Secularism and socialism can be thrown out, so says the Hindutvavadi. Among those who protested against this suggestion were, of course, the Congress. But then, increasingly, many of us who live in Congress-ruled Kerala are unable to tell the Congress from the BJP as they have thrown out not just secularism and socialism but even minimal forms of liberalism. For our rulers seem as adamant as the BJP in forcing down our throats at least a softer version of Hindutva, reinforced with protection to shameless plunder of public resources and repressive police measures. Now young people and activists in Kerala, many of who were active in many protests including the Kiss Protests, are being pursued and hounded by the police. Apparently, a few people who participated in the latest edition of the Kiss Protests, the Lovefest, were hounded by the police for having been seen in the vicinity of a police station repeatedly! The most convenient excuse is pursuing the Maoists, a fear that is easily excited in our fattened and lazy middle classes. By the way, I am actively considering saving some money by ending my subscriptions to newspapers. In fact it is not being on FB which makes me feel out of touch with the world these days. Two leading human rights activists, Thushar Sarathy and Jaison Cooper, have been arrested and the papers are busy covering that shameful and utterly criminal waste of our common resources, the opening ceremony of the National games.
I am not surprised at all, having been an observer of local politics. In Kerala, after the Left-Right differences in politics came to an end, what we have seen is the transformation of our politics into a neofeudal space inhabited by powerful male leaders and their craven followers vying for power. Because the discourse of social development still lingers and the oppositional civil society has not yet given up, entry of predatory capital from national or global sources has not been easy. However, a whole generation of NRI — Malayali –capitalists based in the Gulf countries who essentially manage the wealth of the rulers there have been able to enter Kerala unimpeded.It is this group which is increasingly taking over our resources in overt and covert ways, legally and illegally. These capitalists themselves are interesting — their transnational belonging needs to be studied. They have apparently managed to become part of the non-democratic political systems in the Gulf countries, entering the lower levels of the court there, as juniors who help manage the rulers’ wealth. And from that position of strength, they now work to systematically undermine everything that Malayalis hold dear : our welfarist democracy, social development achievements, our rich ecology. Continue reading Murdering Democracy in Kerala : the Latest
“अगर हम ‘लोकतांत्रिक सरकारों के छिपे इरादों और गैरजवाबदेह खुफिया शक्ति संरचनाओं की जांच करने और उन पर सवाल उठाने से इनकार करते हैं तो हम लोकतंत्र और मानवता, दोनों को ही खो बैठते हैं.” पत्रकार जॉन पिल्जर का यह वाक्य आज हमारे लिए कितना प्रासंगिक हो उठा है! हमें नौ जनवरी को खुफिया तरीके से अफज़ल गुरु को दी गयी फांसी के अभिप्राय को समझना ही होगा. काम कठिन है क्योंकि इसे लाकर न सिर्फ़ प्रायः सभी संसदीय राजनीतिक दल एकमत हैं बल्कि आम तौर पर देश की जनता भी इसे देर से की गई सही कार्रवाई समझती है.
नौ जनवरी के दिन के वृहत्तर आशय छह दिसम्बर जैसी तारीख से कम गंभीर नहीं क्योंकि इस रोज़ भारतीय राज्य ने गांधी और टैगोर की विरासत का हक खो दिया है.अगर अब तक यह साबित नहीं था तो अब हो गया है कि भारत की ‘संसदीय लोकतांत्रिक राजनीति’ का मुहावरा उग्र और कठोर राष्ट्रवाद का है. और राजनीतिक दलों में इस भाषा में महारत हासिल करने की होड़ सी लग गयी है.
Continue reading राष्ट्रवादी न्याय से करुणा की विदाई
Dear young women and men of Delhi,
Thank you for the courage and the honour you have brought to Rajpath, the most dishonorable street in our city. You changed Delhi yesterday, and you are changing it today. Your presence, of all twelve thousand of you, yesterday, on Rajpath, that street that climbs down from the presidential palace on Raisina Hill to India Gate, getting soiled by the excreta of the tanks and missiles on Republic Day each year, was for me a kind of purificatory ritual. It made a claim to the central vista of ‘Lutyen’s Delhi’ as a space for democratic assertion in contravention of the completely draconian, elitist and undemocratic prohibitory orders that make the heart of this republic, a zone of the death, not the life and sustenance, of democracy.
From now onwards, consider the heart of Delhi to be a space that belongs, first of all, to its citizens. Yesterday, when thousands of you gathered peacefully, intending to march up Raisina Hill to the president’s palace, you were charged with batons, tear gas and subjected to jets from water cannons. The violence began, not when protestors threw stones, but when the police started attacking people. Stones were thrown in retaliation. The television cameras that recorded what happened show us the exact chronology. The police were clearly under orders not to let people up Raisina Hill. Why? What is so sacred about Raisina Hill? Why can a group of unarmed, peaceful young people not walk to the gates of the president’s palace? So, lets be clear. Violence began when the state acted. Of course, the protest got hijacked by hooligans. But of course it had to be. When hooligans in uniform are let loose on an unarmed crowed, there can be no possibility of averting the possibility that hooligans out of uniform will respond in kind. Continue reading To the Young Women and Men of Delhi: Thinking about Rape from India Gate
This morning The Hindu carries a long piece I wrote on one of Jaipur’s more sensational trials. The idea of “samjhauta” or “compromise” has informed a lot of my work over years, and this instance is particularly heart breaking. Court documents and chargesheets are always interesting things to read; in this instance, it was intriguing how the police accorded one woman – Pushpa – infinite agency when she creates a cycle of repression and exploitation; while the other – Shweta – has zero agency and is thoroughly incapable of independent action.
One dawn in January last year, a young woman slipped out of her house, walked down to the Gandhi Nagar station and stepped into the path of an oncoming train.
She survived, but lost her left leg and all sensation below her waist. Last Wednesday, the woman, Pushpa*, was brought before the Special Judge for Women Atrocities and Dowry Cases to identify the three policemen who, she alleged, had sexually tortured her to the point of suicide. Also in court was Shweta*, a 20-year-old known to Pushpa, who claimed that Pushpa and her cohorts had drugged, raped and blackmailed her in December 2010.
The two women had been friends, meeting occasionally in Pushpa’s room to gossip, experiment with cigarettes and alcohol and on one occasion photographed themselves kissing. In many ways, their twin trials document the contradictory impulses of the small Indian town grown big, where tech-savvy youth shun the contractual new economy for the security of the bureaucracy, the government school, and the government bank, and the sheher’s liberatory promise is tempered by the lingering claustrophobia of the samaj.
The article is based on AMAN Trust‘s research on informal labour in Delhi.
Sent by Jamal Kidwai
The Delhi government has announced a phasing out of nearly 3000 blue line buses from the streets of Delhi in the next few months. These buses will be replaced by nearly new 1000 low floor buses purchased to ferry athletes and dignitaries for the Commonwealth games. According to the Delhi Transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely the phase out will be enforced under section 115 of the Central Motor Vehicle Act that deals with the emission norms. The decision has been taken even despite a petition pending in the Delhi High court regarding the decision to phase out 600 routes. According to Lovely “We will apprise the High Court about the decision and I am confident that the court will accept our proposal.”
Continue reading The Blue Line Bus Saga: Aman Trust
The Times of India carried a story today that we are reproducing here in full. It is the story of a Rajput-owned dog who became outcaste because it was fed a chapati by a dalit woman. Not only was the dog turned ‘out’ to live in the dalit basti, worse, the woman Sunita was fined Rs 15, 000/- by the panchayat for the crime. But hold on, there is more: when Sunita and her brother went to lodge a complaint at the police station, the police officer asked her why she fed the dog? So, this is not really a matter of one mad, ‘illiterate’ individual (as if literates are by definition better): This incident reveals an entire structure of thought and belief that extends through from the panchayat to the police itself (which despite the Supreme Court’s directive has not yet filed an FIR). Here is the full report:
BHOPAL: A dog’s life couldn’t get worse. A mongrel brought up in an upper caste home in Morena was kicked out after the Rajput family members discovered that their Sheru had eaten a roti from a dalit woman and was now an “untouchable”. Next, Sheru was tied to a pole in the village’s dalit locality. His controversial case is now pending with the district collector, the state police and the Scheduled Caste Atrocities police station in Morena district of north MP.
The black cur, of no particular pedigree, was accustomed to the creature comforts in the home of its influential Rajput owners in Manikpur village in Morena. Its master, identified by the police as Rampal Singh, is a rich farmer with local political connections.
Continue reading We Are Proud Hindus!
Guest post by FAHAD MUSTAFA
On 31st May, the Chinese government released guidelines that banned the admissibility of evidence obtained under torture in criminal convictions. This came a few weeks after the revelation of the seemingly bizarre, yet not completely uncommon, case of Zhou Zuohai. Zhuo was released after being imprisoned for 11 years in Shanqqi, on charges of murder, when his alleged victim was found alive in his village. He was imprisoned on the basis of his confession of the crime. A couple of days after he was released the authorities admitted that the confession was obtained under torture. Zhuo described his beatings: the pouring of chilli water in his eyes, the bursting of firecrackers over his head, and how he thought he would not survive. When he said what he was expected to say, the torture stopped, and he was convicted.
Lawyers, police, and governments in most countries, including China, understand that torture is counterproductive in extracting evidence. Indeed, China has issued several directives earlier to say that evidence under torture is unacceptable. As in the case of Zuohai, most confessions of this sort are false or misleading, and are given only to make the immediate suffering stop. Why then do police forces continue to use torture or the threat of it as a means to extract evidence? Continue reading On torture in India and China
A fact-finding report released today by PUCL Uttar Pradesh
Fact Finding Report on the murder of MNREGA and labour activist Shri Hari Lal, Village Lehna, Block Manjhanpur, District Kaushambhi on 15.08.2010
A fact finding committee to investigate the incident was formed with the following: members
- Mr. S.R.Darapuri, Retired IPS, Vice President UP PUCL.
- Mrs. Arundhuti Dhuru, Consultant to Commissioner Right To Food Committee of Supreme Court.
- Mr. Ram Kumar, Vice President UP PUCL.
- Mr. Jawed Rasool, Dyanmic Action Group.
- Dr. Nisha Srivastav, Professor (Deptt. of Economics ), Allahabad University .
- Mr. Rajni Kant Rai, HRLN, Allahabad .
- Mrs. Bindu Singh, Convener UP Right To Food Campaign .
- Mr. Sanjay Singh, convenor, Parmarth, Oriye, Jalaun
The committee visited the site of incident in village Lehna on 21.08.10 .The fact finding committee met the family members of the late Hari Lal, other residents of the village, and workers and officials of Voice of People’s (VOP). The committee also met the district magistrate and spoke to the superintendent of police. The following facts about the incidents came to light through this enquiry:
Background to the Incident
The main issue behind this incident was of MNREGA and payment of labour wages. According to the available evidence, a pond was dug in the village by 250 labourers from the panchayat quota of MNREGA in April, May and June 2007. However, the gram pradhan, Tirath (Dhobi), did not pay the labourers full wages. The gram pradhan is a mere puppet in the hands of a former gram pradhan, Bassan, and his son Fateh and a criminal named Nakkan. Continue reading Godhra, arson, terrorism, stone-pelting, Dalits and Muslims, and other such issues in village Lehna
Konta: The mystery surrounding the killing of nine Adivasis in Gompad village in Dantewada district in October last year is deepening, with the Chhattisgarh police detaining three more witnesses to the incident and restricting all access to the area on the pretext of Operation Green Hunt.
Operation Green Hunt is a catch-all phrase, used by the police and media alike, for all major anti-naxal offensives since July 2009.
As previously reported by The Hindu, the Chhattisgarh police have assumed total control over the movements of Sodi Sambho – one of several witnesses in a Supreme Court petition that alleges that the 9 civilians were killed by the security forces.
On Friday, armed policemen and Special Police Officers (SPO) lined the length of the highway from Dantewada town to Konta, the block headquarters closest to Gompad, stopping vehicles and questioning commuters. Travelling with local journalists Anil Mishra of Nayi Duniya and Yashwant Yadav of Navbharat, this correspondent was repeatedly detained along the route and told that Gompad village was out of bounds as a major anti-naxal operation was underway. Non-journalists were, however, let through.
Continue reading The police detain 3 more in Gompad case
This is a Guest Post by ARATI CHOKSHI.
[Chhattisgarh and Dantewada have been in the news for quite some time now, as matters have reached a climax with the state on its anti-Maoist offensive after the near-failure of its stratgey to prop up Salwa Judum as a counter-insurgency outfit. All intermediate spaces stand wiped out now. Recently, Himanshu Kumar of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram had planned a padayatra in Dantewada and around that time, a team of women’s and human rights organization visited the area apprehending trouble. This a report of that team’s experiences.]
It was night by the time we set out. Four jeeps sped carrying 39 women of diverse age, class, caste, religion, faith, ideologies, from ten states across the nation, and representing 20 women’s and human rights organisations. We sped from Raipur to Dantewada, on wide, smooth highways on a common journey, as part of our campaign to address the alarming reports of sexual violence and repression of women by the State, that were emerging, particularly from Dantewada, in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. We were headed there both to get a first hand account and to show solidarity with victims of heinous crimes, who defying all threats and intimidation had managed to come forth and lodge complaints against their assailants – in this case, the State. This journey was to be an enquiry – a personal exploration and examination of the truth- of dark, dangerous, secret whispers that managed to trickle out from Dantewada and ooze into wider consciousness – tales of tortures, horror, and barbaric acts that our representatives, our own protectors and security forces meted out on a particular collective us, the weakest, most vulnerable, the voiceless adivasis of Bastar.
Over the next 22 hours, we were to find that our journey had become the goal, revealing to us far more from State’s desperate attempt to hide, than in our wanderings and talkings in Dantewada. In hindering us, we found how the State had repressed civil liberties of its citizens, how democratic spaces had vanished and how the authoritarian subjugation by the State had muted all voices – not just of protest, but of even posing a question.
Continue reading A Journey Into the Dark: Arati Chokshi
“What a state of society is that which knows of no better instrument for its own defense than the hangman, and which proclaims . . . its own brutality as eternal law? . . . Is there not a necessity for deeply reflecting upon an alteration of the system that breeds these crimes, instead of glorifying the hangman who executes a lot of criminals to make room only for the supply of new ones?”– Karl Marx, 1853
The letter sent by an undertrial Mukesh Kumar, as present lodged in Karnal Jail (Haryana) through his counsel to the Chief Justice of India makes depressing reading. The letter talks about the manner in which he was brutalised by the Jail staff for disobeying their orders. It is learnt that the Jail wardens compelled him to clean the toilets calling him names and ‘reminding’ him of his ‘caste profession’. His refusal to continue the dehumanising work led to his public thrashing and tonsuring/shaving of his head and moustache.
According to the administration, Mukesh Kumar is one of those persons who were arrested from different parts of Haryana from April to June 2009 as part of the state campaign ‘to curb Maoist activity’. Continue reading Do prisoners’ human rights stand suspended?
By Shabnam Hashmi, Satya Sivaraman, Manisha Sethi, Tanweer Fazal, Arshad Alam, Pallavi Deka
First published on Countercurrents.
A team comprising activists, academicians and journalists visited the site of the police operation against alleged terrorists staying in an apartment in Jamia Nagar in the afternoon of 20.09.2008 (Saturday). Two alleged terrorists Atif and Sajid, along with Mohan Chand Sharma, an inspector of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell died in the operation while a third alleged terrorist was arrested. Continue reading Some Questions About the Delhi Encounter
Mandawli is a police station area in East Delhi and covers the area I live in. As such it is the field of my ‘ethnography’. The reader may however put the name of any other police station in Delhi – rather India – and the story, I can bet, will read as true as ever. Let Mandawli then be the name of all the dens of YS Dadwal’s men (YSD being the police commissioner Delhi, who famously claimed yesterday that ‘Even in New York women are not safe…’). PC Dadwal also has the distinction of claiming, against the growing feeling of insecurity among Delhi’s denizens, that crime is actually declining in the city! A Jansatta report yesterday, however, cites many ordinary people as saying that they are more scared of the police than of criminals.
17 July 2008: The Times of India (19 July) and other newspapers reported the death of 18-year old Umesh Kumar ‘who was picked up by the police for questioning’ two days ago and who died soon after returning home at night. The incident was of Swaroop Nagar in outer district, Delhi. Umesh did not live to tell his story but his friend, Atul, ‘who too was picked up by the police said: “The police took us to Ibrahimpur police post and started beating Umesh after which he lost consciousness.” Umesh, from all accounts was not a hardened criminal – just one of those whom the police decides to make into a criminal in the long run. Unfortunately for them, he died.
Continue reading P.S. Mandawli: Manufacturing Crime and Criminals
[This detailed report was prepared by Kavita Srivastava, the Jaipur-based general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Posting this here to make it publicly available as it is not on the PUCL website. Please note that this was a rough draft. ]
State Violence and Caste Confrontation in Rajasthan
I. Outline of the week long movement for ST Reservation by the Gurjars
Soon after independence the Bhil Meenas got reservations in the Districts of Dungarpur, Banswara, Chittorgarh and Udaipur. At the time of 1931 census the Bhil Meenas were over 20, 000, however today they have reduced to half they are only 10,000 in number.
This was an issue of contention for the Meenas as they felt that they also deserved to be STs so they decided to raise their voice against this injustice as they called it. Under the leadership of Lakshmi Narayan Jhirwal they organized themselves.
11th June 1952: Meenas organized a sammelan near Dudu (Jaipur) district for the inclusion of the Meena community in the Schedule list for reservation. The Gurjars supported this wholly. Continue reading Kavita Srivastava’s report on last year’s Gujjar confrontation in Rajasthan
[We are publishing below a statement released by a number of intellectuals and concerned citizens, regarding the openly partisan role played by the West Bengal State Women’s Commission in the Rizwanur Rehman case.]
We are distressed to read the statement of the West Bengal State women’s Commission after its visit to Priyanka Todi whose husband Rizwanur Rahman was found dead on the railway track after he had fixed an appointment with the APDR friends regarding his harassment at the hands of the Kolkata Police who were acting in blatant violation of all legal and civil norms at the behest of Priyanka’s father Ashok Todi . Todi wanted her daughter to walk out of the marriage and had mobilized Kolkata police to terrorize Rizwan and his friend Sadiq who was witness to their marriage. The couple was called to the Lal bazaar Thana and was told by the police that Priyanka should go to her parents and they would ensure that she returned after a week. This was not to happen. She was forced to go her father but all efforts of Rizwan to talk to her after this period failed. Desperate, he contacted the APDR .
One must remember that Sadiq, who was witness to their marriage, was threatened by police . He had to go into hiding. Priyanka had gone to her parents on 8 September. Rizwan wrote a detailed account of his harassments at the hands of the Kolkata Police and gave it to the APDR. On 21 September, he talked to the APDR people and it was decided that they would meet in the afternoon. This meting was also not to take place. He was found dead on the Railway tracks. Prasun Mukherji, the Kolkata police Chief declared immediately without waiting for the customary autopsy report that it was a transparent case of suicide. He blatantly justified the illegal intervention of the police in a perfectly legal marriage between tow adults Priyanka and Rizwan, claiming that it was natural for the father of the girl to get upset over such marriage, as it was a marriage between unequals. After all, Ashok Todi is a man of more the 200 crores and Rizwan was only a Muslim of modest earning!
Continue reading West Bengal State Women’s Commission Condemned