Some Questions for Comrade Karat on Afzal’ Guru’s killing #deathpenalty

Shri Prakash Karat,

General Secretary,

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Dear Comrade,

Afzal Guru was hanged yesterday in utter secrecy, denied in his last moments the right to meet his wife and children one final time. Denied to him also was the ultimate judicial resort, due to every condemned convict after his/her mercy petition has been rejected.

The entire legal proceedings against Afzal were shot through with contradictions, fabrications and travesties of legal procedure. The Supreme Court bench that finally sentenced him to death did so to ‘appease the national conscience’ despite inadequate evidence of his role in the Parliament attack case.

And yet this is what your colleague in the Polit Bureau Sitaram Yechury had to say to the media on this issue, “I think, the law of the land with all its provisions has finally been completed as far as the Afzal Guru case and the attack on the Indian Parliament is concerned. The issue which had been lingering for the past 11 years has finally completed its due course.”

‘Law of the land’ has ‘completed its due course’? Is this the official stand of the CPI(M) on the Afzal Guru case? Or is it just Com. Yechury trying to ‘appease the national conscience’ and joining the UPA in harnessing the ‘Hindu vote’?

Surely you and your colleagues in the Polit Bureau have heard that Afzal was unrepresented from the time of his arrest till he made his alleged ‘confession? You may have also perhaps heard of the letter that Afzal wrote to the Judge pleading he had no faith in the lawyer appointed for him by the Court, asking to be represented by any from a list of four lawyers he named. The Court records show that two of these lawyers refused to represent him but there is no information whether the other two on the list were even ever asked.

A lawyer, who had never met Afzal, admitted documents in court incriminating him. Or has your Polit Bureau been watching too many telecasts of his ‘confession’ – considered inadmissible in any court of law – as damning evidence of his guilt?

But never mind. Lack of legal representation for your Party does not seem too major an obstacle in implementing the ‘due course of law’. When elections are looming on the horizon, and your Party’s mass base is dwindling, a little injustice – like the murder of an innocent man- does not matter of course.

If the Congress is fast becoming the B Team of the communal Hindutva brigade should the CPI (M) try to become the C Team? Has your Party learnt nothing from the defeats it has suffered due to similar unprincipled stands it has taken in the past? Are we being completely delusional in expecting a Party named with grand terms like ‘Communist’ and ‘Marxist’ to take a stand different from that of political formations taking the nation fast forward towards all out Fascism?


Satya Sivaraman

Manisha Sethi


#India-I reject #censorship: Dr Shashi Tharoor @ Pitch #FOE #FOS

Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister & Member of Indian Parliament

Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister & Member of Indian Parliament

Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development & Member of Indian Parliament, delivered the Keynote Address, “Role of Digital & Social Media in Connecting with Young India” at the Pitch Youth Marketing Summit, held in New Delhi recently. Dr Tharoor talked about his experiences on Twitter and how social media is shaping the current political scenario in India and worldwide. Here is Dr Tharoor’s complete Keynote Address:

Talking about social media today in India, I think it’s important to start off with some global basics. The first is of course is that the freedom of expression is fundamental. That’s my belief and commitment as a writer and as a politician, and as somebody who uses all media, social and otherwise — social and anti-social!

Freedom of expression is the mortar that binds together the bricks of our freedom and it’s also the open window embedded in those bricks. We need freedom of expression to guarantee all of our other acts. In this country we are all entitled to receive and send information thorough electronic networks, to share information, whether through the newspaper, the TV screen or online websites and to do so without censorship and restriction. This is fundamental to the kind of world which we all live in.

As a writer and a politician, I am conscious how fortunate we are to live in a country that guarantees us that right. Writers in some developing countries have to contend with the argument that development and freedom of expression are incompatible – that the media, for instance, must serve the ends of development as defined by the government, or operate only within the boundaries of what the social and religious authorities define as permissible.  The developing world is full of writers, artists and journalists who have to function in societies which do not grant them this freedom.  For them freedom of expression is the oxygen of their own survival, and that of their society, but they are stifled.  In countries where truth is what the government or the religious establishment says is true, freedom of expression is essential to depict alternative truths which the society needs to accommodate in order to survive.

And yet it is all too often absent, because in many countries, there are those who question the value of freedom of speech in their societies; those who argue that it threatens stability and endangers progress; those who still consider freedom of speech a Western import, an imposition from abroad and not the indigenous expression of every people’s demand for freedom. What has always struck me about this argument is that it is never made by the people, but by governments; never by the powerless but by the powerful; never by the voiceless, but by those whose voices are all that can be heard.  Let us put this argument once and for all to the only test that matters: the choice of every people, to know more or know less, to be heard or be silenced, to stand up or kneel down. Only freedom of expression will allow the world’s oppressed and underprivileged a way out of the darkness that shrouds their voices, and their hopes.  The Internet has been giving them this choice as never before.

But then beyond that, and beyond the way in which social media reflects our freedom of expression, we have to go into how the information society of the 21st century provides citizens with full information to allow democratic participation at all levels in determining their own future.

Technology has become the biggest asset for those who seek to promote and protect freedom of expression around the world. The exciting thing about social media is that the new digital technology offers great possibilities for enhancing traditional media and combining them with new media.

The Internet has been made possible by advances in technology that have also transformed the traditional media. Traditional media, and especially radio and television, remain the sole form of access to the information society for much of the world’s population, including the very poor and the illiterate. The poorest, and the illiterate, have not yet been able to use social media and the internet. But even the rest of us rely on traditional media, we can’t wish them away. There is increasing convergence between television and the internet and soon we can try and see how we can marry modern technologies to actually make serious progress in the world.

Today, however, our focus is on social media. Look at the extraordinary transformation that is happening. Just a day after he was sworn in as our President, Pranab Mukherjee announced that he would be opening a Facebook account to receive and respond to the queries from the public. In fact, his fellow Bengali, Mamata Banerjee, has beaten him to it, with a popular and widely read website that the media mines daily for new stories about her views. Just three years ago, when I first went on social media, it was fashionable for Indian politicians to sneer at the use of social media. Today our own President made it clear that these are essential tools for clear, accountable and credible political leadership. The governments of the world or the big institutions of power have become more vulnerable today because of the fact that the new media technology has exposed them to the uncontrolled impact of instant news. And so the fact is that when we speak about the social media, we can’t get away from understanding the impact of new technology on the way the world is working.

Technology is such that everybody has a mobile phone in her or his pocket and you can do far more than when you could have first acquired a mobile phone. Now, you can take pictures, you can take videos, you can transmit them and go on the internet. Something like 5 billion people worldwide, including 84% of Americans, more than 70% of Chinese and at least 60% of Indians, today use mobile phones. You can all get your messages out more rapidly. The strength of this is that you can enable ordinary people to issue and disseminate even raw footage or compellingly authentic images before the mainstream media or the government can actually do so. So you can open up a social media space even not being a professional media person.

Read more here


Immediate Release-Jan Sansad Demands the end of Corporate Raj

Budget was UPA’s declaration of War on Aam Aadmi and Aurat

Jan Sansad Demands End of Company Raj & Corporate Plunder of  Jal Jangal & Jameen

Thousands to March from Shaheed park to Sansad Marg and  handover Resolutions to Political Parties Representatives & Civil Society Members

22 March 2012, New Delhi: The National Jan Sansad concluded its three days with a strong demand for a people’s oriented progressive ‘Budget’ that will serve as an instrument of Social Change and promote sustainable, just and equitable growth. The Jan Sansad condemned strongly the budget, of about 15 lakh crores, proposed by the Indian Parliament which will only further the interest of corporations and the wealthy urban class. The Jan Sansad organised by the National Alliance of People’s Movements in Rajendra Bhawan in New Delhi has brought together over 350 representatives from 20 different states of India to debate key issues of people’s concerns that rarely find mention in the Indian Parliament.

Several crucial issues such as decentralized planning and increased role for Gram Sabhas in policy planning that would contribute to a comprehensive budget were raised by the Sansad. Atleast 40% of the budget should be allocated to the Gram Sabhas for spending at the local level. Making the connection between corruption and weak economy, Prafulla Samantra of NAPM, Orissa, remarked that the dialogue on corruption is incomplete unless the plunder of natural resources such as land, water, air and minerals is taken into account. Communities demanded that natural resources not be allocated for profit-making businesses without consent of Gram Sabhas. The budget should ensure equitable access to both economic and natural resources.

The previous budgets reveal that while subsidies provided to the corporations amount to over 5 lakh crores, those allocated to the poorer agricultural classes are around one lakh crore. The Saansads argued that restructuring of the Indian tax structure, for instance by imposing estate, wealth tax, gift tax, inheritance tax, will generate adequate revenue which can increase spending on rural social infrastructure. “It is not sufficient that the budget is brought to public forums in the month of January every year. And even this is only an eyewash if none of the issues raised by organisations, trade unions are reflected in the final budget”, claimed Prof Arun Kumar, Economist, JNU.

For equitable growth, the budget needs to have adequate and specific allocations for women, dalits, muslims and other minority communities. Speaking against the privatization of the health and education sectors, the Sansad also advocated for a 6% budgetary allocation. Dr. Meera Shiva spoke on the dangers of privatization of the health sector where multinational companies are into all sectors of health including services, insurance, diagnosis, and education. Their control over the patents, further facilitated by free trade agreements and WTO is denying access to millions of people across the world. The Union Budget has to stop promoting these agreements and must immediately withdraw from undemocratic processes like WTO and other bilateral trade agreements.

The days’s panelists included Medha Patkar, K.B.Saxena, Dr Satyajit Singh, Amitabh Behar, Prof Arun Kumar, Meera Shiva, Kamal Nayan Kabra, Madhu Baduri, Sumit Chakravarthy, and Praful Bidwai

While the Jan Sansad sessions continued, on the occasion of World Water Day, movement groups fighting water privatisation, dams, thermal and nuclear power plants staged demonstrations in front of Tamilnadu Bhawan and Kerala Bhawan, Jantar Mantar. In solidarity with people fighting against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Tamilnadu movement groups joined the Jawaharlal Nehru University student’s Union demonstration in front of the Tamilnadu Bhavan condemning the States repression of the non-violent struggle by fisherfolk and local communities in Idinthakarai. Later in the day, thousands of nature based communities struggling against water acquisition and privatisation, demanded ‘Save Water, Save Life, Save People’ at Jantar Mantar. The groups included Plachimada anti-coke struggle, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Arunachal anti-mega dam struggle groups, Matu Jan Sanghatan, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Narmada Bachao Andolan and others and was led by Medha Patkar, Sanddep Pandey, Vilayodi Venugopal and others.

Thousands of adivasis and marginal farmers from Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh who came for Jan sansad have been demonstrating against Adani thermal power plant since yesterday at jantar mantar. They were joined today by nearly 500 people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Kisan Sangharsh Samiti leading the struggle against destructive thermal power plants in the area have been demanding that the illegal clearance granted to Adani Thermal and Pench water diversion project be revoked. Jan sansad passed a resolution in their support and demanded that Ministry of Environment and Forest must take action against Adani & the police atrocities in the region.

Jan Sansad passed resolutions on the issues of communities’ control of natural resources, corporate corruption and many other issues. Tomorrow, March 23rd, on occasion of martyrs day, thousands of people joining the concluding session of Jantar Mantar will march from Shaheed Park, near ITO to the Sansad Marg and hand over the resolutions to the representatives of the different political parties. Bhaktha Charan Das, Mohan Singh, Sharad Yadav, Tarun Mandal and many others are expected to attend. The resolutions will also be handed over to the members of civil society, trade unions, University and others.

Lok Shakti Abhiyan, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movement

For more details contact Media Team: Madhuresh Kumar: 9818905316


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