Narendra Modi has finally spoken. More than a fortnight after a Muslim man was lynched in Dadri by a Hindu mob over rumours of storing and eating beef, the prime minister summoned his deepest indignation and employed the strongest adjective he thought befitted the murder: “unfortunate”. “The Dadri incident or the opposition to Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali are sad and undesirable,” he told the Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika in an interview.
In Modi’s esteemed view clearly, Dadri shouldn’t be given undue importance. It should be treated like another law and order issue – “regrettable” is all it deserves. In the prime minister’s book, the mob lynching of 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq can be clubbed with the cancellation of Ghulam Ali’s concerts in Mumbai and Pune after threats of violence by the Shiv Sena. Continue reading The Man And His Words
Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar
At 7AM on 30 July, 2015, the Republic of India hanged a man named Yakub Memon. By all means, though without anyone’s planning, the hanging turned out to be the endpoint of a consummate exercise. Three judges of the highest court of the land sat through the night, right up to two hours before the execution to decide on the last petition of the condemned convict. The highest law official of the central government came to put forth arguments against the petition at two thirty in the morning, while some of the most respected and best legal minds of the country argued for it. Even before this post mid night hearing, the case of Mr Memon had been through more than one round of curative and review petitions in the Supreme Court, and mercy petitions with the President of the Republic. Much earlier, in fact more than twenty years ago, the Mumbai police had carried out perhaps the most painstaking, and detailed investigation of independent India into the 12 March, 1993 blasts; cracking the case within two days and filing a 10,000 page charge sheet within eight months. The trial involving 123 accused, 684 witnesses and voluminous material evidence ran for ten years. After Mr Memon’s guilt and conviction were established by the trial court, his appeals had gone on in the Supreme Court for nearly a decade. Two years ago the then Government of India had hanged Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri convicted in the Parliament attack case, without informing his family, and refused to hand his dead body to them. Nothing of that shameful behaviour was repeated this time. What more could the criminal justice system of the country have done in the case of Mr Memon! Yet, his execution has left behind more questions on the institutional biases, and ideological underpinnings of the Indian state, than perhaps any other execution. Continue reading A Consummate Hanging Bares Gaping Holes in Nation State’s Democratic Facade : Sanjay Kumar
Narendra Modi, would not have imagined that his exhortation that ‘toilets first, temples later’ at a Delhi conclave would not only generate a debate within the saffron fraternity but would also bring back focus on the pathetic situation of sanitation in his home state itself. And the ensuing discussion would also transcend to his controversial ideas about untouchability – the social-religious practice based on the logic of purity and pollution which has marginalised, terrorised and relegated a section of Indian society to a life marked by humiliation and indignity. Continue reading How Modi Views Untouchability: Dissecting the ‘Toilets First, Temples Later’ Debate
Mr Prithviraj Chavan, the present incumbent to the chief minister’s seat in Maharashtra, recently received praise from an unlikely quarter. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thakreay in the party mouthpiece “Saamana” heaped praise on Chavan for ‘adopting a broad minded approach ..for his role in the ongoing rescue operations in disaster hit Uttarakhand.’ According to him while dispatching the relief material and a large team of officials, Mr Chavan instructed them that although ‘it is meant for people from the state stranded there, other victims should not be ignored.’
It has been reported that Maharashtra has placed two helicopters at the disposal of the Uttarakhand government and extended aid of Rs. 10 crore, and it was among the first states in the country to react quickly to the disaster. It is true that many other states have also rushed forces and material to assist people who are stranded at various places and such an hour of national calamity is normally not considered a moment of exhibiting political one-upmanship. Continue reading Local Leader, National Ambitions: The Curious Case of Mr Narendra Modi
Guest Post by Sameer Khan
It was an amazing sight to see Bal Thackeray draped in the National Flag like a decorated war hero on way to his funeral among the sea of followers and curious onlookers. More surprising were the news anchors, media persons and other flag bearers of our proud democracy, singing paens and eulogies on Prime Time TV for two days. I wondered at the reason for this laudatory outpouring from the news anchors, some of whom had been, not too long ago, at the receiving end of the fury of the deceased man
As a person belonging to a minority community who grew up in Central Mumbai in the 80’s, it was extremely painful for me to listen to the news anchors as they heaped praises on the dead cartoonist. It was a shocking sight for someone who had witnessed the searing effects of the policies and the politics of the man that had targeted not only my community but many others, and had also eroded the secular and multicultural society in the city of my birth. Continue reading On Mourning and Memory: Sameer Khan
Nagarjun was an avant-garde poet of Resistance in Hindi. His poem, in Tarun Bhartiya‘s translation along with the original, can be read as an obituary 42 years after it was written.
Bal Thackeray ! Bal Thackeray!
At his fascist gods’
Beck and call Thackeray
O be careful, here he comes Bal Thackeray
All agreeing, how shall we crawl Thackeray
Hide, don’t you dare look away
In smart Shiv Sena Uniform – making music hall Thackeray Continue reading Shield of Barbarism by Nagarjun