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Oppose the Communally Motivated Proposed Amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955 : Delhi Action Committee for Assam

September 28, 2016

Guest Post by Delhi Action Committee for Assam

The proposed amendment to India’s Citizenship Act, 1955 has raised grave concern among democratic circles in Assam and in other parts of the country. The proposed amendment reads that “persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act” and that for persons belonging to the aforementioned minority communities, “the aggregate period of residence or service of a Government in India as required under this clause shall be read as ‘not less than six years’ in place of ‘not less than eleven years’.” The proposed amendment which is being considered by a Joint Parliamentary Committee is indeed is a matter of grave concern for the whole of India. Government officials have claimed that the decision to grant Indian citizenship to the above mentioned discriminated religious communities in neighbouring countries is premised on ‘humanitarian grounds’. Notwithstanding this benevolent claim by the government, one needs to carefully place this proposed amendment in perspective.

The proposed amendment is premised on the religious persecution of non-Muslim minorities in neighbouring Muslim majority countries. While religious basis have ‘softly’ underlined India’s approaches to the issue of immigration since the Partition, what is alarming with the amendment proposed by the current government is its vehement attempt, in the garb of humanitarianism, to upturn the Constitution of India by slyly trying to introduce religious right-to-return. The current government displays zero or very little humanitarian concern for non-Hindu marginalised communities in the country and in neighbouring countries.

Unlike Israel, Korea (both South and North), and few other countries, Indian law and the Constitution till today doesn’t recognise any notion of ‘Right to return’. This is the first time, when a sort of religious ‘right to return’ – is being advocated by the law-makers. To reiterate, this runs contrary to the secular fabric of the Constitution.

Further apart from complicating the already vulnerable demographic cauldron of the state of Assam, the circumstances under which the amendment is sought to be carried out raise questions about the federal structure of the country. The proposed amendment overrides the Assam Accord of 1985 which sets the date of 24 March 1971 as the cut off date for categorisation of illegal foreign immigrants to Assam, irrespective of Muslims or Hindus. In 1986 the Citizenship Act was amended and Article 6A was inserted. Retrospectively Article 6A granted citizenship to all those who entered Assam on or before 24 March 1971. How many amendment to Citizenship Act is required? Ain’t the amendments made after the Assam Accord of 1985 not enough?

We strongly demand that the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 be immediately withdrawn.

Join the Protest Demonstration Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, at 2 pm, 29th September, Jantar Mantar

A Fast That Ended in Hunger- Thoughts on Irom Sharmila and Hunger Strikes: Anirban Bhattacharya

September 28, 2016

Guest Post by Anirban Bhattacharya

Iram Sharmila Mural at ‘Freedom Square’ JNU. Art by Shijo Suleman and the Fearless Collective. Photograph by Rebecca John. Image, courtesy, ‘The Great Walls of India’ blog on Graffiti and Wall Art

We may have differences in our political approach as to the way and means of the struggle, but what must be stated at the outset is the fact that Irom Sharmila has certainly been an icon of resistance and inspiration in the struggle against AFSPA.

Her 16 year long hunger strike has been a grim reminder of the crimes against the Manipuri people – rape, torture, fake encounters and massacres – committed by the armed forces with impunity under such draconian Acts like AFSPA. But her abrupt decision to end her fast accompanied with her willingness to contest elections in the upcoming assembly elections have met with a mixture of shock, scepticism, disappointment, puzzlement and even anger amongst her people in Manipur and even her close associates. There also seems to be a resentment against her being in a relationship and her plan to marry. Such scrutiny/dragging of her personal life are, however, quite deplorable. But overall, the disappointment with the decision of Irom to quit fasting and contest elections is so strong that, after breaking her fast in the hospital, when she tried to go to a local activist’s shelter, the locals disapproved. She had to seek temporary shelter in an ISKCON temple along with her police guards and then was shifted to a police station and finally she was forced to retreat to the same hospital that housed her for last 16 years. Now, this is telling. But what does it tell? The answer to this question would take us away from criticisms about any particular individual, but to the evaluation of the very method of struggle that she had been a part of, its scope, effectivity and limitations.

Read more…

The Orphaning of ‘Women’s Collective Interests’ in Kerala

September 25, 2016

 

There is considerable outrage in Kerala about how the accused in the murder of the young woman worker Soumya in 2011 has slipped the noose at the Supreme Court. There is considerable doubt remaining on how the murder of the young dalit woman student Jisha was handled by the present government. In both cases, the accused are not men who would earn the sympathy of the Malayali middle-class – in one case, a tamil homeless man, and in the other, a Muslim migrant worker. Not surprisingly, the cry for their blood has been particularly shrill. Outrage at the Supreme Court’s refusal to endorse the lower court’s judgment in the first case is particularly striking – not only because of its loudness, but also because one is unable to forget the Suryanelli case. The difference between the present cases and the Suryanelli case is that in the latter, the victim has been condemned to living death, though she has persistently fought to be heard as a survivor of the most horrific violence. Yet her pleas that the powerful Malayali politician P J Kurien be also tried never roused the kind of outrage was have heard recently. It appears that the Malayali public is kinder to dead violated women than women who survive violation; it also seems harsher towards abjected males than to .powerful males who occupy the pedestal of elite masculinity. Read more…

Self and Other : Indus Chadha

September 23, 2016

This is a guest post by INDUS CHADHA

The summer that I was 5-years-old, I took my first flight alone because I wanted to spend my holidays with my grandparents. My parents prepared me well—they even read aloud and recorded my favourite stories on an audio cassette which we put into our Walkman for my long solo journey. But there was one question they neglected to answer. “What should I do if the flight crashes?” I had asked. “It won’t…” they had brushed my question away. So when the flight attendant came out into the aisle and announced that one of our engines had failed and we would have to turn back to our point of origin to make an emergency landing—I wondered what I should do.

A man a few rows ahead of me got up from his seat and started shouting at the flight attendant. He was obviously afraid and seemed to hope oddly that he could frighten some comfort out of her. I remember him saying over and over again that he had a young child with him on the flight and that made me conscious of both the gravity of the situation and the fact that I was so young and all alone. I felt tears start to well up in my throat and took small sips of my orange juice to wash down the urge to cry. And then, out of the blue, the young man sitting beside me started talking to me. He asked me what I was studying at school and when I told him our theme for the last term had been pirates he exclaimed that he was a ‘shippie’ and knew all about them.

Read more…

Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics Set to Shut Thanks to L-G and BJP Controlled Municipal Bodies: Jyoti Punwani

September 23, 2016

[The Superintendent of Tihar Jail, went a joke recently circulating on WhatsApp, had staked his claim for the Chief Ministership of Delhi, because he had the requisite number of MLAs! The mainstream (Big) media has had a field day, reporting with great ‘earnestness’, what even the ordinary person on the street can see is an orchestrated move to harass and discredit the AAP. A leading paper even did a status report on all the cases against AAP MLAs a couple of days ago, as if it was simply ‘reporting’ (with a straight face). Some day, hopefully we will be able to come out with a more detailed analysis of the ways in which sections of the big media have – even in the person/s of their most benign representatives and columnists – played footsie with the regime at the Centre. This dispensation and its utterly unprincipled and unethical ways are truly unprecedented and this phase of our history has emerged as the dirtiest chapter of parliamentary democracy in India. In the meantime, online news forums have kept the tradition of actual reportage and fairness alive. Here are some extracts from a report by JYOTI PUNWANI, courtesy The Hoot (linked below), on the mohalla clinics and the strange politics of the media that surrounds reportage around such measures undertaken by the Delhi government.]

The AAP’s mohalla clinic experiment drew the attention of The Washington Post. Its article (`What New Delhi’s free clinics can teach America’, March 11, 2016) was also carried by the Chicago Tribune. A University of Southern California delegation came to study mohalla clinics  in July.

But our print media didn’t think this important experiment was anything special. Not all covered it; of those that did, some didn’t carry the report in all their editions….

The Indian Express carried a long report in April, after the second batch of clinics opened, in its Delhi edition (“In rented rooms across Delhi, part 2 of ‘mohalla’ clinic project takes off’’).  Livemint hada detailed report last month, after more than 100 clinics had opened (`Mohalla clinic: AAP offers affordable healthcare model at doorstep’); and earlier this week, The Hindu evaluated their performance in its Delhi edition (`A thousand promises of prompt health care’).

Among news websites, Newslaundry did a lively report immediately after the first clinic opened (`Mohalla clinics come to town’). In January, Catch News did a report  (`#MohallaClinics: AAP has diagnosed Delhi’s health problem. Can it cure it?’), and a follow-up in April after the second batch opened (`AAP Mohalla clinics: rented homes turn clinics, private docs appointed’).

A two-part article appeared in Scroll.in in May (`The clinic at your doorstep: How the Delhi government is rethinking primary healthcare…) Indeed, news websites, rather than newspapers, seem to have given the new experiment the space it deserves.

Going through the reports on mohalla clinics, it became clear that the possible removal of some of them was only the latest move against them. A few days before the NDMC issued this order, the Lieutenant General (LG) of Delhi had got into the act. Consider the sequence of events:

On August 5, the Delhi High Court ruled that the LG was the administrative head of the capital. After the judgment, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia specially requested Najeeb Jung not to transfer the Health and Education secretaries as these two bureaucrats were essential for the AAP’s new initiatives in these sectors. Read more…

On the Ongoing Debate in CPI(M): Dheeresh Saini

September 22, 2016

Guest Post by DHEERESH SAINI

“In India today, neither has fascism been established, nor are the conditions present — in political, economic and class terms — for a fascist regime to be established. There is no crisis that threatens a collapse of the capitalist system; the ruling classes of India face no threat to their class rule. No section of the ruling class is currently working for the overthrow of the bourgeois parliamentary system. What the ruling classes seek to do is to use forms of authoritarianism to serve their class interests,”

-Prakash Karat

When CPI(M) was under the stewardship of now deceased, voluntarily or forcefully retired leaders, young leaders-workers would say that when young leaders (who were actually middle aged then) like Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury take over, the party would zoom on to its real revolutionary track. Karat was always considered more principled and genuine between the two. Yechury has now succeeded Karat as the topmost leader. Meanwhile, the situation of the party that prided itself in waging nationwide struggle against the fascist forces went from bad to worse in West Bengal considered as its fort. In the present scenario, any party considered as progressive or secular, would be bound to face such situation. But it is disappointing to see CPI(M) hog the headlines, in such tough times, on account of constant tussle between its two stars considered most resplendent. Read more…

Statement against the Kaziranga Police Killings : Delhi Action Committee Against Kaziranga Police Killings

September 22, 2016

Guest Post by Delhi Action Committee Against Kaziranga Police Killings

 

Protest Demonstration

 Against  Kaziranga Police Killings

2pm, 23rd September, Assam Bhawan, Sardar Patel Marg,

 

After the BJP came to power in Assam in May 2016, the state government has unleashed a reign of terror to execute its fascistic agendas. Within 2 months into power, the government opened fire and killed a 25 year old man Mintu Deuri, during a protest organized in Raha against the transfer of the site for a proposed AIIMS in the state on 15th July 2016. Now on 19 September 2016, just 34 days after the Raha incident, the police has again opened fire and killed two people – Anjuma Khatun and Fakhruddin, at a demonstration led by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) at Banderdubi revenue village near the Kaziranga National Park. The protestors were demanding resettlement and adequate compensation against an eviction drive carried out by the mandate of the Gauhati High Court order dated 9 October 2015 which was supposed to happen two days later, i.e. on 21 September 2016 but had been preponed to avoid protests. The villagers, belonging mainly to the Muslim community of erstwhile East Bengal origin, have been residing in the village for more than half a century.

Read more…