An open letter to Justice Markandey Katju


Apr 3, 2013, Fisrpost

Dear Justice Katju,

We have been learning to live with your preachy and highfalutin’ commentaries for some time now. We also tolerate the preachy and abominable drivel of a suitably unenlightened Asaram Bapu and his PR officer occasionally.

However, allow us to pick your scientific brains on a few issues and questions which, given your professional background and the current sinecure, should be a walk in the Lutyens’ park for you when it comes to addressing these queries. We urge you to  take advantage of the authority conferred by your experience, age and current station in life – and the wisdom that is supposed to emanate thereof – and pitchfork us all out of the cesspool of ignorance that we have been wallowing in thus far.

Here are 7 issues that have been bothering us. None of these have anything to do with malnutrition, Jurassic Park, Congress and secularism, I assure you. We wish to stick to your knitting – the Press and the Criminal Justice System.

First. We find it alarming that a person of your stature – and one who is fearless to boot – advocates such a defeatist attitude on the issue of voting. (Indians vote like cattle)

You have been quoted as  saying, “I won’t vote because my vote is meaningless. Votes are cast in the name of Jats, Muslims, Yadavs or Harijans. Democracy is not meant to be run like this. Why should I waste my time in joining the cattle queue?”

PTI

PTI

Truth be told, we find your argument in support of your stated stance terribly odious, and one that is repugnant in its elegant sophistry. Instead, would empowering the citizens of the country with information so that they vote responsibly, be a better way to deal with this quagmire? For instance, there are about 900 million citizens who own a cellphone – and by sending a text they can access some vital details about the candidates contesting from their respective constituencies. Have you tried it Justice Katju? I urge you to click here to know more about this tool. It just might compel you to vote in future. While I am at it, I might as well ask for a pony for my birthday – could you, Justice Katju, request the Mainstream Media to highlight this simple sms tool when the hustings draw nigh?

I also bring to your attention this report titled “Do informed voters make better choices? Experimental Evidence from Urban India”. For a brief outline, click here. Once you have read it, I am sanguine that instead of advising us not to vote, you will start focusing on how to leverage your current position as Chief of the Press Council to herd us all [the great unwashed, the sheeple] towards much-needed information on candidates before we vote. It could be a game-changer, Justice Katju. Do run it by Rahul Gandhi if you happen to meet him.

Second. You say we have criminals lodged in the dark underbelly of the temples of democracy. Correct. So what have you done about it? Taken any initiatives to stem the rot while you were a part of the Criminal Justice System? Written any detailed papers on how to address this malaise ever? Filed any PILs lately? If not, then have you at least read and fully understood what Vohra Committee, Gupta Committee, Goswami Committe and a few others had to say on this and pushed for the implementation of those recommendations? Have you examined the fineprint of Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act? There are a couple of PILs in the Delhi HC and the SC related to these issues – could you tell the nation on National TV what these are about, without resorting to a farrago of legalese?

Third. Why does the State deny us our right to punch None of the Above [NOTA] on the EVM? Why are legal luminaries like you not standing up for our rights? I suspect you will now throw form 17(A) under Rule 49(0) at me – which then begs the question: why is there such a stunning silence by all concerned on this important choice that is available to a voter?

Fourth. I now turn my attention to Perjury. How seriously do the constituent elements of the Criminal Justice System take this offence? What happens when elected representatives indulge in perjury – does the Judiciary interact with other constitutional bodies like the EC to suitably punish such violations? For instance, let me draw your attention to the self-declared sworn affidavits submitted by a certain Mr. Anil Kumar, MLA [Himachal Pradesh]. Click here for more details. Do you see what I see, Justice Katju? You are a man of science and scientific thinking, as you tirelessly remind us; could you please use your analytical mind, check the affidavits and let us know if there is, prima facie, a case of perjury and/or misrepresentation of facts. Hint: Immovable Assets.

Fifth. Let us now turn our attention to the plight of the Judiciary. Is it not true that there are only 13.5 Judges for every 1 million citizens in India, against the global norm being approximately 70? Furthermore, did the SC [in 2002] direct all parties concerned to improve this ratio to 50 per million in 5 years? Could you take us through the steps taken by the Judiciary and the Government to achieve this goal? Your sincerity of purpose, and adequacy of aim – that is what this country needs, Justice Katju. Not the aimless psychobabble that you normally indulge in.

Also, while we are on systemic problems that beset the Criminal Justice System, is it not true that various state governments presently stand in contempt of court with respect to the seven binding directions that the apex court spelled out in 2006 on the important issue of Police Reforms?

Sixth. You, who are the PCI chairperson, have expressed some trenchant views in the past on how the media revels in the trivial and the silly. No disagreements there. There is also the issue of paid news and soap operas like Radiagate.  However, carping is for us citizens – on the other hand powerful people like you who are utterly non-idiotic, should be doing something about it. Hence I draw your attention to the Leveson Inquiry and humbly ask you if there is any such panel that has been instituted in India to examine the issue holistically? Who are the panel members? By when can the nation expect a set of guidelines and recommendations – as against the usual gobbledygook and poppycock – on this critical issue?

Seventh. As I understand, Prisons and reformation form the final link of the Criminal Justice System. While we have taken note of your bleeding heart, on the issue of Sanjay Dutt’s pardon [by the way, we did notice that your graceful gesture towards Zaibunissa Kazi was a reaction to the brouhaha AFTER the stuff hit the fan], could you share with us some possible solutions that can be deployed to ameliorate the plight of the under-trials in Indian jails? During your tenure as a HC and SC Judge, did you pursue this matter with anyone of any importance? What came out of those discussions? What is the total capacity of all the prisons in India and how many people are actually lodged in those jails? Are the under-trials housed with the general population of convicts, Justice Katju?

You usually have an opinion on almost all issues; yet I notice that you have maintained a studied silence on the matters highlighted above. Why is that Justice Katju? Has sticking to one’s knitting gone completely out of fashion?

On a lighter note, we are quite saddened by the fact that you have not watched any movie for over 40 years. However, I strongly recommend that you take some time out to watch one particular movie; in fact, you ought to invite Dr. Subramanian Swamy and the two of you could watch it together. The lead actor is of Italian descent – as was Al Capone. These Italians, I tell ya!

The Untouchables – that’s the name of the movie. May we Flipkart you a copy?

shining.path.notperu@gmail.com

Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANS), blames Asaram Bapu for ‘wasting’ water


Madhya Pradesh,Environment/Wildlife,Religion, Sun, 17 Mar 2013IANS

Nagpur, March 17 (IANS) A severe drought gripping many parts of Maharashtra did not deter spiritual leader Asaram Bapu from celebrating a pre-Holi function and wasting many litres of water here Sunday, said a social group.

Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANS) condemned Asaram Bapu’s alleged Goli play and staged a protest.

“A person who calls himself a saint, does he not have basic common sense? How can he waste water like this when millions are thirsting for even a drop?” said ANS state president Narendra Dabholkar.

Asaram Bapu was in Nagpur in the afternoon and met his followers at the Kasturchand Park grounds. He and his followers played a colourful, wet Holi with th help of water tankers brought from the Nagpur Municipal Corporation.

Though the amount of water used in the celebrations was not clear, residents told mediapersons that lakhs of litres was literally wasted.

ANS activists staged a black-flag demonstration, raised slogans outside the venue and urged the civic agency not to provide them with water.

#India -Rape. And how men see it #Vaw #Justice #Womenrights


Dozens of conversations provide a fascinating window into the psyche of the Indian male. Some of it dark. Some of it hopeful.

January 10, 2013, Issue 3 Volume 10

Drenched in pain Angry women at Rajpath, Photo: AP

THIS IS A MOMENT THAT COULD GO EITHER WAY. It can deepen a crucial engagement or it can leave one with the chaotic debris of a fierce, but passing storm. As the intense outrage over the gangrape in New Delhi on 16 December begins to live out its heat, it’s imperative to question, which of these will we be left with?

Over the past few weeks, many angry questions have been hurled at the police, the judiciary and the political establishment. The failures of the State are staggering and one cannot be grateful enough for the initial rage and outpouring on the street. Without that, there would have been no conversation.

Click to Read More

But there is an urgent need now for calmer review, for genuine and calibrated suggestions that can lead to long- and short-term change. There is a need also to ask, are we framing this discourse wisely? Can its shrillness or the suggested remedies have adverse impacts one did not intend?

Before examining any of that though, there is a big missing piece that must find voice. The anger against the State — the demand for greater efficiencies and accountability — is hugely legitimate. But what about the giant shadow in the room? How endemic is the prejudice that stalks our society? What produces and perpetuates it? What creates the idea of women as ‘fair game’ for sexual violence? What, in effect, do Indian men think about women?

It would have been comforting if vile foolishness in India had been the domain of the few. But Asaram Bapu is not alone when he says one hand cannot clap by itself. Or that taking diksha, reciting a mantra and pleading with her rapists as brothers might have saved the young girl that fateful night.

The clergy of the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind are not alone when they advocate co-educational institutes to be shut down, pre-marital sex to be outlawed and girls to dress in sober and dignified clothes as ways to prevent rape.

Mohan Bhagwat is not alone when he asserts more rapes happen in ‘India’ than ‘Bharat’ — the first a synecdoche for promiscuous modernity; the latter for a more pious and traditional order where women live within boundaries prescribed by men. Abhijit Mukherjee is not alone when he mocks women protesters as “dented, painted” girls. Nor are Abu Azmi, Kailash Vijayvargiya or the Chhattisgarh home minister who says minors in the state are being raped because their stars are not favourable.

If they had been alone — a marginal raft of clumsy old men — mere derision would have been enough. But the fear is, they are signposts of a much wider and deeper mindset. And if they are that, how is one to negotiate such a gaping cultural divide? How can a society articulate — and enforce — desired values for itself if there is such a foundational disagreement over what those values should be?

 

July 2004 Manipuri women protest against the army’s brutalities

Over the past few days, the national media has rebuffed these men with an acetylene rage. Apologise, they have shouted. Retract your thoughts. Or at least be shamed into withdrawing the impunity with which you say such things in public.

But this rage has triggered its own counter-currents. Madhu Kishwar, feminist and editor of Manushi, for instance, is scathing about the media’s tone. “What kind of imperialist vocabulary is this? If you treat everyone who does not agree with you as aliens and fools, if you refuse to accept them as your own people, what gives you the right to dictate to them? What makes you think they will even entertain your criticism?” she asks.

‘The biggest reason for rapes is alcohol. Intoxication changes everyone. Gangrapes can only happen when the men are intoxicated’

VISHWANATH, 23
Fish Vendor, Malpe, Karnataka

‘When songs like Photo ko chipkale saiyan seene pe Fevicol se become a rage from nightclubs to marriage functions, it becomes a problem’

VISHWAS NAGPAL, 22
Post-graduate Student, Hisar, Haryana

Santosh Desai, media commentator and head of Future Brands, has perhaps an even more challenging concern. “Media in India is more loud than representative,” he says. “If the framing of this debate gets too vociferous and extreme, it can galvanise the opposition in disturbing ways. Our society has always had a way of evolving organically, using a combination of strategies to create space for new ideas. As long as that change is gradual, the anxiety it produces is also gradual. If one gets too absolutist, the whole thing can boomerang.”

Yet, can change ever be catalysed without someone adamantly staking out new boundaries? Can society be jolted — or even nudged and cajoled — into new positions without bold outriders stridently rejecting the old? What is the most effective approach? Confrontation or stealth? Scorn or the patient building of bridges?

How can a society articulate — and enforce — desired values for itself if there is a foundational disagreement over what those values should be?

In this week’s cover — apart from evaluating some of the remedies for police and judiciary that have emerged over the past few weeks — TEHELKA set itself to get a sense of that ephemeral phenomenon: a mindset. Its reporters spoke to dozens of men across strata and age and region and class, asking them how comfortable they felt with ideas of freedom for women, whether they held women and modernity responsible for rape and other forms of sexual crime; whether they believed rape was more prevalent in cities than villages; and how far they felt popular culture was responsible for a perceived sense of moral decline in society.

In India — continental as it is in size and plurality — even the most extensive sociological survey can, at best, be only an anecdotal one. This, by every yardstick, is extremely anecdotal and extremely miniscule. But as a dipstick — as an intuition — of what this vast country thinks, it throws up fascinating findings. We expected darkness; we found it. But, gratefully, we also found the unexpected.

FIRST, A window into the darkness. A few days ago, the virulent Raj Thackeray asserted that migrants were responsible for a huge percentage of rapes in India’s metros. If you heard Raju, 45, a migrant auto driver in Delhi, speak, you might believe Thackeray was justified.

How can a society articulate — and enforce — desired values for itself if there is a foundational disagreement over what those values should be?

“The root problem for all these crimes is women themselves,” Raju told TEHELKA. “The mirror in my auto tells me everything, what young boys and girls are doing behind me. They are willing to pay extra because they want to make love. In my village in UP, my wife keeps her ghungat even in front of my mother. Now imagine if a person from such a strict society comes to Delhi where women flaunt their bodies and provoke men with their dresses, what will he do? You may want to close your eyes at first, but if someone offers you fruit on a plate, will you deny the invitation?

Delhi girls are like mangoes. What do you do with the fruit? You eat it, suck it, and throw it away. These women are being used and overused. Sometimes, they have 10 boyfriends. In such a situation, how can you stop rapes? The current discourse is being created by elites and it ends there. You have all these rich people talking on TV, but if the rich want to have fun, they can afford to hire women and go to a hotel. Where will a poor man go?”

Unfortunately, in keeping with the stereotype in different ways, this view — this crude bewilderment laced with latent aggression against women — repeats itself across the cow belt. Ram Kishen, 53, a farmer from Bhiwani, told TEHELKA, “Of course, girls are solely responsible for the rapes that happen. We must marry them off when they are 15. Why should a girl remain unmarried even in her late 20s? Girls in big cities are given too much freedom. They are allowed to go out with men at night and roam about. What else do you expect in such a situation?”

 

Sept 2006 Dalits were paraded naked, raped and killed in Khairlanji

Kishen could be a twin for Narendra Rana, 33, a farmer from Rajasthan. “Most of the time it’s the girls who invite such problems. Look at the Delhi case. Why was the girl out at that time of night? I heard when she got onto the bus with the man, they started kissing. So it’s not the fault of the men who raped her. Why would she want to do such a thing in a public space?” he asked. “Girls are being given all the freedom in this world, which they are misusing. If you want to curb these incidents, just take away this freedom.”

‘The government’s raising the legal age for marriage has created a lot of frustration among the boys’

ALAUDDIN ANSARI, 50
Tailor, Kumhau village, Bihar

‘It’s unfortunate that for some women, education and money means showing off their body. As a result, the entire womankind is being shamed’

KRISHAN KUMAR, 40
Shopowner, Bhiwani, Haryana

These men find endless echoes. Moolchand, a 42-year-old sarpanch in Manesar. Sham Lal, 36, a labour contractor from Bhiwani. Satbir Singh, a businessman from Jind. Prashant Singh, 28, a serviceman from the Haryana Electricity Board in Faridabad. Every one of them blamed women for the breakdown in society; not one held men responsible for their own actions.

Only one thing seemed to bind the men TEHELKA spoke to: they had no concept of male accountability; no concept of the hijab of eye and action

Spiral this outwards to rates of female foeticide, dowry deaths, marital violence, early marriages, the percentage of working women and the number of honour killings and every fear about the Hindi heartland would seem to stand true.

But Raj Thackeray is wrong. The stereotype is not exclusive to the heartland. Since the debate around rape exploded into public consciousness over the past few weeks, there has been a temptation to frame the discourse through every kind of stereotype: a gender war; a class war; a religious war; a culture war; a regional war; a war between modernity and tradition, between city and village.

The hard truth is, there are enough dark voices to justify each of them. If you listen to men across India, you would know enough of them want to keep women in a box or thrust them back if they have escaped. This impulse expresses itself in a myriad ways: as brute misogyny or stifling protectionism. But running common through it all is a fear and abhorrence of women who display autonomy over their own bodies and sexuality. Women’s clothes, you would imagine, are the ‘greatest internal security threat in this country’.

No culture, profession or age group — no level of education or exposure — seems to make men immune to this. Here’s what Basheer Tawheedi, a 40-year-old lecturer in Kashmir, lists as reasons for rape: modern culture, girls wearing “inviting dresses”, less parental supervision, a decline in religious pieties, and a free mingling of the two sexes. “Of course, women’s freedom is responsible for the rise in sexual crimes,” he told TEHELKA. “How can we expect that dry grass with petrol near it under scorching heat won’t catch fire?”

Listen to Tabish Darzi, 26, a banker in Srinagar, and you get the same atavism, different metaphor. “To me, a woman is a pearl that is safe inside a shell,” he said. “Keep it open and everyone will try to snatch it.” The lofty idea of men as benign protectors flowed uncritically throughout his conversation; the narrowest interpretations of Islam formed his bedrock.

‘Dressing skimpily is like showing a red rag to a bull. You can’t complain what happens to you thereafter’

RAMEEZ SUDEN, 30
School Teacher, Uri, J&K

‘Usually, the rapes are just consensual sex where the girl later changes her mind either for money or something else’

MOOLCHAND, 42
Sarpanch, Dhana village, Haryana

“Yes, women are somewhat responsible for the crimes against them, but ultimately it is actually the responsibility of their guardians, parents and husband. We know women are easily fooled and lack reason (sic),” he said. “Men must act as protectors of women because Allah has made one to excel over the other. There can be no equality between the sexes. In Saudi Arabia, there are no rapes because women dress well and don’t mingle freely with men.”

Like the men in the Hindi heartland, Tabish and Baseer are facsimiles. You could replace them with Muhammad Rafiq, 28, a teacher in Kashmir, or Mudassir Kakroo, 32, a civil engineer, or Ahsaas Lone, a marine biology scientist, or Muhammad Afzal Wani, 30, another banker, and their thoughts would just duplicate each other in different shades.

But there is cold comfort for those who would revel in the stereotype of the regressive, patriarchal Muslim man, because here’s what Vijay Prasad Shetty, 57, president of the Udupi Bar Association, told TEHELKA: “The clothes today’s girls wear provoke even the most upright men. Women have become too wayward. They have moved away from Hindu culture. Girls wear 3/4th pants and figure-hugging clothes that leave little to the imagination. Obviously, this turns men on. Boys will never approach a girl if they don’t get the right vibes from her. They always know when they see a girl who is ready to sleep around. Why can’t women wear churidars instead of skirts? If women roam around wearing revealing tops, obviously men get the idea that she’s available and loose. The best of men can fall for that. In the olden days, our elders had a rule. A grown-up daughter would not be allowed to be in the same room as her father or her brother. We have drifted away from there. That’s why these things are happening.”

 

Jan 2009 Goons of the Sri Ram Sene manhandle pubgoers in Mangalore

At one level, how can one hear such assertions with anything except outraged rejection? The efficacy of that rejection can be evaluated later; surely one must first record the rejection?

Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. Farmer, labourer, auto driver, scientist, lawyer or teacher. Educated or illiterate. Old or young. Haryanvi, UP-wallah, or Southie. Only one thing seemed to bind the men TEHELKA spoke to: they had no concept of male accountability; no concept of the hijab of eye and action. The burden of social order lay only with the woman.

The conversations had other disturbing yields. Apart from the expected distrust of popular culture and western lifestyles, the binary of a wonderful Indian “tradition” wherein no violence ever happens versus a disruptive “modernity” that had unleashed beasts and snakes, TEHELKA’s dipstick into the Indian male psyche brought home one particularly difficult truth: for a vast majority of men, rape does not even register as a violent or heinous crime. For many, even the Delhi gangrape case was deemed worthy of condemnation only because of the brutality of the iron rod and the ripped intestines. The rape itself was too commonplace to grieve about. “Rape hua, theek hai,” many said, “par iss tarah seh marna nahi chahiye tha.” (If they raped her, that’s okay. They shouldn’t have killed her in such a brutal manner.)

Gratefully, however, the story of India can never be told through one window.

OVER THE past four weeks, there have been many outraged demands. Pressured by the outrage, the Chief Justice of India has announced fast-track courts, the Central government has set up a committee for recommendations on how to combat rape, universities have ordered sensitisation courses, and there is talk of capital punishment, castration, tougher laws and more women in the police force.

Much of this threatens to be no more than the debris of a storm. Many thoughtful citizens are trying to put in cautionary notes. Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves, for instance, laughs at the illusion of the fast-track court. “There aren’t enough judges, what’s the point of setting up new courts?” he asks. “For every fasttrack court that is set up, another one somewhere must be put on hold or dismantled. There are only 12 judges per million people in India; the average elsewhere is 80. Yet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says he does not have enough funds to pay for more judges.”

For every regressive, reductive conversation, there were other men — across religion, culture, profession, class — who defied the stereotype

Madhu Kishwar too warns against many of the over-zealous changes that have been demanded: denying the right of appeal to a higher court in the case of a rape conviction; shifting the burden of proof to the accused; instant FIRs; and selective fasttrack courts. “The demand for special courts for rape comes from an unrealistic faith in ‘special measures’. When it is manned by the same personnel and procedures, how can it work like a magic wand? Ask the Bhopal gas tragedy victims how they fared with their special courts! Besides, rape victims are not the only aggrieved group in our society. Demands for special courts have come from many other disadvantaged groups — environmentalists, anti-corruption crusaders, and those displaced by arbitrary land acquisition laws. The list will keep growing if the entire judicial system is not reworked thoroughly. The same holds true for sensitising the police force. It’s true our colonial-minded police are very gender insensitive, but it’s not as if they treat men any better. Women are no doubt more vulnerable, but only if they are not well-connected. Ask the slumdwellers and street vendors who survive at the mercy of the police and see if they fare any better. You cannot make the police ‘gender sensitive’ unless you make them ‘citizen sensitive’,” she says. “In short, the situation calls for far-reaching police and judicial reforms, not knee-jerk tokenisms.”

 

Nov 2011 Arrested for being a Naxal sympathiser, Soni Sori was given shocks and stones were inserted into her vagina

Others are raising different flags. Activist Aruna Roy talks about the self-defeating futility of castration and capital punishment. “Even after the Bhanwari Devi rape case, there was a lot of talk of castration, but through all our discussions on ground, as women we arrived at the position that we did not want to be party to the same idea of revengeful physical violence. What we need is more governance, more rule of law and more comprehensive redressal mechanisms. It sounds boring, but that’s where the answers lie.”

In this issue of TEHELKA, activist Flavia Agnes has detailed how the police interface with rape survivors can be made more accountable, irrespective of their personal prejudice or views. Over the next few weeks, TEHELKA is committed to engaging more with such sober assessments of where the answers lie. But, for the moment, even if one were to assume one had all the answers, how could any of them yield positive outcomes unless we at least agree as a society on the nature of the crime and what causes it?

To speak of collective outrage is to assume a shared value system. Clearly, we don’t have that. As lakhs of Indians listening to Mohan Bhagwat, the Jamaat leaders and Asaram Bapu would have wondered what the media fuss was about, it’s possible many Indians will read the excerpts of conversations with Indian men listed in this story and wonder why we are calling it a window into darkness.

‘I hold women squarely responsible for the rapes. The prime reason is revealing dresses, and that hijab is now extinct from urban areas’

MAULANA UBAIDUR RAHMAN, 36
Imam of Jama Masjid, Faizabad, UP

 

‘The clothes today’s girls wear provoke even the most upright men. They have moved away from Hindu culture’ 

VIJAY PRASAD SHETTY, 57
President, Udupi Bar Association, Karnataka

It’s crucial, therefore, to outline unequivocally what the fuss is about. As a modern democracy, the right of the individual — irrespective of religion, caste, class or gender — is enshrined in our Constitution. For a woman, this ought to mean a complete autonomy over her body, her choices, her movement and her right to work. These choices may be curtailed on the ground by the cultural or personal context she inhabits, or where she herself wants to stand on the ladder of emancipation. But, in essence, there should be no curtailments.

The fuss is, many sections of Indian society don’t see this as a desired value. Where the State and its institutions are concerned, confronting this should be a fairly easy and precipitate process. If you hold any public office — as a minister, a judge, a policeman, a bureaucrat or any government functionary — voicing or acting on any misogynistic impulse should automatically invite censure or removal. This does not happen, but it is time it should. Nothing would send out a clearer message to society than a Constitutional principle made visible.

The greater muddle is in society’s own responses. India, proverbially, contains multitudes. Inevitably, there is a face-off between those who wish to live by this ideal and those who want to thwart it. How should one, as Santosh Desai puts it, keep society moving towards a positive destination without solidifying the resistance?

‘Porn is a Rs 45,000 cr empire. Kids are heavily into this; it teaches them to look at women in a certain light’

MZ KHAN, 52 
Urdu Novelist, Ranchi

 

‘I knew a guy who had a small penis, and his wife told me — he would overcompensate by assaulting her’

MUSHTAQ SHEIKH, 30
Screenplay Writer, Mumbai

One of the temptations of the past four weeks has been to frame the debate on rape and women’s rights as a war between men and women. Obviously, there is no merit in that argument. Women can be as oppressive — if not more — than men. But the exhilarating find in TEHELKA’s conversations with Indian men is that the picture is more sunlit than one had imagined.

Speaking at a discussion last week about the media’s reporting on the Delhi rape, social scientist Nivedita Menon said, one of the most gratifying aspects of watching young girls and boys protest the rape was to see that the idea of feminism and equal rights had percolated through every layer of society onto the street. The slogans and placards spoke of an emancipated consciousness that was in the skin, beyond any studied political positions or self-conscious feminism.

TEHELKA’s findings echo that. For every regressive, reductive conversation, there were others, particularly young men — across religion, culture, class and profession — who defied the stereotype. Men who expressed a profound commitment to the idea of equality and women’s rights over their own bodies, ambitions and sexuality.

 

July 2012 A TV crew egged on a mob to molest a girl for TRPs in Guwahati

There was Tejas Jain, 23, an IT engineer and music student from Indore, who told TEHELKA that his concept of a successful, modern Indian woman was “someone who can stand up for herself in all walks of life and is neither scared nor controlled by men such as her father, brother or husband”. His concept of an ideal man was equally enlightened: “Someone who not only respects women, but all of life — be it human, animal or plant.”

Like many other young students TEHELKA spoke to, Tejas poured scorn on the idea of women as objects for sex, violence or household chores. “Our rigid and orthodox societal mindset has to go. Media, cinema and TV have to own up to the responsibility of how they project women. Turn on the TV and you will see women decked in saris, sitting at home, plotting and fighting all day. We need to fight these stereotypes.”

Like Tejas again, Sukalyan Roy, 27, a marketing executive in Delhi, spoke with self-confidence. A successful woman for him was someone who is truly independent, who can live with her family or on her own, take her own decisions, dress as she wants, go where she wants and have as many sexual partners as she chooses. “I think women in many ways are the stronger sex,” he told TEHELKA. “They have a deeper strength than men are capable of. It is men who have to steadily change.”

Similar assertions rang like positive chimes through dozens of other conversations. Abhishek Verma, 25, an MCA student in Ambedkar University, Lucknow, for instance, said, “The emancipation of women is in the larger interest of society. They need more freedom, not less.”

Like these students, Pramod Kumar, a professor of history at Lucknow University, took on the easy and reductive revilement of ‘modern’ and ‘western’ culture. “It’s not modern culture but a medieval mindset that is to be blamed for rape,” he said. “The protest against rape by common people in Delhi and other places was, in fact, a product of modern culture. Earlier, we hardly ever protested. Western culture is not just about wearing jeans and short skirts. It’s about liberal values, equality, liberty, fraternity, service to mankind and the Greek values of Humanism.”

Hearteningly, these enlightened positions did not only emanate from colleges and universities. Vipul Patel, 28, an electrical goods shop owner in Udupi — a perfect foil to the chauvinistic lawyer quoted earlier from the same town — said, “As far as clothes are concerned, if women cannot tell me what to wear, how can I dictate terms to them? In Manipal, we have girls from all over roaming about in short skirts late at night. That doesn’t mean you go around harassing them sexually. I saw a placard in a newspaper that read: ‘Ask your son not to rape, instead of telling me how to dress.’ I think that’s a fair comment.”

Wonderfully, Patel’s views found a mirror in Prakash, 35, a daily wager and coconut plucker from the same town. “How can anyone hold women responsible for crimes against them? If anyone is responsible, it is the men. What women do with their lives is none of my business. I have no say in my sister’s life — she should be allowed to do what she wants with it.”

These conversations run like a redemptive stream across the country. Men and boys who spoke up to take nuanced positions, critiquing themselves, women, their upbringing and the plurality of India that enables many worlds to both collide and co-exist. Not all of them were positioned at the extreme end of total freedom for either themselves or women. Instead, they spoke rationally of freedom with responsibilities, of cultural constraints and the pragmatics of safety. What distinguished them, though, was that even their intermediary positions were thoughtful and self-critical.

As Rak Kumar Singh, a documentary filmmaker from Manipur, said, “I hold women equally responsible as men for the segregated outlook of our society that views them as a solitary object for childbearing and sexual gratification. Unless women stand up and fight for their rights, this mindset will always prevail. Giving freedom to our women would mean providing peace and brighter opportunities for our society. But even our government — both in the state and Centre — are maleoriented bodies where women have the least right of decision making.”

Many spoke of witnessing violence in their own homes and of their resolve not to subscribe anymore to the triad idea of shame, silence and honour.

Dark as India’s societal attitudes might sometimes feel, these men are testimony to the fact that the ground has been shifting radically and imperceptibly. Santosh Desai, who with a team of 25 others have visited more than 73 towns in the past two years to conduct similar, casual dipstick conversations, says he has felt a definite new assertiveness, confidence and ambition among the young girls and women he has met on these trips. Combine that with the voices of these young men and one could begin to believe that despite every misstep— despite the lack of contemporary social reformers or enlightened government or moderate platforms for real dialogue — India is embarked on a fascinating and organic journey.

The beauty is, as Nivedita Menon says, that none of this new assertion necessarily means a complete break with the past. Rather, it is evidence that social transformations in India over the past decades have seeped to the ground level. Most of these young men and women would, in fact, be spending their salaries on looking after parents and younger siblings, and taking their responsibilities seriously, in very “Indian” ways.

OFTEN, RAPE is used as a weapon to maintain status quo, a tool for feudal, upper-caste or State oppression as the rapes in Gujarat or by the army and paramilitary jawans in Kashmir, the Northeast and Chhattisgarh. The brutal Delhi gangrape — a more plainly maniacal and criminal act — had none of those complex underpinnings of power and politics. Perhaps, as writer Arundhati Roy says, this made it easier for people to respond with horror and outrage to it, while other rapes are met with greater silence.

Even then, undeniably, it has prised open — at great and horrific cost — a crucial new space for discussion. As the white heat of its horror recedes, the only real honour we can accord the woman who died is to keep the discussion meaningfully alive.

As Aruna Roy says, the deepest feminist position one can have is a commitment to participatory dialogue. The ideas that will emerge from that lengthy process will always have greater validity and acceptance by plural cross-sections of society. The idea of equality may be non-negotiable, but the paths to it are many. If we stay committed to that process, even after the clumsy water cannons are gone and the anguished candles have died, we might still have one billion rising.

shoma@tehelka.com

With inputs from Brijesh Pandey, Baba Umar, Aradhna Wal, Jeemon Jacob, Riyaz Wani, Soumik Mukherjee, Ratnadip Choudhury, Virendra Nath Bhatt, G Vishnu, Imran Khan, Nishita Jha and Sai Manish

 

Give up Valentine’s Day celebrations, Asaram Bapu urges youth #WTFnews #1billionrising


Published: Thursday, Jan 10, 2013, 1
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Pune

Spiritual leader Asaram Bapu, who was recently in the eye of storm for his reported remarks on the Delhi gang-rape victim, said that the youth should celebrate parents’ day instead of Valentine’s Day on February 14. He was speaking at a satsang organised in Pandharpur on Wednesday. During his discourse, Asaram Bapu said, “The youths are adopting foreign culture which is dangerous for society.”

On the controversy revolving around his remarks on the Delhi gang-rape victim, Asaram said that the media has misinterpreted him. “The Delhi gang-rape incident was unfortunate. The victim’s family is not alone. The whole society is with them. Authorities should take more precautions to ensure that such incidents do not occur again,” he said.

Asaram on Monday had said that the 23-year-old gang-rape victim was equally responsible for the ghastly crime and said that she could have called her assailants ‘brothers’ and begged them to stop.

Asaram reached the village around 3.30 in a private helicopter. Later, he addressed around 10,000 disciples at his ashram. The Alandi police had provided security for the programe. Assistant police inspector Bapu Deshmukh said, “We had appointed extra policemen at the programme venue. We provided enough security to him,” he said.

Protest against spiritual guru
Socialist Yuvjan Sabha (SYS), on Wednesday, protested against the statements of Asaram Bapu and

Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on the Delhi gang-rape incident.

SYS president Abhijit Vaidya said, “BJP once came out with India Shining slogan. Now leaders are saying such absurd things. How can they say such things when they have prominent leaders like Sushma Sawraj? If they feel that women should be confined to their homes, it should also be applicable to the female leaders of the party.”

Varsha Gupte, member of SYS, said, “People like Asaram and Bhagwat are sailing in the same boat. Instead of doing something to ensure strict action against the culprits, these people are misusing the freedom of speech.”

 

Justice for Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela, murdered at #Asarambapu Ashram #dhongibaba


They were murdererd in  JULY 2008

This is plea for justice of two souls Dipesh & Abhishek Vaghela (aged 10) who were murdered in asaram bapu ashram in Ahemedabad. Then their bodies were later found by Asaram ashram worker and in the mean time 8 people of asaram ashram staff had came to the kins house to take parents to a different location. (That was done to pass time, so parents shouldn’t come to know, but only come to know at the time when asaram will say ok and that will be in night), They wanted it to be night when bodies to be found so there shouldn’t be any public agitation.

But later in the evening at 8 pm parents were taken to the bodies spot by asaram bapu & narayan prem sai (asaram son) where they said bodies were found. Parents knew something is fishy as for two days ashram is playing tricks with them. Parents broke their silence after looking at the bodies why they are were thrown away from ashram. Both children used to live & board in ashram, as besides other businesses asaram also runs so called school which are run by people whose parents themselves are looking for their children. But so called teachers are slaves who are working considering asaram as god and then they also teach children what is guru sewa and all that stuff. By the time these children will grow up they will become slaves again as there are so many people in ashram who are in ashram from years but because they have no access to the outside world information they are limited in the confined boundary and information which is provided by asaram itself. But as soon as some one leaves ashram even after staying inside for years they are threatened , beaten as per all the FIR‘s already filed by ex-inmates. Then asaram files cases against ex inmates in lot of cases like terrorist, or sex with female disciples. Remember all of these ex inmates become sex offenders as soon as they leave ashram.

All ashram properties are grabbed cheated or forged by asaram as per number of photocopies of property deeds in Asaram Ka Tamasha (listed on anti asaram site). When Ahemedabad closed down as everyone knows what happens inside ashram and they wanted to close down asaram & narayan ashrams then asaram came on TV and in all his so called satsangs said i will hang myself if my ashram did it. Because there is smell his son narayan Prem Sai is involved in these murders so he did lot of efforts to stop the investigation. Hon. Court even ordered the NARCO test on ashram staff, but money can buy lot of things in India so so far both father and son are still out of jail. Case is intentionally being dragged by lawyers of asaram who are well paid by asaram. Parents are waiting for fair trial. Parents had been demanding CBI inquiry as Modi who is chief Minister of Gujarat & Advani who was running for PM are both close to asaram and have long past in lot of other cases. What will happen if murderers becoming PM or helping murderers to keep on murdering children in the name of superstitions. It’s really sad that besides these two children there are number of other murders listed on anti asaram web site http://asaram.wordpress.com/ which have witnesses and some other murders which are done to hide the previous murders. List goes on … It’s sad … We wanted to raise this issue as this case can be solved even by a honest hawaldaar as so many insiders can tell the tales who left after getting to know from outside what is reality. It’s not good to kill people for any superstitions. Parents keep on loosing their children in asaram ashram, either they are murdered or not handed back to the family and families are helpless as no one in government wants to take action. What happened ? We thought there was law for people ? There is no law if you call yourself as GOD ?

What happened to the person who found the bodies ?
Why asaram sent two autos filled with his goons with lathis at 11:30 pm in night to beat family where bodies were found ? (Because asaram came to know some of inside story has been leaked to parents).
Why is it taking over 10 months even to file an FIR with asaram name on it, & one man Trivedi commission for a murder investigation ?
Why asaram stopping investigation by not letting his workers for Narco ?
How many families were able to rescue their children from asaram ashram ?
Why every worker when leaves is disgusted, how asaram manipulated them inside ashram to make fool of people and get their money.
Why asaram poisoned the women who came on TV & exposed his sexual tales of ashram?
Did all those parents received their children back from asaram which asaram claimed he was fixing them because they had problems at home ? or asaram exploiting them to work as slaves and parents dying even after appealing to entire India ? What asaram did to those children (some were murdered, some are working as brainwashed slaves in ashram, and parents were poisoned by asaram sent goons)

What is the track record of asaram ? How many murders actually has happened in all of his ashrams ?
How many bodies were disposed by Orrisa people of his ashram till date ?
Asaram is a habitual liar, as seen on TV and on the videos posted by him on youtube against former employees who tried to file FIR against him, after he was threatened to murder by his son narayan prem sai aka womanizer narayan aka haramkhor as said by asaram on TV.
The list can go on as told by Slavecult.com by looking at the facts and intentions of asaram. You can’t hide your crimes by wearing white and putting red light on your car as all criminals who are politicians do that too but justice system will get them.


We demand fair investigation and we are sure justice system will do miracle in putting an end to criminals who have become contractor for GOD.

source- facebook page

FROM 2008 TILL TODAY whats has happend

IN december 2009

Spiritual guru Asaram Bapu  booked for attempt to murder a former trustee of his ashrams in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Raju  Chandak, who was shot at by two unidentified bikers late on Saturday night. The incident took place in Sabarmati area, quite near the sect’s headquarters, at 9 pm.

The assailants fired at Chandak thrice, hitting him in the right shoulder and back. He was rushed to Sal Hospital where his condition is stable. Sabarmati police recorded his statement in hospital where he said that, after serving as a trustee for 20 years, he had dissociated himself because of “immoral activities” in the ashrams. After the mysterious death of two boys,Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela, at Motera ashram in Ahmedabad earlier this year, he had given a damning statement against the ashram to the inquiry panel probing the deaths.

Since then, Chandak claimed, he was getting telephonic threats from Ghaziabad and Delhi. On Saturday evening, he left work in Bapunagar, where he runs an incense-making factory, for home in Sabarmati. After crossing the Chimanbhai Patel overbridge, two unidentified persons on a bike caught up with him near Sabarmati Arts and Commerce College and fired at him. Hit by bullets, he managed to flee the spot and reach home at Mahavir Apartment. “Chandak has alleged that the murder attempt was at the behest of Asaram Bapu. We are investigating and also trying to track down the shooters,” said inspector of Sabarmati police station, MB Joshi.

The criminal case under Section 307 (attempt to murder) IPC and 25 of the Arms Act was registered against him and two others for allegedly attempting to murder Chandak, a former follower of the religious guru.

The FIR was lodged following an attack on Chandak who was shot at by two unidentified persons in Ramnagar locality of Sabarmati on December 5, 2009.

Chandak had testified against Asaram before the D K Trivedi Commission probing the mysterious death of two ashram boys Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela.

The Gujarat High Court has rejected Asaram Bapu’s petition seeking quashing of the FIR against him.in dec 2009 and Jna 2010 Suppreme court also rejected

In September 2012-Asaram Bapu booked for hitting lensman, in september 2012,booked under Section 323 of IPC (voluntarily causing hurt) on the complaint of cameraperson Sachin Kumar,”

I dec 2012, finally he deposed

AHMEDABAD: Spiritual guru Asaram Bapu has claimed that a conspiracy had been hatched with the help of foreign forces to malign his ashram and Hindu religion. Asaram appeared before Justice D K Trivedi commission on Saturday after disregarding several summons.

He came to the commission in connection with the mysterious death of two boys — Dipesh and Abhishek Waghela — who used to study at the Asaram ashram’s residential school in Motera. With hundreds of his supporters shouting slogans outside the inquiry commission’s office, Asaram defended his sadhaks hard saying that they were not negligent and had no role to play in the boys’ death. Though he did not have anything to say about the alleged conspiracy behind the mysterious death of two kids in 2008, he did term the incident as “unfortunate”.

In response to flurry of questions shot by the commission chairman, he said, “I was told by the warden of Gurukul Pankaj Saxena that a person had come to Gurukul before this incident happened. He might have tried to abduct the children, and his name was also revealed later, which I cannot say here because I do not want to defame the conspirator.” However, upon the commission’s insistence, Asaram said what he could remember is that there was a person called Gosai.

Asaram told the commission that he came to know about this conspiracy on July 18, when he came to the city. The kids disappeared on July 3 and on July 5, their decomposed bodies were found at Sabarmati riverbed.

Putting forth a conspiracy theory, Asaram said, “Conspiracy was not just concerning these children, but to defame the Hindu religion. Media has played a supporting role for foreign forces which were after us. These forces were actually trying to work towards an ulterior motive of religious conversion. Such efforts are going on since Buddha and Mahavir era.”

When the commission asked how he could hide this information in such a sensitive matter, Asaram said that he had intimated the office bearers of Motera Gurukul to furnish this information about conspiracy to police and other authorities concerned. However, Asaram fumbled frequently in explaining his conspiracy theory and said that the conspirator had left the ashram nearly 10 days before he reached. He also claimed that the name was revealed just more than a month after the incident.

Asaram denied charges of black magic being practised in his ashrams. He also dubbed all allegations of him practising black magic as false and said that his rebels are behind this propaganda. He denied giving instructions to sadhaks to perform black magic to trace the kids, when he came to know about their disappearance.

Asaram’s deposition lasted for nearly seven hours, and he was the last witness to be examined by the commission. The probe commission has examined 211 persons in the last four years.

Self proclaimed Godman Asaram Bapu-” Delhi victim responsible for gang-rape” #WTFnews #Vaw


 | Jan 07, 2013,

Gangraped girl equally responsible, suggests Asaram Bapu

PTI
New Delhi, January 07, 2013

Asaram Bapu courted controversy after he said that the Delhi gangrape victim was equally responsible for the crime and the girl could have called her assailants brothers and begged them to stop.

Asaram’s remarks on the gangrape of the 23-year-old girl sparked condemnation across

the political spectrum and from women’s bodies today with the BJP saying it was “regrettable, deeply disturbing and painful”.

Addressing his followers recently, Asaram said that when the girl encountered six drunk men “she should have taken God‘s name and could have held the hand of one of the men and said I consider you as my brother and should have said to the other two ‘Brother I am helpless, you are my brother, my religious brother.’

She should have taken God’s name and held their hands and feet… then the misconduct wouldn’t have happened.”

He also went on to say, “Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti hai (mistake is not committed from one side).”

The girl was gangraped on the night of December 16 in a moving bus and died nearly a fortnight later at a Singapore hospital.

“The accused were drunk. If the girl had chanted hymns to Goddess Saraswati and to Guru Diksha then she wouldn’t have entered the bus…,” he added.

BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said Asaram is a religious guru and that the country looks upto him.

“His statement is regrettable, deeply disturbing and painful,” he said.

“For him to make the statement in relation to a crime which has shocked the conscience of the country is not only unfortunate but deeply regrettable,” he added.

According to a report broadcast on CNN-IBN, Asaram Bapu made the following observations about the Delhi gang-rape.

“Jinone galti ki.. sharabi they. Agar us kanya ne saraswati mantra liya hota, guru diksha li hoti.. toh boy friend ke saath picture dekh kar jis kisi bas mein ghusti nahin. Agar ghus bhi gayi.. toh 6 sharabi the.. Bhagwan ka naam leti aur ek ka haath pakadti “Tere ko toh mai maanti hoon.”

Do ko bolti “Bhaiya! Main abla hoon. Tum mere bhai ho. Dharam ke bhai ho. Bhagwan ka naam lekar haath pakadti, pair pakadti.. itna durachar nahi hota. Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti.”

The spiritual leader’s remarks could be paraphrased thus: Those who were at fault were drunk. Had she taken guru diksha and chanted the Saraswati Mantra, she would not have boarded any random bus after watching a movie with her boyfriend. Even if she did, she should have taken God’s name and asked for mercy.

She should have called them brothers, fallen at their feet and pleaded for mercy. Had she said, “I am a weak woman, you are my brothers”, such brutality would not have happened.

The self-proclaimed godman also said he was against harsher punishments for rape accused as such laws could be misused.

An aide to Asaram sought to downplay the controversy over the remarks.

Neelam Dubey said the remarks were made at a religious discourse in Delhi in the context of how one should invoke God’s name to avoid incidents like crimes against women.

Some reports said the event was held in Rajasthan.

Dubey said Asaram was trying ta drive home the point that incidents like the gangrape of the girl could have been avoided by reciting mantras, by reciting names of Gods.

“If she(victim) would have taken God’s name or recited a mantra God inside her might have suggested her to how to avoid such crimes,” she said, seeking to explain Asaram’s remarks.

“He was giving that idea to his devotees. He was citing the gangrape incident to say one should use commonsense to avoid such incidents,” she added.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said religious leaders should give serious thought before they speak out.

MEAN WHILE, THERE ARE MURDER CHAREGS AGAINST ASARAM BAPU
Gujarat Government has extended by three months the term of Justice (retd) D K Trivedi Commission of Inquiry, which is probing the death of two boys at spiritual leader Asaram Bapu’s ashram here in 2008. “Government has extended the term till March 31, 2013,” Commission secretary I T Sharma told PTI. This is the sixth time the term has been extended. Commission was set up in 2008 to probe the mysterious death of two children, whose bodies were found on the Sabarmati riverbed on July 5, 2008 after they went missing on July 3. Dipesh Vaghela and Abhishek Vaghela, cousins, were studying at Ashram‘s Gurukul (residential school) at Motera here. The mysterious deaths caused a considerable uproar, with parents levelling allegations of “black magic” against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai. CID is also conducting investigation.
Seven disciples of Asaram Bapu were arrested in the case, now they are on bail.
Asaram appeared before the Commission for deposition on December 1 after much dithering. He refuted the allegations and said it was a conspiracy to malign the Ashram and Hinduism. His son Narayan Sai also deposed, denying any knowledge of `black magic’. PTI