#India – Judges have to watch their scorecard


V. VENKATESAN

The deplorably small number of judgments by Justice Cyriac Joseph, especially when courts have a huge backlog of cases, is valid enough reason for concern at his suitability for the National Human Rights Commission

The Indian Supreme Court is an extraordinarily powerful institution in the world. It can make and unmake laws; it can keep the executive accountable, and seek to ensure the autonomy of institutions. It can rewrite the Constitution the way it wants, through its creative interpretation yet remain largely unaccountable for its omissions and commissions. Its collegium has the responsibility to choose judges to fill its own vacancies, but it sees little merit in adopting an open and transparent process while exercising it.

As a result, very little is known about the merits of a judge, before he or she is appointed to the Supreme Court, unless there are serious allegations damaging to the judge’s integrity. There is a vast pool of post-retirement jobs that awaits a retiring judge from the Supreme Court, in the form of membership of statutory tribunals and commissions, yet there is no mechanism to evaluate the suitability of former judges to these bodies.

The Government’s proposal to nominate the former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Cyriac Joseph, to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has brought into focus the issue of performance-evaluation of a judge.

While the members representing the Government on the NHRC selection committee appear to have favoured his nomination, the two members belonging to the Opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj and Mr. Arun Jaitley, have submitted dissenting notes pointing to an adverse report of an intelligence agency about the unsuitability of the proposed nominee on the basis of his tenure at the Supreme Court.

Facts

The facts regarding Justice Joseph can be gathered from the Supreme Court’s website.

He authored exactly seven judgments during his tenure, from July 7, 2008 to January 27, 2012. However, he was a signatory to as many as 309 judgments, and 135 orders, all authored by his colleagues on the Bench. The website lists the judgments and the orders authored and/or signed by a judge together, and it requires considerable effort to identify those which were authored and not merely signed by a judge, as the author’s name is affixed on the top of a judgment.

Thus, Justice Joseph authored concurring judgments in two cases, namely, Action Committee, Unaided Private Schools & Ors v. Director of Education & Ors (August 7, 2009), and Haryana State Warehousing Corporation v. Jagat Ram (February 23, 2011). His judgment in the Action Committee, Unaided Private Schools seems to have been necessitated because of the compulsion to resolve the disagreement between the other two judges on the Bench, Justices S.B. Sinha and S.H. Kapadia. Justice Joseph opted to agree with Justice Kapadia in order to help arrive at the ratio of the judgment.

The website also shows that Justice Joseph wrote judgments in Safiya Bee v. Mohd. Vajahath Hussain @ Fasi (December 16, 2010), State of Haryana & Ors v. M/s Malik Traders (August 17, 2011), Deepa Thomas & Others v. Medical Council of India & Others (January 25, 2012), Mohd.Asif v. State of Maharashtra (January 27, 2012), and A.V. Padma v. R.Venugopal (January 27, 2012).

Evaluation

Critics of the Government’s efforts to nominate Justice Joseph to the NHRC have pointed to the number of judgments authored and delivered by him as the factor weighing against him.

While they have a case against him, it has to be admitted that the number of judgments written by a judge alone cannot be a determining factor about his or her competence. As the Supreme Court mostly sits in benches of two or three judges, the senior-most on a bench decides once the hearing is complete, who among them will write the judgment, depending on the interest of the judge. The judge writing the judgment, then circulates the draft for the perusal of the other judge/s, who are then free to agree, or write concurring judgments, or dissents. Superfluous, concurring judgments can make the process of arriving at the ratio of a judgment challenging, and leave the litigants confused. But that cannot be an excuse for a judge to avoid judgment-writing altogether.

Scholars of the Supreme Court have never attempted to evaluate the performance of each judge, on the basis of the number of judgments and orders authored by him or her. It is probably because such a study is likely to lead to comparison, and the drawing of inferences regarding the competence of a judge, which may invite the charge of contempt of court.

George H. Gadbois Jr., who made a seminal contribution compiling the biography of the judges in his recent book, Judges of the Supreme Court of India, 1950-1989, is also silent on this aspect. He perhaps thought that compiling such data could only aim at evaluating the importance or contributions of a judge, which he has consciously avoided.

What data shows

When Justice Joseph joined the Supreme Court in 2008, the strength of the Court rose from 26 to 31, following a Constitutional amendment. Based on the number of judges, the average number of judgments and orders written by each judge could be easily arrived at, given the total number of judgments and orders in a calendar year.

Thus between 2008 and 2012, the average number of judgments and orders per judge varied from 88 (2008) to 27 (2012). The average was just nine in 1955, 14 in 1959, 25 in 1969, 17 in 1977, 15 in 1987 and 71 in 1996. During this period, the strength of the Supreme Court kept on increasing from: eight to 11 (1956), 14 (1960), 18 (1978), and 26 (1986).

Based on this data, it would be hazardous to infer the competence of a judge/judges in a particular year or era. As Gadbois would put it, some of those judges were giants who will be remembered a century from now. Others, to quote Gadbois again, are blips on the radar screen, sidebars to the history of the Supreme Court, likely to be recalled only by the closest of court watchers. In the history of the Supreme Court, some judges are celebrated merely because of their salient contributions to the interpretation of the law and the Constitution, and not because they wrote more judgments than their colleagues.

Yet, the number of judgments written by a judge cannot be dismissed as being irrelevant, especially in the context of the Court’s efforts to limit its own backlog of cases. If the number of judgments authored by a judge is deplorably and consistently below average, then it is an important factor in the evaluation of a judge. The concerns that such a judge may prove to be unequal to the demands of an institution like the NHRC are valid.

A test for government

The Supreme Court, in its March 3, 2011 judgment, set aside the appointment of Mr. P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner, even though the majority in the selection committee had recommended him. The Court quashed his appointment by emphasising the concept of institutional integrity. The key test for institutional integrity, it said, is to ask whether the incumbent would or would not be able to function and whether the working of the institution would suffer following the appointment. This test is as relevant in the appointment of Justice Joseph, as it was in the case of Mr. Thomas.

The Supreme Court held in the same judgment that if the selection committee decides to overrule any dissent while recommending a person for the appointment, it should record clear and cogent reasons for doing so.

In April, the Government appointed Mr. S.C. Sinha, Director of the National Investigation Agency to the NHRC, overruling dissent within the selection committee, pointing out that he did not have the knowledge, or practical experience in matters relating to human rights, as required under the Human Rights Act.

The reasons why the majority in the selection committee overruled the dissent have not been made public, and it is not known whether the Supreme Court’s directive has been complied with.

The appointment of Justice Joseph will constitute another test of legitimacy for the Government.

venkatesan.v@thehindu.co.in

 

Did you know about Laxmi Orang, a tribal girl raped ? #delhigangrape #Vaw


It is time society unites to seek justice for Laxmi Orang as it did for the  delhi rape victim

By  Neha Dixit
04 Jan 2013

Posted 04-Jan-2013
Vol 4 Issue 1, http://www.theweekendleader.com/

Short lived memory often leads to naked regret. This apprehension has been repeated time and again in the last fortnight in the light of the Delhi gangrape case.

While the passionate protests managed to percolate the public outrage deep into the crevices of the country, the nature of this wrath was also criticised as essentially middle class.

Laxmi Orang (the girl in this picture) is still fighting for justice

Amidst this criticism, The Weekend Leader dug out the picture of an adivasi woman, stripped naked, being kicked by a man on her private parts. This picture, when juxtaposed to the pictures of the indignant protests in Central Delhi, brings alive all the fears expressed in endorsing the Delhi protests as India’s own feminist movement in making.

There are similarities. In 2007, this adivasi girl, Laxmi Orang, travelled from Japowari Orang Basti in Sonitpuri to Guwahati as a member of the All Assam Adivasi Students’ Association. All of 17 then, Laxmi too believed that she has the right to protest and demand rights.

She and her supporters were demanding ST status for Adivasi people residing in Assam and enhancement of daily wages of tea garden labourers by Rs 70-200 by the small and major tea gardens in Assam. Like the Delhi protests, they too were tear-gassed and lathi-charged.

The commotion separated Laxmi from the rest of the crowd. A group of boys chased her, stripped her naked. While she was being brutally beaten up, the police chose to be its apathetic self and did not come to her rescue.

The next day, the media flashed her naked pictures leading to public outrage. Later, an enquiry commission was set up led by retired Justice Manisana Singh but not much came out of the report except that she was not given a proper hearing.

The fact that she still awaits justice, five years later, is a reminder that public wrath should not be spasmodic. Her case is also an epitome of the state’s nonchalance. It puts into perspective, Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s recent remark, “Tomorrow, if 100 adivasis are killed in Chhattisgarh or Gadchiroli, can the government go there?” It is people like Shinde who spread the malaise of trivialising issues of marginalised communities like the adivasis.

Laxmi, in the current context is not just representing the state atrocities on the working class but also on marginalised communities. The state’s and society’s collective injustice is manifested in their assault against her as a woman.

Earlier this year a girl was publicly assaulted and stripped outside a pub in Guwahati by a mob. Laxmi tried to meet the National Commission of Women members when they visited Guwahati to conduct an enquiry on the pub incident. A case that fizzled in the public memory hardly brings a pat on the back and in this light, the National Commission of Women Chairperson Mamta Sharma asked her to visit her in Delhi instead of taking some serious measures.

Laxmi is 22 now. Her case and the 95,000 pending cases in India are a cruel reminder why it is important to involve as many as her in the debate on rape and sexual assault. The state’s indifference towards the Shopian case in Kashmir, that of Manorama in the northeast, Soni Sori in Chhattisgarh and Laxmi Orang in Assam should not take the shape of the passivity of the masses.

It is incumbent upon the public to start discourse on the misogyny that spreads across states where the most potent weapon to teach a woman a lesson is to strip her, sexually abuse her. The sexual assault on Laxmi Orang is no different from the violence inflicted on a young protester last week when the police dragged her by her hair and slammed her head against the wall near Parliament house while she was protesting against the Delhi gang rape case. The police, like the mob who assaulted Laxmi are indoctrinated with systemic denigration of women. Where an independent woman, demanding her rights, asserting herself is always seen as a threat.

Laxmi has stopped working at the tea garden due to the stigma that followed after her public humiliation. It is this baggage we need to get rid of as a society that puts the woman in the dock instead of the culprits.

Laxmi was offered Rupees two lakhs as compensation which she refused. She is fighting hard to punish the guilty. It is this struggle of Laxmi Orang, who is not a ‘zinda laash (corpse)’ as the Minister of Opposition in Lok Sabha, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, described a rape victim, that needs to be merged with the gender movement the country is witnessing.

Laxmi refused to accept the Rs.2 lakhs the state govt offered as compensation

Where one sexual assault is not pitted against the other to gauge which deserves quicker justice. Where a demand for an equal society is made through reforms and not by easy modes of justice like death penalty and chemical castration. Where a man fears at the thought of sexually assaulting a man or a woman to assert his territory/ supremacy.

For the first time, the country has stood together on the issue of gender. Instead of dividing it on the basis of class and its superficiality, this is the time to engage and to carve a movement that is more inclusive.

To take under its wings women from across classes and castes to pull the ship in a progressive direction, to not douse the collective wrath in public dementia, to espouse Laxmi’s fight for justice as the fight of all beings who believe in an egalitarian society.

Neha Dixit is an award winning journalist based in New Delhi

 

Wanted: A new feminist movement in India #Vaw


Source : SIFY
Last Updated: Mon, Dec 31, 2012 11:48 hrs
Delhi Rape Protests
If there is one thing that is clear from the recent and continuing protests that have been unfolding in the city over the gruesome rape in the capital, it is the painful absence of any independent and progressive women’s movement in the country.
The autonomous women’s movement that existed in the 1970s and 1980s which took up several campaigns from the rape of a tribal woman in a police station to dowry to sati and domestic violence was vitiated and almost completely destroyed from the 1990s onward with the rise of the NGO-isation and the specific categorization of ‘civil society’ organizations in India, gendered or otherwise. However flawed and limited it was, it was a crucial force in the task of social transformation.
This is why there was no feminist leadership and consolidation of the protests at India Gate that chilled some of us even more than the actual gruesome rape did. The thugs who took to stone-throwing and random violence on vehicles and Republic day poles were not as worrisome (that sort of behaviour is expected from political party goons) as the so-called angry “common citizen” simply venting ire that we were asked to cherish and uphold.
It is interesting how the populist celebrators of this “common citizen” protest claim it both as spontaneous and non-affiliated and at the same time progressive and organised. The fact of the matter is that if one studies all the signs and posters, the gestures and the language, the ‘demands’ and the outrage what becomes clear is how ill-informed and violent and how sexist and deeply patriarchal most of it was.
From calls for death penalty to castration, from mindless calls for revenge and counter-violence (the endless proliferation of calls for kangaroo court and mob justice – the rape of the victims, the public lynching, sodomising, hanging of them) to middle-class feminism-informed calls (for more access to public space, to wear what one wants to wear, come out at whatever time one wants to), the failure of several decades of feminism in this country became obvious.
Feminists have painstakingly fought (and continue to fight) for legal and democratic changes in the realities of women’s lives but it seems to have touched no one from the state to the ‘common citizen.’
Politicians predictably repeated the sexist pieties of sarkari appropriations of feminism which really are frightfully obvious anti-feminisms.
Government posters on sexual violence asking men to be ‘real men’ and Sushma Swaraj talking of raped women as live corpses are to be expected.
But young women calling for castrations and counter-rapes and murder and young men throwing bangles at the state shows how little feminism has circulated in our culture.
What the protests showed was that it was not just the ‘Other’ (the lower caste, lower class, the migrant labourer) male who needs schooling in feminism but men and women across classes and castes in the capital, many of whom claim to be gender-sensitive if not feminist, who need it.
What it showed was that highly progressive and Leftist organizations also believe in death penalty for rapists.
What it showed that there was no thinking and reflection on the specific need for a gendered education and transformation of the spaces and people that constitute Delhi.
What it showed, most disturbingly, was the culpability of these very ‘common citizens’ in the violence against women and sexual minorities in the capital and the complete absence of feminism from their lives.
Let alone finding in them a recognition of their complicity with the violence against Dalit and adivasi women and Kashmiri and Northeastern women sexually violated across the country (which many pious responses asked for), one cannot find in them even a recognition of how their calls for instant justice echo terrifyingly the very calls that propelled the rapists in offering their version of instant retributive justice to the girl for daring to be out late.
The references to bangles, the calls for counter-rape and violence, for torture and genital mutilation and death, the calls for mothers to educate their daughters (and sons) also partake of this. It is as if feminism never happened at all. It is as if all the campaigns that feminists led since the 1970s have disappeared, all their insights evaporated.
The worst injury (apart from the steady stream of more and more absurd statements from every possible ‘common citizen’ in Delhi afflicted with the common Indian disease of an opinion and the itch to voice it, the latest being a woman scientist who said the girl should have submitted to the rape) is news of more and more rapes and sexual assaults on women every day in Delhi since the great protest that rocked Raisina Hill!.
What we need is to rebuild the women’s movement piece by piece. This is not done by demands for instant justice or expressions of instant outrage. It requires the hard work of working with ‘common citizens’ across the city in every nook and corner of Delhi to change their attitudes, to inform them of the law and push for legal education and implementation, to work with sensitization campaigns with the police, in colleges, in schools to make of them citizens aware of feminism’s insights and advancements over several painful decades of legal failure and achievement. It is not just about calling for an adhering to due process but actually ensuring that due process happens.
Most importantly, all of this has to be informed by a feminist perspective This perspective is not something achieved but always in process, that we have to hone constantly in ourselves as much as others. For it is only when we are aware of how much we partake of patriarchy in all its class, caste and gendered forms that we can hope to generate change in our political, social and legal vocabularies.
This is the long haul. And the battle has just begun.

 

How Do We Break The Indian Penile Code? #Vaw #Rape #Justice


REUTERS (FROM OUTLOOK 14 JANUARY 2013)
OPINION
How Do We Break The Indian Penile Code?
This cultural sanction of rape must stop, the state has to speak
MEENA KANDASAMY, in Outlook Jan 14, 2013

The endless discourses of the elite point fingers everywhere: except at the real cause, which is the cultural sanction of rape in India. Arundhati Roy was brave to label it India’s rape culture. Rapes are not just numbers (24,206 in 2011), but categories: first, there is the not-a-rape marital rape. Then, the easily dismissible she-asked-for-it rape to be applied to urban women. There is patriotic rape: singular nights of horror courtesy the Indian army as in Kunan-Pushpora and Shopian in Kashmir; its second cousin, the long-lasting disciplinary rape to teach a lesson to a population seeking self-determination such as by the ipkf in Eelam, or the afspa-empowered army in Manipur; the minority rape as in the rape of Muslim women in Gujarat, custodial rape as in what happened to Chidambaram Padmini and, above all, the commonplace, everyday caste-Hindu rape of Dalit women, as in the rape of Surekha Bhotmange and her daughter in Khairlanji, and a thousand other instances. Please add the word ‘alleged’ in front of every mention of rape, so that we carry this pretence of political correctness.

  • Talk of crime is followed by talk of punishment. The 23-year-old paramedic’s gangrape in Delhi shakes the nation. Seizing the opportunity, violence drapes itself in the clothes of justice, and from the comfort of its kangaroo court, calls for chemical castration and the imposition of a death penalty. Behind this bloodthirsty demand is the propaganda machinery of big media. Out of a hundred questions that come to mind, here’s the obvious one: I do not believe in a hierarchy of victimhood, but why was such a campaign absent when the rapists were not the easily criminalised working classes, but feudal caste-Hindus, army, paramilitary or police personnel, or the rich and powerful? Does caste status, army uniforms, political clout and money grant immunity from media outrage?
  • Then there is patriotic rape, singular nights of horror courtesy the Indian army as in Shopian in Kashmir.

    These phenomenal protests draw the veils over our passive acceptance when we resign our fates to rapes in the private realm. Bleeding from a night of forced sex, when you go to the hospital, brace yourself for disappointment when doctors flash a congratulatory smile at your husband for proving his manhood yet again. You cannot go to the courts afterwards; there is no provision in the Indian Penal/Penile Code to deal with marital rape. In a judgement delivered this December, Delhi district judge J.R. Aryan said, “IPC does not recognise 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.” Translation from the legalese: your husband owns your body. Postscript: marriage is a licence for a man to get free sex and get away with repeated rape. Let us begin by exposing the sexual violence in our homes, tackling the rapists, child abusers and wife-beaters whom we shelter with our silences.

  • Should we buy into this rhetoric of quick justice and fast-track courts, oblivious to the implications of what awaits us and lacking the wherewithal to initiate reforms in the judiciary? In handling 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”. Remember, rape trials are tests of true storytelling. Let us devote time to work on that skill so that when we are eventually raped, we increase our chances at getting justice. 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. Understand my contempt, it is equal and directly proportional to the Supreme Court’s misogyny and mistrust of women.
  • Beyond the false pride vested in virginity and the glorified burden of chastity, Indian women suffer because they are seen as sexual objects instead of sexual beings. Just as the Indian male imagination cannot include the possibility of a woman wanting to have sex, he cannot imagine a woman wanting to refuse sex. Their consent is taken for granted, this gives a free run to rape culture. In its most bloody avatar, this denial of a woman’s sexuality can lead to mindless violence and an indefinite moratorium on intercaste marriages. Last month, the Ramadoss-led PMK burnt 300 homes in three Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, to warn caste-Hindu women off from marrying Dalit men. Love, he claims, is an immature act. The scope of anti-caste rebellion arising out of women’s sexual autonomy singes this disturbed man.
  • We fight for ourselves and spontaneously find our strength. Sorry to disappoint you, Sushma Swaraj. We refuse to be frozen into frigidity merely to fit into your depiction of rape survivors as zinda laash, the living corpses. We are not the walking dead; every day comes alive because of us. We even own the nights. Patriarchal pride dies between our thighs. Your education in feminism will begin, Ms Swaraj, when you learn to respect us. In your spare time, you can start by questioning Hindutva hyper-masculinity and how it resulted in the rapes of Muslim women in Gujarat.

This country gave a gallantry medal to SP Ankit Garg, who ordered the torture of adivasi schoolteacher Soni Sori.

In a city comatose with its own delusions of power, this was a disaster waiting to happen. The Delhi-NCR police have legitimised rapes in the region earlier too, speaking their mind to hidden cameras, saying “she asked for it” and “it is consensual most of the time”. They blamed young women for not staying within their boundaries, for wearing short skirts, for not wearing stoles, for drinking vodka, for enticing men. A cop declared that no rape would happen without the girl’s provocation. No serious action has been taken against any of these cops. It’s difficult to expect otherwise, in a country that gave a gallantry medal to SP Ankit Garg, who ordered the torture of Soni Sori, the adivasi schoolteacher from Dantewada. She was undressed, given electric shocks, stones were shoved in her vagina and rectum. I will save other stories of custodial rapes for another day.

  • This is how the state ushers in a semblance of calm in Delhi: using expired teargas, lathicharging protesters, wielding water cannons in the December cold. Unleashing police terror is a surprise tactic with a long-term payoff, it is violence meant to shut the door on further peaceful protests. Justifying this brutality, the Delhi police commissioner spoke of “collateral damage” and the Union home minister compared protesters to Maoists. When such language is routinely employed by the state—not in reference to rebellion in the Red Corridor, but to pretty placards in the capital city—it signifies an all-out offensive on the people. When the state finds an escape hatch by homogenising all protest and labelling everyone a Maoist, it creates a sense of helplessness and isolation among the young people. Since the ruling order will not meet protesters on the roads or in Raisina Hill, are they suggesting that all of us schedule a rendezvous in Bastar? Assuming politics is an antidote to violence, the protesters at India Gate merely had a defanged demand: “Talk to us.” What they heard was the silence of the political elites and the deathly drone of the state machinery that sought to quell their protests.

The middle classes who got a taste of police violence will now, hopefully, wake up to the reality of police, paramilitary and army excesses in Kashmir, the Northeast and in adivasi villages in central India. Out of their slumbering state, they will perhaps realise the sham of the present democracy and the zero accountability that elected representatives enjoy. The prime minister robotically reading out empty words and the strategic absence of legitimate mediation from the state will not quell protests. On the contrary, it will have the unintended consequence of detonating similar struggles everywhere. The state will have to speak then. If it doesn’t, and the government succeeds in driving all anger and dissent underground, it will have to take the blame for creating guerrillas en masse. Theek hai?

#India- Deconstructing elite ‘concern’ and ‘action’ on rape #Vaw


rape

Published: Monday, Dec 24, 2012, 5:21 IST | Updated: Monday, Dec 24, 2012, 23:02 IST
By Garga Chatterjee

On December 22, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde tried his best to appear statesmanlike at the press-conference. Flanked by a couple of other ministers and a smattering of bureaucrats, he announced that the government had heard the rape-protesters of New Delhi. The poor should learn something – it is not enough to be displaced, raped, maimed, killed, brutalised for years. It is also important to know how to chant slogans in English and write them in chart paper. The star-studded press conference was not so much about firefighting – after all, youths holding placards written in English are not a major electoral constituency.It was more about appearing sensitive to a larger populace. Shinde even tried the ‘common man’ approach.
He said he understood the outrage — for, he too was a father. Lesser mortals are lesser in more ways than one. Rare are the moments when people in power include themselves in ‘everyone of us’, as if we are one community. When the ‘common bond of humanity’ ploy is used, those in the charmed circle of Lutyen’s Delhi and its South Delhi spill-over nod liberally in agreement. One would almost want to believe that Shinde’s daughter would buy a Rs 10 ticket on a green Delhi Transport Corporation bus and travel from Daryaganj to Kapashera border after a hard day’s work like many, many others. No such luck. Shinde has Z plus security. One of his daughters, Praniti, is an MLA. With more police force out to protect his powerful daughter than what would be deployed to protect an average neighbourhood, it is hard to imagine an anxious father of a commoner here.
After all, in the last five years, Maharashtra, Shinde’s home state, has had the largest number of candidates with declared cases of crimes against women, including rape. At least 26 Congress candidates to different legislatures had such cases against them (source: Association for Democratic Reforms). Shinde may say these cases are politically motivated or ‘law will take its own course’, but surely, as a father, would he take chances? If not, what have the people done to deserve these candidates from his party? That the BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP also have numerous such candidates does not help matters? What do Smriti Irani and Sushma Swaraj think about the ‘jewels’ that their party has been nominating? Why is the tirade against the bad guy always directed towards an inchoate other or society at large, when there are more tangible alleged-rascals inside the party? There have been calls to ‘fast-track’ legal procedures for such cases. Ostensibly, this fast tracking should also apply to the alleged crime committed against women by Tricolour and saffron ‘social workers’. Shouldn’t it?

In a statement after meeting prime minister Manmohan Singh, Shinde said, “The government will take immediate steps for the amendment of the Criminal Law for enhanced and more effective punishment in the rarest of the rare cases of sexual assault such as this.” This is something that has a resonance with a significant section of the protesters where public hanging and castration have been demanded. But there is rape and there is rape. The state has hinted that it might toy with the idea of death penalty or something more severe than the present punishment for ‘rarest of the rare cases’. Is the alleged rape of a 56-year-old woman in Gujarat by a Central Industrial Security Force personnel a ‘rarest of rare case’? Does the alleged repeated sexual brutalization of Soni Soriin the custody of Chhattisgarh police qualify as a ‘rarest of rare case’? Was the alleged gang-rape of a 12-year-old mentally challenged deaf and mute girl by three CRPF personnel near their Warangal area camp a ‘ rarest of rare case’? Is the alleged rape of a Congolese child by an Indian Army jawan posted as ‘peace-keeper’ a ‘rarest of rare case’?Did the forensic evidence of DNA match matter in that case? Did anything matter? Did anything get fast-tracked, or was a clean-chit thrown back on the face of the victim?

What about the Kunan Poshpora tragedy of 1991 – the alleged gang rape of more than 50 Kashmiri women by army jawans? It has been 22 years. Does ‘morale’ come before justice or does ‘honour’ look different when viewed through Tricolour blinders? Or are these ‘rarest of rare cases’ not ‘rarest of rare’ precisely because they are not rare? I sincerely hope the Delhi youngsters who besieged the Raisina Hills only to be lathi-charged back have all this in mind, when they chant ‘We-want-justice’.

The author a postdoctoral scholarat Massachusetts Institute of Technology @gargac on Twitter, inbox@dnaindia.net

Radical Socialist Statement on the #Delhigangrape and Popular Protests


gangrape
 
Solidarity with the protesters in Delhi! Down with government violence and misleading information! Punish every rapist and all those who support or abet rape!
There have been sustained protests in Delhi against the rape of a young woman of 23 in a bus, and the callous attitude of police, administration and politicians till the protesters forced their hands. This has been taken up across India. Protests have been heard in Kolkata, in Srinagar, and in many other places. This issue must be put in its proper perspective in order to understand why there has been such a massive outpouring.
 
It is not because this is just an incidence of unusual violence that people are angry. And it is not that this is a middle class issue, and that is why the middle class is angry. The former detaches the particular issue from the general, while the latter is a very one sided presentation.
In 2010, there were 22,000 recorded cases of rape in India, which means the actual number or rapes was around 130,000 (given the ratio of five unreported rapes to every reported case that is widely admitted, while one study of the Punjab for 1995 suggested as high as 68:1 as the ratio between unreported and reported rapes). In Delhi, the national Capital, there have been over 560 cases of recorded rapes in 2012 so far. In West Bengal, there are several thousand rape cases that have been recorded by the police yet have not started moving in the courts. In Manipur, Irom Sharmila continues her lonely protest by hunger strike, while the Armed Forces Special Powers Act continues to shield men in uniform who routinely rape and murder women. In Kashmir, the Shopian Rape and murder was hushed up by calling it suicide due to family conflicts. In Gujarat in 2002, political violence against Muslims included gang rapes in a large number of cases, lauded by the Chief Minister as ‘Newton’s Third Law’. Rape, in other words, is a threat that stalks virtually every Indian woman. The massive and semi-spontaneous outpouring, organised by little more than personal contacts and grass roots level initiative, was born out of popular hatred of this growing trend, and an utter rejection of politicians and police who are seen as vile, corrupt, promoters and protectors of rapists, who have pussy-footed when Khap panchayats have sought to dictate terms against women, and who have routinely put up history-sheeters as their candidates, including men charged with rape (cases still going on) or with other sexual assault on women.
Because people routinely take part in elections, these parties go on repeating that Indian democracy is strong and deeply rooted. In fact it is shallow, and has come to mean little more than periodic contests between different gangs of crooks for all of whom people’s social, economic and cultural rights and desires matter not a whit.
Rape is treated, by the capitalist-patriarchal system and its upholders, in a totally flawed manner. It is equated with sex, and therefore rapists are identified as individual perverts. Often enough, the women themselves are blamed. In the present case too, before the depth of mass outrage was seen, one politician had remarked that the woman was too adventurous in being out so late. In other cases, women are virtually told they were inviting rape if they did not fit into a narrow dress code, if they were seen in various kinds of places socially identified as spaces for ‘bad women’, and so on. It is enough to remember the case of Bhanwari Devi, to understand that the reality is, women are raped because rape is a show of power. It is a display of violence on women by patriarchy.
At every stage, it is the woman who is victimised, traumatised and humiliated. Police routinely refuse to file an FIR (the Shopian case, the initial response in the Park Street, Kolkata case). The woman is humiliated when she goes to the Police Station. Cases are not handled speedily. Medical examination is often tardy or not even conducted. Rape is routinely described as a ‘fate worse than death’. Law-makers have gone on record using terms like Zinda-laash (living dead) to describe the rape victim. This means that rape is not treated as violence on the woman but as the loss of her ‘izzat’ (honour) without which she is ‘better dead’. When Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader, asserted in parliament that the woman’s life is now worse than death, she was actually endorsing the patriarchal value system that leads to rapes.
It is from this perspective that equally violent responses have been proposed. The most well-known is the demand for death penalty for rapists. Another is the demand for castration or branding rapists (made in the daily Bartaman of Kolkata by none less than a former judge).
We reject this mode of thinking. We assert that it is necessary to relate rape to every kind of sexual harassment and sexual assault on women. Rape is the most violent form of an entire range of patriarchal attacks on women, from passing obscene comments, to leering at women, groping, stalking, and assault that is short of the legal definition of rape.
We also reject all attempts to imprison women and girls in the name of their safety, by declaring which hours are safe or legitimate for them to go out on the streets, and dressed in exactly how much shame. What is needed, rather, is ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.
We oppose the demand for death penalty on both principled and practical grounds. We are opposed to death penalty per se, and therefore to its extension. But we also assert that in reality, the enactment of a law making death penalty possible for rape will have the opposite effect. That is when class as a factor will seriously come into play. It is the elite who will get away with lesser penalties, or will not even be convicted as police play an even worse role than now, while one or two lower class rapists will be hanged as so-called exemplars. It is worth remembering that rape is very often used as a form of upper caste violence to keep the dalits “in their place”.
We agree with all those organisations and individuals whose statement points out:
“This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans-people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity – it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.”(Statement by women’s and progressive groups and individuals condemning sexual violence and opposing death penalty. December 24, 2012)
We do express our difference with Arundhati Roy, who seems to feel that the protests are just a middle class anger. We feel this incidence was a tipping point. Yes, middle class youth played an important role. They can do so because in spontaneous mobilisations of this sort they have social advantages (mobiles, facebook, wider networking). But to shrug it off as middle class is to play into the hands of the state, which is trying to play down the meaning of the protests. It is true that media have often ignored the gravity of rapes when committed by upper castes against lower caste women, or by landlords against the rural poor women. That is hardly a fault of the middle class women. At most, we can say that we hope they will draw lessons from this experience and be equally vocal when it is working class women in brick kilns or unorganised sectors elsewhere who are being raped, when dalit women or when agricultural labourer women are raped.
We particularly condemn the violence inflicted on the protesters. The Delhi police has called the violence it has inflicted on the protestors “collateral damage” and at the same time charged eight persons with murder for the death of a police man. If they are going to use the terms of US imperialism and call their violence in terms used in imperialist wars, then the death of the policeman too is collateral damage. If they want to treat citizens as hostiles and cut off the metro links of Delhi’s central areas so that visiting dignitaries (Russia’s Putin) were spared the view of protests, then what do they expect protesters to do. If there was undesired violence, and there was, that is not because there are hidden Maoists or terrorists, as it is being insinuated, but because the state decided not to respond until it was too late, and with promises that were too little.
  • We express support and solidarity with the protestors.
  • We express our heartfelt support to the family of the young women, and to all those injured by cop attacks.
  • We reject Man Mohan Singh’s appeal, that people should go back home now that he has uttered his banalities.
  • We condemn the attempts by the Delhi police to control the nature of the statement being given by the victim.
The reality is that mainstream parties do not care about women’s equality. They do not care about rape, police inaction and related issues except in so far as these help them in election times. And this brings us to the weaknesses of the protests. The protesters utterly distrust and reject mainstream parties. Yet they are still unable to go beyond placing further demands on those very rotten elements.
A second weakness, being exploited by the parties like the BJP, is the demand of the death penalty. They feel that by using the rhetoric of exemplary punishment they can divert attention from the systemic nature of rape and sexual violence.
The crucial demands that need to be made are:
  • Immediate police reforms, so that rape charges must be recorded at any police station, with automatic provision of penal action against the duty officers, the officer in charge, and if necessary the superior police officers, if FIR is not taken immediately.
  • No need for permission from /governor or president if high officials or ministers are to be charged for cases of rape, abetting rape, or sexual assault.
  • Scrap the AFSPA. Bring to book rapists in uniform.
  • Set up fast track courts to ensure that rape cases are dealt with promptly (within a one year time frame).
  • Arrest and punish rapists in every recorded case of rape.
  • Review the role of the national commission for Women, given its numerous actions and utterances against the interests of women.
  • Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, we oppose the gender-neutral definition of the perpetrator and demand that the definition of perpetrator be gender-specific and limited to men. Sexual violence also targets transgender people and legal reform must address this.
The bourgeois media, with very few exceptions, has been presenting a distorted picture, and pushing a clear agenda. Its glorification of ‘spontaneity’ has to do with its desire to save the political order in the final instance. The bourgeois media is aware that mainstream parties loot the country whether through the Commonwealth Games or the 2G scam, that they harbour rapists and other criminals, and assist and promote riots and caste wars. But these are also the parties and people who vote for bank privatisation, for turning water into a commodity, for every need of predatory capitalism. So people are encouraged only to ventilate anger at specific cases, not to seek for systemic changes. Against this, we urge protesters to understand the inner unity of the corrupt, the criminals and the political system, and unite with all the exploited for a systematic alternative.

 

Thinking about Rape from India Gate #Vaw #Delhigangrape #mustread


( pic courtesy hindu )
December 23, 2012
by ,  Kafila.org

Dear young women and men of Delhi,

Thank you for the courage and the honour you have brought to Rajpath, the most dishonorable street in our city. You changed Delhi yesterday, and you are changing it today. Your presence, of all twelve thousand of you, yesterday, on Rajpath, that street that climbs down from the presidential palace on Raisina Hill to India Gate, getting soiled by the excreta of the tanks and missiles on Republic Day each year, was for me a kind of purificatory ritual. It made a claim to the central vista of ‘Lutyen’s Delhi’ as a space for democratic assertion in contravention of the completely draconian, elitist and undemocratic prohibitory orders that make the heart of this republic, a zone of the death, not the life and sustenance, of democracy.

From now onwards, consider the heart of Delhi to be a space that belongs, first of all, to its citizens. Yesterday, when thousands of you gathered peacefully, intending to march up Raisina Hill to the president’s palace, you were charged with batons, tear gas and subjected to jets from water cannons. The violence began, not when protestors threw stones, but when the police started attacking people. Stones were thrown in retaliation. The television cameras that recorded what happened show us the exact chronology. The police were clearly under orders not to let people up Raisina Hill. Why? What is so sacred about Raisina Hill? Why can a group of unarmed, peaceful young people not walk to the gates of the president’s palace? So, lets be clear. Violence began when the state acted. Of course, the protest got hijacked by hooligans. But of course it had to be. When hooligans in uniform are let loose on an unarmed crowed, there can be no possibility of averting the possibility that hooligans out of uniform will respond in kind.

But do not let this stop you, or distract you. Do not be scared away from the heart of the city by this violence. Prevent the hijackers from taking over your anger and twisting it to their purposes. But most importantly, never, ever be scared again. You have all given us the gift of a fearlessness. This city is no longer what it used to be, and it is so because of you. Rajpath is yours. This city is yours. its days and nights are yours. Do not let anyone take this back from you. Keep the city. Keep the city safe, make it safe. Make it yours and mine again.

Thank you for doing this in the name of an anonymous 23 year old woman. She is someone like you, like millions of others who wants to lay claim to this city, by day and by night. You demonstrated that the presence of women and men, out on the streets, in public, is the only guarantee by which everyone can feel safe in this city, or in an city for that matter. It is not by making pubs close early that this city will be made safe. It is by ensuring that as many women can be out and about in any place in the city, at any time of day and night, in buses, on the metro, in public spaces, in work spaces, cinemas, theaters, at home, and even in pubs, that this city will be safe for all of its citizens. By being together, in public, as free and equal men and women, in the place where prohibitory orders and Section 144 forbid you from being, you made sure that this city belonged to the 23 old woman who was asked by the men who raped her (Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh) what she was doing out and about at nine at night. You were together, as young women and men, safe, secure in each others company, drawn together by friendship and solidarity, and by your friendship and solidarity with the 23 year old woman who is fighting so bravely for her life. She could have been one of you. Any one of you could have been her, or her injured and brave friend.The young men amongst you demonstrated that you were not there to assert your control over women. The young women amongst you demonstrated that you could hold your own with young men, and feel the opposite of being threatened and insecure.  Our city, so ashamed of its reputation for misogyny, can only be grateful for this organic, spontaneous and public demonstration of the solidarity between the bodies of young women and men.

You made me proud of Delhi again, just as much as the men named Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh had made me ashamed a few days ago by the way in which they brutally raped and nearly killed that anonymous young woman, and assaulted her companion.They cannot be called beasts, because no animals behave as terribly as these men did. They make us ashamed to be human, and make me ashamed to be a man. I am ashamed by them just as much as I was ashamed by the bystanders on a busy street who pulled down the windows of their cars to gape at a nearly naked and clearly injured woman and man, or just stood around, staring, but could not find enough humanity within themselves to come up and offer help,  or comfort, or even cover the two young people on a cold December night.

But yesterday, you, the twelve thousand mostly young men and women who came to Rajpath to express your anger showed the world that Delhi has a different face as well.  Thank you for restoring humanity to this city.Today, the several more than yesterday’s twelve thousand have been joined by a fringe consisting of the storm troopers of some political parties, especially the BJP, and the agent-provocateurs of the Congress, neither of whom have any hesitation in fielding people with accusations of rape against them for elections. Here, in this fringe, you will find the ABVP, the Bajrang Dal, the NSUI, the Ramdev Wallas, the hooligans of the unfortunately named Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena,  the anti-corruption brigade, all manner of busy-bodies, goondas and do-gooders, and some goondas who are do gooders. Do not let them distract you. Overwhelm them with your numbers, make your protests decentralized, and impossible for them or the police to direct and control. Do not, under any circumstances let them speak for you, or tell you what to do, or dictate the agenda. Take back the protest by making it go viral all over the city.

Do not forget that when Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader made the disgusting comment ‘ uski zindagi maut se badtar ho chuki hai’ (‘her life is now worse than death’), in Parliament, she was actually endorsing the Patriarchal value system that produces rape. It is your responsibility, and the responsibility of all of us, to ensure that Sushma Swaraj’s political career dies it’s deserved and timely death just for that one remark. Let us make sure that she can never be elected to any office again, that she can never insult and humiliate the young women of this country with her patronizing platitudes. She, and other politicians like Mamata Bannerjee, who have questioned rape victims testimonies in recent times, do not deserve our confidence, they deserve an eternal political exile. Just as brutal rapists only deserve an eternity of imprisonment and confinement in solitude in order to reflect on the violence that they have committed.

Remember, the rapist’s intention is not sexual pleasure (because the ONLY way in which pleasure can be had is through the reciprocity of desire, through love, through erotic engagement, not through taking away someone’s agency by force and without consent). Rape is not about sex, it is about humiliation, its intention is precisely to make the raped person think that now that they have been subjected to sexual violence, their life will no longer be worth living. The rapist and Sushma Swaraj are in perfect agreement about the worth of the life of a rape victim.The reason why some men rape women or others who are in their power is because they believe that some lives are more important, worth more, than others. That is the key to patriarchy.

Dear young women and men of Delhi, I am writing this to you so that in the middle of all your anger you can find a space to reflect on the force that patriarchy has over all our lives, and I hope that you will find the means, burnished by your anger to dethrone it from its underserved position of power in this city. I want yours to be the generation that changed Delhi forever. And i know you can make that happen, and that is why I am writing to you.

Let us think about patriarchy together. Patriarchy is what makes you ashamed, not delighted when you have a period, because your traditions teach you that a menstruating body is a polluting body. Patriarchy is what tells you that there are things you cannot or should not do because of the way your body or your desires are shaped. Patriarchy is the secret to your nightmares, the reason for your deepest, most personal fears and anxieties. It seeks control of your body, your mind, your speech, your behavior, even the ways in which you raise and lower your eyes. Behind this lies a clear identification between property and the sexual body that patriarchy tries to perpetuate at any cost. When anyone says that a raped person, say a woman, is defiled, what they mean is that the violence done to her sexually is identical to the violation of their personhood, which ‘properly’ understood, is the property of someone who can legitimately ‘husband’ her body and being. Any woman, according to this view, either is, or will eventually become some man’s property. If she is ‘defiled’ she will become ‘broken goods’, the legitimate claimant to the property which her body constitutes will no longer have any interest in ‘husbanding’ her. That is why they say that her life, laid fallow and waste by rape, will no longer be worth living.

That is why courts in India are so reluctant to admit marital rape. They are bewildered by the reality of marital rape because they cannot understand how someone can ‘violate’ their own property. To understand clearly this you have to think about kinds of injury other than rape.

How is it that violent attacks, or injuries that are non-sexual in nature, do not lead anyone to say that their ‘life is now worse than death’. Imagine an injured soldier, a war veteran whose legs have been blown off, being told by a mainstream politician his ‘life is now worse than death’, and you will immediately see how ridiculous the identification between the destiny of your sexual being and the worth of life is. The injured soldier is feted, decorated, celebrated. The rape survivor is made to feel something quite different. An episode of rape is horrible, but it is not necessarily always more physically painful than a blown off limb. The only reason why women are disciplined and made to fall in line with the threat of rape dangling over them (either by their rapists, or by their would be ‘protectors’) is because rape is seen as a crime against property. And the property in question is inevitably patriarchy’s right over the woman’s body, over the body of any person that patriarchy deems to be without agency. The woman who is raped is made to feel ashamed because she was not vigilant enough to safeguard the orifices of her body from being accessed by an inappropriate other, or a stranger against her will (not that her will counts, necessarily). Had it been an ‘appropriate’ other, say a husband, or a boy-friend, she could be made to feel equally ashamed for the revulsion she might feel in submitting to his sexual will, on occasion, or at any time at all, against her own wishes and desires.

The reason why Sushma Swaraj and others like her hyper-ventilate in this way is because they are the architects of the patriarchal order that produces rape. If Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta have committed the rape that needs to be condemned by everyone, than Swaraj needs to be held accountable for perpetuating the value system that leads Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta to think that rape is the natural and normal thing for them to do. After all a vast number of men in India, routinely rape their wives. And Sushma Swaraj throws Karwa Chaut parties to celebrate the thrall which patriarchy allows husbands to hold over their wives. No young self respecting woman in Delhi should ever take anything that someone like Sushma Swaraj ever says seriously.

Dear young men and women of Delhi, When you see your legitimate protest contaminated by the BJP cadre, ask them about how they are going to deal with their misogynist leadership. How are they going to deal with those who justified the rape and murder of Muslim women in Gujarat? Ask them about how they intend to deal with the fact that even in the recent Gujarat elections, one of the victorious MLAs (the sitting MLA for Dhari) Mansukh Bhuva, has  a charge of leading and participating in the gang-rape of the wife of a panchayat member of Amreli district by seven people.

Investigation in this case is currently in progress, and while the MLA has said that the charges are false and politically motivated, does it not indicate that a party like the BJP is actually not committed in any way to taking the rights of women seriously when it gives a ticket to a man who stands accused of gang rape. Should it not have waited for this man’s innocence to be proven before blessing him with an election ticket? Ask Sushma Swaraj, ask Narendra Modi, dreaming of Raisina Hill and Lutyens Delhi, what they have to say about Mansukh Bhuva.

Even as I write this, some people are expressing their concern at the way in which your protest is getting out of hand. They are saying that you should not be indulging in violence. On Facebook, I see young Kashmiri men and women ask whether or not the authorities in Delhi will now begin to say that you have been paid to throw stones at the buses of the Delhi police by the Pakistani ISI (after all, that is what was said when young people in Kashmir throw stones at the forces of law and order after the administrations insensitivity in rape cases forced young people to take to the streets, so it is quite natural that they should ask this question when you throw stones in Delhi.)

Learning from your peers in the frontiers of this unfortunate union (governed in part by an unwieldy, creaking but sort-of-working constitution and in part by the precise and lethally efficient Armed Forces Special Powers Act), to throw stones at the force that needs stones thrown at them is not something I feel you need necessarily to be ashamed of. A Tehelka investigation (‘The Rapes Will Go On’) by G. Vishnu and Abhishek Bhalla pointed out in April 2012, that several police officers in positions of responsibility in this city and in the National Capital Region (Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad) think that when women get attacked it is their fault. While writing this, I checked with one of the correspondents who had filed this story. He told me what I had suspected. The Delhi police did order a departmental enquiry, and the concerned officer was ‘transferred’. Not suspended, demoted, punished or reprimanded. No disciplinary action of any consequence was taken. The Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida police were even more ‘sensitive’ to the morale of men in uniform. They did nothing at all. A force that does not punish those amongst its ranks guilty of making such statements, and thereby perpetuates a naked sexism, deserves all the stones that get thrown at it in retaliation for its egregious use of batons, tear gas and water cannons against a peaceful gathering.

But throwing stones at policemen is one thing, and having your protest hijacked by the storm troopers of political parties like the BJP and the Congress is quite another. I think you need to think carefully about how you can prevent your anger from being abused by political opportunists of all stripes for their own ends. Do not lose your resolve. Do not let lumpen political mercenaries ride the wave in the the upsurge that is your anger.

Many of you carried banners that asked men to think, with which I whole heartedly agree (and I am writing this in order to do this thinking with you, and as the mark of my gratitude to you) and some of you asked for capital punishment for the rapists, a demand that i cannot agree to, but am willing to argue with you about, in friendship and in solidarity. The rapists should in my view, spend their entire lives in prison, in isolation, considering what made them do what they did. Hanging, (which one of the accused has even demanded for himself) is the easiest way out for them. It will be the least severe punishment that we can imagine for these horrible and violent men. Moreover, if would-be rapists think they might be hanged, they will go the extra mile to kill their victims, in order to destroy the possibility that someone may testify against them. Under no circumstances has the death penalty ever been known to reduce any crime. It is not the death penalty that will stop rape. To stop rape we have to think about the attitudes that make rape imaginable, that normalize rape. But we can debate this question in depth at another time (and I will be thinking with you a little bit about what these attitudes might be and where they come from later in this piece). Right now I want to think about what your presence on Raisina Hill means to me.

The water cannons that dowsed all of you on today and yesterday’s cold december mornings were cleansing – not you, but this filthy, disgusting state, that can guarantee only the insecurity of its citizens. Remember, that this is not the only rape and murder that has shocked our conscience in recent years. Remember, Manorama, a woman in Manipur who was allegedly raped and then murdered by soldiers of the 17th Assam Rifles Regiment. This happened in 2004, a full eight years ago. Eight years have passed and the rapists and murderers of Manorama have not even been produced in court. They have not been produced in court because they are not civilians like Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh. They are men in uniform, not bus drivers, fruit juice vendors, cleaners and gym instructors. An enquiry was ordered and conducted, and its contents still remain secret.

Here is a link on NDTV’s youtube channel to a report on the Guwahati high court’s decision on August 2010 to open the Upendra Commission of enquiry report.

But immediately afterwards, the defense authorities, petitioned the Supreme Court with a ‘Special Leave Petition’ against further proceedings in this case. Here was the state, and the army, doing the opposite of what needed to be done to speed up the course of justice in a matter that had to do with rape and murder. In the summer of this year, eight years after Manorama was raped and murdered, the Supreme Court permitted the special leave petition to be heard, and the proceedings in the Imphal bench of the Guwahati High Court, and the opening of the Upendra Commission enquiry had to be suspended. This enquiry into her rape and murder remains, as far as I know, suspended and wrapped within secrecy. Manorama’s family are exactly where they were eight years ago, as far from justice as it is possible for anyone to be. I do not know what progress there has been on the hearing of the Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. There seems to be little information available on the matter apart from stray reports that the Supreme Court was hearing the SLP. I would be curious to know what the apex court decided. Whatever be the outcome, we can say this much for certain –  the Manorama case did not get ‘fast track treatment’.

So when Sushma Swaraj demands ‘fast track courts’ to treat cases of rape and sexual violence, ask her why she is so disinterested in making sure that ‘fast track courts’ can track Manorama’s rape and murder. Is it because the fact that when rape and murder are deployed as instruments of national security policy in order to contain insurgency, different standards are automatically assumed to apply? Is it because the BJP thinks that rape is ok as long as it is done in the interests of national security (as in Manipur and Kashmir)  and in order to uphold the honour of Hindutva (as in Gujarat)?

Remember the Kunan-Pushpora rapes in Kashmir, which occurred on February 23, 1991, twenty one years ago? You probably don’t, because Sushma Swaraj, nor any other prominent politician for that matter, has never thought it necessary to demand ‘fast track courts’ to try the guilty rapists of Kunan Poshpora. At least fifty three women were raped on that night by soldiers of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles. No police investigation was conducted, despite a complaint by the villagers. A district magistrate and a sitting chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court conducted their own enquiries and found that the soldiers of the 4th Rajputana Rifles had ‘acted like beasts that night’. But no cognizance of their reports was taken by the civil or military authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, or at the centre.

The charges were dismissed as ‘baseless’. Three months after that incident, the Press Council of India was invited by the Army to conduct an enquiry, and the Press Council of India found that the charges were baseless. Not a single soldier of the Indian army has ever been booked for Kunan Poshpora for all of these twenty one years. Now imagine that the Delhi police and administration invite the Press Council of India, or let us say, the Metereological Survey of India to determine whether or not the unnamed 23 year paramedic was raped on a Delhi bus. How can a mass rape by soldiers be investigated and judged by a body designed to look into complaints regarding the running of newspapers and media organizations? This is what ‘justice’ in cases of rape has by and large meant in the outlying territories where the writ of the Indian Union runs. Now, we are facing a situation that alarms us in the very heart of the republic. Perhaps it is time we learnt that we cannot have different standards at play in Delhi and Kunan Poshpora. And that if that is how they do play out, then it is time to admit that those who run this country run large parts of it as if they were colonies. If you, the young women and men of Delhi can begin to understand this, as a result of what you have been experiencing today and yesterday, then all the tear gas and water cannon jets that you faced may well have been worth the while.

Granted, public memory is short, but how short? Remember the rape and murder of Nilofer Jaan and Aasiya Jaan in Shopian, Kashmir, as recently as May 2009, which saw a cover up and reversal of forensic findings at the highest level, with the connivance of the highest levels of the security forces, bureaucracy and the political establishment, so that two raped, killed women could be shown to have ‘drowned in ankle deep water’ in an apparent ‘accident’. You can read the entire contents of a carefully written ‘citizens’ report on the Shopian Rape and Murder case here

Remember how the enquiry report on Nilofer and Aasiya Jan’s rape and death was tampered with so that suspicions about the women’s ‘character’ could be inserted to make it appear that any evidence of sexual abuse could be wished away as the natural consequences of the ‘waywardness’ of young women? Remember, that Omar Abdullah, Rahul Gandhi’s dear friend, who sanctioned and endorsed these lies, continues to be in office, presiding over the violent occupation of Kashmir. Remember that the denial of rape and murder is a key element in his strategy of governance. Remember all of this when politicians and the media praise you for your idealism, and condemn you for throwing stones. Remember that when your peers in Kashmir or Manipur throw stones out of the same anger that motivates you today, their stone throwing is met not with water cannons and tear gas but with bullets and condemnation, but their ‘idealism’ never finds praise in the salons and studios of New Delhi. Remember now that here, now, this winter of 2012, is the time for you, in the streets of Delhi to find a kinship with your friends, your peers, in Srinagar and Imphal. Remember that the safety and freedom of a young woman is always more important than the safety and security of the abstraction that you have been taught to think of as a nation. Remember that a raped woman is deserving of your friendship, your solidarity, you courage and love, wherever she may be, in Delhi, Srinagar or Imphal.

For the last few days, I have been wondering how I can even begin to think about the rape and assault that the brave twenty three year old paramedic (who is now fighting to live, and to live well in a Delhi hospital) and her friend had to undergo. You have asked all men to think. I am a man. I am not a celibate man who can wish away his sexuality. And so I am trying to think this through with you. I hope that all men in Delhi join me in this exercise.

As a man, I have looked at myself in the mirror, each of the past days, and thought about whether, ever, under any circumstances, in any condition of sobriety or intoxication, I have ever entertained even the thought of compelling a woman, a man, a boy or a girl – a lover, a friend, an acquaintance, a colleague, a neighbor, a relative, a stranger to act against her  (or his) consent. I think every man should look at himself and think hard. All of us men have to think because only men rape. Only men entertain the thought of rape. They (we) rape mostly women, and girls, but they (we) also rape other men, and boys, and those of indeterminate gender.

They (we) rape, not because rape has anything to do, as I have said already, with sexual relations, but because rape has to do with the assertion of power, of the compelling power that can make one body do what another body wants against its will. And just as only upper caste men and women can insult and commit violence on to those they consider lower than themselves in a specifically ‘castiest’ way, so too only men can rape, because they (we) think of themselves as occupying the summit of a sexual pyramid.

This pyramid, which we could call patriarchy, is built out of the sexual equivalent of slavery. The protocols of slavery indicate that some bodies be seen as being bereft of agency. Sometimes these bodies are marked by racial difference, at other times by gender, or by other markers. What is understood is that these agency-less bodies (howsoever their agency-lessness is constituted) can be transacted at will by other bodies that are deemed worthy of agency.

Wherever and whenever a certain kind of body (a woman’s body, a child’s body, a prisoner or captive’s body, a slave’s body, a ‘junior’s’ of ‘freshet’s’ body in the ritual of ragging or hazing on campus, a gay man’s body, the body of a caste or race ‘other’) can be thought of automatically as an object that one can bend or break or punish at will, just because of what it is, there and then lie the foundations of rape. The reason why an upper caste landlord can demand his ‘right’ over a lower caste woman’s body and simultaneously insist that she is ‘untouchable’ has to do with how he understands the difference between his body and hers. He rapes her to punish her husband for trying to assert his rights as a tiller over the land he thinks he owns. Or he rapes her because the thinks he can, and because she is there. Thakur, Singh, Sharma, Sharma and Gupta, the men who raped the unnamed paramedic, did not do anything that has not been done before. Men like them did it in cities and in villages, in fields, warehouses, plantations and factories, under trees, beside wells and rivers, in thickets and in clearings, in public and in private, in ruins and bedrooms, even in temples and kitchens, for thousands of years. They did it, not only to strangers and captives, but to their wives and their sisters and their daughters too.

This understanding has nothing biological about it. It is hard-coded into the cultural protocols that teach a man, even as a young boy, which kind of body has agency, and which kind of body is there for the taking.

Our dominant traditions denigrate a character like Ravana who would not touch the abducted Sita without her consent. At the same time it valorizes the Rama who exiles the same Sita when his advisers suggest that the population is not convinced of her ‘purity’ because she had spent such a long time in the home of her abductor, the same Ravana. Here, Rama is the one who underlies the code of rape. He cannot understand that a man can actually not rape a woman within his ‘power’. His decision to abandon Sita is based on the idea that she cannot not have been in sexual contact with Ravana. Ergo, either she willingly had sex with her captor, or if she did not, she must have been raped. In either case, being thus defiled, and broken, she is no longer fit to be his ‘property’. In other words, just as Sushma Swaraj said, her life, either is, or must be made, worse than death.

The assumption that women are automatically available for sex at the appropriate ‘clean’ time is hard-coded into the Hindu tradition. Rama as an upholder of that tradition, cannot act outside its dictates in the way in which women’s agency is viewed.  Remember that the Brhadarankya Upanishad says – “..surely a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her, if she still still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying – ‘I take away the splendour from you with my virility and splendor’

(Bradaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 6.4.6 –  see especially pages 88 and 89 of the Patrick Olivelle translation of the Upanishads published by the Oxford University Press, 1996)

When one thinks this passage through, it is not difficult to understand why rape should be such an endemic practice within our society.  Marital rape is the original, scripturally sanctioned template on which all rape is founded.  The fear of death penalty can never be a deterrent when you have scriptural and cultural sanction for the codes of property and agency that underlie the control that some bodies are armed with over and above others.  In our society, this includes the sanction for the control that men have over women, adults have over children, and that dominant castes have over others. This normalization of domination and control is the key to the phenomenon of rape and humiliation. In such a situation, carrying placards that demand death penalty for rapists is the easiest thing to do. The difficult, challenging and interesting thing to do, the real thing to do, is to try and understand what are the cultural factors that actually go into the making of a rapists mind. Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta were not eccentric, abnormal characters. They were normal young men. One of them even functioned as an occasional priest in a neighborhood temple. Think carefully of the traditions that he would have imbibed that would have helped, not hindered him in doing what he did.

On the very day after Thakur, Singh, Sharma, Sharma and Gupta did what they felt like doing. We had reports of a Mohammad Rashid who raped a six year old in Turkman Gate in Delhi. A father was found to have raped his daughter in Kerala for over a year. All of these men had found ways of telling themselves that whatever they were doing could be done. A few days ago, a garment trader in Metiabruz, Kolkata, cut off his sister’s head because he suspected her of having an affair with someone he did not approve of and walked with her decapitated head, sword in hand, to the police station, in defense of his family’s honour. There are people who have praised him for his commitment to his family’s honor. None of these men were deranged, or otherwise criminally inclined. They were all, all honorable men. We need to figure out what gives them this idea of honor. We need to understand and confront the ways in which men read codes of tradition and honor and translate them into the grossest forms of misogyny and the generalized hatred of women.

Dear young women and men of Delhi, if you want rape to end, you will have to confront those traditions. Confronting those traditions, confronting the known history of patriarchy is not the same thing as demanding capital punishment. In fact, they can be the opposites of each other. By demanding ‘death’ for the rapist, you are tacitly entering into a compact with those who see rape not necessarily as a crime against a free agent, but also as a property crime, as an assault on honor and dignity. My understanding is, and my appeal to all of you is –  stop treating rape as a matter of honor and dishonor altogether, and expose and boycott those who would insist it is a matter of honor and dishonour. Treat it as ordinary, disgusting, evil violence, as the naked expression of power, and you will see that the expression of power is never challenged by the demand for death. It is easy for those who think of women as property to demand death for those who violate their property rights over women. That is why many men who will demand death penalty for rapists will happily go home and rape their wives. (Because in their understanding they cannot ‘rape’ their wives, only strangers can rape ‘their’ wives.)If you want to end rape, to end the forced sexual subjugation of one human being by another. You will have to look elsewhere than the gallows for comfort.

Rape and sexual assault, and other kinds of violence centered on the enjoyment of humiliation are different from other kinds of violence. You could be in the company of violent men, as a man, in a bus, and they would not necessarily slap you around just for the heck of it (unless you ‘looked’ racially different, or were different because of the way you expressed your sexual orientation). But imagine or remember what it is to be a woman on that bus, or to be the ‘wrong’ kind of male – queer, child, racially other, submissive because you are held captive – and things can suddenly go wrong. This is what happened on that bus that the 23 year old paramedic and her friend had boarded. This is what happened when Sharma, Sharma, Singh, Gupta and Thakur and their unnamed juvenile accomplice, decided to assert their position as bipedal upper primates on top of their imagined sexual pyramid. Let us not forget that the matter spiraled when one of the assaulters taunted the woman and her friend for being together at night in Delhi. In their eyes, she had broken the code of sexual slavery, by being a person who had acted as a free agent, as someone who could choose to enjoy her claim to the city, its entertainments, with a companion who happened to be male.

Of course she need not have acted as this free agent for this horrible event to happen. She could have been at home, confined within narrow domestic walls where most rapes in Delhi, and India occur. (I have yet to hear of policemen and politicians advocate the abolition of marriage in the same breath as the closure of pubs, although more rapes happen within marriage than do at or around pubs, clearly neither marriage nor pubs are in themselves the causes of rape, but it is always curious that one should be asked to be banned, though sometimes judges do ask rapists to marry their victims, though no one has yet asked a woman who was attacked or molested at a pub to return to the place where she was assaulted). In this instance, were we to go by the law of statistical averages, the brave 23 year old paramedic was not, but could easily have been the sister, niece, daughter, daughter-in-law or wife of one of the accused. Because the majority of those who get raped in our society are sisters, daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces and wives – and they are raped by brothers, fathers, uncles, fathers-in-law and husbands. Or she could have been a worker raped by her boss, or her colleague. She could have been a student raped by a teacher, a patient raped by a doctor or a warden in a hospital or clinic, an undertrial raped by a policeman, an insurgent or suspect raped by a soldier. She could have been dressed in clothes that she felt helped her enjoy and assert her sexuality, or she could have been dressed in work clothes, she could have been dressed in a burqa, a sari, salwar kameez or in a nun’s habit. She could have been a three year old infant, a teenager, a young woman, a post menopausal woman, even a grandmother.

Anybody at all, other than a man in a position of real or imagined power, can be raped by a man in  a position of real or imagined power. We might as well call this the first and most important law of rape.

This means that you can be raped in order to punish you for having broken the code of sexual slavery (patriarchy) – which is what happens when you are ‘accused’ of being up and about in the night in the city with a man who is not related to you. Or, on the other hand, you can be raped, in order to enforce it, maintain it, irrigate it,  generally show the world – how it works, who’s on top – which is what happens when rapes happen within the four walls of homes, work places, institutions and prisons.

Where does this sense of impunity that seems to govern the actions of so many men come from? It cannot come from biology alone. Because, thankfully, not all men, not even all men in positions of real or imagined power, are rapists. Rapists choose to access a cultural code of permission. There is something in the cultural baggage or vocabulary available to us all that normalizes sexual violence, even renders it trivial, as a bit of horseplay at worst, or the hallowed order sanctified by tradition, at best.

Dear young men and women of Delhi. There are things you can do to stop rape.

  • Shame any man who casually passes misogynist, sexist, remarks.  Shame all those cowards who try to humiliate anyone because of the way their bodies or desires are. Shame them in public.
  • Young women, do not retreat from public space. Take back the night. Insist on being out and about. Insist on the conditions that enable your safety. Ask why there are no women bus drivers, women cab drivers. Ask what the Delhi police is doing to punish misogynist officers and constables.
  • Young women, please understand that when you hear songs that are violent and misogynist, you can choose to boycott the radio stations and recording companies that put them out. Leave a party or a celebration that plays a Honey Singh song. If you are young man who is a friend of a young woman at any such gathering, leave the celebration with your friend. Call the radio stations, phone in and demand that they stop playing misogynist songs.
  • Demand more public transport. Demand a thousand more buses that ply all night. Demand a metro system that stays open late into the night. Demand street lighting. Ask why the car lobby in Delhi can systematically stymie the expansion of public transport in Delhi. If there are not more public buses and metro trains, understand that those who run this city are responsible for rape and assault.
  • Take your traditions seriously, and recognize that every religion teaches the subjugation and humiliation of women. Ask men and women of religion what they are going to do to recognize the misogyny in their traditions, to confront and challenge them. Insist that under no conditions can any woman pollute anything around her. insist that women are not property. Not of their fathers, brothers, boy-friends or husbands. Not of the state. Not of God. Understand that people can never be property and must never be viewed as such.Combat and confront anyone who says they can be.
  • Shame and expose those politicians and police or army officers who try to cover up cases of sexual assault and rape in Kashmir and the North East and elsewhere. Do not create a hierarchy of more and less important victims.
  • Young men, decide now, and for all time, that you will treat the women you encounter first of all as friends, as equals, as people who have as much right to your city as you. Learn to respect a woman’s right to pleasure. To her right to say yes and no. Do not think that ‘no’ means ‘yes’.
  • Young men, if you confront a situation in which any man harasses another woman, or any other person, make sure that you will stand up and protest, call attention to what is going on,  and make sure that this stops.
  • Young men, and young women, do not reduce the matter of confronting rape and molestation to one of asking the attacker whether or not he has ‘sisters and daughters’ at home. Rapists prey on their sisters and daughters just as easily as they do on strangers.
  • Young men and young women, do not ever let anyone tell you that under any circumstances, that your life is not worth living.

I hope you change Delhi forever. I hope that the rest of the country follows your example.

I remain hopeful because of what you did yesterday and today. Do not disappoint me, do not disappoint yourselves. Make your protest viral. Take it everywhere, to workplaces, schools, streets, parks, the metro, to dark and unlit streets, to lit streets and corners. Take over the city. Make it a city that belongs to you and me and the brave 23 year old paramedic still fighting for her life.

#India -Understanding the Incomprehensible #delhigangrape #stopthisshame #mustread #Vaw


Can one understand the how and why of the rape of the young woman in Delhi and its brutality?

 

rape11

EPW, Dec 29, 2012

The horrifying sexual assault that took place around 9 pm
in a private bus plying in south Delhi on 17 December has
shocked the nation, provoking widespread outrage, protests
and intensive media coverage. Politicians like Sushma
Swaraj have predictably demanded the death penalty for rapists
yet again. As the victim continues to battle for her life, this
murderous act unleashes its most paralysing effects on other
women, spreading fear, anger and helplessness.
Rape invokes the primitive and reminds us that the veneer of
our civilisation remains thin and fragile. That is why there is
always some aspect of rape that is beyond the reach of our
understanding. But almost everything seems inexplicable in
this case which is so extreme that it defi es our comprehension
comprehensively. Gang rape by a group of drunken men is hardly
unknown, but how do we “understand” the mind-numbing fact
that the victim’s body was not just violated but mutilated and
maimed with iron rods, blades and other such weapons? The
nature and extent of her injuries is such that it has baffl ed the
doctors trying desperately to save her. The gruesomeness of
this case invites comparison with the pre-planned attacks on
women during communal or caste riots. But unlike the rape and
murder of Muslim women by Hindu mobs in Gujarat in 2002, or
the attacks on dalit women by upper caste men (most recently
in Haryana), there was nothing premeditated here. According
to one report, the accused declared that the whole incident was
triggered by their anger at the defi ance shown by the woman in
defence of her male friend.
It was during the re-emergence of people’s movements in
the 1970s and 1980s that women’s groups in cities like
Hyderabad, Delhi and Bombay protested against the harassment
women faced on roads and in buses. The term used then –
“eve teasing” – sounds quaint if not sexist today. Along with
this came the fi rst national campaign against rape, provoked
by cases where the perpetrators included policemen. As
women’s organisations discovered to their shock, the country’s
rape laws, dating from colonial times, had not been revised for
more than a century. Since the 1990s, the umbrella term “violence
against women” has become commonplace. Sexual harassment
and sexual assault are now the correct termino logies,
and a number of bills are in various stages of consideration
in the hope that the law can better respond to the range of

violence women have to suffer, from unwanted attention to the
most heinous of crimes.
Despite the understandable clamour for immediate and drastic
action, we must resist the temptation to treat this extreme
case as the norm against which our response must be measured.
It is also necessary to go beyond umbrella categories like
“violence against women”. Apart from its sheer brutality, it is
the identity of its perpetrators that makes this an exceptional
crime. The attackers were not just strangers to the victim, but
socially marginal men. At times like this it is easy to forget that
by far the most common sexual assaults are by people known
to the victim – neighbours, relatives, even friends. Such rapes
are rarely reported. Another common type of assault that
needs to be emphasised in this context is the so-called “power
rape”, where the perpetrator is in a position of power over the
victim, whether as landlord, boss, or police/army offi cer. The
very identity of the perpetrators makes it likely that such
crimes will never come to light. In sharp contrast, this rare
case is one where the accused come from a marginal location
in metropolitan society, whether in terms of their occupation
(driver, fruit vendor, petty criminal, gym assistant…) or their
place of residence in a slum.
Some experts quoted in the media have described the
accused as psychopaths probably provoked by pornography.
Such casual explanations are unhelpful to say the least. Psychopaths
tend to be loners; they do not band together drunkenly,
fi rst to steal from a carpenter (who had boarded the bus earlier
and was then let out), then to vent their anger on the male friend
of the victim before doing what they did to the woman herself.
It may be more useful to focus on the increasing incidence of
vehicle-borne assaults, including cases of rape and gang rape
reported in Delhi. The capital has the largest number of vehicles
for a city, the highest vehicle density and the best roads in
the country. But what makes Delhi distinctive is the peculiar
combination of power and impunity that it both exudes and
offers up as routine public spectacle. The desire to experience
this heady mixture is contagious, and the closest that subaltern
groups can get to this is the feeling of control and power in a
moving vehicle. It is this desire that the men in the bus were
perhaps giving vent to, and the city and its obscene inequalities
deserve to be treated as accomplices in this brutal crime.

The exception may prove the rule but it must not shape the
law. Fast track courts are welcome, but certainly not the death
penalty, which is not a just form of punishment in principle, and
in practice will, legal scholars say, only lower the conviction rate
further below its dismal current level of 2%. Of course, responses
to such violence must go beyond the legal. Women and men
must recognise the rarity of this particular crime. Women need to

overcome their fears and occupy more rather than less public
spaces, the streets, the buses, whether during the day or at night.
Striving for a different public culture is part of the larger battle
against forms of power, both everyday and exceptional.
But above all, we must continue the struggle to understand
that which defi es our understanding – however tentative,
incomplete or frail our reasoning may seem.

 

#DelhigangRape accused now charged with attempt to murder


13 policemen will face trial for charges of gang rape in the case of Vakapalli tribal women  #Rape #Vaw

Edited by Abhinav Bhatt | Updated: December 19, 2012 , NDTV

New Delhi The accused in the gang-rape of a medical student in New Delhi on Sunday have now been charged with attempt to murder by the Delhi Police.
Here are the latest developments in the case:
  1. The Delhi Police last night added three more sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the accused. The fresh sections against the accused are 307 (attempt to murder), 201 (destruction of evidence) and 390 (robbery).
  2. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid a visit to the Safdurjung Hospital, where she met the 23-year-old victim late on Tuesday night. Earlier, she phoned and wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. She pushed for a strict punishment for the guilty. (Read full text of Sonia Gandhi’s letters)
  3. In Parliament, angry opposition leaders asked the government to explain what it’s doing to protect women in an increasingly unsafe capital. Sushma Swaraj, BJP leader, said the death sentence must be introduced for rapists. Samajwadi Party MP and actor Jaya Bachchan broke down while discussing the case. (See special feature: Who said what)
  4. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that he will ask for the case to be fast-tracked with daily court hearings. He said a special committee has been set up in his ministry to come up with guidelines to offer better protection for women. More policemen will patrol the roads at night, he said. (Read: Angry MPs ask govt for tough action, more security)
  5. The victim of Sunday’s gang-rape is in hospital in critical condition on a ventilator support system. Her male friend who tried to protect her on the bus but was beaten on the head with an iron rod has been discharged from hospital. (Read)
  6. The National Human Rights Commission or NHRC has issued notices to the Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar and Home Secretary RK Singh in connection with the gang-rape. The commission said, “Such acts are grave violation of human rights. The incident has raised the issue of declining public confidence in the law and order machinery in the city, especially, in its capacity to ensure safety of women.” The officials have been asked to submit a report to the commission in two weeks. (Read)
  7. A man in Delhi approached the police on Tuesday claiming that he was travelling on the same bus barely an hour before the gang-rape, and was robbed of Rs. 8000 by the men on board before being made to get off the vehicle near the IIT campus in South Delhi.
  8. The four people arrested include Ram Singh, the driver of the privately-operated bus and his brother. Ram Singh has refused to participate in an identification parade. (Read)
  9. Two other men are missing; police teams are searching for them in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan, said Delhi’s police commissioner Neeraj Kumar. (Read: How police cracked Delhi gang-rape case)
  10. Police sources say that when the woman and her friend boarded the bus, the attackers began harassing her about being out at night with a man. Her friend intervened and they began beating him with a rod. She tried to protect him and the men on the bus decided she “should be punished,” said a senior police source. (Read)

 

Chhattisgarh government paid TV channels for favourable news coverage, claims paper #paidnews


SUVOJIT BAGCHI. The Hindu, Dec 7, Raipur

Absolutely nothing wrong in funding the channels in a transparent way, says official

Raman Singh’s BJP government “has paid for favourable news stories” and “regular live coverage” to a host of national and local television channels, an English language newspaper reported.

Furthermore, the senior editors of the channels concerned allegedly wrote to the public relations (PR) department of the Chhattisgarh government “negotiating” rates to produce “news stories” and to ensure “positive coverage.”

The news story ‘Chhattisgarh government pays for all TV news that is fit to buy,’ published by theIndian Express on Friday, claimed the paper had in its possession nearly 200 documents exchanged between the PR department and the editors. While not challenging the veracity of the story, the Chhattisgarh government has brought counter allegations against the Indian Express, claiming that the newspaper has “taken more than 50 lakh” in the last two years as advertisements.

The channels named by the newspaper are Z24, a franchisee of Zee News, Sahara Samay, ETV Chhattisgarh, Sadhna News and other “smaller, local networks.”

The newspaper has published details of money allegedly received for government-friendly coverage ranging from welfare programmes, planting of trees in Naya Raipur, distribution of rice at subsidised rates to the poor, the Queen’s Baton relay in Commonwealth Games, the budget presentation, Independence Day speech by the leaders and even the generation of public reaction to welfare schemes — “five persons in each district with 30 seconds for every reaction,” the report says.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s visit and anti-Naxal reports are also funded by the PR department, claimed the report.

The report listed what it called the rate for each of the paid news items. In May 2010, Hindi television channel Sahara Samay had presented a five-point proposal to the PR department. It included special television packages on Sahara Samay, 15 times a day, featuring “CM’s speeches, government policies and various departmental news” and the rate was reportedly fixed at Rs. 3.28 crore per year at Rs. 3,000 per minute. It also had proposals like covering the Chief Minister’s programmes using outdoor broadcast vans “live for 10 minutes” at Rs. 48 lakh per year. There were other offers like running side strips on screen, tickers, and side panels for which the PR department had to pay substantially.

The story provided ‘evidence’ of how other channels — Z24, ETV Chhattsigarh and Sadhna News — collected money for broadcasting the government’s welfare schemes.

“In May 2011, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, visited Bastar to inaugurate achana distribution programme. Z24, Sahara Samay, ETV Chhattisgarh, and Sadhna News telecast the programme live and produced ‘special stories’… Cost of the same was Rs. 14.26 lakh,” the report said.

On Friday, the State government’s PR department challenged the allegations but did not deny funding the television channels. Principal Secretary, PR, N. Baijendra Kumar told The Hindu that there was “absolutely nothing wrong in funding the channels in a transparent way.”

“We purchase airtime to showcase success stories, informative and promotional programmes through advertisements, advertorials, features and sponsored programmes in public interest,” said Mr. Kumar.

He refused to accept the clear difference between advertorials and news and repeatedly said that the PR department had not funded any “news.”

“Nobody highlighted the government’s welfare schemes, including The Hindu, but still we give advertisements. What is wrong if we do that for the television?” asked Mr. Kumar. Representatives of other media houses, sitting in the room, explained to the correspondent that the government “funds talk shows, which even feature the opposition party.”

“Mr. Varavara Rao, the Naxal sympathiser, appeared in my talk show,” said Mr. Kumar.

A handwritten note issued by the PR department claimed that in the last two years, an amount exceeding Rs. 54,43,000 had been released to the Indian Express for advertisements. However, theIndian Express letters to the PR department did not establish that the paper was selling news space to the government. Rather, it was evident that the marketing department, and not the editors, were selling the ad-space.

‘Out of frustration’

Later at night, the PR department issued a press note claiming that the Indian Express “has published said article out of frustration” as the government had “rejected” the paper’s proposal seeking more advertisements.

Mr. Kumar said the government had no plans to “review existing media funding policy.”

A reality: activists

Local activists said paid news was a reality in Chhattisgarh and the media refused to carry important stories for fear of government action.

“During the President’s visit, 45 activists from Bastar were detained in Raipur and nothing came out. I presume it is all because of paid news,” said B.K. Manish, a tribal activist from Raipur.

 

Previous Older Entries

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,233 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,765,876 hits

Archives

November 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  
%d bloggers like this: