Mar 20, 2010

'Taliban' writ in Haryana village

Author: C Shamsher, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 8, 2007

Barely 25 km from the bustling township of Karnal is village Mundogari, where people don't buy television sets, don't get themselves photographed, or even listen to Hindi film music.

It's not because they don't have the financial wherewithal to do so; it's because the 5,000-strong Muslim population of the village is under the near-total sway of retrograde maulvis whose edicts have barred the folk from any form of recreation.

With just one Hindu Dalit family in Mundogari, the village has more or less been reduced to a Talibanised relic. It's not the rule of law that enshrines personal freedoms that prevails here; it's the fatwas from maulvis, who interpret the Koran according to their blinkered vision, that calls the shots, preventing people from exerting their right to freedom in a country that celebrated its 60th year of independence in August this year.

The only connection of villagers - who don't travel out - with the outside world is the radio on which the only programme they are allowed to listen to is the news.

Says Raj Singh Chaudhary, a Karnal-based social worker: "When one family bought a TV set, it was severely ostracised." What adds to the problem, he says, is the literacy rate at an abysmal 3%, with just one person reaching college. And since no one is even 10th pass, there's not a single person in the village employed with the government.

Dilshad Ali, 20, would be seen as a villain in this village if his secret was out. For he has defied the maulvis' fatwa and took admission in BA second year. Asked whether he follows any other proclamation, he says: "I have to paste photographs on the admission form, have to read newspapers and I watch TV regularly whenever I am outside the village." How does he do all this? "I have to keep these things a secret," he says.

Eighteen year old Shadaqat Ali, who owns an STD/PCO outlet, says, Koran doesn't allow us to watch TV and listen to music in any form. On being asked who informed him about it, he says: "Maulvis have informed the entire village time and again and about TV's ill-effects."

Another woman, who refuses to be named, says: "The women folk aren't allowed to come out of their house. Many haven't travelled more than 25 km ever in their lives."

"My first outing as a child was to a hospital and ever since I have mostly gone to hospitals as do other women, most of whom are married at age 14-15."

Maulana Ajmal Khan, the imam at Sector 20 Masjid, Chandigarh, says: "If you want a photograph clicked for the passport, or on the admission form, you can have it, since it's out of necessity. But you can't have it hanging on the wall." Islam also does not allow singing and dancing or any such form of entertainment, he adds.

Mundogari in Haryana is a village where Osama will be at ‘home’

Mundogari (Haryana), Oct. 11, 2007 (ANI):

Mundogari, located 50-odd kilometers from New Delhi in Haryana prides itself on being a ‘true’ Islamic village.

In this village, which has 5,000 inhabitants, girls are debarred from going to schools. They have been debarred from having education. They are also not allowed to step out of their houses without totally covering themselves.

The madrassa, or the school in the village, is open only to boys.

“None of the women in our village have studied till standard ten. I went to school till fifth standard. Lots of restrictions have been imposed on the women. They say that according to Koran, girls should not be educated. Why do we have to face restrictions like this?” asks Saima, a Kindergarten teacher.

Not just that, watching television or listening to songs on radio is banned. The edict promulgated by the local cleric makes all those who listen to music and sees television of committing blasphemy,

The edict prohibits all recreational activities as un-Islamic.

The local clerics claim that going to schools and being seen outside your house, with an uncovered face is un-Islamic.

“Television is unacceptable in our religion. They show all kind of nude pictures and rubbish things which are banned in our religion. There is not a single television in our village,” said Shakeel Ahmed, a local cleric.

The clerics are not concerned that the people of the village live in abject poverty, and the only ‘employment’ open to them is to engage themselves in doing menial jobs.

No one has had the courage to defy the edict issued by the local cleric — so far. Osama would be completely at home at Mundogari. (ANI)