Guest Post by Chirag Thakkar
Witnessing a culture of wounds trying to put itself together in times of a grave catastrophe is a difficult pursuit. For the archivist of State violence, the horror with which TRP-hungry television studios build a spectacle that is acutely wedded to a deep-rooted, pungent nationalism around catastrophe and relief in Kashmir, is frustrating. The insensitivity with which the Indian media has rubbed salt in the wounds of a people is appalling. One wonders if ours is a culture of calculated amnesia or of sightless apathy.
There is something very unique about the way in which we relate with the pain of the other. What is unique is the precision with which we reproduce perceptions about the masculine, hardened sons of soil – the security forces – and yet, at the same time, remain unmoved in failing to recognise the state of exception Kashmir has been in. What is also unique is how measured and stingy we are with our sympathy. Continue reading Unwrapping the Soldier from the Flag – Kashmir after the Flood: Chirag Thakkar
Guest post by ADITYA PRAKASH
The following is a narrative of a torture victim I gathered during my time in Kashmir as a researcher. The person interviewed was tortured by the 2nd Dogra regiment of the Indian Army.
Where is your gun?
On the night of 28th October 1991, the 2nd Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army was conducting interrogations in Palhallan. Palhallan is a large village in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir.
People suspected of having links with terrorists were interrogated. The women and men were asked to come out of their homes. The women were asked to gather at the local dargah (shrine) and the men were lined up in the village school.
A major from the 2nd Dogra handpicked Manzoor Ahmad Naikoo to step forward. Others were also short listed for interrogation. Manzoor was taken inside the school and forced to strip. He was made to sit on a chair. His hands were fastened to his back.
‘Taaki main kuch na kar sakoon’
He was completely immobilized. The army personnel then asked him for his gun. Manzoor Ahmad said he had no gun. He tried to convince them that he was a shopkeeper and never owned a gun. Continue reading Courage is silent and Stoic – Tortured in Kashmir: Aditya Prakash
Guest post by MOHD. AMIR KHAN
[ Mohd. Aamir Khan has spent 14 years in prison and was acquitted earlier this year]
I am in deep pain today. As though terrible, terrible memories, locked away in the deep recesses of my mind have been pried open. Heard on news that an accused in terror case was killed in judicial custody in Yerwada jail. That too in his high security cell.
I had read that the British rulers unleashed physical and mental torture on prisoners in colonial jails, but have never heard that they carried out killings of hapless convicts or undertrials in their custody. The naked truth of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo has been brought before the world. But who will illumine the dark secrets of the netherworld of our prisons? Brutalisation and torture are routine in our jails.
I speak from experience, having lived for fourteen long and seemingly unending years in prisons in three states. There was a near fatal attack on me twelve years ago while I was lodged in the model prison of India, Tihar Jail. But when I survived the attack, a case was slapped on me. While I was thankfully acquitted in the case, not one of those who attacked me was charged until my father – who was still alive then—appealed to the court to intervene. Mercifully, the Court accepted his complaint and registered a case, which still goes on in Tees Hazari court. Continue reading False Charges and Brutality in Prison: Mohd Amir Khan
So, this is how the borders of the Republic of India are also defended. With sticks, ropes and bluetooth enabled mobile phones. Eight soldiers of the Border Security Force, hold down a young Bangladeshi man accused of cattle smuggling. He is stripped naked, hogtied and then thrashed. He screams in agony and humiliation. The soldiers act as if they are out on a picnic. They discuss whether or not to give him some tea. Where to hurt him, on which body parts. How big a stick to use on him. Someone says “cut his ear off”. They stroll casually around him as he is humiliated. They laugh. He cries, as people usually do in these circumstances, and seems to call for his mother. Someone, probably one of the soldiers, records it all on video, on the 9th of December, 2010, somewhere along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Murshidabad, West Bengal
Continue reading The BSF as Pornographer: Bravehearts with Bluetooth
There are few books as exhilarating as one by a comrade that is intellectually engaging and speaks to the current context. I was invited by 3rd i NY to a Conversation titled ‘Torturing Democracies: Past and Present’, where Jinee and I discussed her new book at Alwan for the Arts. The conversation came to life with the audience which included many of our comrades from the South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) including Prachi. After that wonderful conversation, Prachi and I decided to delve further into the book and write a review. This was an exercise very different from what we normally engage with in SASI around our solidarity campaigns, but it was also a wonderful way to see another side of Jinee. That is the theoretically rich research of someone whom we relied on as a solid activist. I feel we should be doing more of reading, writing about and debating the work of our activist friends. A shorter version of this review has been published by Himal. Perhaps some of the themes in the book can be debated here with this longer review. Continue reading Transnational Torture by Jinee Lokaneeta reviewed with Prachi Patankar
Guest post by ARVIND NARRAIN, based on a talk given at the Kannada book release of Inner Voice of Another India: The Writings of Balagopal, at National College Basavangudi, Bangalore, 30 October, 2010
Remembering Balagopal: Thought, Action and the Moral Imagination of Human Rights [i]
One year after Balagopal’s death, what remains with us are memories of the number of times he spoke with such eloquence on human rights issues on his numerous visits to Bangalore. We also go back to his writings in the EPW which show the clarity of his thought. Be it his speeches or his writings , it was clear that for Balagopal words were tools he used to express thought. Language for him was not something which served to obfsucate meaning and muddy concepts, but rather a tool which had to be used to clarify difficult ideas and cut through conceptual confusions. In George Orwell’s striking phrase, both his writing and his speeches had the clarity of a windowpane. Continue reading Remembering Balagopal – Thought, Action and the Moral Imagination of Human Rights: Arvind Narrain