#India -Why Narendra Modi should not be the PRIME MINISTER


T.K.ARUN.MODI1 TNN, T K ARUN
Narendra Modi should not become the prime minister, because that would destroy the idea of India as a nation that celebrates unity in diversity, where multiple identities prosper in harmony and dignity. Equally, democracy and the rule of law would be casualties under Modi. For the BJP, Modi’s ascent to the top would mean a hasty end to any hope of evolving into a centre-right party minus a Hindu majoritarian agenda.

The tutored rants of a pseudo-secular hack who cannot see the glory of growth, prosperity and social harmony achieved in Gujarat under Modi’s leadership? That, of course, would be the typical reaction of Modi’s fan following, whose ardour only grows with every objection to their leader’s elevation to the pinnacle of power. But passion and protest are no substitute for the analysis of hard facts.

Gujarat has indeed prospered under Modi. Modi is an able administrator, gives scope for innovative ideas from bright sparks in the bureaucracy to be deployed on the ground. He has been able to curb petty corruption at the retail level. The state has a viable power sector and everyone pays his bill. All this is true.

Much of it is true for other states as well, except for the success story in power. Bihar has grown faster than Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra more or less match its growth rates. And Gujarat lags in reducing poverty, showing that the growth it achieves is rather lopsided. Women have a raw deal, with high levels of anaemia and low levels of college education, compared to several other states.

Gujaratis are an enterprising people, have been the most enthusiastic in taking advantage of liberalisation and globalisation and have propelled economic growth in their state. The chief minister certainly can take credit for not standing in the way but even more certainly cannot take credit for the Gujarati business acumen accumulated over history.

But Modi’s vaunted achievement is not just to have led growth. There is no denying his charisma as a leader, the conviction and force with which he speaks and his ability to move his audience with oratory.

Leadership power, unfortunately, is not an automatic argument in his favour. What he leads his followers to becomes all the more important, the more inspirational he is as a leader. And this is where the rub is. What he believes in, what he has practised, is extremely divisive, inimical to liberal democracy.

Modi is not on the best terms with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This is not because the Sangh suspects him of any ideological deviation. Rather, Modi personifies the Sangh’s belief system. The problem is that Modi is too authoritarian to accept the discipline even of the Sangh. This authoritarian streak has manifested itself as quashing of dissent and fostering of leaders like Amit Shah, prime accused in encounter killings, extortion rackets.

It is not factually true that there have been no attacks on Muslims in Gujarat after the pogroms of 2002, but there has been relative peace. Under his government, the Sangh Parivar has taught the Muslims of Gujarat to live as second class citizens, their safety and security guaranteed not so much by the commitment of the state to protect the rights of citizens as by patronage conditional on good behaviour. This, indeed, was the ideal laid down by the Sangh’s Guru Golwalkar, who strongly believed that India should be the land of Hindus and followers of other religions should live here not as equal citizens under a secular constitution but as second class citizens enjoying truncated rights. The Sangh no longer says this openly but nor has it repudiated its most influential leader’s teachings. The Sangh and all the organisations it has formed and/patronised, including the BJP, propagate the myth that Hindus are an oppressed, exploited group in India while the minorities are coddled with undue benefits. This myth is used to fan hatred towards non-Hindus and to unify Hindus on the basis of such hatred.

This attempt is inimical to democracy and peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths. It is also inimical to the traditional Hindu ethos. At the level of theology, Hinduism recognises no deviance in the pursuit of spiritual equilibrium, tantric sex and austere, ascetic, intellectual pursuit of the ultimate and everything in-between being all equally acceptable. With a pantheon that has more gods than there were Hindus at the time of Independence, Hinduism has no problem accepting a few more gods, whatever their names.

Inclusiveness with regard to multiple paths of spirituality is not the same thing as tolerance. Hindus have little tolerance when it comes to caste trespasses. That honour killings continue even today stands testimony to this form of intolerance. Yet, the philosophical core of Hinduism, advaita, lends itself to radical interpretations that negate caste and see universal humanity across nations, races and other divisions. One such interpretation was espoused by Vivekananda, whose views have little in common with the sectarian vision of the Sangh and its acolytes like Modi. For Vivekananda, all religions lead to spiritual realisation, just as all rivers lead to the ocean. For the Sangh and Modi, Muslims and Islam are anathema. This has nothing to do with Vivekananda or his thought.

Hypocrisy, intolerance and authoritarianism will become instituted in the central government, if Modi were to become prime minister. For any other BJP leader, such institutionalisation would be a risk, countered by the system’s inertia. With Modi, that would be a certainty.

India’s prosperity depends on voluntary unity of its constituent diversity. Attempts to subordinate some sections will inevitably lead to schism. The deep alienation induced by the bloody campaign to demolish the Babri mosque is still playing out as occasional terror strikes. The point is to create integration and inclusion, not further alienation that descends into civil war.

 

With anti-reservation, anti-women comments, candidates embarrass Loksatta- Kractivism IMPACT


loksatta

SUDIPTO MONDAL, The Hindu, April20, 2013

One candidate asked to withdraw nomination, two others reprimanded

The Loksatta Party, which is set to make its debut in the Karnataka Assembly elections promising “clean” politics, has run into trouble with three of its candidates taking positions that appear to run counter to its stated ideological vision and standpoint.

Phanisai Bhardwaj, candidate in Bangalore South, has said on his facebook page: “Apolish [abolish] reservation for particular community in education as well as jobs.” The comment was on a digitally altered photograph posted by him showing two lanes of a road. One is clogged with traffic, while the other is completely free. The empty road has one man, identified as “SC/ST” walking past stationary vehicles on the other road. The road clogged with traffic is titled “general.”

Mr. Bhardwaj is also part of a group, ‘Centre for Men’s Rights,’ which believes that men are the oppressed sex and fights against Section 498 (a) of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises cruelty to a woman by her husband or his relatives.

Rupa Rani, candidate in Rajajinagar here, has shared a photograph titled “Save the Holy Cow” posted by her facebook friend “Saffron.” The photograph shows the seer of the Ramchandrapura Math and Sangh Parivar ideologue Raghaveshwara Bharathi petting a cow.

Meenakshi Bharath, candidate in Malleshwaram, has posted a photograph showing Muslim men showering rose petals on a troop of RSS workers clad in khaki knickers and wielding lathis. She posted Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s speech also on her facebook profile.

Party sources, who wished anonymity, said Ms. Bharath’s repeated public endorsement of leaders such as Modi caused embarrassment to the Loksatta in the past as well.

Founder Jayprakash Narayan said Mr. Bhardwaj’s position on women was “unacceptable.” He said: “He is not talking Loksatta language or ideology.” He was asked to withdraw his nomination soon after.

On Ms. Rani’s post, Mr. Narayan said there were already laws against cow slaughter across the country. “But if you are going to make anti-cow slaughter and vegetarianism cultural symbols, then it is wrong,”

On Ms. Bharath, he said: “I don’t think Mr. Modi is an untouchable. The Loksatta Party doesn’t embrace any political party or individual, nor does it see them as untouchables.”

Party spokesperson Anand Yadwad said Ms. Rani and Ms. Bharath were asked to remove the offensive posts. “We have told them that they cannot take such anti-party stand.”

Elsewhere on the blogsphere, online activists are posting and re-posting the Facebook posts of the three Loksatta candidates as part of a campaign titled “Expose Loksatta Party — Anti-Women, Anti- SC/ST, shaking hands with Hindutva forces.”

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, who started the online campaign, said: “What kind of scrutiny does the party put its candidates through?” Activist Manohar Elavarathi, who first discovered these controversial Facebook posts, said: “Progressive political movements are built from the bottom up by accounting for inequalities arising out of caste, class, gender and communalism. I don’t know how a middle-class oriented party like the Loksatta can achieve that.”

 

Press Release- Arrests on false charges by highly communalized Karnataka police


PRESS STATEMENT

Christian victims tell People’s Tribunal about arrests on false charges by highly communalized Karnataka police

Sangh Parivar hoodlums had free hand in assault on pastors, demolishing churches during 2012-2013: Uttara Canara worst impacted.

Benguluru, April 19, 2013

More than 70 Christian Pastors told a People Tribunal in Bengaluru city today how a highly communalized Karnataka police arrested them and kept them confined in police stations or jails on false charges in league with hoodlums of the Sangh Parivar. Women too were also not spared. The Women victims broke down as they narrated the violence against them.

The victims remained in confinement from overnight to several days, the distinguished jury consisting of eminent social activists heard in the Tribunal organized by the All India Christian Council to assess the victimization and persecution of Christian pastors and attacks on churches. It was quite clear from the narrations that Uttara Canara was the foci of the anti-Christian violence, but incidents of persecution were reported from every one of the 30 districts of the state during 2012 and in the first three months of 2013.

The “Peoples Hearing on Persecution of Christians in Karnataka” was held at the Institute of Agriculture Technologists in the city. The Jury consisted of Mrs Brinda Adige, the celebrated Founder member of Global Concerns India, Advocate Omkar KB, and Mr K L Ashok, general secretary of Komu Souhardha Vedhike [Communal Harmony Front].and Mr. Mohamed Rafi Ahmed,General Secretay Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity.

The Public Hearing comes in the wake of the statement by former Karnataka High court judge Michael Saldanha that Karnataka had witnessed 1,000 cases of persecution of Christians in three years between 2010 and 2012 – an average of more than 300 a year. This was the situation in 2012 also. Most of the victims remain in great fear. Of the 200 persons requested to come to the hearing, only 80 agreed to come. But all of them were afraid of what would happen to them if they spoke in public at the hearing. Many asked the Christian Council how they would be protected if anything happened to them after they gave their evidence.

From the statements of the victim, it is clear that the police have been heavily penetrated and politicized under the BJP rule of Mr. B S Yediyurappa and of his successors, while local thugs and Sangh activists across the state have been encouraged to take the law into their own hands. Many villages show a sharp increase in intolerance, encouraged by the inaction of police forces. Incidents of intolerance included Sangh Parivar members goading villages to stop the construction of churches, demolition of existing structures and stopping people from preaching or peacefully distributing literature. Witnesses identified their attackers as belonging to RSS, the Bajrangdal and some local frontal organizations.

Justice was procured only after the victims approached the local and higher courts. The High Court had to intervene in one case to allow the construction of a religious structure.

The victims were, in essence, of three kinds – those who were imprisoned, those who had their churches destroyed, and those who were physically assaulted and beaten up by mobs.

Speaking on behalf of the jury Advocate Omkar said it was clear the machanary of the state was used by the redical political elements to harass the Christian community and specially the pastors and religious leaders. There was a well-organized anti-Christian violence in 2008. It seems there is still a strong nexus between the police, the local village chiefs, tehsildhars against the community at the behest of the Sangh Parival. “The state is also fully culpable he added”. Advocate Omkar said the protectors had become the attackers.

Mr. K. Ashok called upon the community to make common cause with the civil society and progressive forces in asserting fundamental rights including freedom of faith. He also called for legal literacy in the community.

Mohamed Rafi Ahmed said it was heart rendering to hear the tales of horror and the many incidents of police complicity the Bajrangdal and others. The Government must take notice of it. India has a secular constitution and it is the right of every citizen to practice, profess and propagate his faith. He asked the victims to stand for firm and pursue justice with the perseverance

The All India Christian Council expressed its deep regret at the inaction of the State Government and thee State Minority Commission in coming to the rescue of the persecuted Christians. The Council demanded that the Governor and Chief Minister send out categorical instructions to every police station to take notice of such incidents of violence and take stern action the aggressors.

The Council has also demanded a single-window redress system by the State Director General of Police to listen to complaints because local police station are not recording the incidents, said Dr. John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council and Secretary General of All India Christian Council.

The testimonies have been recorded and are available for the press and he government. Copies will be sent to the concerned departments and a copy will be sent to the Chief Justice of Karnataka.

For further details, please contact,
Rev. Kumar Swamy, National Secretary for Public Affairs aicc, 09980917316
Rev Anand Kumar, State coordinator aicc 9739810548
and Dr John Dayal, Secretary General, aicc, 09811021072

 

#Gujarat- Death for Kodnani move to warn Advani, deflect Zakia?


Gujarat EDN

TOI 18APR2013

Turmoil In State Sangh Parivar

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government’s clearance on Monday of the file put forth by the special investigations team that recommended death penalty for former minister Maya Kodnani, instead of a life term, in the Naroda Patia massacre of 2002 has brought about turmoil in the entire Sangh Parivar in Gujarat. The file had been submitted to the legal department in September 2012 and the timing is most discussed.
In an interview to BBC on January 28 this year, BJP president Rajnath Singh had said that Maya Kodnani is innocent and the party will fully support her in the legal battle. But the move on Monday against Kodnani is now being seen with suspicion by even Parivar insiders because Kodnani’s loyalties lie with L K Advani.
Kodnani’s parents, who have a strong Parivar background, had met RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat in Ahmedabad last fortnight and requested him to use his good offices to help Kodnani. Many local RSS stalwarts had supported the impassioned plea from the family.
The timing of the clearance of the file is important as it comes seven months after the SIT submitted the report and deflects attention from Zakia Jafri protest petition against chief minister Narendra Modi with thousands of pages of wireless messages and call data record as evidence that Modi government knew about the violence in advance. Also, it comes on the heels of a section of the BJP and NDA favouring Advani as PM.
The change in government’s stance is stark. In 2009, when Kodnani was granted bail and SIT wanted bail cancellation, the Modi government replied to SIT that Maya is innocent and denied permission. Even during trial, Kodnani was not arrested.
Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years in jail August 2012 with 30 others for their role in the Naroda Patiya massacre. Kodnani, a three-time Naroda MLA, was identified in the court by 11 survivors as a mob leader.
Kodnani, a gynaecologist inducted as minister of state for women and child development by Modi in 2007, is the first former minister to be found guilty in any case relating to the riots.
VHP opposes move
Ahmedabad: The VHP leadership in Gujarat is up in arms against the state government’s decision to seek death penalty for former state minister Maya Kodnani and nine others in the 2002 Naroda Patia massacre case.

Kodnani seeks suspension of sentence

Former minister and a convict in the Naroda Patia massacre case, Maya Kodnani has requested the Gujarat high court to suspend the sentence against her and to release her on bail till her appeal against the conviction is decided.
Special judge Jyotsna Yagnik sentenced her to 28-year imprisonment after holding her guilty of participation in the killing of 97 people on February 28, 2002. The court held that she was the kingpin of the massacre and had incited the mob to resort to violence. She was sentenced on August 31 last year.
Kodnani has sought suspension of her sentence mainly on the ground that her appeal against conviction is not likely to be heard soon. Moreover, she has also contended that her appeal has good merit and there is likelihood of her succeeding in it. She has stated in her petition that the lower court had not evaluated evidence in proper manner and ignored constant improvisation on part of witnesses. She has also questioned the lower court’s decision to admit the electronic evidence in form of the sting operation, which contains extra-judicial confessions of Kodnani’s co-accused like Babu Bajrangi and Suresh Langdo.
Demanding bail, Kodnani has contended that she has deep roots in society and is not likely to abscond. TNN

Sanction to SIT a clever ploy: Activist
S ocial activist Cedric Prakash has dubbed the sanctio n granted by the state government to the SIT for seeking harsher punishment for Maya Kodnani and others in Naroda Patia case as “a very clever ploy to defocus from more important issues”. “The ruse now is to deflect from the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri, which definitely names people and the events during the carnage,” he stated, adding that the state government had in fact promoted Kodnani to the ministry even after knowing her role in the massacre. TNN

 

Why memories of Gujarat 2002 stay


AJAZ ASHRAF, The Hindu , April 2, 2013

 

Riots under BJP rule are the culmination of the Sangh Parivar’s ideological impulse to keep communal tensions alive while for Congress they are tactical instruments

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh’s decision to accord a prominent role to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is presumably based on the belief that the diverse Indian electorate would forgive him for the communal mayhem of 2002, as it often has the Congress for the riots under its rule. This can be presumed from the comments Mr. Singh made at a function in Delhi in early February. In a recriminatory tone, he had then asked, “Our opposition parties allege that BJP is the party which creates enmity between Hindus and Muslims. Did riots not take place during Congress rule?”

Not just the votaries and apologists of the BJP but even ideologically neutral individuals often echo the sentiments Mr. Singh expressed. From Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) in 1961 to Bharatpur (Rajasthan) in 2012, the Congress has palpably failed to control communal hotheads from running amok periodically. Yet the party hasn’t been tagged communal, and still garners a substantial chunk of the minority as well as secular votes. What explains the dichotomy in the public response to the riots under the BJP rule as compared to those under the Congress governments?

ELEMENTAL

For one, the phenomenon of communal riot is an elemental aspect of the Sangh Parivar’s ideology, an extreme manifestation of its politics which is predicated on articulating and redressing the grievances of Hindus, real or imagined, the provenance of which lies either in the medieval past or in post-Independence public policies the saffron brigade perceives as unjustifiably favouring the minorities.

This worldview pits the Hindus against the minorities, particularly the Muslims, until such time the inexhaustible list of grievances is addressed. The politics emanating from this worldview consequently spawns an ambience of tension among communities, reduced or heightened depending on the exigencies of circumstances but never allowed to dissipate. In other words, the inter-community tension, signifying the abnormal in politics, has no possibility of closure in the immediate future. It is designed to become our daily state of existence.

The tension is stoked at pan-India, State and district levels. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement sought to meld the Hindus, with all their class, caste, linguistic and regional divides, into a monolith, through a demand asking Muslims to voluntarily relinquish their custody of the Babri Masjid. Of similar nature are the demands for relocating mosques abutting the Krishna and Shiv temples in Mathura and Varanasi. These symbols of pan-India Hindu mobilisation are augmented through the manufacturing of disputes over places of worship of local significance. Into this category fall the protracted disputes over the Bhagyalakshmi temple at the base of the Charminar in Hyderabad, the Baba Budangiri-Guru Dattatreya shrine in Karnataka, and the Bhojshala complex in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.

In addition, there are hundreds of places of worship and graveyards in mofussil towns whose ownerships are contended between Hindus and Muslims. No doubt, some of these disputes date back decades but, over the years, myriad groups comprising the Sangh Parivar have taken over the leadership of these ‘little battles of liberation’. For variety, Christian priests are attacked and churches vandalised on the charges of converting Hindus to Christianity.

In this culture of inter-community tension, alternatively fanned and allowed to simmer, the riot is the logical culmination of an insidious process. It is akin to a person experiencing a nervous breakdown after suffering acute mental agony for months; it is similar to living life on the edge, uncertain though you are about the precise moment of the inevitable fall off the precipice. Indeed, communal tension in perpetuity is less traumatic only in degrees to an outbreak of a riot.

The sheer salience of tension-riot in the politics of BJP is precisely why a localised inter-community conflict under its rule acquires a resonance countrywide. It is perceived as illustrative of the fate awaiting the minorities in an India in which the BJP exercises untrammeled power. The 2002 riot of Gujarat was horrifying not only because of its barbarity but also because it was viewed to have been ideologically driven and, therefore, bound to be replicated elsewhere.

By contrast, the riots under the Congress rule, even the ones its activists spearhead, are instrumental rather than ideological. Barring the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, the riots under the Congress rarely spill beyond a parliamentary constituency or two. The motive behind such mayhem is usually a local Congressman wanting to win an election from a constituency; a riot or communal tension rarely becomes a tool for political mobilisation countrywide, again, the 1984 riots being the exception. Though cynical, the breakdown in inter-community relationship is almost always followed by attempts to restore the earlier social harmony.

ATONEMENT

No doubt, the Congress was justifiably implicated in the 1984 riots. It symbolically atoned for its guilt by appointing Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, and he, on August 12, 2005, apologised not only to the Sikh community in Parliament, but also to the entire nation “because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood in our Constitution”.

More significantly, the Congress is forgiven because the riots under it are often (not always, though) the handiwork of organisations owing allegiance or belonging to the Sangh Parivar. It’s a conclusion several commissions of inquiry appointed to probe riots have reached. There are just too many to be quoted. But sample what the Joseph Vithayathil Commission on the Tellicherry riots of 1971 said. It traced the origin of communal tension in the town to the RSS’s decision to establish its units there. In an incident the rioters accosted one Muhammad and offered him the following choice, “If you want to save your life you should go round the house three times repeating the words, ‘Rama, Rama’.” The commission noted, “Muhammad did that. But you cannot expect the 70 million Muslims of India to do that as a condition for maintaining communal harmony in the country”.

More than 40 years after Tellicherry, tension-riot remains the Sangh Parivar’s defining strategy of achieving its ideological goal of turning India Hindu. This is why we remember the riots under the BJP and not those under the Congress, which too has been responsible for the spilling of blood and untold misery.

(Ajaz Ashraf is a Delhi-based journalist. E-mail: ashrafajaz3@gmail.com)

 

Gujarat and the Politics of Vendetta – Haren Pandya and Narendra Modi


Haren Pandya was killed on March 26, 2003. But his political career started to die
slowly after Narendra Modi took charge as Gujarat chief minister on October 7, 2001.

Ajay Umat , TOI, takes you through the last few months of Pandya’s political life

DROPPED FROM TEAM MODI
Modi did not include Pandya, who was earlier the minister of state for home, when he formed his first cabinet. Later, when he expanded the cabinet, Haren was given the revenue portfolio largely due to pressure from the Sangh Parivar and Sanjay Joshi, the BJP general secretary at the time.
ELLISBRIDGE BURNT BRIDGES COMPLETELY
Modi wanted to contest election from Pandya’s Ellisbridge constituency. But Pandya refused to oblige Modi. The CM was so upset that when he saw Pandya in a meeting organized by the then party president in Gujarat, Rajendrasinh Rana, at the Circuit House, he left announcing that he cannot attend a meeting or a function where Pandya was present. Pandya had to leave the venue and both did not see eye to eye from that day.
GODHRA FANNED HATRED 
After the Godhra carnage, it was reported that Pandya, during a cabinet meeting, opposed the idea of bringing dead bodies of victims to Ahmedabad. He reportedly reasoned that it could lead to more tension but was asked to shut up by some ministers.
FAMILY CONTINUED TO FIGHT
Pandya’s father Vitthalbhai contested parliamentary polls as an independent against L K Advani in 2004. He lost but the old man sent out a message: the fight for justice would continue. Similarly, Pandya’s wife Jagruti contested assembly elections from Ellisbridge on Keshubhai Patel’s GPP ticket. She too lost.
BJP LEADERSHIP CRITICIZED
Controversy followed the murder. The Modi government faced severe criticism from within the Sangh Parivar and Pandya’s supporters for sidelining the leader. Questions were also raised about not providing him proper security despite threats to his life. Pandya’s death procession was one of the biggest in the history of Gujarat. Some BJP leaders say that upset by the popularity of the slain leader, Modi decided to hold a meeting of BJP legislature party on the day when Pandya’s family organized his ‘besna’. “There was a feeling that Modi did this to prevent leaders from going for the condolence meeting,” says a BJP leader.
STATUE POLITICS
Pandya’s wife Jagruti had to run from pillar to post for getting permission for a statue of her slain husband installed. After the BJP-run state government refused to help, finally the Congress, which was in power in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation passed a resolution and allowed a statue in the Ellisbridge area. Eventually, Advani and Modi unveiled the statue.
TRIBUNAL
TROUBLES
On June 7, 2002, the then state IB chief R B Sreekumar was asked by Modi’s principal secretary P K Mishra to find out which minister had met an independent citizen’s tribunal that included former Supreme Court Chief Justice V R Krishna Iyer. Mishra told Sreekumar that Haren Pandya, the then revenue minister, was suspected to be the one involved. Sreekumar was asked to obtain call data records of Pandya’s cellphone. Pandya reportedly told the tribunal that the post-Godhra massacres were orchestrated by Modi. Eventually Pandya resigned from the cabinet.
ELIMINATED, POLITICALLY SPEAKING
In December 2002, Modi did not give a ticket to Pandya despite tremendous pressure from all quarters, including the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Modi got himself admitted to Civil Hospital in Gandhinagar, complaining of chest pain. Pandya could not contest the election.
SIDELINED IN THE PARTY
Having prevented Pandya from contesting assembly polls, the party leadership ensured that he was not given any important assignment in the party or the government. Senior leaders like L K Advani and Arun Jaitley tried to intervene but in vain. Finally, the Sangh Parivar prevailed and it was decided that in the first week of April Pandya would be given responsibility as party’s national secretary in New Delhi. However, as luck would have it, a week before the likely announcement, Pandya was murdered after a morning walk in the Law Garden area in Ahmedabad.

 

#India- The Struggle Against Rape and Sexual Assault: A View from the Left #Vaw #Rape


gangrape

Soma Marik , radicalsocialist

The Current Mobilizations over Rape:

As a historian, I know that the actions very often have highly unintended consequences. Historical turning points occur, not because deep planning willed them into existence, but at the intersection of many cross-currents. So it is today. Activists of our generation have been campaigning for long over rape, demanding changes in rape laws, changes in attitudes, and a wide range of demands. But it was not our repeated campaigns, nor even the over a decade long epic protest of Irom Sharmila, that managed to shake the entire country. It was, on the surface, a single incident, the Delhi bus gang rape of early December 2012. We are aware of the vast numbers who have come out and demanded punishment, government action, who have protested repeatedly and vigorously.  Accordingly, we need:

  • To understand, why this tremendous anger, and how do we relate to it? There are reasons for taking this approach, because at some important points, the approach of the feminist movement may not be the same as the approach of a part of the current movement.
  • To reflect and ask ourselves, where do we go from here?  What will our long term demands be?
  • To discuss ways and means, by which the movement can develop.

The anger is the result of growing hostility of the people of India, including of the well-to-do middle class which has been much more looked after by all the regimes – UPA, NDA, United Front – and not just the most exploited social layers. This anger and rejection was earlier displayed by the support given to Anna Hazare. I do not thereby express my support to him. I am pointing out that Hazare received mass support because he seemed to represent an alternative to round and round of corruption, criminality, violence, by all the mainstream parties. Regardless of his own motivations, which were quite authoritarian, the social base that was behind him was not finished when his movement seemed to die down.

And this means, when we discuss rape and struggle against rape, we need to discuss politics, as well as legal issues. There are two distinct dimensions to the politics of rape. One is the party level, the other at a deeper social level. All parties and their spokespersons and ideologues have been trying to see how best to use the current crisis. Being at the government both in Delhi and in the Centre, the Congress has had the most difficult time. Its approach has been to call for calm, to promise that things will be done, to put up Sonia Gandhi on TV with a puffy face (you see, she too had been crying at the tragedy) —a move sadly let down by Man Mohan Singh not realizing he was still being recorded and asking handlers, Theek hai?

The Sangh Parivar has of course sought to cash in on the issue. It has done so in different voices, since it wants to talk to different constituents. The Sarsanghchalak has announced that rape occurs in India, not in Bharat. Return to “our traditions” and there will be no rape. And Swapan Dasgupta, the western trained ideologue who uses tools of analysis taken from western discourses to support the Sangh cause, has argued that as a result of liberalization, a confident young India has emerged which is demanding, not supplicating. Only Narendra Modi can be its role model, since he too is anti-establishment.

The demand for the death penalty has been raised for rapists. This was of course raised long back by Advani in 2002. But only selected rapes of course. V.D. Savarkar had long ago argued that in order to teach Muslims the proper lesson, it was necessary to rape Muslim women in a big way. This agenda was put to practice in Gujarat. Even before 2002, it was in Surat (1992) that Hindutva rioters not only raped Muslim women but videotaped the act. A decade later, there were mass scale rapes, sexual violence as well as murders when of course Narendra Modi was the CM then. And of course, now we have had Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani convicted for masterminding some of the pogroms. And again of course, it was Modi who made Kodnani a minister, AFTER the pogroms.

When we are asked to campaign only for death penalty, or when we are asked to put the entire focus on law change, these are dimensions we are asked to forget. Who are we asking to change the laws? Parties that have supported pogroms and rapes. Parties that have not only kept criminals in their backyards, but have actually made criminals, including people with rape and sexual molestation charges against them, MLAs, MPs and ministers.

Caste, Communal and Custodial Rapes:

There are also other politics involved, beyond the Congress trying to save its votes and the BJP trying to garner them.  There is a class, caste, gender linkage which is complex. Rape, Arundhati Roy pointed out, has become part of India’s political culture. Police attack villages and gang rape. Upper castes attack dalits and as part of that rape dalit women. At this point let us look at some of the images that haunt us.

  • Rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama of Manipur (2004) by Assam Rifles personnel. No punishment for the crime. Protection of the criminals because according to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, army personnel in areas where this act has been invoked cannot be subjected to trial under the regular laws of the country.
  • The Shopian Rape and Murder of Niloufer and Aasiya (Kashmir 2009). Cover up and denial of rape. Nobody punished despite massive struggles.
  • The arrest of an adivasi social movement activist Soni Sori on the charge of being in the CPI (Maoist) in 2011, and actions against her including stripping during interrogation, insertion of stones in her vagina and rectum. The SP of Dantewada who had ordered this, Ankit Garg, subsequently awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry on 26th January. Soni Sori is still in Raipur jail, in the custody of that same police force.
  • Rape as a part of communalism – The Anti-Sikh riots, arson, murders, and as part of that cycle of violence, rapes of Sikh women, following the death of Indira Gandhi, in 1984. Prime accused included Jagdish Tytler, H. K. L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and other Congress(I) leaders. There have been numerous anti-Muslim, anti-Christian communal attacks, promoted by the RSS or other members of its extended network of organisations, usually called the Sangh Parivar. These include Surat 1992, where rapes were videotaped and shown, and Gujarat 2002, where a very large number of rapes were committed.
  • Rapes by upper and intermediate castes on Dalits. They include the Khairlanji rapes and mass murders (2006) case.

The protests in Delhi were legitimate. The woman who died, contrary to Arundhati Roy’s claim, in fact came from a rural background though she was working in Delhi, according to a news published by The Hindu.  She earned hardly enough to be counted as middle class. So the kind of left wing argument that simply slotted the protests as middle class, just because a large number of middle class women were present, is questionable. Middle class is a vague term. There is an ideological pressure from the ruling class for working people in urban, non-factory jobs to imagine themselves to be middle class. Rather than a Marxist concept of class, dress code, “culture”, and other factors are worked in here. So old petit bourgeoisie, professional and managerial layers who are close to the ruling class, and salaried employees who by any objective definition, are clubbed together under this category. Attempts to marginalize the protests by saying they are middle class, leads one to a position close to that taken by Congress (I) leaders who have commented that the protestors do not have a grasp over reality and other comments.

But one point Arundhati Roy and others make does need to be taken seriously. The rapists in this case were lower class, and it happened in South Delhi. I do not make this comment in order to argue in the least that therefore the rapists should be let off. But I raise the point, because we have not seen such massive outrage when dalit women, working class women in unorganized sectors, etc are raped. Trade unionists and women activists connected to labour issues know quite well, for example, that there are sectors (one can mention brick-kilns in West Bengal for example) where women have to provide sexual services to contractors and overseers in order to get or retain their jobs. Since rape even in its current definition includes sexual intercourse under pressure, this is certainly rape – but never reported. We, activists in the women’s movement, have more often been accustomed to rallies and meetings where a hundred people attending were often taken as a good sign. I do not therefore blame those who were out on the streets. I just want to stress, that unless we are active in all cases, a class/ caste/community bias will inevitably creep in. And also, unless we are clearly aware of the politics of rape, we will not be able to understand just why, for example, the governments at state and centre want to bring in death penalty for rape, but only in very rare cases. After all, there have been very many rapes committed by men uniform. Soldiers protected by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, police protected in various ways, have to be sheltered. The moment we take up such cases, we go beyond looking at rape as action by a few criminals or so called perverts, to looking at rape as part of the use of elite power or using women’s bodies to gain political mileage.

Participation first, critiques afterwards:

It is however necessary to know how to make critical comments. What we have seen is a massive public show of anger and a rejection of government cynicism. We have to be a part of such a movement, we have to be out there, on the streets, with the predominantly young people who have come out, before our critical voices make sense to them. In other words, our first practical task is to continue to build the movement. Our task is to reject all platitudes, all tall promises to the effect that we can go home since the duly constituted authorities are looking after the question of rape, and punishment of rapists.

After we have come out once, twice, thrice, we also have to start asking, where do we go from here? And that immediately raises questions of theory, strategy and tactics.

In order to ask what practical demands are needed next, we must start with the overall picture of rape and sexual assault in India, as well as the legal and administrative reflections of the same.

In 2010 there were over 22,000 rapes. In 2011 the figure was above 24,000. But this is just the number of recorded rapes. There are far greater numbers of rapes that are not recorded compared to the ones recorded. Legal experts point out that many rapes go unreported. Due to “family honour” many complaints are not made, or are withdrawn and in many cases the police do not give a fair hearing. Medical evidence is often unrecorded making it easy for offenders to escape without any conviction, under prevailing laws. And finally, existing laws marginalize many actions. Law is a representation of the social order. Our society is deeply impacted by four types of hierarchies – class, gender, caste and community. And these interact with one another. Rape is seen as loss of honour, chastity, modesty. It is not seen as violence inflicted on women. As a result, rape is defined so that it excludes all torture of a woman’s sexual organs, unless there is non-consensual peno-vaginal sexual intercourse. Moreover, it is held that there is no rape in marriage. In other words, a woman who had stones inserted in her vagina, as was the case with Soni Sori, cannot bring a charge of rape. What she can bring, at best, under existing law, is a charge of molestation. She was stripped, according to her own assertion, but this according to existing law, can only be called “outraging the modesty of a woman”. And even if Ankit Garg, the then Dantewada Police Superintendent, subsequently awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry, were to be convicted for these crimes, what would he be given? According to law, for molestation and outraging the modesty, these are the provisions:

Section.509 of IPC, — when there is an intention to insult the modesty of any woman by the offender by uttering any word, making any sound or gesture or by exhibiting any object, with the intention that such word or such sound be heard, or that such gesture or object be seen by such a woman, or by intruding upon the privacy of such a woman.

Punishment: simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, with fine or with both.

Section 354 of the IPC considers the assault or criminal force to woman with the intention to outrage her modesty. This offense is considered less serious than Rape.
Punishment: Upto two years imprisonment or a fine or both.

Section 323 IPC punishes anyone causing voluntarily hurt(non cognizable)
Punishment: Upto one year or Rs. 1000 or both.

So the maximum punishment will be four years’ imprisonment, plus an unspecified fine. A more likely scenario, even if he was to be convicted, is just some fine.

Let me connect this with certain other issues. This is where class and caste and community become so important. The legal terms used here are significant. We are talking about the modesty of a woman, and about molestation.  Given a hierarchical society, patriarchy does not have an identical impact on all sorts of women. Bhanwari Devi, a Sathin in Rajasthan, a low caste potter by social origin was raped because she was actively campaigning against child marriages. I do not want to go into all the details of her case. But it shows insensitivity by police, insensitivity by magistrate, and a deeply caste-ist attitude of the court. The district sessions judge pronounced that upper-caste men could not have raped a Dalit!!! The State Government formally decided to move the High Court, but till 2007, fifteen years after the rape, the HC had managed to hold only one hearing.

In another case, in a judgement delivered this December, Delhi district judge J.R. Aryan said, “IPC does not recognize any such concept of marital rape. If complainant was a legally wedded wife of accused, the sexual intercourse with her by accused would not constitute offence of rape even if it was by force or against her wishes.” In simpler language, after marriage a woman has no bodily integrity vis a vis her husband. It is his to take when and how he chooses.

While there cannot be any hierarchy of victimhood, according to which the rape of dalit women, or the rape of working class women, is more heinous than the rape of middle class women, the media blitz in the Delhi case highlights the existence of other hierarchies. By separating this one case from the many thousands of cases (572 rape cases recorded in Delhi alone in 2012) the media and the mainstream political parties have consciously sought to draw attention away from rape as a systemic matter. And our demands and movements have to take these into accounts.

Justice and the Social Order:

The crucial point where socialists need to intervene is in moving attention away from talk of vengeance, hanging, castration, to concerns for the victims, and the causes of rapes. First, we need to take a look at what kind of a society we live in, that constantly creates rapists. It is of course necessary to demand punishment for crimes. But when we talk about individual criminals and punishments, and when the cases highlighted by the Barkha Dutts and the Arnab Goswamis are cases where lower class rapists rape individuals, the full picture does not emerge. It means, on one hand, we are not trying to find out what drives such people to violence. On the other hand, it also means that we are hiding rapes that are created, promoted, and orchestrated by the state, or by powerful social and political groups. Perhaps the clearest evidence comes from the media endorsement of Narendra Modi in recent times, ignoring the convictions of Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi. Rapes in Gujarat do not matter, since Modi has won elections thrice in a row and the GDP has grown.

It is also necessary for us to campaign about rape survivors and helping them overcome their trauma. When we talk about justice, we need, therefore, to focus on first, justice in ensuring that the woman is able to live with dignity, and second, that the social causes of rape are addressed, instead of merely retributive justice, that is, getting vicarious pleasure at long sentences handed out to a few among many rapists.

Finally, historical experience suggests left wing activists need to be involved within the social movements themselves, stressing that rape and sexual harassment is not permissible within the oppressed either. If we do not want to condone any rape, and at the same time want to ensure widest class unity of the oppressed, we need to take our campaigns among the oppressed, not just to point out that the ruling class is hand in glove with patriarchy, but also to stress how patriarchy influences the toiling people, and building up a struggle against it. To reject or minimize such actions as feminist irrelevancies, as large sections of the left once tended to do, and as it is still a tendency that reduces serious campaigning, is to ensure that patriarchy will remain and revive within the oppressed.

The Right Wing Discourse on Rape:

The role of the state all too often is obliterated when we look at each rape case in isolation. And when we focus only on the loss of chastity and modesty. Take the Delhi Case and the reason for public anger. The rape occurred in a bus, which was taken over by a gang of six persons. What exactly was the police doing? Where were they when a public vehicle was de-facto hijacked? Instead, they and the other arms of the state were visible against public protests. The use of water canons is not my sole point. The core area of Delhi was shut down. The Metro could not be used between a number of vital stations. All in the name of security. Whose security was being protected? Not that of ordinary citizens – not the woman who would die soon, nor her male friend who was badly injured.

The demand for changing the law from rape to sexual assault is at the same time the easiest to explain and among the hardest to achieve. Based on events I have already recounted, and many other events we know, such as the use of lathis or other implements to insert into the vaginas of women accused of being Naxalites, separatists, terrorists, Maoists, etc, if we do not provide for adequate punishment for these, we are ensuring gross miscarriage of justice. But it is difficult, because of the mindset of a society which is deeply patriarchal. It is a woman’s loss of honour or chastity that matters for this patriarchy. If raped, she is supposed to have suffered a fate worse than death.

A woman who has already “lost” her chastity and modesty by having sexual relations before or outside of marriage, is not considered to have suffered too much harm; and the perpetrator is therefore not required to be punished too severely. Till 2003, the defence could try to cast doubts on the victim’s evidence by raising the question of her past sexual history. The Indian Evidence Act was amended in 2003 to stop this, but the amendment appears to have impacted only the guilt determination phase of the trial, and not the sentencing phase. The stereotypes have an adverse impact on rape sentencing. In cases where the woman’s behaviour does not adhere to stereotypical constructs, the men who raped them end up getting lower sentences.

Once we have a category of crime called sexual assault, and with clearer guidelines for standards of punishment, it would be more difficult to let off rapists/assaulters who are socially higher up, or where the survivor is/was not someone who fit the stereotype. This can be seen very clearly with the Park Street Rape Case. Even now, a TMC leader can openly say that it was not a rape case at all, but a conflict between a sex worker and her clients. The sole “reason” if you want to honour the ridiculous argument with that term, was of course that she had been drinking in a bar late at night. In other words she was not the ideal woman. Ensuring principled sentencing, one that is in tune with our constitutional values, is a better guarantee for justice to rape survivors, rather than legislative steps providing for capital punishment, chemical castration and the like.

That we have had 24206 recorded rape cases in 2011, and that we have over 9000 past rape cases yet to be disposed off in West Bengal alone, show things about state machinery – police, civil administration, and judiciary. Police show reluctance or even hostility to take FIRs and file charge sheets on time. Medical examinations are not always properly performed nor is there adequate provision. Cases move excruciatingly slowly. As we noted, even in well publicized cases like that of Bhanwari Devi, the trial has been agonizingly long. And here, once again, we need to note that while class and caste are not the sole factors, how far cases move, how they are handled, are also not totally delinked from them. I want to stress that there is nothing wrong in student youth being angry at the Delhi case, or the Park Street case. But we need to ensure that regardless or their class, caste or community identity, all women get equal protection. This means campaigning as hard over the rape of a woman who works in an unorganized sector industry, as for middle class women. And this will not be done by mainstream parties, by the police, or by judiciary, without relentless pressure on them.

This pressure has to be built up and integrated with any socialist strategy. Today, we find a large scale attacks on the women themselves. According to the RSS supremo Mohan Bhagawat, rapes occur in India not in Bharat, i.e., among “Westernised” women. Factually this is false, since nearly a quarter of rapes occur in rural India. More important, this puts the blame for the rape on the women. It is they who supposedly invite rape for having gone out after dark, for having worn the wrong clothing. And obviously, rape as a political action by Hindutva advocates against Muslims or Christians is excluded from this notion of rape. Then it becomes “just retribution”.

Another figure, a widely known “Godman” named Asaram Bapu, has stated that you cannot clap with one hand. That is, rape is not something only the males do. The women too are responsible.

Rapes in the family:

Advocacy of chemical castration is based on an argument that not real men but sexual perverts are the rapists. This has to be contested. Rape is not about sex. It is about display of masculine power. Castration as a punishment supposes it is only the bad individual who needs to be punished, so why not deprive him of the power to rape. In the case of the Delhi rape, as I have already pointed out, the rapists were lower class. Now it is being insinuated, and in cases like the Marathi chauvinist Raj Thackeray, openly stated, that poor migrants are at fault. These people, you see, are sex starved, so they rape. This is a class cum regionalist targeting that we need to combat.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau data for 2011, “Offenders were known to the victims in as many as 22,549 (94.2%) [cases out of 24,206]” and “Parents/close family members were involved in 1.2% (267) of these cases, neighbours were involved in 34.7% cases (7835 ) and relatives were involved in 6.9% (1560 ) cases.” So the rapists are around us. They are created by a society that devalues women. And a “typical” rapist is then created as an illusion, with “acceptable” class-caste-community configurations.

Some Demands:

Many of the issues have led us, along with others, (many women organized in the network Maitree) to formulate demands, some of which are:

  1. Time-bound trials in rape cases through fast-track courts in each sub-division of every district of all states needs to be ensured.
  2. Sessions courts must be established in the geographically remote or otherwise backward sub-divisions where such courts do not exist. Concurrently, fast-track courts for trial of sexual assaults needs be in place in all sub-divisional courts.
  3. Wide publicity from time to time in all local languages across the country of the State’s provisions for shouldering liabilities involving legal procedures (including financial ones) in cases of sexual violence against women is essential for ensuring victims and survivors, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, seek redress through law.
  4. A code of conduct needs to be in place to prevent stigmatization of survivors of sexual assault. Character assassination of survivors of sexual violence during trial or at any time anywhere by elected representatives, other politicians, public servants and the media, should be made a punishable offence.
  5. Extensive gender and sexuality sensitization programmes for the police and judiciary at all levels starting from the lowest tier, and irrespective of sex, is a must for doing away with patriarchal biases, making the legal system gender-friendly and helping in the de-stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence.
  6. The police stations and police personnel should be rigorously trained in human rights and women’s rights irrespective of the gender of the personnel. There should be intensified trainings to police personnel to handle cases of sexual assault on cis gendered women, transwomen, transmen. These trainings should include previous cases to make them more sensitive in their handling and not moralistically judge the victim. There is a need to provide for penal measures of police personnel violate such training and ill-treat victims.
  7. The Gender sensitization program must include disability component for the police and judiciary at all level so that sensitization and a clear understanding about the difficulties of Girls and Women with Disabilities is developed among the police and judiciary and the system become disabled  friendly and helps to reduce the stigma, negative and apathetic attitude towards such women and are able to take appropriate action in case of sexual violence on them.

The most important question is, however, how do we want to achieve all this?

The protests in Delhi were sought to be shut down. Protestors were compared to Maoists and terrorists. The CP of Delhi called attacks on them collateral damage, using rhetoric from the biggest imperialist power on earth. Unless we understand that this class dimension of the state is also there, and will not go away, we will be fooling ourselves. Of course we must demand reforms. But we must not give in to any illusion that incremental reforms will end up by creating a good and just society. The reforms will be won only if we are out there, mobilizing and fighting. Why has the Verma Commission been set up now? The NCRB data is first of all available to the state. It knew better than us how many rapes occur in a year. If it did nothing then but has moved now, that is because huge masses were out on the streets. And unless we plan our mobilizations, if we simply feel tired and go back home, or if we are happy with a speedy disposal of the case in the Delhi issue, with hanging being handed down, especially with the woman dead, and forget the other 571 rapes in Delhi in 2012, the 9000 pending cases in West Bengal, and so on, then in the long term nothing positive will emerge. As Meena Kandasamy reminds us “Inhandling rape cases, several judges have proved themselves to be incarnations of khap panchayat chiefs. Two years ago, in dealing with the case of a gangrape of a minor girl, Justices H.S. Bedi and J.M. Panchal of the Supreme Court of India held that “there can be no presumption that a prosecutrix would always tell the entire story truthfully”. The above bench also shamelessly said, “In rape cases, the testimony of the victim cannot be considered to be the gospel truth.” This inherent suspicion by the judiciary is another act of silencing. The system tells you, speaking out will be a disgrace since you have to be disbelieved.” The idea that only the rapists are perverts, ignores the system which creates rapists and promotes rape as part of its political culture. We have to make this struggle part of wider struggles for human rights and for a better social order.

This is based on several speeches delivered and discussions held with various groups in late December 2012 and early January 2013. As a result, it bears the imprint of a specific discussion and debate, though some attempts have been made to situate it in a wider context.

Soma Marik can be contacted at mariksoma@hotmail.com

An appeal To The Voters Of Gujarat State


By R. B. Sreekumar

09 December, 2012
Countercurrents.org

I have been immeasurably grateful to the people of Gujarat for their abundant support and affection given to me in my policing job since my appointment in the Gujarat cadre of IPS in 1971. I deem it to be quite appropriate to make an appeal to the voters of Gujarat about the crucial matters to be kept in mind by them while choosing their candidates in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The self-evident truth about the most deplorable facet of Modi rule since 2001 is that the Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his supporters from the Sangh Parivar, are responsible for the massacre of nearly 2000 Indian citizens in 2002 riots and destruction of many symbols of Islamic culture from medieval times. This man made communal holocaust has inflicted an indelible blot on our motherlands’ symbiotic syncretic heritage from the Vedic period.
Publicity specialists of Modi are projecting the so called “development” without progress, distributive justice and ecological sanity – as a monumental achievement that should overshadow and nullify the ghastly sin of mobocratic genocide of a section of Indian population in 2002. In this context the voters should ponder over the following questions before choosing their candidates and party on the polling day.

Do you know that the infrastructural foundations created by the Chief Ministers from the formation of the Gujarat state to the introduction of privatization, liberalization and globalization policies by Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh team had naturally motivated investors to start industries in Gujarat than in less developed states? Can Modi appropriate achievements of all his predecessors in Gujarat to himself?

Do you know that the rate of economic development in Gujarat was 15 – 20% during the tenure of CM Madhavsingh Solanki and now it has come down to 8 to 10%.

Do you know that construction of Narmada Dam was sanctioned by Rajiv Gandhi – long pending for ecological clearance – at the instance of the Gujarat CM Chimanbhai Patel, by cajoling the then Secretary Environment Shri T. N. Seshan?

Do you know that over 70% of targeted beneficiaries of Narmada irrigation schemes are bereft of their benefit due to delay in creation of channel system?

Do you know that many farmers are committing suicide due to multiple adverse factors including the inadequacy of feeder canals?

Do you know that nearly 90 types of untouchability are practiced in Gujarat as per a study by an NGO “Navsarjan”? The percentage of conviction in atrocity cases is reportedly lowest in Gujarat State.

Do you know that over 40% of tribals from districts of Panchmahal (Godhra), Dahod, Sabarkantha etc – a floating population – live in sub-human conditions in urban construction sites?

Why the Modi govt. had failed to create barrack type labour shelters for these half starved unskilled workers in construction areas?

What kind of vibrancy in Gujarat we should be proud of when the poorest of the poor – the original inhabitants of Gujarat – suffer in their own make shift tents in the open spaces by the side of major roads in the capital city of Gandhinagar?

Do not Modi and his Ministers experience foul smell emanating from these road side slums when they travel through Gandhinagar city roads?

What is the justification for non-appointment of Lok Ayukta in Gujarat even years after the relevant legislation was enacted by the Assembly?

Why report on high level corruption in Sujalam – Suphalam Project uncovered by the Public Accounts Committee is not released to the voters so far?

Do you know that people of Gujarat had lost one lakh and forty thousand crore rupees in land scams of Modi govt in which govt. land plots were given to big corporate groups on cheap rates?

Do you know that manual scavenging (people carrying human waste on their heads) is still prevailing in some parts of Gujarat?

Do you know that graft and corruption for getting legitimate services at the grass root level govt. officers – Police Station, Mamlatdar’s Office, Primary Health Centre, Taluka Development Office etc have unprecedentedly increased during the regime of Modi Govt, thanks to the postings of “favourites” of ruling party in important lucrative posts?

Do you know that about 10000 riot victims of 2002 communal violence live in sub-human conditions as govt. is not providing them even basic facilities?

Do you know that riots were state patronized, promoted, facilitated and enabled and that officers in two cities – Surat and Rajkot – and nine districts, out of twenty six, have maintained public order remarkably in 2002 communal riots by enforcing Communal Riot Schemes, Criminal Procedure Code, Bombay Police Act and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in Gujarat Police Manual and numerous govt. instructions?

Do you know that all those officers – in charge of 11 areas – were treated badly by the Modi govt. – a few were transferred in the thick of riots, some were not promoted and charge-sheeted etc. Cases against some of these officers are still pending in the courts?

Do you know that officers (IAS/IPS) who acted as collaborators to the govt. to execute its anti-minority carnage were rewarded with good postings, out of turn promotions and post retirement assignments?

Do you know that 90% of riot cases reinvestigated on the Apex Court orders in 2002 by Gujarat police ended in filing of final reports and not in arrest and prosecution of accused persons?

Do you know that many riot cases investigated by Gujarat police ended in acquittal of accused because allegedly the police had pressurized the key witness to turn hostile?

Do you know that in many riot cases riot victims who registered FIRs against accused from the Sangh parivar were forced to go against their own complaints as a condition precedent for their rehabilitation in pre –riot places and vocations?

Do you know that the Special Courts, the Gujarat High Court and the Apex court had passed severe strictures against Gujarat Bureaucracy and police for their unprofessional, illegal and pro-riot accused posture? The Apex court called Gujarat bureaucracy “the modern day Neros“ in 2004.

Do you know that for the first time in the judicial history of India the Apex court had appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former CBI Director, Dr. R. K. Raghavan to probe into nine gruesome multiple murder cases during the riots?

Do you know that for the first time in the judicial history of India the Apex court was forced to appoint a Special Task force (STF) headed by justice Bedi to probe into alleged fake encounters killings?

Do you know that for the first time in the history of Gujarat police, many police officers including 4 IPS officers were arrested for extra judicial killings and are in jail since April 2007?

Do not you think that rewarding of officers who aided, abetted and enabled the rioters to kill people in 2002 and punishing those who enforced the Rule of Law would have adverse impact on the morale and motivation of well meaning policemen, loyal to the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India, from constable to DGP?

Do you know that for families of police officers in jail for their culpable role in riots (only two Police Inspectors) and fake encounters are orphaned and marginalized for no fault of theirs?

Do you know that Dr. R. K Raghavan the Chairman, SIT which gave a clean chit to Modi and police officers from the rank of Dy SP to DGP (only two Police Inspectors arrested) for riots allegedly has been serving TATA Group as a Paid Adviser?

Do you know that the TATA group allegedly got Rs. 5000 crore worth of benefits from Modi Govt?

Do not you think that there is clash of interests between the requirements of justice to riot victims and Dr. R. K. Raghavans’ alleged financial obligations and subservience to TATA Company?

Do you know that Dr. R. K. Raghavan, on an average stayed only 5-6 days in a month in Gujarat for supervising investigation of nine important massacre cases, though he has been paid Rs. 1.5 lacs per month by Gujarat govt. (since June 2008), besides other privileges?

Do you know that Dr. R. K. Raghavan, allegedly, had unauthorizedly got the traveling expenses spent on his journey from London (where he visited for private purpose) to Ahmedabad on 2 occasions – in August 2008 and July 2009 from Gujarat Govt?

Why the State govt. had refused to provide information on travelling expenses paid by it to Dr. Raghavan, on flimsy ground that SIT is not covered by RTI Act? What is the secrecy about Dr. Raghavan’s past travels?

Do you know that Dr. R. K. Raghavan did not record or verify the statement of a single witness of all important cases investigated by him?

Why Dr. Raghavan had refused to conduct Narco test on Shri R. B. Sreekumar and Shri Sanjeev Bhatt (police officers who gave a lot of evidence about the complicity of Modi government in riots), even though both had unconditionally volunteered for the same?

Do you know that Dr. R. K. Raghavan did not conduct reconstruction of crime of Godhra train fire on 27-02-2002, though Shri R. B. Sreekumar suggested for the same, to find out the veracity of conspiracy theory behind the train fire incident?

Do you know that Dr. Raghavan did not accept information produced by Tehelka journalist Ashish Khaitan in “Operation Kalank” as evidence though the court in Naroda Patia judgment had accepted it as extra judicial confession?

Do you know that the killing spree by Sangh Parivar supporters of 96 people including infants in Naroda Patiya on 28-2-2002 from 9 AM to 7 PM (10 hours) was not stopped by police – from Inspector to the Commissioner of Police of Ahmedabad City, as per Naroda Patia judgment by Judge Dr. Jyotsna Yagnik?

Do you know that SIT did not find anything wrong with the police officers, from Inspectors to CP Ahmedabad, whose criminal negligence of their mandated duties resulted in violent mobs moving in Naroda Patiya during curfew hours and killing innocent Muslims (58 were killed during the curfew hours)?

Do you know that Modi Govt. did not take remedial measures on intelligence inputs about prejudicial actions and posture of police officers against riot victims resulting in faulty registration of FIRs, not including names of prominent Hindu leaders responsible for violence in FIR , not recovering property looted by rioters etc. (these professional lapses of police are condemned by the Court in Naroda Patia judgement) submitted by Gujarat State Intelligence Branch (SIB), from 9-4-2002 to 17-9-2002?

Do you know that nearly 80% of 98 accused convicted (life imprisonment for anti-minority riots in 2002) do not have previous criminal records, and have been acting as programmed human robots on the motivation of the ruling party and support by collaborating and enabling police officers?

Do you know that the families of convicted persons for riots (all Hindus) are orphaned for nearly 20 years for no fault of theirs?

Do you know that for claiming excellent crime control by the Modi govt., police officers from police station level upwards are avoiding registration of FIRs of property offences particularly FIRs of property offence crimes like chain snatching, thefts etc and even murders in case of recovery of dead bodies with pre-mortem injuries?

Do you know that police are hesitant in taking actions against law breakers having support of the ruling party, and belonging to affluent sections and this approach of police has resulted in drunken teenage driving, killing many innocent people in hit and run cases; theft of cars, mobiles, computers etc. for fun by teenagers from richer sections etc.?

Do you know that Modi govt. from 2002 riot days had used mobs to carry out its hidden agenda like anti-minority violence, stoppage of screening films like Persania and Aamir Khan’s films, attacking NDTV office in Ahmedabad city for their “offence” of giving importance to the late artist M. F. Hussain?

Do you know that police morale in Gujarat is on the declining trend due to:

a) Encouragement given by the govt. to a coterie of officers who enjoy extra hierarchical accessibility to political leadership and de-facto undue authority.
b) Delay in promotions (4 DGP) posts kept vacant for two years (August 2010 to Sept 2012).
c) Inadequacy of staff.
d) Over deployment for VIP duties etc

Do you know that success in govt. programmes can be achieved only through efficacy of every employee and not through the oratorical skill and publicity drive of a single individual – Narendra Modi?

Do you know that bureaucrats and police are suffering from severe Modi-phobia and are reluctant to exercise their mandatory authority freely to ensure smooth functioning of the Criminal Justice System and prompt service delivery for distributive justice to the under-privileged and marginalized downtrodden sections?

Do you want to live in an atmosphere of fear of a domineering government which does not give any room for culture of democracy, tolerance to diversity of opinion, and different socio-religious cultures?

Please do not accept Modi govt’s propaganda on law and order, development , delivery of justice, efficiency and promptness of govt. services basing on macro level statistics projected by the govt., instead judge the govt. on your micro level personal experience and what you have seen at grass root level.

Please see that there is no mismatch between your answers to the above questions and your choice of candidates or party on the polling day.

Warm regards

R. B. Sreekumar (IPS Retd) Former DGP Gujarat rbsreekumar71@yahoo.com

 

The wrongful arrest of Naveen Soorinje #VAW reporting


 

The Kasturi TV reporter was named in the chargesheet that identified 43 others who attacked a birthday party in Padil. Strangely, Soorinje was amongst the first few to report the assault

G Vishnu
New Delhi,  08 November 2012


In a brazen attack on journalists’ freedom in Karnataka, Mangalore police have arrested Naveen Soorinje, a journalist with Kasturi TV, a kannada news channel. The 28-year-old scribe was arrested at 10.30 in the night when he was returning from a reporting assignment.

As absurd as it can get, Naveen was named in the chargesheet that identified 43 others from the Hindu Jagarana Vedike (a right-wing Hindutva group) who attacked a birthday party at a home-stay in Padil. The attackers, just like the Shri Rama Sene’s pub attack in Mangalore in 2008, beat up and molested young girls stating that they were indulging in a rave party and that it was against Indian culture.

Strangely, the chargesheet of the case names Naveen, amongst the first reporters to have reached the spot of the attack and covered it, with the same charges as those who beat up and molested the girls present there. Naveen is the 44th accused and has been booked under 120 (b); conspiracy, 143; unlawful assembly, 147; rioting, 148; rioting with deadly weapons, 447; criminal trespassing, 325; causing grievous hurt, 354; assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, 504, 506, 509, 358 to be read with IPC 149, 448, 114, 341, 323, 324. Ironically, the 43 other accused were identified with the help of the footage shot by Naveen’s cameraman. Naveen, who had got tipped off by a local source — call records of Naveen from the day available with TEHELKA shows that it was not one of the attackers — turned up at the spot with a cameraman merely to do his job of reporting the incident.

The police had initially charged that Naveen did not inform the police about the attack while he covered. The dubiousness of the charge notwithstanding – the CDR records of Naveen from that day show that he not only made repeated calls to the Mangalore Police Commissioner (who was out of town at the time), as well as Ravish Nayak, inspector of the nearby police station, but never got a call back from the local cop. Little surprise, that it was the same cop who arrested Naveen.

Accustomed to harassment of all kinds, as other reporters in Mangalore testify, Naveen has been an intrepid reporter for a decade. He has been reporting with rigour, the unlawful activities of Sangh Parivar goons, police harassment of Malekudia tribals in the name of Anti-Naxal Operation and the land mafias. Hence, this case hardly intimidated Naveen, who after getting the warrant two weeks earlier had applied for an anticipatory bail, which never came along because of court holidays.

“Last night, after covering a JD(S) rally that Kumaraswamy attended, we were returning when Inspector Ravish Nayak of Kankanady police station stopped us near Padil. They claimed it was a police check but the personnel left soon after taking Naveen into custody,” says Shiva, cameraman with the same channel Naveen works for. “They took him to a magistrate and was sent to Mangalore Sub-jail within 20 minutes, which gave us no time to react,” he added.

Curiously, the arrest came right after JD(S) Kumaraswamy’s provocative statement in his speech that he would have the mighty RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat. Reporters who have faced harassment in the hands of the local administration and Sangh Parivar goons are convinced that Naveen’s arrest was a simple case of political vendetta as Kasturi channel (where Naveen works) is owned by none other than Kumaraswamy.

Vendetta or not, the arrest of Naveen only goes on to further assert the idea that Karnataka is being run by a communal and an authoritarian regime that has no respect for freedom of expression or other basic rights.

G Vishnu is a Correspondent with Tehelka.
vishnu@tehelka.com 

#Gujarat- Memorial to a Genocide- Memory as Resistance #NarendraModi


: Memory as Resistance

Many more public memorials to the dead are required. These may serve as constant reminders to us, heirs to a century of massacres, and spinners of dreams for a better world

Mukul Mangalik

I feel honoured to have been asked to speak on this solemn and rare occasion, the Jamia moment, as it were, in the historic initiative underway at the behest of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), to create a public memorial to the dead, murdered, brutalised and dispossessed children, women and men from Gujarat 2002, a memorial equally to the dogged fighters for justice from that time on.

I feel doubly honoured to be speaking at an event inaugurated by Prof Romila Thapar. She taught me at JNU during the 1970s. Her example continues to inform my own teaching while her academic rigour and passion for history, her willingness to stand up and be counted, to speak her mind with lucidity and grace on issues that matter and the values that she holds dear, continue to inspire many of us, especially in trying times.

I would like to begin by reading out a passage from an article I had written after a group of students from Delhi University and I returned from Gujarat in May 2002.

“No matter how much we may already know about the systematic savaging of the lives of Muslim citizens in Gujarat, it is when you step into the theatres of destruction, into the worlds of victims and survivors, most with nothing but their lives left to protect, the sun screaming murder, no water to drink, flies and the stench of urine and shit all around, it is then the hugeness of the tragedy that Narendra Modi, the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have wrought in Gujarat, blows a hole in the solar plexus and hell into your being.”

I chose to read out these lines today to remind ourselves of the barbarism that engulfed Gujarat in 2002, the full horror and implications of which may never have come home to many students and me but for our close encounters with people and places in Gujarat during the fateful summer of that year. This tragedy must never be forgotten. It must be remembered and understood for it to never happen again, for justice to be done and for the living to breathe in freedom and peace.

I understood instinctively for the first time why Theodor Adorno, in 1949, might have felt compelled to reflect on whether there could be poetry after Auschwitz. As time passed, however, almost unnoticed by me, a poem made its way into, became part of, and sharply impacted my memories of Gujarat. ‘Nanhi Pujaran’ written by Majaz way back in 1936, had nothing to do with Gujarat 2002, but, to me, perhaps because it spoke of such innocence and vulnerable beauty, it has ended up getting intertwined with its macabre, threatening opposite, rendering my memories of 2002 more unbearable and Gujarat even more impossible to forget. The ways of remembering, and through the act of remembering, resisting, are many. I can no longer read ‘Nanhi Pujaran’ without thinking of the killing fields of Gujarat and vice versa, and this invariably brings a lump to my throat.

 I understood instinctively for the first time why Adorno, in 1949, might have felt compelled to reflect on whether there could be poetry after Auschwitz

The mass murder of Muslims in Gujarat was bad enough in itself. It was bone-chilling that this happened in an orgy and celebration of bloodletting, and dangerous like hell for having been equally an assault on secularism, democracy and modern republican citizenship, for having been, as Thomas Mann wrote on March 27, 1933, two months after Hitler had become German Chancellor, “against everything nobler, better, decent, against freedom, truth and justice”.

Gujarat did not happen — it bears repeating ad nauseum — because Hindus and Muslims were living side by side and this was never meant to be. It happened because religion was successfully used to construct an exclusivist nationalism that we, in South Asia, refer to as communalism and which readily lends itself to the politics of hate, murder and authoritarianism. This could not have come to pass without the deadly totalising role of the Sangh Parivar. Nor could it have happened without the unforgivable criminal complicity of the State. Above all, however, it would be well to remember — and this is what makes Gujarat 2002 fascistic and extraordinarily terrifying — that the targeted mass killing of Muslims happened due to, and amid widespread popular acclaim and participation, manipulated maybe, but mass communal enthusiasm nonetheless.

‘Nanhi Pujaran’ by Majaz in 1936 had nothing to do with Gujarat 2002, but, to me, perhaps because it spoke of such innocence and vulnerable beauty, it has ended up getting intertwined with its macabre, threatening opposite…

Add to this the enormous spread and historical depth of communal and related forms of narrow identity politics, each feeding into the other in majority and minority incarnations on a world scale, not to mention the practice of other kinds of murderous politics and wars waged in the name of either development and nation or even revolution, and the mind boggles.

From the  Hardnews :

NOVEMBER 2012

 

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