With the voluntary confessions of Kasab in Mumbai and Headley in Chicago we have a near complete picture of the personnel and planning, which went into the meticulously carried out carnage that took place in Mumbai on 26th November 2008. It took a toll of over 160 innocent lives Indian and Foreign — Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, men, women and children. It was the most diabolical crime committed in cold blood in recent times. We can now go ahead and hang Kasab for what he did.
Headley has escaped the electric chair he well deserves by his confessing as allowed by American Criminal Law. What about the others roaming free in Pakistan? Do the rulers of Pakistan have the power to stamp out criminal elements in their country, which are forever propagating Jihad against India? I have my doubts. They have not even put that mad mullah Hafiz Saeed who continues to propagate war against India behind bars. The simple explanation is that there is now so much animus against India that the avvaam — the common people of the country are willing to agree with the Taliban-minded that Indians need to be taught a lesson they will never forget.
The stock example they adduce is Kashmir. They are not willing to accept that we have a democratically elected government headed by Omar Abdullah. And that we are compelled to keep a large army posted there because of the constant infiltration of armed mischief-makers coming in from Pakistan. If the infiltration stopped, we will withdraw our army.
Another accusation frequently made by the rulers of Pakistan against us is that we are behind the Baloch demand for an independent Baluchistan. As evidence they say that they have recovered arms and ammunition manufactured in India from Baloch freedom fighters. Indian-made arms and ammunition are commonly available in Afghanistan and NWFP of Pakistan. They are not supplied free by India but bought from arms dealers and taken through Nepal to be sold to buyers. So are arms manufactured in other countries like America, Russia and China. Pakistan singles out India as the culprit. There is no basis for doing so. India must persist in asking other countries to pressurise Pakistan to punish the perpetrators of mass killings of innocents in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
It can be aptly summarised in one word — lopsided. It was a man’s world. Women were merely objects of pleasure, sex and bearing children. They were status symbols and the more you have in your harem, the higher your prestige. Akbar was said to have over a thousand: Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Arabs, Turks, Caucasians and Moors. They were kept in strict seclusion, guarded by troops of eunuchs and not allowed to go out without the Monarch’s permission. He spent his evenings with them to have his drinks, listen to music and have sex with one or two. He could not possibly enjoy a lot of them; that was beyond their prowess no matter how many kushtas (aphrodisiacs) they consumed. Mughal rulers never wrote about the sexual exploits. With severe censorship how did the sordid goings in harems get known? Eunuchs were occasionally allowed to go out, as were female servants. Bazars of cities like Delhi and Agra were full of salacious gossip of what was going on in the palaces. Foreigners like Tavernier and Manucci wrote about them in their memoirs.
But academic study of harem culture is a recent phenomenon. The latest is Sexual and Gender Representation in Mughal India (Manak) by Syed Mubin Zehra. It was doctoral thesis for Jawaharlal Nehru University. Zehra is a product of Bombay University from which she got her M. Phil for her dissertation on Mughal: Family and Household before she married and moved to Delhi to earn her doctorate. She has delved into the material and put it in highly readable form. The state of affairs continued till India gained independence. I have personal experience of it. Once while in college as I was driving down from Shimla to Delhi, I stopped at Pinjore Gardens of Maharajah Bhopinder Singh of Patiala. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of pretty women strolling about the lawns. Then their eunuch guards spotted me and ran towards me shouting obscenities. I ran back into my car and narrowly escaped a thrashing.
The views expressed are personal