once again the amended complaint in New York Supreme Court distorts rather than quotes. The ad never says that the Congress Party has shown `religious intolerance similar to the Taliban'. Instead it makes the very different statement that the party `has shown religious intolerance towards 900 million Hindus by blowing up Rama Sethu, an ancient Hindu heritage monument. This is similar to Taliban blowing up the Bamyan Buddhas'. INOC does not, and cannot, deny that the Congress Party supported the removal of Rama Sethu, a site that many Hindus consider as very sacred, a belief that goes back to the dawn of history. The ad's opinion that this act showed religious intolerance and was similar to the Taliban's destruction of a Buddhist monument is fully protected opinion.

…`This politically motivated libel action (by INOC Inc.) should be barred at the threshold. The statements at issue are not `of and concerning' the plaintiff. As a matter of constitutional law, they were not made with `actual malice'. They are, moreover, either true, free of defamatory meaning, protected opinion or permissible hyperbole. Dismissal, now, at the start of this litigation, is amply justified and absolutely necessary, lest a bad precedent breed more such misguided libel cases. Early dismissal becomes even more essential when one considers the political context of this case. At bottom, this is a case about a U.S. subsidiary of a powerful political party in a large foreign country attempting to use our Courts to silence and intimidate its American critics in America. This is not only unacceptable; it is intolerable. We as a people have completely rejected the notion that a political party can `use the courts to destroy political opponents'. [United States v. Helstoski, 442 U.S. 477, 493 (1979)]'.

Dr. Babu Suseelan cited at : `The Congress Party has failed miserably in defending our borders, Hindus, Hindu culture, or to do anything more than protecting their own narrow political interests. As a party, the Congress has reduced its mind and heart to the level of intellectual and moral bankruptcy, outright dishonesty, corruption, ineptitude, nepotism, and inefficiency. These immoral practices have become the fallback mode of the Congress leaders. In the name of pseudo secularism, Congress moral relativists, atheists, and agnostics want to appease Muslims and want to overturn traditional Hindu culture and moral values. Now the Congress Party headed by the Italian Catholic Sonia is devising new cunning schemes to restrict our liberties. For several years, Hindu organizations around the world had exposed Congress leaders' despicable behavior and corrupt practices. It is about time Indians realize Sonia Gandhi is a `plant' by European Christian politics whose aim is to expand Christianity in India. From Hindu religious beliefs Christianity is not a religion in the true sense but a disguised politics of power. These people will kill, murder and annihilate any existing community to further their fanatical goals'.

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