[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.]
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.
[ This is a letter addressed to Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh by several concerned individuals and organizations regarding the impunity with which medical guidelines are put aside by professionals who enjoy the patronage and protection of the state government.]
We, the 138 undersigned individuals and organizations working across the country on health and women’s rights are shocked and dismayed that the case against surgeon Dr. R. K. Gupta has been dismissed by the Hon’ble High Court on grounds that “the alleged act committed by the petitioner was while acting in discharge of his official duty and admittedly no previous sanction was obtained before initiating prosecution case against him”.
The Anita Jha Judicial Enquiry Commission report has clearly pointed out that “It is evident from the facts that in the camps organized on 8.11.2014 and 10.11.2014 there was a breach in the important necessities hence the standard operating procedure were not followed. As a result of which the symptoms of infections were found in post operative female beneficiaries“. It further states that “On the background of deliberation of investigation point number 1 to 3, investigation committee has found following persons Guilty/responsible, functionary, during 08 and 10 November, 2014:- 4.1 For not following standard procedures and for medical negligence by immediate functionary Block Medical Officer, Takhatpur…………….and surgeon who conducted surgery in tubectomy camp at Sakri and Gaurella ( Surgeries were completed by the same surgeon in the both camps)”.
Please find below a collation of statements of solidarity received by Kafila over the past fortnight since the shameful incidents of violence by the ABVP occurred on the 21st and 22nd of February 2017. These are from: Ramjas Alumna, Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association, O.P Jindal Teachers: Students and Durham University Politics and International Relations Society, U.S.A; and students and faculty at the University of Minnesota, U.S.A.
The statements are preceded by a short write-up on what Ramjas College has meant to its alumna, by ANUBHAV PRADHAN.
Nostalgia is made of more than just happiness. It is sulphurous too.
To many who spent three or more years of their life in Ramjas College, visuals of violence in and around it on 21 and 22 February 2017 have been a source of deep, personal shock. The footpath and the areas adjoining the college gate were often sites of lingering conversations between friends, offering moments of respite from studies, tensions accruing from impending exams, or relief to those who had just accomplished a hectic ECA festival and were there catching up their breath or exhaling smoke.
The ABVP struck twice, once attacking the college Seminar Room and then coming back the second day to attack students. In the hundredth year of Ramjas’ establishment, a college founded at a time when protest was an active ideal for most Indians, this singular episode of planned, institutional violence against students and teachers is a grim reminder of the brute silencing of interrogation, peaceful protest, dialogue and dissent being normalised across our colleges and universities, and in our society at large. The audacity with which these perpetrators and their ideologues brand entire institutions and diverse communities of students and academics as anti-national—and therefore fit recipients for their brute censure—also gives the lie to the intellectual and affective bankruptcy of a rapidly emergent cultural orientation premised on simplistic binaries of good and bad, right and wrong, national and anti-national. In a society—and nation—whose ideals are peace, dialogue, and inclusion, these attacks on students and teachers point to the deep ideological rot in the perpetrators’ conception of nation, nationality and nationalism.
As an alumnus of Ramjas College, I cherish the right to self-determination and open debate. I feel outraged that the students’ and faculties’ right to decide what discussion to hold and whom to invite for it within college premises was usurped in this manner. It is disturbing that this violence rippled across the campus as it were, with students being followed, identified and harassed in their personal spaces for having asserted their right to listen to discussions on Bastar and for not bowing down to bodily attacks perpetrated through stones and fisticuffs by members of the ABVP and their affiliates.
Most alumni like me are invested in our respective professions, but the foundations of study and work were laid for us by Ramjas’ teachers and the college’s vibrant culture of extra-curricular instruction. This experience has proved fundamental to our engagement with our immediate workspaces, surroundings, power structures, and our nation. Denying current and future students their right to freely and openly debate issues of their choice in fora of their choice is tantamount to denial of a basic academic right. Threatening and manhandling academicians guided by the spirit of enquiry towards generation of dialogue will prove detrimental to the quality of collegiate education in our nation. We collectively issue the following statement of solidarity with Ramjas’ students and teachers in this moment of crisis:
The violence that gripped Ramjas College on the 21st and 22nd of this month is now national news. We heard belligerent slogans by ABVP members of ‘chappal maro saalon ko’ (beat them with slippers), we saw students being chased on the campus, and we saw students being beaten up. All this culminated in a situation where students and teachers were held captive for over five hours within the campus premises. Let me emphasize that this violence was completely unprovoked.
On the 22nd of February, some of the students who were simply sitting with their friends were attacked. The police came and formed a cordon around them. Others joined the students in a gesture of solidarity. Teachers joined them to ensure that the students were not assaulted. The police cordon became their prison for the next five hours. And even then they were not safe.
They were repeatedly assaulted, threatened, and abused. All of this happened in front of their teachers and, more importantly, in front of the police, who, as is well known by now, did not do anything substantial. They could have maintained the cordon around the protesters, arrested those who were repeatedly carrying out the assaults, or – at the very least – prevented the attackers from coming back in (they had left for some time to attack the protest going on outside). But they did not. Whether this was because they were under pressure or because they were complicit is besides the point. The point is that students and teachers remained at the mercy of their attackers for over five hours.
But on the same day something far more ominous was also going on.
Despite the controversies of demonetization, the central government has again succeeded in deftly hijacking the minds of Indian citizens through a riveting speech made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The budget seemed to be especially important given third quarter statistics which are filled with drawbacks of the demonetization policy. Thus we had a budget speech completely focused on digitalization of a country where the ‘digital divide’ stubbornly persists. As the budget theme (Transform, Energize, and Clean) attempted to glorify existing conditions, there were unsurprisingly no transformations in the overall economic framework except the expected tax reduction. In the zeal for “energizing”, the budget had clean forgotten the needs of the informal sector including agricultural sector. Even though the government provocatively claimed that it had cleaned up black money, it revealed no data regarding the amount of black money actually mopped up from the market.