Tag Archives: police state

Jharkhand, twelve years later: Mahtab Alam

Guest post by MAHTAB ALAM

The state of Jharkhand was created after several decades of struggle. On 15 November, the state  completed 12 years of its formation. The day is considered to be the birth anniversary of the legendary leader Birsa Munda. The state, famous for its rich mineral resources, occupies an area of 28,833 square miles (74,677 square km) and has a population of nearly 330 lakh people according to 2011 estimates. Like every year, the formation day was celebrated with the great pomp and show by the government and the political elite in the state capital Ranchi and elsewhere.

However, this year, greater effort was made to bolster its ever declining public image due to mass displacement, brutality by police and security forces and rampant corruption in the state over the years, by giving advertisements not only in local and Hindi newspapers but also in major national dailies. On 15th of November, in the Times of India (Delhi edition), a full page advertisement was published with smiling faces of Shibu Sonren, once a popular leader and referred as Dishom Guru or the Great Leader of Tribal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief and also head of the ruling alliance, along with chief minister Arjun Munda and his team, in Hindi with the heading, ‘Vikas ke path par agrasar Jharkhand: Zameen par utri Haqeeqat’ (Jharkhand on the path of Development: Reality on the ground), enumerating ‘landmark works of development’ of the government. I was also told by friends that similar advertisements appeared in other newspapers as well. Continue reading Jharkhand, twelve years later: Mahtab Alam

My Days in Tihar Jail

Mrs Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, represented the Rai Bareli seat in the Lok Sabha. On 12th June 1975 she was unseated on charges of election fraud and misuse of state machinery in a landmark judgement by Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court.  Fakhr-ud-Din Ali Ahmad, the then President of India, declared internal emergency on the 25th of June,  on the recommendation of a pliable cabinet presided over by Mrs G. The people of India lost all civil liberties for a period of 21 months.

Trade unions were emasculated, political opponents were arrested, newspapers censored, the only place where a semblance of freedom survived, for a short while, were the universities, most were in turmoil and were being singled out for special attention. Students unions were being banned and activists were being picked up and thrown in jail.

Continue reading My Days in Tihar Jail

Narendra Modi – Murdabad! Murdabad, murdabad!

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!