“Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him.” — Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H
Name them. Maim them. Kill them.
From the beginning of the American occupation in Iraq, air strikes and attacks by the U.S. military have only killed “militants,” “criminals,” “suspected insurgents,” “IED [Improvised Explosive Device] emplacers,” “anti-American fighters,” “terrorists,” “military age males,” “armed men,” “extremists,” or “al-Qaeda.”
The pattern for reporting on such attacks has remained the same from the early years of the occupation to today. Continue reading “Iraq Has Only Militants, No Civilians” by Dahr Jamail
The recent bill aptly titled ‘Delhi Prevention of Property Defacement Act 2007’ introduced in the Delhi assembly makes depressing reading. According to its provisions a mere act of putting posters on the walls or writing anything with chalk. paint or any other material can make you liable for a punishment of one year in jail. Additionally you can be asked to pay a fine of Rs.50,000.
The proposed act is said to be an improvement in the earlier act in operation in the state which was considered lenient. With this act the state seems to have corrected its mistake and declared it a ‘cognisable offence’. Continue reading Paste A Poster, Go To Jail
For If I Shall Not Burn
And You Shall Not Burn
If We Shall Not Burn
Then Who Will Dispel The Dark
Whether anybody is familiar with a place called Auschwitz which is around 270 kms. from Warsaw, capital of Poland. It has been more than sixty years that the brick kiln structure there which housed detainees witnessed silent sufferings of lakhs of people who were put to death in myriad ways by the henchmen of Hitler. Continue reading Auschwitz of Our Times
Nanded, in Maharashtra, is a town with a significant population of different faiths – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist. Nanded could well have become a new metaphor for secularism as practised in the Subcontinent, but this was not to be. Instead, Nanded has come to represent the emergent danger of a violent new brand of Hindu militancy, with due support from a section of the state machinery. A place that was once witness to the final days of Guru Gobind Singh, Sikhism’s Tenth Guru, has today metamorphosed into an epicentre of violent Hindutva. Indeed, Nanded represents the build-up of the violent fundamentalist Hinduism of the past half-century. The town has been witness to a new spate of acts that can be inarguably dubbed ‘terrorism’.
The inner workings of this new form of Hindutva were on show recently in two, evidently accidental, explosions in Nanded within a span of nine months, in April 2006 and February 2007. These blasts, which killed four people, took place at the houses of activists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena. The arrival of Nanded on India’s ‘terror’ map was followed by media investigations into similar previous incidents, which also showed the involvement of Hindu youth in terrorist actions.
The new element here is the increasing similarity between Hindu militancy and ‘terrorism’ of other hues. Continue reading Saffron Terror
It is difficult to say how many journos or politicos managed to have a look at the recent meeting between Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ; his deputy Mr R.R. Patil, who also handles the home ministry and Bal Thackeray, the octogenarian leader of the Shiv Sena, at Matoshree, the house of the Thackerays. It was reported that the Congress high command had specifically asked Mr Deshmukh to visit the Sena Supremo to thank him for his support to Ms Pratibha Patil in the Presidential election.As was expected the meeting went well. While the two sides formally maintained that not much should be read into their convergence of views over the Marathi Manushi’s candidature for the august post, it was evident that a new chemistry was unfolding itself between the long time adversaries. At least one could gather it from the exchanges they had or the body language of the leaders. “You have a big heart.” Vilasrao Deshmukh is learnt to have told Balasaheb Thackeray. The Sena chief’s prompt reply was worth noting: ” I have a big heart indeed, but people fail to understand this.”( Indian Express, July 19, 2007) Continue reading ‘Bal Thackeray’s Big Heart’ : Bombay Riot Victims Pe Mat Ro
This is not a story of the fifty plus Children’s doctor Binayak Sen from Raipur, Chattisgarh who is at present languishing in jail under draconian provisions of a law which has declared him a ‘terrorist’ because he had the courage to speak truth to power.
This is not meant to be a story of two young daughters of this man who are eagerly waiting for their father who is one of their closest friends and with whom they have shared all secrets of the world. Continue reading This Is Not A Story About Binayak Sen
(“There will be a Gujarat-like situation in Rajasthan if the State Government did not stop its ‘appeasement of Muslims’ and ‘anti-Hindu’ policies.”
– Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, former Rajasthan chief minister, Gangapur on 23 April, The Hindu, 30 April 2002)
The elections for the post of the President of India have rather opened up a free for all what is known in colloquial Hindi as Khula Khel Farrukhabadi. The saffron sympathetic journos in the media have rather taken upon themselves the onerous task of excavating the past of the UPA candidate for the post Ms Pratibha Patil. Days in and days out we are being bombarded with stories laced with usual melodrama about alleged acts of omission and commission on part of the presidential nominee of UPA.
Continue reading Can The Real Shekhawat Ever Stand Up ?
(…A report prepared by one of the national secretaries of the BJP Mr Prabhat Jha analysing the election results to UP, ( Bhaskar, 12 June 2007) provide enough proof of the pathetic situation in which the party itself finds today. This report would be presented before the national executive meeting of the BJP to be held in last week of June and much fireworks are expected there…) Media personnel bearing sympathy with the Hindutva cause – who are in decisive positions at various levels – have an uncanny ability of deflecting the attention of the public from the pathetic situation in which the Sangh Parivar finds itself today – morally as well as organisationally.May it be the Parivar‘s sermonising on Character building going tatters a la the Babubhai Kataras or the Bangaru Laxmans or the Dileep Judeos, or the Party with a difference tag becoming a joke of the decade or the ‘disciplined’ infighting at various levels becoming a public spectacle, these pen/bytepushers make feverish attempts to maintain the aura intact. Of course there are moments when it is next to impossible for them to push the real issues under the carpet or present a rosy picture of the disorientation in which the parent formation and its affiliated organisation find themselves today. Interestingly recent results to byelections in different states or assembly elections to UP and Goa have helped brought the issue to the fore. And the world at large is finding that the countdown has finally begun for Political Hindutva – the ideology of hatred and exclusion formulated by the Savarkars and Golwalkars. Continue reading Hardline Hindutva : On The Wane ?
It has been more than ten days that Dr Binayak Sen, a paediatrician by training and profession and a human rights activist by choice has received a new identity. – A menace to public safety – The Chattisgarh police whose own record of human rights violations would shame even the KPS Gills, has used the provisions of the draconian Public Safety Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act ( a substitute for POTA ) to detain Dr Binayak Sen in the wee hours of 14 th May.
Question naturally arises how does a graduate from the prestigious Christian Medical College, Vellore who has been associated with several community health programmes for the last three decades, who even contributed to the state government’s conceptualisation of community health programme ‘Mitanin’ and who played a significant role in the evolution of ‘Shaheed Hospital’ – a hospital started by workers for the workers under the leadership of legendary Shankar Guha Niyogi, has suddenly metamorphosed into a menace to public safety ?
Continue reading J’accuse : A Children’s Doctor and A Mighty State
Truth is finally out.
People who had a faint glimmer of hope about Kausar Bi’s whereabouts finally know that she is no more. As the counsel for the Gujarat government himself admitted before the Supreme Court, she was killed, burnt and her ashes were thrown in some field. But it does not throw light on the fact that who killed her ?
It appears that Gujarat government wants to buy time to divulge the information. But the CID report filed by Ms Geeta Johri is very clear on this aspect.The interim report of the IG (CID) Geeta Johri – who investigated the case as per instruction from the Supreme Courst – know that Kausarbi was personally strangulated to death by D.H.Vanjara in the very presence of his wife and son (Bhaskar, 28 th April 2007).
Imagine the head of the Anti Terrorism Squad, who till the other day functioned as DIG killing an innocent woman and using his position to cover up the crime.
As things stand today the story of the encounter killing of Soharabuddin Sheikh in cold blood, followed by similar killing of his friend Tulsiram Prajapati and later his own wife Kausar Bi is getting murkier everyday. Continue reading Fake Killing(s) : People As Trophies
The demolition of a mosque which housed a madarsa also, is still fresh in the minds of Samshad Begum Anarbi.She had built the structure singlehandedly with some help from community members as well. In fact, the idea was to build a mosque and a madrasa where people could pray and young children could study Arabic. The whole structure was built on a government land, which came under the Twenty Point Programme.
On February 24, last year the Savordem panchayat issued a notice in which they stated that the structure is illegal and would be demolished within seven days. Samshad Anarbi immediately approached the directorate of Panchayats and could manage to get a stay order from it. When the locals learnt about it, they attacked the building at night and demolished the structure.
Continue reading Goa: Communal Tinderbox Waiting To Explode?
One person was killed on the spot and another severely injured when a powerful explosion took place in the house of Shivram Manganarikar at Shastri Nagar, Nanded. The explosion is suspected to be caused by the accidental blast of a bomb that was either stored or was being manufactured.According to reports, the explosion took place at around 12:30 on Friday night. Shivram Mangnarikar is a retired school teacher whose house was severely damaged due to the explosion. One youth called Pandurang Bhagwan Anilkandwar, aged 30 years, was killed on the spot. Another youth, Gyaneshwar Manikwar, was severely injured with 70 percent burns. The explosion was so powerful that the shutter of the front-side shop was thrown off to a distance of 40 feet. The windows were burnt and glass cracked. The household belongings were scattered everywhere with blood and flesh. Walls were cracked and the site is in total disarray.
Continue reading Powerful Bomb Explosion in Nanded : Milli Gazette
He was known as ‘guruji’ (revered teacher). I find that at least in some vernacular papers he is being referred to as ‘shreeguruji’. The addition of shree to his title guruji makes him nearly sacred, an avatar of sorts. Within the Maharashtrian context this has an additional meaning or signification. Mystic gurus are often referred to as ‘shreeguruji’. You can see thus that there has been rather subtle glorification of Golwalkar, the new appellation making him stand a little above the human level.
GPD (March 25, 2006, EPW GPD, An Occasion for RSS)
It is said that masses have very short memories. For them it is easy to send today’s icon into oblivion without much hair splitting or it is still easier for them to hail yesterday’s monster as today’s development man.
But do classes or their intellectuals also suffer from similar amnesia? Looking at the important role played by them in the running of the society/state it is expected that they appear different. A recent writeup by one of the think-tanks of the right (Sudhindra Kulkarni, who also happened to be a ‘ghost writer’ for the ex deputy PM and was supposedly responsible for the ‘iron leaders’ speech at Jinnah Mausoleum) in the Sunday Express (11 th Feb 20007) belies this expectation. One could also decipher that it is a deliberate ploy by the writer to obfuscate things. It is equally possible that he is trying to present his wishful thinking as in-depth analysis before the masses.
Continue reading Golwalkar Guruji : Super Human Or Less Than Human
Investigations by the police or the intelligence officials in highly contested cases have an uncanny ability of looking weird in an unabashed manner.
The recent chargesheet filed by the CBI, which had been asked to look into the attack, and arson, at a Dalit (Valmiki) basti in Gohana, once again vindicates this thesis. According to a newspaper report the chargesheet into the 2005 Gohana riots in Haryana has ‘..revealed that some people in Balmiki Basti had set their houses on fire themselves, allegedly for compensation.” The chargesheet talks of CBI’s observations that ” extensive burning was observed in 19 out of 28 houses. Of these, nine houses were inspected thoroughly and it appeared that in these houses the “simulated arsoning” was carried out, which are yet “to get compensation”. Continue reading Touchable Crimes: Gohana Nay Kizzhevanamani
What was common between the itinerary of Ashok Singhal, International President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad; Major General Bharat Keshar Singh, President of Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh; the Shankaracharya of Puri Nishalananda, Jagadguru Madhwacharya Shri Vishesh Teerth ( Udupi), Jagadguru Ramananandacharya Vasudevacharya and Subramaniam Swamy during the last week of December. Interestingly all of them were part of a three day Virat Hindu Mahasammelan (22-24 th Dec 2006) held at Gorakhpur, UP which was formally organised to deliberate on the ‘Challenges Before Hinduism’.
Of course the way the deliberations unfolded it was clear to even a layperson that it had nothing to do with challenges before Hinduism – neither of the spiritual or the temporal kind – rather it was a gathering to chalk out a political programme couched in religious parlance to further the agenda of Hindutva – the strategy of the political Hinduism.
An important feature of this Mahasammelan was that it was organised parallel to the National Executive Meeting of the BJP at Lucknow.Interestingly while the media was more focussed on the deliberations of the National Executive meeting or was busy reporting about intraparty squabbles , not many people even deemed it necessary to report or comment on this massive gathering of people in the heart of Eastern UP which was rather queering the pitch for the new battles lying ahead before Hindutva.And the moving force behind this jamboree of non-descript Sadhus or Hindutva politicos was a young BJP MP Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur who also happens to be the anointed successor to the Goraksha Peeth based in Gorakhpur itself.
Continue reading How Adityanath Wants To Do A Modi ?
M Venkatrayappa, a dalit from Kambalapalli, Kolar district, Karnataka still remebers the last glimpses of his wife Ramakka, sons Sriramappa and Anjaneya and daughter Papammas. It has been more than six years that they died a very tragic death. All of them with four others from their hamlet were burnt alive by the local Reddys.The police termed it revenge killing, supposedly in retaliation against the killing of Krishnappa Reddy, a village functionary belonging to upper castes.
Kambalapalli massacre in March 2000, had made national headlines.The tremendous public uproar compelled the then Congress government not only to apprehend the culprits but also shift the dalits to a new village which is situated around 40 kms from Kambalapalli.
Today all that is passe. The first week of December when the whole nation was debating the growing surge in atrocities against dalits came the damning verdict in this particular case. All the accused were acquitted.In legalese they call it the case getting settled as all ‘witnesses turned hostile’ during the court hearings. Continue reading Thinking Kambalapalli in times of Khairlanji
It was rather an unusual type of protest on the streets of Malegaon. But hardly anyone outside the town could even know about it. Protesters donned same kind of hoods which police places on the heads of arrested criminals. They also wore black bands around their arms in a show of protest against official attempts to portray the victims as terrorists. But neither any of those ‘breaking news channels’ nor any of those citizen journos, deemed it necessary to at least report the incident.
The venue for the sit-ins were those very spots which had witnessed bomb blasts on 8 th September – namely Bara Kabristan and Hamidia mosque- where around forty innocent people breathed their last and hundreds of people got injured. (Ref : The Milli Gazette, 1-15 December 2006)
Of course, the unique sit-in was part of the ongoing protest campaign by the townspeople. In fact, the city observed a complete bandh on the 14 th November as part of its protest against the attitude of the police and authorities. It was a day when Chief Minister of Maharashtra Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, came to visit the town to lay the foundation stone of a hospital. People very well knew that if the hospital would have come up as scheduled, many innocent lives could have been saved on that fateful day.
Continue reading Malegaon Bomb Blasts : Need for a Fresh Probe
By Luis Hernández Navarro, Opinion Editor at La Jornada in Mexico, where parts of this text were published. He is a collaborator with the Americas Program online at www.americaspolicy.org
Translated by Katherine Kohlstedt.
A profound political crisis is shaking up Mexico. The rules that regulate the balance of power between elites have been violated. From above, there is no agreement or any possibility for one in the short term.A severe crisis in the model of control has eroded relationships of domination in many parts of Mexican national territory. People accustomed to obeying have refused to do so. People who think they are destined to rule have been unable to impose their command. Those from below have become disobedient. When those on the top want to impose their opinion from above, in the name of the law, they are ignored from below. Nowhere is the breakdown in control and the effervescence of rebellion as obvious as in the state of Oaxaca.
Oaxaca is a state plagued with social problems. It is a Mexican tourist enclave, surrounded by poverty where people survive on remittances sent by migrant workers abroad. Within its territory one finds land struggles, confrontations between caciques(local bosses ) and coyotes (migrant smugglers), local government conflicts, ethnic revenge, fights for better prices for agricultural products, and resistance against the authoritarian state.
Since May 15, Oaxaca has been in the throes of its most massive and significant social movement in recent history. The protest begun by Section 22 of the national teachers’ union (SNTE, for its initials in Spanish) soon became the expression of the social contradictions in the state. It is not at all unusual that teachers mobilize for pay raises around the time of the contract negotiation. This time it has gone well beyond a union struggle to fuse protests of many groups. Oaxacan society has come out in force to show its solidarity with the teachers and add in other demands and grievances. Around 350 organizations, indigenous communities, unions, and non-profits have jointed to form the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO). Continue reading Repression and Resistance in Oaxaca
The Malegaon Bomb Blast Trail
Shab-e-Barat, the day when Muslims pray for their departed ones and visit their graveyards, saw blood of innocents getting spilled in Malegaon, Maharashtra. It saw deaths of 31 people and injuries to hundreds.
From day one, there have been allegations that the police has not remained even handed while dealing with the case. Apart from providing lax security at the time of the Shab-e-Barat celebrations, it is also alleged that it did not follow some vital clues.
Now comes the claim, as per ATS (anti terrorist squad) in Maharashtra, that a group of Muslims, supposedly associated with some extremist Muslim organisation, implemented the gory act. It is understandable that why the latest claim has been received with lot of disdain as news pouring in from the city informed that a bandh had been planned on 14th of November to protest the arrests.
Can it be now said that the truth is finally out as far as Malegaon bomb blast is concerned ? And the real perpetrators of the gory carnage have been apprehended ? Or there are still loose ends which are to be met.
Continue reading Whatever Happened to the ‘Fake Beard’ ?