Tag Archives: freedom of expression

A Statement against Suppression of Dissent by IACLALS

We are publishing below a statement sent to us by the Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies against the suppression and criminalizing of dissent in India

The Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (IACLALS) expresses its deep dismay over the continuing assault on civic freedoms and constitutional rights of writers, teachers, students, human rights activists and public intellectuals in the country. The current political climate of fear and intimidation – fuelled and vindicated by the state and the ruling party – has simultaneously targetted entire communities through a range of religious-ethnic violence, as much as it has sought to silence conscientious voices that have spoken up against such onslaughts. Vacuous rhetorical constructions like “anti-national” and “urban naxal” – with no basis in fact or in principles of democratic governance – have been repeatedly manufactured as the grounds for punitive-legal action and media trials, through the invoking of outdated colonial codes like the sedition laws. The latest of these forms of orchestrated witch-hunt has seen the attempted arrest or chargesheeting of Hiren Gohain, Anand Teltumbde and of several JNU students – in the cause of raking up an electoral consensus against the spirit of scientific inquiry and free-thinking.

The IACLALS’ academic investments have engaged with and gained from the works and ideas of these scholars, who now face the ire of the state. As a scholarly association, we believe in the need and power of a critical public sphere, as the only promise of a living democracy. We stand in firm solidarity with them, and strongly condemn every attempt being made at gagging forms of dissent and enforcing regimes of censorship.

Pondicherry University, Feb. 8, 2019.

GJV Prasad (Chariperson), Subhendu Mund and M. Asaduddin (Vice Chairpersons), Rina Ramdev (Secretary), Angelie Multani (Treasurer)

 

A Theatre Olympics that Isn’t: Arundhati Ghosh

Guest post by ARUNDHATI GHOSH

Image courtesy Deccan Herald

I have been working for the past 16 years with a small organisation called India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) that attempts to support arts and culture projects across the country. In these years I have been fortunate enough to travel across the country to big cities and small ones, towns and villages where arts practitioners and scholars work intensely, passionately, with almost no economic resources or social acknowledgements. The percentage of our total national budget outlay to the arts and culture is negligible as is the amount that finally gets spent on it. The state of our national arts and culture institutions is abysmal and much has been written by eminent experts critiquing the vision, mandates, policies and mechanisms of funding or the lack of any of these prerequisites to support the sector with an imagination that attempts to build a robust, vibrant ecology for the arts.

Continue reading A Theatre Olympics that Isn’t: Arundhati Ghosh

Are Students at their Work? Prashant Kumar

Guest Post by PRASHANT KUMAR

Students who are protesting across the country are being charged that they are not doing what they are supposed to do. What I understand this charge say is that they are not doing their “duties” or fulfilling their “responsibilities” as a student. I seriously doubt thislimited understanding of being a “student”. To say this, I feel an intellectual burden to explicate what it means to be a student. I will argue that these students are also the one who, contrary to the charge, does their “duties” and carries out their “responsibilities”.

Generally speaking, anyone who tries to learn and reflect upon what he learnt can be considered as a student. However, one becomes a student technically when he does this job within an academic institution. In this sense, studentship is a job to get mature with the help of institutional academic training(s) as well as reflecting back on these. Maturity, as I discern, is nothing but to understand the real meaning of a world, and act according to this apprehension. In this sense, understanding and acting go together. Lack of one will categorically destruct the purpose of a student.

There is one more aspect of this maturity with relation to, what Kant terms, enlightenment. Continue reading Are Students at their Work? Prashant Kumar

No Country for Free Speech : Shiv Inder Singh

Guest Post by Shiv Inder Singh

freedom of expression के लिए चित्र परिणाम

(Photo courtesy : humanrightshouse.org)

In an open letter, Mr Shiv Inder Singh, an independent overseas journalist from Punjab, claims that he lost his job owing to his criticism of PM Modi’s government. 

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I am an independent journalist based in Punjab, India. I have been associated with the media industry for the past fifteen years. My work experience includes the time period of five years as an overseas’ contributor for Canada-based radio stations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. In that capacity I have been giving daily news updates and political commentary on India at these radio channels.

I want to bring to your knowledge that the Vancouver-based Radio Red (93.1) FM for which I have been working since October 2014 has arbitrarily suspended my services due to political interference which amounts to trampling of freedom of expression. Continue reading No Country for Free Speech : Shiv Inder Singh

SOLIDARITY STATEMENT BY JNU ALUMNI AND INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC COMMUNITY

The statement below represents the concerns of JNU’s international alumni, and a wider global academic community of friends and comrades. The support demonstrated by the names below testifies that JNU is far more than a besieged university campus in India. JNU stands for a vital imagination of the space of the university – an imagination that embraces critical thinking, democratic dissent, student activism, and the plurality of political beliefs. It is this critical imagination that the current establishment seeks to destroy. And we know that this is not a problem for India alone. Similar attacks on critical dissent and university spaces are being attempted and resisted across the world.

If you would like to stand in solidarity with the students and faculty of JNU, and the ethos of university spaces everywhere, please mention your name and current institutional affiliation in the ‘Comments’ section. Also, in case you are a JNU alumnus, please mention the year you graduated. This list will be regularly updated.

****SOLIDARITY STATEMENT****

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi against the illegal ongoing police action since February 9, 2016. With them, we affirm the autonomy of the university as a non-militarized space for freedom of thought and expression. Accordingly, we condemn police presence on campus and the harassment of students on the basis of their political beliefs.

The charge of sedition, under the guise of which the police have been given a carte blanche to enter the JNU campus, to raid student hostels, arrest and detain students, including Kanhaiya Kumar, the current president of the JNU Students Union, is an alibi for the incursion of an authoritarian regime onto the university campus. Under Indian law sedition applies only to words and actions that directly issue a call to violence. The peaceful demonstration and gathering of citizens does not constitute criminal conduct. The police action on JNU campus is illegal under the constitution of India.

An open, tolerant, and democratic society is inextricably linked to critical thought and expression cultivated by universities in India and abroad. As teachers, students, and scholars across the world, we are watching with extreme concern the situation unfolding at JNU and refuse to remain silent as our colleagues (students, staff, and faculty) resist the illegal detention and autocratic suspension of students. We urge the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University to protect members of the university community and safeguard their rights.

 

Dated/- 15 February 2016

 

  1. Asma Abbas, Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  2. Syed Shahid Abbas, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, U.K.
  3. Gilbert Achcar, SOAS, University of London
  4. Katie Addleman, University of Toronto
  5. Barun Adhikary, JNU
  6. Aniket Aga, Yale University Continue reading SOLIDARITY STATEMENT BY JNU ALUMNI AND INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC COMMUNITY

On keeping Open the Door that was Opened by Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi

On Sunday morning, seventy seven year old scholar Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi opened his door in Dharwad town in Karnataka to some people who asked for ‘sir’. They pumped bullets into ‘sir’ when he appeared in front of them. Throughout his life, Dr. Kalburgi had the habit of opening doors. His scholarship into Kannada literature opened many doors. Those who killed Kalburgi abused not just his hospitality, and his willingness to open his doors to strangers (he had asked that his security be ‘lifted’ despite threats to his life), they abused all the traditions in the world that promise kindness to strangers, and keep doors open.

Continue reading On keeping Open the Door that was Opened by Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi

Appeal to Release Raif Badawi, a Saudi Blogger: Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism

Guest Post by Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism

To:

The Ambassador,
Embassy of Saudi Arabia at New Delhi,
2- Pachchimi Marg, VasantVihar,!
New Delhi-110057  Fax: 00911126144244

This is an appeal regarding Raif Badawi, a blogger and Saudi citizen, founder of the website ‘Free Saudi Liberals’. Mr Badawi has been under arrest since 2012 for insulting Islam and apostasy. He was sentenced to be punished with 10 years in prison along with 1000 lashes (50 lashes to be received on every Friday) and a fine of one million riyals. Though he was cleared of charges of apostasy in 2013, there are new reports that indicate he may be tried again under the same charge.

We are mindful that India and Saudi Arabia have long-standing friendly political and commercial relations and that large numbers of Indians live and work in your country. It is because of this that we feel constrained to convey to you our concerns. Raif Badawi is a public intellectual who communicated his thoughts to the public through a blog. We do not believe that any of its contents constituted a threat to the state. To the contrary, his advocacy for secularism and the separation of religion and state is a suggestion that would strengthen it.

Whether or not his ideas are pleasing to your government, the fact remains that as a member state of the United Nations, Saudi Arabia is presumed to be respectful of the freedom of speech that is provided for under Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. This article states: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers‘.

The sharing of information and ideas is a basic human practice and natural right that should be available to everyone regardless of their nationality or identity and (barring extremist incitement) should not be restricted by law. The state should protect and promote our rights instead of restricting them.

It has been reported that Raif Badawi received the first set of lashes on 9 January, after Friday prayers outside the Al-Juffali Mosque in Jeddah. The next round of punishment has been suspended on medical grounds to give his wounds time to heal prior to wounding him again. We consider this an example of barbaric cruelty, not befitting any member state of the UNO. Such practices are a travesty of justice and will bring you only disrepute.

We are Indian citizens who speak for human rights both within our own country and beyond. We are in solidarity with Raif Badawi and all those demanding freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia. We condemn the inhuman punishment being meted out to him as we condemn all measures that punish people for defending human rights and sharing their thoughts

We ask that Saudi Arabia:
•  Immediately suspend the punishment of Raif Badawi,
•  Release Raif Badawi and provide him security,
•  Take measures towards the provision of full freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia

Submitted by:

Ravi Nitesh, Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism
, Dipak Dholakia
, Rajashri Dasgupta, 
Prithvi R Sharma, 
Rana P Behal, 
Shamsul Islam, 
Suman Keshari, 
Aseem Shrivastava, 
Viren Lobo
, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Kashif Ahmed Faraz, R.Sasankan, Journalist, Delhi , Rohit Sharma, Pilani, India
, Mandeep Singh from Revolutionary Youth Student Front
, Firoz Ahmad, Public School Teacher
, Chaman Lal, 
J.S.Bandukwala
, Devika Mittal (Mission Bhartiyam), 
Apoorvanand
, Sudha Vasan
, Dheeraj Gaba, 
Nawed Akhter, 
Dilip Simeon , Shabnam Hashmi, Rohini Hensman 
Ovais Sultan Khan, Ram Puniyani, Vinerjeet Kaur, Kiran Shaheen
, Battini Rao, Convener, Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)
, Javed Anand
, Harsh Kapoor
, Subash Mohapatra, Global Human Rights Communications, Bhubaneswar 
Sagar Rabari, Ahmedabad
, Nayanjyoti
, Shailendra Dhar, Journalist, Nihal Parashar
, Linus Ayangwoh 
Embe, Peter Marshall , Sudarshan Juyal
, Dhruv Singhal (Political Science student), 
Mohammad Imran, NRISAHI, Suresh Bhat
, Prof. S Ratnagar, Mumbai
, Ilma Iqbal
, Michael Karadjis
, Vasantharajan, Research Scholar , Rabin Chakraborty, 
Shruti Arora
, Hiren Gandhi, 
Anand Patwardhan, Dr. D. Gabriele, Mukul Mangalik, Neeraj Malik, academic, 
Suhas Borker
, Virginia Saldanha, Mumbai , Kasim Sait
, Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
, Kaveri Rajaraman, University of Hyderabad, 
Parth Sarthu
 Ram
, Mahesh Elkunchwar,  
Suman Kumar , Kamayani Bali Mahabal, 
Syed Ghazanfar Abbas, Jawad Mohammed
, Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Shiksha Adhikar Manch, Bhopal
Satya Pal, Secretary General – South Asian Fraternity 
Deepak Kabir / Veena Rana, Dastak, Lucknow 
Madhu Sarin
, Kavita Panjabi, Kolkata
, Xavier Dias Editor, Khan Kaneej aur ADHIKAR ,Jharkhand India , Muhammad Murad, from Pakistan, Sindh
, Sanjay Halder
, Gurpreet Singh, Ravi Tripathi, Francis Gonsalves
, Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative, 
Shahid Siddiqui
, P.I. Jose, 
Ishwarbhai Prajapati, 
Deepak Kabir
, Fr. T.K.John , Professor 
Rohan Dandavate – TPI WORD, Daniel Varghese
, Sanjay T , Prasanth Menon
, Zakia Soman and Dr. Noorjehan SN from Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan , Antony Aruloraj, New Delhi, India, 
Aarti Tikoo
, Ashish Biswas, Online Journalist, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 
Devaki Khanna, 
Alok Chadha
, Renu Singh, Samir Dholakia, Mushtaq Dar
, Narinder Singh Sandhu, 
P R Vaidya, Bombay
, Dr V Prasad
, Ameeque Jamei
, Padma Velaskar, Bhanu Bharti, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Delhi
, M.Balanna, PADS, Andhra Pradesh
, Ajay Kumar, PADS Andhra Pradesh
, Roja Ramani Mahila Sravanti, Kurnool

That Elusive Thing with Feathers – After the Killing of Avijit Roy: Abdul Bari

Guest Post by ABDUL BARI

Avijit Roy was brutally murdered in Dhaka a few days ago. His wife, after heroically trying to shield his person with her own body, now lies in an ICU bed, fighting for her life.  I was an infrequent visitor to his website, Muktomona. Visiting it was like running your tongue over that tooth you’re missing, or reflexively checking whether you had your keys with you in the morning. Its presence was a reminder that, no matter how circumscribed, the nation-state of Bangladesh still had men and women who liked to think unconventional thoughts; give expression to unpopular ideas; endeavored to stand, as it is, in the very edge of what the societal limit of what could be expressed, and then take another firm step, not back, but forward. Continue reading That Elusive Thing with Feathers – After the Killing of Avijit Roy: Abdul Bari

A poem for Rafida Ahmed Banna – Avijit Roy’s Partner: Irfanul Rahman Rafin

Guest Post by Irfanul Rahman Rafin, translated from Bengali

[ Kafila normally does not carry poetry. But sometimes we make an exception, and we are making one in the case of this tribute by Irfanul Rahman Rafin, dedicated to Rafida Ahmed Banna, Bangladeshi blogger and partner of Avijit Roy, the Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger who was attacked and killed by Islamist thugs while the couple were on their way back from the Dhaka Book Fair. Roy wrote regularly on the Bangla blog Mukto Mona, and had written several books about religious belief, doubt, homosexuality and other issues. He had recieved death threats from Islamist groups in Bangladesh in the recent past. Roy is not the only blogger, writer and intellectual to have been attacked in this way. Last year, Ahmed Rajib Haider, another blogger opposed to Islamic fundamentalism, was hacked to death in February by a gang of Islamist thugs.

Hundreds of people have come out in protest against the killing of Avijit Roy in Dhaka. The killings of Avijit Roy and Rajib Haider mirror the assasinations of Narendra Dabholkar, and only recently, of Govind Pansare, in India by Hindu Fundamentalist thugs. ]

Avijit Roy and Rafida Ahmed Banya
Avijit Roy and Rafida Ahmed Banna

Sister Banna, listen
by Irfanur Rahman Rafin (translated from Bengali)

I don’t have the words to beg forgiveness
But something still has to be said
So I whisper in your ear sister Banna
Seven brothers still stand by Parul

I know some will say it was atheism
I will say he was child of my mother
We will see if they or Nazrul was right
Those who claim divinity to take life

Do not believe their prophecies
Those who play games with corpses
The war began with bullets and fire
Bringing white shrouds to each home

In this land nobody’s life has value
I know blood flows equally for all
But sister Banna listen to these words
Even the hardest heart cries out today

February 28, 2015

বন্যাদি তুমি শোনো

ক্ষমা চাইবার ভাষা নেই আজ কোনো
কিছু একটা তো বলতেই হয় তাই
কানে কানে বলি বন্যাদি তুমি শোনো
বোন পারুলের পাশে জেগে সাত ভাই

জানি কেউ কেউ বলবে সে নাস্তিক
আমি বলে দেবো সন্তান মোর মা’র
দ্যাখা যাবে তারা নাকি নজরুল ঠিক
খুন করে যারা নিয়ে নেয় দায়ভার

তুমি বিশ্বাস করো না ওদের বাণী
লাশ নিয়ে যারা পাশা খেলে অগোচরে
বুলেট আর আগুন নিয়ে যেই হানাহানি
সফেদ কাফন নিয়ে আসে ঘরে ঘরে

জীবনের দাম এই দেশে কারো নেই
কোনো রক্তই বেশি লাল নয় জানি
তবু বন্যাদি তুমি শোনো আজ এই
দেশে পাষাণেরও চোখ জুড়ে আছে পানি

ফেব্রুয়ারি ২৮, ২০১৫

Zehn ki Loot – The Plunder of Reason in a Times Now TV Studio: Kavita Krishnan

Guest Post by Kavita Krishnan

“Phool shaakhon pe khilne lagey” tum kaho,
“Jaam rindon ko milne lagey” tum kaho,
“Chaak seenon kay silne lagey” tum kaho,
Iss khule jhooth ko,
Zehn ki loot ko,
Main nahin maanta,
Main nahin jaanta

“Branches are abloom with flowers” you say!

“The thirsty have got to drink” you say!

“Wounds of the heart are being sewn” you say!

This open lie…

A plunder of reason…

I shall not accept!

I shall not recognise!

(Habeeb Jalib, translated by Ghazala Jamil)

In Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Petrucchio declares the noontime sun to be the moon: “I say it is the moon,” to test his wife’s loyalty and obedience. As long as she stands by her reason and asserts “I know it is the sun”, she continues to be a ‘shrew’. Only when she consents to ‘zehn ki loot’ (plunder of reason), when she agrees to subordinate her own reason to the whim and diktat of her husband, and deny the self-evident truth, does she achieve approval as a suitable wife.

We, the people of India, are being similarly tamed of our ‘shrewish’ behaviour, with propaganda and public shaming in TV studios accomplishing the ‘zehn ki loot’. It is a process that seeks to bully us into declaring that the sun is the moon, that night is day, that ‘khula jhooth’ (open lie) is in fact the only truth. Refuse to part with your reason, and you are chastised for ‘bad behaviour’.

I would like to revisit the #GovtVsNGO News Hour show on Times Now, on 17th February, as a particularly glaring instance (Activism or Anti-nationalism, Parts 1 and 2 )

The topic of the show was the Government of India’s decision to deplane a Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai from a London-bound flight, because she was planning to depose before British MPs about the violation of India’s forest rights laws by a British mining company, Essar, in Mahan in Madhya Pradesh.

Continue reading Zehn ki Loot – The Plunder of Reason in a Times Now TV Studio: Kavita Krishnan

‘Kiss of Love’ in Delhi, confronting the RSS: Vasundhara Jairath and Bonojit Hussain

Guest Post by Vasundhara Jairath and Bonojit Hussain 

In the first of its kind in India, youth in Kochi launched a campaign called ‘Kiss of Love’ to challenge the moral policing of the Hindu Right. While that protest was attacked by right wing thugs and suppressed by the police, this form of protest has since spread to different parts of the country like Hyderabad, Bombay and Calcutta. Today, the ‘Kiss of Love’ protest was held at nowhere short of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) head office in New Delhi. A few individuals took the initiative and gave a call for this protest on Facebook with the title, ‘Sanghi Gunde Hoshiyar, Tere Samne Karenge Pyaar’ (Sanghi thugs beware, we will love in front you). Continue reading ‘Kiss of Love’ in Delhi, confronting the RSS: Vasundhara Jairath and Bonojit Hussain

Demand to Reconsider and Revise Sections 153a and 295a of the Indian Penal Code to Protect Freedom of Expression in India: Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals

Statement by Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals: Ananya Vajpeyi, Sheldon Pollock, Partha Chatterjee, Laurie Patton, Romila Thapar, David Shulman and many others

We the undersigned are appalled by the recent settlement reached between Dina Nath Batra for the Shiksha Bachao Andolan and Penguin Books India, to cease the publication of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History (Penguin USA 2009; Penguin India 2010), and to withdraw and destroy remaining copies of the book on Indian territory. Continue reading Demand to Reconsider and Revise Sections 153a and 295a of the Indian Penal Code to Protect Freedom of Expression in India: Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals

Are you celebrating free speech, Mr. Lit Fest? Harsh Snehanshu

Guest post by HARSH SNEHANSHU

This January, in a session at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), the award-winning writer Jerry Pinto said something that sent most of us into a tizzy.

“We are sitting in the ‘Google’ Mughal Tent discussing how crucial the freedom of expression is for us writers,” Pinto said wringing his hands animatedly. “It’s the same Google that reads all our mails, encroaches on our privacy, and here, under its roof, we are discussing how we should feel free to say whatever we want without any fear.” The crowd was amused, and left with some food for thought. Would it have been possible to organize an event as grand as the JLF, free for all, without Google’s help? I asked myself. The answer was a no. Google’s deep pockets couldn’t be ignored. Should I refrain from attending the fest just because of Google’s invasion of my privacy? The answer, after some thought, was again a no. Google monitoring my mails doesn’t affect my freedom of expression that I prize most as a writer.

Two weeks later, another literature festival has arrived, this time in New Delhi. Run by arguably India’s most revered newspaper, The Hindu’s Lit for Life is being held at the Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi, on 8th February after its successful three day stint at Chennai in mid-January. The guest-list is embellished with names of noted luminaries like the writers Rana Dasgupta, Sam Miller, Rahul Bhattacharya among others, the Olympian Mary Kom, and politicians Shazia Ilmi and Manish Tewari. The entry, like every other literary festival nowadays, is free. The beautifully designed logo is aptly shaped as the fountain pen, representing the craft that it celebrates. However there is something below the logo that disturbs me. It says, ‘Powered by VIT University.’ Continue reading Are you celebrating free speech, Mr. Lit Fest? Harsh Snehanshu

Living to tell the tale: Neerja Dasani

NEERJA DASANI on the Kabir Kala Manch, their life, art and the constant hurdles set before them by the State. Previously published in Literary Review section of The Hindu on January 5, 2014.

The art of irony is something that the members of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), who identify themselves not as a cultural troupe but as a political movement, are well-versed in. This could be because life for them has been a series of curious contradictions. Emerging from mohallas and bastis, their voices reverberated through the corridors of power, disturbing the slumber of those within. Finding democracy’s din too unsettling, its elected guardians branded KKM as anti-national. The resultant time spent either in jail or underground, strengthened their resolve instead of silencing them into submission.

Read the rest of the article here.

मई दिवस और गणपति

मई दिवस और गणपति में सम्बन्ध ही क्या हो सकता है? दोनों की न तुक मिलती है और न ही अनुप्रास की छटा दोनों के पासपास होने से बिखरती है. फिर गणपति  शुद्ध हिन्दू देवता हैं, गणेश चतुर्थी के अवसर पर तो उनका नामजाप समझ में आता है, लकिन मई दिवस पर उनका आह्वान? इससे बड़ा दूषण हो ही नहीं सकता और इसका दंड उन्हें तो किसी न किसी रूप में भुगतना ही पड़ेगा. सो हुआ.

सती  अनामंत्रित अपने पिता दक्ष के घर गई थीं  और अपमान न सह पाने के कारण उन्हें यज्ञ वेदी में ही कूद कर जल  मरना पड़ा . किसी भी जगह बिन बुलाए  नहीं जाना चाहिए, इसकी सीख देने के लिए   यह कथा वे  सुनाते हैं जिन्हें इस समय भी कुछ कथाएँ याद रह गयी हैं. निश्चय ही त्रिथा को यह प्रसंग या तो पता न होगा या वे इसे भूल गईं जब मई दिवस पर जवाहरलाल नेहरु विश्वविद्यालय में  एक वामपंथी छात्र संगठन द्वारा आयोजित एक संगीत संध्या में मंच पर वे  अनामंत्रित गाने चली गईं. एक तो वे स्वयं अनपेक्षित , अतः किंचित अस्वस्तिकर उपस्थिति थीं , दूसरे आयोजकों और श्रोताओं  को , जो मई दिवस पर संघर्ष और क्रान्ति के जुझारू गीत सुन कर अपने शरीर के भीतर जोश  भरने आये थे इसकी आशंका थी कि वे इस पवित्र अवसर पर जाने  क्या गा देंगी. और आखिरकार  उन्होंने इस आशंका को सही साबित कर दिया, जब वे शास्त्रीय संगीत के नाम पर वक्रतुंड, महाकाय …. गाने लगीं. थोड़ी देर पहले जो  सैकड़ों शरीर हिल्लेले हिलोर दुनिया पर झूम रहे थे, उनसे नहींनहीं का शोर उठा. इस छात्र जनता के नेता जनभावना का आदर करते हुए मंच पर पहुंचे और त्रिथा को अपना गाना बीच में रोक कर मंच से जाना पड़ा. Continue reading मई दिवस और गणपति

Letter to the Press Council Chair Person Justice Markandey Katju about SUN News reportage of the arrest of the supporters of the Kudankulam Struggle

Guest Post by V.GEETHA

My name is V. Geetha, and I live in Chennai. I am a writer, with an interest in civil rights issues. I write this note to register my shock and bewilderment at some recent developments in my state. Given your concerns about the relationship between freedom and responsibility as far as the media is concerned, I felt it important to convey some of my – and other peoples’ – misgivings over media reporting of sensitive political events.

Throughout today, March 25, SUN News, part of the SUN TV network, while reporting on three men arrested over the last few days, for supporting the anti-nuclear plant struggle at Kudankulam has alleged they are all ‘Maoists. The channel has further gone on to note that it has got wind of a ‘ naxalite plot’ that is all set to take over the anti-nuclear plant protests at Idinthakarai. Continue reading Letter to the Press Council Chair Person Justice Markandey Katju about SUN News reportage of the arrest of the supporters of the Kudankulam Struggle

On the arrest of Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi

On 7 March, Delhi Police arrested Delhi-based journalist Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi on charges of being part of the plot to kill an Israeli diplomat’s wife in Delhi on 13 February. Many have expressed concern that Kazmi is being falsely implicated. Give below is the text of a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner by the DELHI UNION OF JOURNALISTS, followed by a statement from the INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF JOURNALISTS, and thereafter by a statement issued by a group of citizens.

    9 March 2012 

The Commissioner of Police,
Delhi Police,
New Delhi

Sir: Continue reading On the arrest of Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi

Screening Jashn-e-Azadi at Presidency University, Kolkata: Waled Aadnan

Guest post by Waled Aadnan

It can be said that 86/1 College Street, Calcutta, has seen a microcosm of the history of modern India unfold within its walls. Since 1874 when the already fifty-nine year old Presidency College shifted to its current address, future Presidents and Prime Ministers of  India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; Nobel Laureates, freedom fighters, an Academy Award winner, Bharat Ratnas; the leadership of the Naxalite movement of the 60s and 70s; and eminent judges, writers, journalists, scientists and actors, have spent their student days at 86/1.

Two years ago, soon after I joined the institution, the Left Front government upgraded Presidency College to the status of a state University in a last-gasp bid to hold on to the votes of the bhadralok intellectuals. 2012 dawned with no Student Union elections having been held the previous year, and it is in this backdrop that the following events unfold.

Salman Rushdie’s well-publicised ostracism from the Jaipur Literature Festival was met not with outrage in Presi’s canteen addas, but with the absence of even a poster put up in protest. News filtered in of a seminar in Symbiosis University being “threatened.” But little awareness existed among students who were more inclined to read tabloid-like, unputdownable newspapers than their relatively austere counterparts, including The Hindu which broke the story.

Continue reading Screening Jashn-e-Azadi at Presidency University, Kolkata: Waled Aadnan

Beyond the Four Corners of the Law and the Diggy Palace: Faiz Ullah

Guest post by FAIZ ULLAH

I.

Highstreet Phoenix, an upscale shopping mall, rose from the ashes of Lower Parel’s semi-functional Phoenix Mills in the late nineties’ Bombay. It has since successfully emerged as one of the most popular shopping and leisure destinations for the city’s affluent set. Highstreet Phoenix is just one of the many mills in the South-Central Bombay’s Girangaon that have been leased, sold or redeveloped in contravention of industrial and land-use policies and court judgements especially in the last two decades. These large swathes of urban land, two thirds of which was meant for low-cost housing, civic amenities and open spaces, are being fast converted into exclusive housing societies, office complexes and recreation zones that only a few can access and afford. Such tensions, some like McKinsey & Company (of Vision Mumbai report fame) would say, are inevitable, even necessary, for the cities that aspire to be world class.

Continue reading Beyond the Four Corners of the Law and the Diggy Palace: Faiz Ullah

My friend in Thailand, may you be free

‘Prachatai’ means “free people” in Thai. Prachatai calls itself an online newspaper, with Thai and English versions. You can see the English version here. Prachatai in the Thai internet universe is a bit like this website, Kafila, only a lot more popular. Prachatai’s webmaster, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, is facing trial for comments posted on the site that allegedly violated Thailand’s lese majeste (insulting the monarch) laws. While the lese majeste charges against the person who wrote that comment have been dropped, Chiranuch is still being charged under lese majeste and other laws, including ‘intermediary liability’ laws. Intermediary liability laws in relation to internet freedom mean that if you post a comment on my site that violates the law, I too will be charged as having abetted the crime. India’s cyber crime laws were amended some time ago to remove the intermediary clause, not because the Government of India was concerned about free speech, but because of Ebay India, whose head was charged and arrested when a user uploaded a pornographic ‘MMS’ on Ebay India that featured minors.

I first met Chiranuch at an social media workshop in Thailand, and then again last September in Budapest, Hungary, at a Google conference on internet freedom across the world. It is curcuial to note that upon her return from Budapest, she was arrested, given bail for a very high bail amount, and fresh new charges – and a lot of them – were added against her – clearly, they don’t like her talking about internet freedom. If convicted, she faces up to 50 years in jail! See here an article in The Economist. The trial began today, 4 February, a few hours ago.

Chiranuch could easily have escaped Thailand and taken asylum elsewhere by now. She hasn’t done that because she is consciously fighting a battle for freedom of expression in Thailand. She didn’t want to run away because it would have discouraged, rather than encouraged, that crucial fight.

One expresses solidarity with her, one hopes she is free, and that her case becomes the turning point in the fight from democracy and democratic rights in Thailand. Above all, one salutes her courage. For those who are interested in the details, given below are notes from the Thai Netizen Network.

Continue reading My friend in Thailand, may you be free