Letter of protest to Association of Asian Studies on exclusion of Pakistani participants from Delhi conference

A letter of protest by Concerned Scholars/Conference Participants, addressed to the Association of Asian Studies (AAS), is being circulated  for signatures.

The AAS has bowed to the Indian government’s directive not to include Pakistani nationals at the AAS-in-Asia Conference to be hosted in Delhi between 5 – 6 July, 2018. The letter of protest states that the organisers of the Conference have thus been complicit in the curtailing of basic academic freedom, and that AAS’ soft stand and lack of transparency in the matter has meant an exclusion of Pakistani voices from an international conference on Asia.

If you agree with the arguments being put forward in the letter, please consider signing and circulating it within your network.

You can access and sign the letter here:   Letter to AAS-in-Asia

Thoothukudi Massacre – When State becomes Predator: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

Thoothukudi protests – Image courtesy LiveMint

On 22nd May 2018, in what cannot be imagined even in a dictatorial regime, the police in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu – a South Indian state opened fire to kill, on a group of peaceful protesters marching towards the district administration office demanding denial of permission for expansion and closure of the existing copper smelting plant of Sterlite. Sterlite is a subsidiary of the London based corporation Vedanta, which has been dumping toxic waste all over this town since 1998 resulting in widespread health hazards including increase in reports of cancer. This massacre is unimaginable even in the worst dictatorial regimes, because not only were known national and international legal norms and protocols in crowd/riot control violated, but also because the video clippings that have surfaced after the massacre seem to indicate sufficient premeditation – with a plainclothes sniper on the top of a van being ordered to kill at least one person. Continue reading “Thoothukudi Massacre – When State becomes Predator: Bobby Kunhu”

The Danger of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ Course in JNU – An Open Letter to the President of India: Abhay Kumar

Guest post by ABHAY KUMAR

Dear Ram Nath Kovind Ji,

Within a few weeks I have to submit my PhD thesis at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Given that the deadline for my submission is at hand, I should have spent all my energies on my thesis rather than writing this letter to you. But I couldn’t help doing this. Through this letter, I would like to bring to your notice a very serious issue that has recently come up in JNU. Since you are the Visitor of this University, I think I should bring this matter to your notice. You are requested to make an urgent intervention.

As the media reports suggest, the Academic Council (AC) of JNU, held on May 18, 2018, took a decision to open a new course called ‘Islamic Terrorism’. It is learnt that the AC meeting approved in principle a new course called ‘Islamic Terrorism’. This course will be one among other courses offered by the proposed centre to be known as Centre for National Security Studies (CNSS). However, some people say that ‘Islamic Terrorism’ is not a new course but it is a theme of a paper on national security that includes other themes like ‘Naxalism’, ‘Insurgency’, ‘Demographic changes’ etc. Dear Sir, much confusion still persists and we are still waiting for the JNU administration to come out with all relevant facts and clarify its stand on these highly controversial issues. But the apprehension among us is growing that the current JNU administration appears adamant to change the character of JNU and push several hawkish agendas ahead. Continue reading “The Danger of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ Course in JNU – An Open Letter to the President of India: Abhay Kumar”

The Karnataka Moment and the Search for a ‘Bonapartist’ Figure – Looking at 2019

There are enough reasons for for the upbeat and celebratory mood in the anti-BJP-RSS camp following the resignation of BS Yeddyurappa even before the floor test. After all, for once, the game plan of the Modi-Shah duo fell flat, thanks in no small measure, to the Supreme Court’s intervention in directing that the floor test be done by 19 May, knocking down the (RSS) Governor’s initial provision of 15 days to the government to prove its majority. In a manner of speaking, we escaped just by the skin of our teeth.

Both the parties concerned – the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) – were on tenterhooks throughout and the surreal accounts of the high drama of the past three days read like they could be about the nether worlds of crime and mafias. Offers to buy off MLAs with money ranging from Rs 5 crores and a ministry to Rs 100 crores have openly been alleged but these were the relatively minor matters. Congress and JD (S) MLAs were not allowed to leave Bengaluru as their chartered flights were ‘denied permission’. [An MLA, in fact told the Times of India, in the same report linked here that by manipulating resources, the BJP had ‘caged us’ in the state]. Their security cover was withdrawn. The management of the resort in Kochi (another state, not even ruled by the BJP) they had booked into by the Central leadership, actually backed out stating that they were under tremendous pressure. Then began the trip by road to Hyderabad, where eventually, it was the Telengana police that ensured their safety. Stories of individual MLAs, either being offered with withdrawal of pending cases or being threatened with harassment with new ones have also been doing the rounds. And for those who have been following what has been happening to the AAP MLAs in Delhi, nothing of this should be unbelievable.

Continue reading “The Karnataka Moment and the Search for a ‘Bonapartist’ Figure – Looking at 2019”

How the Supreme Court gave up on Democracy in Karnataka: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

There is all around jubilation in the anti-BJP, particularly the Congress camp that the Supreme Court has cut short the time given to Yediyurappa by the Governor to prove his majority from 15 days to 24 hours. This jubilation is extremely myopic and self serving and is in no way rooted in the tall claims that the Congress has been making about trying to save the Constitution. All the Supreme Court order does is reduce the window of opportunity for the BJP to indulge in horse trading and increase the chances of the Congress-JDS combine to keep their flock together and win the assembly – and also substantially reduce the resort costs.

Continue reading “How the Supreme Court gave up on Democracy in Karnataka: Bobby Kunhu”

Letter from former civil servants to Chief Secretary, Haryana on intimidation of Muslims offering namaz

Former civil servants have written open letters since 2017 (here and here), expressing their anguish at the unchecked attempts to spread hatred and discord among communities. Eleven of these civil servants have now written (on May 7, 2018) to the Chief Secretary of Haryana on the issue of harassment and intimidation of Muslims offering namaz in Haryana, by vigilante groups.

To Shri Depinder Singh Dhesi IAS,  Chief Secretary, Govt of Haryana.

Dear Chief Secretary,

We write to draw your attention to an urgent problem.

Over the last one month, Friday namaaz offered by the Muslim community in open spaces have been attacked and disrupted at several locations in Gurgaon district. These attacks have been organised by a dozen or so organisations (including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Kranti Dal, Gorakshak Dal, Hindu Jagaran Manch and Shiv Sena) that have come together under the umbrella of the Hindu Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti.

The attacks are coordinated, violent and clearly designed to terrorise and intimidate and are taking place across the district. Last Friday a group of hoodlums arrived in four jeeps at a namaaz venue on MG Road and started shouting abusive and provocative slogans at the assembled namaazis. Although a police force was present, it took no action to stop the sloganeering and threats. On the contrary, the police asked the namaazis to disperse. At a namaaz in Sector 40, the Imam who was leading the prayers was pushed to the ground. People who came for the prayers had no option but to fold up their mats and leave.

Continue reading “Letter from former civil servants to Chief Secretary, Haryana on intimidation of Muslims offering namaz”

Open letter to the Prime Minister of India on the Kathua and Unnao Rape Cases – The Full Text

To,

The Prime Minister of India,

Prime Minister’s Office, South Block,

Raisina Hill, New Delhi 110 001.

21 April 2018

Mr Prime Minister,

We are academics and independent scholars from India and abroad, writing to express solidarity with, and to endorse the sentiments expressed by, forty-nine retired civil servants in their open letter to you of April 16th 2018 (https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-open-letter-kathua-unnao).

Along with these civil servants and countless other citizens of India and the world at large, we wish to express our deep anger and anguish over the events in Kathua and Unnao and the aftermath of these events; over the efforts, in both cases, of those administering the relevant States to protect the alleged perpetrators of these monstrous crimes; over the subsequent profoundly distasteful efforts of rationalisation, deflection and diversion that have been so much in evidence in the reactions of your party’s spokespersons in the media; and finally over your own prolonged (and by now familiar) silence that was broken only recently with wholly inadequate, platitudinous, and  non-specific assurances of justice for the victims. Continue reading “Open letter to the Prime Minister of India on the Kathua and Unnao Rape Cases – The Full Text”