Category Archives: Right watch

Mohan Bhagwat’s Divisive Mantra on Automatic Patriotism

It is a mischievous denigration of constitutional principles and values which declare every human equal and bar discrimination.

Mohan Bhagwat

“A Hindu is an automatic patriot and can never be an anti-national.” Remember the line? It is of Mohan Bhagwat, the Sangh supremo, who was at his best last week, at the launch of the book, Making of a Hindu Patriot: Background of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj. The book on Gandhi’s journey from Porbandar in Gujarat to England and South Africa and back to India, by JK Bajaj and MD Srinivas, was released by the Centre for Policy Studies.

In this book is the controversial claim that during 1893-94, Gandhi was pressurised to change his religion by both his Muslim employer and Christian colleagues in South Africa, which he refused. And by 1905, the book says, he became a devout Hindu.

Sure, everybody has a right to express their views, the authors and Mohan Bhagwat included, but the veracity of their claim still needs to be tested. As for the alleged pressure on Gandhi, the claim seems to come from out of the blue, and I would take it with a pinch of salt.

(Read the full article here )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farmers’ discontent – a report from Karnataka: Ganesh Devy

Guest post by GANESH DEVY

9 January 2021

 As a spontaneous reaction to the failure of the government to bring the discussions with the farmers to a conclusion even after eight rounds of discussion, many farmer-organizations in North Karnataka took out a tractors protest rally today. A broad-spectrum of farmer organizations, civil society organizations and members of political parties participated in it.

One saw active presence of the former BJP Union Minister in Atal Bhari Government  Baba Gowda Patil, now in JDS , Gururaj Hansimarad, JDS, farmer activist Gangadhar Patil-Kulkarni, CPM-Union activist Abdul Khan, Gandhian social worker Adv. Nerlikar, Congress member Basavaraja Malkari, Secular Unity activist Ashraf Ali and many other prominent figures form North Karnataka standing on tractors and shouting slogans.

Continue reading Farmers’ discontent – a report from Karnataka: Ganesh Devy

‘उत्तर प्रदेश विधि विरुद्ध धर्म-समपरिवर्तन प्रतिषेध अध्यादेश’ फ़ौरन रद्द करो : एक बयान

133 संगठनों और 858 लोगों की तरफ़ से जारी बयान

Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately

इस बयान पर दस्तख़त करने वाले संगठनों और व्यक्तियों की फ़ेहरिस्त इसके अंग्रेज़ी वर्ज़न में देखें.

प्रिय मित्रों,

18 वर्ष की आयु में हम अपने पार्षदों, विधायकों, सांसदों को वोट दे सकते हैं। 18 की उम्र में, हम तय करते हैं कि कौन ऐसी नीतियां बनाएगा और लागू करेगा जो हमें, हमारे प्रियजनों, हमारे समुदाय, हमारे देश को प्रभावित करती हैं 18 में, हमें अपने मताधिकार का जिम्मेदारी से प्रयोग करने के लिए पर्याप्त परिपक्व माना जाता है  

हालांकि, चाहे 18 साल की उम्र में हो या 50 की उम्र में, हमें अपने रोमांटिक पार्टनर तय करने की या किससे शादी करनी है की, इजाज़त नहीं है!! अल्पसंख्यक धर्म, जातियों, दबीकुचली जातियों, समलैंगिक ट्रांस और क्वीयर के साथ दोस्ती और रोमांटिक संबंध नहीं बनाने के लिए हमारे परिवारों द्वारा चेताया जाता है ।अगर कोई हिंदू महिला किसी मुस्लिम पुरुष से प्रेम करती है तो यह समाज में अपराध माना जाता है, अगर वे शादी करते हैं और महिला मुस्लिम धर्म में धर्मांतरण करती है तो यह मान लिया जाता है कि मुस्लिम पुरुष ने उसे धर्मांतरण के लिए मजबूर किया है। अंतरविश्वास और अंतरजाति विवाहों में भी, यह मान लिया जाता है कि दूसरा व्यक्ति महिला की इच्छा के विरुद्ध धोखा देकर उसे बाध्य कर रहा है और उसके इरादे गलत हैं। अक्सर हम सुनते हैं कि कैसे समलैंगिक जोड़ों को उनके जैविक परिवारों, समाज और पुलिस द्वारा प्रताड़ित किया जाता है जिसमें पुलिस कानूनी प्रक्रिया पूर्ण करने और संरक्षण देने के बजाए परिवार की आकांक्षा को ही पूरा कर रही होती है  ।समलैंगिक महिलाओं, समलैंगिक पुरुषों, ट्रांस व्यक्तियों को तथा सिर्फ स्त्रीपुरुष सम्बन्धों पर विश्वास करने वाले ब्राह्मणवादी परिवार इस से परे, अंतरंग संबंधों और सामाजिक जीवन जीने के  आकांक्षीलोगों को घरों पर गंभीर दमन का सामना करना पड़ता है

27 नवंबर 2020 को पारित उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार के धर्मांतरण  निषेध अध्यादेश मेंरोमांटिक पार्टनर चुनने में धर्म, जाति, लिंग और लैंगिकता की सीमाओं का उल्लंघन करने वाले लोगों पर परिवारधर्मसमुदायों द्वारा की गई हिंसा को मंजूरी देने की बात कही गई है।एक्ट के मुताबिक हर धर्मांतरण गैरकानूनी है। धर्मांतरण के लिए जिलाधिकारी से पूर्व मंजूरी जरूरी है।अधिनियम में यह भी कहा गया है कि किसी व्यक्ति के पिछले धर्म में पुनर्परिवर्तन अवैध नहीं है, भले ही जबरन किया जाए ।जबकि हिंदू दक्षिणपंथी समूहों और दक्षिणपंथी नेतृत्व वाली सरकारों ने अंतरविश्वास रोमांटिक संबंधों के बारे में लोगों कोलवजिहादके रूप में भड़काया, जहां ज्यादातर मामलों में मुस्लिम आदमी को आतंकवादी मान लिया जाता है, ऐसी कोई घटना या आंकड़े नहीं हैं जो यह साबित करें कि ऐसे रोमांटिक रिश्ते कभी आतंकवादी गतिविधियों से जुड़े मिले हों दूसरी ओर, ऐसे असंख्य उदाहरण हैं जहां राज्य और समुदाय ने अंतरविश्वास प्रेम और विवाहित वयस्क जोड़ों पर गलत तरीके से हमले किये हैंI स्थानीय पंचायतों ने भी समुदाय के मानदंडों का उल्लंघन करने के लिए युवा जोड़ों को मौत के घाट उतार दिया है। हाल ही में शेफिनजहां मामले 2018, मेंजहां अंत में सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने विश्वास बदलने का अधिकार माना, और कहा कि विश्वास बदलने का अधिकार पसंद का मौलिक अधिकार है और यह भी देखा गया है कि, एक बार दो वयस्क व्यक्ति रोमांटिक साझेदारी में प्रवेश करने के लिए सहमत होते हैं तो परिवार, समुदाय, कबीले की सहमति आवश्यक नहीं है Continue reading ‘उत्तर प्रदेश विधि विरुद्ध धर्म-समपरिवर्तन प्रतिषेध अध्यादेश’ फ़ौरन रद्द करो : एक बयान

Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately: A Statement

A STATEMENT BY 133 ORGANIZATIONS and 858 INDIVIDUALS

Dear friends,

At the age of 18, we can vote for our councilors, MLAs, MPs. At 18, we decide who will make and implement policies that affect us, our loved ones, our community, our country. At 18, we are supposed to be mature enough to responsibly exercise our voting rights.

However, whether at the age of 18 or at the age of 50, we are not allowed to decide our romantic partners or who to marry. We are not allowed to have friendships and romantic relationships with people of `the other’ religion, caste, ethnicity, genders, sexualities.

If a Hindu woman chooses a Muslim man as her romantic partner, it is considered a crime in society and if they marry and the woman converts to Muslim religion, it is assumed that the Muslim man has forced her for conversion. In inter-faith and also in inter-caste marriages, it is taken for granted that the other person is bound to cheat you or dupe you and that the person you have chosen to be your partner has some wicked, ulterior motive to `make’ you fall in love.

In homo-erotic romantic relationships, often we hear how lesbian couples are being tortured by biological family, community and the police often acting on behalf of the family. Lesbian women, gay men, trans persons face severe repression at home for transgressing gender norms, aspiring for intimate and social lives beyond the compulsory Brahmanical hetero-normative family system. Many of us have similar painful and traumatic experiences.

`The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020’ passed on 27th November 2020, seeks to sanction the violence committed by family-religion-communities on people who transgress boundaries of religion, caste, gender and sexuality in choosing romantic partners.

This Ordinance is simultaneously an attack on any person who wishes to change her religion. According to the Act, every conversion is illegal. The conversion requires the prior sanction from the District Magistrate. The Ordinance also says that `reconversion’ to a person’s previous religion is not illegal even if done forcibly. This is the gateway to what is termed `ghar wapasi’.

Over the last few years, the Hindu right-wing groups and right-wing led governments have accelerated their attempts at whipping up paranoia about inter-faith romantic relationships. They deliberately call it ‘love-jihad’, equating the Muslim lover with terrorism, while there have been no incidence or statistics that even the right-wing gangs or governments have been able to furnish. Continue reading Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately: A Statement

A confession of its own loss of legitimacy – the Modi government must resign

Farmers across the country have geared up to escalate their protests against the farm laws, as the government remains adamant in its commitment to its crony capitalists. The talks yesterday failed as three Union ministers part of the negotiations said it was not possible to commit to a rollback of the legislation without “consultations with higher authorities”.  

Who are these mysterious higher authorities whom they dare not name? Do they mean the Pradhan Sevak Himself, who is after all, within tweeting distance at all times, and could have deigned to talk to the farmers’ representatives; or do they mean his paymasters? 

Meanwhile 60 farmers have died at the Singhu Border protest site alone, according to doctors, to deafening silence from this utterly shameless government, that has tear-gassed and lathi charged its people, and forced them to brave the bitter cold and torrential rain in protest at these laws, which will wreak devastation on agriculture and on food security for all.

But the most revealing statement of all comes from the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, an explicit admission of the total loss of legitimacy of his government. Continue reading A confession of its own loss of legitimacy – the Modi government must resign

मौजूदा किसान आन्दोलन पर वक्तव्य : रवि सिन्हा

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

किसानों के इस आन्दोलन को उसके तात्कालिक उद्देश्यों और सम्भावनाओं मात्र के सन्दर्भ में देखें तो भी यह ऐतिहासिक है. अपनी अंतिम और सम्भावित सफलता से स्वतन्त्र इसकी उपलब्धियाँ अभी ही ऐतिहासिक महत्त्व की साबित हो चुकी हैं. लेकिन इस आन्दोलन के अर्थ और इसकी सम्भावनायें और भी बड़ी हैं. भारत की दुर्दशा के इस घोर अँधेरे में, जहाँ अधिनायकवादी फ़ासिस्ट शक्तियों के ख़िलाफ़ प्रतिरोध की सम्भावनााओं को एक के बाद एक कुचल दिया जाता रहा है, यह आन्दोलन एक मशाल बनकर सामने आया है. किसानों से शुरू होकर यह आन्दोलन सिर्फ़ किसानों का नहीं रह गया  है. पंजाब और हरियाणा के किसानों के द्वारा दिल्ली को घेरने से शुरू हुई यह मुहिम अब दिल्ली की सत्ता को घेरने वाली चौतरफ़ा मुहिम का रूप लेती जा रही है. हम किसानों के इस आन्दोलन को सर्वप्रथम इसलिए समर्थन देते हैं और उसमें इस लिये शामिल हैं कि उनकी माँगें जायज़ हैं और इस सरकार द्वारा ज़बरदस्ती लाये गये तीनों क़ानूनों को लेकर उनकी आशंकायें वास्तविक हैं. और हम इस आन्दोलन को इसलिये सलाम करते हैं और इससे प्रेरणा लेते हैं कि यह अँधेरे में रौशनी की मशाल बनकर सामने आया है.

 अगर हम आंदोलन की तात्कालिक माँगों और उद्देश्यों की विस्तृत चर्चा यहाँ नहीं करते हैं तो इसका अर्थ यह नहीं कि इनके जायज़ और ऐतिहासिक महत्त्व के होने में हमें कोई संदेह है. अब यह जगज़ाहिर है कि ये तीनों क़ानून उस शैतानी योजना का हिस्सा हैं जिसके तहत कृषि क्षेत्र को कारपोरेट पूँजी के प्रत्यक्ष आधिपत्य में ले जाने की तैयारी है. यह न केवल किसानों की रही-सही आर्थिक सुरक्षा को समाप्त करेगा, सरकार को उसकी जिम्मेदारी से मुक्त करेगा और न्यूनतम समर्थन मूल्य तथा राज्य-संचालित मंडियों की व्यवस्था को तोड़ देगा, बल्कि यह पूरे देश की आम जनता की खाद्य-सुरक्षा – जितनी भी है और जैसी भी है – को ख़तरे में डाल देगा. साथ ही ये क़ानून भारत के संघीय ढाँचे के विरुद्ध भी हैं, और केन्द्र द्वारा राज्यों के अधिकारों का अतिक्रमण हैं. यह सब आप सभी को मालूम है और इन कारणों से ही इस आंदोलन का सूत्रपात हुआ है.

Continue reading मौजूदा किसान आन्दोलन पर वक्तव्य : रवि सिन्हा

कृषि क़ानूनों पर नयी सरकारी किताब में बड़े बड़े दावों के अलावा सफ़ेद झूठ भी : राजिंदर चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

हाल ही में मोदी सरकार ने हिंदी, अंग्रेजी एवं पंजाबी में 106 पन्नों की एक किताब कृषि क़ानूनों के पक्ष में निकाली है.  मोदी ने यह भी कहा है कि किसान आन्दोलन जारी रखने से पहले इस को ज़रूर पढ़ें. मोदी की बात मान कर हम ने इस को पढ़ा. सब से पहले तो यह देख कर धक्का लगा कि 106 पन्नों की किताब में नए कृषि क़ानूनों वाले अध्याय में मात्र 28 पृष्ठ हैं और इन 28 पन्नों में भी मोदी के भाषणों, मोदी सरकार के कृषि कार्यों और मोदी द्वारा गुजरात में किये कामों का विवरण शामिल है. इस लिए इन 28 पन्नों में भी सीधे सीधे नए कृषि क़ानूनों पर तो मात्र 13 पेज हैं. इस में भी बहुत दोहराव है, एक ही बात को बार बार कहा गया है.  शेष पुस्तिका तो मोदी सरकार द्वारा किसानों के हित में किये गए कामों के दावों पर ही केन्द्रित है. यहाँ हम मोदी द्वारा गुजरात और केंद्र में कृषि और किसानों के लिए किये गए सारे दावों की पड़ताल करने की बजाय नए क़ानूनों के पक्ष में किये गए दावों की ही पड़ताल करेंगे. (यहाँ पर कई स्थानों पर दो तरह के पृष्ठ नंबर दिए गए हैं. पहले पीडीएफ फ़ाइल के और फिर छपी हुई पुस्तिका के; अगर एक पृष्ठ नंबर है तो वो पीडीएफ का है). इन का संक्षिप्त विवरण इस प्रकार है.  Continue reading कृषि क़ानूनों पर नयी सरकारी किताब में बड़े बड़े दावों के अलावा सफ़ेद झूठ भी : राजिंदर चौधरी

Statement condemning the murder of Gulnaz Khatun

Statement Condemning the murder of Gulnaz Khatun and demanding a speedy investigation

We the undersigned feminist groups, activists and individuals are deeply anguished at the killing of a 20-year-old poor Muslim girl, Gulnaz in a village in Bihar‘s Vaishali district. The young girl, an economic support to the family and about to be married was killed after her stalkers poured kerosene oil on her and burnt her alive on 30 October 2020. The girl was admitted in a nearby hospital with 75 percent burns and later moved to Patna Medical College. In her video statement when she was in excruciating pain, she clearly identified the three attackers. She succumbed to her injuries on 15th November 2020. The case has made hardly any progress. There is very limited coverage about the case in electronic Media and print media. According to the reports one accused has been arrested and police is still looking for the other two.. There are also reports that the family of victim is being harassed by the accused. Continue reading Statement condemning the murder of Gulnaz Khatun

The Farmers’ Struggle and the Agrarian Crisis

 

 

Famers’ struggle, image courtesy Scroll.in

Not only did the Modi government not pay any heed to the demands raised by the massive Kisan Mukti March of November 2018, it in fact, went on to surreptitiously promulgate three ordinances, in June this year, that go directly against everything that the farmers want. Indeed, they seek to hand over agriculture to the corporate sector – which will effectively mean destruction for a large mass of farmers. Naturally they are up in arms in what is perhaps the most determined struggle of the last four decades. The protests have been going on in many states since September 2020 and have reached the capital only now.

The three ordinances – now laws – that are currently pushing farmers into a ‘do or die’ struggle in different parts of the country, have been widely written about and their different dimensions explained (for instance, here, here and here). We will therefore not go into their analysis in this article. The ordinances are: (i) Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, (ii) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and (iii) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. Farmers’ organizations opposing the ordinances claim that they have been very misleadingly named so as to give the impression that they empower the farmers;  they suggest the ordinances might be more accurately renamed the “APMC Bypass Bill”, “Contract Farming Promotion Bill” and the “Food Hoarding by Corporates Bill” respectively.

The long and short of these ordinances is quite nicely summed up in these suggested names – for what the three together aim to achieve is the dismantling of state procurement (though on paper it may continue to remain), and thereby open agriculture to contract farming for big corporations, allowing them to corner essential food commodities in as large quantities as they want. The entire attempt, it is not hard to see, is to open out the agriculture sector to giant retail chains like Reliance – which is why it is necessary to remove the limits on purchase and storage of essential commodities. 

Contract farming, already happening informally at individual levels, once it is made the norm, is certainly going to seriously compromise food security for all. For if an agribusiness firm eyeing quick and massive profits wants farmers to change from essential food production to some other crop, it will decide what will be produced. And of course, what gets you quick profits is not what is sold as essential food item in the domestic or local market but it could be anything from potatoes for chips to maize to manufacture  ‘alternative fuel’ for US consumers. So entire cropping patterns can change, endangering our food sovereignty as a people.

The farmers, in a word, are not just fighting a battle for their own survival but one where the survival of all of us is at stake. If the design visualized in the three ordinances comes to pass, it will also lead to the complete destruction of lakhs of people who earn their livelihoods by selling fruit and vegetables – for those too will be produced by farmers under contract farming with corporations which will sell them at their retail stores. Prices for millions of consumers too will then be determined by these giant retail chains.

But these issues have only come up now. Why have the farmers/ peasants been agitating for the last couple of years?

Rewind to November 2018 Continue reading The Farmers’ Struggle and the Agrarian Crisis

इस्लामिस्ट एवं हिन्दुत्ववादी: कब तक चलेगी यह जुगलबंदी!

आखिर इस्लामिस्ट क्यों खुश हैं नागरिकता संशोधन अधिनियम से

not in my name

प्रतीकात्मक तस्वीर। 

विजयादशमी के दिन सरसंघचालक की तकरीर आम तौर पर आने वाले समय का संकेत प्रदान करती है।

विश्लेषक उस व्याख्यान की पड़ताल करके इस बात का अंदाज़ा लगाते हैं कि दिल्ली में सत्तासीन संघ के आनुषंगिक संगठन भाजपा की आगामी योजना क्या होगी।

विगत माह विजयादशमी के दिन संघ सुप्रीमो के व्याख्यान का फोकस नागरिता संशोधन अधिनियम पर था, जिसमें उन्होंने यह दावा किया कि यह अधिनियम किसी भी ‘धार्मिक समुदाय’ के साथ भेदभाव नहीं करता है और मुसलमानों को एक छद्म प्रचार से गुमराह किया गया है। उनके मुताबिक संसद में यह कानून संवैधानिक प्रक्रिया का पालन करके पारित हुआ है, एक तरह से सरहद पार के उन भाइयों एवं बहनों को सुरक्षा प्रदान करता है, जिन्हें वहां धार्मिक प्रताडना झेलनी पड़ती है।

मालूम हो कि उन दिनों चूंकि बिहार चुनावों की सरगर्मियां बनी हुई थीं, लिहाजा उनके वक्तव्यों से निकले संकेतों पर अधिक बात नहीं हो सकी।

गौरतलब है कि बंगाल के चुनावों के मद्देनज़र भाजपा के कुछ अग्रणी नेताओं ने भी इसी किस्म की बातें शुरू कर दी हैं। मालूम हो कई बार अपनी आम सभाओं में उनके कई अग्रणी, ‘दीमक’ की तरह ऐसे ‘अवांछितों’ को हटाने की बात पहले ही कर चुके हैं।

प्रश्न यह है कि क्या कोविड काल में इस सम्बन्ध में नियम बनाने का जो सिलसिला छोड़ दिया गया था क्या उसी मार्ग पर सरकार चलने वाली है और इसे लागू किया जाने वाला है या यह सिर्फ चुनावी सरगर्मी बनाए रखने का मामला है।

( Read the full article here )

Condemn the harassment and unlawful arrest of Anti-CAA Activist Zainab Siddiqui’s family: Citizens’ Statement

The following is a statement issued by concerned citizens, activists and organizations

We condemn the shocking assault, humiliation and harassment of human rights Activist Zainab Siddiqui’s family by Uttar Pradesh Police in Lucknow on 5th November. This targeting of grassroots Activists is a new way of curbing voices of dissent and must be strongly resisted.  
Zainab Siddiqui, an Activist based in Lucknow, has been working extensively at grass root level on Women & human rights issues. She is part of Bebaak Collective. As a young Activist she enthusiastically participated in demonstrations against CAA/NRC/NPR.
On 5 November 2020, UP Police visited Zainab’s residence asking her parents whether she was part of Anti CAA/NRC/NPR agitations. Her Parents responded by saying that she has worked with grass roots organizations. At 8:00 pm, Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) & Uttar Pradesh Police barged into Zainab’s house without any due process of law and took Zainab’s father into custody. They also took Zainab’s Brother into their custody who studies in Std 10 and is 16 years old. The police assaulted & abused Zainab’s Mother and younger sisters who were in the house and snatched away their phones.
The Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) & Uttar Pradesh Police were unwilling to co-operate. Even after requesting repeatedly, they refused to provide arrest warrant. Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) & Uttar Pradesh Police then took Zainab’s Father and 16 year old brother to Sarojini Nagar Police Station, Lucknow. The younger brother of Zainab, a juvenile was beaten by the U.P Police and kept in custody for a night. Zainab has also received threats from Uttar Pradesh Police. 
We condemn this act of terrorizing people around her locality. We condemn the barbarous violence that Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) & Uttar Pradesh Police has subjected Zainab & her family. It is a matter of utmost shame that human rights defender and their families are being attacked while those who commit acts of violence and promote social enmity roam free. 
We are also concerned that in the past one year Uttar Pradesh Police has been systematically targeting Activists who are associated with Anti CAA-NRC-NPR protests which are inimical for the functioning of democracy in this country.
We appeal to human rights Activists & organizations to endorse this appeal in solidarity with Zainab & her family and condemn despotic action of Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and Uttar Pradesh Police.

Continue reading Condemn the harassment and unlawful arrest of Anti-CAA Activist Zainab Siddiqui’s family: Citizens’ Statement

Bengal 2021, Fascism and the Left(s)

 

 

‘The specific threat of National Socialism was obscured amid general talk of the perils of “fascists”, a term egregiously applied to Bruning, Social Democrats and all and sundry. Dogmatic catastrophist theorising led the Communists to actively underplay the Nazis: Ernst Thalman warned the KPD [Communist Party of Germany] Central Committee in February 1932 “that nothing would be more disastrous than an opportunistic overestimation of Hitler-fascism.’  – Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich – A New History, p. 136

Ernst Thalman warned his party’s Central Committee against ‘opportunistically overestimating Hitler’, literally months before Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January the following year. What is more, this statement was made at a time when the intentions of the Nazis were hidden to nobody. As Burleigh puts it, they had frequently announced their contempt for the law and ‘by 1932 were vowing to intern Communists and Social Democrat opponents in concentration camps.’ (p. 149) Thalman, we know, was killed in the Buchenwald concentration camp in August 1944, eleven years after being held in captivity. Indeed, Thalman was arrested barely a year after he warned his party not to overestimate ‘Hitler-fascism’.

It is common knowledge that as the clouds of danger encircled Germany and the Depression was leading to cataclysmic shifts, the KPD continued to focus on Social Democrats as the main enemy. A brief entry on Thalman in the Encyclopaedia Britannica puts it pithily:

‘The party was almost completely unprepared when, in early 1933, Adolf Hitler ordered the mass arrests of communist functionaries; these arrests practically destroyed the party structure. Thälmann’s arrest came on March 3, 1933. All efforts to obtain his release failed, and he remained imprisoned for more than a decade until he was finally executed at Buchenwald concentration camp.’

‘The Most Dangerously Hidebound Force’

This quote above is not just about Germany. It is about a certain mindset widely prevalent in the Left. This mindset deploys the term ‘fascism’ quite indiscriminately, dissolving the specific threat of fascism into  just another variant of ‘authoritarianism’ and misuse of power.  Usually this happens because of incorrigibly reductionist thinking that sees in every authoritarian tendency a manifestation of ‘capitalism’, thereby reducing all of them to mere variations of the same. But it also happens becuase of what Antonio Gramsci saw as the party’s incapacity to ‘react against the force of habit, against the tendency to become mummified and anachronistic’ – a characteristic he attributed to the ‘most dangerously hidebound and conservative force’ namely, the ‘party bureaucracy’.

It is misleading to think in terms of historical analogies and one should normally avoid thinking of historical replays or re-enactments. Every historical situation is unique and has its own antecedent conditions. But there are  always lessons to be learnt from speicfic historical experiences and one can ignore them only at one’s own peril.

The intentions of the current regime in India are not a secret any more and we have seen its contempt for the rule of law, over and over again. The ongoing farce of the Bhima-Koregaon arrests, or the fantastic conspiracy theories that have been woven around the North East Delhi communal violence earlier this year, are there for everyone to see. Have we forgotten that when Justice Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court insisted that the police see in the  court, the crucial piece of evidence – that of Kapil Mishra’s video-recorded speech openly threatening violence and killing – he was transferred out of Delhi that very night? These aren’t just aberrations: the subversion of the rule of law that began with the isolated case of Judge Loya’s murder is now an everyday affair and the judges know what the costs of going against this regime can be. Of course, there have been many instances of the subversion of the criminal justice system during ‘riots’ and ‘communal violence’ in the past as well, but the overall sanctity of the law was maintained and things could still be challenged in court with some results.

One big difference between Germany in 1933 and India today, (among many other differences), is that even in early 1933, communists and social democrats mattered enough for Hitler to want to arrest them and clear the way for his untramelled exercise of power. In India today, the main opposition to key policy changes has come from ordinary people at large – the Citizenship Amendment Act being the most classic instance. No wonder then, those being arrested here are ordinary people and activists unaffiliated to any political party.

What is worse is that the dominant mainstream Left, has by and large, got caught up in the tendency that Gramsci described – to become mummified and anachronistic; the incapacity to react against the force of habit and formulaic thinking; the inability to recognize what is new in the situation. We have been witnessing a naked display of this tendency in the mainstream Left’s antics in Bengal, which created history in the 2019 parliament elections by mobilizing votes for the BJP.  Now that the state assembly elections are due next year, things are assuming surreal dimensions.

Thus, the CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury argued in a television interview, later prominently displayed on the front page of the party’s Bengali daily Ganashakti, that ‘in order to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) must be defeated‘. This statement actually makes no sense whatsoever when the danger of Hindutva takeover of the state is imminent and elections are just round the corner. Perhaps,  in a slightly longer term, this could have made some sense. The argument that there is great discontent against  the TMC government and the anti-incumbency votes against it must be mopped up by the Left so that the BJP does not benefit, can make sense only when we are thinking of BJP’s growth in the medium term at the very least. But before examining this argument, it might just be worth asking that if that is really the case, how does the Left actually justify mobilizing votes for the BJP? This is not only evident in the ground reports that were coming in from Bengal but was also claimed by the Home Minister Amit Shah just a few days ago. In terms of electoral statistics too, it is clear that the extra votes that the BJP polled in the Lok Sabha elections came almost entirely from the CPI(M).  According to CPI(ML) Liberation leader Kavita Krishnan, even now, among Left supporters in West Bengal, ‘arguments are rife on the ground suggesting “Ram in 2021 and Baam [Left] in 2026″‘. 

But let us still look at the argument that the West Bengal CPI(M) is making. The argument of the CPI(M), to repeat, is this: in order to defeat the BJP  it is necessary to defeat the TMC. Today’s (19 November 2020) Ganashakti has modified the line a bit and it says: In order to defeat the BJP, the TMC must be isolated. The distinction is important but it really does not make any difference to its substance in the immediate context. Why?
We can reduce the argument to three propositions:
1. TMC is in power and faces massive anti-incumbency
2. It is the mass of people moving away from the TMC that the BJP is capturing.
3. If the CPI-M wants to defeat the BJP, it must come out in opposition to (to ‘defeat’ or to ‘isolate’) the ruling party so that it can mop up the anti TMC votes, thus preventing them from going to BJP.
Hence to defeat the latter, you must defeat/ isolate the former.
 
Now here is the tricky part:
1. Ever since its defeat in 2011, CPI-M has only been in relentless opposition to the TMC, treating it an enemy number one.
2. Hence, it should already be mopping up anti-incumbency vote.
But what do the figures say?
First, let us take the anti-incumbency question: TMC got 39% vote and 184 seats in 2011. In 2016, its vote increased to 44.9% and seats to 211. In the 2019 parliament election, it cornered 43.3 % vote (the marginal difference is also because 2019 was a Lok Sabha and not a state election). Actually in the by-elections since, it has recovered even this decline.
Second, the ‘mopping up’ question: CPI-M polled 29.8 vote in 2011, which declined to 19.7 % in 2016 and to 7.5 % in 2019 and zero seats. This is how the CPI-M is apparently mopping up the anti-incumbency, anti-TMC vote!
Third, Contrary to the lies peddled by the CPI-M West Bengal, not only is the party losing votes, it is losing votes almost entirely to the BJP. So 16.72 percent of BJP’s increase of 22.25 percent in the 2019 parliament election was gained by capturing the depleting CPI-M and Left Front vote.
TMC’s vote till now remains not only intact but has even grown marginally. As I had pointed out, in an article the The Telegraph in January this year, in the three by-elections that took place in November 2019, in Kharagpur, Kaliaganj and Karimpur, not only did the TMC win all three seats but significantly, the combined vote of the CPI(M) and Congress fell drastically (ranging from 40, 000 to 90, 000 votes) in comparison to the 2016 Assembly elections. So frankly, as of now there doesn’t seem to be any anti-incumbency in evidence at least from the figures available. On the other hand, evidence is that the CPI(M) is continuously losing ground – the latest to leave is the former Jadavpur area councillor and 2014 Lok Sabha candidate Rinku Naskar. From all available accounts she had a good record of work as councillor but it also seems that she had been among those helping the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
It is necessary to challenge the CPI-M’s lies because many well meaning people sympathetic to the Left in generaI, seem to be taken by this specious logic based on  totally incorrect information. It is also necessary because hundreds and thousands of people, especially Muslims, will have to pay with their lives for this criminal cynicism. It is the chronicle of a tragedy foretold.
 
As a Muslim friend from the Metia Buruz area put it, ‘we feel like our lives will be collateral damage’.
 
CPI(ML) Liberation – Signs of Fresh Thinking
 

It was a pleasure therefore to listen to Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI(ML) Liberation speak of the need to focus on the BJP as the main threat today – to India and to West Bengal. His responses to the various interviewers, even as the results of the Bihar elections were pouring in, were remarkably free of obfuscating jargon and spoke of the threat to democracy, to the rule of law and to civlizational values from the BJP. And that was enough for making the argument that it needed to be challenged in a united manner. No bookish arguments about whether this is fascism and what Dimitrov might have said about ‘united front’ tactics!

Signs of fresh thinking were quite evident in Bhattacharya’s call to  ‘think in these new times, in a new way, in new conditions’, where he had no hesitation in including Ambedkar along with Bhagat Singh among the icons of the movement. As he put it, the slogan was ‘Naye Bharat ke vaaste, Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar ke Raaste’ (see video below). Indeed, the CPI(ML) Liberation has gone further and, as Jignesh Mevani pointed out, it did not field a single upper caste candidate in the Bihar elections, ‘changing the popular notion of the Brahminical, Savarna-dominated Left leadership.’

In the video below, Bhattacharya talks at length about a range of issues during the  Bihar election campaign, to Nakul Singh Sawhney of Chalchitra Abhiyan.

The rethinking in this interview is quite fascinating also because, in order to think the question of caste and Dalit oppression and  foregound the issue of dignity, Bhattacharya even indicates a preliminary theoretical willingness to understand ‘class’ as more than a purely economic category. This is, of course, a very difficult question and when he says class does not simply mean economic exploitation but also dignity, self-respect, culture and social justice – that move itself raises many other questions about specific forms of overdetermination. The multifarious implications of this proposition cannot be dealt with in this brief article but let us at least recognize that it opens up a conceptual space in the practice of the Left that can have far-reaching consequences.

A final point of great interest in this interview is that Bhattacharya here displays a sense of having thought through some of the issues relating to the ’employment question’ that had become the focus of the Mahagathbandhan  (MGB – grand alliance) election  campaign. Recall the way the CPI(M) and  Left Front in West Bengal went about it.  Theirs was primarily the neoliberal way of inviting Capital to invest in the state and let it dictate the terms. Large-scale land acquisition and the unfortunate developments of Singur and Nandigram were consquences of that model.

What Bhattacharya says here clearly is that the technology-intensive high-end industries are not going to be able to address Bihar’s problems and that the focus will need to be  on more labour-oriented, medium and small enterprises which can provide far more employment than high-tech industries with least dislocation. But simultaenously, should the MGB win (the interview was conducted before the results were out), Bihar would also focus in developing itself as an IT hub – the vision is clearly not that of small industry based employment generation alone but has to go hand in hand with, rather than be obliterated by, big industry.

Of course these are critical issues and while one would have liked to hear a bit also about climate change and ‘green jobs’, in my view the beginning is itself quite significant and needs to be backed by the wider Left public. It is also important because, to my mind, the reason why the mainstream Left and the CPI(M) in particular have no appeal left in Bengal has a lot to do with their intransigence and refusal to rethink the neoliberal Singur-Nandigram model.

The struggle against Hindutva, it is clear today, cannot be fought on its turf of the secular-communal issue but must be taken to another terrain. A comprehensive rethink on a number of issues is necessary. One hopes that this stance of the CPI(ML) Liberation will be the beginning of a new chapter in the Left movement in this country.

डॉक्‍टर राजकुमारी बंसल – एक अंबेडकरवादी दलित जिन्हें ‘नक्सल भाभी’ बना दिया गया

A statement by WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION

हाथरस में एक दलित लड़की के साथ हुई बलात्कार की घटना व उसकी जघन्य हत्या के बाद, पीड़ित परिवार के साथ डॉक्टर राजकुमारी बंसल जिस निर्भीकता और साहस के साथ खड़ी हुईं उन पर देश भर की मीडिया ने जिस तरह की फर्ज़ी और झूठी खबरें चलाईं उसके विरोध में हम सभी सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता, प्रोफेशनल व तमाम संगठन, जो जातिगत और यौनिक हिंसा का विरोध करते हैं, डॉ. राजकुमारी बंसल के समर्थन में एकजुट हैं। उनकी निर्भीकता व मानवीय प्रयास के लिए हम उन्हें सलाम करते हैं।

विगत 24 अक्टूबर 2020 को मध्य प्रदेश महिला मंच, छत्तीसगढ़ महिला अधिकार मंच, एनएफआईडब्ल्यू (मध्य प्रदेश), नागरिक अधिकार मंच, डब्ल्यूएसएस (मध्य प्रदेश-छत्तीसगढ़) के प्रतिनिधियों ने डॉ. राजकुमारी बंसल से जबलपुर में उनके घर पर मुलाकात की। 

Continue reading डॉक्‍टर राजकुमारी बंसल – एक अंबेडकरवादी दलित जिन्हें ‘नक्सल भाभी’ बना दिया गया

CAA and dissent – the mere passing of a law does not imply democratic consensus: Abhik chimni

Guest post by ABHIK CHIMNI

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) is a legislation which along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC)  gives rise to a legal regime which is not consistent with the tenets of the Indian Constitution.

The CCA/NRC violates the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, primarily the equality clause and the principle of secularism embedded within the constitutional framework.

I further argue that Fundamental Rights are in fact dissenting rights.

The Indian Constitution – A story in three parts

The Constitution can be broadly divided into three parts.

The first accounts for protection of individual liberty through the fundamental rights chapter stipulated in Part III of the Constitution.

The second seeks to create independent institutions such as the constitutional courts, the Election Commission, the Comptroller Auditor General and the Governor’s office etc.

Continue reading CAA and dissent – the mere passing of a law does not imply democratic consensus: Abhik chimni

Who is afraid of anuradha bhasin ?

Attacks on the media have become more “sophisticated”, such as stopping advertisements, which adds to the threat of violence.

Anuradha bhasin

In the first week of October came news from Jammu that the government-allotted apartment where Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times has lived for twenty years, had been ransacked. The act was allegedly perpetrated by the relative of a former member of the Legislative Council. The intruders tried not to be photographed in the act by Bhasin, but later she published them and wrote on social media about how her “jewellery, silverware and other valuables” were taken by them in “connivance with the [Jammu and Kashmir] Estates Deptt and some police personnel”. Bhasin had not been served a show-cause notice to vacate the flat.

Soon after the office of her newspaper, located in the Press Enclave area in Srinagar, was also sealed, again without giving its legal owner or editor any reason. “Today, Estates Deptt locked our office without any due process of cancellation & eviction, same way as I was evicted from a flat in Jammu, where my belongings including valuables were handed over to ‘new allottee’,” Bhasin wrote.

One is suddenly reminded of the various storms the oldest and most-circulated newspaper published from Jammu and Kashmir has faced all these years. In 1983, some 200 Hindu right-wing lumpen, armed with batons and sharp weapons, barged into the offices of Kashmir Times in Jammu and attacked the editor at the time, Ved Bhasin. This attack followed a news report published by the then forty-year-old newspaper, which had apparently “hurt” their sentiments. The grand old man of English journalism, as Ved Bhasin was known in Jammu and Kashmir, survived the attack and continued his work with renewed vigour.

(Read the full article here)

A history of conservative strike on books

Even in a future in which books are outlawed, ideas cannot be vanquished.

Nazi's Boook burning

“You may burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas those books contain have passed through millions of channels and will go on,” wrote Helen Keller, in An Open Letter to German Students in 1933. Keller’s How I Became a Socialist was on the list of books to be burned. “History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them,” she wrote.

Today you cannot perhaps have campaigns like Nazi’s book burnings, nor can books disappear off the shelves as they did in the United States during the McCarthy era. Yet the powers that be have thought of ingenious ways to stop people from reading books.

A recent order by the department of education in Britain needs to be seen in this context. It has ordered schools in England to stop accepting funds from groups or organisations which have expressed the desire to end capitalism. Anti-capitalism is seen by the department as an “extreme political stance”, similar to opposing freedom of speech, anti-Semitism and endorsing illegal activities.

( Read the full text here)

Hathras and Beyond: the Upper Caste Counter-Revolution

If the post-Mandal Dalit Bahujan upsurge was an expression of the democratic revolution, the advent of Adityanath’s BJP government constituted the beginning of a counter-revolution that is on the way to consolidating itself in Uttar Pradesh.

Police at the Delhi-UP order, image courtesy The Print

The facts of the case are well known, even though the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is trying, ever so hard, to produce a different narrative by resorting to the usual Hindutva tactic of assigning it to an international conspiracy. It is typical of the utterly farcical and shoddy nature of the Indian police (and maybe indicates the regime’s over-confidence) that it in the name  of collecting evidence of the conspiracy, it has done a cut-and-paste job from an American site, even forgetting to delete references to ‘NYPD’ and ‘white supremacism’! Incidents of gang-rape and murder have since also happened elsewhere in the state, notably in Balrampur and Bulandshahr. We are witnessing the heinous episode of the Hathras gang rape and murder when the memory of the Unnao rape case in which then BJP leader Kuldeep Sengar was accused, is still fresh in our minds. The victim’s father died in police custody, having already been very badly beaten by Sengar’s brother and their goons, a video of which was proudly circulated on social media. Some other members of the family were killed in an  accident when a truck with a blackened number plate hit their car. In a second rape case, in the very same Unnao, two years later, a 23-year old woman who had been raped and was on the way to a hearing of the rape case, was caught and set ablaze by five men and died soon after that. In the first case, the rape-accused was a ‘popular’ figure – a Rajput leader – in whose support demonstrations were organized after he was arrested. In the second case, the girl was a Lohar (a blacksmith jati) while those who brutalized and killed her were Brahmins.

Are these really coincidences? That the rapist in these ‘paradigmatic’ cases is always an upper caste (Rajput or Brahmin) and the woman always lower caste, or at any rate powerless in class terms? And are these really about sex? The answer to the second question has of course been provided to us by long years of meticulous and painstaking research by feminists the world over: rape is always about power. It is about caste, community, race and gender based power – gender is certainly not unimportant in this particular kind of display of power but sex is not the issue here.

It is the first question that merits closer attention here. The fact that in these type of cases the rapist is almost always an upper caste man is doubly interesting. We already know, in a very generic and commonsense way, that this is how the caste power of the upper-castes and powerful landed interests is asserted over the Dalit Bahujan castes. I am reminded of  some short stories by Mohandas Naimishray, where he talks of this mode of asserting power as a regular practice.  In’ Apna Gaon’, ‘Saali chamari, thakur se zuban ladati hai!’ (you Chamar bitch, you dare to talk back to a Thakur!) is how the Thakur curses the hapless Dalit woman before five Thakur men pounce upon her in a description that is not unlike what we read ever so often in accounts of gang rapes in newspapers. In another story, ‘Reet’ (custom), he describes the age old practice of newly wed Dalit women being forcibly taken away to the Thakur’s place on the  very first night, where they would be raped. In this story, Bulaki’s wife too is taken away by the Thakurs on the first night. 

‘The landlord did what he liked with her, tormenting her body and bruising it. After all, who did he have to fear! In the morning, she was thrown out like joothan [left over food] for her family members.’

The Democratic Revolution

I recount these literary narratives from some of the most poignant fiction that emerged from Dalit literature in Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s, simply in order to underline that naked, untramelled power over the lower castes, is what the Thakurs and other upper castes lost with the democratic revolution of the 1990s. And it was the democratic revolution of the post-Mandal 1990s that made possible the emergence of writings such as Naimishray’s or Om Prakash Valmiki’s widely-acclaimed autobiography, Joothan (1997). It is literature that is not really fictional but in some sense, docu-fiction. Look at this world that Dalit literature of that period presents before us – and then look at what is happening in Yogi Adityanath’s UP today and you will immediately get what is going on there.

For the intervening period in the state saw a major reversal of power relations, especially with the rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party  (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP). The rise of the Dalit Bahujans and of the BSP and SP, especially Mayawati’s stints in power, actually saw the reversal of the power dynamic in the rural areas as well. So powerful was the immediate impact of that upsurge that within a year of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the BJP lost power in the state, and only won state elections in 2017, three years after coming to power at the centre, in 2014, when the counter-revolution really began. The Congress too wilted in the face of the Dalit Bahujan upsurge and had all but disappeared for almost three decades.

I should perhaps state here, in parenthesis, that the term ‘democratic revolution’ here should not be understood in the Marxist sense of a ‘bourgeois-democratic revolution’ – for there is nothing democratic about the bourgeoisie, nor anything essentially bourgeois about democracy. That was but a specific and momentary historical conjunction of the two in nineteenth century Europe, whereafter democracy was quickly yoked into the service of liberalism that was the ideology of capitalism par excellence. The democratic revolution, rather, is to be understood as the process whereby the demand for and claims to equality are made and rapidly extended to different arenas of social life, leading to ‘the end of a society of a hierarchic and inegalitarian type, ruled by a theological-political logic’. (Laclau and Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy). 

In a very important sense, the democratic revolution of the 1990s reconfigured power equations, even if the demand for equality was not specifically raised and theorized in the context of that upsurge. The very ferocity of the upper caste counter-attack, in the form of the anti-Mandal agitation, ensured that the question of power was foregrounded. However, neither ‘self respect’ of yore, nor ‘social justice’ of this period are really demands for equality. Nonetheless, it is true that the demand for reservations in education and employment was no longer made in the language of ‘safeguards’ as Ambedkar had been forced to do, but was being raised in conjunction with Ram Manohar Lohia’s ‘picchda maange sau mein saath‘ (backwards demand 60 percent in employment – that is to say, in proportion to their percentage in the population). To the extent that it did pose a serious challenge to the deeply hierarchic and inegalitarian society, sanctioned by Hindu dharmashastras, it was a profoundly democratic revolution.

The Revolution Derailed

In retrospect, it does seem that the democratic revolution seemed destined to be derailed partly because it could not seize, head-on, the full meaning of its own claims. For a large part, the movement remained fixated on the superficial semiotics of power in purely caste terms. The giant statues built by Mayawati, often derided by critics, are emblematic of this fixation. A more radical claim of equality, in contrast, would have proceeded to the next stage of breaking the economic power of the landlords, Thakurs in particular, simultaneously finding ways of strengthening Dalit economic power.  The call for the formation of a Dalit bourgeoisie, despite the power of its innovativeness, seemed to have remained so trapped within the logic of neoliberalism, that any idea of redistribution was beyond its horizon of vision. The hostility of its chief enunciator, Chandra Bhan Prasad, to Marxism, ensured that it remains simply at the level of a ‘get rich quickly’ mantra for those who are in a position to do so. However, this is not just about Chandra Bhan Prasad but of the entire range of parties that were vehicles of the democratic revolution. All of them remained trapped within the larger world of neoliberal thinking and had practically no economic vision of their own. Having arisen in the era of the collapse of socialism and the larger disenchantment with Marxism and the sense that neoliberalism was the only game in town, all these parties totally shunned the economic question.

There was another reason for the derailment of the revolution that had started becoming apparent soon after the victory of the SP-BSP alliance in UP in 1993. As the panchayat polls drew nearer, it became clear, as Naimishray himself had explained to me once, that the pact between  the two parties was merely political; at the social level there wasn’t any real connection, and the social conflicts had started playing out as soon as the question of local power came up on the agenda. The unfortunate and difficult realization for those who believed in Kanshi Ram’s agenda of Bahujan unity was that it was the powerful among the OBCs who were the immediate and proximate oppressors of the Dalits. This was evident not just in UP but across different states. It was in this context that Mayawati embarked upon her programme of wooing the powerful Brahmins and even Rajputs (the ‘sarvajan’ slogan) – rather than say, the  utterly powerless non-Jatav Dalits and the non-Yadav, non-Kurmi OBCs. The lure of power was also beginning to become its own justification.

The Counter-Revolution

In a sense, the Unnao rape accused, Kuldeep Sengar provides quite a telling illustration of what happens all too often to revolutions. His being a Rajput did not prevent him from retaining his local power by aligning himself, now with the BSP and now the SP, getting elected and serving as MLA of both these parties respectively. Had he turned over a new leaf? Certainly not. If I had the space, I could show how the character of the CPI(M) and the Left Front changed rapidly after accession to power in 1977, as erstwhile enemies joined the new arrangements of power. Sengar was not doing either BSP or SP a favour. He knew that his remaining MLA would be the key to his power in a context when both the BJP and the Congress has ceased to be claimants of power.

That was the interregnum when the erstwhile powerful groups were being forced to negotiate with the parties of the revolution – and these parties mistook it as their strength. They thought they had broken  the back of the powerful upper castes, whereas the latter were simply biding their time and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself before them.

That opportunity came in 2014. Both the SP and BSP had already revealed their feet of clay and in any case, election studies figures show, they had already started losing votes and supporters even among their own social base. All this happened quite sometime before the 2014 election that then became the occasion, with Narendra Modi at the helm, for the upper castes in UP to hit back. Now confident that these parties would not even be able to mop up their own base, the BJP moved rapidly to become the party of counter-revolution. The party’s unprecedented and breathtaking performance in UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections set the stage for the recapture of the state in 2017. The decision to make Yogi Adityanath – not a BJP insider – the chief minister was a shocker for many, even among many of those sympathetic to the party. But in retrospect, both the 2014 and 2017 victories were not simply BJP victories; they were part of this upper caste, especially Thakur bid to recapture the state.

What is happening in the state should not therefore be read simply in party terms. Any party in control of the situation, especially one with a Hindutva platform, should have been keen and able to show to the whole world that it acts in favour of the most poor and oppressed Dalits. That would win lasting support from these sections and forever doom the prospects of Dalit parties and organizations. But the BJP under Yogi Adityanath is clearly not going to go that way, for the simple reason that this is the time for the counter-revolution to consolidate itself.

The moral of the story is this: Social and political spaces never lie in a limbo or a state of ‘equilibrium’ of any sort and the minute you relax your guard, the adversary takes the upper hand. Especially if age-old power configurations are disturbed. And leaving battles half-fought can lead to the most disastrous consequences, as we are seeing in UP today.

Over 10,000 Feminist groups and individuals condemn gangrape and murder of dalit woman in hathras

Received via SAHELI WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTRE

We condemn the horrific rape and murder of a young Dalit woman from Hathras, UP.

We stand with the family in their sorrow. Extend support, solidarity and rage.

We demand immediate action against the state officials responsible for mishandling the case, destroying key evidence, and further traumatising the family and community.

SHAME ON THE STATE THAT STANDS WITH THE GUILTY.
SHAME ON THE STATE THAT INCREASES THE IMPUNITY WITH WHICH UPPER CASTE FORCES COMMIT VIOLENCE AND HATE CRIMES.

Today, over 10,000 people from all walks of life, cutting across caste, religion, gender, occupation and community came together from almost every state in India and more than a dozen countries across the world such US, UK, Canada, Australia, UAE, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia etc to demand justice for the heinous rape, brutalising attack and murder of a young Dalit woman from Hathras.

In a sharp statement condemning the incident, they got together to say thatdespite a continuing saga of countless other cases of brutal sexual assault and murders especially of young Dalit women the conscience of this nation does not seem to be shaken enough to do anything serious to stop the systematic targeting of women, Dalits and the poor.

While there is a historicity to these incidents, but under CM Yogi’s rule, Uttar Pradesh has only gone from bad to worse. Crimes against women and Dalits have increased, and police have been given unlimited powers without any accountability. Today UP tops the charts for atrocities against Dalits, it also tops the charts for crimes against women.

Continue reading Over 10,000 Feminist groups and individuals condemn gangrape and murder of dalit woman in hathras

बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

Statement by WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION on Hathras and other cases in UP

यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ (WSS)  उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं पर बढ़ रही यौन हिंसा पर चिंता व्यक्त करती है। पिछले दिनों हाथरस और बलरामपुर में दलित लड़कियों के साथ हुए बलात्कार और हाथरस के पूरे मामले में उत्तर प्रदेश पुलिस और प्रशासन की लापरवाही और बलात्कारियों को फायदा पहुंचाने वाली कार्यवाही, जिसमें रातों रात पीड़िता के शव को जलाना भी शामिल है, की कड़े शब्दों में निंदा करते करते हैं। 

हाथरस के जघन्य बलात्कार और हत्या की घटना पर रोष व्यक्त करते हुए WSS का कहना है कि उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं और उसमे भी दलित समुदाय की महिला की कोई सुनवाई नहीं है।

Continue reading बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

Unpacking Religious Nationalism

Review of ‘Religious Nationalism – Social Perceptions and Violence : Sectarianism on Political Chessboard‘- Ram Puniyani (Media House 2020)

“Blatant dictatorship – in the form of fascism, communism, or military rule – has disappeared across much of the world. Military coups and other violent seizures of power are rare. Most countries hold regular elections. Democracies still die, but by different means.

Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves.”

(How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt)

The contrast had never been so sharper.

Continue reading Unpacking Religious Nationalism

AIDMAM & NDMJ Condemn Rising Atrocities Against Dalit Women and Minor Girls in UP

Joint Press Statement issued by All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM)  and National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ)

On 29th September 2020 India has once again failed Dalit Women and Girls in upholding their rights and safety; we have lost another young life to the savage brutal gangrape and murder. This brutal incident occurred on 14th September in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh and once again exposes the harsh realities of caste based sexual assault faced by Dalit women and girls in this country. Victim was dragged with the dupatta around her neck into the field where she was gang raped; suffered severe spinal cord injury, severely beaten up and also got deep cut in her tongue as she fought back the rapist. She was not in a situation to give her statement till 23rd September 2020 due to the severe injuries that paralyzed her condition.
The level of brutality and inhumanity continues even after the demise of the victim, as the UP police forcibly cremated the body in the early morning around 3 AM on 30th September. Victim’s body was burnt by the police against the will of the family members and not letting them take her home one final time. Beside this, the police locked family members and locals inside the house as per the statement of family members of the deceased.

Rising Atrocities
Such ghastly incidents of violence are perpetrated everyday against women and minors and especially during the Pandemic and the Lockdown. The state of Uttar Pradesh has witnessed several cases of atrocities against Dalit women; with Lakhimpur Kheri leading in the graph of violence. In the past 60 days more than six atrocities were reported in the district against Dalit women and minor girls. Similarly in Saharanpur district, six cases of abduction and rape have been reported where NDMJ has intervened. These gruesome incidents of sexual violence reflect the real picture of Indian society constructed on violent casteist patriarchal structure.
It should be noted that the crime rate against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh has been rising exponentially in the last few years. As per the NCRB report of 2018, Uttar Pradesh tops the list of number of crimes committed against Dalits including Dalit women in 2018. Also, Uttar Pradesh has recorded the maximum number of cases of rape (526), attempt to rape (48), incidences of kidnap and abduction of Dalit women (381) and incidences of assault (711) in the year of 2018 under the SC/ST (PoA) Act. As per the compiled data of the NCRB reports of 2014-18, Uttar Pradesh has witnessed the maximum number of atrocities against Dalit women in India and an increase of 15% in the number or rape cases against Dalit women from 2015-18. 7,920 number of atrocities against Dalit women have been registered under the SC/ST (PoA) Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh from 2014-18. A big majority of this figure has been for the cases of assault (3,421) and rape (2,410) of Dalit women. Attempt to rape (219) and kidnap and abduction (1,870) also form a major form of violence committed against Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh from 2014-18. Continue reading AIDMAM & NDMJ Condemn Rising Atrocities Against Dalit Women and Minor Girls in UP