Raised voices against Internet censorship


Raised voices against Internet censorship

STAFF REPORTER, The  Hindu

Students and IT professionals performing a skit against the ‘clampdown on freedom of speech’ online. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
The HinduStudents and IT professionals performing a skit against the ‘clampdown on freedom of speech’ online. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

It’s a regular day at the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bangalore. The media has arrived to interview high profile criminals held there. Among politicians accused of land grabbing and corruption, and industrialists, is a young boy. When asked what he had done to land up there, he says: “I blogged.” The media and other “high-profile” criminals scoff at him for not being “criminal enough”.

This was the plot of one of the skits performed outside Town Hall, where a young, energetic crowd gathered to protest against the “clampdown on freedom of speech on the Internet”.

Over 100 people participated in the protests, including IT workers and students from engineering colleges here.

The protest was organised by the Free Software Movement of Karnataka (FSMK), in collaboration with the Software Freedom Law Centre. The performances, singing and short speeches delivered by students and bloggers culminated in a candle light vigil here.

Senthil S., a software engineer and FSMK member, said there was clear evidence now, with cases such as that of the professor in West Bengal and the government’s requests to take down political content, that political dissent (online) was being stifled.

“It’s absurd to censor. We want this silly law to be withdrawn,” says Deepthi, an IT professional, referring to the IT (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011. Raghuram, an FSMK member said: “We aren’t against censorship of hate speech. But allowing monitoring of all that we say breaches my privacy.”

Anand Patwardhan’s paean to Dalits, that took 14 years to compose


A Song that will be sung

Anand Patwardhan’s paean to Dalits, that took 14 years to compose, probes even as it praises, says Saroj Giri in Tehelka

Tragic remains People killed in the police firing in Ramabai Colony in 1997

THERE IS an entrenched tendency to represent Dalits fighting for rights and reservations as just (another) competitive bloc vying for self-interest and power. It leads to a pernicious inversion: ‘Dalit rights’ dividing the nation along caste lines. Victim as perpetrator! Anand Patwardhan’s film Jai Bhim Comrade takes us beyond the grid of cynical power, revealing a vibrant and militant world. It is structured around the double movement of a paean and an elegy. Yet it ends on a note of optimism.

PatwardhanPhoto: Shailendra Pandey

This world is brought to life through intimate portraits of ordinary people, activists and artists in their struggle and in the everyday, often through a telling and retelling of the life and teachings of Dr BR Ambedkar. You see Dalits able to distinguish their politics and struggle at the level of a lullaby, resolve it at the level of school children, question the existence of God or of ordinary people singing the virtues of reason and celebrating festivals outside of the Hindu calendar — a wide and captivating array of images.

The film brings this world to life without any apparent mediation. No authoritative voiceover: it speaks through the voices of people and music, through personal conversations, cultural expression and political speeches. Patwardhan’s forte is his deep immersion in Dalit life, unaffected and sincere, spread over 14 years. In particular, his close comradeship with the late Vilas Ghogre, the Dalit-Marxist artist, inspired the film.

In spite of the immersive positioning, the film is not an ethnography (as Patwardhan has pointed out elsewhere) since ‘politics’/struggle is constantly in focus. And yet, the film avoids foregrounding the internal struggle among the followers of Ambedkar on key political questions — something which would have cast the Dalit world and the immersion in it in a different light.

Scenes of Dalit workers engaged in back-breaking labour in garbage dumps under abject conditions are juxtaposed with fiery speeches and songs in progra – mmes by leaders elsewhere. The major running thread is the aftermath of the Ramabai Nagar (Ghatkopar, Mumbai) police firing on Dalits protesting the desecration of Ambedkar’s statue in July 1997. Ten Dalits were killed and Ghogre committed suicide in protest and horror. Dalits narrate accounts of gruesome atrocities elsewhere in Beed, Khairlanji and other places, and the stony complicity of the state machinery. Official records show that two Dalits are raped and three killed daily in India. The actual statistics are higher.

Scenes of stark injustice contrast with equally stark compromises and betrayals that slowly and depressingly unfold in Dalit politics. Bhim Sena and Shiv Sena join hands, Narendra Modi garlands Ambedkar, Dalit masses applaud. Dalit leaders hobnob with the Congress and the Shiv Sena or BJP, precisely those who engineered atrocities. The politics of forgetting and remembrance reaches a feverish pitch. Towards the end, the court verdict on Ramabai Nagar again exonerates the prime accused, Manohar Kadam, the police officer who ordered the firing. In a travesty of justice, he is let off on bail and his punishment again recedes to the background.

Official records show that two Dalits are raped and three killed daily in India. The actual statistics are higher

The vibrant, defiant spirit of Dalit life-world now seems to be sapped. Corrupt and dubious forces do not reject this world but appropriate it! The paean gives way to elegy. The film now tries to emerge from its immersion, possibly wash it off and retrieve an optimistic point towards the end. The way it does this recasts all that has gone before, revealing how the film is silently structured.

This optimism is expressed in the agency and voice of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a cultural organisation which wants to start afresh. They foreground the internal struggle within Ambedkar’s legacy, so that there is no one Bhim. Sheetal Sathe and her team sing from a Spartan stage. She insists, with a beaming face, on a new Bhim, opening a new register in the narrative. KKM’s politics and aesthetics, crisp and rhetoric-free, avoid invoking Ambedkar as an icon or messiah, instead appealing to the people to get mobilised — a clear departure from the cultural performances and political speeches that raise Ambedkar and let the Dalits down.

Now there is no one Dalit life-world in which to immerse or just one Bhim to follow. There is not even an autonomous Dalit specificity based purely on caste. ‘Dalit’ as a generic term for the oppressed and exploited invokes the question of class. It’s a body blow to any kind of ethnography, a kind of a critique of the film’s dominant trope of immersion — is this why the film later invokes Sheetal’s mother who tangentially critiques or restrains the KKM? Was the earlier immersion then enabled by ‘choosing not to choose’ to split Ambedkar’s legacy?

The question assumes salience since this perspective takes us back to the period after Ambedkar’s death in 1956 to a tradition within Ambedkarites that examined caste through class and land relations. Recall the famous ‘Jail Bharo’ campaign for the redistribution of surplus land to the landless peasants in Konkan region of Maharashtra. It was led by the ‘rustic’ Dadasaheb Gaikwad, eventually sidelined as unfit to carry on in the footsteps of Ambedkar as a ‘saheb’ doing high politics, with university degrees and law books in hand. Or RB More, a close associate of Ambedkar and chief organiser of the Mahad Satyagraha (1927), who parts ways with Ambedkar by joining the Communist Party.

So class was a live issue even among Ambedkarites like Gaikwad. The Left might have been one-sided in their focus on class but that cannot be a pretext to then drive class out of the picture. For that will undermine even an effective caste struggle — which is the real (disavowed?) lesson of the film. The question unasked: if the Shiv Sena-BJP is able to co-opt Dalit voices, was there something in the iconisation of Ambedkar which allowed this to happen?

PATWARDHAN’S EARLIER masterpiece Father Son and Holy War (FSHW) wonderfully exposed the ideals of machismo underlying Hindutva politics — how high symbolic politics derives from certain enduring social mores in the mundane everyday practices. But is Dalit politics or Left politics too informed by such or a different kind of a machismo? In Jai Bhim Comrade, an elderly woman claims to follow Ambedkar’s critical approach but is unsure of extending it to her relationship with her domineering husband. An FSHW moment?

The film is a repository of a rich and textured lived social history where caste and class intertwine. Ghogre, the story goes, was wearing a blue band (Ambedkarite colour) at the time of his suicide, thereby apparently affirming his ultimate castigation of Left politics as unable to address the caste issue. Let us accept this castigation. But recall Ghogre singing a working class song, Ek Katha Suno Re Logo, Hum Mazdoor ki Karun Kahani in a working class area in Mumbai with tall buildings in the background — a striking image. The associated affect and the emergent structure of feeling are absolutely revolutionary and proletarian. It has a richness accruing precisely from an absence, without a grand stage, without the symbolic excess or rhetoric of the kind we see in the other Dalit cultural programmes that one way or another overlap with mainstream Hindu programmes. No wonder the filmmaker too seems more attached to what can be seen as a proletarian singing scene, which is neither specifically Dalit nor neo-Buddhist. Is class and its symbolic field entering the picture again? There are several other instances like this in the film.

Far cries Stills from Jai Bhim Comrade

Can we then say that the film’s portrait of Dalit politics unfolds into an elegy of a pure caste-based politics? Isn’t Patwardhan, in spite of his apparent conscious intentions, reinstating class and giving it its due? Nothing to be depressed about, however. One starts with caste and wants to stay with it (the rational conscious movement of the film), partly to make up for the apparent blind spots of the Left parties. And yet, in the search for optimism, class sneaks in (the disavowed movement) not to undermine caste but to firm it up, to make it politically legible and efficacious for a radical politics — happening here under the sign of a new Bhim. Thanks to the rich complexity of the film, such fine conjunctures of caste and class are made visible.

One starts with caste and wants to stay with it, partly to make up for the apparent blind spots of the Left parties

This has immediate resonance. With the upward mobility of the OBCs (responsible for most recent attacks on Dalits), caste as the basis of atrocities on Dalits attains a deadly efficacy when it is stamped by the distinction of class. More starkly, this concerns Dalits themselves: the case in Khairlanji is a gruesome illustration. Dalits in top administrative posts refused to side with Dalits facing terrible violence at the hands of upper castes. As is well-documented, having undergone ‘class transformation’, Dalits in top administrative posts sided with upper caste perpetrators of the heinous attacks on poor Dalits.

Finally, the basic dilemma of Left politics today comes to the fore. Popular movements and electoral mobilisation of the marginalised are appropriated by mainstream or right-wing parties, the judiciary and courts again and again let you down, while those who still resist and dissent (like the KKM) are labelled Maoists. And not making matters easy is Sheetal’s mother who has this to say: “At every performance, my children assured me that they’d never take up arms, that they’d change the world only through song and drums.” What is to be done? The film is an artiste’s passionate plea to pose the question again for radical politics. It is a powerful intervention.

Giri teaches Political Science at the University of Delhi.

Children of god ?- Kuldip Nayar


Kuldip Nayar

Kuldip Nayar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

in Dailystar
When an Australian editor posed a question to the Indian press on why it never had a dalit, the untouchable, at a top position in journalism, I felt embarrassed. I considered it an omission which should have been rectified long ago and felt confident that it would happen before long.

But after noticing that no attention was paid a few days ago to the 121st anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a Gandhi for the dalits, I have come to believe that the discrimination against the dalits is a prejudice which would take many decades to wear off. They are at the lowest rung of the Hindu society which develops a bias against them at an early age and has no shame in perpetuating it.

The only thing to remind Dr. Ambedkar was a full-page advertisement sponsored by the central government in leading newspapers. There was also a small function around his portrait in the central hall of parliament which is out of bounds for an ordinary citizen. I did not see television channels showing any programme on Dr. Ambedkar, nor did I find any edit or article in any newspaper to recall his services.

Dr. Ambedkar is the framer of India‘s constitution and we owe the parliamentary system to him. This is enshrined in the constitution. I recall how boldly he stood in parliament to have a provision against untouchability, the bane of Hindu society, and how he expressed hope that the prejudice would disappear. Yet the upper caste has proved him wrong.

Reservations given to the Scheduled Castes, namely the dalits, are laid down in the constitution. But this was despite his opposition. He was against reservations which he compared with crutches by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and other Congress leaders prevailed upon him to accept the provision for 10 years.

Little did Dr. Ambedkar realise at that time that political parties on the one hand and the vested interests among dalits, particularly the creamy layer, on the other would go on prolonging reservations for electoral advantage. So demanding is this consideration that reservations are given extensions decade after decade without a debate in parliament.

The Hindu society should be grateful to Dr. Ambedkar that he and his followers embraced Buddhism. He had threatened to convert to Islam along with his dalit followers to escape discrimination. Mahatma Gandhi beseeched him and even threatened to go on fast unto death. Dr. Ambedkar bowed before the wishes of Gandhi but refused to return to the fold of Hinduism.

Even conversion has not helped the dalits. They are more or less treated in Islam, Christianity or Sikhism in the same way as in the Hindus society. The dalits carry the tag of discrimination and helplessness wherever they go, although the three religions claim equality for the followers. Therefore, the dalits have not escaped the rigours of caste system even outside Hinduism. The Sachar committee has pointed out the inhuman treatment meted out to them even when they have embraced Islam.

Gandhiji christened the dalit as Harijan, Son of god. But it reflected a patronizing attitude which the dailit scornfully rejected. Why the dalits, who constitute some 17% of India’s population, have continued to stay in the Hindu society despite all the insults heaped on them is beyond me. They have never revolted nor have they taken any step to harm the Hindu society which still does not give them even a modicum of individuality.

A few years ago some dalits, led by Kanshi Ram, constituted a political party of their own, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). It has won them political recognition but not social status. Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, despite corruption and her authoritarian trait, has given dalits the feeling that they can go to the police station and register complaints. They are offered even chairs as is the case with members of other communities. Home Minister P. Chidambaram‘s advice to dalits to join major parties to enjoy power does not mean much. They followed the Congress faithfully for 45 years. but their lot has remained the same as it was.

Even now the dalits carry night soil on their head. The government proposes to prohibit the practice which was contemplated 50 years ago. The home ministry issued instructions even at that time. Apparently, very little has happened since because the government is enacting a law to stop the practice. The dalits would do well if they were to refuse to carry night soil on their head. Yet they are economically so poor that they cannot afford to risk the livelihood.

At the same time, crimes against the dalits have not lessened. There is a proposal to give arms to them in what are called “atrocity prone areas.” Obviously, the government has failed to protect the dalits and their property. Unfortunately, the police force is also on the side of the landlords and other vested interests who treat the dalits as their subject like the maharaja used to do.

Official figures reveal that there is a huge backlog of cases relating to the atrocities committed against the dalits. Had the centre been serious about preventing atrocities against them it would have taken measures like special courts, fast track prosecution and steps to dispose of cases quickly. Strangely, the Patna High Court has acquitted all the 23 persons accused of perpetrating the massacre of 21 dalits at Bathani Tola in Bhojpur.

It should have been clear by now that no law or no government action can do away with the evil of untouchability. You cannot succeed if the mindset does not change. What the children have grown up with in the name of tradition or religion is prejudiced and cannot be effaced until the society is forced to give up bias which has got entrenched.

The country needs a social revolution. Alas, I do not find any meaningful movement to bring it about. Take, for example, the belief that girls are a burden. How many of them are killed either in womb or after birth is not possible to count. That it happens mostly in north India, particularly Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP is no solace.

A sustained effort to change the mindset and remove the clogs of superstition can make a dent into this widely prevailing evil. But no political party is interested in doing so. Nor are the activists because they are aiming at economic changes. Social problems are begging for attention.

The writer is an eminent Indian Journalist.

Having Sex: Mythbusting


Mythbusting

‘To be human is to be sexual’ Winder, 1983

Sexuality External Website that opens in a new window is often equated with just sex. Actually, it’s much broader and also encompasses gender identities and roles External Website that opens in a new window sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. It is influenced by psychological, economic, political, social, and biological factors. Sexuality is a natural and healthy aspect of living, and it’s a part of who you are.

Women with disabilities are rarely seen as sexual beings, however. This leads to a range of myths and misconceptions around their sexuality, which are debunked below.

Question1 Myth: Women with disabilities don’t need sex.

To most nondisabled people, sexuality and disability seem to be unconnected terrains – disabled women’s sexual desires are by and large assumed to be non-existent. However, the reality is that women with disabilities are sexual beings with sexual fantasies, feelings and aspirations like anyone else. They are unable to express their sexuality fully not so much because of a disability but because of the assumption that they are not sexual. Other barriers include restrictions on their mobility, negative societal attitudes and the lack of educational, entertainment, social and health services and rights that other people have. (Source: ‘Sexuality and Disability in the Indian Context’ TARSHI working paperExternal Website that opens in a new window)

Women with disabilities – particularly those with physical disabilities – are often seen as childlike, and thought about in terms of ‘care’ or ‘protection’, thus rendering them sexless. However, all human beings are sexual, no matter if, when, how, or with whom we choose to express or not express it.

Question2 Myth: Women with disabilities are not sexually attractive.

Sins InvalidExternal Website that opens in a new window, a performance on sex, beauty and disability, poses many powerful questions: ‘Who is sexy? Who is sexual? Who is sexually desirable? Are the people that society designates “beautiful” really sexier or more sexual than people who get labeled “plain”? What about older people, heavier people? What about people with disabilities? Are these people fully sexual human beings even though they don’t show up in movies, on TV, or in advertising? What happens to all of us when we write off huge sections of the population as non-sexual or sexually undesirable?’

What attracts someone is unique to each individual, and is caused by an unpredictable mix of things, including personality, looks, timing, sexual fantasies, etc. However, because we’re surrounded by false ideals of beautylike models with impossibly thin and upright bodies, it can be hard to start thinking of people who don’t fit into that category as ‘beautiful’. Attraction is, above all else, a connection between two people, and imposed beauty standards may actually have nothing at all to do with it.

Question3 Myth: Women with disabilities are ‘oversexed.’

Since women with disabilities are seen as ‘childlike’ and aren’t supposed to be sexual, any sexual desire they express is seen as perverted or ‘too much’. This doesn’t mean that they have disproportionate sexual desires compared to nondisabled women, but that because they are not meant to express this aspect of themselves, when they do, it’s seen as a problem.

This myth is especially strong when it comes to girls or women who are mentally disabled. Since people living with mental disabilities may not have been taught sexual norms – masturbation is a private thing, your sexual body parts should remain covered around other people, etc – they may express their sexuality in socially inappropriate ways. However, this is more likely a result of a lack of information than that of an ‘oversexed’ mind or body.

Seeing girls and women with disabilities as oversexed is dangerous because it exposes them to sexual abuse under the guise that they ‘enjoy’ it. No one deserves an unwanted sexual encounter, and this includes people with disabilities.

Question4 Myth: Women with disabilities have more important needs than sex.

We tend to see certain needs as more basic or fundamental (eating, bathing, sleeping) than others (communication with others, sexual desires, intellectual development). This divide is sharper in the case of girls or women with disabilities. If a woman needs help to have her ‘basic’ needs fulfilled, her ‘other’ needs are seen as irrelevant.

In reality, any person experiences various needs at the same time. For example, the desire to eat when you are hungry may not be any greater or less than the desire to talk to someone when you are lonely. Similarly, sexual desires cannot simply be seen as ‘secondary’ to more ‘fundamental’ needs, whether or not someone has a disability.

Question5 Myth: Girls living with disabilities don’t need sexuality education.

This myth is a branch of a much wider one – that no one needs sexuality education. Sex Ed is often misunderstood as teaching children how to have sex or ‘permitting experimentation’. In reality, sexuality education encompasses a lot more than the mechanics of sex. Age-appropriate sexuality education looks at how teenagers feel about their bodies, love, sex, relationshipsExternal Website that opens in a new window, and protection from abuse and violence.

Some people also believe that sex education goes against Indian cultureExternal Website that opens in a new window The reality, however, is this: as long as human beings have sex, we need sexuality education no matter what culture we belong to. Culture, in any case, is dynamic and evolving. Practices that have previously been upheld as part of ‘Indian culture’ – such as sati and child marriage – are now seen not just as harmful cultural practices, but as criminal offences.

Girls with disabilities are most often denied the little bit of sex education that their peers receive. This is embedded in other myths- that women with disabilities don’t have sexual desires, that no one will want to have sex with them (so they won’t be subjected to abuse), and that they can’t have ‘real sex’ anyway (so there’s no point in showing them how). In reality, sex education can empower all young women with the knowledge and information to have safe and pleasurable sex, prevent STIs including HIV, stop unwanted pregnancies, and protect themselves from abusive sexual partners.

Question6 Myth: Women who live with disabilities can’t have ‘real’ sex.

Many people think that sex takes place only when a man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina. In reality, people have sex in many different ways that aren’t generally shown in popular media or frequently discussed. Kissing, touching, masturbating and oral sex are all sexual activities, even though they aren’t included in the ‘standard’ definition of sex.

The myth of a ‘real’ or ‘correct’ way to have sex might lead women with disabilities to believe that because they can’t see, feel, or move their bodies in certain ways, sex isn’t for them. But sex is for everyone, even though the mechanics of it can vary. There are no rules governing what sex can or cannot be, except that it should involve consent External Website that opens in a new window and safety. Sexual acts don’t have to look, sound, smell or feel like anything apart from what works for the people who are involved.

Question7 Myth: Sex must be spontaneous.

Sex is often depicted – in movies to books to pornography – as two people naturally falling into each other’s arms within seconds of making eye contact. This leads people to feel that any amount of planning means that it’s no longer ‘natural’, so it doesn’t count as sex. But in reality, sex often does not happen in a completely unplanned way. Whether the build-up involves flirting with someone in a crowded room, ‘setting the mood’ with some music and candles, checking if the object of your desire shares your sexual orientation, or discussing how your disability means you may need a few extra pillows or specific positioning, sex is always a process of communication. And the idea that it can happen without thinking, talking or planning is questionable. Women with disabilities may need to take some extra factors into account before having a sexual encounter with someone. She may need to think about the times of day when pain or tiredness are less of a problem, put a waterproof cover on the bed in case her bladder leaks, or may simply need to ensure that she has the privacy she desires. However, this doesn’t make the sex women with disabilities have any less ‘natural’ or ‘real’ than those who don’t have similar considerations.

Question8 Myth: Women with disabilities should not have children.

Since women with disabilities are not expected to be sexual, neither are they expected to reproduce. A report entitled ‘Women and Girls with Disabilities: Defining the Issues’External Website that opens in a new windowstates, ‘Keeping us genderless by discounting us as women and as sexual beings helps to prevent us from reproducing, which keeps us harmless to society. And, once we are categorized as non-breeders, we are discarded as socially useless.’

It is believed that ‘disability breeds disability’, and that a disabled woman will give birth to a disabled child. However, only a small percentage of disabilities are hereditary, and these don’t always pass on to the next generation. External Website that opens in a new window. In most cases, a disabled women and a nondisabled woman both have an equal chance of giving birth to a disabled (or much more likely, a nondisabled) child. It is also believed that a woman with a disability will be unable to care for her child. This is merely a perception. Women with disabilities can raise children-like everyone else, they may need a little help at times. Look at this websiteExternal Website that opens in a new window for parents with disabilities for more information

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More sedition cases against anti-nuke protestors than Maoists, militants


More sedition cases against anti-nuke protestors than Maoists, militants

by Pallavi Polanki Apr 21, 2012, FirstPost

The speed and determination with which the Tamil Nadu government has been slapping its citizens right, left and centre with colonial-era laws, it would seem as if a full-fledged war of independence is raging in the fishing villages of Idinthakarai and Kudankulam along the coast of Tamil Nadu.

According to findings by a team led senior journalist Sam Rajappa, in just four months between September (when the protest movement against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant began to gather momentum) and December 2011, over 6,000 people have been charged under Section 121 (waging war against the government) and Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Kudankulam police station.

The majority of the cases are against PMANE convenor SP Udayakumar. Firstpost

Commenting on the report Nityanand Jayaraman, a member of the Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle said, “The Kudankulam police station has the dubious distinction, perhaps, of being a station where the largest number of sedition and waging war cases have been filed in the shortest time in the history of colonial and Independent India.”

In comparison, in militancy-hit Jammu & Kashmir, in 2011, between 600-800 people were booked for sedition, according to human rights lawyers.

In Jharkhand, a state facing the Maoist-led insurgency, Anurag Gupta, Inspector General (Organised Crime) said, “We have no record of these cases in 2011. But our records are not perfect, there might have been a few cases. However, for terrorism-related activities, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is invoked.”

To book fisherfolk – most of them women and children on a relay hunger strike – on terror charges especially after both the foreign-hand theory and the Maoist theory failed to stick, surely would have attracted a lot of media attention.

The sedition charge, on the other hand, is a far more convenient weapon that has been repeatedly used by the state every time it has wanted to silence dissenters.

Explaining how data on the cases was compiled, Jayaraman said, “We weren’t given this information from the police station. We made requests to get the details. It took us seven days to compile it. Between September and December, 107 separate FIRS were registered under various section of IPC, including Section 121 and 124A.”

“If you add the number of accused in the FIRs it comes to 55,795. The FIRs don’t tell you who the 55,000-odd people are. The FIRs are registered like this: Udayakumar and 2000 others. Now, who the 2000 are is left to the discretion of the police,” he said.

The main accused in many of the FIRs, not unexpectedly, is SP Udayakumar, who is leading the anti-nuclear protests from Idinthakarai village.

Vijayendra Bidari, Superintendent of Police (SP) of Tirunelveli district, where Kudankulam and Idinthakarai are located, rejected the figures quoted by the fact-finding team.

“It is totally wrong. It will be around 40-50 people. They don’t have the FIRs. In multiple cases, the accused are the same. So if you keep adding the same names, the number will be more. It is totally false,” said Bidari.

Contesting the SP’s claim, Jayaraman quotes an example of a single FIR where more than 3,000 people have been charged with sedition and waging war against the government.

“FIR, crime no. 372/11, was filed on November 21, 2011. The complainant is recorded as Nathan Elango. And a case has been registered against ‘Udayakumar and 3,000 others’ on whom various sections of the IPC have been put, including Section 121 and Section 124A.”

Bidari, however, played down the Kudankulam police station’s record-breaking performance in registering FIRs.

“The FIRs have been registered and the cases are under investigation. We haven’t filed any charge sheet yet. Only after investigations, it will be clearer what the sections are, how valid the sections and whether we file the charge sheet or not. The FIRs are given by the local people and based on the content the sections are attracted. Whether a case is made out or not is up to the investigating officer. Let them investigate the case. Only when it put up before the court, can we say that these are the charges,” he said.

The senior police official also rejected the “false allegation” that the mad rush for registering such cases was designed to intimidate and harass the protestors. “It is not true at all. From the beginning the protestors have been putting this false allegation on the police. There is no harassment,” Bidari said.

Describing the absurdity of the police action as “a parody of law”, senior journalist Sam Rajappa who led the fact-finding team, in a press statement said: “The Tamil Nadu CM belongs right up there with Mamata Banerjee for her vengeful use of the Indian Penal Code to suppress any contrary voices.”

Sunday Special- for Cricket in India – whether you love or hate ;-)


This song for cricket is sung by  Sambhaji Bhagat, the Dalit Lokshahir (people’s poet), a teacher by profession and bard at heart.

Sambhaji has received no formal training in singing but has a lilting voice that can mesmerise listeners for hours. Sambhaji is a teacher but others in his troupe are not so fortunate — Asaram Umap who handles the dimdi (a small hand held drum) and flute is a rag picker; Sandeep Lokhande, the dholak exponent makes his livelihood as an instrumentalist; Babasaheb Atkhile is a promising young lad who also performs the role of a troupe coordinator. This motley group would not have not come together had it not been for their inspirational anchor — Sambhaji.

Born to a cobbler in the picturesque Panchgani in Mahableshwar, a hill station of Mahrashtra, Sambhaji as a school boy was swayed by the drills of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. But his heart and mind somehow failed to walk in tandem with the RSS idealogy. His feet carried him away from the drill sessions. From the far right he landed straight into the lap of the leftists. He was in his teens by then but the leftist ideologies proved to be too ‘dogmatic’,  and he quit. From the far right to the far left, Sambhaji took on a new path that made him find his true identity.  He went back to his roots.

Sambhaji, has joined us at Justice and Peace for All ( JAPA), a group propagating “musical activism” – this very popular and very effective method was used in the sixties in america to protest against the vietnam war and launched the careers of many great musicians and songwriters. JAPA has
talented musicians, song writers, artists, poets all dedicated to this cause of justice and peace for all and we hope through this evenings music to highlight some of these issues and perhaps sow the seeds of activism in the hearts  of people. Join us on facebook JapaMumbai

This song was performed at JAPA muical evening last year when semi final of world cupw a son between india and Pakistan and is still relevant today with IPL FEVER, infact will be relevant till eternity as cricket is religion for India .

Cricketwallae Sun Lo

India ke Deshbhakto, Bharat ki zara  Sun Lo

Enjoy the song and share widely