Category Archives: Images

100th day of Shahidul Alam’s Detention – Eminent South Asians Write to Bangladesh Prime Minister

Today, it is 100 days of the detention of acclaimed photographer and cultural activist Shahidul Alam. On this occasion, Arundhati Roy, Aparna Sen, Vikram Seth, Romila Thapar, Amitav Ghosh, Shabhana Azmi, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Nandita Das, Mohammad Hanif, Anish Kapoor among other eminent persons from across South Asia have written a letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed demanding his immediate release.  on the 100th day of his detention.

Shahidul 3

H.E. Sheikh Hasina Wazed
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Prime Minister’s Office
Dhaka, Bangladesh
13 November 2018

Subject: Appeal for release of Shahidul Alam on 100th day in custody

Your Excellency:
As well-wishers of Bangladesh and supporters of its 166 million citizens’ struggle for dignity, social justice and prosperity, we are distressed by the continued imprisonment of photographer and cultural activist Shahidul Alam. Since the founding of the nation in 1971, the people of Bangladesh have led by example, fighting poverty, ending social injustices and being standard-bearers of participatory development. This advance has been made possible by the democratic spirit of the people, who have challenged military rulers and autocrats alike. As well-wishers of Bangladesh, we fear that these gains are in danger due to the rising political intolerance and denial of fundamental freedoms.

Shahidul Alam is a Bangladeshi citizen, but the rest of us in South Asia are also proud to call him our own, for the values of truth, justice and social equality he promotes. His work and activism are respected all over our region and beyond, with innumerable friends who admire his concern for the voiceless and marginalised. One example is his latest work highlighting the tragedy of the Rohingya people, who have been given refuge in Bangladesh by your Government.

Since Shahidul Alam was forcefully taken from his home on the 5th of August, he was remanded first in Detective Branch custody for seven days and, then held at Dhaka Central Jail at Keraniganj. He is accused of ‘hurting the image of the nation’ while reporting on protests by young students demanding road safety.
It is clear to us that the case of Shahidul Alam is being used as a means to suppress criticism by others in civil society. His arrest and continued detention appear to be manifestation of an intolerant political atmosphere, an attempt to threaten and silence the voice of Bangladeshi citizens. With the country preparing for general elections, this is a time when there should be more space for debate and discussion, not less.

As believers in the rule of law, we are shocked to learn that government lawyers continue to oppose Shahidul Alam’s release on bail using various stratagems and delays intended to deprive him of his fundamental rights to liberty and due process. Across South Asia, politicians and citizens have fought for the right to speak, and to write, and it is astonishing to us that a government today, especially one which seeks to harness technology for progress, should choose to use a law to proscribe online speech to jail a citizen.

Prime Minister,

We the undersigned urge you to ensure the release of Shahidul Alam on this, the 100​th​ day of his detention. We look forward to Bangladesh retaining its place as an exemplar of
participatory democracy in South Asia.

Sincerely,
1. Akram Khan, London
2. Amar Kanwar, New Delhi
3. Amitav Ghosh, Goa
4. Anish Kapoor, London
5. Aparna Sen, Kolkata
6. Arundhati Roy, New Delhi
7. Ashok Vajpeyi, New Delhi
8. Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Kolkata
9. Dayanita Singh, New Delhi
10. Ina Puri, Kolkata
11. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Colombo
12. Kanak Mani Dixit, Kathmandu
13. Laila Tyabji, New Delhi;
14. Manjushree Thapa, Toronto
15. Mohammed Hanif, Karachi
16. Moushumi Bhowmik, Kolkata
17. Nandita Das, Kolkata
18. Nimalka Fernando, Colombo
19. Patricia Mukhim, Shillong
20. Pooja Sood, New Delhi
21. Rachana Singh, New Delhi
22. Raghu Rai, New Delhi
23. Rajdeep Sardesai, New Delhi
24. Ramchandra Guha, Bangalore
25. Romila Thapar, New Delhi
26. Salima Hashmi, Lahore
27. Sanjay Kak, New Delhi
28. Sanjoy Hazarika, Shillong
29. Sankha Ghosh, Kolkata
30. Shabana Azmi, Mumbai
31. Sushila Karki, Kathmandu
32. Vijay Prashad, New Delhi
33. Vikram Seth, New Delhi
34. Vrinda Grover, New Delhi

Now What? After the Betrayal of Women at Sabarimala

At the end of the five-day worship in the month of Tulam, it is clear that women have been betrayed. The right wing which promised not to violently stop women devotees did precisely that; their leader also hurled vicious insults are trans people. The dominant left which foamed Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru at the mouth ended up reinforcing the ‘good woman’/bad woman’ division, saying first that only the former would be allowed to proceed, made the term ‘activist’ into a code word for ‘bad woman’, and then finally threw up its hands saying that it was impossible to implement the court order. The government and the CPM had obviously not done enough to make sure that women would indeed enter the shrine. Clearly, they are reluctant to touch the savarna moral majority.  Continue reading Now What? After the Betrayal of Women at Sabarimala

Rehana Fatima and the Goons: A comment on the good-cop-bad-cop game that’s on in Kerala

Yesterday’s high drama at Sabarimala told us quite a lot about the games that politicians play in Kerala. Rehana Fatima, a young woman activist who decided to take the challenge (it is now a challenge, since the trekking path to the shrine is in effect controlled by Hindutva goons heaping verbal abuse, threatening open violence, and using children as shields) had to face not only the naked threats of the so-called bhakths and the vandalisation of her home at Kochi by the same elements, she had also to swallow the Kerala Minister Kadakampally Surendran’s jibe that Sabarimala was not a playground for ‘activists’! By saying so, he hinted that only ‘pure’, ‘untainted’ women believers who are apparently by definition not activists, can be helped by the Kerala Police to reach the shrine. So much for Pinarayi Vijayan’s evocation of Kerala’s legacy of enlightened Hinduism!

This is a piece I wrote in the TOI today on the issue.

 

 

 

 

നായർസമുദായാഭിമാനികളോട്: ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നം ഉയർത്തുന്ന ചില ചോദ്യങ്ങൾ

നായർ സർവീസ് സൊസൈറ്റി ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നത്തിൽ പുനഃപരിശോധനാഹർജി സമർപ്പിച്ച സ്ഥിതിയ്ക്ക് ആ പ്രസ്ഥാനത്തോട് നായർസമുദായത്തിൽ ജനിക്കാനിടയായ ഒരു സ്ത്രീയെന്ന നിലയ്ക്ക് എനിക്ക് ചില ചോദ്യങ്ങളുന്നയിക്കാനുണ്ട്. Continue reading നായർസമുദായാഭിമാനികളോട്: ശബരിമലപ്രശ്നം ഉയർത്തുന്ന ചില ചോദ്യങ്ങൾ

Do Not Ride the Tiger of Hindtuva: Sabarimala Entry and Hindutva Women

The Supreme Court judgment on women’s entry into Sabarimala has got Hindutva women in Kerala into a hand-wringing, hair-tearing frenzy, and that is to put it lightly. I say ‘Hindutva women’ deliberately, to refer to a sub-set of Hindu women, who (1) believe, like the RSS chief, that the Hindu(tva) lion is under threat from dogs (guess who the dogs are in this case) (2) identify craven submission to Hindutva commonsense about gender as ‘Indian tradition’ (3) are willing to sacrifice all public decency for the sake of upholding that common sense. Continue reading Do Not Ride the Tiger of Hindtuva: Sabarimala Entry and Hindutva Women

How to Deal with Male Chauvinist Piorge: Ten Tips

After the floods comes the pestilence. Even as the rest of us are focusing all our energies on making sure that epidemics and sheer psychological trauma aren’t going to bring our people devastated by floods to the brink of their endurance, here is a bizarre person, a certain P C George, MLA from Poonjar, Kerala, indulging in the worst kinds of patriarchal excess. At this time one would expect our elected representatives to be aiding and comforting people in their respective constituencies. Instead, we have this man spew unspeakable, stupid trash on the public. I do not want to reproduce it here; you can read for yourself.  I’d rather try to think of how we may deal collectively with those of his ilk. Continue reading How to Deal with Male Chauvinist Piorge: Ten Tips

Brackish Reflections on the Great Deluge of 2018: Roby Rajan

This is a guest post by ROBY RAJAN

Epic. Biblical. Apocalyptic. These are some of the words that have been used to describe the floods and landslides that have wreaked havoc in Kerala over the last few weeks. Entire towns and cities were submerged, and entire rivers altered their courses overnight. Continue reading Brackish Reflections on the Great Deluge of 2018: Roby Rajan