Pussy Riot verdict: live report

Pussy Riot Superheroes Freeze Flashmob

Pussy Riot Superheroes Freeze Flashmob (Photo credit: Eyes on Rights)

By Judith Evans (AFP) – 4 hours ago

1424 GMT: Human rights organisation Amnesty International, which has taken up Pussy Riot’s cause, tweets: “2 years prison for a 30 second protest song. Insanity.

“Bitter blow to freedom of expression in Russia.”

It earlier tweeted: “PussyRiot isn’t the only travesty of justice in Russia today, Moscow also banned (Gay) Pride for 100 years.”

1422 GMT: Reports are coming through that Russia’s top court has meanwhile upheld a ban on gay pride marches in Moscow for the next 100 years.

1421 GMT: “There is nothing more absurd than this trial and this sentence,” says opposition journalist and activist Olga Romanova.

1420 GMT: The two-year sentence is to include the five months that the three women have already served, the judge says.

1419 GMT: “It is simply idiocy,” says Russian writer Boris Akunin of the verdict, speaking to the Dozhd television channel from close to the court.

1415 GMT: The live broadcast of the final hearing in Pussy Riot’s trial was cut off just after the three women’s two-year jail sentence was pronounced.

About 400 Pussy Riot supporters are gathered outisde the court, chanting “Shame!” and calling the convinction “fascist”.

1400 GMT: The three young women committed a “serious crime” and “should be punished”, says judge Marina Syrova, sentencing them to two years’ jail at a corrective labour facility for “hooliganism” and “incitement to religious hatred”.

In the courtroom, the verdict was greeted by cries of “Shame!” and “Injustice!”

1357 GMT: The sentence is not quite as severe as requested by the prosecution, which had sought for the three women to be jailed for three years.

But of course it will not be welcome news to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, respectively 22 and 24 and both mothers of young children, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, who looked wan as they stood inside a glass cage to hear the outcome of their trial.


1342 GMT: It’s now been over two hours that the judge has been making her statement.

Lawyers in the court are looking at each other quizzically, shrugging and leaning against the walls.

The three members of Pussy Riot had been smiling and laughing earlier but seem to be struggling to appear upbeat now.

Even the judge seems out of breath and keeps sighing as she delivers the judgement, our Moscow bureau reports.

1333 GMT: Garry Kasparov‘s arrest is now confirmed — AFP has a picture of him being hustled into a police van.

1313 GMT: A poll published on the front page of the Vedomosti business daily today shows President Vladimir Putin‘s approval rating slipping to a post-election low of 48 percent — a notable slide from the 60 percent he enjoyed around his May inauguration.

1303 GMT: Forging ahead with her statement, the judge Marina Syrova quotes Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” — sung in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour — as evidence of their guilt.

“The patriarch, he believes in Putin, but he’d better believe in God,” she quotes.

The three accused women seem energised by this and start singing in their glass cage.

1256 GMT: “I knew it would be a guilty verdict. In Russia, if the accused are put in prison before trial, it means a guaranteed verdict of guilty,” human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva tells Dozhd television.

She laments that Russian authorities and leaders of the Orthodox church did not think about the “consequences of the verdict for their reputation”.

1250 GMT: “We condemn them. We must have no illusions. But no one is afraid,” tweets one of Pussy Riot’s lawyers, Mark Feiguine, from the courtroom as the judge’s statement continues.

1240 GMT: Protests in support of Pussy Riot are taking place close to Russian embassies in London, Paris, Berlin and Brussels.

Many of the demonstrators have opted for bright balaclavas but at least one, in Berlin, has a particularly lifelike Vladimir Putin mask.

They’re backed by rights organisations including Amnesty International, which has urged supporters to email Russia’s prosecutor general over the case, and freedom of expression group Article 19.

1235 GMT: After more than half an hour of detailed descriptions of the “hateful” and “indecent” acts committed in their February protest performance, the three women look tired and are starting to yawn.

They have complained before of being deprived of food and sleep in detention.

1230 GMT: There is something of a battle of slogans going on among the crowds of protesters outside the court, say AFP’s reporters.

The band’s supporters are yelling “Freedom for Pussy Riot” while the rival group of religious, anti-Pussy Riot protesters scream “Christ is risen”. They seem to be trying to outdo each other for sheer volume.

1221 GMT: The courtroom is absolutely packed with journalists and about another 50 are in the corridors and on the stairs.

An audio transmission of the hearing is now being played throughout the building — including the dining room and toilet — in a move that Russian news agencies say is “unprecedented”.

1215 GMT: The three stare at the ceiling, looking bored, while the judge speaks of a security guard at the cathedral who says he is no longer able to work there because it is “too hard for him” after having been “deeply insulted” by the Pussy Riot performance.

The judge is running through an account of what happened on February 21.

1210 GMT: The judge is summarising the different arguments made in the trial — it sounds as though she could be a while…

1200 GMT: The three accused have “expressed clearly and explicitly their hatred of Christianity,” says the judge.

Meanwhile, a police bus is driving off outside, full of protesters shouting: “Putin will die in prison.”

1155 GMT: Here are the words in which the judge found the three women guilty:

“Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism — in other words, a grave violation of public order,” she said.

“The court finds them guilty. The court reached this decision based on testimony of the defendants themselves and other evidence.”

They displayed a “clear disrespect toward society”, she said.

1149 GMT: The judge is expected to sentence the three Pussy Riot members — two of whom have small children — later today. The prosecution is seeking three years of corrective labour.

1145 GMT: The crowd outside has swelled to about 400 Pussy Riot supporters, with police trying to divide demonstrators into two groups.

1143 GMT: About 20 people have been arrested outside the court since the start of the judgement, according to AFP reporters at the scene.

They include former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, now an opposition political figure, reports the Interfax news agency.

1141 GMT: The three accused, who were already smiling, start to laugh as they listen to the judge’s statement.

1135 GMT: Pussy Riot “carefully planned” their February 21 action, the judge adds.

1130 GMT: The trio “expressed no repentance” and “offended the feelings of believers”, says the judge.

1125 GMT: Judge Marina Syrova reads out the judgement, stating that Pussy Riot “committed a serious breach of public order, motivated by religious hatred” and engaged in ” provocative and insulting acts in a religious building”.

The three defendants listen, smiling inside their glass cage.

1123 GMT: All three have been found guilty of hooliganism, motivated by religious hatred.


1115 GMT: The judge has started delivering the judgement, according to our reporter.

1114 GMT: From the courthouse, our reporters say the judge is late in starting the session while a growing number of Pussy Riot supporters are gathering outside.

About 100 people are now chanting “Freedom for Pussy Riot” outside the court.

1112 GMT: In Ukraine, a topless activist from feminist group Femen used a chainsaw to cut down an Orthodox cross in Kiev’s central square this morning in support of Pussy Riot.

1059 GMT: More on those balaclava-clad statues: the coloured headgear has been spotted on the monument to 18th-century scientist and writer Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov, a few hundred metres from the Kremlin.

A statue of 19th-century poet and dramatist Alexander Pushkin on the Stary Arbat pedestrian street in central Moscow was also wearing a balaclava earlier this morning.

According to Russian news agencies, some passers-by felt this was a desecration of the memory of these great Russians — but others just responded with a smile.

1055 GMT: A reminder of the act which sparked all this: the three put on balaclavas and performed a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral in February, imploring the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”.

Worshippers present in the cathedral have spoken of their shock at the unexpected performance.

The context: mass protests against the government following legislative elections in 2011 and ahead of Putin’s return to the presidency, following a stint as prime minister, in March.

The Orthodox church made plain its support for Putin but his opponents accused his party of electoral fraud and repression.

1050 GMT: There has been a shift in public opinion in the singers’ favour, according to a poll conducted by the respected private Levada Centre.

The public initially backed a full seven-year sentence applicable to the crime but have since moved towards thinking the state’s treatment of the trio has been too harsh.

In July, 33 percent of respondents said a seven-year jail term was “adequate” — down from 47 percent in April — with many others thinking a shorter sentence was called for.

But only 5 percent believed in July that Pussy Riot should not be punished at all.

1044 GMT: The three accused have made it clear they won’t be asking President Vladimir Putin for a pardon.

“Let him ask you and me for forgiveness instead,” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta in an interview published to coincide with the verdict.

1038 GMT: Not everyone supports Pussy Riot, however — their opponents have also turned out for the verdict.

A group of Orthodox believers are singing a religious song outside the court, and one of them says: “I want Pussy Riot and all who support them to burn in the fire.”

Members of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) are here to express their solidarity with the church and denounce Pussy Riot.

“Lower your hands before the Russian Orthodox Church,” reads a placard held by one of them.

1034 GMT: Leftist politician Sergei Udaltsov, a key opposition figure who came to show support for Pussy Riot, and two demonstrators — one hooded, the other holding a placard calling for the women’s release — have been arrested near the court.

A group of about ten young women is meanwhile demonstrating outside, with “We are all Pussy Riot — August 17” on the T-shirt of one supporter.

1033 GMT: Dozens of police have been deployed around the court building and metal barricades placed on both sides of the street, preventing any large-scale gathering, says our reporter at the scene.

1030 GMT: The prominent Putin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny has arrived outside the courthouse, causing a stir among the crowds waiting outside.

1026 GMT: International support for the three Pussy Riot members has been building this week, with rallies from Sydney to New York joining Madonna and Paul McCartney in calling for their release.

More protests are due today, while journalists in Moscow have spotted downtown statues wearing brightly coloured balaclavas, a Pussy Riot trademark.

WELCOME TO AFP’S LIVE REPORT on the verdict in the trial of three members of Pussy Riot — the Russian protest band whose ridicule of President Vladimir Putin through a “punk prayer” in a church could be punished by three years in a labour camp.

The bandmates, two of them mothers and none older than 30, have been held in pre-trial detention for five months.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich are charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after their performance sparked fury from both Putin supporters and the Russian Orthodox church.

The trio have already asked the faithful to forgive them for causing insult but vigorously defended their view that Russia has made little progress in the 12 years of Putin’s domination from the worst of its totalitarian days.

Judge Marina Syrova is due to begin reading her verdict in the Moscow court at 1100 GMT, under tight security, before taking what could be hours to read through case material ahead of sentencing.

Judge attacks forced marriage that put disabled woman ‘at risk’ #goodnews


A judge has said the forced marriage of a Muslim woman with learning difficulties should be annulled and condemned the “insulated” families who arrange them.

Daily Life: 3rd prize singles: Andrew Biraj, Bangladesh, Reuters. Overcrowded train approaches station, Dhaka, Bangladesh

An overcrowded train approaches station, Dhaka, Bangladesh Photo: Andrew Biraj, Bangladesh, Reuters
Martin Beckford

By , Home Affairs Editor, The Telegraph

5:00PM BST 16 Aug 2012

Mrs Justice Parker also criticised doctors and social workers for failing to raise the alarm when the woman was sent to Bangladesh to be married to a cousin, which allowed him to settle in England.

She said video of the wedding ceremony showed the bride was “almost comatose” and needed help to repeat vows she did not understand, while her relatives had made “false and misleading” statements about her condition.

And the judge brushed aside claims by the woman’s parents that having her marriage annulled would bring shame upon their family, in a case that was even considered at by the Government’s most senior lawyer, the Attorney General.

Mrs Justice Parker said that forcing marriage on someone who lacks mental capacity is a “gross interference” with their dignity and autonomy, particularly as it means having sex and possibly becoming pregnant without being able to consent.

Under the far-reaching powers of the Court of Protection, which can make life-or-death decisions on behalf of those deemed unable to understand them, the judge ruled that the woman’s foreign marriage should not be recognised as valid in England. She also declared it would be in the woman’s “best interests” for a nullity application to be issued.

“The communities where this is likely to happen also need to be told, loud and clear, that if a person, whether male or female, enters into a marriage when they do not have the capacity to understand what marriage is, its nature and duties, or its consequences, or to understand sexual relations, that that marriage may not be recognised, that sexual relations will constitute a criminal offence, and that the courts have the power to intervene.”

According to the recently published judgment, the woman – known only as DD to protect her identity – has a “very significant degree of learning disability” and needs help with almost all daily tasks.

In 2003 she married a cousin in Bangladesh and after two failed attempts he was granted a spousal visa in 2009, allowing him to move in with his wife at her family home in an English town.

“Eventually” the local authority found out about the situation and police obtained a Forced Marriage Protection order, leading to experts giving evidence on her capacity.

The judge said the council has “accepted its failures” while the woman’s GP had not raised concerns despite being asked on at least three occasions about “marriage and pregnancy”.

At a hearing in 2010 the judge ruled, “in the face of very strong resistance” from relatives, that DD lacked the capacity to marry or consent to sex and that it was unlawful for her husband to have intercourse with her.

Evidence was then considered as to whether or not the marriage should be annulled, leading to the latest ruling.

The judge said the woman lived in a “very traditional family” in a “close-knit community” that was not integrated with other Bengalis in the area.

“Her parents are very largely insulated from mainstream English society and are mistrustful of non-Bengalis. They do not communicate well in English: her mother understands and speaks almost none. They are devout Muslims.”

The judge said DD was a “loved and valued member of her family and that her parents are devoted to her”, and that in their culture it is seen as parents’ duty to arrange marriages and find spouses for disabled children.

Her mother, father and husband “begged” the judge not to quash the marriage as “there would be considerable stigma in Bangladesh for them”.

But Mrs Justice Parker insisted the bride “does not have even the most basic understanding of marriage” and she “rejected” her family’s account of how the wedding came about.

She said the union had “exposed her to great risk” and led to family tensions as well as conflict with social services who look after her.


Muslim Leaders-If you feel unsafe, come to our homes, mosques’ #Northeast

Photo: Women from northeastern states waiting with their baggage to board trains home, at a railway station in Bangalore this morning. Thousands of people from northeast region are fleeing the city everyday. 

Photo by: Aijaz Rahi


August 17, 2012 00:16 IST, Rediff.com

Leaders from the Muslim community reassure students from the North-East about their safety in Bangalore. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

As panic stricken people from the North-East continue to leave Bangalore, leaders of the Muslim community met with students’ representatives and assured them that there was nothing to worry.

Akbar Ali, convenor of the Muslim welfare association said that those who feel unsafe in their homes are welcome to come to our homes and mosques to take shelter. Ali also told the students that there was no need to worry.

“We will protect you, but please do not leave the city. It is your city as much as ours,” reassured Ali.

The state administration on the other hand is doing all it can to assure the panic-stricken people that they were safe in the city.

Law Minister, Suresh Kumar, when contacted informed that he met with most of the people at the railway station and assured them of their safety. Most of the people want to go home to stay with their parents as there is trouble there.

However, most of those who were leaving the city said that there have been incidents that prompted them to leave the city.

An employee at a firm told rediff.com that her friend had been threatened. She said that her friend was told not to go to office failing which she would be attacked.

The police say that they are monitoring messages and social networking sites to see who was creating this panic.

Though the level of panic has come down as compared to Wednesday, people continue to leave the city. As per the messages being circulated, people from the North-East say that the attacks could go up after the 20th of this month and they do not want to be here at that time.

The Bangalore police meanwhile have sent out a message stating that no incidents have been reported on any attack on citizens from the North-East in Bangalore. “Do not panic or heed to rumours. In case you need help please call the control room,” the message stated.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore


Please avoid all panic and reassure your people at home. The students keep getting frantic calls from NE. Please reassure them.


GUWAHATI, (Dr Walter Fernandes) — I had written to most of you in the morning (16 August) about the situation of the NE people in Bangalore. I had said that a few thousands had fled Bangalore because of false rumours spread by some groups. I had requested to tell your contacts in Bangalore and their relatives in North East India that they are safe and that they do not have to worry. They should not leave Bangalore. I am just back after a full day of meetings and discussion with various groups and this is the latest.

The first point is that it is true that many thousands have fled Bangalore but we do not know the exact number. The railways announced that 4,793 tickets were booked for Guwahati in a single day and they have put two extra trains on the route. I have not heard the latest.

Secondly we…

View original post 812 more words

Janmorcha -Chalo Delhi- Our Country is not for Sale- Aug 21


In opposition to the New Land Acquisition Bill

For Land Rights and Consent of Gram Sabha in Development Planning

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi | 21-22-23 August

Various Programmes, Marches, Demonstrations Across the Country too …

Comrades, Zindabad!

For many years now, the government has been trying to bring in a bill on land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation. The country’s farmers, fishermen, landless workers, Dalits, tribals, rural folks and urban poor have been consistently giving their feedback and suggestions regarding this and engaged the government in negotiation on its provisions. The struggles for protection of natural resources continue in every corner of the country. No part of the country has been untouched by people’s struggle including Narmada, Tehri, Damodar, Koel-karo, Singur, Nandigram, Sonebhadra, Chhindwara, Lakhimpur, Bhavnagar, Mundra, Kashipur, Raigarh, Srikakulam, Wang Marathwadi, Fatehabad, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, mining areas of Central India, Mumbai, Patna, Delhi, Bangalore and other urban settlements. The list of martyrs protecting their own land from the government is steadily increasing and the number of our friends in jail is also on the rise. Thanks to mass struggles, the government and corporate interests have not been successful in their nefarious intentions.

As a result of mass struggles, land acquisition has now become a political issue. What we need now is a law that emerges out of political consensus, not a biased pro-capitalist law with a superficial name change that only increases land acquisition. The Ministry of Rural Development has introduced a combined bill and named it “Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparent Land Acquisition Bill, 2012”. Trying to reflect the commitment of the government, the Bill claims to provide a legal guarantee to project affected people and ensure transparency in the land acquisition process. However; these claims are nothing but empty !

Showing complete disdain the Ministry of Rural Development has rejected the suggestions of people’s movements and recommendations of the all party Parliamentary Standing Committee. Our struggles are not only for protecting land, water, forests and minerals but over the years been proposing a truly democratic Development Planning / Land Protection ActThe government will have to understand that infrastructural development and the foundation of urbanization cannot be laid on the graves of citizens of this country.

We reject the proposals of the Ministry of Rural Development which are in complete contrast with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, such as :

  • Government will acquire land for private projects and for PPP. We believe government must not have any such role, it can’t transfer the most valuable livelihood resources such as land, water to the profiteering bodies in the garb of ‘public interest’ and ‘public purpose’ at the cost of the livelihood of the nature based sections and working class section of society.
  • Only multiple crop agricultural land will not be acquired. Since, 75% of the agricultural land in India is rain fed and most of it single cropped, mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farms and so it t is essential to protect them and all farm land for food security, which comes not from PDS but self sufficient agriculture.

  • The provisions of new act will not apply to 13 out of 16 central Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act. This means that the forcible land acquisitions and injustices will continue unabated.

  • If the acquired land is not used for five years then it will go to State Land Bank. Concept of land banks are illegal and land unutilised must go back to owners or distributed among landless people.

  • In key decision making bodies and processes, participation and consent of Gram / Basti Sabha is not recognised by the Ministry. We demand that consent and direct involvement of majority of the Gram Sabhas must be there in every project,including public projects for public purpose.

  • The provisions of Act will not apply retrospectively which means nearly 6-8 crore people who have not received proper R&R in various cases of displacement will not get justice. We demand that a National R &R Commission be formed to look in to all unsettled claims of R&R since independence.

Unfortunately, Once again the Bill has no provisions for the Urban Evictions and Displacements …

Neither the Ministry nor the Standing Committee Report has actual looked at the displacement in urban spaces. Most of these are not directly land acquisitions but they are cases of forceful evictions in the name of urban infrastructure development and beautification. We have witnessed large scale demolitions and evictions without any resettlement and rehabilitation in metros and smaller cities as well. In the name of real estate large tracts of land occupied by urban working class is being acquired, negating all provisions of the urban land ceiling act. We demand that let there be separate act which addresses the specifics of the urban conditions and ensure protection of land rights in the urban areas. Since, this Bill fails to deal with the urban situation, let this be called a ‘Rural Bill’ only.

So once again struggling mass movements from across the country will join in the Lokmorcha in New Delhi from August 21 to 23.Programs will be conducted by the Gram Sabhas and movements on those very days in respective areas warning the government against bringing anti-people laws and our resolve to protect the country’s natural resources from acquisition for private profit. The government must bring out a white paper with information of usage of all the land acquired since Independence, people displaced as a result, rehabilitation efforts and details of incomplete land reform and only then there can be any discussion on the land use changes even for public purpose. We won’t let the sacrifices of those martyred protecting land, water and forests in various struggles go waste, their families will be part of the country wide events and we will hold the government accountable.

Let us come together at Jantar Mantar, in front of the Parliament; and in our farms, villages, districts, cities and struggle areas and tell the government that we will not allow displacement in the name of development and will not allow the legislation of any destructive or pro-capitalist laws in our name. Do join in force with your banners, flags, slogans, struggle photographs, films, and literature. Let us show the capitalists and ruling classes that sacrifices for community control over natural resources will continue whenever they will attempt forcible acquisition !

We will fight for our freedom, for our community rights!

Required for the program: Volunteers for different tasks and support for food, tent, organising, etc. Please stay in touch for more information.

In solidarity, SANGHARSH members

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Ashok Choudhary, Munnilal – National Forum of Forest people and Forest Workers (NFFPFW); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan, NAPM, Odisha; Roma, Shanta Bhattacharys, Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, UP – NFFPFW; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, NAPM, Chhattisgarh; Guman Singh – Him Neeti Abhiyan, HP; Ulka Mahajan, Suniti SR, Prasad Bagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch and NAPM, Maharashtra; Dr.Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, MP; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; Shaktiman Ghosh – National Hawker Federation, NAPM; Bhupendra Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Anita Kapoor – Jan Sangharsh Vahini and NAPM, Delhi; Akhil Gogoi – Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, NAPM, Assam; Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Sumit Banjale, Madhuri Shivkar, Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Mumbai;Mata Dayal – Birsa Munda Land Rights Forum and NFFPFW, MP; Dr.Rupesh Verma – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, UP; Manish Gupta – Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, NAPM, UP; Vimal Bhai – Maatu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand;Vilas Bhongade – Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Maharashtra; Ramashray Singh – Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand; Anand Mazhgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Rajneesh, Ramchander Rana, Kadma Devi, Tharu, Aadivasi, evam Tarai Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch, UP, NFFPFW

For more details contact : – Sangharsh, C/O, NAPM 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110014

Sheila – 9212587159/9818411417, Sanjeev – 99958797409, Shweta – 9911528696

email : action2007@gmail.comnapmindia@gmail.com

Making history, not repeating it #Mumbaiviolence


Javed Anand &Teesta Setalvad

 Javed Anand is general secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy. Teesta Setalvad is secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace. Both are co-editors, ‘Communalism Combat’

Ask all the questions, seek explanations, make comments on what the Mumbai police did or did not do before, during and after a Muslim mob behaved in despicable fashion — torching OB vans, attacking media persons and the police, molesting women constables, snatching arms from the police — in the backdrop of a rally at Azad Maidan last Saturday, to protest atrocities against Muslims in Assam and in Myanmar. (Police and the organisers agree that it was an armed group that suddenly surfaced outside the maidan and turned to violence.) But do allow for the possibility that responding in a most “un-police-like” fashion to extreme provocation, the city’s police commissioner, Arup Patnaik, may have opened a happy chapter in the otherwise unhappy Muslim-police relationship in the metropolis.

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray is most unhappy that the police commissioner did not issue a blanket shoot-to-kill order. But the latter’s exemplary restraint is precisely what peace-loving Mumbaikars need to thank him for. Instead of repeating history, Patnaik has tried creating one.

Flashback to 1989. Even after the then Union government had issued a ban on The Satanic Verses, a few hundred Muslims instigated allegedly by one man took to the streets raising incendiary slogans, provoking the police. The cops gunned down 14 Muslims, to which the additional commissioner of police (law-and-order), S.M. Shingare, added the threat: “If they come for us, we’ll draw more blood.”

Fast forward to December 1992: in the immediate aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, under orders from the then police commissioner Bapat, well over 200 Muslims were gunned down in less than 72 hours. Bapat’s justification: a “shock treatment” was essential to control the mobs.

Add to these the conviction of over 80 per cent of the more than 123 accused in Mumbai’s March 1993 serial blasts in sharp contrast to the total impunity to the perpetrators of the January 1993 anti-Muslim violence, plus frequent complaints about alleged arbitrary arrests of Muslim youth in recent years, to get some sense of the highly strained, estranged community-cop relationship.

Senior journalists and social activists from Mumbai are aware that, given the absence of justice, the wounds of 1989 and 1992 are still festering. Thankfully, Patnaik, who was a deputy commissioner of police when Bombay burned (1992-93), has not forgotten either. It’s his act of remembering, and reminding, that prevented yet another bloodbath and ensured that the situation did not spin entirely out of control last Saturday.

It perhaps needed both courage and conviction on his part to march up to the dais in the midst of a highly volatile atmosphere and grab the mike to remind the charged gathering that neither police nor Muslims should forget what happened in 1992 and that both must do everything possible to prevent a repeat and reopen wounds. For the violent mob outside the maidan, the message meant nothing. But to the much larger assembly of Muslims gathered inside the maidan, it got home. As most of them dispersed peacefully from the other end of the maidan, it became easier for the police to deal with the murderous mob and to disperse them with the minimum use of force.

Those inclined to think this is too charitable an interpretation of the role of the police may wish to recall that whenever under attack, the police themselves tend to run riot. Every human life is precious and the tragic loss of two Muslim lives is not to be ignored. But nor must we forget that the mob was entirely responsible for the provocation and the overwhelming majority of those injured were policemen and policewomen, not to mention the unpardonable molestation of the latter. Peace was restored in about 30 minutes and mercifully the situation in the city is under control.

What if Patnaik had opted for the “shock treatment” precedent of his predecessors? For well over a week, MMS clips are being forwarded mobile to mobile, in Mumbai and elsewhere, with gory pictures of what’s being done to Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. Many of these pictures are obviously doctored, having nothing to do with Assam or Myanmar. But who cares? They are enough to inflame untutored minds, being told to see for themselves how Islam is under attack everywhere and to ask whether they will remain mute spectators. Imagine if pictures of Muslims being gunned down by the police in Mumbai were to get added to the MMS clips?

Mercifully, the Mumbai police have denied such an opportunity to those, whoever they might be, who seem to be working overtime to incite Muslims. As things stand today, the Mumbai police are the injured party, while the city’s Muslim leadership, such as it is, is compelled do all the explaining, apologising, forgiveness-seeking, appreciating the role of the police.

It must not be easy for Patnaik and the top rung of the Mumbai police to calm the nerves of those whom they lead. But the police commissioner’s remarkable restraint has opened up an opportunity to heal wounds, open a new chapter. It’s an opportunity Muslims must grab with both hands. Patnaik and his police having done their duty, it’s the duty of each one of us now to help identify those who seemed determined to set the city aflame last Saturday and to isolate parties like the Shiv Sena and the BJP who are all too eager to communalise the situation, whether in Mumbai or Assam.

Javed Anand is general secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy. Teesta Setalvad is secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace. Both are co-editors, ‘Communalism Combat’


Stand up for people from the North-East India #mustshare


The campaign logo itself invites and let you get into the shoe of a little brown fish, discriminated and humiliated just because she was born with a different look and color from the rest. This is the same treatment the people who originate from North East India receive. It is time we unite and stand for our rights!


Today the people of North-East (NE) India face several issues of racial discrimination, harassment and violence outside their home states as a result of lack of awareness among the citizens of India about the region of NE and its culture. Each day we suffer and each day we wonder why we are made to feel as “foreigners” in our own nation. Is this what we would like to call “home sweet home”?

Within the states of North-East India, short-sighted government policies such as ‘The Armed Forces Special Powers Act’, the lack of control of illegal migration from Bangladesh and general governmental neglect has resulted in increased alienation of the people from the democratic processes. What could be blamed – xenophobia, racism or simply, lack of awareness?


SDPFNEI (Stop Discriminating People from North-East India) started as an online discussion group (www.facebook.com/sdpftnei) to address issues of discrimination faced by North-East Indians. We believe, although the circumstances are harsh but a sense of perpetuated victimization can only be counter-productive.

Recognizing online social networking platforms such as Facebook to be a feasible, easily accessible and vital platform to create general awareness and dispel the visage of racial stereotype(s). While addressing key issues/complaints faced by the people by highlighting them and followed by public debates, we realize the need to generate active interest in the NE region.

The members realized that the awareness of the land of the Seven Sisters has remained almost non-existent among the Indian citizens even after 60 years of the nation’s independence. The achievement and sacrifices of the people from this region in nation building (Defence, Technology, Sports and Administrative Services etc) has been largely ignored by the nation’s media, its educational systems and the political leadership. The group has resolved to proactively address these issues via constructive engagement with the government, national institutions and the conscious citizens of India.


A) We face harassment and discrimination almost every day. Our women are subject to frequently sexual assaults. Some of our fellow citizens continue to verbally abuse and stereotype us by calling us “Chinky”, “Nepali”, “Bahadur”, “Chinese” and various other slurs have become a daily occurrence. Many Indians are hypersensitive to any perceived (real or imaginary) racial slur they may receive outside India. However within India, the same people remain largely oblivious to the far more frequent and intense racial insults, harassment and violence heaped on India’s citizens from north-east India.

B) The continued sexual assaults and heinous crimes against the women of the North East India increases at an alarming rate. Metropolitan Indian cities have a tendency to be notorious regarding women’s safety in general but the recent spike in such untoward incidents indicate that sexual predators find the “different” looking (Mongoloid facial features) women as an ‘easier prey’.

C) The fruits of modern infrastructure & economic development have largely bypassed the NE region. Leaders in New Delhi should handle the issues pertaining to the region with more sensitivity and maturity. Rather than compounding the problem by their myopic view of the region via a security lens only.

D) Six decades after the nations independence, many of its citizens are still forced to conduct their daily life with guns pointed at them by their own Government. The indigenous inhabitants of the North East are still forced to live with the draconian Armed Forces special Powers Act (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura) along with Jammu and Kashmir) which is a misguided mechanism that has done more harm than good. Decades of ASFPA has only helped propagate a culture of violence and hate. Fundamental rights of the people need to be recognized. India as the largest democratic country cannot overlook the loopholes in the myopic vision by the central leaders of the past.

E) The mainstream media only covers news about violence and insurgency in the North East region instead of covering thousands of other stories that more truly reflect its rich vibrant culture, history and unique landscape. It’s a shame that for many decades India’s government, politicians, and rest of the country still continue to ignore the NE states. It has mostly been a case of out-of-sight and out-of-mind as far as the mainstream media is concerned.

F) The North East region is a beautiful place with rich eco-geographical landscapes, physical and human resources. We are a friendly people blessed with multi-faceted talents that range from music, education, fashion, sports etc. Visitors would find the people friendly with rich cultural heritage. The fabled head hunting warriors or barbaric tribesmen are but a myth.


1. We believe that raising awareness is the key to identifying and perusing the solutions to the above issues. Hiding the issues “under the carpet” makes matters only worse.

2. This forum is not anti-India. Though we focus on issues relating to North-East Indians, we believe that addressing issues of discriminations faced by any group or community in India is actually a patriotic act that truly contributes to nation-building.

3. A nation becomes strong when all its communities in various forms are truly made to feel as equal citizens of the nation.

Many years ago Rabindranath Tagore wrote a Nobel prize winning poem that began and ended thus:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

SDPFNEI strives to achieve the above ideals which as yet have remained unrealized many years since the nation’s birth. The views expressed by the members of the forum are solely their own and are not endorsed by the Stop Discrimination of People from North-East India.

Can you sign the petition to help add more pressure on the Government? 

We need all the responsible citizens like you to join the movement to end racial discrimination in this generation.More signatures will add strength to the opposition to this campaign.

Please do include your full name, email and your current city while signing up.

GET INVOLVED, SIGN THE PETITION: We have launched the Signature Campaign on April 23 in New Delhi. Now the signature campaign will go on till nov 13, 2011 nationwide and we expect to achieve upto 3 Lacs of signatures. This is the only way we can make the government listen to our cries.

To read and sign the petition, please visit


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Declaration of Independence of Tibet in Delhi


Students for a Free Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Posted on August 16, 2012


POST BY JYOTSNA – Students for a Free Tibet-Delhi Member

Students for a Free Tibet and Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Delhi held a public gathering yesterday (Wednesday, August 15th) to mark India’s 66th Independence Day by unveiling a re-creation of the Declaration of Tibetan Independence issued by the His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama in 1913.  The year 2013 will mark exactly 100 years since Tibet proclaimed the restoration of its independence. The text of this proclamation has survived, though the original document did not. The 10 foot-long handwritten scroll, bordered with brocade and silk in the style of a thangka, was unveiled by Shri Vijay Kranti, renowned photojournalist and a long time Tibet supporter. The proclamation was read out by prominent Tibetan and Indian community leaders, MPs, students, and Indian supporters in Tibetan, Hindi and English.

India’s independence was won through a freedom struggle based on the principles of non-violence, non-cooperation and civil disobedience. The Tibetan freedom struggle shares the same values as the Indian Independence movement. At this crucial time when almost 50 Tibetans have made the ultimate sacrifice to protest Chinese rule, it is imperative that we remember Tibet’s past as a sovereign nation and commit ourselves to the Tibetan freedom struggle.

As the world’s largest democracy, and with a particularly fierce freedom struggle essentially based on Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence and non-cooperation, India has a moral obligation to add her voice to the multilateral government pressure on China to stop the crackdown in Tibet.

Therefore, Indian members of Students for a Free Tibet has initiated a Petition campaign to call citizen of India to stand with Tibet.

As a conscious Indian citizen who greatly values my independence, I have signed this petition to strongly urge Shri S. M. Krishna, The Minister of External Affairs to make a strong and clear statement acknowledging the crackdown in Tibet, and to highlight the human rights violations being carried out in Tibet today.

Click here for the Petition. Please share widely to your friends also.


We will deliver this petition on October 2nd, 2012 – Gandhi Jayanti – a day that symbolizes our nation’s ability to reject colonial rule, to recognize freedom as our birthright, and to regain our independence.

I am writing to you to urge you to join me in signing this petition.

With Hope,

Jyotsna George

Indian Member of Student for a Free Tibet




Abdul Nazer Maudany Is Not The Only One

By K.P Sasi

10 August, 2012

I met Abdul Nazer Maudany who is an accused in the Bangalore blast case in jail a few months back with friends. What struck me was the peace which flowed in his eyes. At that time his eyes were becoming dim because of lack of proper treatment. At the moment, he is more or less blind. For me, the conflict between Islamophobia and the way secularism is expressed in Kerala was explicit from my memory of his eyes.

I asked him what can people like us can do for him. He said: `I am not the only one. There are thousands of innocent people who are fabricated in jails. I receive some moral support at least once in a while. But they don’t. So do something for them.’

As an example, he requested the boy who was helping him with the wheel chair in jail to bring another boy called Zakaria who is around 21 years old. That boy’s case is one of the stupidest cases of Indian judiciary. He still doesn’t know why he is in jail. He is already mentally and physically affected because of this harassment.

I have recently heard that the boy who was helping Maudany with the wheel chair (he was around 35 years old) is already dead because of lack of proper treatment.

Perhaps, Maudany can be the next. Perhaps, the Kerala opinion makers are waiting for his death so that he can be projected as a hero, the way he came back after nine and a half years innocent existence in Coimbatore jail. But one thing is certain. The inteligentsia, activists, political parties and media with vested interests are responsible for this gravest fabricated case. Perhaps we can all sing a line from John Lenon‘s `imagine’: I am not the only one. If John Lenon dealt with dreams in this song, we will have to deal with guilt in our song. And strangely, Maudany is also saying: `I am not the only one’.

To know more about the fabricated case against Abdul Nazer Maudany visit Farbricated.in

K.P Sasi is an award winning film director and a political activist Email: kpsasi36@gmail.com

Kerala Farmers- Payment mode takes the sheen off subsidies

Paddy farmers at work in fields near Palakkad on a rainy day just ahead of Farmers’ Day on Chingam 1, which falls on August 17. Poor rain has delayed sowing and harvesting in many areas. An expected poor harvest has already triggered a price rise. Photo: K.K.Mustafah

K. A. MARTIN , The Hindu

Paddy farmers at work in fields near Palakkad on a rainy day just ahead of Farmers’ Day on Chingam 1, which falls on August 17. Poor rain has delayed sowing and harvesting in many areas. An expected poor harvest has already triggered a price rise. Photo: K.K.Mustafah
The HinduPaddy farmers at work in fields near Palakkad on a rainy day just ahead of Farmers’ Day on Chingam 1, which falls on August 17. Poor rain has delayed sowing and harvesting in many areas. An expected poor harvest has already triggered a price rise. Photo: K.K.Mustafah
KOCHI, August 17, 2012

New problem for farmers is in addition to poor monsoon and high fertilizer prize

A rain deficit and spiralling price of fertilizers have combined to turn 2012 into one of the worst years for farmers in Kerala in recent memory.

Adding to their woes is the introduction of the new system for payment of various subsidies through bank accounts, prompting many small-time farmers to even forgo the government doles.

The introduction of the new subsidy payment regime, aimed at ending malpractices, has resulted in farmers not getting any benefit so far though the first season paddy crop is only about a month away from harvest.

V. Gangadharan, a paddy farmer in Palakkad, says that those who bought fertilizers for the first crop have not received any money so far though he feels that the new system will be of help in the long run.

K. Krishnamurty, paddy farmer, fears that subsidies will come late this year. The new system is proving cumbersome for farmers and the mandatory registration of farmers, despite several deadlines, is not complete yet, he says.

K. R. Jyotilal, Secretary, Agriculture, says that the new system is being streamlined though there are a few technical hitches. One of the problems, he says, is the treasury-bank link, which is being looked into. Otherwise the system is working perfectly, he says pointing out that farmers’ pension under Swabhiman scheme is being disbursed through the new system.

Mr. Jyotilal says there are some vested interests spreading canards about the regime.


Paddy cultivation has been the hardest hit by poor rains as exemplified by Palakkad, where yield is likely to be down by about 40 per cent. Besides, the harvest will be delayed because of the dry conditions. In Alappuzha, both Pokkali areas and Kuttanad have been hit by the monsoon shortfall.

About 150 hectares of Purakkad Karinilam lies fallow for the ongoing Virippu season because of excess soil acidity, which traditionally used to be treated with rain water. Around 250 hectares of Pokkali fields are remaining fallow for want of rain. Forty hectares of Pokkali, which came under sowing, does not promise normal yield, according to sources in the Agriculture Department.

A total of 12,000 hectares have come under the Virippu crop this season though the crop is at various stages between 30 and 60 days. Sources point out that the lack of rain threatened to hit the upcoming Puncha season, during which larger areas come under paddy in the district.


Cool season vegetable production in the high ranges of Idukki district is down about 50 per cent because of unseasonal rain. Rains in May caused potato seed stocks waste and poor rains in early June created a drought-like situation in Vattavada and Kanthalloor areas.

V.V. Pushpangadhan, chief executive officer of Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam, says that the present estimate is that potato production in the two areas will be down about 50 per cent this season.

Production of other cool season vegetables like beans, carrot and cabbage as well as garlic has been hit by lack of rains in the high ranges this year.


Despite poor offtake this season, fertilizer prices continue to move up. Price of the popular fertilizer mixture Factamfos is hovering around Rs.19,000 a tonne this season compared to Rs.14,000 last year. Similarly, the price of muriate of potash has gone up to Rs.16,700 a tonne from the previous level of Rs.12,000, industry sources said.

Ammonium sulphate, though not widely used in Kerala, has also seen price moving up a little this season to hover around Rs.11,000 a tonne from the previous level of Rs.10,000.

Urea, the price of which is still controlled by the government, has not seen any appreciation leading people to use an excess of the input this Virippu season, sources said.

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