Celebrating difference in Southasia

Choles Ritchil, an activist and a leader of the Garo people living in the Modhupur Upozila under Tangail District in Bangladesh was found dead last month. Over the last three years, he had been leading a protest against the establishment of an Eco park in the forests around his village by the department of Forest. He was allegedly tortured brutally by the officers of the local army camp before dying.

Garos are a part of a large tribal minority, along with other hill people, known as pahadis, who are part of present-day Bangladesh, along side the large minority of Hindus. Bangladesh, as we know, was formerly East Pakistan and seceded from it after India fought a war against Pakistan in 1971. Its founder leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had said in his founding speech, “From today, you are all Bengalis.” Not all Bengalis are equal. Continue reading Celebrating difference in Southasia

Narendra Modi and Mallika Sarabhai

The Modi administration in Gujarat wants some more censorship, this time the programme is not even about the Gujarat riots:

Modi spent some precious time explaining to Ahluwalia that the TV project on development issues — including women’s empowerment, health, youth and human rights — was done without consulting the state even though these are state subjects.

And, so deep-rooted is Modi’s dislike for Sarabhai — because she has been at odds on various issues including the communal riots — that he is not leaving matters at that.

The BJP on Tuesday announced that it will stage a protest at the Doordarshan office here over Mallika’s project which gets two hours of airtime every day. Local producers are already up in arms against the project. [Times of India]

Here is a previous example of the price that Sarabhai has to pay fro speaking up against Modi.

Amnesty report on the fifth anniversary of the Gujarat carnage

Here. (.pdf)

1. The direct victims of that violence and their relatives continue to face serious challenges and obstacles in securing justice;

2. An overwhelming number of the criminal cases relating to the Gujarat violence remain un-investigated and unresolved, or closed with the result that the majority of he perpetrators of the violence have gone unpunished and remain at large in the state – this is despite the reopening of 1,594 cases for reinvestigation after the Supreme Court of India (Supreme Court) order in August 2004;

3. The plight of those internally displaced from their homes as a result of the violence is continuing one. As many as 5,000 families are living in “relief colonies” without basic amenities or official recognition from the Government of Gujarat. The Government of Gujarat however continues to assert that all those displaced as a result of the violence have been rehabilitated;

4. Human rights defenders, tenaciously engaged in pursuing justice for the victims of the violence, face frequent harassment;

5. There is an ongoing practice of social and economic boycotting of Muslim communities in the state.

The BJP CD

“That day is not far away when we will be afraid to even call ourselves Hindu, and you will never be able to find a Sohanlal, Mohanlal, Atmaram or Radhekrishan anywhere. Wherever we look, we will only see Abbas, Naqvi, Rizvi, and Maulvi”.

Siddharth Varadarajan shares the contents of the Bhartiya Janta Party’s now-withdrawn campaign CD in the Uttar Pradesh polls.

Goa: Communal Tinderbox Waiting To Explode?

The demolition of a mosque which housed a madarsa also, is still fresh in the minds of Samshad Begum Anarbi.She had built the structure singlehandedly with some help from community members as well. In fact, the idea was to build a mosque and a madrasa where people could pray and young children could study Arabic. The whole structure was built on a government land, which came under the Twenty Point Programme.

On February 24, last year the Savordem panchayat issued a notice in which they stated that the structure is illegal and would be demolished within seven days. Samshad Anarbi immediately approached the directorate of Panchayats and could manage to get a stay order from it. When the locals learnt about it, they attacked the building at night and demolished the structure.

Continue reading Goa: Communal Tinderbox Waiting To Explode?

Apko Goli Kisne Mari?

[I wrote the following report in July 2002 when a group of us -including some present-day Kafila writers – worked in a riot relief camp in Vatwa, Ahmedabad. Before Gujarat, and this report, I was an unhappy student of Chemistry in Delhi University, un-sure of what i wanted to do post-graduation. I’m not saying that I chose to become a journalist specifically after the Gujarat riots; but this was the first long report I had ever written, and revealed to me the possibilities of journalism – not as a tool of communication and dissemination, but as a means to make the world intelligible to one’s self. Gujarat in 2002 did something to you that could not pin-point, but having left you knew that something profound had changed. Re-reading it (before posting), I found myself ( as a journalist) a little embarrassed by some of the conclusions I drew, some of the sentences I constructed, and some of the grammar I bridged. But I have resisted the urge to correct it beyond a spell-check.]

6th July 2002

When I arrive in Ahmendabad, 3 months have passed since the grisly horror of Febuary, but the scars are still there for all to see. All except for the State Government i.e., which continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of the victims. The people of Gujarat are a study in numbness, a numbness which hangs heavy in the air, and affects all who touch it, including myself. After a point, the sight of burnt buildings and broken localities no longer produce a feeling of outrage and horror, and instead I lapse into a mood of hollow despair. Continue reading Apko Goli Kisne Mari?

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