The death of the 23 year old woman following the brutal gangrape rape and assault on a moving bus on 16 December 2012 at a hospital in Singapore early this morning leaves all of us in states of deep mourning. This is a political death. Rape and murder of women is political violence against all women, whether or not, the political class recognises and accepts this. In the course of the last two weeks, many body blows have been endured. We felt a body blow after the political death of the 17-year-old gangrape victim in Patiala who took her life after she was humiliated and pressurised to compromise. The numbing list of such political violence continues.
We have seen the emergence of many kinds of publics. There have been many speeches and writing against the emergence of a retributive public, where the cry for death penalty or castration became a vocabulary of protest, also especially since the media initially focussed largely on this demand. Yet in the last few days there has been a perceptible shift from the focus on forming a retributive public moving towards a passionately reasoned and informed public on what the government needs to do to be accountable to rape survivors, and indeed, to all of us who reject the rape cultures in India. Continue reading We must resist the cunning of judicial reform: Pratiksha Baxi→
That girl, the one without the name. The one just like us. The one whose battered body stood for all the anonymous women in this country whose rapes and deaths are a footnote in the left-hand column of the newspaper.
Sometimes, when we talk about the history of women in India, we speak in shorthand. The Mathura rape case. The Vishaka guidelines. The Bhanwari Devi case, the Suryanelli affair, the Soni Sori allegations, the business at Kunan Pushpora. Each of these, the names of women and places, mapping a geography of pain; unspeakable damage inflicted on women’s bodies, on the map of India, where you can, if you want, create a constantly updating map of violence against women. Continue reading For Anonymous: Nilanjana Roy→
This morning, Delhi woke up to the news that the 23 year old Paramedic that the city had taken to its heart had breathed her last at around two in the morning at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. From early morning, sms messages, phone calls and facebook and twitter posts and updates, informed the city about a condolence meeting scheduled for 11 am in the morning at Jantar Mantar. I was there by 11, and realized that a lot of people were having problems getting there because a shameless administration had decided to shut down entry and exits on to reportedly ten stations of the Delhi Metro. Buses were also being diverted. Despite this, a sizable crowd had gathered by around noon. Two minutes silence was observed. Sucheta Dey (AISA, JNU) and Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA) spoke briefly.
Both emphasized the need for a peaceful, dignified gathering to pay respects to the brave fighting spirit of the deceased woman. Kavita Krishnan spoke about the need to combat patriarchy everywhere, in the family, at home, in the workplace, in colleges, schools and universitities. And called for an to end the culture of impunity that lets men think that they can get away with rape and sexual violence. Continue reading Remembering the 23 Year Old Who Brought Delhi Together→
USHA SAXENA writes a letter to Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit:
My daughter Shambhavi and I and a colleague of mine Reema Ganguly went to Jantar Mantar today 25th Dec to take part in a peaceful gathering there against the gang-rape.
At around 4pm two girls came running up to us in tears and said that the police had dragged away 2 of their female friends to Parliament Street Police Station and they asked us to help bring them back. The three of us joined 9 other women and we went to the police station. When we reached there we only saw male constables. We demanded to talk to a female senior officer and said that the 3 women must be released immediately. The policemen very rudely and aggressively tried to chase us out. We refused to leave without those 3 women and so one male cop ordered some female cops standing in the courtyard to come in and arrest all of us. Continue reading How Delhi police assaulted my daughter on 25 December: Usha Saxena→
“Justice to the girls who were so innocent,
Justice so our sisters can be roaming free,
Justice to Aasiya and Neelofar,
Justice to the girl from Delhi.”
– a song by HAZE KAY (Rapper from Kashmir)
Yesterday, we saw placards on Jantar Mantar that sought to draw linkages of solidarity between young people asking for justice for the gang-rape survivor in Delhi and those committed to the memory of the rape and murder of Neelofar and Aasiya in Shopian and many others in Kashmir.
Today, a Facebook post by Fahad Shah alerted me to a song by Haze Kay – a Kashmiri rapper that made the same linkage of solidarity, from Kashmir, to Delhi.
Here is the song. No further words are necessary. Except to say, call up radio stations in Delhi, and ask RJs to find and play Haze Kay, not Honey Singh.
In the memory of Aasiya and Neelofar and thousands of other girls and women who have been victimized by the crime called Rape ..
Protests against sexual violence continued for the third day in Delhi. The venue had shifted from the India Gate-Rajpath environs to Jantar Mantar. Despite the fact that the government had closed metro stops in central New Delhi (from Rajiv Chowk to Khan Market) so that Vladimir Putin was spared the embarrassment of having to encounter protestors against rape, even as he sold gas and guns, a motley crowd of mostly young women and men were able to make their way to Jantar Mantar. Here are a few images and vignettes from this afternoon. Continue reading How the God of Death Changed His Mind: Images from the Protest Against Rape at Jantar Mantar→
Ms. Shiela Dixit, Chief Minister Delhi NCR
Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde, Home Minister, India
Mr. Tejendar Khanna, Lt. Governor, Delhi NCR
This is to clarify a small misunderstanding. I know a part of the protests made you believe that women in Delhi are asking to take policemen away from their VIP duties and put them on Delhi streets. This is incorrect. Many of the protestors are too young to understand
Ma’am and Sirs, the roads are unsafe enough. All Delhi women know – when you see a Delhi policeman, you run. This is what our mothers taught us. This is what we teach our children. I sincerely request you to increase VIP duties for all cops in the Delhi National Capital Region. Please don’t waste your time and energy transferring or suspending any of these gentlemen. All you have to do is ensure no cops are given non-VIP duties. Continue reading This is to clarify a small misunderstanding: Anusha Rizvi→
Delhi has tolerated intolerable forms of sexual violence on women from all backgrounds in public spaces for decades. It is a public secret that women are targetted in streets, neighbourhoods, transport and workplaces routinely. There have been countless campaigns and appeals to all agencies concerned to think of safety of women as an issue of governance, planning and prevention. However, prevention of sexual violence is not something, which features in the planning and administration of the city. It is not seen as an issue for governance that extinguishes the social, economic, and political rights of all women.
It is a public secret that rape of women in moving vehicles is popularly seen as a sport. The sexualisation of women’s bodies accompanies the projection of cars as objects of danger and adventure. Private buses now participate in this sexualisation of moving vehicles as a site of enacting pornographic violence. In this sense, safety is not seen as a commodity that can be bought, purchased or exchanged. Men consume images of a city tolerant of intolerable violence. City planners enable rapists to execute a rape schedule. Streetlights do not work. Pavements and hoarding obstruct flight. Techniques of surveillance and policing target women’s behaviour, movement, and clothing, rather than policing what men do. The city belongs to heterosexist men after all. Continue reading Rape Cultures in India: Pratiksha Baxi→
I went to the protests at Raisina Hill expecting very little. Despite the anger over the recent, brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old by a group of six men, who also beat up her male friend, protests over women’s violence in the Capital have been relatively small.
But the crowds walking up the Hill, towards the government offices of North and South Block, from India Gate are unusual. It’s a young crowd—students, young men and women in their twenties, a smattering of slightly older women there to show their solidarity, and it’s a large crowd, about a thousand strong at the Hill itself. There are two small knots representing student’s politicial organisations, but otherwise, many of the people here today are drawn together only by their anger. Continue reading A Day at Raisina Hill: Nilanjana Roy→
In 1988 Lutyen’s Delhi, was declared a heritage zone by prohibiting building activity within the 26 square kilometre area out of the 43 Sq. Km. area that falls within the civic control of New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC). A move has now been initiated to get the entire area declared a World Heritage site.
The very logic of an area being declared a Heritage Zone should preclude any interference with the layout and design of the entire zone. Non-interference also means that, future building and development activity, if at all permitted, has to conform to the original parameters of design, materials, fittings and fixtures used, building techniques, landscaping and the kinds of trees planted in the heritage zone.
Even before the 1988 freeze on construction, there was a master plan for Delhi and it clearly identified the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone as an area where high rises were not to be permitted.
The actual violations began when this rule was selectively relaxed beginning with permission given in the mid 70s to construct the high rise Sagar Apartments on Tilak Marg. High rises like Asha Deep and Dakshineshwar on Hailey Road followed shortly thereafter. Continue reading New Delhi: A heritage zone at 80!→
भारत के दो महानगरों राष्ट्रिय राजधानी दिल्ली और बम्बई को यूनेस्को द्वारा विश्व धरोहर की सूची में नामांकित करने की तैयारियां चल रही हैं, कुछ मित्रों ने दिल्ली या बम्बई की बहस शुरू कर दी है जो वास्तव में पूर्णत: अनर्गल बात है.
में दिल्ली बनाम बम्बई के पचड़े में पड़ने के बजाये ये सवाल पूछना चाहता हूँ के ऐसा क्यों है के 65,436,552की कुल आबादी और 6,74,800 वर्ग किलोमीटर के कुल क्षेत्रफल वाले फ्रांस में 35 स्थान, नगर, इमारतें प्राकृतिक स्थल आदि ऐसे हैं जो विश्व धरोहर की सूची में शामिल किये गए हैं मगर इस सूची में भारत का नाम केवल 29 बार ही आता है.
जो सवाल पूछना ज़रूरी है वो यह के सिर्फ दिल्ली या/और बम्बई ही क्यों? जोधपुर, जयपुर, अजमेर, इंदौर, उज्जैन, भोपाल, बनारस, इलाहबाद, लखनऊ, पटना, वैशाली, हैदराबाद, विदिशा कालिंजर, मदुरै, कांचीपुरम कलकत्ता और मद्रास क्यों नहीं ?, आप ने नोट किया होगा के बम्बई कलकत्ता और मद्रास के नए नाम में इस्तेमाल नहीं कर रहा हूँ और दिल्ली को भी देहली नहीं लिखा है. यह जान बूझ कर किया जा रहा है दरअसल विरासत कहीं अतीत में जड़ हो गयी कोई चीज़ नहीं है और इसलिए नाम बदलने की समस्त परियोजनाएं विरासत से छेड़ छाड करने की निन्दनीय प्रवर्ति का ही हिस्सा हैं. Continue reading दिल्ली बनाम बम्बई→
Nothing good comes of having your status as capital snatched from you by Delhi. As a Calcuttan I know the pain. Of course, my city’s had it relatively easy when you consider the fate of Sasaram in Bihar. That’s where Afghan warlord (what a useful phrase: right from Bihar in the 16th century to the US invasion in the 21st) Sher Shah Suri had his capital, as ruler of Bengal and Bihar, before he overthrew Humayun and moved shop to the Purani Qila in Delhi. Unlike the Afghan warlords of today though, Sher Shah was a pretty impressive ruler. He introduced the rupiya. which was the predecessor of the modern rupee. More interestingly, he introduced a small denomination coin called the dam which probably gave rise to the English phrase “I don’t give a damn”. The administrative set-up introduced by him was so impressive that Akbar copied liberally from it and Sher Shah’s ideas therefore ruled India for centuries after the man’s death. Continue reading Chai, Autos and Sher Shah Suri: Shoaib Danyal→
Last week, the Delhi High Court gave the go-ahead for the compulsory installation of GPS systems and printers in the capital’s auto-rickshaws by dismissing petitions against the policy from auto unions (download judgement .pdf here). The GPS kits are supposed to allow the Transport Department to track the movement of Delhi’s autos. The printer will provide the passenger with a fare-receipt, which will show the distance travelled and the amount paid. The policy will eliminate over-charging and will provide “secure and transparent travel” to the capital, claims The Hindu.
The murgi is looking at the camera slyly, or so the camera thinks. Why did the man not bat an eyelid? Surely he could not have missed that a camera-phone came out of a pocket, was tilted horizontally, focused on him and on the murgi on his knee, proceeding to click? The camera was impressed at the discovery of this man and his murgi; they were not posing.
Why is the main wearing a red shirt with maroon pyjamas? Why not a maroon shirt with red pyjamas? Did he place the hen on his knee? If all he wanted to do was to ponder over the unsolved mysteries of the universe why would he want to be disturbed by his murgi? Given the terrain, just how much manoeuvrability does the murgi have? Could the murgi be helping the man meditate? Is the murgi a hypnotic tool?Is the murgi disoriented to be looking at the ground beneath from a precarious vantage point?
Is the murgi soon going to be food? Biryani or qorma?
The camera did not want to ask questions lest the man’s meditation be disturbed. The questions remain.
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) received a letter from the Jamiat-ul Ulama-e-Hind. The letter wanted 31 protected mosques to be opened for prayers. “Although the commission was not very keen that heritage monuments should be opened for prayers, it decided to suggest a joint survey for ascertaining the condition of these mosques.” Officials from the NCM, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Wakf Board will carry out the joint inspection according to the suggestion made by the commission in its letter sent to the Ministry of Culture towards the end of July.
This reference made by the NCM needs to be looked at a little carefully, because the issue is not likely to remain restricted to these 31 mosques nor will it remain confined to Delhi. The reference impinges on questions of law and will eventually inform our attitude to the wider question of heritage protection. Continue reading Saving our heritage→
The road that leads to Faridabad from Gurgaon used to be a sleepy little one before it was expanded into a four lane expressway. The local villagers for some reason call it the ‘Relaynce’ (Reliance) Road, I am not writing this piece to speculate on their reasons, but because I want to take you off this road.
Get to Andheria Mod and ask for directions to the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road. Once on this road be on the lookout for the Gwal Pahari Campus of TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute). It would appear to your left, keep driving. A little while later if another structure looms into view, this time to your right and if simultaneously your senses are assailed by the stench of garbage you should feel assured that you have successfully stuck to the right path. Whoever said that the search for the divine is fraught with great challenges was not joking.
There is a sudden spurt of interest in Sufism among a section of our population that did not have such an interest a decade or two ago. Some were introduced to Sufism and its spiritual philosophical moorings through interactions with those who knew something about it, and realised that the ideas of Wahdat-ul-Wujood had parallels in the Adwait philosophy and it was this consonance that intrigued many to an extent that they got interested in exploring Sufism a little more. There were others who discovered Sufism through the west. Just as many had discovered Hindustani classical music when George Harrison began to learn the Sitar from Pandit Ravi Shankar in the ’60s, there are those who discovered Rumi when there was a spurt of interest in Jalal-ud-Din Rumi in the west, particularly in the US, with several translations appearing within a short span. Rumi has been known for centuries in our parts as Maulana Room; his poetry was quoted by Persian-knowing Indians till the 1950s and early 1960s, in conversations and writings, almost as often as Mir and Ghalib are quoted by the Urduwallas. An introduction to Rumi in the last decade or so has led eventually and inevitably to Sufism and a kindling of interest in our own indigenous Sufis. Continue reading Discordant notes: A review of Sadia Dehalvi’s “The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi”→
Two friends and I had gone to interview an old lady born 90 years ago in 1922. We had hoped to jog her memory about events that she had seen unfold, and events that she had heard her parents and grandparents talk about. We were hoping to get a slice of history going back a century and a quarter, but things did not work out as well as we had thought. Nevertheless, we got lucky through Saeed-ur-Rehman, her 72 year old son. He told us much about Delhi and about a real life encounter that his maternal grandfather and uncle had with the Jinn of Ferozeshah Kotla.
This is how he related the encounter:
“My Nana [maternal grandfather] was a great one for fishing and his favourite spot for fishing was the Firozeshah Kotla. In those days the Jamuna used to flow right next to the Kotla wall, and my Nana would go there often. He would carry his huqqa with him, cast the line and sit puffing away at and wait for the fish to take the bait. He would spend the better part of the day there and return with a bagful of fish in the evening. One afternoon he asked our Mamu [maternal uncle] to accompany him and this is what our Mamu told us about the events of the day. Continue reading Where have all the ghosts gone?→
April 14 was Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. There is no single pan-India political icon, certainly not Gandhi, whose birth and death anniversaries are celebrated as public festivals, by the public, in the way the Ambedkar’s is. Some newspapers on 15 April typically had photos of the top leaders of the country paying homage to Ambedkar but that’s about all. When historians turn these pages they will not find, in the first drafts of history, any reports about how people celebrated Ambedkar’s birthday like a festival. They will not find a record of the singing and dancing, of drums and plays, of Dalit housing socities and employees’ unions holding celebrations bang under the nose of the Indian Parliament at Parliament Street as much as in Dalit bastis is villages across India. Such is the public ignorance of this celebration at Parliament Street in Delhi that most Delhites enjoying a free holiday don’t even know about it. Parliament street is whereSIDDHI BHANDARItook these photos in 2010.