Stung by the SIT report which concluded that Ishrat Jahan was executed in cold blood, former Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai—hard-pressed to defend his affidavit to the Supreme Court that Ishrat was a Lashkar operative—has stooped to now slandering the girl’s personal life suggesting that her checking into different hotels with “another man” was definitely suspicious. Perhaps, Mr. Pillai wishes us to believe that all those young women who travel and work independently are ‘suspicious’ and could have terrorist links. Continue reading Shame on G.K. Pillai: Women demand an apology for his sexist comments→
This release comes from the JAMIA TEACHERS’ SOLIDARITY ASSOCIATION
21 November 2011
JTSA welcomes the SIT report which has concluded that the teenaged college girl Ishrat Jahan and her three companions were killed in cold blood—and were not terrorists on way to kill Narendra Modi. This has reinforced the findings of the Tamang Enquiry Report which had drawn similar conclusions in 2009, and which the Gujarat government had tried to suppress and discredit. The SIT report has given credence to the allegation of civil rights activists that the officers in Gujarat police had executed several people through the last decade in collusion with the highest political authority in the state. The police officers gained medals and promotions and Modi built his image as the Hindutva hero by highlighting the alleged assassination attempts on him. Continue reading JTSA welcomes the SIT report on Ishrat Jahan, demands free and fair probe into Batla House ‘Encounter’→
Of all the things about my last workplace, being summoned by one of our editors to her cabin was one that I did not particularly like. The problem was that, unlike other parts of the office, in her cabin I could not even pretend to seem interested in what she had to say. My eyes would involuntarily travel to the soft-board above her desk and get fixated on a slightly hazy colour photograph of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. And if I shifted focus a bit towards the left, then I could also see another familiar figure standing next to Mr. Modi. That of the cabin’s proud occupant.
Now, it is not a hidden secret that the Indian business news community admires Mr. Modi. His biennial Vibrant Gujarat Summits, desi version of international pseudo-events like the Davos World Economic Forum, are a definite hit among business news hacks. How can you not be at a place where deals upwards of $452 billion get signed over just a couple of days?
The press is full of the India Human Development Report 2011 released by the Centre recently, and Gujarat figures prominently in newspaper headlines for reasons Mr. Modi is unlikely to quote in self-congratulatory ads. As The Telegraph put in tortured prose, Gujarat has a ‘Gnawing record fasting Modi won’t flaunt‘.
Kerala once again topped the Human Development Index. One of the more charming images that accompanied the story is from Rediff, which showed a fairly archetypal Kerala landscape with paddy fields, coconut trees and a cow. No humans, though, developed or otherwise. It struck me, then, that part of Kerala’s high ranking in the health and nutrition stakes may come from its willingness to consume all three: rice, coconuts and the cow. And thereby hangs a tale. Continue reading Human Development and other Holy Cows: Sajan Venniyoor→
What a farce! What a farce of a fast! One doesn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry over this state of affairs in the world’s largest democracy. It is a sad day in a nation’s history when someone who presided over a state-sanctioned genocide goes on fast in the name of “peace and harmony” and media vultures and assorted politicians rush to canonize him as the apostle of peace. When it comes to political theatre, few can beat our politicians. They have no qualms in mimicking their more successful fellow travelers if it can get them a few more votes or push them a couple of notches up the popularity ladder.
Just when Shantuben held her meditative poise at a Vipassana camp at Igatpuri on the morning of January 26, 2001, her dream turned to rubble back home in Bhuj. When she reached home, her labour of love of the last 5 years was gone, razed to the ground. It all had to start afresh. Continue reading Few Hearts to Live for→
Till a few days ago, I hadn’t heard of Aqeel Shatir. A friend sent me a link to a report in the Indian Express on December 20 about a poet who had been asked to pay for an anti-Narendra Modi remark in his anthology, Abhi Zindaa Hoon Main (I Am Still Alive). I got in touch with the reporter, in Ahmedabad, who had filed the story and soon after that spoke on the phone with Shatir.
Aqeel Shatir is his takhallus or literary alias. The name his parents gave him was Aqeel Ahmed. His ustad offered him a choice of two pen-names. One was Aazar, which means a sculptor, someone who carves beautiful forms from marble. The other was Shatir, whose literal meaning is chess-player but denotes someone who possesses cunning. Continue reading “I Am Still Alive”: Amitava Kumar→
“Is it a crime to work in a democratic and peaceful way for the empowerment and development of Adivasis”?
– Adivasi Mahasabha Gujarat & People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat.
Mr. Avinash Kulkarni and Mr. Bharat Pawar, activists of long-standing repute, have been working relentlessly for the rights of the Adivasis of Gujarat, over the past 15 years. Based in Ahwa, Avinash and Bharat have been actively involved on issues pertaining to the empowerment and development of Adivasis, through the Dangi Lok Adhikar Samiti and the Dangi Mazdoor Union, in Dang district. Avinash and Bharat have played a significant role in the struggle for the Forest Rights Act and for people’s rights to use, manage and control forests and forest resources as part of the leadership of Adivasi Mahasabha Gujarat, both in the advocacy and struggle that brought about the Forests Rights Act and the monitoring of its implementation across the Adivasi areas of Gujarat. It is a well known fact that they have always worked for democratic and peaceful means of securing the rights and entitlements of the Adivasis and have stood by non-violent means of working for social change.
In the afternoon of 21st March, 2010, about 2 P.M Avinash was picked up by Dy. S. P. Shri Patil under the pretext of questioning and took him to an undisclosed location, without giving any information to his family members or colleagues as to where they were taking him or giving him the right of contacting his advocate. Bharat Pawar also was detained the same evening in a similar fashion by policemen from the DSP office of Ahwa, Dangs. This is a clear violation of Justice D. K. Basu Guideline of Supreme Court. Continue reading Arrests of Activists in Gujarat→
Can you even imagine Indian politics, or even India, without Murdabad? Who in this country has not seen a protest with people shouting “murdabad” after the name of a politician? Murdabad literally means death be upon you. In Gujarat, though, wishing death upon Narendra Modi can land you in jail. After the chief minister contracted swine flu, one Umesh Anupchandra Jain in Surat sent his friend Nirav Jagdishchandra Rana an SMS that read: “Jay Shree Ram. Narendra Modi ne swine flu positive. Bhagwan ene jaldi uthavi le aevi prarthna. Jaisi karni vaisi bharni.” That translates as: ‘Jai Shri Ram. Narendra Modi is swine flu positive. Let’s pray that god takes him away soon. As you sow, so you reap.’
So what if the recipient, Nirav, further circulated this to another 500 people? And so what if some of those were Modi fans, who were infuriated enough to go to the police station with it? What in those words gives the police the right to arrest Umesh and Nirav under charges of promoting enmity between groups, criminal conspiracy and abetting a crime, besides the IT Act. The irony of the Narendra Modi government accusing somebody of promoting enmity amongst groups. You may say it’s in bad taste, you may invoke Gandhi and say and eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. But jail for an innocuous SMS makes Gujarat a police state. Continue reading Narendra Modi – Murdabad! Murdabad, murdabad!→
I cannot resist but recount this account of exemplary courage and commitment of a Magistrate working in the Metropolitan Courts of Ahmedabad. He is none other than Magistrate Tamang who has been in the news for the past few days.
Brief facts: We all know about the encounter of Ishrat Jehan and three others in the outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad which took place in June, 2004. Soon after the encounter there were enquiries by human rights groups which declared that it was a cold blooded killing and not an encounter. To counter the demands the Crime Branch ordered a Magistrate to enquire into the matter. It has been reported that no Magistrate was willing to stick his neck into this issue. Finally on 12 August, 2009 the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) ordered Magistrate Tamang to conduct the inquiry. The latter was supposed to conduct this inquiry under S 176 CrPC. This is the section of law in which a Magistrate is empowered to hold an inquiry into the cause of death whenever a person dies while in police custody or when it is a death in doubtful circumstances. Generally, under this section of law, Magistrates record dying declarations of women who are dying and lying in the hospitals.
In one of the most daring and yet cowardly terror attacks, Bombay/Mumbai has been attacked. In an earlier post we had discussed the question of violence – ‘revolutionary’ violence, and the utter futility of resort to such methods. Violence is not a solution to anything; it cannot be. If anything, it is part of the problem; it is the problem. For violence begets more violence. Continue reading Grotesque Terror Attacks in Mumbai→
On Wednesday, I met some young men from Dhule. I am not at all sure where Dhule is and I said as much to them. “There was some violence there. It has been in the news lately,” they said. “Did any bombs go off in Dhule?” said I. “No bombs, no. But there was communal violence. It was on the news.” “I only watch prime time news. I don’t usually manage to view the afternoon bulletins. Nor the eleven PM one (informative though they are),” I explained. “So where exactly is Dhule?” I persisted. “It is a district on the north-western tip of Maharashtra. It’s not so far from Malegaon.” Ah, Malegaon! Where the blasts occurred? Finally I had a co-ordinate. Continue reading Such absurdity on a Wednesday→
[While this post is also posted on my blog, I want to add a small qualification as to why I have put this up on Kafila as well. This post goes out on Kafila in the optimistic spirit of peace and wisdom in our hearts in the midst of the various blasts that have been taking place in different cities across India.]
(I write in the spirit of my words and in submission of myself to my vulnerabilities and to the present …)
One blast here,
One blast here
And one blast there.
So that is what we, in various parts of the world, have been hearing about in the last two days. And yet, the indifference on my skin remains. It only thickens. But I remain sensitive to more mundane issues that concern me/bother me/sit on my mind/nag me. And what is sitting on my mind as of now, is that beautiful feeling of vulnerability and the thought of what it means to be vulnerable in the city. The feeling of vulnerability is beautiful as of now because I write in the solitude of music, my words and my difficult and vulnerable self, shut off from the noise of the blasts and of the noise of the crowds that existed in my space a while ago.
Prof. Ashish Nandy, India’s leading intellectual acknowledged as one of the the founding fathers of postcolonial studies has recently got a new ‘identity’. According to the Gujarat Police he is now an accused in a criminal case supposedly for ‘promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and language.’ Definitely neither Prof Nandy nor many of his admirers would have ever imagined in their wildest dreams that a day would arrive when he will face prosecution for his writings. But as they rightly say it, in Gujarat things happen bit differently. Continue reading Why NAMO Loves To Hate Prof Nandy→
In April last year, Avinash Dutt and I had interviewed the political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot. We walked around Lodhi Gardens, tape recorder in hand, and I ended up transcribing more than five thousand words that night. Tehelka had published a shorter, edited version. Here’s the full thing.
I was reminded of this interview after encountering the argument here that there should be, and is, a Dalit-Brahmin alliance against the already much-demonised OBCs. I thought that this way of seeing the BSP’s victory in the Uttar Pradesh elections was not only incorrect, but also seemed to be in need of the argument that Jaffrelot makes in this interview: that seeing caste as a ‘system’ is outmoded, at least as far as electoral politics is concerned.
1- Shivam: Which is more important for the average Indian, religion or caste?
radical Islam in India as this generationu003cbr />remembers with gratitude the handsomeu003cbr />contribution of Rajiv Gandhi and his cohorts tou003cbr />Sikh militancy.u003cbr />u003cbr />The secularist dogma of many fighting the sanghu003cbr />parivar has not helped matters. Even those whou003cbr />have benefited from secular lawyers and activistsu003cbr />relate to secular ideologies instrumentally. Theyu003cbr />neither understand them nor respect them. Theu003cbr />victims still derive solace from their religionsu003cbr />and, when under attack, they cling moreu003cbr />passionately to faith. Indeed, shallow ideologiesu003cbr />of secularism have simultaneously broken the backu003cbr />of Gandhism and discouraged the emergence ofu003cbr />figures like Ali Shariatis, Desmond Tutus and theu003cbr />Dalai Lama – persons who can give suffering a newu003cbr />voice audible to the poor and the powerless andu003cbr />make a creative intervention possible from withinu003cbr />worldviews accessible to the people.u003cbr />u003cbr />Finally, Gujarat’s spectacular development hasu003cbr />underwritten the de-civilising process. One ofu003cbr />the worst-kept secrets of our times is thatu003cbr />dramatic development almost always has anu003cbr />authoritarian tail. Post-World War II Asia toou003cbr />has had its love affair with developmentalu003cbr />despotism and the censorship, surveillance andu003cbr />thought control that go with it. The East Asianu003cbr />tigers have all been maneaters most of the time.u003cbr />Gujarat has now chosen to join the pack.u003cbr />Development in the state now justifies amorality,u003cbr />abridgement of freedom, and collapse of socialu003cbr />ethics.u003cbr />u003cbr />Is there life after Modi? Is it possible to looku003cbr />beyond the 35 years of rioting that began in 1969u003cbr />and ended in 2002? Prima facie, the answer isu003cbr />"no". We can only wait for a new generation thatu003cbr />will, out of sheer self-interest and tiredness,u003cbr />learn to live with each other. In the meanwhile,u003cbr />we have to wait patiently but not passively tou003cbr />keep values alive, hoping that at some point willu003cbr />”,1] );
Future generations will as gratefully acknowledge the sangh parivar’s contribution to the growth of radical Islam in India as this generation remembers with gratitude the handsome contribution of Rajiv Gandhi and his cohorts to Sikh militancy. [The Times of India, 8 January]
[I wrote the following report in July 2002 when a group of us -including some present-day Kafila writers – worked in a riot relief camp in Vatwa, Ahmedabad. Before Gujarat, and this report, I was an unhappy student of Chemistry in Delhi University, un-sure of what i wanted to do post-graduation. I’m not saying that I chose to become a journalist specifically after the Gujarat riots; but this was the first long report I had ever written, and revealed to me the possibilities of journalism – not as a tool of communication and dissemination, but as a means to make the world intelligible to one’s self. Gujarat in 2002 did something to you that could not pin-point, but having left you knew that something profound had changed. Re-reading it (before posting), I found myself ( as a journalist) a little embarrassed by some of the conclusions I drew, some of the sentences I constructed, and some of the grammar I bridged. But I have resisted the urge to correct it beyond a spell-check.]
6th July 2002
When I arrive in Ahmendabad, 3 months have passed since the grisly horror of Febuary, but the scars are still there for all to see. All except for the State Government i.e., which continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of the victims. The people of Gujarat are a study in numbness, a numbness which hangs heavy in the air, and affects all who touch it, including myself. After a point, the sight of burnt buildings and broken localities no longer produce a feeling of outrage and horror, and instead I lapse into a mood of hollow despair. Continue reading Apko Goli Kisne Mari?→