All Accused in Bilkis Bano Case, Including Police Officers Finally Convicted
BOMBAY HIGH COURT REJECTS APPEALS OF THE 11 CONVICTED ACCUSED, UPHOLDS LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Sets Aside Acquittals of 7 Gujarat Cops & Doctors Convicts them of Evidence Tampering & Cover Up
Mumbai, May 4, 2017
Through all of you, friends in the media, I wish to say to all my fellow Indian citizens, my fellow Gujaratis, my fellow Muslims, and to women everywhere – I am grateful that this verdict delivered by the Honorable Judges, has, yet again, vindicated my truth, and upheld my faith in the judiciary.
My rights, as a human being, as a citizen, woman, and mother were violated in the most brutal manner, but I have trusted in the democratic institutions of our country. Now, my family and I feel we can begin to lead our lives again, free of fear.
I am happy that the State and its officials who emboldened, encouraged, and protected the criminals who destroyed the life of an entire community, are no longer unblemished, but today stand convicted of tampering with evidence and cover up. For officers of the state, whose sworn duty it is to protect citizens and enable justice, this should be their great moral shame, to bear forever. Continue reading Bilkis Yakub Rasool’s Statement to the Press→
Two events altered his life forever. The first was when he witnessed a supervisor disrespectfully berating and kick a junior employee, which transformed a young apolitical physicist, who was passionately devoted to fundamental scientific research, into a tireless trade-unionist. The second – seeing his beloved adopted city Ahmedabad burn with tumultuous hate violence for many weeks in 2002 – thrust him into the heart of many battles against state power malevolently exercised against people of minority faiths. When Mukul Sinha succumbed to a particularly deadly stream of cancer in the summer of 2014, just weeks before Narendra Modi was swept to power, the country lost one if its bravest, most forthright voices for justice.
Raised in the railway enclave of the small district town of Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh where his father served, the young man had clearly worked out his chosen career as a scientist. After graduating in physics from IIT Kanpur, his elected life pathway seemed neatly laid out for him when, in 1973, he was accepted for his doctoral studies in plasma physics in the prestigious Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. Founded in 1947 by the legendary Vikram Sarabhai, this apex space research institute undertakes fundamental research in physics, space and atmospheric sciences, astronomy, solar physics and planetary geo-sciences. This was where India’s first space satellite was born. It was a cloistered intellectual world, separated it seemed by light years from the turbulent life of fighting injustice which Mukul was to ultimately choose. Continue reading We Need You More Than Ever Today – A Tribute to Mukul Sinha: Harsh Mander→
The following is the text of a statement issued in Banaras on the 3rd January 2015, by a number of intellectuals
In Support of Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand and others
We are deeply shocked and outraged by the continuing attempts of the Modi government and the Gujarat police to somehow implicate the human rights lawyers and activists, Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand along with three victim survivors of the state sponsored carnage in Gujarat in 2002 on patently trumped up charges.
This is another attempt to derail justice particularly Zakia Jafri’s appeal which is now before the Gujarat High Court where she has accused the then Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, the home minister of Gujarat along with 59 others which include top politicians, civil servants of conspiracy for mass murder and other serious crimes.
On 12th of May, while I was still trying to cope with the sad demise of noted human rights lawyer Advocate PurushothamPoojary, from Mangalore in Karnataka, I was informed of yet another loss. But this time, the loss was more personal and tragic. “Mukul Sinha passed away,” informed a friend who was calling from Delhi. The news shook me to the core and for a few hours, I went numb with disbelief and was unable to respond properly. In fact, it is still difficult for me to talk of him in the past tense.
Dr. Mukul Sinha, a physicist by training, a trade unionist and human rights activist by passion, and a lawyer by practice, succumbed to lung cancer in Ahmedabad, the former capital of Gujarat. His diagnosis with cancer was revealed to us a year ago. But the news had to be kept under wraps as it would ‘unnecessarily concern’ his distant friends and well-wishers. In the last one year, while he had almost stopped participating in public functions, he was very active on social media, especially Twitter. Continue reading Remembering Adv. Mukul Sihna: Mahtab Alam→
The margins just got bigger. Many among those who customarily inhabit the centre have been pushed to the periphery. They are not my concern. There are analyses galore about why and how this has happened. I am not going to add one more to those. Margins exist on all sides. They encircle the political mainland from left and from right. Some might say there are no margins on the right. Everything on that side is mainstream. In any case, I will have little to say about the margins on the right.
My concern is with the left-side margins that now harbour the entire Left, although it is perhaps too soon for much of the traditional Left to acknowledge that. They are not likely, in any case, to listen to those of us who have spent a lifetime on the margins – partly because of our own follies and frailties but also because we have refused to succumb to the unsavory demands of the times. It is, after all, not our fault that we are born in a valley of historical time where the descent on the slopes of past glories has already come to an end and the ascent to the future ones is yet to begin. Continue reading Lessons for the Saner Segments of the Margins: Ravi Sinha→
Siddharth Varadarajan’s article raises some very important dilemmas before Modi which is really a rehearsal of the development versus welfare debate now bound to be exacerbated with the runaway capitalism that Modi promises to unleash.
But it raises another important question. Can we simply forget the past and get on with the future? Can we join the futurist chorus of Modi and his Thatcherite – Reaganite followers? Can an electoral mandate, even one as powerful as this, remove permanently the memory of 2002?
The immediate analogy comes with the anti Sikh riots followed by the 1984 verdict. 1984 returns every election to haunt the Congress even after they have made a Sikh prime minister for 10 years. Some historical memories are very stubborn and refuse to leave off the haunting of the future. It is not as if there have not been many riots. But only some riots achieve a historically emblematic status that remove them from the realms of simple memory alone. Some events become symbolic rallying points and they invite an excess of documentation, of witness testimonies, of cultural representations, all of which memorialize and fix them in chronology as a rupture in time that can never quite be bridged by the stitchings or blurrings of popular oral memory alone. In such events the archive becomes memory. Continue reading The Modi Mandate – A Belated Response to S Varadarajan: Pradip Datta→
I looked around the room and my gaze was met with the kohl lined eyes and stares of bewilderment and distrust. My heart pounded as I listened to three Muslim women describe their latest attempt to find their father and brother after they disappeared in the riots. They were speaking to Rahidbhai* from a local NGO who was accompanying me into the Ahmedabad relief colonies for the first time. Why was I so scared? Why was my heart pounding? The eldest woman of the home disrupted my thoughts, she asked me for my name. I looked around and looked at Rahidbhai, who looked back uneasily. “Mera naam Reena hai.” I said, almost choking on the words, knowing what the next question would be. “Aap ka surname kya hai?” The room grew thick with silence. “Patel.”
As far back as I could remember, I was taught to regard Muslims differently from the rest of the general population. My parents, both from Surat, Gujarat moved and met in the United States in their twenties. They both lived in England and spent time in Gujarat, and had families that were deeply involved in the Gujarati community. My brother and I were born in Long Beach California. I went to Gujarati school on Sundays, went to every function, picnic, and cultural show put on by the Leuva Patidar Samaj in Southern California. Many of my family members were apart of the organization. In fact, my great grandfather Vallabhai Patel was one of the first Patels to land upon the shores of the United States, now estimated at a population of over 140,000. We went to religious camps that were meant to teach us about Hindu ideology, handed out saffron prayer books and modeled how to become ideal Hindu men and women for our communities.
By stealth, wealth, and media barrage a phalanx of powerful interests is trying to create a public opinion favourable to Mr Narendra Modi. It appears the entire privilegenstia of the country, the super rich capitalists, professional elites, entrepreneurs of the religion, top bureaucracy, including retired army men and police, upper castes, media pundits, even NRI academics, are united in their enthusiasm for Mr Modi. From Ratan Tata to Ramdev, people have been told how the man is the only saviour of a country in crisis. What exactly do this bunch of rich and privileged, but discontented people hope from Mr Modi as PM is important for the future of the country. The moot point here is the difference between declared intentions and actual motives. Perhaps even more important is the response of Mr Modi’s political opponents, because that indicates the kind of resources the country can fall back upon when confronted with the reality of him in power. The moot point here is a lack of understanding of the significance of the usual, non-Modi type politics for ordinary Indians. The stakes are high indeed. Far from what the phalanx and its ideologues claim, it is actually this politics which is their target, and which they wish to change under Mr Modi.
The most prominent charge leveled by Mr Modi’s opponents is that he is communal and divisive, and will alienate minorities. From Mr Lalu Prasad to Prof Amartya Sen, that appears to be the chief misgiving. If the charge against Mr Modi is so framed, then by implication it also appears to be asserting that if there had been no Gujarat 2002, Mr Modi and the kind of politics his party represents will be as good or bad as any other party politics. Are minorities’ misgivings about Mr Modi’s the only fact that the rest of Indians should worry about? Is the hesitation of minorities about him the only legitimate concern that may stop the man from reaching the PMO? Continue reading Should only Minorities be Worried over Mr Modi? Sanjay Kumar→
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 15 January, Kafila published an open letter to MADHU PURNIMA KISHWAR by ZAHIR JANMOHAMED. Three months later, Kishwar has sent us a response. Given below her response are comments by Zahir Janmohamed.
My apologies for the delay in responding to your “Open Letter” addressed to me through Kafila on January 11 2013.
Unlike most of those upset at my articles on Gujarat, you have been remarkably measured in your tone and tenor and also respectful in questioning my observations. However, the content of your letter annoyed me no end. I kept postponing my response in the hope that my annoyance at the absurdity of your chargesheet would subside over time. I honestly did not want to give you an angry or discourteous response so that the dialogic mode you established remained undisturbed.
This is a guest post by ZAHIR JANMOHAMED: This morning, April 1, Google announced its latest product: Gmail blue. It is email except for one critical difference—everything is blue.
“I can’t believe I waited so long for this,” a hilarious Google video says.
It works because it is funny and so obviously absurd—you would have to be, well, a fool to believe this April fool’s day joke. But the Google prank is also something else: harmless. It does not hurt anyone nor it does not trigger painful memories.
The headline on Zee News at 5:09pm today read: “America opens its gates for ‘very dynamic’ Narendra Modi.”
The Business Standard in an article posted a few minutes earlier, at 4:57pm, wrote: “After UK, now US softens stand on Modi.”
Indeed three members of the US Congress, along with a few US business leaders, did meet with the Gujarat Chief Minister today in Gujarat. But should we infer any shift in US policy towards Narendra Modi?
Okay, so the popular consensus is that Kai Po Che is a good film. Everyone agrees that it’s well shot and edited, the relatively unknown heroes are excellent, and the narrative is taut and emotionally resonant. It is competent and follows all the right cues worthy of a buddy movie about growing up and testing loyalties. But the film is hardly an event. It has been seized upon as a significant cinematic landmark for its depiction of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. It might be worth our while to get some perspective here.
Today I will look at some other questions about our collective liberal attitude to this film, and what it indicates about our memory of select incidents of mass violence in this country. The main question to ponder is whether there is something dangerous about a historically-contextualized cultural product that can be coopted by a range of political perspectives? Is there something objectionable about a film (and the emotions it generates) which is deliberately toothless in the face of power? Over the last few weeks we have witnessed a range of informed cultural commentators protest that critics of the film are making much to-do about what is in fact the first “realistic” and engaging Bollywood depiction of the Gujarat massacre. This post rejects that opinion and appeals for responsible film criticism and an alert, active mode of spectatorship.
In the summer of 1999, practising our family tradition, we were availing a government LTC that my father was entitled to, being a senior central government officer. Since we could travel by air, we decided to take a trip to Darjeeling, while halting at Allahabad, Varanasi, Lucknow, and Calcutta for some sight-seeing. Those were the days when flying was an experience for most Indians; yet the emotional memory of this trip did not record much of the excitement induced by flying, but took vivid account of disappointment – with a chance conversation and of missing another.
It was on our flight from Lucknow to Calcutta, I was sitting with my younger brother while my parents were sitting together in a row behind us. I was on the window seat and was too occupied with the process of luggage sliding inside the plane, to notice two gentlemen who came and sat next to my parents and my brother respectively. My gawking was however interrupted by my father excitedly introducing me to one Devi Singh ji, who I was told happened to be Personal Assistant to Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. Being a big BJP enthusiast, partly because of their mesmerizingly bright coloured flags, I looked up to this BJP heavyweight and was elated to meet his personal assistant. My excitement was doubled when Devi Singh ji introduced us to a gentleman sitting next to my brother, on the aisle seat, as Modi ji who was accompanying Bhairon Singh ji to the Bihar convention of BJP. However, this excitement remained short lived.
When I started conducting research in Gujarat two years ago, I kept being asked the same question among middle class youth in Ahmedabad: “Have you read Chetan Bhagat?” When I asked what other books they have read, I often heard, “Actually I only read Chetan Bhagat.”
So I started to read Bhagat because I wanted to relate to many of the young people I was interviewing. But it was not an easy task.
Snigdha Poonam watches Kai Po Che, whose script was written by Chetan Bhagat, based on his book The Three Mistakes of My Life:
In the film adaptation, Mr. Bhagat has also added what seems like justification for some Hindus to turn violent, like the death by burning of both of the parents of one of the three protagonists in the Sabarmati Express; in the novel, it was his nephew. We all know the level of vengeance with which Bollywood heroes respond to the targeting of their mothers: “Teri maa mari hai kya (Is it your mother who has died?),” the bereaved son explodes at a sensible friend trying to stop him from losing control of himself.
In his book, Mr. Bhagat clearly showed the 2002 riots as a state-sanctioned exercise (“Whatever it takes to quench the hurt feelings,” says a “senior Hindu Party leader”). But he excised that from the film completely. [Read]
That image above is via DeshGujarat.com, where an article quotes Bhagat as saying in a TV debate:
“It has been discussed much that Modi ji has done well in Gujarat, but what I believe is that he is a very good politician. A politician has to change with public mood. When communal issue mood was there in the country, that was Modi version 1, when he elected for the first time. And when he won the election for second time, he won it on development agenda.”
Clearly, Mr Chetan Bhagat is also a good politician.
On Tuesday, February 19, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation ratified its budget and elected to build the first municipal school in Juhapura, the largest ghetto of Muslims in Ahmedabad. Juhapura was incorporated into the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation five years ago and many residents wondered why the AMC took so long to build a school to serve Juhapura’s 350,000 residents. At the forefront of this struggle is IIT Delhi physics professor VK Tripathi. It was during a chance meeting with a sandwich shop owner in Washington DC that Professor Tripathi first learned about Juhapura. Continue reading Prof VK Tripathi and the fight for Schools in Juhapura: Zahir Janmohamed→
Don’t tell us stories about development, Narendra Modi. Your Vibrant Gujarat and claims of development are shameless hollow lies, and even if they were true, it would still be an unethical and blood-stained development.
But they are lies, Modi, lies.
Here’s a report by Pranjal Sharma in Business World that sees through the working of your aggressive PR machinery:
Since I started conducting research in March 2011 about the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots, I have learned that the worst way to begin a conversation with a Muslim here in Ahmedabad is to ask about the 2002 riots. I was an eye-witness to the riots in 2002 and I thought my experiences might make some Muslims in Gujarat feel more comfortable speaking with me. I was wrong.
Sometimes I had to interview a person four or five times before they felt comfortable speaking about the 2002 riots. The reasons are varied. Some feel there is no use speaking about the riots as they know justice will never come under Narendra Modi’s watch. Others feel exploited by NGOs and Islamic groups who have used their stories to raise funds for their organizations abroad. And others, as one rape survivor told me, do not want to “relive the trauma.”
But if you ask Muslims in Ahmedabad about Pakistan, chances are you will walk home with a notebook full of comments. Earlier this week I went around my neighborhood of Juhapura—an area pejoratively known as “mini Pakistan”—and asked residents for their comments on Pakistan. The answers are telling. Continue reading Seeing Pakistan from Juhapura: Zahir Janmohamed→
When the riots broke out in 2002 in Ahmedabad, after the burning of the Godhra coach, I was in the tenth standard. I remember listening to the news in the morning, just after which my best friend Ketan had called me and asked “Why did you guys do this?” I didn’t know how to respond to that. I think I just laughed it out and we began discussing what was happening in the city. My father took the phone away from me. I was preparing for my board exams and was just about to leave for one of the last days of school, after which we would go on a study leave. My father, who had experience with riots, told my two elder sisters and me to not go to school and stay at home that day. Continue reading Reflections of a Refugee from Modi’s Gujarat: Reza Noorani→