|2010-02-26||Sindhis start move to stop conversions|
Sindhis start move to stop conversions
KIRAN TARE | Fri, 26 Feb 2010-01:48am , Mumbai , DNA
A number of influential Sindhi personalities have come forward to restrain the ongoing trend of conversion among fellow community members in Ulhasnagar. They have decided to start a shuddhikaran (purification) movement for those who have stopped following traditions of Hinduism.
The move has come after DNA published a report on Tuesday on the growing attraction towards Christianity among the Sindhis in the township. Among the four lakh Sindhi-speaking Hindus in Ulhasnagar, an estimated 7,000 have changed their faith in the past two years.
“We are going to launch a shuddhikaran movement soon for those who have changed their faith,” said Pradeep Bhavanani, president of Bharatiya Sindhi Samaj, the largest non-religious organisation of the community in India.
The organisation held a meeting at Khar Gymkhana on Wednesday to discuss the issue. “More than 1,000 prominent people from the community were present for the meeting. We unanimously decided to provide psychological and monetary help to those who have changed their faith and stopped following Hindu rituals. Anyone who needs help can contact me,” said Bhavanani.
But at the same time, he clarified that they will not force anyone to follow Hinduism. “We Hindus are very liberal. Anyone can have faith in any other religion. We do not have any objection. But if somebody has stopped visiting temples, we will convince him not to do so in a polite and constructive manner. Shuddhikaran does not mean application of force, but it will be a process of dialogue,” he said.
Upset with the converted community members not changing their names, the All India Sindhi Samaj had said that the organisation would boycott them. “We have called for a meeting of our saints in July. We will then take a decision to boycott the converted Sindhis socially, if they don’t change their names,” said Sai Balram, general secretary of the organisation.
But Bhavanani informed that Sindhis across the world have expressed their desire to join the Shuddhikaran movement. “Since the report was published, I have been receiving numerous phone calls and text messages not only from across the country, but also from abroad. My friends abroad have shown interest in participating in the movement actively,” he said.
According to Bhavanani, DNA’s report was an eye-opener for the community. “DNA has warned us about a looming crisis. We are thankful to you. We feel that there is a need for introspection as to why some among us have changed their faith,” he said.
|2010-02-25||In the name of God, or business?|
In the name of God, or business?
KIRAN TARE | Thu, 25 Feb 2010-02:01am , Mumbai , DNA
Hindu leaders, including those from the Sindhi community in Ulhasnagar, have decided to convene a meeting after Holi to chalk out a strategy to deal with the neo-Christians a day after DNA reported about large-scale Sindhi conversions in the town. While the former believe the conversions are a result of monetary aid to failing businesses, the converts say they have crossed the fence solely due to spiritual reasons.
One of them, Ramesh Vaswani, was a devout Hindu and would have bhasm (ash) smeared all over his forehead and torso till a few months ago. However, he now wears a chain with a cross-shaped pendant around his neck. Vaswani’s attraction to Christianity grew when he saw his friend, Ram Budhwani, who was going through a bad patch, prosper in business after converting.
“I suffered heavy losses and had to shut my shop. But since I started visiting the Prarthana Ghar in Ulhasnagar, I am making progress. I have reopened my shop and it is doing well. I have changed my faith, not my religion,” said Vaswani.
The news of renewed business prosperity is spreading fast in the close-knit community in the township known for its entrepreneurial zeal. The Hindu leaders in the community allege that monetary aid has been doled out by missionaries to convert the Sindhis.
However, Budhwani denies this, saying, “I started visiting the chapel to get peace of mind. I lost my wife in an accident two years ago. I had become an alcoholic.”
Ratan Varsiyani, who organises the sermons, asserts there are no conversions. “No one can convert anybody by any means. It is only a change of faith. There are some misunderstandings among people over the issue,” he said.
The Sindhi leaders have decided to resolve the issue through dialogue. “We will hold a meeting of several Hindu leaders after Holi and decide upon the future action,” said Sai Balram, general secretary of All India Sindhi Samaj.
Meanwhile, some businessmen have shown interest in approaching the converts to convince them to keep their Hindu identity intact. “We want them. We feel that they are still a part of our society,” said Ashok Valechcha, president of Ulhasnagar Goldsmith Association.
|2010-02-24||Sindhi conversions in Ulhasnagar raise a storm|
Sindhi conversions in Ulhasnagar raise a storm
KIRAN TARE | Wed, 24 Feb 2010-01:25am , Mumbai , DNA
The close-knit Sindhi community in Ulhasnagar, north-east of Mumbai, is undergoing a social upheaval of sorts. Over the last two years, a sizeable number in the township — primarily created for Sindhis who came in as refugees from Pakistan’s Sindh province after partition — have drifted away from Hinduism and embraced Christianity.
The “conversions” have sent shockwaves among the community elders, specially since Indian Sindhis, weighed down by the scars of partition, are known to be staunch followers of Hinduism.
Most of those who are shifting their faith allegiance to Christianity are in their 40s and, in fact, had been devout followers of Hinduism.
Out of four lakh Sindhi-speaking Hindus in Ulhasnagar, around 7,000 (1.75%) have changed their faith in the last two years, according to a rough count. The growing number of “conversions” has scared the Sindhi-speaking Hindus to such an extent that they are contemplating a social boycott of the neo-Christians. Those who are taking to Christianity are not branding it as a conversion; instead, they say they have only changed their faith. Most have not even changed their Hindu names, which is turning out to be a major bone of contention with the Hindus.
“We are not against any religion but if they do not believe in Hinduism and are drawn closer to Christianity, they should adopt Christian names. We have called a meeting of the saints in our community in July. In that meeting, we will take a decision to boycott the converted Sindhis socially if they do not change their names,” said Sai Balram, general secretary of the All India Sindhi Samaj, one of the prominent organisations of the community.
Global recession is to blame, say Hindu leaders in the community. Ulhasnagar is largely a business township, full of small scale industries and traders.
Balram said, “The Christian missionaries helped the small businessmen rebuild their businesses. Since then, there has been a wave of conversion.”
But Ram Budhwani, a resident who follows Christianity, rubbishes the argument. “I started visiting the chapel to get peace of mind. I lost my wife in an accident two years ago. I became an alcoholic. I suffered heavy losses in my business and had to close down my shop. But since I am visiting the prayer house (known as Prarthana Ghar in Ulhasnagar) I am making progress in my business. I set up my shop again and am doing well. I have changed my faith, not the religion,” he said.
The Sindhi-speaking Hindus in Ulhasnagar feel people like Budhwani have betrayed the community. “Sindhis are known for their loyalty to Hinduism. We preferred to leave our places (in Pakistan) during the Partition but refused to convert into Islam. Now, we are confused how to face the situation,” a senior citizen from the community said.
|2010-02-12||HC notice to builder for faking illness in jail|
HC notice to builder for ‘faking’ illness in jail
MAYURA JANWALKAR | Fri, 12 Feb 2010-12:18am , Mumbai , DNA
Tables may have turned on Ulhasnagar builder Ashok Wadhwa who had sought treatment from a gastroenterologist while in jail.The Bombay high court on Thursday issued a notice to him for allegedly fabricating medical records to stay out of prison under the pretext of illness. Wadhwa has been arrested in connection with the murder of one Bhisham Karma in January 2008.
Last week, justice DG Karnik had slammed the state government for inadequate facilities in prison owing to which Wadhwa, who was seeking corrective treatment prior to a liver transplant, was denied proper medical attention. “Why should the accused suffer because you [state government] have no medical facilities?” justice Karnik had said, asking the state government whether there were any gastroenterologists at any of the government hospitals.
On Thursday, when the case came up for hearing again, public prosecutor PA Pol and additional public prosecutor Anuradha Mane told the court that a gastroenterologist was available at KEM Hospital. But the prosecution also informed the court that various documents submitted by Wadhwa and a private medial practitioner were fabricated to misuse the liberty granted to him on medical grounds.
The court has now also indicated that the doctor as well as the police escorts who accompanied Wadhwa when he was granted temporary bail in September 2009 on medical grounds would also be taken to task.
Wadhwa in his bail application had stated that he was in need of a liver transplant but the doctors at Wockhardt Hospital could not perform a surgery until his health was stable. The prosecution, however, said that Wadhwa’s doctor had illegally used the letterhead of Wockhardt Hospital.
The court will hear the matter again after two weeks.
|2010-02-11||She is your mother, not a beggar, court tells son|
She is your mother, not a beggar, court tells son
MAYURA JANWALKAR | Thu, 11 Feb 2010-12:58am , Mumbai , DNA
Taking a stern approach towards a son who declined from paying maintenance to his mother whose property he had taken over, the Bombay high court on Wednesday told him he would have to part with a “substantial amount” every month as maintenance to his mother.
The court also told him he was not doing his 72-year-old mother a favour by paying the amount in maintenance. “Do you think you are obliging her? Is she a beggar? You are depriving her of her right,” justice DB Bhosale said.
Ulhasnagar resident Jivan, a businessman, had filed the appeal in the high court challenging the order of a civil judge in Kalyan who had “foisted a liability of Rs1,500 maintenance” to be paid to his mother Meena in April last year.
As his advocate gave reasons why he should not be saddled with the burden of maintaining his old mother, the frail old woman stood listening stoically. The septuagenarian, however, had contended that in 1992, she had sold her property to help him buy shop premises and a flat in Ulhasnagar. She said she had moved in with her son’s family into the new home in July 1996 but her son threw her out in November 1997.
“I gave him all the love and care but in his house he did not even give me food for six months,” Meena said.
Her advocate Jaiwant Chandnani told the court: “She has been living with her married daughter ever since and her elder son sends her money from Dubai sometimes.”
In 2000, Jivan’s mother filed a civil suit seeking the right to the property that he had bought with her money and an injunction of the property for recovery of Rs1.62 lakh she gave him to buy the new flat and the arrears of maintenance he had not paid.
Jivan’s stand before the high court was that the subordinate court had granted the maintenance purely on “sympathetic grounds”. He stated that his elder brother was sending her money and he was financially incapable of bearing the additional expense.
“Just look at your mother, look at her age,” justice Bhosale said, “You are making your mother run from pillar to post at this age.”
The court said that since he was enjoying all the properties owned by his mother he should be ready to shell out at least Rs10,000 in maintenance for his mother. The mother is seeking Rs10 lakh as a settlement amount. The court has directed the mother-son duo to arrive at a settlement with the help of their advocates and inform the court on Thursday.
(Names of parties changed to protect identities)
|2010-02-08||Give medical aid or free inmates: Bombay HC|
Give medical aid or free inmates: Bombay HC
MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mon, 8 Feb 2010-12:58am , Mumbai , DNA
The Bombay high court lambasted the state government for failing to provide medical treatment to prison inmates.
Hearing an application filed by Ulhasnagar resident Ashok Wadhwa, an undertrial in a murder case, justice DG Karnik reprimanded the government, “If you cannot provide medical treatment, then release all ailing accused on bail.”
Wadhwa has said in his bail plea that he needs a liver transplant but doctors could not perform a surgery until his health was stable.
Wadhwa, who needed a gastroenterologist for corrective treatment prior to the transplant, was referred to JJ Hospital last month but the hospital does not have a gastroenterologist.
“Why should the accused suffer because you [the govt] have no medical facilities? You don’t even bother to appoint a gastroenterologist?” justice Karnik said.