The tale of two women who have taken on Gujarat’s “Iron Man” #NarendraModi

Smita Gupta, Ahemdabad, Dec 10,2012

  • Jagruti Pandya
    PTI Jagruti Pandya
  • Shweta Bhatt
    PTI Shweta Bhatt

It is 8.30 a.m. on Saturday in the middle class area of Chandra Nagar. Jagruti Pandya, widow of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya, who was murdered in 2003, is doing a walkabout. She is the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) candidate from the posh Ellisbridge constituency, which her late husband represented, and her decision to use this election to focus on the fact that all those charged with her husband’s brutal killing were let off last year, has created a ripple of interest. Her workers are a mix of friends and former BJP workers who have shifted allegiance to the GPP, led by the former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who too walked out of the BJP.

In Maninagar — Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency — his challenger, the Congress candidate Shweta Bhatt, the wife of IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, who has allegedly been victimised for making revelations about the role of Mr. Modi and his administration in the anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002, draws attention to injustice in the State: “If I win, it will be a victory for Gujarat; if I lose, Gujarat will lose,” she says with a theatrical turn of phrase.

As both women campaign — Ms. Bhatt in an SUV, Ms. Pandya on foot — door-to-door, people come out on to their balconies, some onto the streets. For these self-declared homemakers who have thus far had nothing to do with politics — even Ms. Pandya stresses she has never accompanied her late husband on the election trail — both answer questions with ease, their storylines smooth. They are also picture perfect — Ms. Pandya, serene, scrubbed face, subdued in a grey silk sari with the yellow GPP scarf draped over her shoulders; Ms. Bhatt effervescent in a bright red maheshwari sari, a big bindi on her forehead.

Neither Ms. Pandya, nor Ms. Bhatt is likely to win, say locals. But in an election in which the communal carnage of 2002 is not an issue, with the Congress tiptoeing around it lest it awaken old ghosts, the fact that these women have left the sanctuary of their homes to enter politics is the only reminder of the terrible happenings of a decade ago, and of Mr. Modi’s role in them.

The two women could not differ more in their ideological persuasions — Ms. Pandya considers the BJP-RSS combine as her family, while Ms. Bhatt says she accepted the Congress ticket as the party’s ideology matched her own. They refuse to say very much about the other, only stressing that the other is doing what she thinks is right. “All these years, I sought justice from the legal system. I failed,” Ms. Pandya stresses that “the BJP was Haren’s family, but he was let down. So I am contesting this election to seek justice in the court of the people.”

As she walks through the compounds of local cooperative housing societies, microphone in hand, she looks up at the balconies, introduces herself as Haren Pandya’s widow, reminds them of his work in the area and asks for their votes as shradhanjali [homage].

Mr. Pandya’s killing was always regarded as a political murder. While the prosecution’s case was that he had been killed by assailants from Hyderabad to avenge the anti-Muslim riots of 2002, it is well-known that he was the Minister who had secretly deposed before the Citizen’s Tribunal on the riots, making revelations that were not yet in the public domain. At a cabinet meeting, he had reportedly advocated against bringing bodies of the victims of the Godhra carnage to Ahmedabad, as he thought that would trigger off a violent response. But he was apparently shouted down at the meeting. Whatever the reason, Mr. Modi sacked him in July 2002, and ensured that he did not get the ticket from his Ellisbridge constituency in the Assembly elections later that year. After being forced out of electoral politics, Mr. Pandya was trying to figure out his next move when he was killed in Ahmedabad’s Law Gardens. His body was found in his car.

In Ms. Bhatt’s case, her husband is known for his role in filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court against Mr. Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. She says she is fighting to protest against the harassment of her husband and family, and to make it possible once again for the people of Gujarat to speak their minds: “There is no freedom of speech in Gujarat, I am fighting for that,” she says, adding that she is also focusing on the lack of development in Mr. Modi’s constituency.

In Congress circles, there has been much debate about fielding Ms. Bhatt, as it might be seen as the party “owning” Mr. Bhatt and undermining his credibility and his fight against Mr. Modi. But others felt that this was the closest the party could risk in making a statement about Mr. Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 riots.

The common thread that binds the battles being waged by these two women, whose world views differ so greatly, is that they have both dared to put the spotlight on a man most people in Gujarat regard as invincible and all-powerful. No small achievement, regardless of whether they win or lose their elections.


#India– Tea Gardens death and disease

Dhiren Malpaharia had a burn injury from before Durga Puja. The skin was gangrenous- so Pradipan ( took him with Janaki Malpaharia to NBMCH for treatment. After the gangrenous skin was excised in early November he came back to the closed Dheklapara Tea Estate. The Rs 35 a day his relations earned was not enough. He was given Burnol for the ulcer. He died on the night of 4th December at Birpara State General Hospital. He deserved Universal Health Care. He deserved 100 days work at minimum wages. He deserved to be protected from his unjust employer by the courts and the administration. Mal Paharias are a sub group of the Paharia Community- only 100,0000 of whom survive in “Santal” Parganas. Some 25 Paharia families live among the 350 tea labourer housesn Dheklapara (Main Division)- a tea estate closed for 11 years. Another 250 tea labourer families live at Niparnia Division of the same TE. The neighbouring Bandapani TE is also closed

Dheklapara (Madarihat-Birpara, Jalpaiguri)
Visit 25th November 2012- They survive on Rs 35 a day!

Siliguri Welfare Organization and Peoples Health Forum organized a camp at Dheklapara Tea Estate Main Division from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 25th November. Uttar Banga Sambad and another organization had arranged for around 350 blankets and mosquito nets for the labourers. The Tea Workers Cooperative helped and a UTUC representative attended. There were around 25 volunteers from SWO and 4 doctors. We passed Sulkapara, Binnaguri and Ethelbari on our way (since we traveled via Sevoke and
Odlabari). Dheklapara is 9 km from Birpara. Niparnia is 3 km away from the Main Division.

Dr Debashis Mukherjee, Dr Prakash Baag and Dr Anita Mazumdar saw around 250 patients. Weight, height, age and names of all patients were recorded and BMI of all adults will be calculated. 4 health volunteers- one girl from Niparnia Division, Kunu Malpaharia, Rajib Malpaharia
and one other male volunteer from the Main Division- were identified. If
trained and supplied an infant weight machine they could (with the help of
Salter scales from the Anganwadis) take the weights of all children. There are an estimated 250 under 5 children in Niparnia and estimated 350 in the Main Division. The ANM attends the Dheklapara Dispensary on Fridays, Record keeping is excellent. Immunization is given, BP of pregnant women is taken.

This Tea Garden is in Bandapani Gram Panchayat (GP).
Recently the Bandapani Tea Estate also closed down. Earlier many worked in the Stone “jhalna”- sorting and loading at Rati River.
They earned Rs 250 or more there. The Cooperative gives them Rs 35 a day for Tea Plucking. Joy Birpara Tea Estate is functioning. The Health sub Centre is at Joy Birpara. Dim Dima Tea Estate has a CNI Primary School and Fatima High School run by catholics.

There are 25 Malpaharia families here.
There are also Malpaharias at Chunabati, Raipur,
Rayabari, Kathalguri, Totabari (near Banarhat)

Janaki Malpaharia is wife of Kunu. Her maiden name was Kahar.  She has an 11 year old daughter. She had 2 miscarriages. Most recent delivery was a girl 2 months ago who died and was not breastfed. Since then she can not walk and has “some irregularity in her periods”. After the MRI at AMRI (PPP connected to NBMCH) she was found to have narrowed spinal spaces. She has recovered to the point of sitting up. The treatment with Phenytoin has helped her. Apparently she has epilepsy. No CT scan done to look for tuberculoma or cysticercosis. Her Hemoglobin is 6.9 gm% and Total Count WBC is 3800/cu mm. No enlargement of spleen however. She has cough for one month. We advised Sputum for AFB. Maybe Gp Rh and VDRL need to be done later. She was given a mouth wash for halitosis.  She had urinary tract
infection as well.

Dhiren Malpaharia is 60 years old. He
fell and burnt himself before Durga Puja (October). There was near gangrene- his dead skin was removed at NBMCH. The large ulcer covers half his forearm and most of the upper arm. His elbow is stiff in a flexed position. The raw area is red and clean- but the piece of shirt covering it has marks and may not be clean. Advised silver sulphadiazine in preference to Burnol. Also clean gauze or other light cotton cloth to be changed every day.

Rajib Malpaharia who cycles to school at Birpara is in class 11. He had phimosis and was also operated at NBMCH.

We met the father of Jarain Nayek 23/F, unmarried, who died after 3 days of fever. They are originally from around Mayurbhanj/ Jamshedpur.

We visited the home of Urvashi Bedia daughter of Pradeep. She is 12 years old. They are originally from near Hazaribagh. About 4 months ago she stopped walking. This continued for 2 months. Now she can walk again. She is quite thin. She studies in class 6. She had pus discharge from her ears (CSOM). Her eyesight was also affected. Now she has swelling of the right knee for a week.

On the way back we stopped for lunch at Sangam Line Hotel. They have a stone sorter machine.

The Dheklapara Tea garden is closed for 11 years. There are around 700 families living here.

An old lady and her grand child live alone

Indo Tanti had Hemoglobin of 5 gm %.
She had her ECG taken. Death Certificate says Congestive Cardiac Failure. No X-Ray. Possibility of TB does not seem to be ruled out.

There has been Dengue recently in the area. There has also been proven Chikungunya.

Malaria is rampant.

Stone related work could lead to Silicosis in future- urgent need for Spirometry and follow up. At least 5 patients were referred for Sputum AFB.

Niparnia has a problem of elephants attacking houses

Debijhora Tea Estate (Chopra, U Dinajpur)
Visit 19th November
Break in Tea Gardens here is between 11.30 am and 1.30 pm. BMOH, second ANM Augustina Kullu and ASHA Sugandhi Baraik took me to meet 6 year old Prima Beck of Bohura Line who has Kala Azar on 20th November. Another family with a treated KA patient has relations in Manjha/ Betbari in Naxalbari Block (where PHN Krishnamoyee Bala is now posted). We heard that the first case was diagnosed by doctors in Kishanganj. There were 72 Oraon tribal patients (largest group in Bohura Line) last year out of 106 in Chopra. There were 74 more cases in the other 8 blocks of U Dinajpur. Bohura Line is on the border with Bangladesh and frequent cattle thefts occur. Only one family- from Azamgarh (near Gorakhpur) and Jaunpur (husband and wife) – still have cattle. Some people are working in Kakarvitta in Nepal and many in other areas (Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi) especially in plywood factories. There were a lot of pigs- but this has been done away with following
pressure from health workers. In another KA patient’s home we found a dehydrated old gentleman with one day history of diarrhea. We suggested he go to the Tea Estate dispensary for re-hydration. This family brews alcohol using gur [molasses]. Yesterday I read that there is cholera in one tea garden [probably in Jalpaiguri]

On the 16th October members of SWO, Forum for Peoples Health, APDR and Binayak from PUCL went to Gulma Tea Estate. Here 160 acres of common land- used for subsistence farming in the past- had been fenced off by the Tea Estate. They claimed that this land had been rented to them 30 years ago- though they had not used it in this period. Now they plan to turn it into real estate- possibly taking advantage of the river, rail line, and view of the mountains to build a tourist site or upper class residential colony (like Ambuja). They were harassing workers who opposed this land grab. We spoke to a worker Mr Samad and his wife (a nurse) who was cooperating with NAPM.


by- prabir chattreji


Invite Press Conference- Bombay ki Kahani Mumbai ki Zubani @12Dec #mustshare




Bombay ki Kahani Mumbai ki Zubani


Invitation for a Press Conference


Dec 12, 2012,


The Press Club, Mumbai



The Editor,


Dear Madam/Sir,


It is now 20 years since the violent and horrific days of December 1992 and January 1993 that followed the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 permanently altered the fabric of the city.


The metamorphosis of Bombay into Mumbai is a story of both despair and hope, of compliance and resistance, of the courage of memory and fortitude. A complex tale, it takes on a myriad forms and narratives and is still being written.


In a unique tribute to the voices that have struggled to tell this tale, a number of organizations and individuals representing all walks of life in this  incredible metropolis, working amidst women, children, workers, with civil liberties organizations, legal aid groups and research institutions, have come together for a month-long campaign of remembrance and recognition: ‘Bombay ki kahani, Mumbai ki Zubani’.



We invite you to a press conference to announce the campaign on Dec 12, 2012 at 3p.m. at the Press Club, Mumbai. The press conference will be addressed by Justice H Suresh (retd. judge of the Bombay High Court), Dr Pushpa Bhave, educationist and social activist and Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, reputed Islamic scholar.


In addition, we shall also share the stories of individuals and activists who have displayed amazing resilience in struggling for justice all these 20 years.


Please do attend and cover the press conference.


with regards,

Aawaaz-e-Niswaan;Agaaz;Akshara;Communalism Combat;Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW);Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action (LABIA);Lok Raj Sangathan;Majlis;Muktiyaan;National Streets for PerformingArtists(NSPA);Nirbhay Bano Andolan;Sabrang;Saher;SNDT,Churchgate;Tata Institute of Social Sciences;Umang theatre group;Vacha;Women’s Research and Action Group(WRAG);Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA)

and many individuals


#Aadhar services to miss Jan 1 deadline-‘ yeh to hona hi tha ‘;-) #UID

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


TNN | Dec 10, 2012,




JAIPUR: The pilot implementation of Aadhaar enabled services in the three selected districts of Ajmer, Udaipur and Alwar is set to miss the January 1, 2013 deadline as the enrollment of UID cards remains far below the desired level of 80%. As on Friday, Aadhaar cards have been issued to only 21% of the people in Ajmer, while the penetration is 23% in Alwar and 20% in Udaipur.



A top official involved in project told TOI that given the current enrollment status, it would be difficult to implement the pilot projects from January 1.



It is not possible for us to implement the pilot projects for Aadhaar enabled services in Udaipur, Alwar and Ajmer from January next year. The level of Aadhaar cards coverage is very low. We are expediting the whole exercise, but we need more time,a said the official preferring anonymity.



The Centre has announced to roll out the project in 43 districts of the country on pilot basis from the beginning of next calendar year linking 29 government schemes to the Aadhaar. The electronic cash transfers of welfare schemes will be based on Aadhaar (Unique Identification Number) platform.



However, Rajasthan government was planning to initially link only three schemes such as social security pension, scholarships and benefits under public distribution system to Aadhaar, said the official.



Given the present status, the rollout schedule announced by chief minister Ashok Gehlot last month to implement the schemes across state may also miss the scheduled timeline.



Gehlot had set April 1 deadline for CM Rural BPL Awaas Yojana and social security pension schemes. The government has planned to link post-metric and higher education scholarships to Aadhaar from next academic year. February 1, 2013 has been set for payment of salaries to government officials through Aadhaar. But so far, people covered by Aadhaar cards in the state is only a little over 17% of the total population.



The Kotkasim pilot project in Alwar district has failed to live up to the expectations and unless the government cracks the whip, it may again not only miss the deadline but also fall far behind the finishing line.





#India-Bhiwani college anti jean diktats, ban on mobiles #WTFnews #moralpolicing #Vaw

By , TNN | Dec 10, 2012, 04.05 AM IST

Four girls fined for wearing jeans in Haryana college

Four girls fined for wearing jeans in Haryana college
ROHTAK: Four girls invited the wrath of Adarsh Women College, Bhiwani, on Friday as they attended classes wearing jeans and T-shirt. A fine of Rs 100 was imposed on each of them. Though college authorities justified their action citing that the girls had flouted the dress code, the incident has not gone down well with students and a section of the faculty members.

College principal Alka Sharma said the girls were fined for violating the dress code, which has been there ever since college came into existence in 1970.

“The college management has implemented a dress code for students and staff. The girls must wear white salwar kameez on every Monday and any colour salwar kameez rest of the days. The women staff must come dressed in saris, while formal trousers and shirt is the dress code for the male staff. With the changing time, we have allowed the girls to wear jeans paired with long kurta, but these girls were wearing T-shirts,” she said.

“Another reason to impose this ban is to maintain the decorum of the college, every child should look same irrespective of what class she belongs, and through this nobody will have superiority and inferiority complex. Considering all these things, all students will come in Indian dress and would not wear jeans and t-shirts as it attracts men,” said Sharma.

College sources, however, maintained that though students have objection to this dress code and have even opposed it on several occasions, authorities remained unmoved.


‘F*ck #censorship’ poster rejected at Michigan’s University #FOE

12:43 AM 12/10/2012, Eric Owens ,

‘F*ck censorship’ poster rejected at Michigan’s Saginaw Valley State University

A student at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan is involved in a pitched battled over freedom of speech with school administrators.

But so far a third contestant — irony — is winning, and it’s not even close.

The student, Daniel Chapman, petitioned in August to put up a poster saying “Fuck Censorship” on SVSU’s university-owned bulletin boards because he wanted to protest the school’s policy of approving materials before students can post them on campus.

The recently modified policy prohibits postings on the public school’s bulletin boards that contain profanity, nudity or sexually suggestive material. Posted materials must also be in good taste — a quality that’s in the eye of the beholder.

University officials rejected the “Fuck Censorship” poster, according to the Saginaw News.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has taken up Chapman’s cause, alleging that the school’s policy is unconstitutional.

“SVSU is using its unlawful censorship policy to censor student criticism of its unlawful censorship policy,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley in a statement.

“While their apparent dislike for expletives may be sincere, President Gilbertson and his administration must know that their actions violate the First Amendment,” added Samantha Harris, FIRE’s director of speech Code Research.

SVSU officials insisted that they can control the content of school-owned bulletin boards.

“University-owned bulletin boards were never intended to be a free speech forum,” SVSU officials said, according to the Saginaw News. “There are all kinds of other free speech forums on campus, and students and others regularly take advantage of these ample opportunities to express themselves. We believe our actions are constitutional and sensible.”

When he sought approval to put up his brazen posters, Chapman cited the seminal 1971 Supreme Court case, Cohen v. California, in which a 5-4 majority ruled that wearing a jacket bearing the phrase “Fuck the Draft” is constitutionally protected speech.

According to FIRE, Chapman deliberately chose the slogan “Fuck Censorship” to parallel “Fuck the Draft.”

Chapman also submitted other posters — ironically censoring the poster’s lone four-letter word — that SVSU ultimately approved. They said “F*ck Censorship,” “F!_!ck Censorship” and “Stand Up for Free Speech.”

FIRE says Saginaw State’s policy has opened the state of Michigan to legal liability. Its next step, the group says, is to write to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Governor Rick Snyder.


We are WOMEN and Our VOICES COUNT!- #HumanRights Day-2012

Dear Friends,

Greetings from IWRAW Asia Pacific!

It is the 10th of December once again and we would like to wish you all a Happy Human Rights Day!

The theme this year – My Voice Counts –reminds us about the guarantees in the UDHR on freedom of speech, thought, belief and the right to participate in public life and impact policy and decision making.  It acknowledges and respects each individual’s voice and helps us to remember that it is about the person no matter our differences and that there are those of us whose voices are silenced or ignored because we lack the political power to make ourselves heard.

Yet it implies so much more in terms of vision:  it speaks towards a world of inclusion, diversity, respect for difference of opinion, free and open social debates, right to collective action and the recognition of the legitimate role of CSOs and NGOs in public policy and social change towards equality, non-discrimination, justice and peace, the right to take part in politics and hold office.

In the past year, we have seen numerous attempts to silence women’s voices, including the heartbreaking but ultimately inspiring story of Malala, a young girl nearly killed for expressing her right and the rights of young girls to education. For women, marginalisation and exclusion from representation and decision-making, spells danger and risk to their individual freedoms and collective rights. Examples have shown that exclusion of gender perspectives and obstacles to women’s participation in public and civic roles negatively impact democratic principles, good governance and rule of law. Women’s demands for equality in the family and in the workplace, and struggles to end domestic violence and sexual harassment at the workplace, recognition of the separate reality of women, need to be heard and acted upon by governments, society and private actors.

To pursue gender equality, it is important to ground and socialise the culture of international human rights norms, including an appreciation for the principles of substantive equality and non-discrimination established by the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The ability to articulate these will strengthen their demands for equality, justice and recognition as a cohesive, political constituency; grounded ideologically in principles of democracy, peace, respect for rights and being knowledgeable in the practice of citizen governance.

We can celebrate the fact that CEDAW nears universal ratification with 187 ratifications, and further ratifications of its optional protocol (OPCEDAW).  The CEDAW state dialogue process and the OPCEDAW mechanism is a way for women’s voices to be heard by their states and supported by the global standards practices of the member states of CEDAW articulated by the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee and challenges states to prioritise and act in compliance with international law to address violations to women’s human rights.

64 years ago, this day would have been celebrated very differently. But today, we are lucky to have successes that we can commemorate. It is a good time for all of us to reflect on the good and the bad and continuously challenge ourselves to think of creative and innovative rights-based approaches to achieve our human rights goals to have a better future together.

In the coming year IWRAW Asia Pacific will undertake efforts to strengthen women’s voices in public policy and decision making through  specific projects including one to strengthen the voices of young feminists in Asia Pacific, supported by the UN Women Gender Equality Fund.

There is still a lot of work to be done so let’s continue as a global women’s movement, seeking to make governments, families, business more accountable in ensuring promotion, protection and realisation of human rights
On this day, IWRAW Asia Pacific congratulates and thanks courageous men and women who have fought and are still fighting for the right to express our thoughts and feelings about the world and who fight for the rights and freedoms inherent in our shared humanity. We raise our voices in support of this struggle – We are WOMEN and Our VOICES COUNT!

Warm wishes,

The IWRAW Asia Pacific team

10 December 2012


#Mumbairiots 1992-93 were so brutal, it seemed Mumbai would never recover

15 December 2012, Open Magazine

In Remembrance of Horrors Past

The riots of 1992-93 were so brutal, it seemed Mumbai would never recover. Yet, despite no signs of justice, victims of the violence are beginning to move on
Tagged Under | Mumbai | riots | 1992-93
WANTON DESTRUCTION Charred remains of a house in Bombay’s Tulsiwadi slum that was burnt by a  Hindu mob

WANTON DESTRUCTION Charred remains of a house in Bombay’s Tulsiwadi slum that was burnt by a Hindu mob

Is there a point in making people remember events they wish had never occurred? Reading and listening to the testimonies of Mumbai riot victims made to the Srikrishna Commission, a single thought consumed me: this city must never forget the full extent of the evil committed by the police and groups acting in the name of Hinduism. Twenty years later, I am not so sure. There are those who cannot forget even if they want to. Reminding them of what happened is an act of cruelty in itself.

For this story, I avoided Hazira Bi, who saw Shiv Sainiks from the neighbourhood shakha kill her husband after cutting off his hands. They then threw her from the verandah. When she regained consciousness, she was in a refugee camp for Muslims on a school campus. Her eldest son, aged 18, was missing. He never came back. Her youngest children, Shabana, then seven, and Rizwan, three, escaped. They were visiting relatives. Though Hazira Bi told the police that her husband’s killers were Shiv Sainiks, she did not know their names. Her case was classified as ‘neither true nor false’.

Hazira Bi, Shabana and Rizwan have gone through life protecting one another. The children often ask each other how things would have been had their father and brother—or either—been alive. Shabana would not have had to go to work, they reckon. Rizwan may have been more than a commerce student who failed in one subject and did not bother to re-take the exam. He wanted to start earning as soon as possible so his mother could stay home. Determined to fulfil her husband’s desire to see his youngest son educated in a convent school, Hazira Bi had been going house-to-house teaching Muslim children the Quran for a fee of Rs 50 a month, often passing out from exhaustion on the road.

But the children make sure their ‘what ifs’ are not discussed near Hazira Bi. They have not forgotten the days when the family had to survive on one meal a day in a house with walls that still bore bloodstains, even as their father’s killers roamed the streets outside free. But they will not mention this, nor allow anyone else to in their mother’s presence. Their aim in life is to see that she lives in some peace at least now. Rizwan did not attend the protest rally called in August by religious leaders against attacks on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. Doing so would have alarmed his mother. Even news of his new job in a Hindu-owned company had sent her blood pressure sinking.


Pawan Patil did not even know who fired the bullet that left him paraplegic at the age of 19 as he walked home that January afternoon. He remembers pain so unbearable that he did not want to live anymore. Even today, he walks unsteadily on crutches and cannot urinate normally. Seated at his phone booth on a busy street in Muslim-dominated Dongri, Pawan watches the world go by and often wonders, ‘Why me?’ Outside his home, where he lives with his mother and brother’s family, is a Shiv Sena sticker. The Patils are diehard Shiv Sainiks, but except for a corporator who helped once, the party did nothing for him. And Pawan refuses to go to them. His brother helped locate this phone booth, and Pawan had to travel all the way to Pune to get it transferred to his name. He has named it after his parents. But with the spread of mobile phones, his earnings have dropped so low that he can no longer pay for his medicines.

Soon after Pawan was shot, his family had sent him to a centre for paraplegics in Navi Mumbai. There he was trained to walk and type, and encouraged to appear for his class 10 exam. The seven years there did him a world of good. Unfortunately, the rules made it impossible for him to stay on once his training was over. For years after that, he roamed the streets on his three-wheeler chair—till he got this booth. Today, tired and pessimistic, all Pawan wants is to go back and work in that centre. To return to that cocoon where everyone is like him, and he is no burden on his family.

Like Pawan, Rubina Shaikh’s eye was injured by a stray bullet during the violence. She was nine years old. Twenty years later, she still has shrapnel. Her mother quit voting after the incident because no politician would help them. The police were not sure which jurisdiction the incident fell under—their home is in Dongri and the bullet came from the direction of Pydhonie. “Had you been a policeman, I would have slammed the door in your face,” says her mother. “Had you been a male, I’d have chewed your head off. It’s only because you are a woman that I let you sit here.” And yet, this woman, so full of rage, refuses to let me leave without a Diwali gift.

Riot victims have banged the door or slammed the phone down on me many times. So it was with some nervousness that I approached Ruksana. I first met her in 1998 when she was struggling to get compensation for her ‘missing’ husband. Her mother-in-law, who lost both her sons in the riots, sold her belongings—clothes, ornaments, et al—to pay the school fees for Ruksana’s children. Weeping bitterly, the old woman had told me then how she had started hating Hindus but had to live among them.

Ruksana has chosen to work with Hindus. Given the job of a cleaner in a BMC Urdu school on compassionate grounds (her husband was a BMC employee), she opted for a Marathi school when due for a transfer. “I could have been packed off anywhere,” she says, “I applied to this school because it was convenient for me. My Muslim colleagues warned me that Marathi principals are very strict. But I found the principal and entire staff very considerate, even more than my Muslim colleagues were. There, despite knowing my story, they wouldn’t let me leave early, even though my kids were small. Here, no one knows anything about me, but if I’m unwell, they tell me to lie down in the rest room. And they don’t eat until I join them.”

Ruksana is the only Muslim in the school. This was her first close contact with the Hindu community. “On my first day, I told them I didn’t want to hear any nagging as long as I did my work well. I had decided I wasn’t going to take any nonsense—it was their community that had killed my husband, after all.” Despite the camaraderie with her new colleagues, Ruksana still misses her old school. “Gair toh gair hi hain ” she shrugs. Others are still others. Yet, she has no regrets about her leap into the dark.

“You have to take risks, or you can’t get ahead,” says Shama Inamdar, whose home in Pratiksha Nagar was looted and her husband’s brother killed during the riots. It was only a couple of years ago, after his grandchildren were born, that her husband stopped brooding over his loss. The family had fled with just the clothes on their backs to their old building still under repair in Madanpura. “We broke into our own home,” recalls Shama, “we had no choice.” They needed a safe enclave. “It was heaven,” adds her daughter, “You wouldn’t know there were riots on outside had it not been for the Muslims pouring into this area from all over.”

This heaven lies in Gosht Bazaar—an area, mother and daughter tell you gleefully, that makes Hindus break into a sweat. “The computer mechanic asked me how I could live here. I told him we have grown to love the very things that horrify outsiders,” says the daughter. (When Hazira Bi finally left her old home in Wadala, it was to go to a butchers’ market in Kurla. It is safe, says Shabana, with no Shiv Sainik in sight.)

The Inamdars too have settled down to life-as-usual thanks to the risks they took. They started their garments business anew in a Hindu dominated area. Husband and wife worked from morning to night, leaving their home to the care of their nine-year-old daughter. Often, they would come back to burnt dinners; once, the house almost caught fire. Their business, however, did well. Today, they can afford to buy a bigger home in some other locality for their expanding family, but their son will not let them leave. After the riots, recalls the daughter, the word ‘Hindu’ would sear them. But now her brother has so many Hindu friends, the mother sometimes worries.

It is hard for those directly affected by the riots to shake off their distrust of the majority. This is so even of those who returned to their old homes to live among Hindus. The Satkuts lost everything—timber marts, paan shops, all their means of livelihood. But they came back to what was left of their home on a hillside in Parel Gaon because the entire neighbourhood stood on land that belonged to them. Gradually, their relatives moved to distant suburbs. But, says Razia Satkut, she will never leave—even though hers is the only Muslim home there now. However, she believes that once buildings come up on their land (which she has sold to a builder), it is best for her children to move out. “I have no fear, but I have to think about their safety.”


That is perhaps the most enduring legacy of the riots: a gnawing need to live among one’s own. The violence spelt a ghettoisation all too stark for a city with claims to a cosmopolitan identity.

In January 1993, six Hindus, five of them women, were burnt to death in Jogeshwari’s Radhabai Chawl. Hindus moved out of the chawl, and all over Jogeshwari, their co-religionists swore they would never step into Muslim localities just across the road.

Yet, those divides are blurring. Over the past two decades, Muslims have turned to education, and given the intermingling this assures, they now have more Hindu friends than ever before. Hindu youngsters can be found studying with Muslim friends at their homes. After the riots, Muslims of Mohammed Ali Road had been afraid to linger in Hindu areas. Today, topi-clad boys fearlessly race motorbikes across the city.

Other ties remain. When the Parmanand Wadi dargah at Parel was attacked in 1993, Hindu devotees escorted its priest Azmatullah and other employees to Sewri. Even now, Hindus continue to bring their children to the dargah for blessings and often give Azmatullah a lift to the shrine when they see him trudging up the incline. A Hindu performs the main ritual at the shrine’s annual urs.

But living alongside each other is another matter. Part of the reason is that Muslims are unable to get homes in Hindu-dominated housing societies. “Our building has an unwritten rule—we sell flats only to Marathis,” says Nilesh Sane, a proud Shiv Sainik of Cement Chawl near Masjid Bunder. “No one dares attack us.” Interestingly, though, other buildings near that chawl have seen a steady influx of Bohra businessmen who’ve bought properties from Gujarati Hindus. It is Shiv Sainiks who regulate traffic whenever the Syedna, the Bohra high priest, visits the area. But that could be an exception. Social worker Faridbhai Batatawala has seen Hindus leave his building one by one despite its prime location near Jogeshwari station. “When an area becomes Muslim dominated, Hindus leave,” he says, sadly.

Ghettoisation results in heightened religiosity. Farrukh Waris, principal of Burhani College, finds religious fervour—alongside exposure to the world via the internet—a striking feature of her students. Almost all were born after the riots, and four-fifths of them are Muslim, mostly first-generation learners from poor families with no space for “cosmopolitan excesses”. She says, “Madrassas and mohallas are their meeting grounds.” So Waris pushes them to take part in off-campus activities: helping cops clean up Chowpatty after Ganapati immersions (one parent objected) and internships with Mohalla Committees (cross-community groups of peace volunteers), et al.

Waris finds Muslim mothers especially keen to get their daughters educated. For this, some of them do not tell their husbands about field trips that their daughters have to go on. Still, girls are often forced to drop out. Thanks to an ‘action alert’ put in place by Waris, though, Burhani College has more than halved the dropout rate among female students from 57 to 23 per cent in the last five years. From the clerk who receives an application for withdrawal of admission to the principal herself, at every stage the girl is counselled not to leave college.

“Today, parents don’t need convincing to send their daughters to college,” says writer Feroze Ashraf, having offered free coaching to Muslim girls from poor families for the past 15 years. That is the only change he sees among Muslims since the riots. The violence forced him to leave his Hindu neighbourhood for a Muslim one and brought him in close contact with his community’s wretched poverty, ghettoised isolation and sense of utter vulnerability. None of this has changed, he says.

How then does one explain the violent outburst at the Azad Maidan rally on 11 August? Anyone who lived through the riots 20 years ago knows that a Muslim mob is a red rag to the Mumbai Police. Yet, here were Muslim youth attacking the police without provocation—and without the latter opening fire in response. If this showed how the nature of Muslim-vs-police confrontations had changed, its aftermath quickly re-established the old order. Arup Patnaik, the police commissioner who restrained his men (to avoid a repeat of 1992-93), was shunted out of his job by the state government after some fist waving at him by the MNS demagogue Raj Thackeray at a morcha held in the same maidan. Patnaik’s

behaviour, his transfer suggested, was out of line. Also, those arrested after the 11 August rally reported that the treatment meted out to them by the police was exactly the same as had been to Muslims back in 1992-93. They had their beards pulled by policemen to taunts of, “Landya, go to Pakistan!”


So, has nothing really changed in Mumbai since Justice Srikrishna indicted the city’s police force for its attitude of ‘One Muslim killed is one Muslim less’? Not at the ‘cutting edge’ where Muslims encounter cops, says advocate Yasmin Shaikh, who works with the post-riots Mohalla Committee movement led by former Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro. If junior cops abide by the law, it is because they know someone will complain to their seniors or go to court if they do not. But, she says, and other social workers confirm this, senior police officers today can be counted upon to involve Muslims in keeping tense situations from turning ugly.

Shaikh says Muslim youth hate the police because they see their community as an unfair target, whether for petty traffic offences or terror charges. Mohalla Committees, especially in Muslim areas, have to work overtime to prevent mobs of Muslims coming face-to-face with battalions of armed cops. There is a distinct possibility the former will attack the latter. Often, Shaikh has asked senior cops to withdraw their forces while she runs around calming members of her community. This happens whether the initial provocation is from the Bajrang Dal or from hotheads among Muslims.

That is why, feels social worker Harun Mozawala, there should be no let-up in educational efforts. Battling indifferent BMC officials to get Urdu schools running can take months, but Mozawala does not give up. “Muslims react emotionally,” he says, “They have to learn not to take the law into their own hands.”

What about the Shiv Sena, which went all out against Muslims in 1993 and won power in alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra two years later? To their surprise, local Muslim leaders found the Sena-BJP government more willing to fulfil their long-standing demands, be it granting a change in floor-space-index norms for mosques or handing over Mumbai’s Hajj House to them. Sena MLAs, even those who had led riotous mobs only a few years earlier, proved more approachable than their Congress predecessors, they say.

At that time, Muslim disenchantment with the Congress was at its peak for the party’s failure to prevent the BJP-led Babri Masjid demolition. Today, many believe that Muslim youth are being falsely implicated in bomb blast cases by the Congress-led regime. Some say that they are keen to give the Sena a second chance, but cannot risk openly campaigning for it until the party puts up at least a couple of Muslim candidates in Hindu areas.

The Sena may oblige. “We are looking for good Muslim candidates,” says Sena leader Jaywant Parab, a man who was convicted of a hate speech in the 1992 riots but forged ties with Muslims during a brief stint in the Congress. He is not the only one. Baburao Mane, acquitted in a riot case, has started a multi-lingual school in Dharavi where Urdu teachers feel freer than they did in Urdu-only schools. Former Shakha Pramukh Hemant Koli, whose name featured unfavourably in the Srikrishna Report, today assures people that no riot can break out in his Masjid Bunder area: “We are all friends now.”

With Bal Thackeray gone, Muslims who have interacted with his son and successor Uddhav feel the Shiv Sena may soften its Hindutva stand. Some Sainiks regret the riots, they note, and the party does not need such violence as a political tool anymore.

The greatest enemy of Muslims to emerge over the past 20 years, according to Nabeel Shah, an RTI activist, is the community’s political and religious leadership. “They prevent us from working alongside our humwatan (compatriots) in citizen movements like India Against Corruption. They feel threatened, so they label these movements ‘anti-Muslim’.”

Activists Sajid and Siraj, both of whom have worked closely with non-Muslims, believe that this is a moment that Muslims must seize. Sajid started propagating education in the slums of Jogeshwari even before the riots; Siraj heads the Mumbai branch of the Movement for Peace and Justice, a Jamaat-e-Islami outfit that focuses exclusively on social, non-religious issues.

Today, it is education that is everyone’s aim, Sajid and Siraj point out. Globalisation has opened avenues for Muslims that the State had denied them. Moreover, the Judiciary remains secular. The hatred of the Ayodhya years and riots of the time belong to a century that is more than a decade past.


Rajasthan Government’s disdainful response to women’s plight after family planning operations #Vaw


According to the latest news report (December 7, 2012) Rajasthan Government is having plans to compensate Rs. 30,000/- for female sterilisation failures, but it is also to be noted that once again the government is claiming that people are responsible for failure of operations because they do not take ‘precautions’ due to which!  (See the images below)
The Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and coercive Population Policies and a team of organisations in Rajasthan are jointly holding a consultation in Jaipur on the 13th of  December to discuss similar unacceptable issues related family planning policies and their connection with the two-child norm. It is also planned to include a few of the Panchayat representatives from a few areas in Jaipuir.
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The one-armed wonder- Disability not a deterrent for Bruna

By N Jagannath Das – HYDERABAD

10th December 2012 08:36 AM, IE

She is indeed a one-armed wonder. Having lost her right arm at the age of three years, because of a doctor’s blunder for injecting a wrong vaccine, Bruna Alexandre has lived to fight the handicap with more able-bodied peers. The 17-year-old is a member of the Brazilian team that is taking part in the Volkswagen 10th World Junior Table Tennis championship being held at the SAP Indoor Stadium in Gachibowli. Bruna did not disappoint in her first outing when she routed Lucena Josmary of Venezula 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 in Brazil’s 3-0 win in the first match today.

She earned a place in the main team after some creditable performances in the national tournaments and is currently the third best player in her country in the junior rankings. Coach Lincon Yasuda says that Bruna is one of the most talented players of their country. “She plays an aggressive game. She plays a lot of top spin and plays far and across the table,” said Yasuda.

Bruna participated in the London Paralympics where she lost in the quarter-finals to a Chinese player. “It was one of my best performances,” said Bruna, who had earlier won numerous tournaments in her country. She idolizes Natalia Partyka, a one-armed table tennis player from Poland. Partyka was born without a right hand and forearm. Like Partyka, Bruna dreams of participating in the Olympics too. “I’m inspired by Natalia. One day, even I want to play at the Olympics,” said Bruna, who is also fan of Kaka, the famous Brazilian football player for a simple reason that he is handsome.

Hailing from Santa Katrina, which lies south of Brazil, Bruna’s love for table tennis started because of her brother Bruno at the age of eight years. “I used to accompany my brother to the nearby club where I got attracted to the game. Initially, I thought it would be difficult to play with one hand but gradually I began to get a feel of the racket and began to play,” she pointed out.

However, it was the service that bothered her initially. “I used to keep the racket in the handicap right-arm pit and then throw the ball up. But I found it difficult as the racket became wet and I had to change my style. I began to practice to throw the ball up and then go for the service. It took two months to perfect it,” said Bruna, who now holds the racket and puts the ball on top of the thumb of her left hand before tossing it for service. It took a little while before her talent and the game was noticed. She began to win tournaments before even being picked for the state and the national squads. Bruna has played at eight international para table tennis tournaments, including the London Paralympics. In individual and team events, she has played about 66 matches, won 56 of them. This is her maiden trip to India. “I want to make it a memorable one,” she said with a smiling face.

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