#Kerala – Petition to Chief Minister condemning false charges against Kerala activists #FOE


12h June 2013

To

Chief Minister of Kerala

Oommen Chandy.

We the undersigned strongly condemn the blatant attempt by the Kerala police to intimidate five colleagues from the field of film and media by filing fabricated cases against them for ‘rioting’, ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘public obstruction’ (IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 and 283 ).

These five individuals- K.P.Sasi, noted filmmaker and activist, I. Shanmukhadas, film critic, Prasannakumar T.N., film activist, Shafeek, journalist and Deepak, filmmaker and film society activist- were participating in a peaceful protest on February 11 at Thrissur, Kerala, along with many others, outside the venue of the Vibgyor Film Festival 2013 against the concept of capital punishment and the summary execution of Afzal Guru.

The peaceful protest which lasted for an hour, in no way disturbed public order or caused communal unrest. For this act of democratic expression, these fraudulent and trumped charges have been filed against them.
It is indeed shocking that the Kerala police should deny citizens their basic right to peacefully protest against the death penalty, which 97 nations across the world have abolished. As per Amnesty International data, over 2/3 of the countries of the world (140) are now “abolitionist in law or practice”. In India, there has been an alarming resurgence of the death penalty, which needs to be questioned and protested against by all those who stand for social justice and human rights. This crude act of intimidation by the state needs to be condemned by all and we appeal to the Chief Minister of Kerala ensure that the Kerala police to withdraw these false and malicious charges immediately.

Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Anjali Monteiro, TISS, Mumbai
K.P. Jayasankar, TISS, Mumbai
Nivedita Menon, JNU, New Delhi
Rahul Roy, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Saba Dewan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Shilpa Phadke, TISS, Mumbai
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights activist, Mumbai
Shohini Ghosh, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Ajay Bhardwaj, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Anivar Aravind, IT Engineer, Bangalore
Bishaldeb Halder, TISS, Mumbai
Charu Gargi, Filmmaker, Estonia
Lynne Henry, Filmmaker, Mumbai
P Baburaj, Film maker, Trivandrum
Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Rakesh Sharma, Filmmaker, Mumbai-Goa
Sanjay Mohan, Journalist, New Delhi
Shoba V. Ghosh, Mumbai University
Suhasini Mulay, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Suma Josson, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Vivek Monteiro, Trade Unionist, Mumbai
Yousuf Saeed, Filmmaker, New Delhi

( If you agree add your endorsements in  comment section )

 

Uphold #FOE, Condemn Fabricated cases against Film and Media persons in Kerala


ViBGYOR Film Collective condemns the fabricated charges leveled against five reputed Cultural, film and media persons of Kerala. Kerala police has charged cases against K.P Sasi, the renowned Film maker and activist, I Shanmukhadas, a well known Film Critic, Prasannakumar T N, a film activist, Shafeek, a young Journalist and Deepak, a Filmmaker and Film Society activist for ‘rioting’, ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘public obstruction’ (IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 and 283 ) for participating in a peaceful protest which occurred on February 11, 2013 at Thrissur, Kerala. These citizens along with a few dozens of writers, Film makers and activists were protesting against the very concept of capital punishment and the surreptitious manner in which Afzal Guru was accorded Death Penalty.

Inline image 1The Crimes that the Kerala police are ascribing to these distinguished personalities of kerala are totally false and trumped-up.

The entire protest had happened during ViBGYOR Film Festival, 2013.  The peaceful protest with speeches and recitals of renowned cultural personalities is organized near the entrance gate of the festival venue and lasted not more than an hour. It did in no way amounted to an unlawful assembly, public obstruction or did cause a communal riot that day or later. ViBGYOR Film collective shares the firm opinion that death penalty is a fundamental violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We assert the right of citizens to dissent and express their opposition towards capital punishment in a peaceful manner.

ViBGYOR Film Collective and ViBGYOR Film Festival, during its eight years of existence and functioning, have always stood for the Rights that are enshrined in the Constitution of India, and have always come out openly to defend it. We, as the citizens of this democratic nation, believe that such attempt to silence democratic protests and stifle freedom of expression in any manner is a violation of our basic rights enshrined in our constitution and we demand that the false charges against these five Cultural film and media personalities of contemporary Kerala should be withdrawn immediately.

We also urge our friends and democratic forums and organizations to voice their protest in unequivocal terms against such undemocratic ways of fabricating false cases against the citizens who have all rights to exercise lawful means of protests in public space.

In solidarity,

ViBGYOR Film Collective

http://vibgyorfilm.org

 

#India – Press freedom on shaky ground #FOE #FOS


Since January, media has been under attack a number of times, with police failing to protect its rights. GEETA SESHU says all this forms a grim backdrop to World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
Posted/Updated Thursday, May 02 18:45:32, 2013, Thehoot.org

One death, one instance of arson, seven attacks on journalists and an equal number of instances of censorship in the first four months of this year in India – that’s the tally from the free speech tracker of the Hoot’s Free Speech Hub. Add this to the loss of jobs in media funded by ponzi schemes like the Saradha group (1,400) or in other newspaper groups struggling to stay afloat.

Barely four days before World Press Freedom Day on May 3, a Kannada newspaper Karavali Ale was the target of an attack by the BJP MLA from Surathkal in South Karnataka, Krishna Palemar. Copies of the newspapers were torched at the local bus station. Subsequently, the distribution of copies was disrupted.

According to a complaint filed before the Election Commission by Rohini S, Managing Director of Chitra Publications, which brings out Karavali Ale, the ‘criminal actions’ of Palemar sought to frighten the management and staff against publishing reports adverse to him. Earlier, the newspaper had carried a detailed report about the ‘hollow’ claims of the political leader about development in the area.

The complaint added that Palemar had committed a violation of the poll codes (Karnataka goes to the polls on May 5) and has demanded action for his criminal destruction of property. Despite requests to local police for protection , this was not forthcoming, the newspaper management said

While the current tussle between the newspaper and local politicians owing allegiance to the Hindu right is clearly poll-related, it is by no means the only one. On February 6, a staffer of the newspaper, Harish Puthran, was attacked by elements supported by Hindu Vedike leader Satyajit Surathkal for his news reports that investigated the links between the Hindu fundamentalist group and the local drug mafia.

Earlier, in 2010, Palemar succeeded in obtaining a High Court injunction against the newspaper from publishing adverse reports against him, after an earlier attempt to secure an injunction from the Bangalore City and Civil Sessions court failed.

Press Freedom in India: January-April 2013

A quick glance at the list of attacks and censorship of the media in just these four months reveals the range of issues journalists are routinely confronted with. The killings, the attacks, threats and the censorship can originate from any quarter – Maoists in Chhattisgarh, Hindu fundamentalist groups in Mangalore, police and security forces in Odisha and Kashmir or even the gutka don who organised an acid attack against a journalist in Parbhani.

The censorship can range from police clamping down on coverage of the case of the Delhi gang-rape victim, elected representatives of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly who beat up a police inspector in the house but issued contempt notices against television channels for reporting the attack, defamation blocks on online media coverage of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) or the gag on the media of an entire state following the hanging of Afzal Guru.

In February, Nemichand Jain, a Hindi journalist working in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, was killed and a local committee of the Maoists left a pamphlet at the site taking responsibility for the killing. The incident, which sent shock waves amongst journalists in the area, again underlined the precarious nature of media work in a zone of conflict.

Jain worked both as a journalist as well as a distributor for several newspapers and the Maoists claimed he was a police informer. Journalists decided to boycott all information about Maoists following the death. The boycott was lifted after Maoists reportedly apologised, in yet another pamphlet, for the killing.

Needless to say, amidst this exchange of pamphlets, police are still ‘investigating’ the case.

Police are still also investigating the acid attack on Dinesh Chaudhary, reporter for Solapur Tarun Bharat, and his wife and teenaged daughter in Parbhani, Maharashtra in March this year. Chaudhary wrote about gutka don Syed Ali, who allegedly got two accomplices to throw acid on him. The duo managed to escape. The state home minister promised to take serious note of the incident and directed police to do their job. Till date, says the editor of the newspaper, Narayan Karanjkar, Ali is still ‘absconding’, though he has been spotted in the area on several occasions!

Odisha manages to be in the news for attacks on the media. In 2012, the Free Speech Hub conducted a special report on this state but when impunity rules, the journalist has no protection at work. Subhakant Padhihary discovered this when he was beaten mercilessly while covering an agitation in Bhubaneshwar on April 1. “When I was being caned mercilessly by the cops, Bhubaneswar DCP Nitinjit Singh was present, but he walked away,” Padhihary said.

Only yesterday, another journalist Amitabha Patra, and an editor of the magazine Nissan Lenin Ray, were arrested while covering a protest by villagers against the Lower Suktel Dam in Dunguripali of Balangiri district, Odisha.

The ‘Hindu taliban’ is what local journalists call attackers of Harish Putran, reporter for Karavali Ale, a newspaper from Mangalore, who was beaten up for a series of articles he did claiming that the Hindu Jagran Vedike had close links with a drug mafia.

The organisation became infamous for the pub-attacks and the raid on a homestay, which had led to the arrest of Kasturi television reporter Naveen Soorinje last November. After spending around four months in jail, Soorinje was granted bail by the Karnataka High Court and released in March 2013.

Sure, the media in turn has a lot to answer for. As the Hoot’s reports show, the media routinely forgets the North-east, invades the privacy of partying students in Hyderabad or when journalists fail to ask the right questions of their media owners. And these are just a few examples.

But as Camus said: A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad.

 

CRPP Statement of on Death Sentence to Bhullar


Committe for Release of Political Prisoners

That the conviction of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar was solely based on a confession statement attributed to him which he had denied in the court makes the decision even more regressive thus exposing even the fallacious claims of the SC that capital punishment should only be given in the ‘rarest of rare’ cases. Significantly, when Mr. Bhullar was being extradited from Germany it was assured by the Government of India that he won’t be condemned to death.
It was in 2001 that Bhullar was sentenced to death by the trial court. He has been in prison since 1995 after his extradition. Thus, Bhullar has already spent more than eighteen years in prison, which is longer than a life term. Thus, by refusing to consider the inordinate delay as a reason for the commutation of death sentence, the Supreme Court is violating the Fundamental Right guaranteed by Article 20(2), that no person shall be punished twice for the same offence.
The ten-year long delay in disposing the mercy petition by the President of India was the ground on which Bhullar had sought commutation of his death penalty as it was a blatant violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India while at the same inflicting further pain and cruelty on him through the prolonged incarceration after the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.
As in effect, Bhullar has already served a life term and is now on death row. What is even more alarming is that there are seventeen convicts on death row and the rejection of Bhullar’s plea is going to have an adverse effect on all these seventeen cases. The Indian ruling classes and their politics of jingoism and hate is definitely on the slippery slope heading for an orgy of judicial executions, which was triggered by the secret executions of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru.
Similar to the case of Afzal Guru, the conviction of Bhullar is also on shallow grounds. Bhullar was convicted under the draconian TADA. On appeal, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the TADA Court under a split verdict of 2 to 1. The presiding judge Justice MB Shah had acquitted Bhullar of all charges under TADA. His confession, which was found to be concocted, was also rejected as it was at odds with the testimony of the prosecution witnesses. Thus, the split verdict should have been a good reason for the President to accept the mercy petition and for the Supreme Court to commute death to life. However, it was rejected in 2011 on a completely arbitrary basis eight years after it was filed. The prolonged incarceration had its toll on the health of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar as he was undergoing treatment for mental illness. Needless to say that to hang someone who is mentally ill speaks more about the overall depredation of the ruling classes of India to the vast sections of the toiling masses.
It is with intrigue one would look into the contradicting positions taken by the Supreme Court vis-à-vis its stand on death sentence. Just a week after the Supreme Court had stayed temporarily the death sentence of 8 people another bench of the same court has rejected the plea of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar to commute his death sentence to life. A few months before the SC had in retrospect observed that Capital Punishment can only be given in the rarest of rare cases after making it doubly sure that the evidence provided in reaching the conclusion that the said case is the rarest of the rare should be impeccable while ensuring that the law has been upheld in reaching the above said conclusion. This introspection had also brought forth the glaring facts that in ninety nine percent of the cases of award of death sentence there was a terrible miscarriage of justice. While staying the death sentence of 8 people temporarily on the first week of April 2013 the SC had observed the need to follow procedures while executing the death sentence thus partially admitting the glaring anomalies in the ‘secret’ hanging to death of Mohd. Afzal Guru.
It is well established that death penalty – being neither a deterrent nor reformatory in nature- serves no cause other than that of retributive justice. Most civilized countries (more than 140) have banned death penalty. Even though the Supreme Court of India has enunciated the jurisprudence of the “rarest of the rare”, the hard reality is that the Indian Courts have awarded death penalty at the rate of 133 per year over the last ten years. So the rarest of the rare cases are decided by the Indian courts once in every three days!
In the seventy page judgement rejecting the plea to commute the death penalty given to Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, the Supreme Court bench quotes generously from the 35th Report of the Law Commission as it states “…Having regard, however, to the conditions in India, to the variety of the social upbringing of its inhabitants, to the disparity in the level of morality and education in the country, to the vastness of its area, to diversity of its population and to the paramount need for maintaining law and order in the country at the present juncture, India cannot risk the experiment of abolition of capital punishment.” [p-3] This above mentioned quote selected by the bench from the Law Commission Report explains the Court’s burden of civilizing the inhabitants in the vastness of the subcontinent through the instrument of death penalty! And this colonial mindset also explains considerably why the rhetoric of rarest of the rare has metamorphosed to be the common thing in the practice of jurisprudence in India.
As long as the lived reality of inequality endures in the Indian subcontinent through the systematic dog-eat-dog policies of various governments, such a reality may be weighed against the consequences its legal system evokes in the name of its people’s. If the Indian state continues to embrace [capital punishment] in the name of retributive or utilitarian values, then inequality remains not just a “tolerable” value for the government and the policy makers who vouches unabashedly by a system based on greed and unrequited accumulation especially in the era of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation. Inequality remains a value that is acted upon and thus preserved inextricably through the state’s persistent willingness to use the punishment of death.
We condemn strongly the act of the Indian state to enforce violence on people through the instrument of death penalty! Without a strong upsurge of the people against such draconian and barbaric instruments of violence of the State we will be condemned to be at the receiving end of a penal state that is increasingly becoming fascist. We demand that the DEATH SENTENCENCE ON DAVINDER PAL SINGH BHULLAR BE IMMEDIATELY REVOKED!
In Solidarity,
SAR Geelani
President

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

P. Koya
Vice President

MN Ravunni
Vice President

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations

 

#India – Suprme Court rejects Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s appeal #deathpenalty


Supreme Court verdict could impact other death row prisoners

death-penalty
Reported by A Vaidyanathan, Ketki Angre, Edited by Surabhi Malik | Updated: April 12, 2013

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has ruled that a death sentence cannot be commuted to life imprisonment because of a delay in execution.

The court has rejected an appeal by Devinderpal Singh Bhullar against his hanging, and could impact the cases of 16 other prisoners on death row who have pleaded against their punishment.

Bhullar had appealed against his execution on the grounds that his petition for mercy was kept pending by the President of the country for eight years. He was given the death sentence for killing nine people with a car bomb in Delhi in 1993.

Bhullar’s wife was in court when the verdict against him was announced. “The court didn’t consider our points,” she said.  Bhullar’s family and friends say that his time in prison has affected his mental health.

Activists and lawyers for Bhullar and other prisoners have said that inordinate delays in deciding requests for clemency amount to cruelty and violate the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In Tamil Nadu, today’s verdict will be  carefully assessed to determine the potential fallout on the case of  three men who have spent 22 years in a jail in Tamil Nadu for their role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Their appeal for clemency was rejected after 11 years in August 2011.  All parties in the state have passed a resolution stating that they should not hang.

Human rights groups have been critical of India for executing two prisoners in the last few months. Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was hanged in November 2012 in Pune for his role in the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. In February, Afzal Guru was hanged in Delhi; he had been convicted of assisting in the attack on Parliament in 2001. His family was informed of his execution two days after he was buried at Tihar Jail.

 

#India- The Politics of Death Penalty


death-penalty

Rajindar Sachar

 

 

One had always heard perjorative remarks about politics and morality being distant neighbors, notwithstanding the life long struggle by Gandhiji to have some kind of connect between these. This was demonstrated with a telling thud in the way Central Government has dealt with the case of Afzal Guru a resident of J & K who was held guilty in attack on Parliament and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2005. The lower court thereupon fixed 20th October 2006 as date of execution. However the wife of Guru filed a mercy petition before the President who after giving personal hearing to her, asked for some clarifications from the Home Ministry, which was never sent.

 

Guru had also in 2006 sent petition through the jail to the President. He never   received   any   reply   to   this  application, but nevertheless was

hanged on the morning of 9th February, 2013. Excepting for few officials, none including the family of Guru knew of the impending execution. I am personally against the death penalty, being follower of Gandhiji, J.P., Dr. Ambedkar.  But even if we have death penalty, the manner in which hanging has been carried out in this case certainly outrages principles of humanity.

 

I am also concerned with the low in politics where hanging of one person becomes the subject of slinging match between two major political parties Congress and B.J.P. For the last so many years BJP has ad-nauseam made the issue of hanging of Guru as one of its major political strategy and to seek to project the delay by the Congress government as antinational, unpatriotic and most mischievously as a Muslim appeasement question. Congress was upto now explaining the delay as an administrative question. But it would appear that core group of Congress has now decided that it was necessary to hang Guru to counter the challenge of B.J.P., because of the proximity of General Elections to Parliament in 2014, and may be to advance the date of Election  at  convenient date  in  2013.  So since a month back Digvijaya Singh Congress General Secretary, suddenly and without any provocation invited questions on TV on Guru and making a very pointed statement demanding Guru’s hanging.

 

Having so decided UPA Government went about Guru’s hanging in the vilest of human Rights violations. No where in the world, where a modicum of rule of law exists, can the government hang its citizen without informing his family prior to it and allowing them to meet him. Human dignity of Guru was violated by denying him this right. Government’s clumsy claim that a speed post was sent on 7th February from Delhi to the family of Guru in J & K and since the family did not contact the government, they went ahead with hanging. Such a convoluted explanation will immediately invite the taunt “Tell that to the Marines”. Admittedly letter was received by the family on 11th February, when Guru had already been hanged on 9th February. Can one even imagine the deep permanent scar left on the family especially the wife and small child.

 

I have no doubt that there was premeditated decision by the Home Ministry not to allow the family to meet Guru (because this would become public knowledge) and presumably it will naturally result in some demonstrations especially in J & K and Delhi. Admittedly Mr. Shinde, Central Home Minister telephoned Omar Farouk Chief Minister of J & K a couple of days earlier informing him of the decision to hang Guru and asking for his reaction – Omar is stated to have raised no objection, but asked only to be told earlier to the date of hanging. The further news report suggests that Home Minister a few days later himself talked on phone to Omar and in the accepted style of conspirators told him in code language that “the event he had told him earlier will be done in a day or so”. What more proof is required to show complete disregard for well established norms by the government.

 

This hush on the plea of security is laughable. No doubt there would have been some demonstrations and protests, but so what – it is a normal feature in democracies, unless it is the governments plea that its security machinery is so incompetent that it could not deal with demonstrations   by   angry    supporters    of     Guru    and  that  it also apprehended a Navy Seal Expedition like done by USA government to kidnap Osama Bin laden in Pakistan.

 

Bonafide of governments intention to hang immediately is also being questioned, considering that government knew that Supreme Court is still examining the question that if there is delay of over 2 years in disposing of the mercy petition, no execution should take place – in Guru’s case delay is over 7 years – was not that enough reason to suspend hanging of Guru in the meanwhile.

 

The killers of Indira Gandhi were allowed to meet their family members before hanging. Has the functioning of Central government become so sullied that their own precedents have no relevance.

 

Even now with all this inhuman and defenseless exercise, the central government is refusing to return the body of Guru to the family. Both in law and morality, the family is entitled to the body of Guru so that it can be buried with all the usual religious ceremonies at a place of their choosing, so  that  they can visit the grave like others can. No silly prison rule to refuse the body to the family on the puerile excuse of public disorder can be pleaded in defense. The government in order to conceal its own illegalities, insensivity and violation of Human Rights has got caught in its own web and succeeded in projecting Guru in death larger than in life.

 

The Central government should not muddy the situation any further. It has already allowed itself to be cornered by B.J.P. in the communal cauldron, inviting a legitimate comment that in the matter of belief in secularism, the difference between B.J.P. and Congress is that between tweedledum and tweedledee – the former being openly anti-secular and the later being also the same but concealing it under a thin ice which dissolves at the altar of electoral strategy.

 

As an epilogue, should we not consider that instead of governments repeating in future such nauseating violation of the Human Rights,  India should follow the course of at over 140 countries which have agreed to abolish the death penalty and have put a moratorium on any more hangings.

 

Dated: 20/02/2013

New Delhi

 

#India -Culture of deceit #UID #Afzalguru


 

DC | Antara Dev Sen | 19th Feb 2013
We live in a robust culture of deceit. We routinely lie, cheat, deceive, steal, rob and act in bad faith, in the public domain. When lied to, we don’t even raise an eyebrow.
Last week, I went to register for the National Population Register (NPR). The booth, im­pr­e­ssively flashing assorted gadgets to collect biometric data, appeared — even more impressively — to be multi-tasking. To some it offered NPR, to others it promised the UID (Unique Identity number) or Aadhaar card. This pleased ma­ny, who had no clue abo­ut NPR but were convinced that Aadhaar was a compulsory magic wand. “They won’t let us stay in Delhi without it,” said my maid, a mig­rant from another state. “This is our work permit for Delhi,” expla­i­ned another kindly. “We won’t be given gas cylinders without this,” said someone else. “They will give us money if we show this”, beamed yet another. The confusion over Aadhaar was as­tounding. But some of us had reservations about Aadhaar and did not want it, which we told the officers. This was not Aadhaar, they assu­red us. The form asks whether you want to share this data, and you can tick “no,” Relieved, we did just that. And we were immediately iss­ued an Aadhaar receipt with the NPR registration. Seeing our shock at this discovery one kind officer said, “Never mi­nd, you have done your duty. The rest is not in your hands.” So true. Clearly, the Bhagavad Gita was written with 21st-century babudom in mind.
The government never lets truth come in the way of a good proclamation. So we were first told that enrolling for the UID or Aadhaar was entirely voluntary, not mandatory. Then they linked it to several government schemes and made it impossible for citizens to access their rights and benefits without it. It was not mandatory, like it is not mandatory to wear a parachute. But you “opt” for the parachute if you are to be pushed out of an airplane.
We have, through generations, perfected the art of public deception. We don’t even flinch when we see enormous lies being paraded as the truth in public. Rece­n­tly, Afzal Guru was sec­r­etly executed in jail. The state knew fully well that the prisoner had a constitutional right to meet his family one last time. That he had a constitutional right to judicial review of the President’s rejection of his mercy petition. The state knew that it would be wrong to kill the man before the due process of law had been completed. It knew that it would be wrong to kill the man without allowing his mother, his wife and his little son to meet him one last time. The state knew but did not care. And once it was over, the state lied to us all.
Home minister Sushil­kumar Shinde brazenly declared: “I have information that the family has been intimated.” The letter informing Afzal’s wife Tabassum that the President had rejected her mercy petition reached her on February 11, two days after her husband was hanged. Dated February 6, it was sent by Speed-post from New Delhi to remote Sopore in Kashmir on February 8, the day before Afzal’s execution. Shinde found nothing wrong in that: “The letter was sent by jail officials as per rules.” It informed her that the mercy petition had been rejected and that at 8 am on February 9, Afzal would be executed. It ended with: “This is for your information and further action.” The authorities knew that Tabassum would not get it in time for any “further action.” It was a meaningless sen­tence. It was “just a formality.”
You know that phrase, right? “Sign here, ple­a­se, no need to read it. It’s just a formality.” This is the marginalisation of rules, where rules that were supposed to gro­und us in truth and make justice more acce­ssible are made irrelevant by cle­ver disrespect. Slowly, the dema­nds of truth and justice, the ideas of fairness, equality and freedom are all reduced to “just a formality.”
For centuries, we have known that statements in bad faith, even if technically true, are untru­ths. In the battlefield of Mahabharata, Yu­dhis­thira, who never lied, was asked by Drona whether his son Ash­wathama had indeed been killed. “Ashwa­tha­ma hata (Ashwathama is dead),” declared Yu­dhisthira as planned, and muttered “iti gaja (the elephant, that is)”. (Also known as “naro va kunjaro va,” that is “ei­ther the man or the elephant.”) This was Yu­dhis­thira’s lie. The Mahabharata makes it ab­solutely clear that Yudhisthira had cheated, that this was deception even though his statem­ent was technically true. So why do we allow our ministers to cheat us?
Deception is a pillar of Indian politics. Election promises are an elaborate exercise in deceit. We proudly flaunt lies. Like Mamata Banerjee, then railway minister, taking out newspaper advertisements posing as a Muslim woman. In a make-believe namaaz shot, wearing the hijab, she announced a new railway line and a nursing college as Id gifts. She used the public ex­chequer to promote herself by misrepresenting facts — portraying herself as a Muslim and pa­rading development projects as her gifts to Muslims. As a reward, we made her the queen of Bengal.
What was once unthinkable is acceptable today. Like the idea that Narendra Modi, widely believed to be the architect of the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Muslims, can be elected PM in our liberal democracy. But why not? We take the mockery of justice in our stride. Bal Thackeray, believed to have orchestrated the Bombay riots of 1992-93, lived like a king and got a state funeral. Leaders and ministers responsible for the 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi were grandly rewarded. L.K. Advani, as Union home minister, supervised the probe on his own role in the Babri Masjid demolition.
A culture of deceit breeds a culture of im­p­unity that has enormous cos­ts. It changes us irrevocably. Truth becomes ir­relevant as we float bet­ween several manufactured realities. Our idea of public reasoning is to create an echo chamber for our more powerful voices. Dissenters are welcome to bark from the fringes, of course, since we are a democracy that promises free speech. But for how long?
Like in everyday life, in public life, too, truth and justice have been replaced by the hollow PR mannerisms. We are grateful to leaders who, having failed to deliver on all fronts, announce: “We understand your concern. Have a nice day.” We do not expect the truth. But unlike banks and mutual funds that also make trick promises, our politicians do not offer legal warnings in fine print. While nurturing this  deep-seated culture of deceit, can we really tell our children not to lie?

 

PMANE warns of siege to Kudankulam nuke plant


SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, The Hindu

Centre turns down protesters’ plea for White Paper

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has warned that its anti-nuke protestors would lay siege to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project site if the Centre commissions the first two reactors in “haste and secrecy”.

Statement

A statement from PMANE said the official machinery, which had imposed artificial power cuts in the area with the ulterior motive of commissioning KKNPP early, had also filed hundreds of cases against people who were resorting to non-violent agitation against the upcoming nuclear complex.

PMANE’s warning has come in the backdrop of a senior official attached to the Union Government informing that the KKNPP would attain criticality “within a few days”.

Secrecy

“The Centre, which hanged Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru in secrecy, is trying to commission the KKNPP in a similar fashion.

Thousands of protestors including women and children will lay siege to the nuclear complex in a non-violent fashion if the Centre commissions the first reactor in haste and secrecy,” the statement said.

Unrelenting

The people’s movement has been unrelenting despite a good number of experts from former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to Central Expert Committee chairman A.E. Muthunayagam certifying the KKNPP reactors as the safest in the world with futuristic safety features.

 

Plea turned down

Meanwhile, the Centre has also turned down the protestors’ plea for a White Paper by the Centre on the KKNPP and its reactors.

 


  • It comes in the backdrop of official informing KKNPP will attain criticality “within a few days”
  • People’s movement unrelenting despite a good number of experts’ assurances

 

Some Questions for Comrade Karat on Afzal’ Guru’s killing #deathpenalty


To,
Shri Prakash Karat,

General Secretary,

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Dear Comrade,

Afzal Guru was hanged yesterday in utter secrecy, denied in his last moments the right to meet his wife and children one final time. Denied to him also was the ultimate judicial resort, due to every condemned convict after his/her mercy petition has been rejected.

The entire legal proceedings against Afzal were shot through with contradictions, fabrications and travesties of legal procedure. The Supreme Court bench that finally sentenced him to death did so to ‘appease the national conscience’ despite inadequate evidence of his role in the Parliament attack case.

And yet this is what your colleague in the Polit Bureau Sitaram Yechury had to say to the media on this issue, “I think, the law of the land with all its provisions has finally been completed as far as the Afzal Guru case and the attack on the Indian Parliament is concerned. The issue which had been lingering for the past 11 years has finally completed its due course.”

‘Law of the land’ has ‘completed its due course’? Is this the official stand of the CPI(M) on the Afzal Guru case? Or is it just Com. Yechury trying to ‘appease the national conscience’ and joining the UPA in harnessing the ‘Hindu vote’?

Surely you and your colleagues in the Polit Bureau have heard that Afzal was unrepresented from the time of his arrest till he made his alleged ‘confession? You may have also perhaps heard of the letter that Afzal wrote to the Judge pleading he had no faith in the lawyer appointed for him by the Court, asking to be represented by any from a list of four lawyers he named. The Court records show that two of these lawyers refused to represent him but there is no information whether the other two on the list were even ever asked.

A lawyer, who had never met Afzal, admitted documents in court incriminating him. Or has your Polit Bureau been watching too many telecasts of his ‘confession’ – considered inadmissible in any court of law – as damning evidence of his guilt?

But never mind. Lack of legal representation for your Party does not seem too major an obstacle in implementing the ‘due course of law’. When elections are looming on the horizon, and your Party’s mass base is dwindling, a little injustice – like the murder of an innocent man- does not matter of course.

If the Congress is fast becoming the B Team of the communal Hindutva brigade should the CPI (M) try to become the C Team? Has your Party learnt nothing from the defeats it has suffered due to similar unprincipled stands it has taken in the past? Are we being completely delusional in expecting a Party named with grand terms like ‘Communist’ and ‘Marxist’ to take a stand different from that of political formations taking the nation fast forward towards all out Fascism?

Sincerely,

Satya Sivaraman

Manisha Sethi

 

Press Release-Iftikhar Gilani , Kashmiri Journalist harassed again


New Delhi: Press Council chairman Justice Markandey Katju has hit out at the Union Home Ministry over detention of Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani. In a hard-hitting letter to Union Home Secretary RK Singh, Katju condemned Iftikhar’s detention and said that policemen who were involved in the “illegal act” should be suspended and prosecuted.

Iftikhar, son-in-law of Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and his family were on Saturday detained by Delhi Police a few hours after Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was hanged in Tihar Jail. They were, however, released later.

The Editors Guild of India also condemned his detention saying the Delhi Police owned him an apology. “The police gave no reason for their unwarranted action. It is a matter of relief that he was released after protests by various journalist bodies and individual journalists, and the resultant intervention by the ministry of home affairs,” the Guild said in a statement on Sunday.

DELHI UNION OF JOURNALISTS
Flat No.29, New Central market, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110001.
Phone: 23413459, email: duj.delhi@gmail.com

February 10, 2013

Press Release

The Delhi Union of Journalists condemns the unwarranted and blatantly illegal action of the Delhi Police in detaining renowned journalist and well known writer, Iftikhar Gilani and the harassment to his family on February 9, 2013.

We take stern note of the fact that this is not the first time that Gilani has been subjected to this sort of agony and trauma.

On receiving information of Gilani’s illegal detention, the DUJ General Secretary, S K Pande tried to get in touch with the Delhi Police Commissioner and other concerned authorities, in vain. The Commissioner’s office informed that the Commissioner was unavailable, while other officers played hide and seek.

The Delhi Union of Journalists will be organizing a protest meeting in consultation with other journalists and press bodies in Delhi.

In the meanwhile, the DUJ calls for immediate action against the police officials responsible for this manifestly illegal act of detaining Gilani.

(S K Pande)
General Secretary