Manmohan Singh Japan jao, Japan jaa ke sushikhao: Anti-nuke activists


 

Published: Monday, May 21, 2012, 9:00 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Anti-nuclear demonstrators gathered on Sunday evening at Dadar’s Chaityabhoomi along with National Award-winning filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, activist Dr Binayak Sen and his wife Ilina, and members of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, Konkan Vinashakari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, and Konkan Bachao Andolan Priyar Dravidar Kazhagam. They were protesting against the controversial nuclear reactor project in Koodankulam, Tamil Nadu.

The activists raised slogans such as “Nuclear power plant nahin chaiye”, “Jhutha vikas nahi chalega” and “Manmohan Singh Japan jao, Japan jaa kesushi khao.”

They appealed to the citizens of India to protest against the nuclear reactor, and safeguard the lives, dignity, resources and livelihoods of the people of Koodankulam.

Addressing the gathering, Patwardhan said, “People in Idinthakarai village had to end their 14-day fast this week. It is appalling that nobody from the Tamil Nadu or central government came to speak to them, and that the police strength in the area has been identified with every possible intimidating tactic, including taking away the food ration cards of agitating villagers.”

Dr Binayak Sen appealed to passersby to pay heed to the testimonies of independent experts and scientists highlighting the dangers of constructing the reactor. “At this critical juncture, we urge that a wider consultation is necessary before continuing the large-scale nuclear expansion that this government is already deeply engaged in,” he said.

Bringing the protest to a close, Ilina, Sen’s wife, said that the outright repression and silencing of the Koodankulam people’s movement wouldhave adverse implications for all future individual and collective struggles.

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An Open Letter to Mamata Banerjee from the student she branded a ‘Maoist’


New Delhi: On Friday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called Presidency University student Taniya Bhardwaj a CPI(M) cadre and a Maoist for asking a question about the conduct of senior state ministers and officials over crimes against women.

The question was asked at an open house session with the Chief Minister, conducted by CNN-IBN to mark one year of the Trinamool Congress’s coming to power in West Bengal.

An angry Banerjee castigated the audience for asking ‘CPI(M) questions’ and ‘Maoist questions’ and stormed out, refusing to participate further. Taniya Bhardwaj writes an open letter to Mamata Banerjee.

Branded a Maoist by WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, college student Taniya Bharadwaj writes her an open letter.

An Open Letter to Mamata Banerjee from the student she branded a 'Maoist'

Dear ‘Simple Man’,

On being asked a simple question, you acquired a complicated avatar. We all went to the CNN-IBN question-answer session on Friday, May 18, at the Town Hall expecting to hear some heated exchanges, but it got too hot to handle.

You, the most important person in West Bengal, labelled me and the rest of the audience ‘Maoist and CPM cadres’. What exactly did we do to deserve this honour? We asked you questions. I asked you whether affiliates of your party, specifically minister Madan Mitra and MP Arabul Islam, who wield power, should act, or should have acted, more responsibly.

Like many others, I was also greatly disturbed when Madan Mitra pronounced his own judgement on a rape victim before the police were done investigating. This woman, whose character was assassinated, is an Anglo-Indian, a member of the minority community. Thus, if we were to even forget about sensitivity, the question of political correctness still hangs over his conduct.

A few months ago, this very same man had misbehaved with policemen who had stopped his car on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass as part of its routine. As for the Arabul Islam case, it is still making headlines.

I asked you something that had been on the minds of most people around me, people who voted for ‘paribartan’ (change). Is this what we expect of our leaders? The ones who set examples and whom people follow. This is all that I wanted to know. What I got to know, instead, is that in West Bengal, asking a question can be the equivalent of being a Maoist.

‘Simple man’, you claimed with pride on stage that you’re not a feminist.

That proclamation did not surprise us, especially after the Katwa and Park Street cases. You also spoke of democracy. The answers you gave to the questions you took before mine were sprinkled with words like ‘people’, ‘democracy’, and ‘Bengal‘.

But one of the most important features of a true democracy, which I have learnt as a student of political science, is freedom of expression. This freedom is the one that allows an individual to express oneself, to not have to mince words out of fear of authority. It involves enjoying a chuckle or two at cartoon about important public figures.

Sadly, there seems to be a gradual failure in this aspect of the democratic machinery in the state. And just like I won’t become a Maoist simply because you called me one, the state too won’t epitomize democracy unless it is truly so in all spheres. All said and done, what you did was in haste and it made me the centre of attention. And as you stomped off in fury, you automatically assumed the role of the spoilsport.

It would have been so much more ‘simple’ had you just answered my question, or even said “No comments” and moved on. The question became so important because you chose to make it important.

You have spoken of ‘brain drain’ so many times. I hold offers from the University College, London and the School of Oriental and African Studies to study development and administration. I too will probably leave, and now you know the reason why. Had you stayed on, it would have been fun. And you would have honestly been ‘a Chief Minister with a difference’. The role of your office as Chief Minister is to aggregate interest – you should at the least have heard us all out.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. So said Abraham Lincoln.

Love

A Simple Woman – Taniya Bhardwaj

Binayak Sen and Anand Patwardhan urge Mumbai to support of Anti Nuke Protesters in Koondakulam


Binayak Sen

Binayak Sen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On  May 20th 2012 (Sunday), the An Urgent Appeal to the Conscience of the Nation on Koodankulam , signed by eminent Indians like Prashant Bhushan, Vandana Shiva, Aruna Roy, Binayak Sen, Anand Patwardhan, Admiral Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas, Narayan Desai, Surendra Gadekar, EAS Sharma, Ilina Sen, Sandeep Pandey, Aruna Rodrigues, Praful Bidwai, P M Bhargava, Achin Vanaik, Gnani Sankaran etc. were released in New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.
In Mumbai, the appeal was released at 6.30 PM in Chaityabhoomi at Dadar by prominent human rights activist Binayak Sen and ilina sen and activist and documentary film-maker Anand Patwardhan. More than 70 people gathered in support of our freinds in Koondakulam.

      The appeal urges ‘the conscience of the nation’ – the people of India – to demand that the government immediately stops intimidating and harassing peaceful protesters in Koodankulam and puts a moratorium on reactor projects in the country and engages all sections of Indian people democratically in a wider consultation on the expansion of nuclear energy.

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