Press Release- Release All Activists of the PFI Charged Under UAPA and Sedition Immediately and Unconditionally


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

29/04/2013

Protest Against the Criminalisation of Muslim Youth!

Scrap UAPA and All Draconian Laws!

 

 

On the 23 April 2013, around 11 in the morning, twenty one activists aged 20-25 of the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested from a building that was under construction at Naraath, Kannur district, Kerala. The arrest as reported in the press was done under the leadership of DySP P. Sukumaran of the Kerala police. After the 21 activists were taken away from the site of the arrest, the police claimed to have seized two country bombs, one sword and materials that can be used for making country bombs along with literature of Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). All these were displayed before the media at the site.

After the much publicised display of seizure materials before the media the police was quick to slap Sec 18 of the draconian UAPA as well as 153-B of the Sedition Act on the 21 activists. These draconian clauses were beside the sections slapped under the arms/explosives act and on unlawful assembly. The police also declared that they are looking into the ‘terror links’ of these activists. And that they will raid every office of the PFI throughout the State. Some sections of the media even went ahead to say that the possible links of these activists with the recent blast that took place near the BJP office in Bangalore is also being looked into by the police. And as this is being written the Karnataka police have already stated the possible role of SDPI in the Bangalore blast.

The first and foremost question that comes up is the haste with which the police evoked draconian laws such as UAPA and Sedition act on the activists of PFI for possessing a couple of bombs and some literature which was already in the public domain as it was distributed among the people in the campaign against the growing threat of Hindu communal fascism. This is typical of the modus operandi of all investigating agencies that enthusiastically implicate Muslim youth in every blast case or conspiracy or waging war against the state that one has witnessed in the states of UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc. It is significant that the arrests and sudden evoking of the UAPA is happening in Kannur district of Kerala known for violent partisan clashes between rival political parties (be it CPM, BJP/RSS, Congress) trying desperately to gain supremacy over their adversaries. As long as it is a fight between CPM and the RSS/BJP/Bajrang Dal/VHP combine as opposing parties, the rules of the game are simple. One can hear constant appeals from the ‘civil society’ for ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’ and the need to move away from the politics of an eye for an eye. It generally becomes a discourse on violence in abstract without any critical reference to the context (socio-politico-economic) in which this is being addressed. The need to shun violence completely from politics is foregrounded against the vote bank politics indulged in by the Congress, CPM, BJP or the UDF and LDF. Beyond that there is not even any inkling of a ‘terror plot’ let alone the question of ‘waging war’ against the state. But it goes without saying that there has been no dearth of reports of capture of bombs and weapons from the office of the CPM save incidents of RSS/BJP activists dying while moving with / making bombs in the same district.

Once there has been assertion from the side of the Muslims in terms of open and militant campaigns against the growing trends of Hindu communal fascism in the State in particular and the Indian subcontinent in general, the discourse of the ‘politics of peace’ has taken a different turn. Sooner than later one is witness to the state sponsored discourse on Kerala becoming a hub of ‘Islamic terror’ and highly publicised/sensationalised arrests of youth alleged to have been involved in ‘terror plots’. Beyond that, if any such ‘plots’ ever got proved before the court of law was not of much interest for ‘literate Keralam’. The PFI neatly fits into the logic of this narrative of the imminent ‘Islamic threat’ as any such mobilisation of the minorities away from or other than the established permutation and combination of the electoral donkey in UDF and LDF will disturb the electoral applecart of the Congress, CPM or even the BJP which is yet to make its electoral presence in Kerala.

It is still vivid in our memories that when the IT Cell, of the Kerala Special Branch Police’s illegal swoop into the mails of more than 250-odd Keralites in the state (most of them Muslims) was exposed before the public, instead of taking action on the officers responsible for such incriminating acts from the investigating agencies, the police threatened their own officer who stood against such acts of impunity and arrested the lawyer who was giving legal advice to the conscientious officer. The media house that carried the story was threatened and the leading journalist who published the story was not spared.

The timing of such sensationalised arrests and the spawning of speculation of a larger plot with the entry of the Karnataka police and reports in the media of the ‘involvement’ of the SDPI in the Bangalore bomb blast before the BJP office all indicate the same old game plan of an increasingly criminalised and communalised police and investigating agencies of India. As we have time and again mentioned the UAPA sanctions the perception of the reality as authentic not the reality itself. So for a motivated (on communal lines) police officer to quickly assume that the youth arrested from the building in Naraath can’t be but a ‘terrorist’ or can only think and act in an ‘unlawful’ manner or are capable of ‘waging war against the state’ fits perfectly with the ideology of the perception as reality and hence the arrests and knee jerk reaction of slapping UAPA and charges of sedition on the twenty one of them. A considerable section of the media which hatches such spurious stories only mystifies the perceptive reality and does not make any responsible effort to disentangle the often muddled versions of the investigating agencies and the police covering up their acts of impunity under the garb of the so-called ‘war against terror’.

It is high time that the UAPA and all such anti-people, draconian laws which criminalise all forms of dissent/political expression of the vast sections of the people be scrapped forthwith. We at the CRPP strongly condemn such motivated arrests of activists of people’s movements and stand for their right to freedom of expression and dissent. Since the motivation to slap charges of UAPA and Sedition on the PFI activists is political it becomes important to demand the unconditional release of all the activists as to expect a ‘fair’ trial for them would be live in a mystified world. The CRPP calls upon all the freedom loving and democratic people of the subcontinent to join hands to defeat these criminal, communal and fascist designs of the Indian state and its counterpart in the UDF-led Kerala government.

In Solidarity,

SAR Geelani

President

 

Amit Bhattacharyya

Secretary General

 

MN Ravunni

Vice President

 

P Koya

Vice President

 

Rona Wilson

Secretary, Public Relations

 

A dangerous connivance


Shahbag Protest

 

GARGA CHATTERJEE, The Hindu

It is worrying that West Bengal’s political class remained tactical spectators to the Kolkata rally organised by Muslim groups in support of Bangladeshi war criminals

West Bengal looked to the Shahbag protests in Dhaka with hope. In 1971, a massive relief and solidarity effort was undertaken in West Bengal for the millions trying to escape a veritable genocide. The then leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami in East Bengal and its students wing organised murder and rape squads in collaboration with the Pakistani forces. Their crimes included mass murder, rape as a weapon of war, arson and forced conversions. Post-1975, generals used them to cast an Islamic veneer of legitimacy over their illegal capture of power. Their immunity lasted until the present Bangladesh government restarted the legal proceedings in the War Crimes tribunal. The Shahbag protests demanded maximum punishment for the guilty.

SHOCKING

In West Bengal, a few meetings have happened around Shahbag, mostly expressing support. But, shockingly, the largest was a massive rally held in Kolkata on March 30, explicitly against the Shahbag protests and in support of the war criminals already convicted. Various Muslim groups, including the All Bengal Minority Council, the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, the Madrassa Students Union, the Muslim Think Tank and the All Bengal Imam Muazzin Association, organised the rally. People arrived in buses from distant districts of Murshidabad and Nadia, as well as from neighbouring districts. Students of madrassas and the new Aliah Madrassa University were conspicuous at the gathering.

The old rallying cry, “Islam is in danger in Bangladesh,” was heard. We heard a similar cry in 1952 during the mother-language movement, in 1954 when Fazlul Haq and Maulana Bhashani challenged the Muslim League, in 1969 when the Awami League made its six demands and during the 1971 liberation struggle — basically during every secular movement for rights and justice. The rally thundered that West Bengal would be “cleansed” of supporters of war crimes trial and the present Prime Minister of Bangladesh. They promised that political forces supporting Shahbag would be “beaten with broom-sticks” if they came asking for Muslim votes. Like Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie, Sheikh Hasina would not be allowed inside Kolkata. They expressed solidarity with the anti-Shahbag “movement” in Bangladesh. This assertion is worrisome, as the anti-Shahbag forces in Bangladesh have initiated a wave of violent attacks on Hindus, Buddhists and secular individuals, and the destruction of Hindu and Buddhist homes, businesses and places of worship. Amnesty International documented attacks on over 40 Hindu temples as of March 6. That number has increased.

This large gathering and its pronouncements have been in the making. A collapse in the Muslim vote was important in the Left Front’s demise. Muslim divines regularly remind the present government of this. The Trinamool Congress wants to ensure a continued slice of this vote. In an unprecedented move, the government handed out monthly stipends to imams and muezzins to build a class of Muslim “community leaders” who eat out of its hand. The debt-ridden, vision-deficient government is unable to solve the problems that are common to the poor. It has wooed a section of the marginalised on the basis of religion by selective handouts. These are excellent as speech-making points masquerading as empathy. This also gives fillip to forces whose trajectories are not under usual political control.

The Left Front’s political fortune stagnated after 2011. It has cynically chosen not to strongly oppose this communal turn. Waiting for the incumbent to falter is its roadmap to power. The damage this is doing to the West Bengal’s political culture is possibly irreparable. The incumbent’s connivance and the opposition’s silence are due to the long-eroded tradition of democratic political contestation through grassroots mobilisation. Both deal with West Bengal’s sizeable minority population primarily via intermediaries, doing away with any pretence of ideology in the transactions.

POLITICS OF BLACKMAIL

Organisations inspired by political Islam have used this disconnect to the hilt to blackmail the government. An emerging bloc of divines, and former and present student leaders have used students and youths as storm troopers at short notice. Sadly, they are unconcerned about life and livelihood issues of Muslims. With assistance from the Left Front regime, they drove out the persecuted humanist writer, Taslima Nasreen. The extent of their clout as blackmailers was evident from the government’s pro-activeness in keeping Salman Rushdie out of Kolkata, after his visit to Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai. This pushing of the envelope fits into a sequence of events that is increasingly stifling the freedom of expression. The double-standards are clear.

On March 21, a group of small magazine publishers, human rights workers, theatre artists and peace activists were disallowed from marching to the Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh to express their support to the war-crimes trial efforts. The police had “orders;” some marchers were detained. A month earlier, the same police provided security cover to an anti-Shahbag march and later to the marchers when they submitted a memorandum to the Deputy High Commission demanding the acquittal of convicted war criminals. Last year, public libraries were directed to stock a sectarian daily even before its first issue was published! The State thinks that it can play this brinksmanship game with finesse. When the political class acts as tactical facilitators or tactical spectators to apologists of one the largest mass-murders ever, the demise of Kolkata as a centre of culture is a natural corollary. A combination of circumstances can cause an uncontrollable unravelling. Bengal’s experience with sectarian politics is distinctly bitter.

The bye-election to Jangipur, a Muslim-majority Lok Sabha constituency, saw the combined vote of the two main parties fall from 95 per cent in 2009 to 78 per cent in 2012. The beneficiaries were the Welfare Party of India, a thinly-veiled front organisation of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, and the Social Democratic Party of India, a similar group. “Tactical pluralism” is their game, a concept quite akin to the tactical defence of Taslima’s freedom of speech by Hindu communal political forces. The rally in support of war criminals has exposed this faux pluralism.

There was another significant beneficiary in the same election — the Bharatiya Janata Party. Communal tension has been rising, with serious disturbances in Deganga and Canning. Sensing a subterranean polarisation, the majoritarian forces see an opportunity. Mouthing banalities about Bengal’s “intrinsically” plural culture is useless. Culture is a living entity, recreated every moment. It is being recreated by the victimisation discourse by fringe groups like Hindu Samhati and in certain religious congregations where unalloyed poison produced by divines like Tarek Monawar Hossain from Bangladesh is played on loud-speakers. Thanks to technology, vitriol produced in a milieu of free-style majoritarian muscle-flexing in Bangladesh reaches West Bengal easily. Hence the popularity of one of the convicted war criminals, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, who in his post-1971 avatar had become a superstar in the Bengali waz-mahfil circuit.

What are the effects of cultural exchange of this kind? The rally is a clue. A defence of Sayedee and the claim that he is innocent, made repeatedly in the rally, are like perpetrating Holocaust-denial.

A day after the anti-Shahbag rally in Kolkata, almost as a divine reminder of starker realities beyond the defence of Islam, nearly 45 lakh unemployed youth, Hindus and Muslims, sat for the primary school teachers’ recruitment examination for 35,000 posts. Clearly, the ‘minority’ employment exchange set up by the incumbents has failed. West Bengal has petitioned the Centre for a relaxation of the minimum qualifications for primary school teachers. The promotion of religious education is hardly the way to empowerment and livelihood generation for the minorities in a State where they have been grossly under-represented in all white-collar services. There are no short-cut solutions.

(Garga Chatterjee is a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

 

 

 

 

Bangalore-Eid with Northeast folks #MUSTSHARE


 

By Mujahid Deputy – BANGALORE

18th August 2012 10:14 AM

 With Eid coming up in three days, various Muslim organisations have unanimously decided to celebrate their festival with the people from the northeast. Addressing a group of parallel thinkers, Tousif Ahmed, Campus Secretary, Student Islamic Organisation of India said, “Time and again people have tried to destroy peace.

To give a fitting reply to these anti-social elements, we have decided to celebrate Eid with our northeastern brothers.

” Claiming that the rumours were generated by mischief mongers, who have pointlessly dragged in the name of Muslims in the state, the religious community has demanded strong action from the authorities.

Tanvir, State Advisory Council Member, Jamat-e- Islami Hind, said, “ The issue is not between the Assamese and Muslims-the intention is to divide the Indian Society.

The police should investigate into this immediately and bring the guilty to book.  The name of Muslims has been dragged into this by some organisations.

” He further added, “All mosques and madrasas are open for our brothers from the northeast and we will provide shelter to them if need arises.

We will unite with other religious organisations and make all efforts to counter these rumours and reinstate peace in city. ” Members of the Alternative Law Forum too have come forward in this quest.

Peace building exercises such as these between Muslims and northeastern people should continue and become an on-going thing.

Celebrating Eid together is an excellent move,” said Lawerence Liang, Co-founder, Alternative Law Forum.

The Welfare Party of India, that organised the meeting with NE people at the St Josephs College urged the people from the NE to stay back.

“We promise all our love and support to this community,” said Akbar Ali, State president of the group.

Abdul Hannan, State General Secretary, Social Democratic Party of India said, “We have addressed the people from the northeast at the City Railway Station.  We have requested them to not leave.”

 

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