Letter from former civil servants to Chief Secretary, Haryana on intimidation of Muslims offering namaz

Former civil servants have written open letters since 2017 (here and here), expressing their anguish at the unchecked attempts to spread hatred and discord among communities. Eleven of these civil servants have now written (on May 7, 2018) to the Chief Secretary of Haryana on the issue of harassment and intimidation of Muslims offering namaz in Haryana, by vigilante groups.

To Shri Depinder Singh Dhesi IAS,  Chief Secretary, Govt of Haryana.

Dear Chief Secretary,

We write to draw your attention to an urgent problem.

Over the last one month, Friday namaaz offered by the Muslim community in open spaces have been attacked and disrupted at several locations in Gurgaon district. These attacks have been organised by a dozen or so organisations (including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Kranti Dal, Gorakshak Dal, Hindu Jagaran Manch and Shiv Sena) that have come together under the umbrella of the Hindu Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti.

The attacks are coordinated, violent and clearly designed to terrorise and intimidate and are taking place across the district. Last Friday a group of hoodlums arrived in four jeeps at a namaaz venue on MG Road and started shouting abusive and provocative slogans at the assembled namaazis. Although a police force was present, it took no action to stop the sloganeering and threats. On the contrary, the police asked the namaazis to disperse. At a namaaz in Sector 40, the Imam who was leading the prayers was pushed to the ground. People who came for the prayers had no option but to fold up their mats and leave.

Continue reading “Letter from former civil servants to Chief Secretary, Haryana on intimidation of Muslims offering namaz”

Media professionals protest against government proposal to regulate online media

In a letter to Ms Smriti Irani, Minister of Information & Broadcasting, a group of over 100 journalists and other professionals related to online media  expressed concern over the government proposal to extend traditional broadcasting rules and restrictions to the Internet. This could have a drastic impact on a medium that is widely credited with making the media and information landscape more open and democratic across the world, their letter said. 

A website, https://onlinefreedomfoundation.org, has also been set up to allow ordinary citizens to oppose the move to regulate online content.

Letter to Minister of Information & Broadcasting

We are a group of Indian citizens who depend on the Internet to gather and share information on a daily basis.

We have come to know that this ministry has issued an order dated Apr 4, 2018 seeking to establish content regulations for the Internet modeled on those applicable for traditional media like print and TV. This letter is to place on record our feedback on the said order.

In the order, you make the following statements: Continue reading “Media professionals protest against government proposal to regulate online media”

Impeachment of Chief Justice of India – what is the real danger to democracy? Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

Yesterday, on 23rd April 2018, the Vice President of India and the Chairperson of Rajya Sabha declined to admit an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India, thereby setting a dangerous precedent that scuttles a constitutionally mandated provision to ensure judicial accountability. There are two things that this action signifies. First, the rumors of the executive subverting judicial independence gains credence as the executive has refused to endorse a Parliamentary enquiry into the same. Second, it provides the needed impunity for any judge to act in any manner she deems fit as long as she curries favor with the executive.

It is the hegemonic notion of maintaining patriarchal, feudal and caste status quo that wants to protect powerful institutions and people from being accountable – and imagines it a scandal if an alleged  wrongdoing is investigated. The archaic common law maxim; rex non potest peccare (the King can do no wrong) is rooted in this. The illogical reprimands and criticisms against the attempted impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India need to be examined in this light. Continue reading “Impeachment of Chief Justice of India – what is the real danger to democracy? Bobby Kunhu”

On Not Having Sindh – Reflections on an Irredentist Anthem: Sajan Venniyoor

Guest Post by  SAJAN VENNIYOOR

Hoax claim that circulated for a while

(Image added by Kafila for no good reason)

Every once in a while, it dawns on an Indian citizen that, among the list of provinces of British India thoughtfully provided by Tagore in our national anthemSindh is an anomaly.

Sindh was a fairly significant part of the British Empire ever since it was absentmindedly conquered by General Napier in the 1840s. (He is believed to sent his superiors a brief message on the conquest, Peccavi, Latin for ‘I have sinned’, which is to say, Sindh. The man was an insufferable nerd).

However, the Partition of 1947 placed Sindh on the wrong side of the Indian border, and its continued presence in the national anthem does not sit well with some Indians. “Why Sindh?” they ask plaintively. “Why not Rajasthan or Jammu & Kashmir? What about the North East States? Isn’t it time we rewrote Jana Gana Mana to reflect our current political realities, etc?”

Passing lightly over the fact that replacing ‘Sindh’ with ‘the North East States and Sikkim’ would play hell with the scansion of the disputed line, there are apparently very good arguments for not tinkering with Jana Gana Mana as it has stood from 1911.  I have only the haziest notion of what these arguments are, but among other things, we are told it would “disregard its existence as a poem by Rabindranath Tagore and an associated ethic that you do not take other people’s poetry and make changes to them.” Continue reading “On Not Having Sindh – Reflections on an Irredentist Anthem: Sajan Venniyoor”

JNU Faculty Stand With The Women Students Of SLS

We, the undersigned teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University, are deeply distressed to read about extremely grave allegations of moral turpitude against Prof. Atul Johri, amounting to charges of sexual harassment, academic dishonesty, and financial misappropriation. We now hear that seven women have made police complaints. Coming on the heels of recent media stories that Prof. Johri was involved in the forgery of assent by leading scientists in a signature campaign, we are appalled by the university’s silence about an individual that it has vested with so many offices. Prof. Atul Johri is the Director of the University’s Internal Quality Assurance Cell, the Director of the Human Resource Development Cell, a warden, and the Vice-Chancellor’s favourite nominee on several committees.

We demand that Prof. Johri be immediately removed from all these positions, as the allegations against him bring great disrepute to the university. We expect the university to take all the requisite measures to investigate the charges that may be brought against Prof. Johri and to pursue them to their logical conclusion.

As faculty who have fought for and long supported the GSCASH, which this administration has shut down, we are distraught that complainants have had to take charges that should have been pursued within the institution to the police, because of a lack of faith in the university’s internal complaints committee nominated by the Vice Chancellor. We support the complainants’ exercise of their rights to approach the police, but rue the fact that the illegal and immoral dissolution of GSCASH has resulted in a situation in which no aggrieved person seems to have any faith in the delivery of justice within the institution on matters of sexual harassment. This is the second such case when allegations about sexual harassment have been filed under the IPC, because complainants do not have faith in the autonomy, impartiality, and commitment to complete confidentiality of the JNU ICC. We would like to emphasise the complainants’ rights to approach the police with their complaints must be respected and protected, and that the complainants must be given full protection against victimisation and full cooperation by the university authorities in pursuing their complaints.  Continue reading “JNU Faculty Stand With The Women Students Of SLS”

In the wake of the AUD report

This post is not a statement from the Kafila collective, but my individual response to the news about the Ambedkar University report having found Lawrence Liang guilty of sexual harassment. This response will also address some of the comments that were posted on the Kafila statement posted yesterday.

We learnt from media reports that a duly constituted committee of AUD has found Lawrence Liang guilty of sexual harassment. We did not know about this earlier, as some characteristically self-righteous and ill informed twitterati assume we did. Those whose social concern and activism is limited to busy fingertips obviously have no idea about the processes that have been carefully put in place in sexual harassment policies in universities, which protect confidentiality primarily to protect the complainant. So the first we heard of the leaked AUD report was from the media. Lawrence’s own statement was then issued that says that he plans to appeal this decision. This statement too we saw in the media.

From enquiry to report to appealing the decision (which can be done by complainant or accused) – these are all established stages of due process that feminists have worked for decades to establish, from the Vishakha judgement of 1997 onwards. That judgement itself was a result of feminist intervention. I do not understand ‘due process’ as a technicality alone, nor do feminists in general who have worked with women and men complainants on this complicated issue, especially in a context of power in academic contexts. Continue reading “In the wake of the AUD report”

Exposing the mirage of ‘Modicare’: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

Statement by JAN SWASTHYA ABHIYAN

The Union Budget 2018-19 makes tall claims, with no clear road map for the health sector, one that is sensitive to the needs of the poor and the vulnerable population of India.

The allocations for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) (including for AYUSH) have increased from Budget Estimate of Rs. 50,281 crore in 2017-18 Rs. 56,226 crore in 2018-19.

However, from 2017-18 (Revised Estimate) the increase is much lower, a mere Rs. 1374 crore, or just about 2.5 percent. This is a decline in real terms if we account for inflation, and Union Budget allocations for the health sector have stagnated at 0.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The 2017 target of National Health Policy (NHP) is 2.5 percent of GDP as health expenditure by the Government (both Centre and States) by 2025. However, with central allocations stagnating at the current 0.3 percent of GDP, it would not be possible to achieve this target.

The ‘Modicare’ mirage

Continue reading “Exposing the mirage of ‘Modicare’: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan”