#India- (UAPA) Draconian Law against liberty-quietly amended #Loksabha

From The Indian Express:

The Lok Sabha has quietly amended the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a dangerous tool in the hands of any government

When two young women were arrested for a Facebook post questioning the shutdown in Mumbai for Bal Thackeray’s funeral, middle-class fury forced the Maharashtra government to drop the case and suspend two police officers.The Centre also issued a set of guidelines to avoid misuse of the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. However, even as calls for repeal of the “vague” and “wide” provisions of the IT law that are “susceptible to wanton abuse” grew louder, the government silently pushed through much more controversial amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Lok Sabha, making it further mirror previous draconian laws like POTA and TADA.

The amendments did not merely make this law more stringent; they have made law enforcement agencies less accountable, despite substantial proof of misuse. The government had, in fact, brought in several amendments to give “anti-terror teeth” to the UAPA coinciding with the repeal of POTA in 2004, and more stringent amendments were pushed through in the backdrop of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The vast scope for the misuse of the amendments to the UAPA has been articulated in the recent citizens’ appeal to members of the Rajya Sabha, issued by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA), which has been endorsed by several senior civil rights groups, scholars and activists. The appeal has questioned five aspects of the amended law.

The broad definition of person, especially as “an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not” is open to misuse because “this will actually allow agencies and government to create persons beyond that what are recognised by law and any group of friends/ acquaintances can be labelled an association of persons or a body of individuals by the agencies and the government” like a “book reading club to friends who meet every evening at a dhaba may be deemed to be an association of persons or a body of individuals”.

Another major amendment to the law has been to include economic offences within the larger definition of a “terrorist act”. There are two aspects of this amendment that have raised questions. The criminalisation of “production, distribution of high-quality counterfeit currency” is “repetitive” and are already “covered by the equivalent sections 489B, 489C, 489D in the IPC”. The civil rights activists question this amendment, arguing that “when comparable provisions in IPC and terror laws are available for same crimes, the police exercise the option of booking an accused under the terror law because it affords them greater leverage: bail provisions are much more stringent and the accused can be kept in custody for long periods (up to 180 days) without the filing of a chargesheet”.

Another amendment broadens the scope of action against fund raising for “terror activities”. Now, the raising of funds likely to be used (in full or in part) to commit a terrorist act or for the benefit of terrorists shall be punishable irrespective of whether the funds have been raised from legitimate or illegitimate sources. This is irrespective of whether such funds were actually used to commit a terror act or not. And it is punishable for a term not less than five years, but extendable to life.

The only safeguard is the condition that the accused should know that “such funds are likely to be used… by a terrorist organisation”. The civil rights activists apprehend that this amendment will “practically bring under the possibility of prosecution all transactions, even perfectly legitimate ones, without any remote connection to a terrorist act” because “all that the prosecution needs to show is that the accused had knowledge that such funds could be likely used for terrorist act. While such subjective knowledge may again be difficult to prove, it will no doubt result in the incarceration of accused for long periods without bail”.

While the introduction of several new changes has already made the UAPA exceptionally harsh, the amendment of Section 6 of the law has taken away the little hope for judicial scrutiny to prevent its misuse.

The ban on an organisation under the UAPA, which was earlier limited to a two-year period, has been extended to a five-year period. This means that the government has avoided putting its decision to ban an organisation under the UAPA through the scrutiny of a tribunal headed by a sitting judge of the High Court. For example, the tribunal hearing the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) did not only look into the legality of the government’s decision, but it also helped to record and raise the issue of fabricated evidence in individual cases across states. The government’s logic, that extending the ban to five years is to lower the costs to administer the ban, is flawed because the delay in such a judicial scrutiny would make law enforcement less accountable.

There is enough evidence that scores of young Muslim men were branded members of the banned SIMI and arrested. The terror tag was enough to create an atmosphere of public revulsion and they were guilty till proven innocent. There are cases where these men were unable to manage a lawyer who would defend them because several bar associations had banned their members from representing these “terror suspects”. There are examples where verses of the Quran, religious books and even Urdu literature were shown as incriminating material. There were instances where young men were arrested for “shouting slogans against the government” because they were “angry about the demolition of Babri mosque or Gujarat riots”.

Under the normal procedure of criminal law, these acts would have been inconsequential. But once the police branded them as members of the banned SIMI, it automatically invoked the provisions of the UAPA, magnifying the seriousness of the charges. And even once these men win long and tiring battles in courts and are acquitted after years of imprisonment, the terror taint stays, making it extremely difficult to pick up the pieces of their lives and start afresh.

To understand as to why these stringent amendments to the UAPA are especially dangerous, we need to return to the debate in Parliament when this law was enacted, in 1967. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had called this law a “donkey that had been made to look like a horse” while George Fernandes had “moved an amendment that the period of ban be reduced to one year”. While opposing the UAPA bill, noted parliamentarian Nath Pai had termed it “a measure introduced by a group of men who have lost faith in the people of India”. Nath Pai had addressed the then home minister Y.B. Chavan and asked, “Will the baton of the police be the final guardian of the liberties, freedom and unity of this country? Can we trust the police to be the only fighter for the delicate fabric of our democracy?” Piloo Mody, who represented Godhra in the Lok Sabha, had said that he was “ashamed of the government”. J.B. Kripalani, who had been chairman of the Fundamental Rights sub- committee, had said that “all these repressive laws violate the rule of law”. He had termed the UAPA “superfluous”, one that “may be used by the executive for purposes for which it is not intended”. He had said that he did not question the intentions of the government. “Their intentions are good but it is like putting a sword in the hands of Hanuman. Hanuman may not like to kill, but somehow the sword kills”.

This time, the passage of amendments to the UAPA in the Lok Sabha happened amid the din of a debate over FDI in retail. Unlike the larger consensus over the need to preserve the freedoms on Facebook, there isn’t even a public debate over the UAPA and its misuse, because, in the dominant public discourse, its victims are deemed guilty till proven innocent.


PLease click here for critique of draconian laws



#India-Never said Gujarat safer than Maharashtra: Father of girl arrested for Facebook post

Edited by Amit Chaturvedi | Updated: December 11, 2012 , NDTV

Never said Gujarat safer than Maharashtra: Father of girl arrested for Facebook post

NagpurFarukh Dhada, father of Shaheen Dhada, the girl who was arrested last month by over her Facebook post, has spoken out against what he says is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi‘s misrepresentation of their views on comparative law and order in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Mr Dhada says he and his family never said Gujarat was better off than Maharashtra and that the family felt perfectly safe in Palghar area of Thane where they’d lived for decades.

“We never said any such thing. We have been living in Palghar for the past 27 years and we feel safe here. We went to Gujarat for a few days to see my ailing mother-in-law. Now we are back in Palghar and there is absolutely no problem. What Mr Modi said is his personal view,” he said today.

insecure” in BJP-ruled Gujarat, Mr Modi had over the weekend quoted the example of Shaheen Dhada in an election rally saying, “She prefers to stay in Gujarat over Maharashtra. You are trying to defame the state, but girls like Shaheen have proved you wrong.”

Last month month, Shaheen Dhada and her friend Rinu Shrinivasan were arrested for questioning on Facebook the shutdown of Mumbai for the funeral of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray. The women were released on bail after a few hours; they had been charged with spreading hatred under the contentious section 66(A) of the IT Act. The case against them was dropped later.

The massive public backlash against the arrests in Maharashtra forced a new scrutiny of Internet laws with the state government saying it has issued new guidelines to control the misuse of Section 66(A), which is widely criticised for its vague wording.


Goodbye Mr Thackeray, you taught me how to love

November 20, 2012 , rediff.com

‘I write this piece,’ says Javed Iqbal, ‘not just to come to terms with my childhood, but to speak about those who were once Shiv SenaImages ] loyalists, whose dreams did not die with the passing away of Bal ThackerayImages ], but were dead long before he was gone.’

It took the madness of 1992 and images of mangled corpses being brought out of buses and markets in 1993 to forever lay down memories in my mind that made me wonder as a child: Why?

It was the first memory in my life that showed me what human suffering looked like. Growing up, you can have your first kiss, your first fight, your first job, you lose your virginity, the first time you get drunk, but we never wonder when was the first time we were taught empathy.

Today, I am a journalist. I document human rights abuses in central India [ Images ] committed by the State and the Maoists, and when I am back home in MumbaiImages ], I document the demolition of slums, the demolition of the homes of those people who I was once taught to fear.

Most of the people who I work with, with whom I have developed the strongest relationships across class, religion and gender, were once Shiv Sena loyalists who, over time, I realise were the most misrepresented people in the city.

Today, I write this piece, not just to come to terms with my childhood, but to speak about their present predicament, their dreams that did not die with the passing away of Bal Thackeray, but were dead long before he was gone.

A long time ago, it took an eight-year-old child with innocence situated at a time in history when this country was losing again what it meant to be a community: The hundred rumours of police firings, burnings, stabbings, and smoke spread across the sky, Hindu neighbours who shaved their beards, Muslim neighbours who left home to live with us, ‘Don’t tell your name to any stranger’; I sat watching anxiety get cut with a knife in my living room as every story of a stabbing filtered across the lanes.

I was an introverted child, confused, and I still remember March 12, 1993, when we were sent home early from school because of the bomb blasts.

Saleem, a man from Bharatnagar in Bandra East, whose slum lost 11 people on December 7, 1992, when the police chased them back into their homes and fired at them, was the first to tell me that there were blasts across the city.

I still remember him walking up to me that day and telling me what had happened, yet I never asked him about what happened in Bharatnagar.

‘How was it that day?’ I had asked him when I was much older.

‘What time is it?’ He asked me.

‘It’s three in the afternoon.’

‘Well,’ he said nonchalantly, ‘If you were shot at three in the afternoon now, you’d only get admitted in a hospital at three in the afternoon tomorrow. That’s how big the lines were.’

After the blasts of ’93, I was looking at the photos of body parts in the newspaper. Mangled. Burnt. Dismembered. These were once human beings. I was glad nothing was censored. And today a verse written over 500 years ago by Kabir is a much closer description of what I felt when I saw it all.

‘It’s a heavy confusion.
Veda, Quran, holiness, hell, woman, man,
A clay pot shot with air and sperm….
When the pot falls apart, what do you call it?
…Numskull! You’ve missed the point.

It’s all one skin and bone, one piss and shit,
one blood, one meat.
From one drop, a universe.’

And the pots kept falling. Over the years, this city has seen enough anxiety with every unattended package left in the corner of a busy street.

And the pots kept falling. One group of fanatics wished to teach another group of fanatics a lesson. Bomb blasts in Malegaon, Hyderabad, Mumbai again and again, Delhi [ Images ], and the rampages of Gujarat, 2002. Yet are the victims fanatics?

The police firing at Vikhroli’s Ramabai Nagar on July 11, 1997, the killing of 11 Dalits, and how was it told to us in school when they asked us to go home early? ‘Some Dalits went on a rampage after they found slippers on a statue of Ambedkar.’ Rampage. The word massacre was not used when the police had gone into the slum and fired and killed innocent people. When a young boy’s head was blown apart by a .303.

1992 was just the blade that cut through that pot of my skull: My memory. And as I grew older, it all started pouring in: In 1984 the Sikh massacres, the Nellie massacre in Assam, the mass killing fields of Dalits who fought for their rights in Bihar, the Kilvenmani massacre in Tamil Nadu when 42 were burnt alive, and yes, Kashmir [ Images ] through the decades, to today, where my own work took me from village after village, massacre after massacre in Dantewada, committed by our own security forces and the Maoists as well.

I had to imagine India, this subcontinent, to look at her, to love her through the looking glass of atrocities and massacres. Indian democracy is hot metal searing through the burning flesh of resistance. Indian democracy is machine-gunned silence.

Civilisation is repression. Civilisation is a boot crushing dissent, a status quo on the neck of a hungry man who asked why.

Indian democracy is the extra-judicial killing of the man in the forest, murdered with the last thoughts of being the loneliest man in the country. Nobody knows you shall die in the forest, nobody knows what you said.

Indian democracy becomes a long hard impossible journey towards human justice, any kind of it. To love within the history of these borders, it becomes, an unconditional love.

And yet the right-wing tendencies of the middle class grew with liberalisation. There always had to be the ‘other’, an enemy to fear, to destroy, to completely annihilate, while completely forgetting everything across the horizon.

The power of the majority would further be bequeathed on men of strength who only knew the politics of violence and hatred, who used the repression of the population, to commit crimes, to steal the heroes and symbols of the oppressed, to believe in pride, the greatest killer of all communities.

You can’t be equal with someone who demands superiority.

Once upon a time, a French anarchist had said property is theft, but to our times, identity is murder. Good fences do not make good neighbours when we have nuclear missiles and Molotov cocktails.

In 1992, I was made to believe I was victimised. And I refused to over time. No South Indians were stealing my job, no Communists were ruining business in my city, and no Muslims were trying to put Sharia law in my home.

No Dalits were stealing my seat in college, no woman existed whose sexuality was a threat to me being a man or a lover.

I refused to be a victim, thus I was not searching for an identity. I was not afraid, and my privilege was the capacity to question authority — Everyone’s. From the State, to the school, my own family whose own biases I would begin to question. And it all started when I was beginning to be aware that human suffering is universal, and it started in 1992.

And while the memory of this city changes with the flutter of butterfly wings on a fired bullet, goodbye, Mr Thackeray, your hate taught me how to love. Goodbye, Mr Thackeray, your hate taught me a love that millions of people like you can never rob from me.

The Past from the Present Past

I have been documenting the demolition of homes in Golibar in Santacruz East, especially in a stronghold of the Shiv Sena for decades.

The residents are protesting against a builder who they claim took their consent for the project through fraudulent means. They have been facing demolition drives that have often led to lathi-charges, police cases, and everyone from the State to the courts have almost refused to listen.

Golibar was also a site of violent skirmishes and police violence on December 7, 1992, just a day after the demolition of the Babri Masjid [ Images ]. In a report by the Lokshahi Hakk Sanghatana and the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, there were 12 people stabbed to death, seven who died in police firing, eight shops and garages burned down, while numerous hutments, four vehicles, six handcarts were burnt.

According to its report, The Bombay Riots: The Myths and Realities, ‘At V N Desai Hospital, doctors pointed out a polio patient and epileptic from Nirmal Nagar, Golibar Kabristan, with abdominal bullet wounds. One woman who was brought dead had been shot on the top of her head.’

‘This is where they came from,’ says S, a Muslim resident, ‘to attack those who were going to the mosque.’

‘The very people who you are sitting with today, are the ones who we fought with, in 1992,’ he continued.

‘When did things change?’

‘When all of this started. The irony being it’s these builders who’ve united us.’

On November 24, 2010, the state officials along with the police had come to break down the homes of Allahuddin Abbas and Mohammed Afzal. Almost all of its residents came to their defence.

They didn’t let the police touch a single brick, and didn’t leave their neighbours, who stood before their doors, as the women of the society, almost all Hindus and Christians, screamed at the police and officials from the narrow corridors leading to their homes.

‘I was coming home with my family that day in 1992,’ says Aba Tandel, one of the main organisers of the people’s resistance at Golibar, and an old Shiv Sena loyalist, ‘They were burning a man right outside the railway station. And we quietly walked into the gully and went home.’

Today, the Shiv Sena in Golibar is invisible. They won the local elections when they convinced a local to not run as an Independent as he would cut into its voting base. They would promise to support their movement, and individual members of the party have often slipped information down the ladder that ‘demolitions will take place, be prepared.’ Yet apart from that or an occasional mention in Saamna, there’s nothing.

Yet this city, and especially these people, have seen the power of the Shiv Sena. They have faced over five brutal demolition drives, yet the only people trying to stop the demolition are their neighbours, or supporters from other slums who are fighting the same issue.

There is no Shiv Sena. There is no Marathi pride. There are no mobs. There the only people fighting for justice are themselves.

‘In 1995, Balasaheb had sold us a dream of a house,’ said Dutta Mane, another loyalist, and he on Sunday, the day of Balasaheb’s funeral, hasn’t gone to Shivaji Park, but had gone to do his own work at Nallasopara, a township close to Mumbai.

Dutta Mane had even travelled with me to the site of the blasts on July 13, 2011, and by the end of our work, Dutta was a tired man, and as we were walking away from the site, he looked back at the press vans, the reporters at the barricade, and he asked me about all the homeless that were sleeping on the pavement, just 10 seconds away, on a diagonally connected road: ‘Inka photo kaun le raha hai?’ (Who will take their photo?)

It was ridiculously apt. A man whose home is facing demolition is asking a reporter-friend of his, why the press doesn’t care about the homeless.

In the next morning’s paper, the photograph of a sleeping bloodied body strewn apart by a bomb, reminded me of those sleeping peacefully at Opera House or Zaveri Bazaar at three in the morning.

Dutta was a betrayed man.

With him, I would also travel to Ambujwadi and slums on the dumping grounds of Mumbai, who are a class separate from Golibar, who are the poorest of the poor, where a majority of Muslims live and face repeated demolition drives, and I ask them too: ‘Do any Muslim groups ever come and give you support? Anything like the Raza Academy? Any maulanas? Anyone?’

Their answer is always unanimous: No.

Javed Iqbal is a Mumbai-based journalist.

Javed Iqbal


#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.


On The Death Of Bal Thackeray And The Grief Of Athavale

By Dr Anand Teltumbde

05 December, 2012

Ramdas Athawale, who had left all the dealers of Dalit interests in Maharashtra far behind when he managed to sublimate himself straight from a dingy room in the Siddharth Vihar in Wadala to a regality of the Sahyadri, the state guest house in Malabar Hill in 1990 as a cabinet minister of Sharad Pawar, has come full circle from his radical Ambedkarism symbolized by his association with the Dalit Panther to the most anti-Ambedkarian version of Fascism of the late Bal Thackeray. Since he latched his RPI bandwagon to Thackeray’s Shiv Sena-juggernaut, he along with his hangers-on has been awkwardly trying to prove his faithfulness to Matoshree, knowing that his future prospects would be decided there. After all, he was just an alliance partner, but the manner in which he made rounds of Matoshree with grief stricken face, ensuring the television cameras were well focused to show it, was amusing to Dalits. After the ashes of Thackeray’s cremation cooled off, the Shiv Sena violently voiced its claim over the Shivaji Park for constructing the memorial for Thackeray, then relented sensing its impracticability but insisted on the site of cremation be preserved as a holy spot, and Athavale did not utter a word. This self-proclaimed Ambedkar- bhakta should have worried that just within less than a week lakhs of Dalits would pour into the Shivaji Park as every year and the so called ‘holy’ spot could pose a veritable threat to law and order. Athavale should have prevailed upon his partners and ensured that the site was restored as after all it was not legal to keep it beyond the two days for which the specific permission was reportedly given. Instead, on 29 November Ramdas Athavale gave a call to Dalits congregating at the Shivaji Park on 6 December to pay homage to their messiah, Babasaheb Ambedkar, that they should also pay their respects to Bal Thackeray at his cremation site.

Spinelessness Around

Bal Thackeray’s death in the fullest sense culminated his interesting life. His public life of some five decades was interspersed with instances of our collective timidity and hypocrisy but the spectacle his death created in a way has confirmed our spinelessness and cowardly character as a nation. The manner in which almost all people in media showered praises on his persona and paid eulogy to his legacy was nauseatingly bad. One might take shelter under the saying de mortuis nil nisi bonum (speak well of the dead or not at all) but it is a lie. It is our innate character to willingly buckle before power that drives us to such sheepish behavior. None from the millions who filled the crowds in Mumbai on 18 November or the liberals who exhibited their intellect in media asked a simple question what exactly has been the contribution of this man to the human kind, except for his chosen cronies and goons. Rather, he has been responsible for the deaths and devastation of several innocent lives over five long decades. He has not even benefitted Marathi manoos in any which way and rather has lowered his stature as petty and mean-minded species. Marathi people had certain image because of contributions of the stalwarts during the colonial times, particularly the likes of Jotiba Phule, who pioneered the social revolution in the country and Babasaheb Ambedkar, who advanced it to the new highs. Bal Thackeray completely destroyed it and made him rather look sectarian and xenophobic.

Few mustered courage and reminded people how Bal Thackeray played up identities: Marathi against south Indians, Gujaratis, UP’ites, Biharis, Bangladeshis, and of course Muslims from time to time, to build up his personal power and wealth. He exploited general frustration of the working class with their crisis ridden lives, split them along their regional identities and pitched them against each other to the glee of their exploiters. His proximity to the industrialists and businessmen, the film industry big wigs, hobnobbing with political nobility was insinuated by some courageous people. But none spoke about his primal intrigues against Dalits, the Marathi Dalits. On the contrary, he was projected by some as being against castes and in implications pro-Dalits. The truth is that he had been as unscrupulous in making use of castes as he has been in any other matter with his hatred for Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Dalits.

Parasitic Birth of Sena

The main prowess of Bal Thackeray was that he accurately knew what would appeal to the majority of people at various times. Perhaps this trait came naturally to him as a cartoonist. In the general context of struggles for reorganization of states on linguistic basis and in a special context of synchronization of the interests of a small section of the Marathi-speaking entrepreneurs and the larger section of the middle class and the working class in Greater Bombay, a movement for a state of Marathi speaking people had erupted as ‘Samyukta Maharashtra movement’. It was led by the communists and socialists like SM Joshi, SA Dange, PK Atre, with quixotic slogan of ‘samyukta maharashtra, samajvadi maharashtra’ (United Maharashtra, Socialist Maharashtra), in which Bal Thackeray’s father, Prabodhankar Thackeray was also an important participant. Shiv Sena may be considered as an illegitimate child of this Samyukta Maharashtra movement. Piggybacking on the Marathi sentiments built up during the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, he and his brother Shrikant had launched a Marathi cartoon weekly, ‘Marmik’ in August 1960 at the hands of Yashvantrao Chavvan. Although Marmik did not propound any specific political ideology, it consistently criticized Nehru and Dange for toeing the Soviet line and derided the Mulslims. The border issue between Maharashtra and Karnataka resulting from the formation of the Maharashtra state, its ignorance by the center and its extension of the injustice on Marathi people became the cause célèbre for Marmik. Within five years, Marmik became extremely popular among Marathi people. Riding on this popularity, and with the visible support of the ruling Congress Party (important Congress leaders like Sharad Pawar being present at its foundation function) the Shiv Sena was founded as a political party on June 21, 1966, with Marmik as its mouth piece. The Shiv Sena projected the issue of South Indians grabbing jobs in Mumbai and effectively began to split the working class endearing itself to the industrialists and political class. In its very first Dusshera rally on October 30, 1966, which was addressed by the then important Congress leader Ramrao Adik, the Shiv Sena mob had attacked and burnt South Indian shops and restaurants with impunity. The next year they burned the office of the CPI led Girni Kamgar Union that clearly revealed active patronage of the Congress to the rise of the Shiv Sena in Bombay politics. At that time, the Shiv Sena acted as the private militia of the Maharashtra Congress chieftains like Vasantrao Naik and Vasantdada Patil (who would later help it get ensconced in the BMC), who wanted to finish working class movement to please their clientele in industrialists of Bombay. The next major action was the cowardly murder of the popular and militant Communist trade union activist and sitting MLA, Com. Krishna Desai in June 1970 by the Shiv Sena, which firmly established it as the outfit to be feared. Thackeray skillfully capitalized on this fear and grew into a Frankenstein that would cast its evil shadow on Maharashtra for next five decades, quite like Indira Gandhi’s Bhindranwale or Osama Bin Laden of the USA but unlike them, not fully out of the Congress shadow.

Wicked Casteist Strategy

The next big threat to the ruling Congress emerged in the form of the Dalit panthers, founded in 1972, both as a challenge to the injustice of the social system and as a rebellion against the then moribund and directionless Republican Party of India (RPI). The Panthers began by taking up both caste and class issues and also launched a campaign to expose the regressive aspects of some Hindu religious tenets. Dalit panthers posed potentially bigger threat than that of the communists. It had not only threatened the Congress applecart of cooptation of Dalits launched in the previous decade but also portended revolt of the organic proletariat of the country. The Dalit Panther asked Dalits not to support the then RPI leaders who were backing Congress candidate Ramrao Adik, also supported by the Shiv Sena, for a by-election for Mumbai South-Central Lok Sabha seat. With an alibi of objecting to certain speeches made by Panther leaders about Hindu deities, the Shiv Sena unleashed riots against Dalits in the Worli BDD chawls in Mumbai in January 1974, which spread to other areas of the city and continued for a week. A Dalit Panther activist Bhagwat Jadhav was brutally killed by the Shiv Sena activities, marking the beginning of the anti-Dalit feud of the Shiv Sena against the Dalit community. Interestingly, Adik was defeated by CPI’s Roza Deshpande, daughter of the communist leader S A Dange.

Shiv Sena’s sparking off Worli riots was to neutralize the threat of the Dalit Panther at the behest of its benefactor, the Congress. The Congress could have never done it on its own because that could boomerang on it by antagonizing large sections of Dalits. For the Shiv Sena, that was no consideration. On the contrary, it would serve its incipient strategy to isolate the Ambedkarite Dalits as it knew they would never be its supporters. By projecting them to be Hindu haters, it hoped to consolidate all others including the non-Ambedkarite Dalits that supplied its adherents. Nobody had gone until then to the extent of identifying people along sub caste lines as Bal Thackeray did. In that sense he was not only casteist that any way all politicians are, but also super-casteist. This strategy paid him rich dividends in terms of consolidating all other castes, creating a sense of psychological elevation among other Dalit sub-castes as belonging to a party of high caste Hindus. The deliberate projection of himself in the saffron attire with other Hindu markers also indicated that he was a spirited Hindu and in corollary believed in castes.

The Ambedkar Hater

He never gave up an opportunity to insult Ambedkar, and batter Ambedkarite Dalits. In the agitation for renaming the Marathwada University at Aurangabad after Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Shiv Sena had a dubious distinction of being the only political party that consistently opposed it. Bal Thackeray had ridiculed Dalit demand saying, “.. people do not have flour at home and they demand university.” On July 27, 1978, the state assembly had adopted a unanimous resolution to rename the university. It provoked large-scale protests all over Marathwada accompanied by mass progroms against Dalits affecting some 1200 to 9000 villages in the region, rendering about 5000 people homeless. Beatings and rapes of women occurred, and one local activist Pochiram Kamble was burned to death. While the violence was instigated mainly by feudal landed interests in the Congress, supported by upper-caste zealots in the then Janata Party, the Shiv Sena, even though confined to Mumbai-Thane belt in those days, had vehemently opposed it. On November 25, 1993, Gautam Waghmare, a Dalit Panther youth from Nanded, committed self-immolation to press the issue of renaming. His martyrdom, denigrated by Bal Thackeray calling him a bevada (a drunkard), triggered off massive wave of demonstrations of Dalits and Left organizations in every district. The Shiv Sena, capitalizing on its consistent and most vocal opposition to the renaming of the Marathwada University, by then had reached Marathwada with its shakhas set up everywhere. It tried to hold back the tide with a Marathwada Bandh opposing the renaming, but this time it evoked little response. The state government could have easily implemented its renaming resolution respecting enormous sacrifice of Dalits over the 16-years long struggle but instead it announced on January 14, 1994 mere addition of “Babasaheb Ambedkar” before Marathwada University for its truncated half, the other half being renamed as a “Swamy Ramanand Tirth University” to be set up at Nanded. Thanks to the compromise of Ramdas Athavale, who was then a cabinet minister in the Sharad Pawar government, this glorious struggle of Dalits ended in a pyrrhic victory for Dalits and a reward for the reactionary elements. Nonetheless, the Shiv Sena would not even tolerate Ambedkar’s name to pollute the university. It denounced the decision with a violent statewide bandh call, but this time it failed in inciting riots.

As the Shiv Sena spanned out of its Mumbai-Thane stronghold, its main plank was battering the Ambedkarite Dalits, which gave expression to the latent hatred of the caste-Hindu folks in rural Maharashtra that was building up because of the cultural assertion and educational progress of Ambedkarite Dalits. By appealing to such base instincts of the backward rural folks Shiv Sena created its formidable constituency in Maharashtra. It did not have competition from any political party as none could openly discard their Dalit base they strenuously cultivated. The Shiv Sena’s strategy of isolating Ambedkarite (or navbauddha, as Thackeray called them) Dalits consolidated other Dalits as well as the OBCs. From the mid-eighties, the Shiv Sena began to incite a series of assaults and atrocities on Dalits, particularly in the rural areas of Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. The struggle for fallow lands has been one of the main economic agendas of Ambedkarite Dalits since 1953 when they had their first satyagraha under BS Waghmare in Marathwada at the instance of Babasaheb Ambedkar himself. In 1960s, they had revived this agenda and had a massive nationwide struggle for land under Dadasaheb Gaikwad. Many such lands were under cultivation by Dalits. The Shiv Sena opposed their encroachments on fallow lands, going to the extent of destroying their crops and attacking their hutments. A few Dalits, mostly agricultural labourers or marginal peasants were even killed in these attacks. On August 11, 1991, carnage took place in Gothala village in Ahmadpur taluka of Latur district in which two Mahar brothers were beaten to death in a mob attack. The most harrowing example was the murder of Ambadas Savane, who was stoned to death by the people belonging to Shiv Sena. When the Shiv Sena in coalition with the BJP formed the government, one of its first decisions was to summarily withdraw over 1100 cases of atrocities on Dalits in Marathwada. Interestingly, here also, Ramdas Athavale had played a role in compromising Dalit interests.

The aspect of Bal Thackeray’s character as the Ambedkar hater came to limelight in the Riddles controversy in 1987. The Maharashtra government had undertaken the project to publish complete writings and speeches of Babasaheb Ambedkar and as a part of the project it brought out a volume that contained Ambedkar’s hitherto unpublished work, “Riddles in Hinduism”. This text was highly critical of brahmanical Hinduism and pointed out its theological inconsistencies. The Shiv Sena opposed it as an intolerable insult to Hindu religion and Hindu deities and demanded a ban on its publication. The Congress government easily obliged suspending the publication. In protest, Dalits, uniting across all the factions, held one of Mumbai’s largest demonstrations ever at the Shivaji Park in November 1987 and demanded the reversal of the government decision. The government conceded defeat and published the text. Provoked by the Dalits show of strength, the Shiv Sena called for a rally in January 1988. It issued an advertisement entitled “An Insult to Hindu religion” which contained the statement clearly alluding to the impurity of Dalits. It said, “Only those Hindus who have unadulterated blood in them should join the morcha.” The following week both Dalits and Sainiks took to the streets. Sainiks organized public burnings of the book and engaged in violent clashes with Dalits. During a massive morcha of Dalits to Mantralaya on February 5, 1988, led by Prakash Ambedkar, some irate youth caused some damage to the hutatma (martyrs) memorial, which the Shiv Sena had erected at Flora Fountain Square. In response, Chhagan Bhujbal, who was one of the close confidante of Bal Thackeray then, performed a religious purification ceremony of the damaged structure by sprinkling go mutra (cow’s urine). Although the Shiv Sena had to be satisfied with a redundant footnote by the government to the Chapter, it’s very act of coming out in opposition of Ambedkar and his followers endeared itself to the majority of caste Hindus and OBCs, who always reared hatred for them but could not express it. This was the true face of Bal Thackeray vis-à-vis Ambedkarite Dalits and even Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Shiv Sena’s vicious role in the Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar massacre and its cover up is too well known to be recounted. On July 11, 1997, noticing the bust of Ambedkar in Ramabai Nagar desecrated by some miscreants, the Dalits in the colony came out on the road in protest. Nothing unusual had happened beyond the rasto rako they resorted to, to express their anger. However, picking up the opportunity, a petty sub-inspector Manohar Kadam, who had reached there with his state reserve police force, suddenly ordered firing on innocent people with purely malicious intent and mercilessly gunned down ten Dalits and wounded over thirty others. The Shiv Sena-BJP government and its police then launched a shameless campaign to justify the brutal act and protect Manohar Kadam with a fabricated LPG tanker story with a doctored videograph. The Gundewar Commission, instituted by the government in response to persistent agitation of Dalits, to investigate into the incident, exposed the lie of the government and castigated Kadam in no uncertain terms. Justice Gundewar expressed indignation in his report of December 1998 saying, “.. the lapses on part of Kadam are so glaring and fatal that they can hardly be accepted. He has exposed himself in more than one way and I do not think that such an officer should continue to be in police service.”

The entire history of Shiv Sena is replete with such instances that reveal the inveterate hatred for Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Dalits in the mind of Bal Thackeray.

Degenerate Dalit Leaders

Bal Thackeray’s allegorical statements ridiculing Ambedkar, his dismissive references to Ambedkarite Dalits in his lumpen language, irritatingly condoned as ‘thakri’ style, his indirect opposition to the poor slum dwellers and patronizing support to money bags, to be surely construed as anti-Dalits, are legion. But the politics of Dalits has degenerated to such an extent that it does not have much to do with such things. Dalit politicians have grasped the essence of politics as maximizing their wealth and power, which today have become two sides of the same coin. They do not need a priori people behind them. In the neoliberal era, people also value wealth and power. The only requirement for these leaders is to maintain their identities as leader of Dalits, which has been made easy with the iconization of Ambedkar. If you have money, you can attract people, you can engage them to do your propaganda, you can flood the walls with your wall-paintings, put up huge hoardings projecting yourself, flood news papers with your paid-news, influence television channels to project yourselves, and create general impression such that people will perceive you as a ‘big man’ and listen to your rubbish. Politics, in general, is reduced to this base process in the prevailing system. If you have desire, capability, extension motivation and enough intelligence to genuinely serve people but no money, nobody will look at you. This being the state of politics, there is nothing much to speak about politicians in general and Dalit politicians in particular, as the latter are expected to sell much cheaper than others in the political mandi. Anyone can call the tune by paying a penny to these pipers! It is therefore that Namdeo Dhasal, onetime fiery panther dreaming of a revolution wrote a book-length paean to Mrs Gandhi, ‘priyadarshini’ (his worst poem) in 1976 and eventually found shelter in Thackeray’s den; another self-appointed sarsenapati of a non-existent Sena, Jogendra Kawade, showered praises to Narendra Modi and desperately tried to be seen in Thackeray’s funeral; and lastly Ramdas Athavale, who has outsmarted all others in political brokering along with his gang of Mahatekars and Dangales, onetime well meaning fellows, landing at the feet of Thackerays.

Athavale, whose only qualification to the leadership is his third rate poetic chants of Ambedkar, had shamelessly ignored that Thackeray had never left an opportunity to insult Ambedkar and batter his followers. Thackeray had called Ambedkar a stooge of Nizam; likened Ambedkar to a pumpkin with a spectacle; sheltered the foul mouthed Shiv Sena leader Anand Dighe who mockingly insinuated doubt on the character of Bhimabai, Ambedkar’s mother, while explaining how he became Ambedkar from his original name ‘Sapkal’; tried to institute a custom of celebrating the demolition of the Babri masjid as ‘manav mukti din’ on 6 December, the day considered by millions of Dalits as the sad day and as late as in recent year, dismissed the idea of the proposed memorial for Ambedkar on the site of Indu Mills, instead insisting that the land should be given to the memorial for Jagannath Shankar Sheth. Interestingly, he had once insulted Athavale himself famously calling him as a parasite risen over the ass of Sharad Pawar. But what is shame before the prospects of pelf and power!

Dr Anand Teltumbde is a writer and a civil rights activist with CPDR, Mumbai. E-mail: tanandraj@gmail.com


Farooq Versus The State #Film #TISS

Hari Masjid, Wadala, Mumbai, was the scene of a brutal police attack on January 10, 1993. Though Farooq Mhapkar was one of the casualties of indiscriminate police firing, he was charged as a rioter. Farooq versus The State is the story of Farooq’s protracted legal battle against an unyielding State in pursuit of justice.

Through this case, the film seeks to explore how justice was delayed and denied to the victims and survivors of the 1992-93 communal violence.

Hindi/English with English subtitles, 26 mins, Directed by K.P. Jayasankar and Anjali Monteiro

Hitler’s Strange Afterlife in India #sundayreading

Nov 30, 2012 , http://www.thedailybeast.com

Hated and mocked in much of the world, the Nazi leader has developed a strange following among schoolchildren and readers of Mein Kampf in India. Dilip D’Souza on how political leader Bal Thackeray influenced Indians to admire Hitler and despise Gandhi.

  • My wife teaches French to tenth-grade students at a private school here in Mumbai. During one recent class, she asked these mostly upper-middle-class kids to complete the sentence “J’admire …” with the name of the historical figure they most admired.

Adolf Hitler speaks in 1936. (AP Photo)

To say she was disturbed by the results would be to understate her reaction. Of 25 students in the class, 9 picked Adolf Hitler, making him easily the highest vote-getter in this particular exercise; a certain Mohandas Gandhi was the choice of precisely one student. Discussing the idea of courage with other students once, my wife was startled by the contempt they had for Gandhi. “He was a coward!” they said. And as far back as 2002, the Times of India reported a survey that found that 17 percent of students in elite Indian colleges “favored Adolf Hitler as the kind of leader India ought to have.”

In a place where Gandhi becomes a coward, perhaps Hitler becomes a hero.

Still, why Hitler? “He was a fantastic orator,” said the 10th-grade kids. “He loved his country; he was a great patriot. He gave back to Germany a sense of pride they had lost after the Treaty of Versailles,” they said.

“And what about the millions he murdered?” asked my wife. “Oh, yes, that was bad,” said the kids. “But you know what, some of them were traitors.”

Admiring Hitler for his oratorical skills? Surreal enough. Add to that the easy condemnation of his millions of victims as traitors. Add to that the characterization of this man as a patriot. I mean, in a short dozen years, Hitler led Germany through a scarcely believable orgy of blood to utter shame and wholesale destruction. Even the mere thought of calling such a man a patriot profoundly corrupts—is violently antithetical to—the idea of patriotism.

But these are kids, you think, and kids say the darndest things. Except this is no easily written-off experience. The evidence is that Hitler has plenty of admirers in India, plenty of whom are by no means kids.

Consider Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography. Reviled it might be in the much of the world, but Indians buy thousands of copies of it every month. As a recent paper in the journal EPW tells us (PDF), there are over a dozen Indian publishers who have editions of the book on the market. Jaico, for example, printed its 55th edition in 2010, claiming to have sold 100,000 copies in the previous seven years. (Contrast this to the 3,000 copies my own 2009 book,Roadrunner, has sold). In a country where 10,000 copies sold makes a book a bestseller, these are significant numbers.

And the approval goes beyond just sales. Mein Kampf is available for sale on flipkart.com, India’s Amazon. As I write this, 51 customers have rated the book; 35 of those gave it a five-star rating. What’s more, there’s a steady trickle of reports that say it has become a must-read for business-school students; a management guide much like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese or Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking. If this undistinguished artist could take an entire country with him, I imagine the reasoning goes, surely his book has some lessons for future captains of industry?

Much of Hitler’s Indian afterlife is the legacy of Bal Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena party who died on Nov. 17.

Thackeray freely, openly, and often admitted his admiration for Hitler, his book, the Nazis, and their methods. In 1993, for example, he gave an interview toTime magazine. “There is nothing wrong,” he said then, “if [Indian] Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.”

It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he ‘loved’ his country.

This interview came only months after the December 1992 and January 1993 riots in Mumbai, which left about a thousand Indians slaughtered, the majority of them Muslim. Thackeray was active right through those weeks, writing editorial after editorial in his party mouthpiece, “Saamna” (“Confrontation”) about how to “treat” Muslims.

On Dec. 9, 1992, for example, his editorial contained these lines: “Pakistan need not cross the borders and attack India. 250 million Muslims in India will stage an armed insurrection. They form one of Pakistan’s seven atomic bombs.”

A month later, on Jan. 8, 1993, there was this: “Muslims of Bhendi Bazar, Null Bazar, Dongri and Pydhonie, the areas [of Mumbai] we call Mini Pakistan … must be shot on the spot.”

There was plenty more too: much of it inspired by the failed artist who became Germany’s führer. After all, only weeks before the riots erupted, Thackeray said this about the führer’s famous autobiography: “If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word Jew and put in the word Muslim, that is what I believe in.”

With rhetoric like that, it’s no wonder the streets of my city saw the slaughter of 1992-93. It’s no wonder kids come to admire a mass-murderer, to rationalize away his massacres. It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he “loved” his country.

In his acclaimed 1997 book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen writes: “Hitler, in possession of great oratorical skills, was the [Nazi] Party’s most forceful public speaker. Like Hitler, the party from its earliest days was devoted to the destruction of … democracy [and to] most especially and relentlessly, anti-Semitism. … The Nazi Party became Hitler’s Party, obsessively anti-Semitic and apocalyptic in its rhetoric about its enemies.”

Do some substitutions in those sentences along the lines Thackeray wanted to do with Mein Kampf. Indeed, what you get is a more than adequate description of … no surprise, Thackeray himself.

Yes, it’s no wonder. Thackeray too was revered as an orator. Cremated, on Nov. 18, as a patriot.


Done to Death -Politics of punishment #deathpenalty

Manoj Mitta | November  2012, Times Crest




The higher the penalty, the greater the rigor that the courts are expected to display in arriving at the decision. It is however hard to apply this principle, ironically enough, to the highest possible penalty: namely, death. This has been admitted by the highest court of the land over and over again, the last time being literally on the eve of Ajmal Kasab‘s hanging. In a verdict delivered on November 20, Justice Madan Lokur said that in capital offences “it has become judge-centric sentencing rather than principled sentencing”.

But then, can this be said even about the decision to hang Kasab? If there was ever an open-and-shut case of capital crime, it was of course that of the only attacker to have survived the 26/11 massacre. So, whoever the judges were at the three levels of courts that had handled his case, it was most unlikely that any of them would have spared him the noose. It takes a crime of the magnitude of 26/11 to carve an exception to Justice Lokur’s formulation that the recourse to the death penalty depended on the judge rather than any principle. There was still an element of uncertainty about the punishment awarded to Kasab. And that was whether he would be executed at all and, if so, when.

This uncertainty was demonstrated in Kasab’s case by the utter secrecy and suddenness with which he was transferred to Pune and hanged there, early in the morning on November 21. It came as a complete surprise because even the President’s rejection of Kasab’s mercy petition had been kept under wraps for over a fortnight. A lot of high-level political decisions were involved in Kasab’s execution, beginning with the home ministry’s recommendation to the President to reject his mercy petition to taking a call on where he should be hanged to whether the hanging should take place so soon after Bal Thackeray‘s death.

Thus, whether it is about its pronouncement or about its execution, the decisions on death penalty are based more on politics than on law. Consider the manner in which the Kasab hanging triggered off a debate between the ruling and opposition parties on the longpending mercy petition of Afzal Guru, who had been sentenced to death in the Parliament attack case of 2001. Amid reports of the home ministry having recommended Guru’s hanging as well, it is uncertain as to where exactly the file is pending as of today. Unlike Kasab, Guru was not among the actual attackers. If Guru’s fate is still sought to be linked with Kasab’s hanging, at least in the public discourse, it is yet another indication of politics being a predominant factor.

There is a wide range of ways in which the subjectivity of politics has shown its edge over the objectivity of law in the context of death penalty: None of the major political parties has taken cognizance of the Supreme Court’s admitted inability to evolve a uniform standard for determining the “rarest of rare cases” in which the death penalty can be imposed. In recent years, the Supreme Court has repeatedly admitted the incongruity of weighing aggravating and mitigating circumstances to determine whether a convict fell in the rarest of rare cases. Since aggravating circumstances relate to the crime and mitigating circumstances relate to the criminal, the apex court’s latest verdict said: “The considerations for both are distinct and unrelated. The use of the mantra of aggravating and mitigating circumstances needs a review. ”

This was as close as the judiciary could have come to admitting to the arbitrariness inherent in most cases of death penalty. The horrendous implication is that death penalty is being imposed on standards that are not entirely justifiable or uniform. Yet, none of the political leaders participating in the death penalty debate has deemed it fit to call for a review of the very policy of retaining that irrevocable punishment in the statute book. The political silence on the churning within the judiciary on the efficacy of the death penalty testifies to the larger social indifference to this human rights issue.

Though Kasab’s hanging is just the second in over a decade, India has never adopted a moratorium on the death penalty despite a global trend. NGO, When Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged in 2004, it was after a lapse of six years. Kasab’s execution came after a lapse of eight years. The executions are so rare although courts, bound as they are by the law, have been every now and then awarding death sentences. The fault-line between the pronouncement of death sentence and its actual execution testifies to the increasing discomfort within the system. The very low frequency of executions was widely perceived as a tacit moratorium on death penalty. In fact, while responding to Kasab’s execution, Human Rights Watch, a global NGO, lamented the lifting of the moratorium in India. This was despite the fact that India, defying a global trend, has consistently refused to support UN resolutions calling for a moratorium on death penalty. The last such instance was virtually on the eve of Kasab’s hanging.

Kasab’s mercy petition was disposed of ahead of those like Guru who have been awaiting the President’s decision for far longer periods. Politics is writ large on the decision to give precedence to Kasab’s mercy plea over that of Guru’s. For, being a Pakistani national, and given the gravity and incontrovertible nature of his crime, there was little domestic support for Kasab. Afzal Guru on the other hand is seen by sections of Kashmiris as a symbol of India’s alleged excesses in their state. This is particularly because of Guru’s claim that he had a long record of being victimized by security forces in Kashmir and that it was at their instance that he had got mixed up with the conspiracy to attack Parliament. Whatever the intrinsic merits of the two cases, the extraneous factors made it easier for the government to take up Guru’s case ahead of Kasab’s.
Kasab was denied his right to challenge the President’s decision although the execution of other high profile convicts has been stayed by courts even after their mercy petitions had been rejected. Ever since this right has been laid down by the Supreme Court in Kehar Singh’s case in 1988, there have been several instances of death row convicts obtaining stay orders on their execution on various grounds even after the President had rejected their mercy petitions. The three Rajiv Gandhi killers, for instance, obtained a stay last year from the Madras high court on the ground that the President had decided their mercy petitions after an inordinate delay. The hush-hush manner in which Kasab was executed within days of the President’s decision betrayed a political resolve to avoid the risk of a judicial stay on his execution. The political calculation clearly was that the government had everything to gain and nothing to lose by executing Kasab.
Balwant Singh Rajoana’s execution has been stayed by the government although he never appealed against the death sentence or sought pardon. The killer of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh is a rare death row convict displaying courage of convict. His principled refusal to ask for mercy forced the Centre to stay the execution on its own to avoid political trouble in Punjab.
No policy debate so far on replacing hanging with more humane forms of execution such as lethal injection. Although the Law Commission about a decade ago recommended the lethal injection as an alternative, the government has so far shown little inclination to make any reform on the death penalty front. Hanging is part of popular consciousness in India and there is no political will to replace that form of punishment, however barbaric.


Married off at 11, Maharashtran girl wins battle for education #Vaw #childmarriage

By , TNN | Dec 1, 2012,

Married off at 11, Maharashtra girl wins battle for education
An 11-year-old girl from a small village in Aurangabad district walked into the Mukundwadi police station a couple of days ago to demand her right to education.

AURANGABAD: An 11-year-old girl from a small village in Aurangabad district walked into the Mukundwadi police station a couple of days ago to demand her right to education. Married off six months back to a 17-year-old boy suffering from mental illness, she mustered enough courage to approach the police and register a complaint against the boy and his parents for not allowing her to go to school.

The girl’s story was a familiar one—of abject poverty and the skewed nature of society. Apart from this, however, child welfare activists in Aurangabad say it wasn’t common to see a girl so young being married off. Last year, they had come across a case of a 14-year-old girl who was forced to marry by her parents. The Mukundwadi police referred the case of the fifth standard girl to the Cidco MIDC police as her village falls under their jurisdiction.

The police here handed her over to the city-based Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which immediately got her admitted to a school, where she has started attending classes Thursday onwards.

The CWC on Wednesday asked the police to register an offence against the parents of both the girl and the boy within three days. The girls’ parents and in-laws are reported to have fled their homes.

MIDC Cidco police inspector Ganpat Darade told TOI on Friday that they have recorded the girl’s statement. “She did not face any atrocity from her parents or the boy’s parents, though her father, who works as a labourer, is an alcoholic. It was only her desire to continue education that forced her to leave the boy’s home,” he said.

Darade said action would be taken against the parents of both the boy and the girl for violating the Prevention of Child Marriage Act. Social organizations and activists too expressed their concern over people mainly from the poor strata of society marrying off their minor children. CWC member Renuka Ghule said the girl was petrified when she came to the police station. “The police offered her food and water as she looked disoriented and tired. Later, when they took her into confidence, she narrated her story.


Facebook bans when you post anything anti-israel- try it ! #censorship

Facebook is controlled by the same people who are in control of other media.Whenever I post anything against the Israeli aggression or against any Arab dictators my posts are deleted and I get warning or get punishment of not being able to post anything on FB, pls check the screen shots of the warnings- Rizvi https://www.facebook.com/Rizviz

The admins of occupy wallstreet group used to share  rizvi’s  posts which was liked and shared by 40-50 thousand members everyday.

Even they got similar messages and on of the admin was banned from FB.
In past he  was blocked for posting a cartoon of King Abdullah of KSA.
And it was very strange that he could not even post a link/photo against coca-cola on FB.
His posts were disappearing immediately on fb. without any warning.

Screen shot 2012-11-28 at 1.01.26 AM

Screen shot 2012-11-28 at 12.41.46 AM

Screen shot 2012-11-28 at 12.44.26 AM

he snet me by message following poem, am posting here as he cannot on facebook

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Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

मैं जानता हूँ कि तेरे पंख मेरी कल्पना के परे उड़ान भरने में समर्थ हैं
परन्तु मेरी कल्पना ही मेरा धर्म है
यदि उसके परे तू जायेगा तो तेरे पंख काट दिए जायेंगे।
पहले पंख काटने वाले मेरे धार्मिक पुलिस हवलदार हुआ करते थे
अब कैंची रखने का अधिकार महानिरीक्षक के ही पास है
लोगों का मानना है कि हवलदार ही धार्मिक हुआ करते हैं
महानिरीक्षक पंख काटने में समझदारी दिखायेंगे
अब मुझपर बेइंसाफ होने की उँगलियाँ नहीं उठाई जाएँगी
मगर तू मेरी कल्पना के परे उड़ान भी नहीं भर सकेगा
मैं जब चाहूँ, जिसको चाहूँ, जिस समय चाहूँ
उठा कर ला सकता हूँ
हवालात में बलि चढ़ा सकता हूँ
या बीस साल तक काल कोठरी में रख कर
तेरी उड़ने कि क्षमता समाप्त होने पर
बाइज्ज़त बरी कर सकता हूँ
विश्व्यापी है मेरा धर्म और उसके मानने वाले
न तू सात समुन्दर दूर अमरीका में बच पायेगा
न रूस के किसी गिरजा घर में
न अरब में न इरान में
न ही चीन या जापान में
तेरा समय समाप्त हो चुका है
कबीर के साथ, ग़ालिब के साथ
वाल्मीकि पर अन्याय कर के तुलसी बच निकला
इन्टरनेट होता तो कोई बच नहीं पाता
यहाँ फड़फड़ाने से ज्यादा तू कुछ नहीं कर सकता
अब सारे इनाम, नोबेल पुरस्कार, भारत रत्न
मेरी कल्पना में ही सीमित विषयों पर मिलते हैं
इनाम पाओ उड़ान भूल जाओ


THE CARTOONS below have been banned, friends and myself cnanot see on mozilla firefox , but i can see on google chroome as it is connected to gmail account, one of my friends informed, hence i am sharing FACEBOOK ALBUM hope all can see the cartoons, PL DO COMMENT if you can see or not



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