On 13 September 2017 the Union Home Ministry, following the 2015 order of the Supreme Court, decided to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees. Victims of religious persecution in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, the predominantly Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Hajongs began immigrating to the north eastern region of India 1960s onwards. The then central government, eventually, moved a large number of these refugees to Arunachal Pradesh; while Arunachal Pradesh is their zone of concentration, a considerable number of Chakmas and Hajongs live in Mizoram and Meghalaya too. The decision of the Home Ministry, however, did not go down well with the indigenous tribal population of Arunachal Pradesh; the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union protested against the move citing threats to life and livelihood of the native inhabitants of the state. On 14 September 2017 the Union government assured the protesters that a middle-ground – between honouring the law and commitment towards protecting the rights of the people of Arunachal Pradesh – would be found.
When a system is forced to run at four to six times its capacity for years on end, it doesn’t break – it was always broken. Elphinstone Road is the story of almost all urban infrastructure in our cities. It’s a template. It’s a warning. It’s our history, our everyday, and our future. It’s horrifying. It’s utterly banal.
When only death can make you think of repair, maintenance, upkeep, and expansion, then the everydayness of our infrastructure is a state of violence. When that death will still not make you change the way you manage that infrastructure, that violence is a siege, and we have Stockholm Syndrome. Not resilience, but a hostage situation.
The real challenge to us – all of us, in all our locations – is to realise the deep insufficiency of our anger if it is anger just at death. Anger is needed as much at the way we live, not just the ways in which we shouldn’t die.
ऊपर से शांत दिखने वाली भीड़ का हिंसक बन जाना अब हमारे वक्त़ की पहचान बन रहा है. विडंबना यही है कि ऐसी घटनाएं इस क़दर आम हो चली हैं कि किसी को कोई हैरानी नहीं होती.
15 वर्ष का जुनैद ख़ान, जिसकी चाहत थी कि इस बार ईद पर नया कुर्ता पाजामा, नया जूता पहने और इत्र लगा कर चले, लेकिन सभी इरादे धरे के धरे रहे गए. उसे शायद ही गुमान रहा होगा कि ईद की मार्केटिंग के लिए दिल्ली की उसकी यात्रा ज़िंदगी की आख़िरी यात्रा साबित होगी. दिल्ली बल्लभगढ़ लोकल ट्रेन पर जिस तरह जुनैद तथा उसके भाइयों को भीड़ ने बुरी तरह पीटा और फिर ट्रेन के नीचे फेंक दिया, वह ख़बर सुर्ख़ियां बनी है.
दिल्ली के एम्स अस्पताल में भरती उसका भाई शाकिर बताता है कि किस तरह भीड़ ने पहले उन्हें उनके पहनावे पर छेड़ना शुरू किया, बाद में गाली गलौज करने लगे और उन्हें गोमांस भक्षक कहने लगे और बात बात में उनकी पिटाई करने लगे. विडम्बना है कि समूची ट्रेन खचाखच भरी थी, मगर चार निरपराधों के इस तरह पीटे जाने को लेकर किसी ने कुछ नहीं बोला, अपने कान गोया ऐसे बंद किए कि कुछ हुआ ही न हो.
ट्रेन जब बल्लभगढ़ स्टेशन पर पहुंची तो भीड़ में से किसी ने अपने जेब से चाकू निकाल कर उन्हें घोंप दिया और अगले स्टेशन पर उतर कर चले गए. एक चैनल से बात करते हुए हमले का शिकार रहे मोहसिन ने बताया कि उन्होंने ट्रेन की चेन भी खींची थी, मगर उनकी पुकार सुनी नहीं गई. इतना ही नहीं, रेलवे पुलिस ने भी मामले में दखल देने की उनकी गुजारिश की अनदेखी की.
विडंबना ही है कि उधर बल्लभगढ़ की यह ख़बर सुर्ख़ियां बन रही थी, उसी वक़्त कश्मीर की राजधानी श्रीनगर की मस्जिद के बाहर सादी वर्दी में तैनात पुलिस अधिकारी को आक्रामक भीड़ द्वारा मारा जा रहा था. जुनैद अगर नए कपड़ों के लिए मुंतज़िर था तो अयूब पंडित को अपनी बेटी का इंतज़ार था जो बांगलादेश से पहुंचने वाली थी.
( Read the full article here : http://thewirehindi.com/12095/mob-lynching-and-india/)
Guest post. BACHCHA PRASAD SINGH who was recently released from Patiala Central Jail, interviewed by SHAILZA SHARMA
Bachcha Prasad Singh was released from Patiala Central Jail on May 31, 2016 after being kept in illegal judicial custody for an extra three days. In a time when all verification processes are possible online, he was dragged by police officials on a 32 hour road journey from Patiala to Kanpur, for verification of his identity and pending cases. When the Kanpur court and jail authorities refused to take him in custody since he had been granted bail in the FIR registered at Kanpur, the jail authorities could not do much and he was again taken back to Patiala. There were murmurs among the police officials ‘isko Punjab se nahin chhodna’ (He should not be released from Punjab). Only when a habeas corpus was filed in Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court by the Senior Advocate R.S. Bains, the Patiala jail authorities were compelled to release Bachcha Prasad. Harassment at the hands of the Patiala jail authorities was his fate on the day of his release as well, his barrack, his belongings and his bags, which were already in custody of the jail authorities were stripped and searched and he was thoroughly humiliated.
Knowing that it is the modus operandi of the State to re-arrest political prisoners, immediately upon their release on false pretexts, it was the apprehension of his lawyers that the State was creating circumstances which could lead to his re-arrest. However, it is a testament to the dedication and life of the 57 year old revolutionary who after more than 6 years of imprisonment, considered this episode in his life nothing but a brief pause. Continue reading Alleged Maoist on His Release From Prison and Other Matters: Interviewed by Shailza Sharma→
For a child born in Kashmir, the chances of living a normal life and even survival vary greatly from one region to another. Suppose you are born in the seemingly volatile stretch of Downtown. You may well turn out to be someone whose pictures are flashed on social media as the epitome of bravery, someone whose demise is imminent, and someone ready to wear the ‘Shaheed’ label. I arrived at this place at 4:30 on a cold evening. The room was crowded by women sitting with only one recognizable face; Shehzaad’s mother, Rubeena Akhter. Nobody spoke. The air smelled like rain. After a short while, a tall man in a brown-checkered pheran appeared. Leaning on the walls, he helped himself to one corner of the dimly lit but spacious room. He did not want himself to be identified as a ‘victim of conflict’.
For Shehzaad, life had been altogether different before. He had spent happy summers with his family in the town where violence, as it existed, had never appeared to him naked. By now, he is 23. He has become larger and properly bearded. The one thing which you can’t miss about Shehzaad is that he has giant brown eyes like a dairy cow. That’s what prompts my most idiotic lines of inquiry. Could someone who looks like that really pelt stones on streets? Idiotic, I know. “Do I have to tell you how I was supposed to have been killed that day?” he says, sounding like a gull. I hear a slow whimpering strangled with ache. This soon changes into full-throated babbling—a cascade of terrible, terrified pleading wails as he continued naming those who had been killed during the 2010 agitations.
In the days following the brutal rape and murder of a young woman in December last year, I remember waking up each day and being out on the streets raising slogans on women’s freedom and liberation. For months after that, there were a series of mobilizations, vigils, parades and protests, and my strongest recollection of those events is the resounding reverberation of ‘mahilaayein maangi azaadi… khaap se bhi azaadi aur baap se bhi azaadi, shaadi karne ki azaadi aur na karne ki azaadi…’. It WAS about justice for that one woman, but it wasn’t ONLY about that… it was also about many other such women – some forgotten, some not, some dead and some still around… it was also about all women, demanding not just justice but their right to life as equal citizens. We did not come out on the streets to be told how to be safe, but to convey it loud and clear that we cannot spend our entire lives trying to be safe without actually getting to live it. We came out to demand and defend our right to choice!! Continue reading Unrequited love or simply ‘self love’? – Reflections in the wake of a Campus Tragedy at JNU: Shivani Nag→
I was going to write out a reply to the comments on Shuddha’s post, Kashmir’s Abu Gharaiab, but thought I would expand it into a larger post.
I’d like to make clear that I have been to Kashmir only once – and that too for a few hours in the aftermath of the earthquake, so if anyone writes back saying, “I should see the ground reality in Kashmir”; I concede that point straight off the bat. I should see the ground reality in Kashmir; we all should.
However, over the last eight months, I have had the opportunity to interact very closely with central paramilitary forces like the BSF and CRPF in the course of their deployment in Chhattisgarh, where I work. Many of the men conducting anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh have served in Kashmir and the North-East theatres.
The last book François Furet wrote before his death in 1997 was called The Passing of an Illusion. At the very beginning of the first chapter of that book, Furet spelt out the central question driving his study:
What is surprising is not that certain intellectuals should share the spirit of the times, but that they should fall prey to it, without making any effort to mark it with their own stamp. […] twentieth century French writers aligned themselves with parties, especially radical ones hostile to democracy. They always played the same (provisional) role as supernumeraries, were manipulated as one man, and were sacrificed when necessary, to the will of the party. So we are bound to wonder what it was that made those ideologies so alluring, that gave them an attraction so general yet so mysterious.
Furet’s book emerged from an autopsy of his own past as a as a Communist “between 1949 and 1956.” He wrote, further, that his years as a Communist bequeathed to him an enduring desire to unlock the mystique of revolutionary ideology. Given this, it’s not difficult to see why he pioneered some of the most brilliant historiographical work on the French Revolution. The question we are concerned with here is the one I have quoted at length above; for it seems that in our own day, this strange romance between (formerly) fiercely independent intellectuals, scholars, activists and the – a – party, continues.
The latest document of this affair is a long essay by Arundhati Roy (once famous for her declaration of herself as an”independent mobile republic”), titled ‘Walking with the Comrades,’ published in the latest issue of Outlook. It makes for exciting reading, as a lot of well-written travel literature does; but it is significant for another reason: in the current debate over ‘Operation Green Hunt,’ with many versions of ‘ground realities’ fighting amongst themselves, this document is Roy’s attempt at producing an (her) authentic truth, so immersed in the charming details of revolutionary existence that everything else becomes secondary. If we were ever to perform an autopsy of our twentieth century’s ‘Communist’ pasts, ‘Walking with the Comrades’ would probably be as good a place to start as any. Continue reading Moonwalking with the Comrades: Anirban Gupta Nigam→
From the outside, it looks like a lovely building. Broad and imposing, with a certain faded but still palpable elegance. Like all buildings are at some point in their lives in all cities, it is surrounded by construction gates. The sign says that it is to become, like more and more buildings in more and more cities, luxury condominiums. I think of a friend’s words at a conference a few days before. In the contemporary, he said, inequality is made through making the city. The Portuguese word for “building” is edificio, from the Latin aedis, or dwelling, which itself comes from the Sanskrit inddhh – to burn. Aedis and facere [to make] together make aedificium, to build a dwelling around a hearth, around fire. The word is close to aedes, or temple. It also skirts around aedificare and hence the English “edify” – to improve spiritually. A lot is built in building a building. Continue reading Spaces of Forgetting→
The first three phases of the 200 Lok Sabha elections have passed off peacefully. When we say peacefully, we do not take into account the killings of poll officials and police personnel involved in election related work by the Maoists. The Maoists gave a poll boycott call in areas where they thought they are strong but were not heeded by the people. Even many tribals of Lalgadh in Bengal decided to risk their lives to exercise their hard earned right to vote defying the Maoist boycott call. Unable to convince the masses, the Maoists have resorted to the old strategy ofambushing poll parties and burning and demolishingof public properties to register their presence. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar and Bengal have been witness to violence by armed groups ofMaoists. Interestingly, we have not seen any statement by them owning up to these acts. Continue reading ‘Our’ Violence Versus ‘Their’ Violence→
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, USA, UK, Spain, the Russian Federation, to name a few, are a testimony to the cruel attacks on civilians and other human rights abuses in the recent past by non-state armed groups, including terrorist groups. They are showing utter disdain for the lives of civilians and others, continuing a pattern of serious crimes and crimes against humanity. They fail to abide by even the most basic standards of humanitarian law. The attacks and other abuses by armed groups are so frequent and the security situation so grave, that it is impossible to calculate with any confidence the true toll upon the civilian population, let alone the long term consequences that so many people inevitably suffer.
In the last one year, I have often found myself going back to a conversation I had had with a Maoist ideologue. As it happened, it was he who started interrogating me about my stand on violence. ‘So, you have become a Gandhian?’ he demanded. I must confess I was a bit taken aback, not quite able to figure out the context of this poser. ‘What do you mean by Gandhian’, I kind of mumbled. Pat came his reply: ‘Well you have been making some noises lately about Maoist violence, haven’t you?’ Suddenly it all became clear. Through this ridicule, he was trying to appeal to that part of me that still remained marxist – presumably now buried in some remote past – and to resurrect it against my ostensible ‘non-marxist’, ‘liberal’ present (for which ‘Gandhian’ was some kind of a short hand code). I found myself at a loss of words. Does a criticism of the mindless and nihilistic violence of the Maoists make one a Gandhian? Is there no space left between these two polar positions? The conversation did not go very far that day but has kept coming back to me ever since.