Category Archives: Law

State of the judiciary and reforms required : Prashant Bhushan

Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series Organised by New Socialist Initiative – 3 rd Lecture

Topic: State of the Judiciary and Reforms Required
Speaker: Prashant Bhushan, eminent Supreme Court lawyer and civil rights activist
Date and Time: Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 6 PM IST

Zoom and Facebook Live details in the poster below.

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says 'Democracy Dialogues 3rd Lecture State of the Judiciary and Reforms Required Time: 20 Sep 2020 06:00 PM India Join us on Zoom!! Meeting ID: 848 2963 1643 Passcode: 799603 f fb.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi Live link: Prashant Bhushan Public Interest Lawyer and Civil Liberty Activist New Socialist Initiative A World for the Workers! A Future for the World'

[New Socialist Initiative Presents Democracy Dialogues – Lecture Series

The idea behind this series – which we call ‘Democracy Dialogues’ – is basically to initiate as well as join in the on-going conversation around this theme in academic as well as activist circles.

The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered by Prof Suhas Palshikar on 12 th July 2020. The theme of Prof Palshikar’s presentation was  TRAJECTORY OF INDIA’S DEMOCRACY AND CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES, Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta delivered the second lecture on THE STRUCTURAL CONTRADICTIONS OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY AND THE RISE OF THE BJP on 16 th August 2020 ]

Ethics of Selective Outrage – On Converting Mosques and Museums: Aejaz Ahmad and Irshad Rashid

Guest post by AEJAZ AHMAD and IRSHAD RASHID

What does turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque mean for global political practice? 

In an unusally brazen move Turkey’s top court recently ruled in favour of transforming Hagia Sophia, a museum of global tourist attraction, into a mosque. Originally a cathedral built in pre-Islamic Turkey but converted into a mosque when Ottomans invaded Constantinople in 1453, with the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire, Attaturk transformed it into a museum in 1934 as a secular gesture to herald what is called modern secular Turkey. This was more recently followed by  transforming another historic Chora Church, that went exactly through the same iteration, into yet another mosque.

Continue reading Ethics of Selective Outrage – On Converting Mosques and Museums: Aejaz Ahmad and Irshad Rashid

People from across Professions and Continents Come out In Solidarity with K. Satyanarayana

UPDATE

Signatures kept coming in even as we closed the campaign in order to collate them. We are adding at the end of the statement, some names received between our closing and releasing the statement to the media. We are aware that there are many more who wanted to sign but we had to close it, in order to release the statement on time. 

We reproduce below a statement signed by over 720 signatories, in solidarity with Prof K. Satyanarayana, who has been summoned by the NIA today, along with senior journalist KV Kurmanath.

The signatories, from across different professions, include luminaries such as Professors Noam Chomsky, Barbara Harris-White, Jan Breman, Susie Tharu, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Prabhat Patnaik, John Harris, Gyan Prakash, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan and Utsa Patnaik; leading writers and poets like K. Satchidanandan, Mridula Garg, Geeta Kapur and Gita Hariharan, artists like Sudhir Patwardhan and Vivan Sundaram.

It is an expression of the great respect that Prof K Satyanarayana commands among different sections of people, including a large number of students, that so many people added their names to this statement of solidarity in such  a short time.

We, the undersigned academics, journalists and concerned citizens strongly condemn the fresh round of harassment and arrests of academics and activists by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is trying to implicate them in the Bhima Koregaon case. After Partho Sarathi Ray, the NIA has now summoned Prof Satyanarayana and senior journalist KV Kurmanath to appear before it on 9 September. And even as these summons were being served, the NIA has also arrested Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor of the Kabir Kala Manch in connection with the same case.

Dr. K. Satyanarayana is Professor at the Department of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. He has been instrumental in establishing Dalit Studies as an academic discipline and has a formidable reputation as a scholar and teacher.

Continue reading People from across Professions and Continents Come out In Solidarity with K. Satyanarayana

Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

The bias that social media platforms such as Facebook display reflects their own world-view as much as it does the regimes they support.

Corporate Social Media in India

A few gave the appearance of being truly psychopathic individuals. The mass of others were ragged and illiterate peasants easily roused to hatred of the Tutsi. Perhaps the most sinister people I met were the educated political elite, men and women of charm and sophistication who spoke flawless French and who could engage in long philosophical debates about the nature of war and democracy. But they shared one thing in common with the soldiers and the peasants: they were drowning in the blood of their fellow countrymen.

Fergal Kane, a journalist with the BBC, wrote these chilling lines in his book, Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey, winner of the Orwell prize in 1995. The organised and planned killing in Rwanda, one of the darkest episodes of the 20th century, resulted in the death of eight lakh Tutsi.

It is a strange coincidence that a year and a half before these unfortunate developments, the biggest democracy in the world went through its own cataclysmic moment, when Hindutva supremacist forces demolished a 500-year-old mosque after a long and bloody campaign. Even after the demolition large-scale communal riots broke out all over India, in which thousands died and whose scars are still difficult to heal.

There is at least one thing in common between what Rwanda went through and what India witnessed in 1992: both tragedies demonstrated how the media can prepare and provoke ordinary people into unleashing untold miseries on their neighbours. Continue reading Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

Muscular Law Reform in Times of a Pandemic: Pratiksha Baxi

Guest Post by PRATIKSHA BAXI

In May 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a Committee to recommend reforms in criminal laws in India with NLU Delhi.  The National Level Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws (henceforth, the NLUD Committee) is to review and recommend changes to the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act in 90 odd days. On 26 June 2020, responses were solicited from experts on ‘questionnaires highlighting issues in the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Indian Evidence Act’ for which experts were invited to register. The Committee has uploaded a questionnaire, extended time for experts to reply and announced concessional consultation with non-experts. 68 Bare Acts, and 89 Law Commission Reports, along with some links and some op-eds by committee members are uploaded on the website, as resources for experts. The Open Consultation can be accessed for a period of two months starting from 17 July 2020  to 16 September 2020. This process is virtual since the process of reviewing and revising criminal law is being performed during a pandemic.

Continue reading Muscular Law Reform in Times of a Pandemic: Pratiksha Baxi

Are Central Universities Modern-Day Agraharams?

A caste-based society will overcome legal codes that make equality the norm unless people actively bring change.

Are Central Universities

Will we ever know the category-wise distribution of vice chancellors of the forty central universities located across the country? Thanks to the rules governing these universities, and those of the University Grants Commission, there is no such record.

This form of “castelessness” at the top is coupled with marginal representation of teachers from socially and physically marginalised sections. Be it the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes the Other Backward Classes or persons with disabilities, they are hardly ever appointed to teaching posts in central universities. A marker of the invisibilisation of these social groups is the fact that up to 96.65% of the posts of professor meant for candidates from these categories were unfilled on 1 January 2020.

This was discovered by a Delhi University teacher, who sought the information from the UGC under the Right to Information Act. More than 82% posts of professors meant for Scheduled Caste candidates, 93.98% posts meant for Scheduled Tribes and 96.65% posts meant for OBCs still remain vacant. The situation for associate professors is equally dismal, though there are fewer vacant posts of assistant professors for OBCs.

Any news can go viral these days but this explosive disclosure, which raises questions about recruitment procedures and their inherent biases was barely noticed. An explanation is that such news has lost its novelty. Perhaps everybody is aware of the metamorphosis of central universities into a new kind of Agraharam or abode of elite castes.

( Read the full article here)

क्या राम मंदिर की आड़ में अपनी विफलताएं छिपा रही है मोदी सरकार

यह मानने के पर्याप्त आधार हैं कि राम मंदिर के भूमि पूजन के लिए चुना गया यह समय एक छोटी रेखा के बगल में बड़ी रेखा खींचने की क़वायद है, ताकि नरेंद्र मोदी और उनकी सरकार की बढ़ती असफलताएं जैसे- कोविड कुप्रबंधन, बदहाल होती अर्थव्यवस्था और गलवान घाटी प्रसंग- इस परदे के पीछे चले जाएं.

Ayodhya: A hoarding of PM Narendra Modi and other leaders put up beside a statue of Lord Hanuman, ahead of the foundation laying ceremony of Ram Temple, in Ayodhya, Thursday, July 30, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI30-07-2020 000044B)

अयोध्या में राम मंदिर के भूमि पूजन से पहले लगा प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी और अन्य नेताओं का एक होर्डिंग. (फोटो: पीटीआई)

बीते दिनों जनाब उद्धव ठाकरे द्वारा अयोध्या में राम मंदिर के प्रस्तावित भूमि पूजन को लेकर जो सुझाव दिया गया है, वह गौरतलब है.

मालूम हो कि आयोजकों की तरफ से जिन लोगों को इसके लिए न्योता दिया गया है, उसमें महाराष्ट्र के मुख्यमंत्री का नाम भी शामिल है, उसी संदर्भ में उन्होंने इस बात पर जोर दिया है कि ‘ई-भूमि पूजन किया जा सकता है और भूमि पूजन समारोह को वीडियो कॉन्फ्रेंसिंग के जरिये भी अंजाम दिया जा सकता है.’

उनका कहना है कि इस कार्यक्रम में लाखों लोग शामिल होना चाहेंगे और क्या उन्हें वहां पहुंचने से रोका जा सकता है? कोरोना महामारी को लेकर देश-दुनिया भर में जो संघर्ष अभी जारी है और जहां धार्मिक सम्मेलनों पर पाबंदी बनी हुई है, ऐसे में उनकी बात गौरतलब है.

गौर करें कि ऐसा आयोजन जिसका लाइव टेलीकास्ट भी किया जाएगा, कोई चाहे न चाहे देश में जगह जगह जनता के अच्छे-खासे हिस्से को सड़कों पर उतरने के लिए प्रेरित करेगा.

और अगर दक्षिणपंथी जमातें इस बारे में अतिसक्रियता दिखा दें तो फिर जगह जगह भीड़ बेकाबू भी हो सकती है और केंद्र सरकार और गृह मंत्रालय द्वारा जारी गाइडलाइंस की भी धज्जियां उड़ सकती हैं.

( Read the complete article here)

 

Release Prof Hany Babu – A Statement of Solidarity from his Students

We are publishing below a statement by about 350 current and former students of Hany Babu, condemning his arrest on cooked up charges, and expressing solidarity with him.  

Students’ Statement of Solidarity: Release Prof. Hany Babu

We, the undersigned former and current students of Prof Hany Babu M.T., condemn his arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday and stand in firm solidarity with him. Prof. Babu is a noted academic, a well known anti-caste activist, and a member of the committee formed for the defence of G.N. Saibaba, a former Delhi University professor who is over 90% disabled, and wheelchair bound. Prof. Babu has maintained his innocence since the illegal raid at his Noida apartment last year in September by Pune police. The raid, which was conducted without a warrant, resulted in the Pune Police confiscating Prof. Babu’s laptop, mobile phones, two booklets printed for the G.N. Saibaba defence committee and two books which are publicly available in bookstores and libraries. The nature of his alleged ‘crime’ remains unclear because the NIA’s warrant is, in our opinion, deliberately vague with clearly fabricated accusations. According to news reports, the ‘evidence’ that has apparently led to Prof Babu’s arrest was based off of an e folder on his hard disk. He was, however, not given a hash value for his laptop. 

We believe this is a direct attack on education, activists and the academic space at large.     It is outrageous that on 23rd June Prof. Babu was summoned to Mumbai from Noida during a pandemic. His summon and arrest cannot be seen in isolation. Activists like Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, Gulfisha Fatima and Sharjeel Usmani were also arrested during the ongoing pandemic which mandates social distancing. Overcrowded jails have now become the new Covid19 hotspots. Activists arrested earlier, like Sharjeel Imam, Akhil Gogoi, and Varavara Rao, and, according to recent news reports, many other prisoners, have also tested Covid positive.  

We demand Prof. Babu’s immediate release, and reaffirm our complete solidarity with our Professor, Dr. Hany Babu. We also demand the release of all political prisoners who were arrested in cases related to the Elgar-Parishad, as well as the anti-CAA protestors booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act, which makes bail almost impossible under medical and humanitarian grounds despite the ongoing pandemic. Continue reading Release Prof Hany Babu – A Statement of Solidarity from his Students

आज़ाद जनतंत्र में सत्तर साल बाद भी वेल्लोर से विरमगाम तक श्मशान भूमि से वंचित हैं दलित

क्या कोई जानता है 21वीं सदी की शुरुआत में चकवारा के दलितों के एक अहम संघर्ष को? जयपुर से बमुश्किल पचास किलोमीटर दूर चकवारा के दलितों ने गांव के सार्वजनिक तालाब पर समान हक पाने के लिए इस संघर्ष को आगे बढ़ाया था। अठारह साल का वक्फा गुजर गया जब दलितों ने इस संघर्ष में जीत हासिल की थी, जिसमें तमाम मानवाधिकार संगठनों एवं प्रगतिशील लोगों ने भी उनका साथ दिया था। (सितम्बर 2002)

विश्लेषकों को याद होगा कि इस संघर्ष में तमाम लोगों को डॉ. अम्बेडकर द्वारा शुरू किए गए ऐतिहासिक महाड़ सत्याग्रह की झलक दिखायी दी थी जब मार्च 1927 में हजारों दलित एवं अन्य मानवाधिकारप्रेमी महाड़ के चवदार तालाब पर जुलूस की शक्ल में गए थे और वहां उन्होंने पानी पीया था। जानवरों को वहां पानी पीने से कोई मना नहीं करता था, मगर दलितों को रोका जाता था। (ज्‍यादा जानकारी के लिए देखें: Mahad – The Making of the First Dalit Revolt – Dr Anand Teltumbde, Navayana)

चकवारा में बाद में क्या हुआ इसके बारे में तो अधिकतर लोग नहीं जानते होंगे।

Continue reading आज़ाद जनतंत्र में सत्तर साल बाद भी वेल्लोर से विरमगाम तक श्मशान भूमि से वंचित हैं दलित

No End to Humiliation of Dalits Even After Death

The attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men is yet to develop in India.

No End to Humiliation of Dalits

Does anybody still remember the Dalits of Chakwara, a village around 50km from Jaipur in Rajasthan, who had launched a struggle to gain access to the pond in their village? It is more than 18 years since the Dalits, supported by human rights organisations, won that fight for water. Their undertaking had echoes with the historic struggle launched by Dr BR Ambedkar in March 1927 at Chavdar tank at Mahad to assert the equal rights of Dalits to water. It is well known to most people that while animals were allowed to use the water of this tank in present-day Raigad district of the state, the Dalits were not. Anand Teltumbde has described the events of this satyagraha in his book, Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt, published by Navayana in 2016.

But what happened at Chakwara after the Dalits started using the village pond is hardly known: the upper castes slowly stopped using the water from the pond once the Dalits gained access to it, saying it had become “impure”. Enraged by the assertion of the Dalits and keen to humiliate them for it, they dug up the village sewer and directed the waste water to their own village pond. There is no change in the status quo there.

Around 700km away, in Viramgam near Ahmedabad in Gujarat, a village cemetery used by Dalits was recently flooded with sewer water, a stark reminder that the gap of two decades has not changed the caste scenario in the country. The executioners of this sinister plan in Viramgam were the residents of two housing societies in which the well-off and educated middle classes live. For more than the last six months, the graves of the socially-disadvantaged Vankar, Chamar, Rohit, Dangasia, Shetwa and other communities have been surrounded by dirty water. The district administration did not intervene on behalf of the Dalits despite their repeated complaints. The fact that dignity after death is being denied to marginalised communities did not seem to rouse the administration.

( Read the full text here)

Statement on the Arrest of a Survivor of Sexual Assault in Araria, Bihar: Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association

15.7.2020

Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association (AUDFA is alarmed to hear of and strongly condemns the arrest of a survivor of gang rape along with two social workers (including former AUD student Tanmay Nivedita), at the office of the Judicial Magistrate (1st Class) in Araria, Bihar on 10 July 2020. The arrest was ordered during the course of recording of the survivors’ statement under section 164 CrPC in relation to a case of gang rape which took place just days earlier, on 6 July 2020.

It is further disturbing that the hon’ble court appears to have registered offence at the fact that the survivor sought the presence and support of two social workers prior to actually signing her statement under section 164 CrPC in the said case. The right of a survivor of sexual assault/rape to the presence of caregivers for psychological support is well established and is specifically noted in the Justice Verma Committee Report (2013, Appendix 8). Instead of recognising the right of the survivor to psychological support, the Judicial Magistrate, Araria District, thought it fit to order the arrest of the survivor and the two social workers under sections of the IPC, including 353 and 228, on grounds of “obstructing the work of public servants”.

The absence of sensitivity in dealing with cases of sexual assault, and the unfortunate use of power to discipline a survivor of gang rape for seeking psychological and social support at a time of deep trauma, lays bare the deeply worrisome reality of the functioning of the criminal justice system that survivors of sexual assault face on a regular basis. AUDFA unequivocally condemns these arrests and stands in solidarity with the arrested persons.

वरवर राव को रिहा करो!

भीमा कोरेगाँव मामले तथा अन्य सभी मामलों में विचाराधीन लेखकों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को रिहा करो !

(न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनिशिएटिव, जन संस्कृति मंच, दलित लेखक संघ, प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ, जनवादी लेखक संघ, जन नाट्य मंच, इप्टा, प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा और संगवारी की ओर से जारी साझा  बयान )

State trying to kill Varavara Rao in jail, he needs immediate ...

( Photo Courtesy : New Indian Express)

‘…कब डरता है दुश्मन कवि से ?

जब कवि के गीत अस्त्र बन जाते हैं

वह कै़द कर लेता है कवि को ।

फाँसी पर चढ़ाता है

फाँसी के तख़्ते के एक ओर होती है सरकार

दूसरी ओर अमरता

कवि जीता है अपने गीतों में

और गीत जीता है जनता के हृदयों में।’

–वरवर राव, बेंजामिन मोलेस की याद में, 1985

देश और दुनिया भर में उठी आवाज़ों के बाद अन्ततः 80 वर्षीय कवि वरवर राव को मुंबई के जे जे अस्पताल में शिफ्ट कर दिया गया है। राज्य की असंवेदनशीलता और निर्दयता का इससे बड़ा सबूत क्या होगा कि जिस काम को क़ैदियों के अधिकारों का सम्मान करते हुए राज्य द्वारा खुद ही अंजाम दिया जाना था, उसके लिए लोगों, समूहों को आवाज़ उठानी पड़ी। Continue reading वरवर राव को रिहा करो!

जातिगत भेदभाव को लेकर कब ख़त्म होगा भारतीयों का दोहरापन

भारतीयों के मन में व्याप्त दोहरापन यही है कि वह ऑस्ट्रेलिया में भारतीय छात्रों पर होने वाली ज़्यादतियों से उद्वेलित दिखते हैं, पर अपने यहां के संस्थानों में आए दिन दलित-आदिवासी या अल्पसंख्यक छात्रों के साथ होने वाली ज़्यादतियों को सहजबोध का हिस्सा मानकर चलते हैं.

(फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

(फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

‘जाति समस्या- सैद्धांतिक और व्यावहारिक तौर पर एक विकराल मामला है. व्यावहारिक तौर पर देखें तो वह एक ऐसी संस्था है जो प्रचंड परिणामों का संकेत देती है. वह एक स्थानीय समस्या है, लेकिन एक ऐसी समस्या जो बड़ी क्षति को जन्म दे सकती है. जब तक भारत में जाति अस्तित्व में है, हिंदुओं के लिए यह संभव नहीं होगा कि वह अंतरजातीय विवाह करें या बाहरी लोगों के साथ सामाजिक अंतर्क्रिया बढ़ाएं. और अगर हिंदू पृथ्वी के दूसरे हिस्सों में पहुंचते हैं, तो फिर भारतीय जाति विश्व समस्या बनेगी.’

– डॉ. बीआर आंबेडकर (1916)

वर्ष 1916 के मई महीने में कोलंबिया विश्वविद्यालय में मानव वंशशास्त्र विभाग में सेमिनार में डॉ. आंबेडकर ने ‘भारत में जाति- उनकी प्रणाली, उनका उद्गम और विकास’ (Castes In India- Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development) पर अपना पेपर पढ़ा था.

पेपर पढ़ते हुए उन्होंने इस बात की भविष्यवाणी की थी कि किस तरह एक दिन जाति विश्व समस्या भी बनेगी, उनके बोल थे, ‘अगर हिंदू दुनिया के दूसरे हिस्सों में पहुंचते हैं, तो फिर भारतीय जाति विश्व समस्या बनेगी.’

उनके इस वक्तव्य के 104 साल बाद उसी अमेरिका के कैलिफोर्निया से आई यह खबर इसी बात की ताईद करती है.

ध्यान रहे कैलीफोर्निया राज्य सरकार की तरफ से वहां की एक अग्रणी बहुदेशीय कंपनी सिस्को सिस्टम्स के खिलाफ दायर एक मुकदमे के बहाने यही बात नए सिरे से उजागर हुई है, जिसका फोकस वहां कार्यरत एक दलित इंजीनियर के साथ वहां तैनात दो कथित ऊंची जाति के इंजीनियर द्वारा जातिगत भेदभाव की घटना से है. Continue reading जातिगत भेदभाव को लेकर कब ख़त्म होगा भारतीयों का दोहरापन

Gendering the Pandemic in the Prison: Pratiksha Baxi, Navsharan Singh

Excerpts from an article published in The India Forum. Link to whole article given below.

A powerful analysis of the injustice of the prison system in India (in which 70 percent of the incarcerated are under trial), the authors PRATIKSHA BAXI and NAVSHARAN KAUR make an argument for recognizing women, as well as gender and sexual minorities, as ‘custodial’ minorities.   

We argue that all women inmates may be defined “custodial” minorities. As per the 2020 statistics we collated, there are 68 persons incarcerated under the category “others”. No grave threat is posed to society by UTPs belonging to sexual and gender minorities that non-custodial alternatives cannot be found for them, while they wait for investigations and trials to be over. And alternatives to prison system need to be innovated for all convicted women, and gender and sexual minorities. There does not seem to be an attempt to recognise that their right to health and life is made far more precarious in a transphobic prison-medical complex. They must be counted and accounted for…

All women in prisons without distinction of charge, crime or sentence, whether pregnant, lactating, menstruating or menopausal, differently abled or ailing may be thought of as “custodial” minorities. Muslim women face terrible targeting and blame, as do Dalit women who face intolerable discrimination and bear the brunt of misuse of law against them. Similarly, Muslim and Dalit male undertrials are also subjected to sexualised forms of torture in police and judicial custody. And policies that exclude foreigners from interim bail position them as custodial minorities, who face institutionalised racism. However, the law has difficulty in “seeing” these prison inmates, especially undertrials, as custodial minorities.

Continue reading Gendering the Pandemic in the Prison: Pratiksha Baxi, Navsharan Singh

Shadow of Laxmanpur Bathe on Bihar Election

An unpredictable element has found a new lease of life thanks to the coming Assembly election.

Laxmanpur Bathe on Bihar Election

The outlawed Ranvir Sena—the private army of upper caste landlords of Bihar—is in the news again. It recently threatened the Bihar chief of the Bhim Army, Gaurav Siraj, and one of its activists, Ved Prakash, through a Facebook post. The so-called army has “ordered” its “sainiks” to “arrest” him dead or alive. The sena is apparently peeved over how the young dynamic leader of the Ambedkarite organisation has described Brahmeshwar Singh, their slain “Mukhiya” who was killed in 2012.

Will there be any action against those who have threatened the young leader? If history is any guide then there is little possibility of this.

Merely two years ago, Nawal Kishor Kumar, Editor Hindi, Forward Press was targeted by this “sena”. The aggrieved journalist had lodged a police complaint but there has been no progress in the investigation.

It is not that there is no law to punish such miscreants. Social media posts of the threatening kind relate to various offences under the Indian Penal Code, from criminal intimidation punishable under section 503 to section 505 related to creating mischief in public, to section 506 which awards punishment for criminal intimidation and section 153A which relates to penalties for promoting enmity between different groups and so on. In fact, based on its activities, the Ranvir Sena is also liable to be prosecuted under section 3 of the Bihar Control of Crimes Act, section 3 of the Arms Act and section 3 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.”

( Read the full text here)

Treacherous Road to Make Manu History

Even today the attempt is to whitewash Manusmriti, not shun it. But all is not lost as the ripples of Black Lives Matter have reached Indian shores.

manusmiriti ambedkar hindutva

It was 1927, the second phase of the historic Mahad Satyagrah was on, and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar led thousands of people in burning the Manusmriti, an act he compared with the French Revolution of 1789. Time and again, in speeches and writings, he categorically opposed the world-view of Manu, the legendary figure to whom are attributed the tenets of the Manusmriti, said to be dated to around 100 CE.

In the book written by scholar and activist Anand Teltumbde, Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt, published by Navayana in 2017, is recorded the resolution which was proposed by the social activist Gangadhar Sahasrabuddhe, and then read out at the Mahad Satyagrah. It states that the firm opinion of this conference is that the Manusmriti, “taking into consideration its verses which undermined the Shudra caste, thwarted their progress, and made their social, political and economic slavery permanent…is not worthy of becoming a religious or a sacred book. And in order to give expression to this opinion, this conference is performing the cremation rites of such a religious book which has been divisive of people and destroyer of humanity.”

Twenty three years later, Dr Ambedkar marked the promulgation of the Constitution of India as the “end of the rule by Manu”. And yet, 70 years thereafter, a significant section of Indians are still fascinated by Manu and have no qualms in venerating him. Even the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and large parts of Europe, in which statues of slave-owners and colonialists are being knocked down or disfigured, the Indian followers of Manu have no regrets about deifying him.

( Read the full article here)

कोविड संक्रमण की चेन तोड़ने के लिए मलप्पुरम ने नई ज़मीन तोड़ी है

आज जब पूरे देश में धार्मिक स्थलों को खोला जा रहा है, तब बीते दिनों ‘सांप्रदायिक’ होने का इल्ज़ाम झेलने वाले केरल के मलप्पुरम ज़िले ने अपनी अलग राह चुनी है. कोरोना के बढ़ते मामलों के मद्देनज़र वहां की पांच हज़ार मस्जिदों को अनिश्चितकाल तक बंद रखने समेत कई धार्मिक स्थलों को न खोलने का फ़ैसला लिया गया है.

Minara masjid wears a deserted look on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramzan, amid unprecedented circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide lockdown, in Mumbai. PTI

लॉकडाउन के दौरान बंद एक मस्जिद. (फाइल फोटो: पीटीआई)

मलप्पुरम, केरल के एकमात्र मुस्लिम बहुल जिले, जहां उनकी आबादी 75 फीसदी है, ने एक इतिहास रचा. तय किया गया है कि जिले की 5,000 मस्जिदें अनिश्चितकाल के लिए बंद रहेंगी.

इस निर्णय के पीछे का तर्क समझने लायक है. क्योंकि राज्य में कोरोना वायरस संक्रमण के मामले बढ़ते दिख रहे हैं, इसलिए यह तय करना मुनासिब समझा गया कि उसके दरवाजे श्रद्धालुओं के लिए बंद ही रहें.

जाने-माने इस्लामिक विद्वान पनक्कड सययद सादिक अली शिहाब थंगल, जो इंडियन यूनियन मुस्लिम लीग के जिला अध्यक्ष हैं, उन्होंने इस खबर को मीडिया के एक हिस्से में साझा किया.

इस तरह जबकि बाकी मुल्क में प्रार्थनास्थल, धार्मिक स्थलों को खोला जा रहा है, मलप्पुरम ने अपनी अलग राह चुनी है.

इस बात पर जोर देना जरूरी है कि आठ मुस्लिम संप्रदायों (denomination) की उस बैठक में, जहां 9 जून के बाद प्रार्थनास्थलों को खोलने के सरकारी निर्णय पर विचार करना था, यह फैसला एकमत से लिया गया.

सभी इस बात पर सहमत थे कि उन्हें इस छूट का इस्तेमाल नहीं करना चाहिए. एक ऐसे वक्त में जबकि कोविड-19 के मामले सूबे में बढ़ रहे हों, मस्जिद कमेटियों और धार्मिक नेताओं ने यह जरूरत महसूस की कि उन्हें सतर्कता बरतनी चाहिए.

खबरें यह भी आ रही हैं कि न केवल मस्जिदें बल्कि इलाके के कई मंदिरों और चर्च ने भी उन्हें तत्काल खोलना नहीं तय किया है.

मिसाल के तौर पर, श्री कदमपुजा भगवती मंदिर जो मलप्पुरम में है तथा श्री तिरूनेल्ली मंदिर जो वायनाड में है, वह बंद रहेंगे.

नायर सर्विस सोसायटी से संबंधित मंदिर भी 30 जून तक नहीं खुलेंगे. एर्नाकुलम-अंगमाली आर्चडाओसिस ऑफ सिरो मलबार चर्च ने भी तय किया है कि उसके मातहत चर्च 30 जून तक बंद रहेंगे.

निस्संदेह इस बात को लेकर इलाके के लोगों में गहरा एहसास दिख रहा है कि राज्य ने जिन भी सावधानियों को बरतने की बात की हो, स्पेशल ऑपरेटिंग प्रोसिजर्स का ऐलान किया है, हकीकत में उन पर अमल करना नामुमकिन होगा लिहाजा कोविड-19 के समुदाय आधारित संक्रमण की संभावना बनी रहेगी.

( Read the full article here)

Statement against the arrest of Pinjra Tod Activists, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal: Students Against Fascism, Johns Hopkins University

Statement by Students Against Fascism, Johns Hopkins University, USA. Students Against Fascism is a group of international students at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA), which aims to build solidarities against fascism across borders.

We have been deeply saddened by the recent arrests of Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, the founding members of the Feminist group, Pinjra Tod. At a time, when the entire country has been dealing with the pandemic of COVID-19 and the economic hardships of the lockdown, it is of extreme concern to see that the Indian state is selectively targeting the human rights activists who have been raising their voices against the pro-Hindutva fascist policies of the Indian state.

It is abundantly clear that these arrests are a part of the series of the crackdown on the activists, who have particularly been vocal against the CAA and anti-Muslim violence in north-east of Delhi, including Umar Khalid, being threatened with sedition charges alongside other protestors like Shifa-ur-Rahman, President of Jamia Alumni Association and Zafarul Khan, Chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission. In connection with this, it is also extremely disturbing to see the arrest of student activists Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Asif Iqbal Tanha of Jamia Milia Islamia University and activists Gulfisha Fatima, Khalid Saifi and Ishrat Jahan, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. This arbitrary branding of students and activists, particularly Muslim and women student activists, as “terrorists”, instead of investigating into the anti-Muslim violence in north-east Delhi and bringing the perpetrators to justice indicates the deepening of authoritarian tendencies in the Indian state. Pinjra Tod’s Natasha and Devangana’s arrests are the latest examples of this dangerous trajectory. Continue reading Statement against the arrest of Pinjra Tod Activists, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal: Students Against Fascism, Johns Hopkins University

Crisis for the People, Opportunity for the Corporate-Government Nexus : NSI

Statement of New Socialist Initiative (NSI) on India’s ‘war against Covid 19’

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Today, India has emerged as a new epicentre for the novel corona virus in the Asia Pacific region.With 1,58,333 confirmed cases of Covid 19 and deaths of total of 4,531 people after contracting the virus, it has already crossed China’s Covid-19 numbers.

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New Socialist Initiative (NSI) feels that the grim news of steadily rising infections and fatalities reveal before everyone a worrying pattern but the government either seems to be oblivious of the situation or has decided to shut its eyes. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Union government has used incomplete national-level data to justify arbitrary policy decisions, defend its record and underplay the extent of Covid-19 crisis.

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Absence of transparency vis-a-vis data collection of Covid infection levels could be said to be the tip of the iceberg of what has gone wrong with India’s ‘war against Covid 19’.
The Prime Minister’s announcement of a 21-day countrywide lock down came with a mere four-hour notice. It was done without engaging in any collective decision-making process with states to honour and enhance the spirit of “cooperative federalism” between the Centre and the States. Continue reading Crisis for the People, Opportunity for the Corporate-Government Nexus : NSI

असहमति के दमन के लिए मानवाधिकार-कर्मियों और लेखकों-पत्रकारों की गिरफ्तारियों का सिलसिला बंद करो! 

राजनीतिक उत्पीड़न और साम्प्रदायिक ध्रुवीकरण के लिए तालाबंदी के इस्तेमाल के ख़िलाफ़ सांस्कृतिक-सामाजिक संगठनों का संयुक्त आह्वान

महामारी से मुक्ति के लिए जनएकजुटता का निर्माण करो!

तालाबंदी के दौरान जेलबंदी

महामारी और तालाबंदी के इस दौर में समूचे देश का ध्यान एकजुट होकर बीमारी का मुक़ाबला करने पर केन्द्रित है.

लेकिन इसी समय देश के जाने माने बुद्धिजीवियों, स्वतंत्र पत्रकारों, हाल ही के सीएए-विरोधी आन्दोलन में सक्रिय रहे राजनीतिक कार्यकर्ताओं और अल्पसंख्यक समुदाय के युवाओं की ताबड़तोड़ गिरफ़्तारियों ने नागरिक समाज की चिंताएं बढ़ा दी हैं.

बुद्धिजीवियों और राजनैतिक कार्यकर्ताओं की गिरफ़्तारियां सरकारी काम में बाधा डालने (धरने पर बैठने) जैसे गोलमोल आरोपों में और  अधिकतर विवादास्पद यूएपीए क़ानून के तहत की जा रही हैं. यूएपीए कानून आतंकवाद से निपटने के लिए लाया गया था. यह विशेष क़ानून ‘विशेष परिस्थिति में’ संविधान  द्वारा नागरिकों को दिए गए मौलिक अधिकारों को परिसीमित करता है. जाहिर है, इस क़ानून का इस्तेमाल केवल उन्हीं मामलों में किया जाना चाहिए जिनका सम्बन्ध आतंकवाद की किसी वास्तविक परिस्थिति से हो. दूसरी तरह के मामलों में इसे लागू करना संविधान के साथ छल करना है. संविधान लोकतंत्र में राज्य की सत्ता के समक्ष नागरिक के जिस अधिकार की गारंटी करता है, उसे समाप्त कर लोकतंत्र को सर्वसत्तावाद में बदल देना है.

गिरफ्तारियों के लगातार जारी सिलसिले में सबसे ताज़ा नाम जेएनयू की दो छात्राओं, देवांगना  कलिता और नताशा नरवाल के हैं. दोनों शोध-छात्राएं प्रतिष्ठित नारीवादी आन्दोलन ‘पिंजरा तोड़’ की संस्थापक सदस्य भी हैं.  इन्हें पहले ज़ाफ़राबाद धरने में अहम भूमिका अदा करने के नाम पर 23 मई को गिरफ्तार किया गया. अगले ही दिन अदालत से जमानत मिल जाने पर तुरंत अपराध शाखा की स्पेशल ब्रांच द्वारा क़त्ल और दंगे जैसे आरोपों के तहत गिरफ़्तार कर लिया गया ताकि अदालत उन्हें पूछ-ताछ के लिए पुलिस कस्टडी में भेज दे. आख़िरकार उन्हें दो दिन की पुलिस कस्टडी में भेज दिया गया है. Continue reading असहमति के दमन के लिए मानवाधिकार-कर्मियों और लेखकों-पत्रकारों की गिरफ्तारियों का सिलसिला बंद करो! 

Community-Based Mapping of Covid: Nothing Official About it

No doubt the clarification that India will not map Covid-19 infections on the basis of religion has many heaving sighs of relief. But will the peace last?

Community-Based Mapping of Covid: Nothing Official About it

Image Courtesy: AP

Move for community-based mapping of coronavirus?” a recent news item in a prestigious daily asked, getting tongues wagging about “closed-door meetings at the highest level”, though no “official” decision had been taken in themThe Ministry of Health declared that any such news is “baseless, incorrect and irresponsible”. Lav Agarwal, the top bureaucrat in the ministry—who interacts with the media on Covid-related developments—called such news reports “…very irresponsible”. “The virus does not see people’s caste, creed or religion,” he said, quoting the Supreme Court’s directions on controlling non-factual or fake news.

No doubt the official clarification has many heaving sighs of relief.

The relief is understandable, because it was only last month—when the Novel Coronavirus pandemic had started taking a toll—that Muslims were being stigmatised as “super-spreaders” of the disease.

Taking a grim view of the situation, in its press conference o6 April, the World Health Organisation had given the Indian government some simple advice. The WHO said, in response to an India-specific question, that countries should not profile Covid-19 infections in religious, racial or ethnic terms. The WHO Emergency Programme Director Mike Ryan also underlined that every positive case should be considered a victim.

( Read the full article here)