What happened to my Ajanta -Ellora tour?

or years, I have quietly dreamt of it, wished for it. That I’d go see the splendours of Ajanta, the magic of Ellora. I have been a tourist to many a historical marvel that India has to offer, but there are sites that have eluded me. Not only because the opportunity didn’t come up; even when it did, there were restrictions.

My long stays in Europe and experiencing its security manacles have tutored me somewhat in the methods and protocols of what to expect and how to manage my security. Here in India, I get armed bodyguards. Figuring out the rest – the where, the when, the for-how-long of the matter – is entirely my prerogative. These are my decisions, which I take depending on the situation at hand.

Since 2007, this has been my story. Before that, if I were to attend an event, be present at a function, there would be news. The possibility of my presence would be advertised. I would go without fear of being attacked. But once the attacks on my life started, they kept recurring. From one state to another, they stalked me like a ghost. It’s an epidemic really, like cholera or malaria of bygone days, or the more current dengue and chikungunya. They are never restricted to a particular time and place. They just spread like a rash on a vulnerable body.

Like in any other country, when I get an invitation for an event in India, my security is arranged. But, what if I want to just travel for pleasure? What if I want to simply holiday somewhere? There’s no organisation that would make the arrangements for me then, ensure my security detail. I need to work that out myself. Book the travel tickets, the hotel. Apprise the security guards of everything – when I’d reach, where I’d stay, where all I’d go, when I’d leave – everything must be made available to them till the last detail.

No one had any idea that I was travelling to Ajanta-Ellora. I had done all that was needed to be done. I had booked the hotel in my travel mate’s name and even the air tickets. But I needed to offer my own name as a “companion”. One cannot travel anonymously anywhere anymore.

A week before I was set to leave for Aurangabad, I had duly submitted the documents of my flight details and hotel booking to my Delhi security guards. They had forwarded my application to their office “function branch”, and the latter had assured me that the word had reached from Delhi to Maharashtra, that I’d be safe in the western state, I’d get security guards once I land in Aurangabad.

No one likes to travel with armed bodyguards at all times. But I don’t really have any other option. I’m really helpless there. I try to not remember just how helpless I am. But the reality is too harsh: it doesn’t let anyone quite forget.

I left Delhi for Aurangabad on July 29. As soon as I got off from the plane, I could see the dense police presence all around. My travel mate was a young woman who’s like a daughter to me. I had told her how I hated having cops all around; it would suffice to have two bodyguards only. After all, who’d bother us in Ajanta-Ellora?

I hadn’t realised the cops at Aurangabad airport weren’t taking me to the baggage claim area, but instead to a senior officer. Once I got my suitcase back, as I was about to exit the airport, the officer held me back. He said: “Situation’s bad in the city. Protests are going on against you. There are 500 people gathered outside your hotel.”

I was stunned. This was beyond belief. My travel plans were passed on by Delhi Police to the Maharashtra Police in utmost secrecy, so how did the hardliners chance upon the information? I asked the officer accosting me: “How did they know? No one else was supposed to, but for the cops!” He said he didn’t know how the information leaked. By then, I had crumpled into a bundle of helplessness, choking with pain within. I looked around, and then asked him: “What am I supposed to do now?” The officer replied: “You must go back.”

I asked, “When must I leave? And how?”

The officer said: “There’s an Air India flight to Delhi. It’s tomorrow morning.”

I was aghast. “What shall I do until morning? Where shall I stay?”

He said: “At the airport.”

The officer thought for a while. He had the Air India crew put me back on the very plane by which I had come from Delhi a little while back; only, the flight was now on its way to Mumbai. I must board the plane, I was told. I was taken to the Air India ticket counter.

I had to buy two tickets to Mumbai. My travel mate then looked out from the ticket counter and said, “It seems the protesters have entered the airport already.” I asked the cop standing next to me, “What’s happening? Why are you letting them in?” She smiled and assured: “Don’t worry. We are here. Nothing will happen to you.”

**

The cops seemed relaxed. I was the one getting worked up. They took me to the security clearance next. Behind me, I could hear the ear-splitting shrieks of almost 200 people screaming “Taslima, go back! Taslima, murdabad. Nara-e-takbeer, Allahu Akbar!”

The cops left once they put me on the plane. Even in Mumbai, there was police everywhere. Once I got off, they started questioning me at the airport lounge. Where would I go? I was told immediately that I couldn’t step out, couldn’t visit any place in the city. I looked up online if there was any riotous situation anywhere. No, there wasn’t. I was relieved.

Sometime back I was wondering if I should go away to a European city to live in peace for a while. But then I told myself, why bother if it’s quiet in the country?

The next day, the Times of India published the news of what happened with me at the Aurangabad airport. PTI soon followed it up, and then it spread like wildfire. I didn’t want this to happen. I wish it hadn’t. There’s no dearth of bad experiences in my life. I just didn’t want it replayed over and over again, reminding me of my misery every second of the day.

**

In 2007, I was attacked in Hyderabad. When I made my way back to Kolkata, I expected the CPI(M) government in West Bengal to stand by me. But no, I was put under house arrest. I had hoped for sympathy and compassion from fellow Bengalis, but instead, all I got was hardliners rallying against me, fundamentalists wanting me out of Bengal. I was thrown out soon after. I had to leave behind Kolkata, a city I had come to see as my home away from home.

In Rajasthan, I was forced to leave before the crack of dawn. They brought me over to Delhi, and even as I kept hoping that I’d finally be able to return to Kolkata, alive, I was put under house arrest in the cantonment area.

After a few months of house arrest in Delhi cantonment area, I was forced to leave the country. I was the victim of the attacks on me, but I was the one who got punished. Someone who has gone through what I have been, wouldn’t want history to repeat itself, to be attacked again, the news of the attack to spread.

Many journalists got in touch with me seeking an interview since the Aurangabad airport incident became national headline. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone about it.

But I could see what the newspapers and TV channels were reporting. Maharashtra Police was mincing words when asked by reporters what they knew about the episode. Conflicting versions were coming out. Once they said they didn’t have a clue that I’d be travelling to Aurangabad. Another time, they said they were informed at 4.30pm of July 29. Then they contradicted themselves again. No, it wasn’t at 4.30pm, but at 6pm that they got to know that I was coming.

I have no idea what was the precise moment when the “function branch” in Delhi sent out the message to their counterpart in Maharashtra. Often, in order to prevent the information from leaking out, alerts are sent out at the last moment. Yet, what baffles me is this: does it really matter if the information was sent at 4.30pm or 6.30pm? How did it fall into the hands of the fundamentalists in the first place?

How was it that the protesters had on them every little bit of my secret travel plan? The fundamentalists were aware of everything – from the hotel I had booked, to the name under which it was booked, till when was I staying, where all had I planned to visit – everything was meticulously cloned from my clandestine, security-cleared and security-privy itinerary.

I checked on the internet: before a mob of ideologically inebriated rioters, Muslim fundamentalist leaders were delivering a passionate speech, in which they were spilling the beans of my Aurangabad travel. Every secret little nugget of information was out there, being tossed around by the hardliners. They would teach me what the Ajanta-Ellora caves were really like. The leaders were telling their minions that they had ensured that cops prevented me from stepping out of the airport and entering Aurangabad.

**

I wonder, don’t the Muslims know who their real enemies are? I look at the gau rakshaks running amok all over the country, killing Muslims with glee, why don’t I see Muslims protesting against those acts of murder? Why is it that it’s me who faced the brunt of the Hindutva brigade’s wrath when I criticised cow vigilantism on Twitter? Am I attacked, assaulted, abused again and again because I’m a soft target? That I’m an exile in this country? That I don’t have anyone to call my own, no country, no land to call mine?

Congress, CPI(M), Trinamool have all punished me for no fault of mine. I guess it’s perhaps the BJP’s turn now. And why wouldn’t BJP as well? If they don’t appease the real hardliners among the Muslims, how will the vote-bank politics play out after all? Politicians don’t think of anything beyond elections and what would fetch them some votes, and this is true irrespective of party lines.

**

I sit back and wonder when was it that the Muslims turned me into their enemy. Is it a crime to want that the Muslims modernise themselves, seek equality between men and women? Why am I the adversary then, when all I ever wanted to be was a friend?

Who is the real enemy of Muslims, I ask? Those who want Muslims to stay blinded by religion held back by the lack of education, superstition, sectarianism, intolerance. Those who want the Muslims to be forever limited by the darkness of fundamentalism, fettered by its toxic chains. They are the real enemies. Not them who want Muslims to pursue education, find enlightenment, develop a scientific temper, be sensitive to and indeed fight for human and gender rights, believe in equality.

Who am I? I don’t have a political party, or an organisation, or the support of the intelligentsia. Public intellectuals are now opportunistic spokespersons of one or another political party. My existence in India is a tale of utter and absolute solitude. I don’t have anything or anyone to fall back on but my ideals and my beliefs.

I don’t have ground beneath my feet. But still, I am here. I continue to be. Because I love. I love this country. I love this country because this country looks like my country and feels like home.

Another science writer -blogger was hacked to death in Bangladesh today

Ananta Bijoy Das was a talented science writer and a blogger. He was hacked to death today by Islamic terrorists in Bangladesh.

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Ananta Bijoy Das wrote a wonderful poem about me. In his poem, he saluted me for being an uncompromising feminist and humanist. Debashish Bhattacharya translated the poem into English.

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A Few Lines For Taslima Nasreen

By Ananta Bijoy Das

The wolves and hyenas of the darkness are prowling over the world
Naked swords in hand, their unconcealed carnal desire dripping off from their eyes and mouths.
Intellectual conceit, under the veneer of fake social awareness, is chewing out
Every issue from big bang to human evolution, global vision .
Alexandria to Nalanda being rampaged and raped by them,
The “elders” are breathing in hatred and violence in their pens,
Blood of the innocent dripping off the shameless swords everywhere.

If you violate their fatwa, their red eyes and edicts
You get beheaded in the east west north south wherever you are.
They have bought over all – the arms, muscles, judiciary and the media.
Nevertheless someone or other is lighting the fire somewhere,
The fire of protest, the revolutionary fire which burns off the stinking, old, decomposed beliefs and rituals, “sacred” establishments.
The lighted path travels from Hypatia to Mary, Rokea –
All hail Taslima, red salute to you.

Ananta Bijoy Das was an editor of a science magazine called Jukti (logic). He used to write blogs on Mukto Mona blogging site. He wrote some books on Darwin and evolution in Bengali. He received Rationalist Mukto Mona award for his writings.

Bangladesh government is not taking any action against the Islamist-killers because of the fear of being labelled as anti-Islam. Islamists are allowed to do whatever they like in Bangladesh. It seems killing free-thinker atheists who criticize Islam is their main agenda.

Rajib Haider
A.K.M Shafiur Rahman
Avijit Roy
Washikur Rahman Babu
Ananta Bijoy Das.
Who is next?

Tomorrow maybe you. Or maybe me.

Muslims are losing their faith

Muslims are losing their faith.

Many people know that Islamic extremism makes ordinary Muslims extremists. Not many people know that Islamic extremism also makes ordinary Muslims atheists.

IDENTIFYING Muslims who have renounced their faith is tricky. Few are open about doing so, even in safe and secular Britain. But among the country’s Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, who overwhelmingly describe themselves as Muslims, the numbers are growing, albeit from a tiny base. According to official statistics, between 2001 and 2011 the proportion of Bangladeshis who say they have no faith has more than tripled, from 0.4% to 1.4%. For Pakistanis it has doubled, from 0.5% to 1.1%. Some who explicitly identify as ex-Muslims are becoming more vocal. Groups such as the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain (CEMB), set up in 2007, are helping.

Former Muslims’ reluctance to admit to their lack of faith rarely stems from a fear of violence, as in countries such as Sudan where laws make apostasy punishable by death. Rather the worry in Britain is about the social stigma, moral condemnation and ostracism that follows, says Simon Cottee of the University of Kent, who has written a book on the subject.

I am happy for Bangladeshis. Between 2001 and 2011 the proportion of Bangladeshis who say they have no faith has more than tripled, from 0.4% to 1.4%. Recently I have started using facebook, where most of my followers and friends are Bengalis from Bangladesh. I am so amazed to see a huge number of young people, both men and women, abandoned their faith. Avijit Roy’s Mukto Mona website has been a great platform for thousands of Bengali atheist bloggers.

Many do not divulge their unbelief to their families, let alone the wider community. At events organised by the CEMB, some come straight from the mosque. Women say they continue to wear their veil at home to conceal their change of heart. Those who are openly godless often use the language of gay rights, talking about “coming out” to those close to them.

Despite such difficulties, the internet is making life easier. Muslims questioning their faith can talk to others online. The CEMB’s forum has over 4,000 users, says Marayam Namazie, the group’s founder. In the past would-be atheists had to sneak off to libraries to explore their doubts. Doing so online is easier and more discreet. Nonetheless the CEMB also offers guidance on concealing such activities, advising those with doubts to erase e-mails and search histories and to use a computer to which others do not have access.

Ibrahim Mogra, an imam in Leicester, says that he has heard of only a handful of cases of Muslims who have openly renounced their religion over the past 30 years. More common, he says, are those who abandon many of the practices of Islam—regular prayers, the dietary laws and dress codes, for example—but still identify as Muslims. This group, which is culturally but less spiritually committed to Islam, is getting larger, suggests Mr Mogra. Growing up in secular Britain leads people, especially the young, to drift away. But many grow out of their doubts, he reckons, and return, especially when they have children.

Such a good news! Agnostics are growing. I want them to grow faster.

Religious sentiments.

If one has to say what other people want to hear, then there is no need for freedom of speech or one’s right to express opinions.

What is this? We have to be decent and polite. We need to know where to draw the line, and whatever we do has to make sense. But those who are religious don’t need to be sensible or rational. It’s not a problem if they are crude. They have the right to declare bounty on someone’s head. They have the right to be uncivilised, to be murderers. But we (by we I mean the non-believers) don’t have those rights. In every society, the believers get more advantages than the non-believers.

By now, everyone must already know exactly what the telecommunication and ICT minister, Latif Siddique, said in New York. He lost his ministry for saying what he said. Not only that, Muslim radicals started protesting on the streets against him. They are demanding his execution. A Tk5 lakh bounty has been declared on his head. He is receiving threats from different groups. Apparently, he won’t be allowed back in the country. The media has also humiliated him in different ways.

But what was his fault? It is true that after uttering the Prophet’s name, Latif Siddique did not say “peace be upon him.” Even if one does not utter those words, there is no reason for peace not to be upon the Prophet. Almighty Allah will give his soul peace nevertheless. He was the greatest friend of Allah, and He himself sent Prophet Muhammad. The problem is, most of the Bengali Muslims know very littile about the Qur’an and Hadith. They haven’t read much about the history of Islam either.

More than 90% of the Bangladeshi population is Muslim. Most of them are Muslims because their parents were Muslims. Some converted to Islam, either on their own or by force. Many of these Muslims claimed that Latif Siddique hurt the “religious sentiments of Muslims.” By Muslims, they meant all Muslims or the Muslim community as a whole. However, a group or community doesn’t have feelings, a person does. So, it can be said Latif Siddique’s words hurt some people’s sentiments.

A person doesn’t only have religious sentiments, they experience many kinds of feelings. When their other feelings are hurt, they don’t get so riled up. So it can be asked, are religious sentiments more fragile and dangerous than other feelings? Are they hurt so easily that when someone hurts religious sentiments, anyone can break the pillars of civilisation – democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech?

The Muslim countries might not make necessary arrangements to protect human rights, but each of those countries take measures to protect Islam. If anyone raises any question about Islam, then capital punishment, execution, getting slaughtered, life imprisonment, life in exile, harassment, etc are inevitable.

Muslim extremists stone women. They slaughter people brutally. They whip girls for wearing trousers and cane them for driving. People all over the world see these barbaric acts. At one time, there was barbarity all over the world, but such behaviour has been made illegal by the establishment of laws in almost all countries.

Whether someone admits it or not, it is true that the number of Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists has increased critically in the last two decades. Large and small groups like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hezbollah, and ISIS have been formed. They are dreaming of turning the entire world into a “caliphate,” where only Muslims will live, no one else.

According to a report by Pew Research Centre, most of the Muslims of the world want Sharia law. Today, a sense of disgust has been created about Islam around the world. Hatred has been cultivated towards Muslims. Non-Muslims in many countries express their lack of interest in becoming friends with Muslims, giving them jobs, and maintaining professional and social relationships with them. A dreadful distrust has been developed towards Muslims.

But human rights laws in the West are so strong that Muslims can live their lives as they wish. No country has plans to drive them away by beating and killing them. The West stops racism in their countries on their own.

Democracy becomes pointless if people lose their right to express their opinions or freedom of speech. If we try to change society, various feelings of various people get hurt. A society cannot be changed if we want to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. People’s religious sentiments get hurt even when you try to separate state from religion or get rid of laws against women.

Too many good deeds haven’t been done till now without hurting religious sentiments. When the clerical rule in Europe was stopped, the religious sentiments of numerous people were hurt too. The discoveries of Galileo and Darwin hurt people’s religious sentiments as well. Scientific advancements hurt the religious sentiments of superstitious people.

But if we stop expressing our opinions, ban scientific discoveries and usage, and stop the progression of civilisation in the fear that it’ll hurt them, then the society will be left as a puddle of water, it will never turn into a spontaneously-flowing stream. Many say that since the majority of the people of the country are Muslims, Latif Siddique should have talked sensibly, keeping that in mind.

If one has to say what other people want to hear, then there is no need for freedom of speech or one’s right to express opinions. Freedom of speech is for those whose opinions don’t correspond with the opinions of most others. Freedom of speech is saying what you don’t want to hear. Those whose opinions don’t hurt anyone’s feelings don’t need freedon of speech. When the government takes the side of people who are against freedom of speech, it brings about the ruin of its own country.

Nowadays, religious extremists are doing very good business by exploiting people’s religious sentiments. They have always profited from this business in Bangladesh. Every time they scream on the streets demanding someone’s execution for religious dissent and start burning public property, the government takes their side and starts oppressing the people who hold different opinions. This strengthens the power of religious exploiters a hundredfold, and takes the country back 100 years.

The government did exactly the same thing in my case. The friendship between the government and extremists has forever remained the same. Back then, if the Khaleda-led government had punished the Muslim radicals instead of taking their side, they wouldn’t be so powerful now. I could have stayed in my own country as well. There would have been freedom of speech in the country.

It’s not only the Muslim fundamentalists, even the government has deprived free-thinkers of their democratic rights for their own insignificant interests. If Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had not dismissed Latif Siddique from his ministerial post, then he could have returned to the country. The storm would have died down eventually.

The clever religious exploiters would have understood that the politics of religious sentiments would not work in this government’s tenure. The expulsion of Latif Siddique only added fuel to the fire of Muslim fundamentalists. This will strengthen their evil forces a hundredfold. The country will again move backwards a hundredfold.

Various details about Latif Siddique are being disclosed these days. Apparently, he was a horrible person. When the government goes against someone, the number of his friends goes down to zero. My situation was the same. I had to leave the country. My friends vanished. Limitless rumours were spread about me.

Latif Siddique probably did many horrible things. I am not saying that he is a very good person. All I am saying is that he has the right to express his own opinions. Just as I support Latif Siddique’s right to express himself, I similarly respect the rights of his opposers to share their opinions at an equal measure.

If you don’t like his opinion, write and talk against his views and use logic to refute his arguments. But declaring a bounty on his head, physically attacking him, talking about hanging, executing, killing, and beheading him – I am against these barbaric threats.

Gun in one hand, Quran in the other.

You can not kill ISIS by killing ISIS. You have to kill the root of ISIS from where ISIS were born. That is Islam. Islam must either be reformed or destroyed for humanity to survive.

ISIS will not be destroyed
if you do not allow critical scrutiny of Islam,
if you do not stop brainwashing children with Islam,
if you do not stop building Quranic schools,
and if you do not abolish sharia laws.

The Quran inspires people to kill. The relation between Islam and violence, you like to hear or not, is very intimate. Muhammad the prophet started it, and his followers continued it.

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MIDEAST SYRIA PALESTINIAN

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Sexual Jihad

Jihadists asked for Muslim women’s bodies where they could dump their semen. Since then Muslim women have been offering their bodies for sex to comfort jihadists. Brainless bodies agreed to be fucked. They don’t mind to become sex slaves of Jihadists. They believe they are joining jihad by comforting jihadists and it is the way to please Allah the almighty. The jihadists need whores on earth and hoors in heaven.(Pink virgins of heaven are called hoors in Arabic.) These jihadists are expert in two things: Fucking and killing.

Muslim women from Tunisia, Australia, UK, Malaysia went to Syria and Iraq for sexual jihad. Many came back home as pregnant.

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The world wouldn’t change until men stop violence and women stop stupidity.