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Archives for : August2017

UP: Sisters set ablaze in sleep, teen hints at stalker role #Vaw

Piyush Rai| TNN | Updated: Aug 12, 2017, 11:02 AM IST

Sisters set ablaze in sleep, teen hints at stalker role

BAREILLY:In a tragic incident, two sisters were set ablaze but few unknown miscreants late last night while they were sleeping in their home in Nawabganj area of Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district.

The culprits broke into the house, poured petrol on the bed on which both the sisters were sleeping and set them on fire.

Two teenage sisters were set on fire by an unidentified assailant while asleep at home in Bareilly early on Friday morning, with the elder sister, 19, sustaining 95% burns. The younger girl, 17, suff ered 60% burns.

The two were asleep under a mosquito net when the assailant struck, after allegedly breaking into their house at Devraniya Jagir. According to the younger sister, a Class IX student, they did not get time to either see the man’s face or save themselves as he poured petrol on them and set them alight. Their cries alerted the family, who rushed to the girls’ sleeping area but found the two already engulfed in flames.

The girls have been admitted to the district hospital, where the 19-year old was described as being in a very critical condition.

The duo’s family said they had no enmity or disputes with anyone, at a loss to grasp a possible motive. However, talking to TOI from her hospital bed, the younger girl said she was being “stalked and harassed by a local youth for months”. “He used to follow me on my way to and from school… I had complained about it to some of my relatives but he kept harassing m e.”

“We are closely monitoring the situation and several teams have been pressed into action. A bottle containing petrol and two mobile phones have been recovered from the spot. A couple of suspects are being rounded up for possible leads,” senior superintendent of police Jogendra Kumar said.

An FIR under IPC’s sections 326 A (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid, etc), 336 (act endangering life and public safety of others), 307 (attempt to murder) and 452 (house trespass after preparation of hurt) has been registered at the Nawabganj police station. The incident comes close on the heels of a girl’s murder in Ballia this week by her stalker.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bareilly/sisters-set-ablaze-in-sleep-teen-hints-at-stalker-role/articleshow/60028762.cms

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चंडीगढ़ को ‘सीतागढ़’ बनाना ज़रूरी है

वीना

चंडीगढ़ में लड़की के अपहरण की कोशिशगुरुग्राम में स्टाकिंग। यूपी में रागिनी का सरे राह मर्डर। छत्तीसगढ़ में आदिवासी नाबालिगों का भाई बने सिपाहियों ने किया यौन-शोषण। ये क्या हो रहा हैसतयुग सरकार लाने की कोशिश करती भाजपा के राज में! रामराज्य के इंतज़ार में बैठे अहिंसक भक्तजनों को अब घबराहट होने लगी है।

एक तो ये जलन के मारे समाजवादइंसानियतबराबरीआज़ादी की रट लगाने वाले भी ना! एक-एक का नेट बंद करवा देना चाहिये। सोशल मीडिया पर अपने महान हिंदू धर्म की धुन बजा-बजा कर हमारी सांस फूल रही है। और ये हैं कि पता नहीं कहां-कहां से धर्म के बेसुरे राग खोज-खोज कर ले आते हैं। माना हमारे ऋषि-मुनि थे स्वभाव के थोड़े चंचल। पर कौन पुरुष नहीं होता बताइए!

 

चंडीगढ़ का प्रसिद्ध रॉक गार्डन। फोटो साभार : गूगल

अाजकल अंबेडकर के चेले भी दे रहे हैं ज्ञान!

डिजिटल-सोशल मीडिया की जितनी मलाई खा रहें हैं सनातन धर्म के दावेदार उतनी ही कीचड़ भी गटकनी पड़ रही है। और तो और अंबेडकर के चेले भी आजकल ज्ञान के बुलबुले उड़ाने से बाज नहीं आ रहे।

मनु को वेदोंसनातन धर्मसंस्कृत व अन्य सभी भाषाओं के जनक की उपाधि देने वाले हिदुराष्ट्रवादी, अंबेडकर के संविधान की जगह मनुस्मृति को संविधान बनाना चाहते हैं। तो बाबा साहेब के चेलों ने मनु की जन्मपत्री सबके सामने रख दी। 

हिंदू धर्म को जानने-मानने वाले सब जानते हैं कि सरस्वती ब्रह्मा की पुत्री हैं। सरस्वती पुराण के मुताबिक ब्रह्मा के वीर्य से सरस्वती का जन्म हुआ और मतस्य पुराण के अनुसार सरस्वती ब्रह्मा के मुख से पैदा हुई हैं। बाकी की कहानी दोनों पुराणों में एक सी है। क्योंकि सरस्वती बहुत सुंदर थी इसलिए ब्रह्मा का दिल सरस्वती पर आ गया। सरस्वती ने पिता की नज़रों से बचने के लिए चारों दिशाओं में छिपने की खूब कोशिश की पर पांच सिर वाले ब्रह्मा ने उसे हर जगह जा पकड़ा। हार-थक कर सरस्वती को अपने पिता से विवाह करना पड़ा। और इस विवाह की संतान स्वरूप मनु का जन्म हुआ।

मनु जो हिंदू संस्कृति-धर्म के अनुसार संसार का पहला पुरुष है। उसका नाना ही उसका सगा पिता है।

चंडीगढ़ का प्रसिद्ध रॉक गार्डन। फोटो साभार : गूगल

हिंदू धर्म के पैरोकार क्या करें?

अब हिंदू धर्म के पैरोकार क्या करेंहिंदुओं को तो एक गोत्र-गांव में विवाह करने वालों का सर कलम करने की परंपरा सिखाई जाती है। पहले पता होता तो नरेन्द्र पुराण की जगह मनु पुराण में ही करेक्शन करवाने का काम किया जाता। खैर,  दुश्मन ले गए भेद। पोथियां लिखने वालों को गलियाने के सिवा अब किया क्या जा सकता है। कुछ तो अक्ल से काम लिया होता पूर्वजों!

इन्हीं करतूतों से बता गए कि नज़र से आगे तुम्हें कुछ दिखाई नहीं देता था। और हम हैं कि तुम्हारे नाम पे उस ज़माने में हवाई जहाज उड़ा देते हैं। भई तुम्हारे ज़माने में इन शूद्रों-दलितों को शिक्षा से दूरगुलामी की दलदल में रखना आसान होगा। ज़रूरी थोड़े ही है सब ज़मानें वही बहार लेकर आएं। डिजिटल युग में जीने वाले हमारे जैसे अपने पैरोकारों के बारे में भी कुछ सोचा होता। चलोकुछ न कुछ तो करेंगे इस बारे में भी। फिलहाल तो वर्तमान में होने वाली छीछालेदर पर ध्यान देना ज़रूरी है।

सांकेतिक तस्वीर। साभार : गूगल

गुरुग्राम की भी ये दशा!

गुड़गांव नाम रहते इज़्ज़त का गुड़ गोबर होता तो बात समझ में आती। गुरुग्राम की ये दशा! कुछ कन्फ्यूज़न है। लगता है गुरु द्रोणाचार्य को आदर देने के लिए रखा गया गुरुग्राम नाम जनता ने किसी बदनाम चरित्र गुरु विश्वामित्र,  अगस्त्य,  पराशर,  ययाति आदि-आदि के खाते में चढ़ा लिया है। ये ग़लतफहमी दूर करने के लिए अब एक विज्ञापन बजट बनाना पड़ेगा। जिससे गुरुग्राम की प्रेरणा केवल द्रोणाचार्य हैं कोई और नहीं ये प्रचार घर-घर पहुंचाया जा सके। ताकि नौजवान भोग की जगह योग में मन लगाएं। 

मां चंडी माफ़ करना!

चंडीगढ़ का नाम भी बदल कर सीतागढ़ रखना पड़ेगा। मां चंडी माफ़ करना। ज़रा सी भूल पर वर्णिकाओं द्वारा आपका रौद्र चंडी रूप धारण करना हम अफोर्ड नहीं कर सकते। हमें तो सब जुल्म सहें पर कुछ न कहें सीता मां टाइप युवतियां चाहिए। सो चंडीगढ़ को सीतागढ़ बनाना ज़रूरी है।

(वीना स्वतंत्र पत्रकार और फिल्मकार हैं और आजकल दिल्ली में रहती हैं।)

http://janchowk.com/ART-CULTUR-SOCIETY/satire-chandigarh-vs-sitagad/784

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Kudankulam Nuclear Powerplant down, Tamil Nadu looks at thermal option

Two units of Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant are out of orderTwo units of Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant are out of order

CHENNAI: Two units of Kudankulam Nuclear Powerplant have been shut down. While Unit 1 is down for the past four months, Unit 2 has stopped production since August 4.

Consequently, Tangedco has been forced to meet the state’s power demand without the 1,000MW from the two units at Kudankulam. Fortunately, the power utility has been able to meet the demand due to the availability of wind power so far. However, it is forecast that the wind power generation is likely to come down in the next few weeks.

“Almost everyday, we have been asking the Kudankulam officials when at least one unit will resume power generation. But we have not been getting any confirmation from them. Even on Wednesday morning, we asked the officials about the status of Unit 2. They expect it to become operational only by the month-end or even the first week of September,” said a senior Tangedco official.

The discom is hopeful of meeting the average 14,000MW demand with some standby thermal units. “As of now, the demand is around 13,500MW and it is mostly due to residents using air conditioners in large cities like Chennai and Coimbatore. Once the weather improves, the demand is likely to come down,” said the official.

As per the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), nuclear reactors which are closed for annual maintenance will have to re-start power generation within two months. But every time Unit 1 is closed down for annual maintenance it takes more than two months to re-start the reactor. It happened in 2015, 2016 and this year too.

“In the case of Unit 1, we had to change some equipment, which had to come from Russia. We are now checking the new equipment and mostly it will be re-started before the end of August,” said an NPCIL official from Mumbai.

Calls made to the Kudankulam Site Director remained unanswered. Unit 2 has some technical problem with its boiler and it is being looked into, the NPCIL official said.

Tangedco is not able to forecast power supply for the coming days.

“If power from Unit 1 is available, then as per the merit rate, we will be evacuating nuclear power, after wind, but we are not able to forecast the supply. If wind power generation is lower, then we will have to re-start the thermal units which are on standby. We have around 800MW of thermal units which are on standby,” said the official.

Both units of Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant have been shut down. While Unit 1 is down for the past four months for maintenance  Unit 2 has stopped production since August 4 due to fault in boiler and is awaiting replacement of the faulty equipment from Russia.

The KKNPP has been hugely controversial and there has been proof submitted that key parts used were faulty and of shoddy quality.

The government in it’s brazen arrogance has not heard the voice of dissent and reason, instead going ahead with the commissioning of the first unit under military cover.

The PMANE led peaceful protests grabbed national and international headlines for it’s non violent protests.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/with-kudankulam-down-tamil-nadu-looks-at-thermal-option/articleshow/60029418.cms?from=mdr

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Maharashtra deletes TAJ MAHAL from history text book #WTFnews

FIDDLING WITH HISTORY A DISSERVICE TO

STUDENTS

Fiddling with history a disservice to students

The French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, known for his aerial photographs, includes the Taj Mahal in one of his collections of amazing sights from the skies. The monument is not just India’s pride, qualifying for the 8thWonder of the World, but as much a symbol of India as the Eiffel Tower is of France or the Statue of Liberty is of the USA.

But the government of Maharashtra has simply dropped all references to this monument from the new history textbook for Std VII in the state board-affiliated schools.

The most basic General Knowledge Quiz in India asks who built the Taj Mahal, or, where is it located. What will Maharashtra’s school students answer? JRD Tata? Mumbai?

If the Taj is completely blacked out, Akbar the Great is also dismissed in four sentences in the textbook. Even those lines focus more on the rulers who fought him: two Hindu and one Muslim.

But Akbar married a Hindu, and the son of his Rajput queen succeeded him as ruler of the Mughal Empire. The Hindu Raja Man Singh was Akbar’s trusted general, Birbal was his beloved courtier, and Tansen the brightest jewel of the Navratnas that adorned his court. Indeed, these three and Raja Todar Mal, his finance minister, were the four Hindus in the nine jewels of his court.

But Maharashtra’s students will know this multi-faceted ruler only as a Muslim expansionist. That won’t be their only loss. The students of our state might end up knowing nothing of Birbal, the man whose riddles and wit we have all grown up with.

Some of these students may develop an interest in classical music. Maharashtra is after all, one of the bastions of Hindustani music. Will it be only then that they come across the name Tansen? Imagine their surprise on discovering that the father of Hindustani classical music and the creator of Raag Darbari Kanada, Darbari Todi, and Rageshwari, was a favourite of that very Mughal Emperor, against whom Hindu kings fought.

These changes in the history textbooks which cut Maharashtra’s students off from their rich history, have been brought about in consultation with the Pune-based RSSinspired institute, Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini. Spokesmen of the textbook committee justify these by saying that history texts must be written from a “Maharashtracentric point of view”.

What if every state were to follow that reasoning? If the mass of our school students learn the history of their states alone, what would they know about the history of their nation?

The Mughals ruled India for 300 years and left their imprint across the country, enriching it in a hundred different ways. To erase them from school history is to deprive students of their own heritage not just in the arts and architecture, but also in administration, economy, language. Marathi itself is rich with Persian words. Persian was inextricably linked with the Mughals.Will the language be purged too?

What about the monument from which the Prime Minister addresses the nation every Republic Day? Maharashtra’s students will know it is a red fort, not that it is The Red Fort, for it too finds no mention in the new textbook. And how must Aurangabad’s students regard the replica of the Taj in Aurangabad, Bibi ka Maqbara, built by Aurangzeb, the last real Mughal?

The emperor sought to be dismissed in four sentences in the new textbook, went beyond religious boundaries way back in the 16th Century, and founded a new religion comprising elements of both his own faith and that of the majority of his subjects. Will the words Deen-i-Ilahi mean nothing to Maharashtra’s students?

Ironically, Deen-i-Ilahi is the reason Emperor Akbar is hated in Pakistan, our neighbour whom the BJP loves to project as a nation of fanatics. Does the BJP realise that it is validating by its every action Pakistani poet Fehmida Riaz’s poem on Indians written way back in the 80s:

“Tum bilkul hum jaisey nikley voh moorkhta, voh ghaamarpan (ignorance)
jis mein hum ne sadi ganwai aakhir pahunchi dwaar tumhaarey arre badhai bohot badhai…
bhaad mein jaaye shiksha viksha ab jaahilpan ke gun gaana…”

Perhaps the only glimmer of hope lies in the shoddy teaching methods found in most of Maharashtra’s schools today. Forget the long-term impact, the distorted history taught in Std VII may not even be remembered by students beyond the semester exam for which it was mugged up.

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Statement against the online and offline attacks on Santal writer Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

Award-winning Santal author Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, who has written the acclaimed novel The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey (2014) and a collection of stories, The Adivasi Will Not Dance (2015), both works of fiction that explore the Adivasi life, suddenly finds himself thick in the middle of a vicious controversy. A group of Adivasis in Jharkhand, where he works as a government medical officer in the town of Pakur, have launched an online and offline campaign against him and his writing, which, they claim, objectify and exploit Adivasi women. His writings, they contest, is pure “porn” and run down Adivasi culture.

The controversy has caught the attention of local newspapers in Jharkhand, with reports stating that in a meeting his detractors  set a date and time – August 4, at 11 am – to burn Shekhar’s effigy and copies of both his books at a park in Pakur.

Several Adivasi writers and academics, meanwhile, have taken note of the online campaign and the offline threats – including a parody page called “Pornocopeia” on Facebook – calling for a boycott of his books. A group of supporters has written a joint statement rejecting “this cultural gatekeeping and thought and moral policing” and trace the beginnings of what they call a “smear campaign”.

The Statement

Turning Facebook into a make-believe court of tradition and customary law, some self-appointed “defenders” of Adivasi cultural and literary heritage – some of whom are not even Adivasi – believe they’ve levied the ultimate insult to a Santal author: pornstar, porn king, and porn writer. Adding emoticons to their declaration on July 16, 2017, the group tagged the author in question, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, a Sahitya Akademi Award-winning Santal writer.

Denunciations of Shekhar and his works have been issued in the most degrading manner, because according to this group (Ivy Imogene Hansdak, Sunder Manoj Hembrom, Francis Xavier Soren, Santosh Besra, Shirijol Dingra, Alakjari Murmu, Inncocent Soren, Tonol Murmu, Raj Kumar, Ashwini Kumar Pankaj, Gladson Dungdung and others) he has defamed Santal or Adivasi culture with his “pornographic” writing. This soon escalates into calls for bitlaha – ex-communication and lynching within the Santal people.

A letter was sent off to Sahitya Akademi on July 20, 2017, questioning the criteria used to award the Yuva Puraskar, 2015, to Shekhar’s The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskeyclaiming that as conferring this award “showed serious lack of sensitivity towards the tribal people of India”.

Even if Shekhar’s novel was the only submission for the awards in 2015, the jury would have had to read it to judge it. They read the 224 pages, 60,000-word novel, including the 1,075 words incidental to the storyline that contribute to the “unmentionable acts” (sexual activity) in three sections, and found enough merit in the narrative for the award.

The citation reads: “Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey is a novel about Santal life written from the perspective of an insider. The narrative weaves the warp and weft of Santal life in an idiom that is fresh, intimate and original. The characters in the novel are life-like and vivid and stay with the readers. His experiment and innovation with language is something that will remain a kind of milestone for new writers…”

Are we going to hold the jury accountable for not dismissing the novel and judging it solely on its 1,075 words describing sexual relations? The protestors can surely excuse this gross oversight.

Pornography is not just what the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory defines, as Ivy Hansdak quotes in her letter to the Sahitya Akademi, but also what an individual sets as a threshold to what is acceptable to them in terms of sanction, deviance and limits in sexual activity. Hansdak forgets to mention that the dictionary cites as pornography important literary works such as Ars Amatoria by Ovid and Boccaccio’s Decameron. It even discusses pornographic elements in the Old Testament. Has Hansdak read these or does she intend to denounce them as well?

If the paragraph from Shekhar’s book quoted in the letter offends or sexually provokes the protesters, there’s little that those who do not have the same reaction can do. What and whose standards are they using to aver that “the sexual activity appears to be abnormal and deviant”? Why is sex unclean or unspeakable? Do we denigrate Marang Buru (the principal supernatural being of the Santals) for his role in getting the first Santal man and woman (Pilcu Haram and Pilcu Budhi) to engage in sex for procreation? Are we going to judge those who engage in sexual activity for reasons other than procreation?

The first time Shekhar was on a Facebook trial for his writings and this award by this very group was in 2015, when a Hindi translation of his story November is the Month of Migrations from his collection of short storiesThe Adivasi Will Not Dance was reviewed by Ashwini Kumar Pankaj, a non-Adivasi who called the story a denigration of Adivasi women and society, among many other allegations. The version that Pankaj read of November is the Month of Migrations was an unofficial Hindi translation published in the Adivasi Pratibha Ki Khoj, the special issue number 146 of the Hindi literary magazine Yudhrat Aam Aadmi, founded and edited by former trade union leader and MLA Ramnika Gupta.

Pankaj formed an opinion not only of the story but also of the character of the author from this single translation and accused the author in the choicest of words, highlighting the author’s profession as a doctor, in a short note accompanying the unofficial Hindi translation republished in the website AsurNation, a website created in the name of the Asur Adivasis.

We had a ringside view of this vilification and soon realised that the protesting group had not even read his works. For example, they were circulating a page of the story Semen, Saliva, Sweat, Blood stating it belonged to Shekhar’s book The Adivasi Will Not Dance. Activist Gladson Dungdung started circulating this page certifying, “the author was a porn writer”. If they’d read either or any of his works, they’d have known the stories were from two separate books – Semen, Saliva, Sweat, Blood is from the anthology Alchemy: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories II published in 2012. A Facebook confession from Ivy Hansdak last week shows the works being judged without being read:

“Yes, even i don’t have the nerve to read his second book bc i heard horrible things about it. I only have the first novel which i bought out of curiosity” (July 19 at 2:46 pm)

So their initial calls for revoking the Sahitya Akademi award in 2015 were misplaced too: November Is the Month of Migrations and Semen, Saliva, Sweat, Blood are not from the book that won the award. They didn’t care about fact-checking. This circulation was deceiving and misleading – or perhaps intentionally so.

This group could have taken their objections to the author directly and engaged with him in an open-minded manner. Instead they chose to mock him with pejoratives such as “pornstar”, discussed his looks, sexuality, made homophobic taunts, commented on his last name written first, called him a rapist, sick-pervert, mental patient, a danger to female patients, intimidated him with threats of social and literary boycott, excommunication, bodily harm, doing harm to his job, and calls for the public burning of his books.

The online barrage of insults and threats then was transferred to Shekhar’s Facebook friends, people they didn’t even know. They sneered at them for appreciating his “porn”, asked one to recreate a sex scene with the author, film it and post it online. They made Islamophobic comments about the supposedly Muslim male Hindi translator of the story published in Yudhrat Aam Aadmi.

We passed the story November Is the Month of Migrationsaround to several Santals and other Adivasi friends and asked for their reactions.

All of them, without exception, said the story was painful, disturbing and sad, which made them reflect on the difficult, complex lives our Adivasi women live. This story could be about exploitation, choices borne of desperate conditions or free will, but all it did was evoke tears, a lump in the throat and profound grief. Not one of the readers said the story sexually aroused them. Doesn’t this reaction betray the definition of pornography they quote and the accusations of him?

Also, this was not the first time an Adivasi author had written a fictional piece about Santal women engaging in sex work. In an unpublished Santali short story, Mit Pai Caole – (One pai of rice), written in January 1970, the author, who went by the pseudonym Bir Baha, wrote a first person account of his maiden visit to Dumka and overhearing a conversation of Santal women displaced by the Masanjore Dam trading in sex. Bir Baha writes about a group of Santal women complaining about one of them named Cundki who had “jeopardised the rate” by working for as little as “ath ana” (50 paise). Cundki responds to this allegation by saying, “Ath ana can get us at least a pai of rice.”

This story and Shekhar’s story show that even after nearly 50 years, the situation for some Santal women in the Santal Pargana has not really changed. So how is Shekhar “pimping the adivasi woman for diku (non-tribal) consumption”? He has just stated a fact. Yet, far-fetched allegations roll off the tongues of the protesters effortlessly and with complete impunity.

Some critique Shekhar’s work as not portraying an Adivasi philosophy and worldview, especially Pankaj. Where is the Adivasi edict that prescribes what a writer should write or not and how to do so? Are Adivasis only meant to comment on their ways, customs and traditions? Do they not have the permission to explore themes in their own style and language? Can they not have an opinion on the world outside of them, world politics, science or whatever they please?

Moreover, which Adivasi philosophy allows for bullying and persecuting an Adivasi and his works, inciting the community against him and verbally assaulting anyone who tries to defend him? Is there an Adivasi ideology that promotes memes and cartoons to reinforce a prejudice against the author and his works, dragging in others from the publishing industry too into attempts at humour?

If there is anyone showing a “serious lack of sensitivity towards the tribal people of India” it is they – these trolls, both Adivasi and non-Adivasi, who are vilifying Shekhar. No matter what, they will find fault in Shekhar’s writings and his so-called “dirty” mind as they’re on a self-declared warpath to salvage Santal/Adivasi society.

There is also the accusation that “he has no literary merit, his English is sub-standard”. They’re going after him with no rationale (or a disproportionate one.) They’re now politicising Shekhar’s use of the name of a character in Semen, Saliva, Sweat, Blood, blaming him for using the name of a leader of the Jharkhand movement deliberately to defame him.

Shekhar’s disteactors even accuse him of a “major distortion of the Santal creation myth (Karam-Binti)…” These erudite protestors forget that we come from an oral tradition and that there are several versions of the Karam-Binti which are different from the written versions. There are Santals who say some sequences in the creation narrative are missing or not recognisable in the printed versions. Do they intend to say that these Santals are not the “true” Santals because their belief of the myth is different from that of the objectors? They’re using the arrogance of printed text to subjugate people of orality, like the “diku”s have been doing.

Their aim is nothing but provocation. They’ve been trying all the permutations and combinations in their desperate attempts to garner support for their supposed “movement”. They’ve made a bogeyman out of Shekhar and his works.

When we ask people supporting the protesters’ misleading narrative to read his work first, they respond, “No, no, we don’t read such stuff.” They have slandered his artistry just because they can. As for their own readings of his works, it is almost like they’re doing a speed-reading of his books and stories, digging for keywords to be incensed with, instead of reading a story without prejudice.

How are their inflammatory, threatening words and intent not reinforcing the stereotypes of tribals being “primitive savages”? Might we say this – some of their opinions and manner of speaking confirm this stereotype. If there’s anyone making generalisations about Santals, it’s this group, who think they speak for all Adivasis or Santals. Their letter to the Sahitya Akademi is certainly not “on behalf of the tribal people of India”.

Repeating that Shekhar is objectifying Santal women does not make it true. Echoing the same accusation only amounts only to propaganda. It is they who are sensationalising the narrative. If telling a story of a Santal woman and describing a sex scene is objectification, then they are missing the point. But we know all of them have turned tone-deaf to any reasoning.

Writing is not a crime, even if it were pornographic, so there is no reason to turn Shekhar into a villain. No one is forcing anyone to read material that offends their modesty. Those who claim to protect the purity of the community, by wearing blinders and dismissing the ground realities of the everyday battles our men, women and children encounter and fight, are not heroes. Their puritanical beliefs are their responsibility alone and they should not make martyrs of themselves. It is time to turn the mirror inward.

We reject this cultural gatekeeping and thought and moral policing. Hansdak, Hembrom, Pankaj and the others’ attempts to indoctrinate and mislead people are condemnable. George Orwell called such people the “thought police,” a retrograde repressive force oppressing free will and thinking.

There is no justification for these venomous attacks and this maliciousness. This Adivasi group has shown the worst of themselves and our “educated class”, which is doing more disservice and “damage” to our Adivasi community than Shekhar’s writing ever could.

In 2007 Shekhar addressed the violence against the Adivasis in Assam in a national newspaper. He was a student then. He is the same author who, last year, jeopardised his job with the government of Jharkhand when he wrote against the anti-Adivasi domicile policy in Jharkhand.

We, the undersigned Adivasis strongly condemn these literary activists and self-styled guardians of Adivasi culture and morality, their hypocrisy, acts of provoking the community and their smear campaign against author Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar.

  • Ashish Birulee, Journalist and Photographer
  • Lipika Singh Darai, Filmmaker
  • Zoba Hansdah, Research Scholar, TISS, Mumbai
  • Ruby Hembrom, Founder, adivaani
  • Priyanka Priyadarshini Marandi, Research Scholar, IIT Delhi
  • Sneha Mundari, Filmmaker
  • Seral Murmu, Filmmaker
  • Akash Poyam, Founder, Adivasi Resurgence
  • Priyanka Purty, Student, IIT Bombay
  • Nora Samad, Program Assistant, Eklavya
  • Priyanka Sandilya, Research Scholar, TISS, Tuljapur
  • Sujit Kumar Soren, Director, Santali Academy, Sido-Kanhu Murmu University
  • Aashish Xaxa, PhD Scholar, TISS Mumbai

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Book by Sowvendra Shekhar Hansda -The Adivasi Will Not Dance banned

Sowvendra Shekhar Hansda is under fire for allegedly portraying Santhal women in poor light

 

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

Ranchi, Aug. 11: The Jharkhand government has banned an almost two-year-old collection of short stories by the winner of a Sahitya Akademi award for young writers on the ground that it portrayed Santhal women in a bad light and could provoke a backlash.

The Adivasi Will Not Dance, a collection of 10 short stories in English, was written by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, 34, a doctor based in Pakur, 400km from Ranchi.

Ever since the book was published in November 2015, Hansda has been the target of a troll onslaught online, with some critics accusing him of writing porn to denigrate tribal culture. Hansda himself traces his roots to the tribal community.

Last week, Hansda’s effigy was burnt in Pakur and earlier this week, the Jharkhand special branch sent a confidential note to the state home secretary saying Santhals were angered by Hansda’s writings and the situation could turn volatile.

This morning, the Opposition JMM’s Sita Soren, a Santhal legislator, raised the issue in the Assembly without naming the book, saying its contents insulted Santhal women. Immediately, her brother-in-law and leader of the Opposition Hemant Soren called for a ban on the book.

Hemant Soren, leader of Opposition and acting chief of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, supported Tudu’s contention and demanded that action be taken against Hansda as he was a government doctor.
Holding that the sentiment of the entire House, across party lines, was in favour of action against Hansda, BJP chief whip in the Assembly Radha Krishna Kishore said: “The matter requires action under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.”

Presenting the government’s stand on the matter in the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Saryu Roy said: “The government is aware of the development and was already planning action in this regard.” The Deputy Commissioner of Pakur has been asked to inquire into the matter and take strict action, he told the House. He, however, rejected Soren’s proposal to bring the book in the House, saying it was a case where the book should be banned.

In the evening, chief minister and BJP leader Raghubar Das asked chief secretary Rajbala Verma to seize all copies of the book and start legal proceedings against Hansda. A directive added that the book should neither be sold nor promoted or circulated in any way.

Hansda could not be reached for comment tonight. A few days ago, he had told The Telegraph that one of his stories that was being labelled pornographic, November Is the Month of Migration, chronicled how hunger made a Santhal girl take a desperate measure.

“She surrenders to a man for money as she wanted to eat something. Extreme poverty pushes many to desperation,” he had said.

Hansda had won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for his debut novel, The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey, in 2015.

Nayantara Sahgal, among the authors who have condemned the attempts to hound Hansda online, today said: “In a democratic society, no government has the right to ban a book someone disagrees with.”

 

According to the news report, the third story in Hansda’s book The Adivasi Will Not Dance talks about a Santhal woman who agrees to go to bed with a man in exchange for food. The report also mentions that the Home Department has been informed about anger prevailing in Santhal Pargana region due to the book. Some tribal groups have burnt effigies and taken out marches in protest.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170812/jsp/frontpage/story_166913.jsp

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Assault on Adivasi Schoolgirls by CRPF at imposed Raksha Bandhan #Vaw

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression strongly condemns the molestation of school girls in the name of “Raksha Bandhan” by CRPF men and the deplorable act of the Collector and Superintendent in trying to suppress the matter.
On Monday, 31 July 2017, many officers and about 100 CRPF men went to a girls’ school in Palnar in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh to observe the festival of Rakhi by getting the girls to tie rakhis to the male members of the CRPF armed forces. It was clearly a PR exercise to show the CRPF men as the “protectors” of the tribal girls studying in the school. Once there, 5 to 6 CRPF men used the opportunity to follow 3 young school girls while they were in line to use the bathroom. Three of these  men entered the toilet when a girl ws already inside and stayed there for about 15 minutes. All this while, the men who were outside sexually assaulted the girls who were just outside the bathroom, squeezing their breasts and  threatening them.
In the evening, the girls complained to the warden, Draupadi Sinha, who took the matter to the district Collector and the Superintendent of Police. However, instead of taking cognizance of the matter, both of them threatened the girls and tried to silence them. Later the warden and a police woman stood guard outside the school gates and stopped any Human Rights activist from entering the school to talk to the girls. It is only when the girls came back home from the hostel during break that Soni Sori, human rights activist, was able to meet the girls and talk to them. While Soni Sori went to the school to investigate the incident which has been further  brought to light by the social activist, Himanshu Kumar in a facebook post, she was threatened and told to turn back.
This is another reminder of the horrific ordeals that the tribal women and girls are subjected to at the hands of the CRPF, para-military and the police in Chhattisgarh at the behest of the State. WSS in the past two years has, through various fact finding reports from the ground, highlighted cases of the mass rapes and sexual assault s of women under the pretext of fighting Maoist insurgents. The ex-IG of Bastar, Mr SRP Kalluri,  oversaw indescribable acts against the tribal villagers as has been amply documented and reported by WSS. Mr Kalluri has refused to appear before the National Human Rights Commission despite a summons being issued. He is now slated to hoist a flag in Jawaharlal Nehru University on the occasion of the Indian Independence Day on August 15, while simultaneously evading the NHRC.
Patriarchal customs like Raksha Bandhan evoke men as protectors of women while ignoring the patriarchal roots of violence against women. Despite the attempts to legitimize it by calling it a “celebration” of sibling bond, this only serves the interest of a patriarchal state in proscribing women’s freedom and their legitimate demand for equal rights. In this case, the fake exercise of making the tribal girls tie rakhi to CRPF men to project them as the protector of their “virtue” and broadcasting it through state-controlled media served only as an opportunity for the repetition of the historic pattern of army men sexually assaulting adivasi women. These empty gestures are masterminded by the state to improve the image of CRPF and para-military in the region who are under severe criticism for their human rights violations and especially sexual violence in Chhattisgarh.
While it is a larger feminist struggle to fight against patriarchal customs like Raksha Bandhan which sees women as weak and designates brothers/men as their protector, the use of such regressive customs as a public relations opportunity by the state to justify the brutality wrought by CRPF, para-military, and the police on the tribal women reminds us once again of the depravity of the state that would stoop to such unimaginable levels.
WSS is glad that a case has been booked under Section 354 IPC and POCSO Act cand hope that after a speedy investigation the culprits will be appropriately punished as per criminal law. We repeat that criminal punishment for cases of sexual violence by the armed forces can not be substituted by internal army investigation and punishment.

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JNU refused to accept dissertation as I didn’t have #Aadhaar number: Shehla Rashid

Former JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid today alleged that her dissertation was not accepted by the varsity as she did not produce her Aadhaar number on the submission form.

“The JNU administration has sent back my dissertation to my centre because I haven’t mentioned my Aadhaar number on the submission form,” Rashid said, adding that the varsity was pushing Aadhaar through the backdoor despite there being no mandate for it.

Alike Rashid’s, dissertations of others students who did not provide their UID numbers were also sent back in the recent past.

However, JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar said mentioning Aadhaar was made mandatory in JNU after the UGC issued a notification on March 21.

“Following a March 21 UGC notification this year, in April we issued a circular that Aadhaar and photograph will be printed on the certificate of the student as it will be deposited in National Academic Depository (NAD) system,” Kumar said.

UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu in a notification issued on March 21 to Vice Chancellors of all the varsities said – “I request you to introduce identification mechanisms like photograph and Unique lD/Aadhaar number in students’ certificates.

“Such inscriptions, you’d agree, will go a long way in uniformly marking a student’s personal identity and other associated details.”

However, Rashid contended that making Aadhaar mandatory was “illegal” as the government was yet to respond to privacy concerns.

“I’m not going to give in to this illegal harassment tactic of the JNU administration. I don’t have an Aadhaar card, and I insist that my dissertation should be submitted without it,” she said.

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Not a tragedy, it’s a massacre: Kailash Satyarthi on Gorakhpur hospital deaths

Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a probe into the Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das medical college and assured strict action against those who were involved in the alleged shortage of oxygen supply in the hospital.

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has spoken on the Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das medical college tragedy.
Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has spoken on the Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das medical college tragedy.(HT File Photo)

Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi expressed his outrage at the death of over 60 children in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College’s hospital due to alleged lack of oxygen, saying it was not a tragedy but a clear case of massacre.

Taking to Twitter, Satyarthi tore into the Uttar Pradesh government asking “is this what 70 years of freedom means for our children?”

“Appeal to CM @myogiadityanath Ji. Your decisive intervention can correct decades of corrupt medical system of UP to prevent such incidents,” he added.

Meanwhile, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a thorough probe into the matter and assured strict action against those who were involved in the alleged shortage of oxygen supply in the hospital.

Speaking to the media on Saturday after attending an emergency meeting chaired by the chief minister, Uttar Pradesh health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said Yogi had recently visited the hospital, but he was not informed by the authorities about any anomalies.

State minister for medical education Ashutosh Tandon reiterated the same and said action will be taken after detailed probe on the matter.

“The chief minister has given us proper instruction on this issue. We will leave for Gorakhpur soon and after details analysis of the situation will take further decision on the same,” Tandon said.

Earlier in the day, the alleged disruption in the supply of liquid oxygen at the hospital claimed lives of three more children.

The shortage of oxygen allegedly led to encephalitis, which is a sudden onset inflammation of the brain, following which the children died.

The families of the children have claimed that the doctors were not treating them well and the hospital was not even providing the medicines which were required for the treatment.

As per the locals, though the hospital is supposed to provide free medical assistance, neither there is proper medical facility available nor are the patients provided free medicines.

Earlier on Friday, it was reported that as many as 30 children lost their lives due to encephalitis in a span of 48 hours at the hospital.

Gorakhpur DM Rajeev Rautela said that the cause of the deaths at the BRD Hospital was the disruption in the supply of liquid oxygen and has further appealed to the suppliers to not cut the supply henceforth.

Following this report, the Uttar Pradesh Government jumped in defence of the medical college, while also assuring that the district magistrate has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and the report will be out in 24 hours.

“There haven’t been any deaths due to lack of oxygen supply. And ‘only’ seven children have died today. Today three deaths happened in Neonatal ICU, two due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and two due to Non-AES,” UP medical education minister Ashutosh Tandon said.

“The district magistrate has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. The report will be out in 24 hours,” he added.

He further said that the arrangement of oxygen cylinders was duly made and a strict action will be taken against those responsible for the mishap.

According to data procured from the BRD hospital, in past five days – from August 7 to August 11, a total of 60 deaths have occurred in the hospital.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/not-a-tragedy-it-s-a-massacre-kailash-satyarthi-on-gorakhpur-hospital-deaths/

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