On framing JNU for an imaginary crime: Aditya Sarkar

This is a guest post by ADITYA SARKAR

JNU has entered an indefinite state of siege. Police have been swarming all over campus, raiding hostels, picking up students and interrogating them. The ABVP, predictably, have been directing them to the lairs of ‘anti-national elements’. When immense demonstrations of public solidarity with the accused students were organized, ABVP activists have attacked these, in one case mounting a violent physical assault on a visiting speaker. The JNU administration has gone to the extent of cutting off the power supply to the microphones used at a protest meeting. At Patiala House on Monday the 15th of February, the BJP’s MLAs and what appear to be a group of lawyers have assaulted JNU students, faculty and supporters in full view of the police, with what can only be regarded as smug impunity. More than one observer has remarked that this is the Emergency all over again.

It is clear that the arrayed forces of the central government are pitted against a campus which has long been an object of hatred for the Right. There’s no telling how matters will develop in the days and weeks to come. So it might be necessary to step back a bit and consider the sequence of events that led to the current situation.

In the past month, JNU students organized a protest meeting which raised the issue of Kashmiri rights, and drew attention – just as Rohith Vemula’s protest in Hyderabad had done – to the execution of Afzal Guru in 2013. Since the mainstream news outlets systematically censor any attempt to reopen that extremely murky case, it’s worth reminding ourselves of precisely why the execution was so controversial. The terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001 produced a police investigation on which serious doubt was cast from the beginning. Afzal Guru’s laptop and mobile phone, key pieces of evidence, had not been sealed prior to investigation. One of the other accused in the case, a Delhi University lecturer (who was later emphatically acquitted) was viciously framed by Zee News, which used the police charge-sheet to make a documentary ‘establishing’ his guilt. The court proceedings were even more revealing. The Supreme Court admitted that there was no hard evidence to conclusively establish Afzal Guru’s involvement in criminal conspiracy. But these admissions were merely qualifications to what was perhaps the most extraordinary decision in the history of the judiciary in independent India. Afzal Guru was eventually hanged in 2013 on the basis that only this would appease ‘the collective conscience of the nation society’.

Continue reading “On framing JNU for an imaginary crime: Aditya Sarkar”

JNUSU Statement on the Police Action and ABVP slander in JNU: JNUSU

Guest Post by Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid Shora and Rama Naga, office bearers, JNUSU

We, the office-bearers of JNUSU, are appalled at the way an uproar has been created over the 9th February incident that happened in JNU and the way the entire incident is being used to malign JNU students and the democratic traditions of JNU.

At the outset, we condemn the divisive slogans (‘bharat ke tukde honge hazar’) that were raised by some people on that day. It is important to note that the slogans were not raised by members of Left organizations or JNU students. In fact, when such sloganeering took place, it was the Left-progressive organizations and students, including JNUSU office-bearers who asked the organizers of the programme to ask the people who were raising the slogans to stop slogans that are regressive. The divisive slogans and the ideology behind it has never been a part of the progressive tradition that JNU and the JNUSU uphold. On the contrary, the unity of the people of different parts of the country in challenging divisive, authoritarian, anti-people and anti-student forces is what we stand with and look up to. Even in the recent times, the JNU student community and the JNUSU have joined nation-wide students’ voice to defend the country against casteist and authoritarian power lobbies. The Left-progressive organizations were present at the programme only to ensure that no violence takes place, as ABVP had called in hooligans from DU to disrupt the program and the general atmosphere in the campus. And so, to interpret our presence as endorsement of some divisive slogans which were raised by some (and was protested and stopped) is extremely mischievous and manipulative. Continue reading “JNUSU Statement on the Police Action and ABVP slander in JNU: JNUSU”

Bombay Pavement Dwellers and Olga Tellis – A Quiet Verdict in Ahmedabad: N. Jayaram

Guest Post by N. Jayaram

After the order in the case of film star Salman Khan over a 2002 hit-and-run case was delivered by Sessions Court Judge D.W. Deshpande on Wednesday, 6 May 2015, there understandably were divided opinions on whether he deserved to be handed five years in jail.

But the rather more shockingly breath-taking comments from some of his friends in the industry and his fans were to do with pavement dwellers, such as the victim Nurullah Mahboob Sharif.

“Kutta rd pe soyega kutte ki maut marega, roads garib ke baap ki nahi hai (If a dog sleeps on the road, he’ll die a dog’s death. Roads are not poor people’s property)…,” singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya tweeted. “Roads are meant for cars and dogs not for people sleeping on them…,” he said, appealing to the film industry to back the star, whose sentence has now been suspended by the High Court.

Designer Farah Khan Ali chipped in with this:  “No one should be sleeping on the road or footpath. It is dangerous to do that just like it is dangerous to cross tracks.” She quite rightly laid the blame on the state: “The govt should be responsible for housing ppl. If no1 was sleeping on d road in any other country Salman wuld not have driven over anybody.”

Perhaps she had read the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a state party. Article 11.1 of the Covenant says: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right…” Continue reading “Bombay Pavement Dwellers and Olga Tellis – A Quiet Verdict in Ahmedabad: N. Jayaram”

When the lid will burst: Fahad Shah

This is an excerpt from the introduction to the anthology Of Occupation and Resistance: Writings from Kashmir, edited by FAHAD SHAH

Once militancy took root in the Valley, it continued unabated, with a few exceptions in the years to come. The sentiment of the resistance movement prevailed across Jammu and Kashmir. At one point in time, blasts and encounters occurred almost every day. The first few years of the 1990s were the most brutal in the history of the conflicted Valley. After the 1996 assembly elections, when people were forced to vote at gunpoint, the National Conference Party and counter-insurgent groups ruled the state. People lived with trauma and threat – treating the injured, mourning for the dead and searching for those who had disappeared.

This was the story for more than a decade. A shift in the nature of resistance has been seen in the past few years; the generation that was born during the start of the war has been able to glean the nuances of the homeland’s political situation. Most of the youngsters from this generation, born between the late 80s and early 90s, choose stones over guns. Continue reading “When the lid will burst: Fahad Shah”

Sarabjit, Sanaullah, you and me

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I met Sarabjit Singh’s brave lawyer Awais Sheikh in Delhi some months ago, where his book was released. He was very confident Sarabjit wouldn’t be hanged. As was Justice (Retd.) Katju, who launched the book. Justice Katju said there was no point campaigning for Sarabjit’s release until the Pakistan elections were over. I got a similar impression of optimism from people who had been following the Sarabjit case.

Well, they were right. Sarabjit wasn’t hanged. But hanging is only one way of killing. Continue reading “Sarabjit, Sanaullah, you and me”

A Political Hanging: Nirmalangshu Mukherji

Guest Post by Nirmalangshu Mukherji

Since the secret hanging and burial of Afzal Guru in Tihar jail, many writers have justly condemned the manner in which the government conducted the execution . However, once the state decides to hang a person, the issue of whether the killing took place in a ‘transparent’ and ‘dignified’ manner is a largely aesthetic one. The process that initiated the killing continues to be of primary epistemic concern.

No doubt the manner and timing of the hanging clearly indicates that the government had ulterior political motives in mind. Yet, these motives are better understood in terms of the political considerations that guided the case of Afzal Guru from his arrest to the rejection of his mercy petition. His hanging within a few days of the presidential rejection was just the inevitable culmination of this political process.

Continue reading “A Political Hanging: Nirmalangshu Mukherji”

What does Afzal’s death mean? : Inshah Malik

Guest post by INSHAH MALIK:

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Perhaps, beyond angry outbursts and slogans nothing was left of Kashmiri intellectuals engaged in understanding problems of home land. Afzal Guru was hanged and pens were strangulated. I was one of the people who protested at Jantar Mantar, with no strategy, no political statement, I bundled myself with others to the station, to enter a site of ‘mourning’. Kashmir has a rich culture and cultured production of ‘grieving’, when someone dies, everyone assembles and expresses grief verbally and through wailing. That is what I found myself doing. Continue reading “What does Afzal’s death mean? : Inshah Malik”