Uzbekistan Cops Behave Like the Chand-Kazi
While we were celebrating Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s Festival on Saturday, the police were breaking up a similar festival in another country. The devotees were arrested and their religious paraphernalia confiscated. The country, not surprisingly was Uzbekistan and the city, Samarkand.
The old architecture of Samarkand was built by architects from Mathura in India. So great was the architecture in Mathura that the conquering armies of Timerlane destroyed the finest buildings in the city but captured the architects and took them back to build the new city in 1370.
The same issues of cultural conquest were played out when mridanga drums of the early Gaudiya Vaishnavas were smashed by police sent by the Chand Kazi, local administrator for the Nawab Hussein Shah, Persian overlord of Bengal in the 1500s.
The situation in those days when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was beginning His sankirtan-lila was resolved by His personal intervention. We pray that He may also intervene and bring resolution today for His devotees in Uzbekistan.
Here’s how the human rights news agency Forum 18 reported last weekend’s incident:
Samarkand Regional Criminal Police raided the Hare Krishna gathering in Samarkand on 7 February as devotees were about to celebrate a religious festival, the appearance day of Sri Nityananda. Police detained Kasimov and several other devotees and held them overnight. “All devotees except Kasimov were released the next morning, 8 February,” a source from Samarkand, who wanted to remain unnamed, told Forum 18 that day. Kasimov was released from detention late in the evening on 8 February, another source told Forum 18 on 9 February.
Samarkand’s Regional Criminal Police confirmed to Forum 18 on 9 February that Kasimov was released from detention. The officer who answered the phone said that Kasimov is “only” being investigated for an administrative violation. “I don’t know when the case will be brought to court,” he said. The officer also refused to say under what article Kasimov is being investigated. “I can only tell you that for a second such violation, Kasimov will be made criminally liable.”
The Samarkand Regional Police told Forum 18 that alongside the Criminal Police, the National Security Service (NSS) secret police are also involved in the case.
A source from Samarkand told Forum 18 that the Hare Krishna devotees had rented a small hall, and invited some fellow devotees and friends for the celebration of their festival. “When the celebration started, several police officers broke in and stopped the programme,” the source reported. “The police arrested Kasimov and some of the devotees.” The source pointed out that the Hare Krishna community is still prohibited in Samarkand, as it is not registered. “Probably Kasimov will be charged with organising unauthorised religious activity,” the source stated.