Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army Formed Amidst Continuing Repression

Image courtesy Indian Express

Even as the state government’s repression on Bhim Army continues, most of its leaders still in jail and some forced to leave Saharanpur, a committee has been formed for the defense of Bhim Army. (For background information, please see the ‘Note on Bhim Army’, appended at the end of this post, which carries links to informative videos as well). A group of activists and committed lawyers have been following up the legal struggle practically at their own expense – which at the moment involves getting the arrested activists, including the founder-President Chandrashekhar out of bail as the topmost priority. Some of the activists have started getting bail many still remain, including just ordinary people simply picked up by the people and framed by the police as Bhim Army activists.

However, getting the jailed activists out on bail is simply the first step in a long battle. The deliberate campaign of vilification that has been going on about Bhim Army has tried to paint the organization as ‘antinational’ and ‘instigators of violence’ who apparently have ‘Naxalite’ connections. Even though none of this could be substantiated and thus brought by the police into their charges against the jailed activists, the campaign of demonization has nevertheless continued through some sections of the media. Needless to say, such misleading campaign is meant to incite popular feelings against such groups who have been working mainly for education and self respect among the Dalit population in their area. Such a campaign of vilification cannot but affect the chances of wining the legal battle as well. It also ends up driving people who may have initially been sympathetic to their cause by sowing doubts about them in the popular mind.

It is with this concern in mind that a large number of citizens from different walks of life have come together to form the Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army, in order to mobilize all possible support for the embattled activists.

The Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army has been constituted comprising the following members from different walks of life:

Coordinators: Pradeep Narwal and Sanjeev Mathur

Treasurers: Presenjit Gautam and Nakul Singh Sawhney

  1. Anand Teltumbde, Civil rights thinker and activist, Mumbai
  2. Jignesh Mewani, Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch
  3. Kancha Ilaiah, Political scientist, thinker and writer, Hyderabad
  4. Chandrabhan Prasad, Dalit thinker
  5. Radhika Ramaseshan, Senior journalist with Business Standard
  6. Harsh Mander, Human rights activist and Director, Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi
  7. Syeda Hamid, Former member, Planning Commission
  8. Om Thanvi, Senior journalist, former editor, Jansatta
  9. Sambhaji Bhagat, Cultural activist, Maharashtra
  10. Meera Velayudhan, Academic, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum
  11. Martin Macwan, Social activist, Gujarat
  12. Ratan Lal, Academic, Hindu College, Delhi University
  13. Sachin Mali, Cultural activist
  14. Sheetal Sathe, Cultural activist
  15. S.R Darapuri , Former IPS officer, social activist
  16. Colin Gonzalves, Lawyer
  17. Anand Patwardhan, Film maker
  18. Anil Chamadia, Journalist
  19. Subhash Gatade, Writer and social activist
  20. Akram Hassan, Social activist, Shamli
  21. Surender, Dalit youth activist, Delhi University
  22. N. Sukumar, Academic, Delhi University
  23. Rehana Adib, Social activist, Saharanpur
  24. Banojyotsna Lahiri, Academic and independent researcher
  25. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Actor
  26. Amar Singh, SC/ST Trade Union, Delhi University
  27. Dr. Mahesh Chandra, Bhim Army
  28. Sanjay Tegwal, Bhim Army
  29. Zakia Soman, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
  30. Presenjit Gautam, Jati Todo Manch, Ghaziabad
  31. Pradeep Narwal, Dalit youth activist, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  32. Saroj Giri, Academic, Delhi University
  33. Tushar Parmar, IRS
  34. Sanjeev Mathur, Journalist
  35. Nakul Singh Sawhney, Film maker
  36. Praveen Verma, Research scholar, Delhi University
  37. Aditya Nigam, Academic, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  38. Amar Paswan, Ambedkarvadi Chhatra Sabha, Gorakhpur
  39. Dhirendra, Poorvanchal Sena
  40. Anil Yadav, Rihai Manch
  41. Sagar Raghunath, Chhatra Bharati activist
  42. Dr J.K. Gautam, Doctor
  43. Dr. Sushil Kumar Gautam, Dalit Youth Activist, Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut

Continue reading “Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army Formed Amidst Continuing Repression”

The Heavy Footsteps of Brahmanical Dandaneethi : The Hadiya Case

 

It appears that for women in India, the modern judiciary is fading and in its place, the terrifying face of Brahmanical Dandaneethi is emerging. A ten year old rape victim is denied abortion, women fleeing dowry harassment are to submit to the rule of local elders and leaders of ‘family welfare committees’, and now, in the Hadiya case, the judges declared that unmarried daughters should be under their parents according to ‘Indian tradition’.

Read more:   https://thewire.in/169543/hadiya-islam-conversion-supreme-court/

 

Armed Forces Veterans Speak Out – ‘Act Now to Uphold the Constitution’

In the midst of all the cacophony and shrill pseudo-nationalist rhetoric that is destroying the fabric of a plural India, often in the name of the Armed Forces, 114 veterans of the Indian Armed Forces have spoken out. They have spoken out in no uncertain terms against targeted attacks on Muslims and Dalits and against the attempts to destroy the Constitution –  upon which arose the new, independent India.

An Open Letter from Veterans of the Armed Forces

To: the Prime Minister of India, Chief Ministers of the States, and Lieutenant-Governors of the Union Territories.

30 July, 2017

We are a group of Veterans of the Indian Armed Forces who have spent our careers working for the security of our country. Collectively, our group holds no affiliation with any single political party, our only common commitment being to the Constitution of India.

It saddens us to write this letter, but current events in India have compelled us to register our dismay at the divisiveness that is gripping our country. We stand with the ‘Not in My Name’ campaign that mobilised thousands of citizens across the country to protest against the current climate of fear, intimidation, hate and suspicion.

The Armed Forces stand for “Unity in Diversity”. Differences in religion, language, caste, culture or any other marker of belonging have not mattered to the cohesion of the Armed Forces, and servicemen of different backgrounds have fought shoulder to shoulder in the defence of our nation, as they continue to do today. Throughout our service, a sense of openness, justice and fair play guided our actions. We are one family. Our heritage is like the multi-coloured quilt that is India, and we cherish this vibrant diversity. Continue reading “Armed Forces Veterans Speak Out – ‘Act Now to Uphold the Constitution’”

प्रधानसेवक का मौन

ऊपर से शांत दिखने वाली भीड़ का हिंसक बन जाना अब हमारे वक्त़ की पहचान बन रहा है. विडंबना यही है कि ऐसी घटनाएं इस क़दर आम हो चली हैं कि किसी को कोई हैरानी नहीं होती.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi participates in the mass yoga demonstration at the Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan, on the occasion of the 3rd International Day of Yoga - 2017, in Lucknow on June 21, 2017.

15 वर्ष का जुनैद ख़ान, जिसकी चाहत थी कि इस बार ईद पर नया कुर्ता पाजामा, नया जूता पहने और इत्र लगा कर चले, लेकिन सभी इरादे धरे के धरे रहे गए. उसे शायद ही गुमान रहा होगा कि ईद की मार्केटिंग के लिए दिल्ली की उसकी यात्रा ज़िंदगी की आख़िरी यात्रा साबित होगी. दिल्ली बल्लभगढ़ लोकल ट्रेन पर जिस तरह जुनैद तथा उसके भाइयों को भीड़ ने बुरी तरह पीटा और फिर ट्रेन के नीचे फेंक दिया, वह ख़बर सुर्ख़ियां बनी है.

दिल्ली के एम्स अस्पताल में भरती उसका भाई शाकिर बताता है कि किस तरह भीड़ ने पहले उन्हें उनके पहनावे पर छेड़ना शुरू किया, बाद में गाली गलौज करने लगे और उन्हें गोमांस भक्षक कहने लगे और बात बात में उनकी पिटाई करने लगे. विडम्बना है कि समूची ट्रेन खचाखच भरी थी, मगर चार निरपराधों के इस तरह पीटे जाने को लेकर किसी ने कुछ नहीं बोला, अपने कान गोया ऐसे बंद किए कि कुछ हुआ ही न हो.

ट्रेन जब बल्लभगढ़ स्टेशन पर पहुंची तो भीड़ में से किसी ने अपने जेब से चाकू निकाल कर उन्हें घोंप दिया और अगले स्टेशन पर उतर कर चले गए. एक चैनल से बात करते हुए हमले का शिकार रहे मोहसिन ने बताया कि उन्होंने ट्रेन की चेन भी खींची थी, मगर उनकी पुकार सुनी नहीं गई. इतना ही नहीं, रेलवे पुलिस ने भी मामले में दखल देने की उनकी गुजारिश की अनदेखी की.

विडंबना ही है कि उधर बल्लभगढ़ की यह ख़बर सुर्ख़ियां बन रही थी, उसी वक़्त कश्मीर की राजधानी श्रीनगर की मस्जिद के बाहर सादी वर्दी में तैनात पुलिस अधिकारी को आक्रामक भीड़ द्वारा मारा जा रहा था. जुनैद अगर नए कपड़ों के लिए मुंतज़िर था तो अयूब पंडित को अपनी बेटी का इंतज़ार था जो बांगलादेश से पहुंचने वाली थी.

( Read the full article here : http://thewirehindi.com/12095/mob-lynching-and-india/)

धर्म का बोझ और बच्चे

आखिर जिन छोटे बच्चों को क़ानून वोट डालने का अधिकार नहीं देता, जीवनसाथी चुनने का अधिकार नहीं देता, उन्हें आध्यात्मिकता के नाम पर इस तरह जान जोखिम में डालने की अनुमति कैसे दी जा सकती है?

Aradhna Varshil

17 साल का वर्षिल शाह – जिसने 12 वीं की परीक्षा में 99.93 परसेन्टाइल हासिल किए, अब इतिहास हो गया है.

दुनिया उसे सुविरा महाराज नाम से जानेगी और वह अपने गुरु कल्याण रत्न विजय की तरह बाल भिक्खु में शुमार किया जाएगा, ऐसे लोग जिन्होंने बचपन में ही जैन धर्म की दीक्षा ली और ताउम्र जैन धर्म के प्रचार में मुब्तिला रहे.

बताया जा रहा है कि इन्कम टैक्स आफिसर पिता जिगरभाई शाह और मां अमीबेन शाह ने अपनी सन्तान को बिल्कुल ‘धार्मिक’ वातावरण में पाला था, उनके घर में टीवी या रेफ्रिजरेटर भी नहीं था और बिजली का इस्तेमाल भी बहुत जरूरी होने पर किया जाता था क्योंकि शाह दंपति का मानना था कि उर्जा निर्माण के दौरान पानी में रहने वाले जीव मर जाते हैं, जो जैन धर्म के अहिंसा के सिद्धांत के खिलाफ पड़ता है.

वर्षिल-जो अभी कानून के हिसाब से वयस्क नहीं हुआ है, जो वोट भी डाल नहीं सकता है, यहां तक कि अख़बारों में प्रकाशित उसकी तस्वीरों में मासूमियत से भरे उसके चेहरे को भी देखा जा सकता है- के इस हालिया फैसले ने बरबस तेरह साल की जैन समुदाय में जन्मी हैदराबाद की आराधना (जो चार माह से व्रत कर रही थी) के बहाने उठी बहस को नए सिरे से जिंदा किया है, जो पिछले साल खड़ी हुई थी.

( Read the full article here : http://thewirehindi.com/11503/monk-jain-bal-diksha-fasting/)

Elephants in the Room – Who Gets the Autonomy in Autonomous Colleges? : Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

In February this year, University of Delhi officials invited chairpersons of the six best known colleges to apply for  autonomy. So far, only the governing body of St Stephen’s College has reacted, authorising its principal to take up the application process. Teachers and staff associations of the university, DUTA (Delhi University Teachers’ Association) and DUCKU (Delhi University Karamchari Union), are against the move. Besides affecting the working conditions of faculty and staff, college autonomy has bearing on the academic content of undergraduate learning. It is surprising that many of the academic red flags are not even noticed in the policy. These obvious blind spots indicate that real motivations are not academic, but lie elsewhere.

The XII plan document of the UGC sets the target to make 10 percent of eligible colleges autonomous by the end of the plan period. It boldly declares, ‘(t)he only safe and better way to improve the quality of undergraduate education is to the link(sic) most of the colleges from the affiliating structure’. The claim is surprising, because world over university education is considered a good undergraduate education. A university with active research, accomplished faculty and diversity of subjects to offer is the best place for a young person to get initiated into the adventure and challenges of higher education. How taking students away from the ambit of a university becomes the way to better education requires a bit of an explanation. Continue reading “Elephants in the Room – Who Gets the Autonomy in Autonomous Colleges? : Sanjay Kumar”

The Elephant in the Room – Silence on Class Issues in Indian Politics : Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by SANJAY KUMAR

Ramesh has been working as a daily wager in a Government of India office in Delhi for ten years. He is one of the army of peons, office assistants, security guards, gardeners, and cleaning staff which government offices, city municipalities, hospitals, schools and colleges of the metropolis employ regularly. He is a graduate, but gets the wage of an unskilled worker. He is among the fortunate ones who at least get government mandated minimum wage. Most private employers in the city violate the minimum wage act; either they pay less than the mandated amount, or make daily wagers work more than eight hours without any overtime.

Ramesh was pleasantly surprised this April when he noted a more than 30% increase in his wages. His daily wage that stood at Rs 360/ earlier was now Rs 513/. This was due to a Government of Delhi notification issued on 3rd March, 2017. The news was covered in the inner pages of some newspapers. Most TV news channels ignored it. Hence, it is not surprising that employees like Ramesh who are not associated with any organsiation of workers were not aware of this increase. Continue reading “The Elephant in the Room – Silence on Class Issues in Indian Politics : Sanjay Kumar”