Mandawli is a police station area in East Delhi and covers the area I live in. As such it is the field of my ‘ethnography’. The reader may however put the name of any other police station in Delhi – rather India – and the story, I can bet, will read as true as ever. Let Mandawli then be the name of all the dens of YS Dadwal’s men (YSD being the police commissioner Delhi, who famously claimed yesterday that ‘Even in New York women are not safe…’). PC Dadwal also has the distinction of claiming, against the growing feeling of insecurity among Delhi’s denizens, that crime is actually declining in the city! A Jansatta report yesterday, however, cites many ordinary people as saying that they are more scared of the police than of criminals.
17 July 2008: The Times of India (19 July) and other newspapers reported the death of 18-year old Umesh Kumar ‘who was picked up by the police for questioning’ two days ago and who died soon after returning home at night. The incident was of Swaroop Nagar in outer district, Delhi. Umesh did not live to tell his story but his friend, Atul, ‘who too was picked up by the police said: “The police took us to Ibrahimpur police post and started beating Umesh after which he lost consciousness.” Umesh, from all accounts was not a hardened criminal – just one of those whom the police decides to make into a criminal in the long run. Unfortunately for them, he died.
Continue reading P.S. Mandawli: Manufacturing Crime and Criminals
“Right there, right there!”
“Where? I can’t see the damn station. Where is it?”
“Right there, you walk past that little lane, you will hit the station.”
Grudgingly, I walked through the lane and lo and behold! I was at the platform of Govandi railway station. It just took me a little row of settlements and some open drains running by them to get to that wretched Govandi station (not to forget to mention, passing by some of the children playing around and that sole bhaiyya woman sitting idly).
Did I say wretched? Yes, wretched is the feeling I get when I am at Govandi station. Perhaps in my life, I must have been to Govandi station exactly six times. Of the four of those six times, I have traveled in the east of Govandi, towards the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). But the last two times, I have actually experienced the wretchedness of Govandi station, when I have had to get off platform number 1 and then go past all the squatter settlements, till I eventually get to the infamously famous Lallubhai Compound.
Continue reading The Idea and the Practice of a Slum
What is common between Kathmandu – the capital of Nepal ; Thane, Vashi which happen to lie in Maharashtra; Tenkasi, which is part of Tamilnadu and Indore, which lies in Madhya Pradesh? Aprops there seem to be no commonality, although a close look at stray sounding incidents in these places brings forth a pattern which has serious import for the manner in which (non-state) terrorism is viewed in this country. It is disturbing that media which calls itself ‘watchdog of democracy’ and which has no qualms in stigmatising the minority community on unfounded allegations of ‘terrorist acts’ has suddenly gone mute since the perpetrators of terrorist acts in all these cases belong to the majority community.
Continue reading Join The Dots: Silent Emergence of Hindu Terrorism
It has been over a year since Mayawati came to power in UP and I am absolutely sick of seeing news reports beginning with the comment, “In a state ruled by a Dalit chief minister, a Dalit youth was killed…” This hostility towards Mayawati is ironically couched in the language of ‘Dalit empowerment’, the phrase used so loosely its is completely devoid of meaning. Where were all these reporters and their editorialising and their concern for Dalits when Yadavs were running the state?
What has Mayaywati been doing for Dalits? That question will be answered again and again without talking to a single Dalit. But if you do go looking for something, you will find it. The redoubtable Nilanjana Bose reports: Continue reading Gomti Nagar to Bundelkhand
I have for a long time wondered about the noise that constantly gets made on the possibility of an Indo-US nuclear deal. And recently, for quite unrelated purposes, had to do some thinking on this for a posting on the Sarai Reader List. I thought that the substance of what I had to say in that posting, might be of interest to Kafila readers. So apologies for cross posting of this material, which has appeared previously on the Reader List.
Now, what is the Hyde Act, what exactly is the 123 Treaty? These matters need a little clarification.
The Hyde Act, or, the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006, to give the act its full title, is a piece of legislation, introduced by Congressman Henry Hyde, passed by the US Congress, which creates the legal basis for co-operation between the United States and India. See the Wikipedia articles on the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement. Continue reading The Hyde Act and the 123 Treaty
[This detailed report was prepared by Kavita Srivastava, the Jaipur-based general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Posting this here to make it publicly available as it is not on the PUCL website. Please note that this was a rough draft. ]
State Violence and Caste Confrontation in Rajasthan
I. Outline of the week long movement for ST Reservation by the Gurjars
Soon after independence the Bhil Meenas got reservations in the Districts of Dungarpur, Banswara, Chittorgarh and Udaipur. At the time of 1931 census the Bhil Meenas were over 20, 000, however today they have reduced to half they are only 10,000 in number.
This was an issue of contention for the Meenas as they felt that they also deserved to be STs so they decided to raise their voice against this injustice as they called it. Under the leadership of Lakshmi Narayan Jhirwal they organized themselves.
11th June 1952: Meenas organized a sammelan near Dudu (Jaipur) district for the inclusion of the Meena community in the Schedule list for reservation. The Gurjars supported this wholly. Continue reading Kavita Srivastava’s report on last year’s Gujjar confrontation in Rajasthan
At the heart of all peoples’ rights work is the individual – as the person at risk of human rights abuses, as the survivor, as the partner in the defense of rights, and as the activist speaking out, and working with and for other individuals. Individuals, as part of the political, social and cultural collective and spread over the length and breadth of the country, lie behind much of the activism of Indian social-political groups, working at local, grassroots and community levels in India today. They try to change lives by acting on their own or with other people and political groups making the same demand – an end to injustice in all its forms.
These individuals are increasingly at risk in India today. We have witnessed the killings at regular intervals of activists like Safdar Hashmi, Shankar Guha Niyogi, Satyendra Dubey, Sarita and Mahesh, S. Manjunath, Mahendra Singh and Chandra Shekhar in the past two decades. We have had a series of cases of arrest and detention of people like Dr. Binayak Sen and T. G. Ajay. At a time when the patterns of human rights abuses against rights activists are becoming widespread and showing signs of further deterioration, with the governments showing their apathy, we need to draw attention to the situation, point to the concrete failures of the governments to live up to their obligations, and plan on some concrete actions, so that the human rights activists can carry out their important work free from attacks, fear or reprisals. Continue reading Individuals at Risk