Category Archives: Law

Roma’s Arrest, Land Mafias and the Indian Police State

Even as semi-literate journalists and supposed pundits in the Capital celebrated the 60 years of the “world’s largest democracy”(incidentally the greatest and most grotesque cliché of our times), away from the “watchful eyes” of the media, other less savoury stories have been playing themselves out. Brave and self-effacing women activists like Roma, have been arrested under the National Security Act and have now been labeled as ‘Maoist’, according to a report in the Jansatta (Ambarish Kumar, 17 August, “Manavidhikar Karyakarta to Ab Naxali Banane ki Muhim”). This is no small and isolated happening. It is, in a microcosm, the story of what this ‘largest democracy’ is all about. The ultimate weapon of a desperate police force (widely used all across the length and breath of the country) of ‘labeling a dog mad before killing it’ is being brought into play to deal with peaceful struggles of ordinary people.

For those who have any idea of the activities of activists like Roma, this is a lie of the most blatant sort. Roma has been long active in organizing the tribals and landless Dalits, and especially, of late, landless women to fight for their property rights. Roma’s struggle has been fought under the banner of Dr Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Savitri Bai Phule, Birsa Munda and Rani Lakshmibai and has never resorted to any kind of violent means. Nonetheless, her arrest, along with Shanta Bhattacharya and Malati, in Sonbhadra district of UP, shows that even such non-violent and constitutional struggle is becoming impossible in large parts of the country today. It is the state and the police that are producing Maoists by the hour. It is not without reason that former Prime Minister VP Singh had to proclaim in utter exasperation that he too wants to become a Maoist. It is the utter cynical contempt with which the state, the judiciary and the media have treated a long and peaceful struggle against land acquisition – the Narmada Bachao Andolan – that sends out the signal, loud and clear that the only language that the state and the cohorts of corporate capital understand is that of the gun.

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The Attack on Taslima Nasrin in Hyderabad

Dear All (apologies for cross posting on and the Sarai Reader List)

The recent attack on Taslima Nasreen has again shown how fragile the freedom of expression is in India today. It breaks whenever a sentimental reader or viewer has their ‘sentiments challenged’. Are all these worthy gentlemen who go about obstructing screenings and readings suffering from some early childhood trauma that makes it difficult for them to countenance growing up and acquiring the ability to listen to contrary point of view? How long are we to be held hostage to their infantile suffering?

What is worse is the fact that the people who attacked her, and have made public threats to kill her – activists and elected representatives belonging to MIM, a leftover of the Nizam’s hated Razakars, were arrested and then let off on bail. So, the message that the state sends out to these goons is – “threaten to kill, be taken to a police station to have a cup of tea, have your picture taken, be splashed in the media, go home and make some more threats.”

see –

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Take a moment to help STOP TORTURE in India

Dear friends,
Amnesty International expresses its support for victims of torture and ill-treatment, past and present and condemns its practice in India. As of June 26, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Amnesty International India is intensifying its work against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by launching a campaign against torture and ill-treatment in the ‘war on terror’.
The victims of torture in India span far and wide, be it disadvantaged social, political or ethnic groups like the dalits, women and adivasis or be it in Jammu and Kashmir, the North East, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and other areas affected by the acts of state and non-state actors.
India has signed, but not ratified the Convention against Torture. It is one of only 8 countries that have not done so. Amnesty International India has on several occasions expressed grave concerns over the fact that torture and ill-treatment continue to be endemic throughout India and continue to deny human dignity to thousands of individuals.

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J’accuse : A Children’s Doctor and A Mighty State

It has been more than ten days that Dr Binayak Sen, a paediatrician by training and profession and a human rights activist by choice has received a new identity. – A menace to public safety – The Chattisgarh police whose own record of human rights violations would shame even the KPS Gills, has used the provisions of the draconian Public Safety Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act ( a substitute for POTA ) to detain Dr Binayak Sen in the wee hours of 14 th May.

Question naturally arises how does a graduate from the prestigious Christian Medical College, Vellore who has been associated with several community health programmes for the last three decades, who even contributed to the state government’s conceptualisation of community health programme ‘Mitanin’ and who played a significant role in the evolution of ‘Shaheed Hospital’ – a hospital started by workers for the workers under the leadership of legendary Shankar Guha Niyogi, has suddenly metamorphosed into a menace to public safety ?

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The Impossibility of Satire

The first impulse that one has after coming out of a court hearing is to create a satire that accurately captures the slightly bizarre and terrifying vision of judges that one has had a chance to experience. But can caricature really live up to its responsibility of laughing truth to power? John Beger has said that “Graphic caricature is dead because life has outstripped it. Or more accurately, because satire is only possible when a moral reserve still exists, and those reserves have been used up. We are too used to being appalled by ourselves to be able to react to the idea of caricature”. So instead of imposing an impossible goal for satire, let us allow the court speak for themselves. Continue reading The Impossibility of Satire

Gujarat Fake Encounters: The Spin Doctoring has Begun

The Gujarat Fake Encounter Story is rapidly being scripted along the familiar lines of the ‘Corrupt Policeman-Corrupt Politician-Underworld Links’ nexus. While this may be true, (and I do not doubt that Narendra Modi, who holds the ‘Home’ portfolio in Gujarat, must not be entirely un-involved in this matter) it would be unfortunate if the Gujarat ‘fake encounter killings’ , like ‘fake encounter’ stories in Kashmir, Delhi or elsewhere are now spun into ‘systemic aberrations’. Rather, they should be seen as evidence of how the system actually works, and how efficient it is.

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Devastating Looks: Smirks, Quirks and Judicial Authority

Devastating Looks: Smirks, Quirks and Judicial Authority

Raoul Vaneigem, the Belgian philosopher writes that “The economy of everyday life is based on a continuous exchange of humiliations and aggressive attitudes. It conceals a technique of wear and tear which is itself prey to the gift of destruction which it invites contradictorily”. In an incredible story in his chapter on humiliation, Vaneigem says that one day, when Rousseau was traveling through a crowded village, he was insulted by a lowly peasant whose insults delighted the crowd. The great philosopher Rousseau was completely taken aback and flushed with anger, but could not think of a single thing to say in reply and was forced to take to his heels amidst the jeers of the crowd. By the time he had finally regained his composure and thought of a thousand possible retorts, any one of which would have silenced the joker once and for all, he was at two hours distance from the village.

Vaneigem then says “Aren’t most of the trivial incidents of everyday life like this ridiculous adventure? but in an attenuated and diluted form, reduced to the duration of a step, a glance, a thought, experienced as a muffled impact, a fleeting discomfort barely registered by consciousness and leaving in the mind only the dull irritation at a loss to discover its own origin?”
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