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”

Academic Community stands firmly with JNUSU President; 100+ academicians, activists, writers issue statement of solidarity

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid on behalf of the signatories
We, the undersigned, are deeply shocked by the shameful attempts by JNU Administration to crush dissent in the University through imposition of arbitrary fines on student activists, denial of registration to students engaged in protests against the administration, including the elected President of the Students’ Union, Mohit Pandey. We stand in solidarity with the JNUSU President who has decided not to pay the arbitrarily imposed fine of 20,000. Many more Students’ Representatives and activists of JNU campus are facing 5-6 inquiries and false FIRs for raising students’ issues.
It is also shocking that a duly elected representatives of the students is being fined such massive amounts for merely raising students’ issues. Several other students have paid the fines, in order to be allowed to register, being forced to succumb under the threat of having their registration held up. Several students with pending inquires are not getting their degree- mark sheets and unable to continue their studies further. This amounts to imposition of a tax/fee on dissent, thereby creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the University. This is unacceptable in a University where knowledge creation is contingent upon freedom of ideas.
We call upon the JNU administration to display maturity and stop penalising alternative viewpoints. The current fine of Rs. 20,000 that the JNUSU President is being asked to pay for restoration of his studentship pertains to an instance of anti-administration protests led by the students’ union against the complicity of the JNU Administration in the disappearance of an M.Sc. Biotechnology student named Najeeb Ahmed following a mob assault on him by members of a students’ group affiliated to the ruling party – who were indicted for the assault by a report of the Proctor’s Office, but shielded by the higher ups in the administration, leading the then Proctor to resign from office.
So, the students guilty of leading the lynch mob against Najeeb Ahmed were given no punishment at all, whereas students protesting against his disappearance – who were demanding that the JNU Administration should file a police complaint in the matter – were fined Rs.  20,000 each! Ever since the JNU VC has been appointed by the present government, students not belonging to the ruling party student group have been systematically targeted and penalised for speaking out. There is no record of similar fines upon right-wing groups which routinely engage in vandalism on campus. This clearly amounts to blatant viewpoint discrimination and also serves as a green signal to lynch mobs on campus.
The JNU Administration is using an archaic statute in the book to ban protests at the Administration Block. However, JNU has always had a healthy culture of dissent and protest. Protests against the administration have always been held outside the administration block itself. That the protests disturb the working of the administration is the most dubious pretext for crushing dissent, as there have been historic student movements on JNU campus which have only made the University stronger, its academic traditions more robust and its intellectual environment more egalitarian.
We, therefore, demand that
1) the JNU administration must end its petty tactics of penalising dissent;
2) JNUSU President, Mohit Pandey, must be allowed to register for the next academic semester, unconditionally;
3) all fines against students being imposed for the mere act of protest must be revoked unconditionally;
4) JNU Administration must stop trying to deprive students of the right to protest at the Administration Block, and engage, instead in dialogue with the elected students’ body without bias against the ideology held by the student union representatives;
5) JNU Administration must punish the students who assaulted Najeeb Ahmed, resulting in his disappearance.
Sd/-
Prof. Anand Teltumbde, Senior Professor, Goa Institute of Management
Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Delhi; Member, Presidium, All India Forum for Right to Education
Dr. Rohan D’Souza, Associate Professor, Kyoto University, Japan
Prof. Chaman Lal, Retired Professor, JNU; Former President, JNUTA
Prof. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory, School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi
Jairus Banaji, Research Professor, SOAS, University of London
Prof. Laxman Gaddam, Professor of Commerce, Osmania University
Anwesha Sengupta, Assistant Professor, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
Arvind, Professor, IISER Mohali
Rana Partap Behal, Associate Professor (Retd.), Deshbandhu College, University of Delhi. Association of Indian Labour Historians.
Madhu Kushwaha, Professor, BHU
Brinda Bose, Associate Professor, JNU
Debaditya Bhattacharya, Assistant Professor, Nivedita College, University of Calcutta
Dr. Rohini Hensman, Writer and Independent Scholar
Anand Mathew, Director, Prerana Kala Manch, Varanasi
Mary E John, Researcher, Centre for Women’s Development Studies
Padma Velaskar, Professor (Retd.), Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Ravi Kumar, Associate Professor, South Asian University
Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay, Assistant Professor, IISER Mohali
R. Nandakumar, Art Historian, IGNCA
Madhu Prasad, Associate Professor (Retd.), Zakir Hussain College, DU
K. Laxminarayana, Professor, Hyderabad Central University
Jean Chapman, Adjunct Professor, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
T K Arun, Editor, Opinion, The Economic Times
John Cherian, Journalist, Frontline
Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, Activist, Educationist; Citizens for Peace and Justice; Sabrang India
Ravindra Tomar, Senior Researcher, Parliament of Australia
Manorama Sharma, Retired Professor, NEHU
Dr. Sushmita Sengupta, Associate Professor, NEHU
Prof. K. Chakradhar Rao, Member, Presidium, All India Forum for Right To Education
Perumal Vijayan, Research Associate, University of Saskatchew
Sangeeta Chatterji, Doctoral Candidate, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Mohd Mushtaq, Assistant Professor, Govt. Degree College, Baramulla, J&K
Hiren Gohain, Retired University Teacher
Nandini Rao, Social Activist, JNU Alumnus
Devyani Borkataki, Activist, Northeast Network
Kiran Shaheen, Director, Media Action Group
Wilfred Dcosta, Convenor, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
Firoz Ahmed, Teacher, Lok Shikshak Manch
Manoj Chahal, Research Scholar, University of Delhi
Manuj Mukherjee, Ph.D. Scholar, Indian Institute of Science
Sanjay Palshikar, Professor, University of Hyderabad
Dr Navneet Sharma, Assistant Professor, Central University of Himachal Pradesh
Bhangya Bhukya, Associate Professor, University of Hyderabad
Abani K Bhuyan, Professor, University of Hyderabad; President of the University of Hyderabad Teachers’ Association
Dr. G. Vijay, Assistant Professor, University of Hyderabad
Sohail Hashmi, Freelance Writer, Filmmaker, JNU Alumnus
Nikhil Kumar, Policy Analyst
Roger Alexander, Independent Journalist, Pink City Press Club
Saeed Haider, Associate Editor, Saudi Gazette
Rajesh, Activist, Lok Shikshak Manch
N.D. Jayaprakash, JNU Alumnus
Anjal Lele, Travel Consultant; former JNU Student
Dr. Vikas Bajpai, Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Indira C, Public Health Researcher; Consultant
Rashmi Kumari, Ph. D., Jawaharlal Nehru Univerity
Dr. C. Sadasiva, Associate Professor, Deptt. of Botany, Dyal Singh College, University of Delhi
Sajid, National Vice-President, Campus Front of India; Ph.D. Scholar, JNU
Shehla Rashid Shora, Research Scholar, JNU
Mohit P Gandhi, Ph.D. Scholar, CSMCH, JNU
Vasanthi Gupta, Academician; JNU Alumnus
Apurba K. Baruah, Retired Professor, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong
K. Laxminarayana, Professor, University of Hyderabad
Dayaram Yadav, Former General Secretary
Dr. M. Gangadhar, Chief Editor, Adhyapaka Jwala; Democratic Teachers’ Federation, Telangana
Avinash Chandra Jha, former Associate Professor; former JNU student
Mohan Rao, Professor, JNU
Shashwati Goswami, Research Scholar, CSMCH, JNU
Joby Joseph, Associate Professor, University of Hyderabad
Sumegha, student, JNU
Caroline C. Netto, Ph.D. Scholar, JNU
Ramesh Patnaik, Former General Secretary, JNUSU
Sri Raghunath Joshi, Professor (Retd.)
Thokchom Surjit Singh, Social Activist; All India forum for Right to Education
Ratan Kumar, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Susmit Isfaq, Student, NLU Assam; Students’ Federation of India
Roobala, Ressearch Scholar, Indian Institute of Science
Himangshu Baruah, student
D N Reddy, Professor of Economics (Retd.), University of Hyderabad
Akshay Pathak, General Secretary, AIRSO
K Venugopal, Chief Editor, Upadhyaya Dharshini
B Sudha, Retird Teacher, TPTF
M. Raghushankerreddy, State President, Democratic Teachers’ Federation; All India Forum for Right to Education
Aviroop Sengupta, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
M. Balakumar, Headmaster; DTF
Arunank, State General Secretary, Democratic Students’ Union, Telangana
V. Raji Reddy, HM, Democratic Teachers’ Federation
Manjari Gupta, Post Doctoral Fellow, HRI
M. Somaiah, Teacher; State Vice-President, DTF
Vijay Kumar, Central Committee Member, CPI(ML) Red Star
Somasekharasarma, Retd. English Lecturer; AIFRTE
Kalyani Menon Sen, JNU Alumnus, (1977 batch)
T. Sobha Rani, Associate Professor, University of Hyderabad
Shephali Frost, Writer, Poet, Musician
Srinivas Reddy A., Teacher, Democratic Teachers’ Federation
Bittu Karthik, Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Artist / Writer, Raqs Media Collective, Delhi
Madhu, State Secretary, Democratic Teachers’ Federation
Suraj Beri, Doctoral Candidate, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, JNU
Vijay Shankwe Choudhary, Producer/Director Films and Television, former JNU Student (1972-81 batch)
Shilpa Shital, Research Scholar, IIT Delhi
Partho Sarothi Ray, Assistant Professor, IISER Kolkata
Nupur, Research Scholar, JNU
Susie Tharu, Retired Professor, EFLU
Sarwat Ali, Associate Professor, IASE (Jamia Millia Islamia)
Dyuti, Researcher and Activist
P. S. Mukherjee, Founder Member, Friends of Latin America-India
D. M. Diwakar, Professor, A N Sinha Institute of Social Sciences, Patna, Bihar
Muzaffar Ahmad Dar, Research Scholar, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Aishik Gupta, Activist
Aijaz Ahmed, Lecturer, Shinas College of Technology, Ministry of Manpower, Oman
Vandana Mahajan, Independent Development Practitioner, Feminist Movement for Equality, Justice and Non-discrimination
Afzal Hussain, Masters Student, CAAS, JNU
Masood Ahmed Azhar, Research Scholar, JNU; NSUI
Harshad Tayade, Engineering Student, Pune University
Shivam, Student, University of Hyderabad
Dharti Putra, Student, BIT Sindri, Dhanbad, Jharkhand

When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’

Present day Hindus are probably the strongest opponents of Marxism. They are horrified at its doctrine of class-struggle. But they forget that India has been not merely the land of class struggle but she has been the land of class wars. – B. R. Ambedkar, Philosophy of Hinduism.

I often find myself in a bind over whether or not to respond to supposed RSS ideologues, given that they simply trade in lies and hatred with the supreme arrogance of ignorance. One such is the upcoming star on the RSS horizon, a gentleman called Rakesh Sinha, who like the rest of his pack (led by the supreme leader) is currently engaged in a cheap attack on the outgoing Vice-President, Hamid Ansari. His piece in the Indian Express today (linked above) is an  instance of a combination of all these things. So, why should one bother about such a character? Why take him and his discourse seriously? Well, someone had better respond because, because, for one thing they are in power, and are going to teach generations of students that valorous ‘Hindus’ like Maharana Pratap won all the wars, though by some magic, ‘Muslims’ continued to rule for about 8 centuries! For another, there are enough gullible types who really think these people ‘have a point of view’, which should be debated.

As we have repeatedly seen, their ‘having a point of view’ has nothing to do with debate. It is to be enforced by gangs of gorakshaks, anti-romeo squads, hoodlums deciding what will or will not be taught in universities and schools, what will be written, how people should dress and love – and when nothing works, ‘win’ a ‘debate’ like Arun Jaitley claimed they did, by simply arresting the opponents and slapping sedition charges on them. Given this, I do not really address, in person, the ideologue, Rakesh Sinha, who has now made it a fine art to pick up some phrases from the toolkit of what is understood as ‘postmodernism’ by many. Wasn’t it postmodernism, one can  hear them say, that said all viewpoints are equally valid and ‘everything goes’? Wasn’t it postmodernism that challenged the hegemony of Western thought, its logocentrism, its Rationalism (with a capital R) from within that very tradition? Wasn’t it postmodernism again, that by decentering West’s logocentrism, actually gave these RSS-type creatures the gumption to claim that their utterly unsubstantiated viewpoint about the past too was as valid as that of historians who struggled with evidence, painstakingly putting together texts, artefacts and procedures of dating in order to produce a plausible account of the past?

Continue reading “When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’”

The Modi regime, its minions in the JNU administration and the brave struggle of whistle blower Prof Rajeev Kumar

The prime minister of India Narendra Modi’s cheap hindutvavaadi jibes in his farewell address to vice president Hamid Ansari were better suited to Republic TV or The Organiser, but under Modi’s regime, parliament is pretty much run like an RSS shakha, and Modi himself seems no different from Arnab Goswami.

Said Modi in parliament to the distinguished out-going vice president:

Aapke karyakaal ka bahut saara hissa West Asia se juda raha hai. Usi dayere mein zindagi ke bahut varsh aapke gaye, usi mahaul mein, usi soch mein, aise logon ke beech mein rahe. Wahan se retire hone ke baad bhi jyadatar kaam wohi raha aapka; Minorities Commission ho yah Aligarh Muslim University ho, zyadatar dayara aapka wohi raha.

Lekin yeh 10 saal puri tarah ek alaga zimma aapka sar mein aaya. Puri tarah ek ek pal samvidhan samvidhan samvidhan ke hi dayere mein chalana. Aur aapne usko bakhubi nibhaane ka bharpur prayaas kiya. Ho sakta hai kuch chatpatahat rahi hogi bhitar aapke andar bhi. Magar aaj ke baad shayad woh sankat bhi nahin rahega. Mukti ka anand bhi rahega aur apni mulbhut jo soch rahi hogi uske anusaar aapko karya karne ka, sochne ka, baat batane ka awsar bhi milega.

Continue reading “The Modi regime, its minions in the JNU administration and the brave struggle of whistle blower Prof Rajeev Kumar”

“No research please, we are college teachers” – On the HRD Ministry’s latest bright idea.

A version of this piece appeared yesterday in The Wire

“I would like to thank Huddersfield University for enabling me to have a sabbatical semester to work on this revised edition and for providing such a supportive environment. Thanks to many of the students on my Women, Power and Society module for their hard work and enthusiasm.”

That is the dedication in a book by British scholar and teacher Valerie Bryson – a text I often use for teaching at a college in Delhi University. Evidently, Bryson found her teaching and research lives complementing each other beautifully, as have thousands of university and college teachers who have had the luck to have what she calls a “supportive” professional and academic environment. What are the elements of this support? A sabbatical semester or year every once in a while, ready research facilities within the college premises or nearby, and an opportunity to formulate teaching courses that ally with your research focus. With these elements in place, both teaching and research benefit dramatically.

Until recently, college teachers in this country had the first two conditions. They were given in their entire careers – say from the age of 26 or 27 when one normally began teaching at a college to the age of 65 – three years of paid study leave to pursue or finish their PhDs (with the usual conditions and caveats including a strict bond that they signed with college promising to return the three years’ pay if the PhD remained incomplete, or if they resigned upon return to the institution) and a further two years of (until recently, paid and now invariably unpaid or “extraordinary”) leave to take a break from teaching and pursue a postdoctoral or visiting fellowship at a research institute.

Continue reading ““No research please, we are college teachers” – On the HRD Ministry’s latest bright idea.”

And THIS is how you deal with threats of defamation charges! The strange case(s) of Red FM and EPW

Red FM’s RJ Malishka features in a peppy video that went viral, mocking Mumbai’s Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the dismal lack of civic amenities and the havoc the rains can wreak in the city. In a lively parody of the popular Marathi folk song Sonu Tuza Mazyavar Bharosa Nahi Kay (Sonu, Don’t you Trust me?), she sang cheekily, Sonu, don’t you trust BMC?

Potholes, traffic jams, slow trains, all the woes of the Mumbaikar in the fabled rains of Western India.

But Shiv Sena which runs the BMC was not amused.  Continue reading “And THIS is how you deal with threats of defamation charges! The strange case(s) of Red FM and EPW”

Promoting Superstition – Everything Official About It !

Image result for superstition

Bhupendra Singh Chudasama, Education minister of Gujarat and his colleague Atmaram Paramar, who handles the Social Justice Ministry, were in the news sometime back- albeit for wrong reasons. A video went viral which showed them participating in a felicitation ceremony of exorcists in Botad. They were also seen watching how a couple of the exorcists were beating themselves with metal chains to live music near the stage.

Perhaps it did not matter to them that the Constitution frowns upon such activities and Article 51A (h) of the Indian constitution clearly says that it shall be a fundamental duty of all citizens “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.” Neighbouring state Maharashtra has even enacted a law (The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013) to rein in all such activities and it criminalises practices related to black magic, human sacrifices, use of magic remedies to cure ailments and other such acts which exploit people’s superstitions. And it was a culmination of a prolonged movement led by activists led by Dr Dabholkar – who even faced martyrdom for his activities. Continue reading “Promoting Superstition – Everything Official About It !”