All posts by Nivedita Menon

Seasons of Violence: Vikas Bajpai

 

Guest post by VIKAS BAJPAI

Sometimes, memories stacked away for long, come tumbling out. If these are not just about personal nostalgia, dwelling upon them could serve some public good.

It was 31 October, 1984. The time may have been around 11 am. I was taking my second term exams for class XI in a room on the ground floor of the science block of the Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi. Unfortunately, mine was the first seat very close by to the only entrance and the exit for the room. ‘Unfortunately’ because  this made seeking the help and guidance of fellow examinees in this ordeal a rather adventurous proposition. Nevertheless, I focussed on the question paper intently, trying to make sense of what was expected of me.

A while after the examination had taken off, the teacher invigilating in our room and other teachers in the adjacent rooms flocked together at the door of our room for a conference of sorts, each having a cup of tea in their hands which had been duly served by that time. Barely a minute or so into their hushed conference, I over heard one of the teachers remark – ‘madam ko to goliyan lag rahin hain’ (madam is being riddled with bullets). I was a bit startled as to what that could mean; but then, I had a task at hand and got immersed in it before long. Continue reading Seasons of Violence: Vikas Bajpai

The Imposition of CCS Rules in Central Universities: Statement by JNU faculty

THIS IS A STATEMENT PREPARED BY JNU FACULTY

In the wake of the protests in universities about a number of disastrous policy level changes — huge fund cuts for the University Grants Commission, state governed divestment from the higher education in the name of graded autonomy, tampering with reservation policy in both drawing up recruitment and in college administration, casualisation and reduction of employment in universities, widespread corruption, as well as authoritarian clampdown on free speech and thought — the government has now sought to muzzle teachers voices through the induction of the Central Civil Service (Conduct) Rules to govern the conduct of faculty in Central Universities.

 

Continue reading The Imposition of CCS Rules in Central Universities: Statement by JNU faculty

The BabriMasjid/Ayodhya Judgement of 2010 – Some questions for today

 


Babri Masjid before its demolition. It was still a mosque in 1992 when Hindutva mobs demolished it, and namaz was offered there until 1949 when under growing pressure from Hindutva forces, it was locked and made out of bounds for the public. However, Hindu puja was permitted there once a year.

This post is an analysis of the Allahabad High Court judgement of September 2010, on the BabriMasjid /Ayodhya issue. The final judgment ruled that the disputed land would be divided into three parts, one third going to the Hindu Maha Sabha which represented Ram Lalla, one third to Sunni Waqf Board and the rest to Nirmohi Akhada including Ram Chabutara and Sitaki Rasoi.

This essay was written at the time, and published in Economic and Political Weekly. Two of the key issues of this case arose in two of the recent judgments of the Supreme Court on other matters.

One, the status of ‘Next Friend’, which is central to the Ayodhya case, was brought up in the judgement on the Bhima- Koregaon Five. Regarding  the PIL filed by historian Romila Thapar and four other eminent persons challenging the alleged-unlawful arrest of these five activists,

the court assumed that the writ petition has now been pursued by the accused themselves and was of the opinion that the petition, at the instance of the next friend of the accused for an independent probe or a court-monitored investigation cannot be countenanced, much less as a PIL as the petitioners cannot be heard to ask for the reliefs which otherwise cannot be granted to the accused themselves.

Two, the status of the deity as a person in law came up centrally in the judgement on Sabarimala.

Apologies for posting this long piece, which is not a blog post but an analytical essay closely examining the 2010 judgement by Allahabad High Court. I have not updated it in any way, as that is the judgement that currently stands. The  case is currently in the Supreme Court.

The Ayodhya judgement: what next?

 Published in Economic and Political Weekly Vol 46 No. 31 July 30 – August 05, 2011

Since the Allahabad High Court judgement on the Ayodhya dispute was delivered on September 30, 2010, a substantial body of reflection upon it has emerged. Historians, political commentators, legal scholars and lawyers have all produced serious and engaged critiques of the judgement, pointing out flaws in reasoning and flaws in law. In an engagement with the debate so far, particularly with the critical voices, of which I am one, I hope here to develop a composite picture of the problems with the judgement, currently under appeal in the Supreme Court. And to ask, what are its weakest links?

Continue reading The BabriMasjid/Ayodhya Judgement of 2010 – Some questions for today

Release arrested Manipur University professors and students NOW! Appeal to Visitor

We, the undersigned academics and members of civil society, unequivocally condemn the arbitrary arrest and incarceration of six teachers and nine students of Manipur University. Six teachers and seven students have been sent to judicial custody for fifteen days, and the remaining two students for five days.

The arrests have been made under sections of the Indian Penal Code that invoke ‘an attempt to murder’, ‘wrongful confinement’, ‘extortion’, ‘kidnapping’ and ‘criminal conspiracy’ on the basis of a complaint made by Manipur University faculty, K. Yugindro Singh (and the suspended registrar M. Shyamkesho) on charges of attempt to murder and kidnapping. The six arrested professors — Dr. N. Santomba, (Dept. of. Manipuri), Prof. Chungkham Yashawanta (Dept. of Linguistics, also Dean of Humanities, and in-charge Dean of Students Welfare), Prof. Sougaijam Dorendrajit (Dept. of. Physics and Registrar-in-charge), Dr. L. Bishwanath Sharma (Dept. of. Philosophy), Prof. L. Sanjukumar (Dept. of. Biotechnology and Secretary MUTA), and Dr. Yengkhom Raghumani (Dept. of. Earth Sciences) have also been suspended with immediate effect. Following these arrests, the Manipur University campus has been turned into a cantonment, the boys hostel has had tear gas shells and mock bombs rained down upon it all of Thursday night (20 September), Internet services shut down, and all normal academic life has come to a complete halt.

Manipur University has witnessed a peaceful (in the face of great police brutality) 85 day long united agitation by its teachers, students, and staff asking for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor A P Pandey, and the constitution of an Independent Enquiry Committee to look into the allegations of his administrative and financial lapses. This agitation was successful, with a probe being announced on August 16, 2018 and the VC being placed on suspension pending inquiry on 18 September 2018. The details of the egregious misdemeanours of the suspended VC that have formed the basis of agitation by the greater student and teacher communities and have been the cause of disruption of academic activities, are to be found in the news item links provided below.

Read the rest of the statement and sign the appeal here.

Allahabad University Vice Chancellor’s misdemeanours: Open letter to President of India

OPEN LETTER TO THE VISITOR BY FORMER OFFICE BEARERS OF ALLAHABAD UNIVERSITY TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION and ALLAHABAD UNIVERSITY CONSTITUENT COLLEGES TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION

To

The Hon’ble Visitor, University of Allahabad, President’s Secretariat (Rashtrapati Bhawan), New Delhi

Sir,

On the eve of the 131st Foundation Day of the University of Allahabad, the under-noted former and serving teachers of the University of Allahabad and its Constituent Colleges, who are or have been office-bearers of the Teachers’ Associations of the University and its Constituent Colleges, respectfully seek to invite your kind attention by means of this Open Letter to certain crucial aspects of the present institutional predicament of the University, arising proximately from shocking revelations of grave improprieties by the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Rattan Lal Hangloo, and cumulatively from the general expositions of the manifestly freewheeling mode of his working over the past three years.

The facts of the Vice-Chancellor’s indecorous personal conduct involve the seeking of personal intimate favours from an individual by proffering employment and promising career-building opportunities. This sordid episode, and the outrage it has engendered in the members of the University community (students, alumni, and serving and former teachers and employees) as well as concerned citizens and well-wishers of the institution, are in the public domain, for they have been covered in graphic presentations in the print, electronic and social media. These have also been communicated by different sources to the Hon’ble Visitor’s establishment, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and other agencies of the Government of India. Some of the individuals subscribing to this Open Letter have also conveyed their dismay over the style and substance of his administrative and financial transactions in separate communications to higher authorities, but have experienced a disheartening absence of critical engagement on the part of the concerned dignitaries and offices with the transgressions of Prof. Hangloo which have also been in glaring public spotlight for almost three years, from his earliest days in office. Continue reading Allahabad University Vice Chancellor’s misdemeanours: Open letter to President of India

Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan

Guest Post by PREETI CHAUHAN

The recent arrest of activists and intellectuals, and raids on various others connected with rights activism across five states in India is a grim reminder of the shrunken space for protest, criticism and dissent in our democracy today. This tendency to muzzle opposing voices has been on brazen display over the past four years though earlier governments had also tried to brand civil rights activists as ‘Maoists’ and as anti-development and anti-progress in a sense. The case against Dr. Binayak Sen, an office bearer of People’s Union for Civil Liberties comes to mind who was also alleged to be a Maoist.

The entire episode raises many questions on the motives of the government for this kind of concerted clampdown on human rights defenders. As of now, the charges against the activists seem far-fetched and entirely fabricated. Most of the activists who are now in jail or under house arrest are long-time members of the civil liberties movement in our country in the post-emergency period. Civil and democratic rights organizations and their activists have faced the charge of being fronts of this and that organization earlier too, and some have been attacked and killed also as in Andhra Pradesh. But what is important to understand is the location of the civil and democratic rights movement vis a vis democracy in India. Continue reading Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan