Several courts have tried to reign in states bent on holding religious events during the pandemic. Judiciary must more proactively prevent them as the third wave approaches.
Simple things need retelling when society is in a state of flux. The fact that India is a republic—has been one for more than 70 years—where sovereignty rests with the people and not with scriptures is one fact. That India runs by its Constitution and laws under it is another fact.
The Uttarakhand High Court reminded the state government of these facts when it objected to proposals to live-stream the historic Char Dham Yatra on the plea that the scriptures do not sanction it. The court rejected the petition, saying India is a democracy where the rule of law, not religious texts, govern.
“There is in every village a torch – the teacher; and an extinguisher – the priest.” -Victor Hugo
Hugo, the great French writer and activist, had famously described the role education or a teacher plays in a backward society, where education was still a preserve of the few.
Perhaps we Indians can associate with it more since this has been a society where education was denied to the vast majority of people for hundreds of years just because they were born into so-called unclean families. How the mere exposure to rudimentary education could transform someone like a Muktabai – a girl born to one of the depressed caste families – challenges these age-old denials with vehemence.
It can be said with a degree of certainty that Hugo would not have envisaged a situation when the Priest himself assumes power or where a monk himself becomes the ruler.
The biggest state within the Indian Union, namely Uttar Pradesh, with a population of more than 200million people, provides a glimpse of this phenomenon unfolds in the field of education. The state is presently governed by monk-turned-politician Yogi Adityanath; a man who till he became Chief Minister was a member of Parliament and had the sole experience of running a religious mutt.
Reports mention that 135 teachers and teaching assistants died owing to their duties in Panchayat elections in the state. A teachers’ association said how right from the days of training teachers for election duty to the actual elections, thousands of teachers and teaching assistants had contracted COVID-19.The counting of votes for these elections will occur on May 2.
If the post-Mandal Dalit Bahujan upsurge was an expression of the democratic revolution, the advent of Adityanath’s BJP government constituted the beginning of a counter-revolution that is on the way to consolidating itself in Uttar Pradesh.
The facts of the case are well known, even though the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is trying, ever so hard, to produce a different narrative by resorting to the usual Hindutva tactic of assigning it to an international conspiracy. It is typical of the utterly farcical and shoddy nature of the Indian police (and maybe indicates the regime’s over-confidence) that it in the name of collecting evidence of the conspiracy, it has done a cut-and-paste job from an American site, even forgetting to delete references to ‘NYPD’ and ‘white supremacism’! Incidents of gang-rape and murder have since also happened elsewhere in the state, notably in Balrampur and Bulandshahr. We are witnessing the heinous episode of the Hathras gang rape and murder when the memory of the Unnao rape case in which then BJP leader Kuldeep Sengar was accused, is still fresh in our minds. The victim’s father died in police custody, having already been very badly beaten by Sengar’s brother and their goons, a video of which was proudly circulated on social media. Some other members of the family were killed in an accident when a truck with a blackened number plate hit their car. In a second rape case, in the very same Unnao, two years later, a 23-year old woman who had been raped and was on the way to a hearing of the rape case, was caught and set ablaze by five men and died soon after that. In the first case, the rape-accused was a ‘popular’ figure – a Rajput leader – in whose support demonstrations were organized after he was arrested. In the second case, the girl was a Lohar (a blacksmith jati) while those who brutalized and killed her were Brahmins.
This October, a colleague and I tracked a group of young Dalits fighting caste atrocities in Uttar Pradesh. The documentary posted above is one part of an extended multimedia project. See the entire project here: https://www.thequint.com/quintlab/ambedkar-dalit-army-fights-caste-atrocities-in-uttar-pradesh/
This here is a 360 video of Friday namaaz at the Rangrezi masjid in Lisad, a village where 13 Muslims were killed in the Muzaffarnagar Riots of 2013.
Play the video, and tilt your phone left, right, up or down to explore the mosque. If you are watching this on your computer, click on the screen and drag your mouse to look around this space.
I shot this video last week in Muzaffarnagar as part of “Everybody Loves A Good Riot” – an immersive multimedia project detailing western Uttar Pradesh’s “riot economy”. The story features 2 more 360 videos like the one above, as well as a text story to mark the 3rd anniversary of the Muzaffarnagar riots. Experience the full story here
The judiciary in India can be highly unpredictable. Either it is accused of not doing enough to provide justice to victims or it is hailed for giving landmark judgments. In a recent controversial decision, the Allahabad High Court ordered that all children of government servants and elected representatives in Uttar Pradesh should mandatorily send their wards to government schools. It noted that “Only then would they be serious enough to look into the requirements of these schools and ensure that they are run in good condition”.
While the decision has evoked sharp reactions from UP legislators, it has been fiercely debated in the media fraternity, with mixed responses. The wretched condition of government schools (in every state) in India isn’t a hidden fact. While India has achieved impressive rates of school enrolment – the quality of education and learning outcomes – have been extremely dismal.
An analysis by data journalism portal IndiaSpend revealed that Rs 5,86,085 crore has been spent on primary education in the past 10 years and 80% of the expenditure on education is spent on teachers, but the state of affairs continue to be dreary, which has led to the mushrooming of low income private schools. The number of students enrolled in private schools in UP has risen from 32.2% in 2006 to 52.8% in 2014, according to the Annual Survey Education Report (ASER) by Pratham, an education NGO.
The Bharatiya Janata Party secured about 19% votes in the general elections of 2009 to win 116 seats in the Parliament. With this most impressive conversion ratio, they had more or less exhausted their possibilities in their ‘safe’ states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, and the like. They were still 157 seats away from a simple majority in the Loksabha. Even assuming the impressive conversion ratio, they needed at least 26% more of the vote share, that is 45% in all, to form a government.
When the elections for 2014 were announced, it was hard to see where the BJP would get these additional votes from. Moreover, unlike the NDA of 1999-2004, they had rather modest support from other parties with most of the big parties like AIADMK, TMC, JDU, BJD, and the like staying away. Hence, even if we factor in some rise in number of seats in ‘safe’ states, plus handsome gains in Rajasthan, Maharashtra etc., their ability to reach anywhere near the 272+ mark looked rather dim.
This report was prepared by a group of citizens (whose names are given at the end), and released on 20 September 2013.
A human tragedy unfolds, as the State watches, In the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli Districts
A Preliminary Citizens’ Report September 20, 2013
A. On September 17-18, 2013, an 11 member team consisting of both independent activists as well as activists affiliated with 5 organizations based in Lucknow, Chitrakoot, Muzaffarnagar and Delhi visited relief camps in two affected districts of Muzaffarnagar (3 Relief Camps – Madrasa camp at Bassi Kalan, Madrasa camp at Tawli and camp at Haji Aala’s house, Shahpur) and Shamli (3 Relief Camps – Madrasa camp on Panipat Road in Kairana, Malakpur camp in Kairana, and the Idgah camp in Kandhla). In Shamli District the team also met with senior members of the district administration – the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police.
B. This was not conceived of as a fact-finding visit, but was a recce visit to determine the human needs on the ground in the relief camps, and to see how we might plan to help survivors in initiating procedures towards criminal justice (lodging of FIRs and complaints), accessing compensation for death, injury, destruction of property, planning rehabilitation, and also to confirm unverified news reports of sexual violence against women. Continue reading In the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli→
This is a guest post by MANISH DUBEY: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lacks effective presence in several States, including large ones such as Andhra Pradesh (AP), Kerala, Tamil Nadu (TN) and West Bengal (WB) and others in the North-east (NE) barring Assam to an extent, and is unlikely to mount a credible challenge in the 168 Lok Sabha (LS) seats these account for. Its 2014 tally from these States will remain in the lower single digits, as it was in 2004 and 2009. Odisha and Punjab, with 34 LS seats between them, are unlikely to add substantially to the party’s tally either. In Odisha, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Indian National Congress (INC) are better entrenched. In Punjab, seat sharing arrangements with the locally dominant partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)- Badal, will limit potential (individual) pickings for the party. Pickings are also likely to be limited from Jharkhand (14 LS seats) where besides the INC, a number of regional parties, each with strong local bases and candidates, would be in the fray. Till recently, even Karnataka (28 LS seats) would not have provided much hope but things may look up a trifle with Yeddyurappa reportedly negotiating a return or at least some kind of electoral understanding.
The small States and UTs, i.e., those with 10 LS seats or lesser, account for 40 LS seats and the BJP has a mixed LS election record on these, a record much dependent its performance in Delhi’s 7 LS seats. Of the 284 LS seats (over half the 543 LS seats) accounted for by all the above mentioned States and UTs, a realistic tally for the BJP would be about 40, similar to that of the LS elections of 2004 (40 LS seats, including 18 from Karnataka) and 2009 (again 40 LS seats, including 19 from Karnataka) with potential gains in some places offset by a reduced tally in Karnataka (Yeddyurappa’s return or even an electoral understanding with him will reverse the misfortune of the recent Assembly elections only partly for the BJP). No Narendra Modi Magic is likely to boost the BJP’s tally here given mainly the state of the party itself. Continue reading The BJP’s 2014 bid: A state-wise look and three key states where Modi may be risking party fortunes : Manish Dubey→
This release was put out by theRIHAI MANCH on 9 November
Jannatunisa, a victim of violence in Bhadarsa
Faizabad 9 November 2012: An investigation team of Rihai Manch visited the Bhadarsa village which was affected by communal violence during Dussehra celebrations. The team found out that the violence was well planned and was executed by communal elements in connivance with the administration. The role of the media in this incident is also suspicious. The team also found that the administration is forcing the affected families to erase any evidence of the incident and they have not even been compensated. No FIR has yet been registered yet. The team has also requested the Sheetla Singh Investigation Commission (constituted by the Press Council of India) to visit the area. Continue reading The Uttar Pradesh administration has a prominent role in the burning of Bhadarsa: Rihai Manch→
This release in Hindi about recent communal violence in the Bhadarsa area of Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh comes to us from the RIHAI MANCH. Please help us translate this into English by translating just one paragraph in the comments
फैजाबाद, 9 नवम्बर 2012। रिहाई मंच के जांचदल ने दशहरा के दौरान हुयी साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा से प्रभावित भदरसा गांव का दौरा किया। जांच दल ने पाया कि भदरसा में हुयी हिंसा पूरी तरह सुनियोजित थी जिसे साम्प्रदायिक तत्वों और प्रशासन की मिलीभगत से अंजाम दिया गया जिसमें मीडिया की भूमिका भी संदिग्ध थी। जांच दल ने यह भी पाया कि प्रशासन की तरफ से आगजनी से पीडित परिवारों से घटना के साक्ष्य जबरन मिटवाए जा रहे हैं जबकि पीडि़तों को न तो उचित मुआवजा मिला है और ना ही एफआईआर दर्ज किये गये हैं। जांच दल ने प्रेस काउंसिल द्वारा गठित शीतला सिंह जांच आयोग से भी भदरसा जाने की मांग की है। Continue reading भदरसा के जलने में प्रशासन की अहम भूमिका: रिहाई मंच→
बद्री नारायण का यह लेख लखनऊ के एक हिंदी अख़बार को दिया गया था पर उन्होंने छापने से मना कर दिया.
शक्ति अपने संस्थागत रुप में सत्ता में तब्दील हो जाती है। सत्ता अपने मूल अर्थ में भय एवं हिंसा पर टिकी होती है। सत्ता का अभ्यांतरिकरण हो या सत्ता का प्रतिरोध, दोनों ही अर्थो में हिंसा उसके सह उत्पादक के रुप में दिखाई पड़ती है। जनतंत्र को एक ऐसी प्रक्रिया के रुप में परिकल्पित किया गया था जो सत्ता को उसके हिंसक पक्ष से मुक्त कराके सेवाभाव के एजेन्सी के रुप में सक्रिय रखे। यह माना जा रहा था कि जनतंत्र सत्ता को रेशनालाइज कर उसे सेवा-भावि प्रशासकीय स्वरुप में तब्दील कर देती है। यह काफी कुछ हुआ भी किन्तु अपने कार्य-प्रक्रिया में इस जनतांत्रिक समय में भी सत्ता हिंसा को उत्पादित करते रहने वाली शक्तिस्रोत के रुप में सामने आई है। सत्ता पहले अपने भीतर अपने ही कारणो से क्राइसिस को जन्म देती है, फिर उससे उबरने के लिए हिंसा रचती है। बंगाल, झारखण्ड, आन्ध्र के जंगलों में पहले तो बाजार शासित विकास के तहत आदिवासी जीवन के संसाधनों पर कब्जा कर उन्हे बहुराष्ट्रीय कम्पनियों को बेचना, फिर उसके विरोध में आदिवासी जनता का नक्सलवादी विचारों एवं नेतृत्व में हिंसक प्रतिरोध का बढ़ते जाना, पुनः उसे दबाने के लिए राज्य द्वारा की जाने वाली ज्यादा आक्रामक एवं खुंखार हिंसा को इसी रुप में देखा जा सकता है। Continue reading सत्ता और हिंसा : बद्री नारायण→
Here’s a closer analysis of Uttar Pradesh 2012 election results
In an article the Times of Indiasays the Samajwadi Party’s victory in Uttar Pradesh seems to be an even more impressive sweep than the BSP’s 2007 showing, but it’s actually a less comprehensive domination. According to the same article, the SP did not do well in western UP and Bundelkhand. They do not provide any reason for this.
My analysis of the election results data shows that average number of candidates per assembly constituency and average number of candidates per one lakh electorate in west UP and Bundelkhand, was slightly lower than other regions of the state. In west UP and Bundelkhand, the average number of candidates per one lakh electorate was approximately 8.5 and average number of candidates per assembly constituency was approximately 16. Whereas in other parts of the state average number of candidates per one lakh electors was approximately 9.5 and average number of candidates per assembly constituency was 17. This means that in other regions of the state votes were more divided and thus the SP got an edge in terms of winning seats. In the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system with multi-cornered contests, even such small gaps lead to big swings in terms of seats a party can win. Continue reading Thinking through UP election results with numbers: Rahul Verma→
For all the chest thumping and tomtoming about the Samajwadi Party’s emphatic victory – winning 224 seats out of 403 in the UP Assembly elections – a true reflection of the mandate is to be seen in the individual vote shares of the four main (“effective”) parties in the elections (the Bahujan Samaj Party – Bhartiya Janata Party, the Samajwadi Party, and the Congress – in alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal). Data from the Election Commission of India website shows the following in terms of vote shares:
Even before the results came out, the Mayawati cabinet passed a resolution to dissolve the assembly. Never before has an incumbent shown such confidence about losing. Mayawati’s body language during the campaign was proof of the same lack of confidence. Mayawati was going to lose, the Samajwadi Party was in the air. And yet, Mayawati must be relieved right now. She knows that this defeat of hers is, ironically, a victory of the Bahujan Samaj Party and what it stands for. Here’s how.
‘Public transmitter’ nahi ban sakey Mulayam aur Mayawati. (Mulayam and Mayawati could not become public transmitters.)
In the Hindi original of that line, the phrase public transmitter is in single quotes only because they are English words in a Hindi paper. The entire sentence is not in quotes. A sentence like this, if it were the title of a text, would count as an expression of opinion. And yet, it was a news headline in the Varanasi edition of UP’s largest selling daily, Dainik Jagran. In case you could not guess who it was trying to help, there was the photo of Rahul Gandhi below the headline. This was the lead story. Continue reading Some thoughts on the “hawa” in Indian elections→
In 2008 if you had said the Congress could revive in Uttar Pradesh you would have been laughed at. No party structure or caste base, you would have been told. In 2009, Rahul Gandhi earned perhaps the first laurel of his political career by proving critics wrong. He beat conventional wisdom by saying no to allying with the Samajwadi Party and the Congress won just 22 of 406 seats. Since then, Congress revival in UP has been taken for granted in many corners. Some pundits were predicting as many as 100 seats for the Congress this election. This speculation had a good basis: Rahul Gandhi always left crowds happy. And he flew on a helicopter addressing as many as 4 rallies a day. If you spoke to the people who attended his rallies, you’d be surprised by the amount of goodwill he created for himself. The rise in vote share despite the poor seat performance is proof for the rising appreciation of the Congress’ efforts to regain relevance in state politics. But then, what went wrong? Continue reading Why Rahul Gandhi’s Congress flopped in Uttar Pradesh→
This guest post byRAM KUMAR is a review of five years of Mayawati’s administration in Uttar Pradesh. An English translation has appeared in Fountain Ink magazine, here.
मुख्यमंत्री मायावती जी को 2007 में मिला स्पष्ट जनादेश महज मुलायम सिंह यादव के खिलाफ एन्टी-इनकमवंसी फैक्टर ही नहीं था, बलिक अराजकता और गुंडागर्दी के खिलाफ भी जनादेश था। सरकार का खुले रूप से एन्टी-दलित चरित्र और प्रदेश के अन्दर सरकार के एन्टी ब्राहम्ण टोन के चलते प्रदेश में मुलायम सिंह की सरकार के खिलाफ दलित अति पिछड़े हो गये थे। मुलायम सिंह के कल्याण सिंह प्रेम की वजह से माइनारिटी (अल्पसंख्यक) भी मुलायम से नाराज हो गए। बहन जी ने सर्वजन समाज का नारा देकर विक्षुब्द तबकों को समेटा। सभी को समेटने में रणनीति के तहत अपना नारा बदल “हाथी नहीं गणेष है ब्रम्हा, विष्णु, महेष है” का नारा लगाया। सर्वजन फार्मूला और मुलायम के खिलाफ गुस्सा बहन जी को पूर्ण बहुमत से सत्ता में लेकर के आया।
बहन जी एक सशक्त शासनकर्ता के रूप में जानी जाती थीं। इस बार भी बहन जी सत्ता में आयींऔर सत्ता में आते ही तुरन्त उन्होनें घोषणा की कि अराजकता और गुडागर्दी नहीं चलेगी, कानून का राज्य चलेगा। इसको सिद्ध करने के लिये उन्होंने सबसे पहले जो राजनेता अपने साथ बहुत सारे शस्त्रधारियों को लेकर चलते थे, उन पर प्रतिबंध लगाया और एलान किया कि कोई भी नेता सार्वजनिक स्थल पर तीन हथियार से ज्यादा में दिखे तो उनके खिलाफ कार्यवाही की जायेगी। यही नहीं अपनी पार्टी के एम. पी. रमाकान्त यादव जो आजमगढ़ से हैं, एक गरीब मुसिलम के मकान पर जमीन कबजाने के चक्कर में जबरदस्ती बुलडोजर चलवाया इसकी खबर जब बहन जी को लगी उन्होंने रमाकान्त यादव को अपने मुख्यमंत्री आवास पर मिलने के लिये बुलाया और वहीं से उनको गिरफ्तार करवाया। यह संदेश देने की कोशिशकी कि सत्ताधारी दल के हों या विपक्षी पाटी के हों, कानून सबके लिये समान है। अपनी ही सरकार के खाधमंत्री और विधायक आनन्द सेन को एक महिला के अपहरण केस में बर्खास्त कर जेल भिजवाया और अभी तक 26 प्रभावशाली नेता एवं मंत्रियों को पार्टी के बाहर का रास्ता दिखा चुकी हैं। पिछली सरकार में हुयी 17,868 पुलिस जवानों की भर्ती में हुयी धांधली के चलते भर्ती प्रक्रिया को निरस्त किया और 25 आई .पी.एस. अधिकारियों को भी सस्पेन्ड किया।
This photograph was taken by Salman Usmani in Ganguali village in Unnao near Lucknow, in early January. On the left is Prabhat Pandey and on the right, Ram Khilawan. Pandey is a Brahmin and Khilawan a Dalit. They’re the BSP’s men in this village, responsible for urging Brahmins and Dalits to vote for the BSP candidate, also a Brahmin. The photo was taken when I asked them to pose together. This is all the ‘brotherhood’ they could show before the camera.
Less than a month before the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the wedding of a top Uttar Pradesh bureaucrat’s daughter at the Taj Hotel in Lucknow presented senior journalists invited from Delhi with an opportunity to interact with the state’s leading bureaucrats—who are, in Chief Minister Mayawati’s reign, more important than politicians. For a select few celebrity editors, there was even a rare durbar with Mayawati herself, who carefully arrived after the governor had left, presented flowers to the newly married, and proceeded to a barricaded enclosure to meet India’s opinionmakers. I don’t know what the conversation was like, but I saw the journalists’ lips move more than hers.
After the meeting was over, I asked one celebrity TV anchor what he thought the election results were going to look like. He said the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was very strong, and predicted she could win 50 of the 80 seats the party was contesting. The Delhi media’s awe of Mayawati was at a historic peak; they had taken her prime ministerial ambitions seriously. I told this studio journalist that the buzz in Lucknow was that the Congress could spring a surprise. “No chance,” he said. “They don’t have any organisation. Azharuddin is my friend and he called me to say he needs my help. Even a celebrity like Azharuddin is going to lose!” Read More…