Free the Maruti Workers: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

 

Guest Post by Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union

[This is a statement and an appeal by the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union condemning the unjust handing down of a life sentence to 13 workers of the Maruti Suzuki Manesar Factory for a ‘murder’ (of an HR Manager) that the prosecution could not prove that they had committed. Here too, the prosecution, and the judgement, relies on a chimera, ‘the reputation of make-in-india’ to justify a harsh punishment. Those who have watched this space will recognize that this recourse to figures of speech in the absence of evidence is a familiar move. It has happened before – to satisfy the hunger of a ‘collective conscience’ when a so-called ‘temple of democracy’ was attacked. This time it has been invoked to defend the ‘fake-in-India temple that houses the deity of a rising GDP’, which would of course otherwise be besieged by insurgent workers.

This text contains a hyperlink to a detailed reading and rebuttal of the prosecution’s arguments, which demonstrates how money and muscle power can always be an adequate replacement for legal acumen in the State of Haryana. Please do follow that link. For the further edification of our readers, we append a short video interview by Aman Sethi of the Hindustan Times of the special public prosecutor, which spins some imaginative legal theory and also radically updates our sense of class struggle. Please do have the patience to view that video. We promise that this will be rewarded. – Kafila Admin.]

Continue reading “Free the Maruti Workers: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union”

UAPA – A Video Dossier: Media Collective, Arun Ferreira &Vernon Gonsalves

Video by Media Collective, Article by Arun Ferreira and Vernon Fernandes

Fifty Years of Unreasonable Restrictions

Arun Ferreira & Vernon Gonsalves 

Soon after its adoption, the Constitution of India was amended in 1951. At the time several progressive judgements[i] by the Judiciary held that laws which curb fundamental rights are essentially unconstitutional and fundamental freedoms could only be curbed in the most extreme of cases. The First Amendment, countered this by amending Article 19 to add the word ‘reasonable’ before restrictions and to add ‘public order’ as being one more ground for abridging Fundamental Rights.

The evolution of UAPA[ii] has to be seen in the background of this gradual but steady constriction of Article 19 which guarantees the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, association, etc. Continue reading “UAPA – A Video Dossier: Media Collective, Arun Ferreira &Vernon Gonsalves”

A Tale of Two and a Half Marches – Two for Azadi and a Half for Ghulami.

[Videos of song by Shehla Rashid and of speeches by Nivedita Menon, Kavita Krishnan, Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani, courtesy, Samim Asgor Ali]

February gives way to March and spring returns to Delhi. And what a spring it is. The right wing thugs of the ABVP choose the wrong time to attack, once again. They must really get themselves a better astrologer, or at least a better class of charlatan who can tell them if there ever is a right time to stage their goon show. I suspect there isn’t.

Spring in DU - Fight Back DU
Spring in DU – Fight Back DU

Continue reading “A Tale of Two and a Half Marches – Two for Azadi and a Half for Ghulami.”

In Solidarity with Adivasis in Bastar, Human Rights Defenders and Bela Bhatia in Bastar: Concerned Students in TISS, Mumbai

Guest Post by CONCERNED STUDENTS OF TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, MUMBAI

We, the concerned students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai condemn the continuing state repression of adivasis and recent attack on human rights activist Bela Bhatia in Bastar, Chhattisgarh.

On the 23rd of January, 2017, a group of 30-odd men attacked Bela where they barged into her house in Parpa, near Jagdalpur violently and threatened to burn the building down if she did not leave immediately. The mob also attacked her landlords and their children, threatening them with dire consequences if Bela was not evicted immediately. Despite Bela’s assurances that she would leave, the mob continued to be belligerent, in the presence of the police, and the Sarpanch. The mob has been identified with the right-wing vigilante group Action Group for National Integrity (AGNI).

In last one year alone a number of vigilante groups like the now disbanded Samajik Ekta Manch, Naxal Peedith Sangharash Samiti and the newly formed group AGNI have been used by Kalluri and the Bastar police, to harass and intimidate everyone living and working in the area, be it lawyers, journalists, local leaders, researchers who are exposing these cases of atrocities and calling the state to account. Many of these vigilante groups are formed by ex Salwa Judum leaders. An all-out war has been launched against the people of Bastar by the security forces. These state forces are hell bent on ensuring that this becomes ‘A war without any witnesses’.

In the present scenario, the adivasis in Bastar are putting up a tough fight against State’s attempt to dispossess them. It is an attempt to finish off adivasi community, their culture and their existence all together so that the mineral rich land and jungles of central region of the country could be easily handed off to the Corporates.  In this war between the state and people of Bastar, all those who have tried to stand with the adivasis  in their fight, exposing this State-Corporate nexus have been equally targeted and threatened. The background to the recent attack on Bela comes from her involvement in exposing state crimes especially incidents of mass sexual assaults in Bastar. Towards the end of February 2016, Bela along with teams of Women against State Violence and Sexual Assault (WSS), Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG) and Activist Soni Sori exposed three incidents of mass sexual violence by police and security forces in the villages of Pedagellur, Belam Nendra and Chinnagelur, Bijapur District of Bastar region, Chhattisgarh. Together with the victims, they managed to file FIRs, one on November 1, 2015, and another on January 21, 2016 against Security forces. These were the first instances of the use of Section 376(2)(c) IPC providing for indictment of state and central security forces for sexual violence. Within eight days of the filing of the FIRs, the revengeful action towards Bela and others started, leading to a rally being organised against her in Bijapur district by the vigilante group Naxal Peedit Sangharsh Samiti. Bela, due to the mounting pressure vacated her house in Jagdalpur and moved to Parpa, a village near Jagdalpur. However, the hounding and harassment has continued, and unfortunately intensified enough to make her vacate her Parpa House as well after she accompanied the team of NHRC along with Soni Sori to Pedagellur to record testimonies of women who have been victims of sexual violence.

The attack on Bela is not the first one. In past year, women advocates of JagLAG have been threatened by an alleged criminal complaint, journalist Malini Subramaniam was hounded out of Bastar, Nandini Sundar and Manju Kawasi have been charged in false murder cases, Laxmi Hidme, mother of encountered Madkam Hidme and  Kawasi Hidme, who after years of torture in prison, now fights alongside Soni Sori, a tribal activist who was attacked with chemicals on her face. By calling the lawyers and activists as ‘Safed posh naxalis’ the state has tried its best to criminalize them and made sure that an obstacle is created in them lending any support to the people.

Appeals of accountability from the police have led to a venomous vitriol being unleashed by Inspector General SRP Kalluri where he has responded by saying most objectionable, vulgar and threatening things to these women along with giving a free hand to officials under him to rape and kill the adivasis. Mission 2016 is conveniently being carried out on the principle of clear-hold-build. IG Kalluri’s role in perpetuating violence against the adivasis with complete impunity and lawlessness has been especially notorious. In a recent NDTV interview, he said, “Activists are enemies because they incite people against democracy, and question the sovereignty and universality of India. We oppose their anti-national brigade.” It is important to especially pay attention to the last statement that he makes, that ‘activists are anti-nationals’. That activists are anti-nationals is the propaganda used by the right-wing BJP government, its student wing ABVP and their media stooges like Zee TV & Times Now. IG Kalluri is the iron heel used by the right wing fascist government in Chhattisgarh and Centre. He has scant regard for constitutional principles or Rule of Law and is the perpetrator of fake encounters, torture, mass sexual assault against adivasis. A number of these incidents have been investigated and documented by  human rights & lawyers groups like PUCL, WSS, JagLAG, as well as by  ST Commission and the Editors’ Guild of India. There has been a sudden spurt in crimes against adivasis of Bastar and activists working in that area ever since Mr. SRP Kalluri took charge as Inspector General (Bastar Range) in 2014. As the incidents of mass sexual assaults were filed in February, recently NHRC testified to the truth of these statements saying that security forces have raped 16 women.

People like Bela are a hindrance to such a war. Bela who is a researcher, activist, ex-alumni and ex-faculty member of TISS, has been working in the area since past two years. As students of TISS, we clearly remember the difference that Bela made to the lives of many students on the campus. She was teaching courses in the Dalit and Tribal Studies Department of Social Work at TISS. She was regularly taking courses in Foundation Courses on Social Movements. She was quite vocal about issues on campus and was always a supportive voice when it came to student’s issues. In the light of the organic relationship that Bela shared with her students and her teaching of the principles of justice and equality, we as TISS students demand an immediate stop to the harassment that she has been subjected to.

We stand by the people of Bastar in this war that the state has waged against them and condemn in strongest terms the erosion of democracy and heinous way in which adivasis are being pushed out of Bastar to dispossess and alienate them from their rights over jal, jangal and jameen.

Buying into Demonetisation- the Popular Ideological Receptors of Creeping Fascism: Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by SANJAY KUMAR

The withdrawal of eighty six percent of currency notes by the Modi government has been an administrative fiasco. It is clear that little economic thought, and only a political urge has gone into the exercise. Informal sector of the economy, which accounts for 80% of the employment and 40% of the national output, has suffered short to medium term damage. All cash dependent transactions, wages, wholesale and retail trade, agricultural purchase and sale, are at a crawl. Workers are not getting wages, factories are closing, mandis are empty. Crores of young and old working people are spending hours in queues at banks and ATMs to withdraw their own money now gone scarce.  Press reports count more than eighty deaths. Parliament of the country is in a limbo, because the prime minister thinks it below his worth to reply to charges by the opposition party MPs. While ordinary people are suffering, the Nero like rulers are trumpeting the arrival of the nirvana of a cash less economy as the answer to India’s economic ills.

Even while Mr Modi’s government is solely responsible for this needless and widespread suffering, it would be naive to expect an automatic popular backlash against it. The politics of the ruling party does not fit into the patronage or identity driven models of its competitors. Its closest template is fascist politics, which  is a very particular kind of authoritarianism. What distinguishes a fascist regime from other modern authoritarian regimes like military dictatorships is the popular support it is able to garner for its policies and depredations. This is achieved by carefully working upon popular anxieties, prejudices, desires and fears, and refashioning them as grounds for aggression against selected minorities, and a belief in an imminent deliverance under the personalised rule of a leader. Continue reading “Buying into Demonetisation- the Popular Ideological Receptors of Creeping Fascism: Sanjay Kumar”

Neocaligulaism: Thoughts from Kerala

 

In these insane times in our country and the world, one searches in the past desperately to make sense of the unfolding madness of the present. No wonder people have recalled Muhammad bin Tughlaq in the face of what has been described (rather misleadingly) by the neutral word ‘demonetisation’ – but as many have already pointed out in considerable detail, what we face is much more than a foolishly, irresponsibly-conceived act of monetary governance gone horribly wrong. Caligula is back, and neocaligulaism is the flavor of the season, across the world, one might say. Continue reading “Neocaligulaism: Thoughts from Kerala”

The Anatomy of a Disappearance: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid. Videos by Haider Saif and Samim Asgor Ali

Students Gathering in a Vigil for Najeeb Ahmed at JNU

 

Think of the person closest to you, and the place that they hold in your daily life, the bittersweet memories that they create each day in your life, the daily fights and the moments of affection. At times, you fight and simply want to go away from one another, seeking a temporary calm from each other’s absence. You resolve never to call him/her again, or to speak to her/him anymore. However, by the time dusk falls, you realise the emptiness of your time without them, and you make a phone call, speaking reservedly, trying not to sound desperate or sappy. You tell them that you are coming home, and ask whether you need them to get anything- as if that were the reason for the phone call. This person could be you sister, your partner, or your best friend. Continue reading “The Anatomy of a Disappearance: Shehla Rashid”