हर वर्ष इकतीस जुलाई को दिल्ली में ‘हंस’ पत्रिका की ओर से किसी एक विषय पर एक विचार-गोष्ठी का आयोजन किया जाता रहा है. बातचीत का स्तर जो हो, यह एक मौक़ा होता है तरह-तरह के लेखकों, पाठकों और साहित्यप्रेमियों के एक-दूसरे से मिलने का. कई लोग तो वहीं सालाना मुलाकातें करतें है. मेरी शिकायत हंस के इस कार्यक्रम से वही रही है जो दिल्ली में आमतौर पर होने वाले हिंदी साहित्य से जुड़े अन्य कार्यक्रमों से है: इंतजाम के हर स्तर पर लापरवाही और लद्धड़पन जो निमंत्रण पत्र में अशुद्धियों और असावधानी से लेकर कार्यक्रम स्थल पर अव्यवस्था, मंच संचालन में अक्षम्य बेतकल्लुफी तक फैल जाता है.प्रायः वक्ता भी बिना तैयारी के आते हैं और जैसे नुक्कड़ भाषण देकर तालियाँ बटोरना चाहते हैं.ऐसे हर कार्यक्रम से एक कसैला स्वाद लेकर आप लौटते हैं. श्रोताओं के समय, उनकी बुद्धि के प्रति यह अनादर परिष्कार के विचार का मानो शत्रु है. मैं हमेशा अपने युवा छात्र मित्रों को ऐसी जगहों पर देख कर निराशा से भर उठता हूँ : ये सब यहाँ से हमारे बारे में क्या ख्याल लेकर लौटेंगे?
यह भी हिंदी के कार्यक्रमों की विशेषता है कि जितना वे अपने विषय के कारण नहीं उतना आयोजन , आयोजक और प्रतिभागियों के चयन से सम्बद्ध इतर प्रसंगों के कारण चर्चा में बने रहते हैं. चटखारे लायक मसाला अगर उसमें नहीं है तो शायद ही मंच पर हुई ‘उबाऊ’ चर्चा को कोई याद रखे. अक्सर सुना जाता है कि फलां को तो बुलाया ही इसलिए गया था कि विवाद पैदा हो सके. विवाद अपने आप में उतनी भी नकारात्मक चीज़ नहीं अगर उससे कुछ विचार पैदा हो. लेकिन प्रायः विवाद और कुत्सा में अंतर करना हम भूल जाते हैं. विवाद में फिर भी मानसिक श्रम लगता है, कुत्सा में मस्तिष्क को हरकत में आने की जहमत नहीं मोल लेनी पड़ती. Continue reading आत्ममुग्ध क्रांतिकारिता और वरवर राव : अपूर्वानंद→
On a recent trip to the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, I visited a village called Bamhni. The Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS; People’s Health Collective, a rural hospital) of Ganiyari runs an outreach clinic there. Every Tuesday, one or two JSS doctors and a small team of health workers get into a Mahindra Bolero SUV in Ganiyari and drive an hour-and-a-half to reach Bamhni.
I spent much of the day with an even smaller JSS team that reaches out even beyond this outreach clinic. The area we were in is part of the Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary, which has existed since the mid-70s. As happens with several Indian wildlife reserves, this one has several villages located inside its boundaries. In 2009, Achanakmar was declared part of Project Tiger, the more stringent Indian effort to save that splendid animal. More stringent, that is, in the conditions it spells out for villages in designated sanctuaries. When Achanakmar joined Project Tiger, the residents of Bamhni and several other villages were told they would have to move out of the “core zone” of the sanctuary, so as to leave the tigers an area where they would be undisturbed. Continue reading What Development Means: Dilip D’Souza→
Last weekend, I attended a wonderful rally by the Adivasi Mahasabha in Raipur – some 10-15 busloads of people came from Dantewada and Bastar alone, while large numbers came from other parts of Chhattisgarh and even other states like Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal. The procession was flagged off by Dhurwa dancers while the rear end was brought up by Marias with their large dhols and bison horns. In between were thousands of militant marchers shouting slogans against militarization, demanding peace talks, the release of their arrested leaders, the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement on Salwa Judum, and all their constitutional rights with respect to land, forest and water. These were men and women who had lost everything to arson and loot by Salwa Judum, who had been interned in camps but managed to return home and pick up their ploughs again, who face the daily threat of arrests, beatings and encounters by the security forces, who have to negotiate with the Maoists everytime they wanted to access panchayat funds, who live a life on the razor edge of survival. And yet here they were, laughing, cheering and vowing to fight till the last breath, fight for their constitutional rights and in a constitutional way.
This remarkable struggle has been waged, not just over one weekend, but over years. Indeed, the Salwa Judum leaders themselves credit the CPI with the destruction of their movement – both through mass actions and through legal means.
Till very recently it was not possible to discuss Binayak Sen without referring to the corporate land grab and state repression in Chhattisgarh. Somehow Salwa Judum, the displacement of thousands of adivasis and the Maoist movement would come in the picture. Above all, what would come out is Sen’s work in the specific context of the suffering of the adivasis. Indeed soon after the bail order was granted, it came so naturally for Sen’s beaming wife to state that he will of course go back to resume his work in Chhattisgarh.
Upon his release from Raipur Central Jail on April 18 2011, Sen immediately called for a dialogue between the Maoists and the government and reminded us of so many other political prisoners languishing in the country’s jails. In the video showing Sen being greeted by his supporters after his release he enthusiastically joins in giving slogans saying, ‘Shankar Guha Niyogi Zindabad’. But the supporters soon after break into ‘Binayak Sen Zindabad’. You could immediately see this embarrassed look on his face, totally disapproving this iconisation.
Indeed, Sen seems very far off from celebrating his release as a major victory for democracy or a boost forIndia’s image as a modern democracy and so on. He seems really far off from the dominant discourse which seeks to cleanse the ‘Binayak Sen issue’ of the harsh realities of India’s dirty war, the inequality and the injustice towards the adivasis and their suffering. Continue reading Chronicle of a Bail Foretold: Saroj Giri→
So you’ve been following the Binayak Sen case. What now? What are the aspects and implications of the case to consider now that he is out on bail?
Here are a few that come to my mind. Your mileage may vary.
*The suspicious things Sen is supposed to have done. For example, you have heard often that Sen visited Narayan Sanyal in jail multiple times. Why, you ask. Whatever the reason, think of this: In 2006, before the first time (and indeed before each subsequent time), he wrote to the Raipur Jail Superintendent asking for permission to visit Sanyal. After this request made its way through the police bureaucracy, senior police officials in Raipur wrote to the same Superintendent saying “Central Jail Raipur mein bandi Narayan Sanyal se bhent karne ke liye Dr. Binayak Sen jaata hai to is karyalay ko koi aapatti nahin hai.” (“This department has no objection if Dr. Binayak Sen goes to meet Narayan Sanyal who is detained in Central
If the police had no objection to the visits “at the time”, why was this later an issue at all? Why have learned commenters made so much of this, hinting at dark things Sen must have been doing? One example, note how the author of the ‘report’ says “Admittedly, the meetings took place with prior permission from jail officials”, but has let stand the implication that there was something dark going on).
Dastangoi performed by Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain as part of Justice on Trial for the Free Binayak Sen Campaign, at the Alliance Francaise de Delhi on 6 April 2011. Video credit: Nicky Chandam.
Justice on Trial: three days of cultural events
April 4 – 6, 2011 @ Alliance Francaise de Delhi
72, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi 110003
Justice on Trial (Facebookers RSVP here) is a collaborative programme put together by leading contemporary artists, photographers, film makers, musicians, performers, and activists to commemorate struggles for democracy, freedom and rights. An exhibition of photographs and art works, talks performances and screenings all are directed at drawing renewed attention to the trial of Dr. Binayak Sen, who has emerged in recent times as a symbol of courageous resistance, and a reminder of the many injustices that surround us. Our aim is to provoke a dialogue with the colours and sounds that emerge from the idea of what Dr. Sen represents. Continue reading Dastan-e-Sedition→
In recent years, we have seen a number of filmic representations of Delhi, (Love Aaj Kal, Delhi 6, Band Baaja Baraat, to name a few.) Amit Trivedi has even given Dilli a new anthem. All of these artist representations have been trying to capture or at least showcase the contemporary social, political and economic layers of India’s Powerpolis. Implicit within these depictions is that Delhi is actually Dilli, a place mired in contradictions and tensions, but still dil wali, a city with heart.
Vishwajyoti Ghosh’s graphic novel Delhi Calm (Harper Collins Press, 2010) recounts the 21-month period from 25 June 1975 – 21 March 1977 that is known in this country as the Emergency. This book shows another side of the city, one that does not talk about or acknowledge the atrocities committed in the name of the nation. In fact, Ghosh’s Delhi functions on the principle that silence or “self-censorship” is the key to survival in this city and by extension the mythical nation. Continue reading Think Freely, but Obey: Indu Vashist→
We, the members of the Executive Committee of the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS), write to you in shock in the face of our recent experiences of intimidation and harassment at the hands of the Anti Terrorism Squad during the XIII National Conference of the IAWS in Wardha at the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV), from January 20-24th 2011. The IAWS (established in 1982) is an academic and professional association of nearly two thousand Women’s Studies scholars, teachers, students and activists. A National Conference is held once in three years, which deliberates on various scholarly and social concerns focussing on women’s lives in the country. The programme included 5 plenary sessions and 10 subtheme sessions, totalling over 300 submitted papers and 19 plenary speakers. The highest standards of excellence were demonstrated over the course of the conference. There were 750 participants from different parts of the country, including a few South Asian and other participants who had come to understand gender issues in an atmosphere of intellectual exchange and learning. A South Asia plenary is an old practice of the IAWS—this time eminent writers and poets from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan spoke, for whom full clearance had been obtained from the respective Ministries. The university authorities supported the conference throughout, including dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic students and staff. Continue reading Open Letter to the Home Minister: Indian Association for Women’s Studies→
Writing on the history of insanity in the age of reason in seventeenth century Europe, French philosopher Michel Foucault notes: “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.” Foucault’s insight into the workings of power is an incitement for us to think boldly in public, sadly an endangered species in today’s India.
The recent judgment on the Guha-Sen-Sanyal case prompts one to wonder: Could state functionaries know what what they do does? Could ruling elites who watch silently or goad and guide the guardians of law and order to perform at their bidding know what what they do does? Could the state’s branding of Binayak and thousands of others as Naxalites, Maoists, terrorists or seditionists (terms that it conflates but without scholarly or legal basis) allow civil-liberties activists to create a brand Binayak? Continue reading Branding Binayak: Balmurli Natrajan→
FINAL UPDATE:Over a hundred names (113) that were received by 9 am on 27th morning have now been added. Apart from the press, the statement will be sent also to the Union Home Minister, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Chairpersons NHRC and NCW. Final list of names now posted here.
UPDATE: Close to a hundred endorsements from all over the country have been received from academics, social activists, lawyers, film-makers, theatre persons, students, journalists and office bearers of PUCL and IAWS . This will now be sent to the press, and may be circulated widely. All names received by 3 pm are now listed at the end of the statement.
Below is a statement being circulated by some of us for endorsement. Please endorse by 3 pm tomorrow (26th January)
Ilina Sen, wife of the human rights’ activist and people’s doctor, Binayak Sen, reacting over the judgment, which gave life imprisonment to Dr. Sen said, “My faith in the judiciary has been shattered”. “I am in a state of complete shock…in our stupidity we believed the judicial process would be fair,” she told media persons at a press conference in Delhi. Continue reading Look who has faith in the judiciary!: Mahtab Alam→
Guest post by ANIL[freelance journalist and researcher, Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalay, Wardha]
इक्कीसवीं सदी का पहला दशक ख़त्म हो गया है. 1991 में उदारवाद के अभियान की बुनावट जिन आकर्षक शब्दजालों से शुरू हुई थी अब उसके परिणाम सतह पर स्पष्ट दिखने लगे हैं. इन दो दशकों में इज़ारेदारी ने सियासत से लोकतंत्र के मूल्यों के पालन की उम्मीद को तो पहले ही दफ़्न कर दिया था लेकिन इस क्रम में जो हालिया प्रगति हुई है वह और ख़तरनाक संकेत दे रही है. Continue reading लोकतंत्र के बुझते चिराग़: अनिल→
Narayan Sanyal is a 74-year-old man with white hair parted to one side and fibromatosis in both hands. His arrest memo notes that he wears dentures, has spots on his body and smokes cigarettes. “My health is not going well, arthritis is a new thing catching up, age is telling,” he writes in a letter addressed to a ‘Dear friend V’. This letter and two others became crucial evidence in the conviction last week of Mr. Sanyal, Kolkata businessman Pijush Guha and eminent doctor and human rights activist Binayak Sen.
Behind their conviction lies a curious paradox to which the Chhattisgarh police has never given a satisfactory answer: Why was Mr. Sanyal — whose Maoist connections led to charges against the co-accused in the first place — himself never charged with sedition or conspiracy to wage war or even with belonging to or supporting an unlawful organisation until well after Dr. Sen’s arrest under those serious offences?
(Given below is the full text of the judgement sentencing Dr Binayak Sen for life. It is a translation from the Hindi. The translation has been done by the Free Binayak Sen Now campaign. You can download here (.pdf) the Hindi original. For updates on the Free Binayak Sen Now campaign, see BinayakSen.net. If you are on Facebook, you can join the Binayak Sen Solidarity Forum.)
[An edited version of this article by me has appeared in the November-December 2010 issue ofConveyor, a magazine published from Srinagar.]
On 22 October 2010, there was a public seminar in Delhi, titled “Azadi: The Only Way”. I did not plan to attend it as I had important work that day. However, a day before the event, it was announced that the keynote speaker would be none other than Syed Ali Shah Geelani. How could one not go to hear what the man of the moment had to say?
I reached late, when two speakers had already spoken, Kashmiri Pandits had already created a scene, even getting into a physical fight with some Kashmiri Muslims. As I entered the precincts of the Little Theatre Group auditorium, I met Delhi University student Suvaid Yaseen who showed me a small cut in his hand, caused by the fisticuffs with the Pandits. Some of the Pandits had been taken away by the Delhi Police and detained for a few hours, many others still inside the auditorium. The auditorium was full of cries of “Hum kya chahtay? Azadi!” To hear that in central Delhi rather than Srinagar’s Lal Chowk is a little incredible. But it had happened before, on 7 August, at Jantar Mantar, the only place in the capital of the world’s largest democracy where protest is allowed. At Jantar Mantar too, Pandits were being restrained by the Delhi Police. Continue reading The Logical Urges of Sedition→
At 10.45 a.m. on May 1, 2007 Pijush Guha checked into the Mahindra Hotel here and vanished. The hotel register indicates that he checked out at 8.45 p.m. the same day but no one knows where he went, who he met or what he did till 4.10 p.m. on May 6, 2007, when Anil Kumar Singh claimed he saw town inspector B.S. Jagrit detain Mr. Guha near the Raipur railway station.
According to Mr. Singh’s court testimony, the police searched Mr. Guha’s black and blue shoulder bag and found pamphlets supporting the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), a mobile phone, a rail ticket dated May 6, 2007, Rs. 49,0000 in cash and three letters which, Mr. Guha said, were written by the jailed Narayan Sanyal, an alleged Maoist, and handed over to him by physician and human rights activist, Binayak Sen. Mr. Jagrit claimed he made the arrest on the basis of information received on his wireless set but did not know where Mr. Guha had been during the five days prior to his arrest. Continue reading The Merchant of Murshidabad→