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Archives for : September2018

How Chunni Bai’s death exposes the lie about #Aadhaar

On September 27, 2018, a day after the Supreme Court’s Aadhaar judgment, Chunni Bai of Panton Ki Anti, Rajsamand district, Rajasthan died of starvation. She and her husband Uday Singh, both over 75 years old, had not eaten a meal in five days. For two months, they had not received their pensions or rations. Every time Uday went to the ration shop, the dealer would send him back empty-handed saying his biometrics weren’t working. The Aadhaar-linked “foolproof” POS machine would fail to authenticate Uday’s fingerprint. Even more tragically, Chunni passed away on a day when activists from the MKSS (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan) visited their home and helped them procure their rations — through a “bypass” (special exemption granted to individual beneficiaries by the sub-divisional magistrate), obtained after a long and complicated process.

Uday, and Chunni Bai, symbolise Gandhiji’s last man — the poorest and weakest of Indians. They have a halfconstructed Indira Awaas house that has no doors or windows. They have to live outside under a plastic tarpaulin. All their life’s belongings lie in a small tin box. There is a half-broken cot kept outside, on which Uday’s disabled wife would spend her entire day and night. Uday would cook rotis, and do his best to look after both of them. When they had nothing, they would go to sleep hungry.

Last Thursday, Uday brought home 70kg of wheat — two months of ration. But it was too late for Chunni Bai.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment upholding the constitutionality of most of the Aadhaar Act with a 4-1 majority. In particular, the judges upheld that “Authentication under Section 7 would be required as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service”. The Supreme Court stated, “The entire aim behind launching this programme is the ‘inclusion’ of the deserving persons who need to get such benefits. When it is serving a much larger purpose by reaching hundreds of millions of deserving persons, it cannot be crucified on the unproven plea of exclusion of some.”

For millions of poor working people, biometric authentication is a harrowing, tension-filled test. Many have just taken it to be their fate that their fingerprint does not register. For millions of disabled and elderly people like Uday and Chunni Bai, it actually does not matter if their biometric authentication is counted in the ‘successful’ 99.76%, or the failure rate of 0.232% cited in the judgment. Just having to reach a ration shop several kilometres away and authenticate, is exclusion. The mere fact that the internet does not work for hours or days leading to POS machines not working is exclusion.

The Supreme Court said that “enrolment in Aadhaar of the unprivileged and marginalised section of the society, in order to avail the fruits of welfare schemes of the Government, actually amounts to empowering these persons.”

Uday and Chunni Bai are not alone in their fight for survival. The Rajasthan government’s own figures show that over the last year, an average of 23% people did not take their subsidised rations. Not 0.23%, not even 2.3% but a hundred times more at 23%! These are not “wine- drinking, cheese-eating” people like “us”, who have refused to get Aadhaar. These are NFSA (National Food Security Act) beneficiaries who have Aadhaar numbers. In absolute numbers this means that more than 20 lakh families, and almost one crore individuals, haven’t been picking up their Rs 2 per kg wheat — thereby contributing to the thousands of crores of ‘savings’ the Modi government keeps talking about.

So where would Chunni Bai go? We have a callous and cruel administrative system that knows what is happening, but is willing to look the other way. We have a court that is innocent of ground realities, and has ruled based on figures that are nothing less than a flight of fancy. We have so-called “safeguards” consisting of empty assurances that do nothing more than help keep our conscience clear. Finally, we have a political class assisted by technocrats and corporates, determinedly driving this platform.

The judgment states: “We have taken on record the statement of the learned Attorney General that no deserving person would be denied the benefit of a scheme on the failure of authentication.” Given the past record, it is clear that this assurance too will be breached. It is also clear that for the excluded poor to fight back, they have to target the political establishment. Despite a powerful and forceful dissent, the court has ruled that the legislation is not unconstitutional. However, through sustained democratic assertion, people can bring decisive legislative change.

The writers are social activists and two of the petitioners who challenged Aadhaar in the Supreme Court

TOI

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A small #metoo flame has started lets keep it going #WhyIdidntReport

WHY THEY DIDN’T REPORT IT

Donald Trump’s tweet about why Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser didn’t report the incident earlier triggered a hashtag movement across the world last week. In India too, many women — and even some men— came forward with their own stories of sexual assault and why they chose to stay silent for so many years. Because…

I didn’t want to spend my life living in fear of his retaliation

V.M., 24, MUMBAI

The incident I spoke about on Twitter, as part of the ‘why I didn’t report’ movement, was one where I was cornered by a man in a professional setting. He was in a senior position at the organisation. He had been messaging me a lot with sexually coloured comments. I thought I had made it clear that I wasn’t interested. But one day when I was taking a phone call, he came in to the small room I was in. I don’t want to get into specifics, but he touched me very inappropriately. I was taken aback and didn’t know what to do. One of my friends walked in and asked him what was happening here, and told him to stop.

I spoke to higher-ups in the organisation and they wanted me to file a report, but didn’t have any policies in place to protect victims from retaliation. He was politically connected. He had my phone number, social media information and photograph. I run an NGO and come home late at night. I didn’t want to spend even more time living in fear.

When it happened, part of me was really pissed, but another part of me was just so desensitised. I know that sounds inhuman, but I work a lot with sexual assault victims and I knew in the moment that this is just how things are. In the time since, it has coloured how I interact with men in general, but especially in the workplace. I’m friendly by nature, and have men in my team at work, but I have started to restrict my interactions and am very mindful of how I talk to them. It’s difficult because a lot of people in senior positions are men, so to network without giving anyone the wrong idea is hard. You don’t want anything to be misconstrued, and if harassment does happen, you don’t want them to be able to allege that it was consensual.

When you share such incidents with people, there is such pressure to report, but no one understands how unsafe that can be. People who put the onus solely on victims should try going with them to the police station, or accompany them to their trial hearings, or be with them as they tell their families who may disown them. There isn’t an ecosystem where it’s safe to report such incidents so you can’t expect victims to put their safety on the line to bring their perpetrator to justice.

—As told to Ketaki Desai

A small MeToo flame has started. Let’s keep it going

TANUSHREE DUTTA

Someone recently asked me why I thought MeToo wasn’t happening in India. No movement can start unless what happened to me 10 years ago is resolved and I get justice. Because that set the precedent. I spoke out and fought, and finally had to abandon the fight and go away. How much can you fight when you are dealing with slut shaming, harassment, disappointment and trauma?

The damage that incident did to my 24-year-old person, property, reputation, and mental state is irreparable. If today I speak about it, it’s because that damage continues.

Though people think I was thrown out of the industry, that’s not true. It is not that the industry stopped giving me work. I had 30-40 film offers but I couldn’t take them up because I was going through post-traumatic stress disorder. Only a foolish person would go back to a film set in that state of mind. My outlook towards life became pessimistic. I felt anybody could misbehave with me and get away with it after the way the incident was handled. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, afraid, and then realise I was in my house and safe.

There was not much talk of therapy back in those days, and it was not even an option that occurred to me. Spirituality came to me very naturally. I went to an ashram, got into Buddhism, did yoga, Vipassana, and Bible studies. I travelled and studied self-healing techniques. Today, I feel confident and healed.

The producer and director were accomplices in my harassment, in pressurising me to shoot that intimate sequence though I was uncomfortable with Nana Patekar’s behaviour. When I didn’t comply, they called goons to make me shut up. All this because that man didn’t have the grace to know when he was not welcome, even when I complained verbally. But that is the attitude in Bollywood — if the hero wants something, everybody tries to please him. Though I complained to the Cine & TV Artistes’ Association, I was told I was wrong and should have complied with the producer’s demands. I knew it was a lost battle.

I had this beautiful life, and suddenly all that was taken away. While I was afraid to go to a set, they were not affected in any way. We filed an FIR but they filed a counter FIR; my dad, hairdresser and spotboy had to go through harassment for the next couple of years. We spent money, energy, time. My family was traumatised. Later, I got calls threatening me with court cases. Our law and order system is designed to drain and harass the victim while the culprits walk free.

It even affected my life in the US, where I shifted two years ago. Recently, I was pursuing a prestigious job offer but didn’t even get called for the interview. I wondered why so I googled myself and I came across these nasty stories calling me unprofessional and a failure. They maligned my image. When I came here and was approached for interviews, I saw it as an opportunity to clear the air.

My story is getting importance now in the light of the global MeToo movement but no one seems to be speaking up. What does someone who comes forward get in return for reliving their ordeal? My case is watertight. There are video records, media reports, eyewitnesses. I reported it right then, yet people are still throwing questions at me. There are still some who ask me why I am speaking out after so many years.

MeToo can only happen when you allow a conducive environment. Many of Harvey Weinstein’s victims spoke up after decades. People are not robots, they could take time to heal, figure out stuff and speak up. They must be heard with compassion. The day is not far when you will have people coming forward in India, who will talk about events that happened years ago. Maybe they will not have told anybody, or may have nothing to back them. You should take her at her word because no woman will want to put herself through something like that.

I don’t want to entertain any fear. They should be afraid now. A small flame has started. Let’s keep the flame and the dialogue going, and wait for someone to speak up whenever they feel ready, comfortable and safe.

— As told to Sonam Joshi

I never told my parents because I didn’t want them to feel like they didn’t protect me

TARA, 34, DELHI

He was a friend of my brother’s, and we were part of a group of kids going to school and back in an auto. When I was in the ninth or tenth grade, he started becoming very friendly. I figured that he had a crush on me. It started with blank calls or phone calls where he would declare his love for me. After that, I started hearing things around school that there was this other girl who he grabbed and kissed. The day after that, she stopped coming to school.

Slowly, when it became just the two of us in the auto rickshaw, every day in the morning and evening for a year or two, he would brush himself up against me very close, so that I had no space whatsoever. He would grope me and touch me wherever. I struggled to keep my arms tight and protect whatever part of me I could.

I couldn’t say anything and I didn’t know what to do. I knew that he could be vindictive, and I knew what he had done to that girl. I remember the entire day at school was spent thinking about how I’ll protect myself when I’m inside the auto. He knew I wasn’t going to do anything about it and just got more brazen with time. I would hope that it didn’t rain, because the minute it did, they would roll the curtain of the auto down, and he could do anything because no one could see.

I had trauma in my life since the age of 13, and after this, I felt like I would always be targeted. I didn’t feel safe anywhere, not even with my own parents. I started feeling uncomfortable physically and thought of intimacy as something dirty. I already had anxiety back then and that only grew. My therapist once told me that the way I talk about it sounds like I had been raped. That’s when I realised, no matter what the severity of it is, it just comes down to how violated you felt.

I didn’t say anything to anyone because I was scared of him. The second part of it was that my brother was very mischievous and already in trouble for all kinds of things. I was really worried that if I do say something, my brother will beat him up and be thrown out of school. I didn’t tell my parents and I still haven’t to this day because I never want them to feel like they didn’t protect me. Living in Delhi, you’re already so restricted that I didn’t want it to get worse.

There was no mechanism laid out in school where I could go talk to someone about this. People don’t realise how tough it is to walk into a police station and report this. The fact that I didn’t report it doesn’t change that it was valid and something that deeply affected me, and still does to this day.

Name changed on request

People either don’t believe that men can be victims or think that we should enjoy it

ALBERT ARUL PRAKASH, 38 BENGALURU

I was around 14 and he lived in my neighbourhood. My parents trusted him. I used to go to his house to watch TV because we didn’t have cable. It started slowly — he would touch and rub my thigh, then it moved to the inner thigh, and then slowly private parts. He would also sleep on my lap. After the first time, his friend was also involved. I don’t think I realised what had happened until later, maybe even until college. All I knew was that it made me very uncomfortable. Luckily, he didn’t force himself on me. It lasted one or two months, after which I avoided his house at all costs. We moved away from that neighbourhood soon after.

I didn’t report it because he would threaten me. He told me thatifItalked to my parents, he would tell them that I was the one who did it. I knew my parents trusted him, and that they would believe him, not me. My parents used to beat me like crazy because that’s the way they had been brought up. I knew I couldn’t tell them and I haven’t told them to this day. That person is no longer in my life or my parents’ lives so why should I create a problem? Let me bury it inside of myself, and help others by letting them know that these things do happen.

I went through a bad phase afterwards, when I went into depression and didn’t know how to trust anyone or anything. I was already an introvert, and just became more introverted after it happened. Over time, I have come out of it, but it never fully goes away and the memories don’t blur with time. I’m 38 now and that distrust still exists. I would say I’m still 5% affected by it psychologically. Even in my daily life, I prefer not to travel in buses. What people don’t know is that while men touch women on public transport, they touch men too.

The reason I didn’t report is ultimately the same reason that women don’t report abuse. But women do at least have a voice these days. People either don’t believe that men can be victims or think that we should enjoy it. The support system for men is limited and people think you’re being too dramatic.

TOI

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25 yrs on, an earthquake still feels like clear & present danger in Latur villages

Killari/Sastur:

The tremors haven’t stopped. So the fear of the next big one lurks around even street corner, and weighs heavily on every conversation about what happened on this day 25 years ago in Killari, a village in Maharashtra’s Latur district. Killari was at the epicenter of the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that snuffed nearly 10,000 lives in scores of villages across Latur and Osmanabad.

As many as 3,500 people died in Killari. For sole survivors like Chhaya Khajure, who lost her husband, four children and as many other family members, and now lives in the rehabilitated Killari village, life is a struggle. “Hichya mage tar konich urale nahi, ashich jagat aahe bichari. (Nobody was left behind from her family. The poor woman is living with the grief),” her neighbour says. “I don’t find any reason to live. Yet, I am, because committing suicide is a sin,” she says.

Before the earthquake, Killari, a village of 10,000 people, was a huge grain market. This unique identity has slipped away. Bapurao Birajdar, a grain supplier, says, “It (the earthquake) took away the livelihood of the farming community. Poor monsoons and lack of basic facilities have arrested the progress of our village.”

Killari has seen little progress over the past 25 years. Civic works of a public water scheme, laying of drainage lines and construction of roads await government approval.

The region has experienced 87 minor quakes since 1999. Sudhir Harhare, assistant meteorologist with the IMD’s earthquake observatory in Latur, says, “Precautions are necessary because of the seismic activity in the region and earthquakes are highly unpredictable.” But agencies mapping the tremors and the district administration authorities say they are more ready for emergencies than they were in 1993.

The assistant professor of history at Savitribai Phule Pune University Babasaheb, Dudhbhate, remembers the early hours of September 30, 1993, every time he hears about an earthquake. “For 40 seconds, the vibrations shook the walls and roof of our house in Hasalgaon. Then, there was a loud roar. Stone houses collapsed all around me and screams rent the air. I ran to an open area and was saved. Many died,” he said, adding he could never get over the trauma.

Back then, the human response to the devastation was among the few pluses. The rehabilitation after the huge rescue effort with several nations pitching in went on for three to four years, but later, the quake and its victims began to slip away from collective memory.

Weak monsoons have affected farming and basic needs like water, roads and the promised economic development are nowhere near visible in many of the affected villages.

Funds amounting to Rs 9.91 crore for the revival of public water scheme from CM’s Relief Fund, another Rs 14.79 crore for construction or repair of roads and drainage system and a tranche of Rs 71.52 lakh for extension of public water scheme for Sarwadi village are awaiting approvals. A Rs 200-crore proposal for concrete roads and drainage lines in Nilanga taluka is also pending.

In some villages, restricted ownership of the houses allotted under rehabilitation have stalled property transactions since the state is the owner. As many as 289 homes allotted under eighth and ninth rounds of rehabilitation in Killari village don’t even allow restricted ownership of the houses.

Jyotiram Ghayal, a 74-year old resident of Killari, counted eight deaths in his family, including his father, four daughters and a son. “The vacuum in our lives will end with our deaths. We often wonder who was more cruel to us — nature or destiny,” he says.

Septuagenarian Vishwanath Dalal from Sastur village in Osmanabad lost 18 family members. Hundreds of survivors were left permanently disabled. Still, a new sense of confidence made some orphans pick themselves up. Sajid Pathan’s parents and three siblings died at Limbala-Dau village in Latur district. He was nine then. “I went to an orphanage at Latur and completed my education and went on to work,” he said. Sajid is a journalist.

The calamity made the people of Latur equal sufferers. The state government has now planned public gardens in each earthquake-affected village in their memory. CM Devendra Fadnavis, along with NCP president Sharad Pawar, and senior Congress leader Shivraj Patil-Chakurkar will inaugurate the water conservation works in Latur and visit some of the quake-hit villages on Sunday.

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Blind women deploy their power of touch in fight against breast cancer

New Delhi:

When her deteriorating vision finally ended in blindness two years ago, Neha Suri’s despair was complete. But just a year later, this lone breadwinner and mother of a teen, found not just a light in the darkness but a higher calling. For the past three months, she has been learning to use her highly developed sense of touch to detect those at risk of breast cancer.

She is now a medical tactile examiner, a job description coined especially for blind women trained to carry out intensive manual checks to detect lumps as small as 0.5cm. She is among the first batch of seven blind women trained over the year to conduct manual check-ups for prevention and early detection of breast cancer.

Starting next week, she will be part of a pilot that seeks to make inclusion of the differently-abled real. Neha will be working with a team of doctors at Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj to encourage women to undergo non-invasive preventive check-ups. Trained MTEs use “optimal sensory touch” which involves putting just enough pressure and releasing it with fingers that move from one centimetre to the other covering the entire breast region. The entire process can take anywhere between 35 to 45 minutes.

“Tactile tapes with specific Braille markings are used to define the breast region by dividing it into four parts. The examination involves the breast area, armpits, back and neck region to look for lumps and cysts,” tactile examiner Hasiba Rani, explained. She has examined around 30 women so far during her internship at Medanta super-speciality hospital in Gurgaon. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in India. It’s incidence rate is about 24 per 100,000 population. Early detection is key to successful cure and treatment of the dreaded disease.

Hasiba, who lost her eyesight completely when she was 21, said, “It is ironical but I don’t think I would be able to concentrate so much if I could see. At times while doing the examination, I close my eyes as a natural reflex action which people who can see use to focus or concentrate,” she said.

“Mammogram is not effective below 40 years, equivocal in the 40 to 50 age group and most effective after 50 yrs. Also 30% of Indian women have dense breasts not suitable for mammogram.. The only and most suitable option is MTE,” pointed out Dr Mandeep Singh Malhotra, head of department for head, neck and breast oncoplasty at Fortis, Vasant Kunj. He emphasised that manual check-ups by MTE should be seen as complimentary to mammogram and not a substitute.

“The good thing is that a check-up by an MTE can be done for women of all age-groups and at a lower cost. The focus should be on steering younger women towards prevention,” Dr Malhotra added. “If we detect a lump in the breast, we mark the exact point on the tactile grid. We carry out the examination under the doctor’s supervision. The doctor checks the accuracy of our findings and the information supplements the medical diagnosis and treatment,” Hasiba said.

Shalini Khanna, director, Centre for Blind Women of the National Association for the Blind, in Delhi, feels MTEs will fill a vacuum that currently exists in the preventive check-up category. “We will be focussing on reaching out to young women. We will be holding an outreach exercise in Vasant Kunj next week to begin with to tell women they need to choose prevention and in their 20s and 30s not just after they turn 40,” Khanna added.

On how patients respond to the fact that she is unable to see, Hasiba responded with a smile. “Not everyone is willing to put their faith in us immediately. So the doctor explains the process to the patient and then we show them how we will go about it. Most agree and feel comfortable when they undergo the examination. The fact that we cannot see allows them to shed their inhibitions and let us check them,” she said.

Centre for Blind Women started training women to be MTEs last year to empower them professionally and financially. The nine-month course is being conducted in collaboration with German gynaecologist Dr Frank Hoffmann’s project, “Discovering Hands”.

The training has been certified by Rehabilitation Council of Germany. “More than 12,000 successful examinations have been carried out by MTEs in Germany and Austria,” Khanna pointed. The first batch of seven girls who completed their MTE course have been doing an internship with a senior gynaecologist.

TOI

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Mumbai University drops TYBA Marathi poem #Censorship

Drushya Naslelya Drushyat

 The poem forms a part of the syllabus of the third year BA course (inset) Manwar’s book Drushya Naslelya Drushyat

Updated: Sep 30, 2018, 06:30 AM IST

In the face of objections by student activist groups at the Mumbai University, the University’s Board of Studies, Marathi, has decided to withdraw a poetry, ‘Pani Kasa Asta’ (The Nature of Water) from third-year bachelor of arts Marathi syllabus.

The Marathi poem, written by Dinkar Manwar, compares the colour of the water to that of breasts of tribal girls. The poem is part of ‘Drushya Naslelya Drushyat’ (A scene that is not apparent), Manwar’s debut collection of poems and was included in the syllabus for the 2018-19 academic year.

A line in the third paragraph reads: “Kiva adivasi porichya sthanansarkha jambhale” which translates to “or violet like the breasts of an Adivasi girl”. Objecting to the explicit comparison, students from the community studying in the varsity decided to hold a protest march on October 1 to lodge their dissent.

While students wings like Yuva Sena and Chatrabharti Vidyarthi Sena (CVS) requested the vice-chancellor to remove the poem from the syllabus, Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad threatened to stage a protest in the campus.

Dr Nilkant Shere, member of Board of Studies, Marathi, said, “On Saturday, a meeting was held over the issue. After some reflection, we decided to withdraw the poetry in order to avoid community issues. Rest other poetries will be taught to students and come in their exam too.”

The meeting was called by the dean of Faculty of Arts, Dr Murlidhar Kurhade and was attended by seven members from the Board of Studies.

Even though the poetry has been removed from the syllabus of, students of Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad confirmed that they will protest on October 1.

Lucky Jadhav, president of Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (North Maharashtra) said, “Even though the poem has been removed from the syllabus, we will stage the protest and meet the vice-chancellor on Monday. He has called the members of our organisation for a meeting. We want clarification from the University authorities on the matter.”

MANWAR’S BOOK

  • The poem is part of ‘Drushya Naslelya Drushyat’, Dinkar Manwar’s debut collection of poems published in 2014
  • The book was included in the TYBA (Marathi) syllabus for the 2018-19 academic year by Mumbai University’s Board of Studies earlier this year

DNA

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Dissent symbol of vibrant democracy: Chandrachud

‘Liberty Can’t Be Sacrificed At Altar Of Conjectures’

Justice D Y Chandrachud on Friday dissented against the majority verdict of CJI Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar and said Pune police’s “disconcerting” attitude in besmirching and maligning the arrested rights activists through deliberate media leaks warranted a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) monitored by the Supreme Court.

Citing a recent case where the SC had awarded compensation to Isro scientist Nambi Narayanan for being framed by Kerala police in a false spy case, Justice Chandrachud said, “Payment of compensation 24 years after the wrongful arrest is a grim reminder about how tenuous liberty can be and of difficulty in correcting wrongs occasioned by wrongful arrest. There can be no manner of doubt that deprivation of human rights seriously impinges upon an individual’s dignity for which even compensation may not constitute adequate recompense.”

The minority judgment, though of academic interest, will evoke huge traction among rights activists as Justice Chandrachud said, “The court must be mindful of the need not to thwart a criminal investigation leading to the detection of unlawful acts. Equally, the court has to be vigilant in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32 to ensure liberty is not sacrificed at the altar of conjectures.

“Individuals who assert causes which may be unpopular to the echelons of power are yet entitled to the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Dissent is a symbol of a vibrant democracy. Voices in opposition cannot be muzzled by persecuting those who take up unpopular causes.”

Criticising Pune police, Justice Chandrachud said its conduct “in utilising the agency of the electronic media to cast aspersions on those under investigation fortifies the need for an investigation which is fair”.

“When the JCP and the additional DGP cast aspersions against persons whose conduct is still under investigation, and in disregard of proceedings pending before a judicial forum, it is the duty and obligation of this court to ensure that the administration of criminal justice is not derailed,” he added.

Justifying his decision to differ, Justice Chandrachud said, “The purpose… is to ensure the basic entitlement of every citizen who is faced with allegations of criminal wrongdoing: that the investigative process should be fair. This is an integral component of the guarantee against arbitrariness under Article 14 and of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. If this court were not to stand by the principles, we may witness a soulful requiem to liberty.”

Minority judgment may help in bail

Legal experts claimed the five activists arrested on June 6 in the Elgar Parishad case might benefit from the dissenting opinion. Activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, lawyer Surendra Gadling, former PMRD fellow Mahesh Raut and academician Shoma Sen were held on June 6. Gadling and Sen’s bail plea will be heard in a Pune court on October 6. “The dissenting judgment has questioned the credibility of the evidence collected by the Maharashtra police,” Nihalsingh Rathod, one of their lawyers, said.

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Mumbai – Top 3 corporators are women, 2 of bottom 3 are from AIMIM

It Is A Great Achievement & Way Forward For City: Praja

Mumbai:

Women appear to be leading the way in the BMC. Women corporators occupy the top three ranks in the civic report card NGO Praja Foundation released on Friday.

The report also stated that the only two AIMIM corporators elected to the BMC in 2017 are among the worst three performers.

Praja released its first civic report card after last year’s elections when a fresh house of corporators was elected.

The NGO’s members said the report card aims to hold elected representatives accountable by encouraging healthy competition among councillors. It stated that while 13 corporators did not ask a single question in 2017-18, more than 50% posed less than 10. On a positive note, though, it pointed out that the total number of questions asked increased to 2,609 in 2017-18 from 2,235 in 2013-14.

Among the best performers, Shiv Sena’s Kishori Pednekar bagged the first rank, followed by Sweta Korgaonkar of the Congress and Priti Satam of the BJP. “I was not aware of the report card. I have got the first rank due to the unconditional support of BMC officers and people in my ward. They ensure I am able to work for them,” said Pednekar, a third-term corporator who represents Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat.

Priti Satam, first-time corporator from Aarey Colony and Gokuldham in Goregaon, said she attributes her rank to the work she had undertaken in the past one year. “Basic facilities such as toilet blocks were absent in my ward. I followed up to ensure the works were speedily completed,” she said.

Sweta Korgaonkar, who ranked second, could not be reached for a comment though.

Milind Mhaske, director at Praja Foundation, said the fact that women corporators have taken the top ranks is “a great achievement and a way forward for the city”.

Meanwhile, two of the bottom three performers belong to AIMIM, which participated in the BMC elections for the first time last year with two members—Gulnaaz Qureshi and Shahnawaz Shaikh—both of whom were elected.

Shaikh who represents Trombay said, “I do not agree with this ranking. I have always raised my voice in the corporation and it appears that, that fact has been ignored. We do not get funds on time, which delays works.” While Andheri’s Kesharben Patel refused to comment on her rank, Bandra East’s Qureshi could not be reached.

The 13 corporators who did not ask a single question in 2017-18 included BJP’s Kesharben Patel and Murji Patel, Shiv Sena’s Rekha Ramvanshi, Priti Patankar, Rutuja Tari and AIMIM’s Qureshi, among others.

Praja members said renaming of roads continues to be a priority for corporators. “We analyzed issues raised per category from March 2017-18 and found that 320 of these were only on remaining of roads, chowks, monuments and buildings. We wish the corporators would ask better questions which will help make a difference to the lives of people,” said Nitai Mehta, managing trustee, Praja Foundation.

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The Body as an Oral Text: A review of Teresa Rehman’s ‘The Mothers of Manipur

By Sabreen Ahmed

The Mothers of Manipur, written by noted journalist from North-east India, Teresa Rehman, is a testimony to the provocatively progressive culture of activism and gendered social organization of the Meira Paibis of Manipur, woven through the anecdotes of their oral narratives. The book was published in March 2017 by Zubaan, an independent feminist publishing house based in New Delhi, an imprint of Kali for women, the first feminist press in India. The oral narratives of the Imas, the local term for mother, serve as archival resources meandering in the archaeology of their collective memories about the Nupi Lans or female wars of the past, the present international glare at their unchanging predicament and the future of a hitherto peaceful Manipur encircling round the tales of their historic naked protest at Kangla Fort on 15 July 2004. Traditional anthropology and historical research used elders as informants and oral source materials of humanist positions. However, Teresa Rehman’s rhapsodic representation of the narratives of the aging mothers is itself a feminist intervention creating an archival text from a journalist’s pen. The book is a vivid tapestry of the ideas, beliefs, and values that negotiate through the net of activist social relationships, journalistic interludes of the author with current public figures from Manipur, and the heart-rending oral narratives of the twelve Imas or the mothers who unabashedly stripped in front of the ASFPA headquarters demanding justice for the ravenous rape and mutilated murder of Thangjam Manorama, a 32-year-old custodial woman, on 11 July 2004. The invigorating narrative of the mothers’ nude protest in The Mothers of Manipur can be posited as an antidote to the itinerary of silence of the subaltern women critiqued by pioneering postcolonial theorist Gayatri Spivak in her polemical manifesto, “Can the subaltern Speak?” and the discourse of the absent third world women from public sphere depicted in leading postcolonial feminist Sara Suleri’s memoir TheMeatless Days that have established the jargon of postcolonial feminism from the third world in the western cannon. Here the mothers raised their voice against the internally colonized world in Manipur within the binary of a centre-margin dichotomy, i.e. the marginalized insurgent Northeast and the developing mainland India, in full public glare through their nude bodies and heated slogans.

Encyclopaedia of Feminist Literary Theory defines the concept of “orality” as important to the role of women’s relationship to language in the context of pre-genital oral stage of psychoanalysis. The mythological Philomela provides feminist theorists with a crucial figure for women’s construction of a literary tradition in the face of the violent silencing of women’s voices. The turn to body criticism reflects not merely on mythology and corporeal metaphors but on actual women’s bodies which the very cover page of The Mothers of Manipur invariably suggests. The repeated horrifying descriptions of the dead body of Manorama in the text calls for a comparison with the feminist interpretations of the rape of Philomela in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, who suffered rape and mutilation of her tongue though not death. Replete with metaphors of biological essentialism, the book incisively penetrates the idea of the female body as an oral text: if the mutilated body of Manorama speaks volumes about the lust and inhuman atrocities of the coercive state machinery in the form of ASFPA, the naked bodies of the Imas speak slogans of protest like “Indian army come rape us” against the vicious cycle of internal colonization of a democratic republic vested in its armed forces. However, it must be mentioned that the linguistic forms of the oral narratives have been retained only partially in translation of their feelings within the continuum between a stylistic and referential dimension. Of course, folkloristic elements in terms of description of the Manipuri  female dress phanek, the male garment Khudei, use of humais or hand fans and traditional food like the local samosa, heikrak, fermented fish item, iromba, etc. have been minutely detailed in the text that delivers a feel of the original to the reader. The narratives of the Imas or mothers invariably shuttle between the stories of their kitchens to their tryst at the war zone that draws out of a time-warp the small voices of Manipur’s history. These twelve Imas belong to different arenas of life – if Ima Matum is a shopkeeper, Ima Ramani is a traditional dancer and actor of the local courtyard theatre, while Ima Momom is a homely Kwa chaba or betelnut-chewing grandmom and yet a valiant Meira Paibi fighting against social evils like alcoholism, drug abuse to indecent frisking of women by security forces. Ima mema belonging to Vaishnavite faith is a septuagenarian with devotional mutterings, while Ima Nganbi is the only English-speaking Mother. The narrative of AIDS crusader Lucy precedes that of the devotional mother. Integrated in the narrative of Nganbi is the author’s personal repertory with the prolonged fasting convict Irom Sharmila, who muses over the poignant long poem-in-making, symbolic of her personal struggles. A woman who is featured in media with her uncombed hair like the fiery Medusa of Greek mythology is shown here as silently succumbing at the face of her singular fight for peace which eventually ended with the breaking of her fast in 2016. Sharmila left her struggle with ASFPA still unmitigated and etched in Manipur’s soil as a permanent entity, with a promise to come back with political power for peaceful progress of her people. Ima Nganbi tells the horrors of the underground groups of Manipur from an insiders’ point of view that seems to support their cause. Their slogans like “Loilam leingak muthatsi” (We want freedom) and “Ning tamna hinghallu” (Down with Indian Rule) resonate with their protest against internal colonization resulting from a draconian law like AFSPA. Rather than being merely a feminist protest of sisterhood, the Manorama rape incident also provoked many emotions against the malfunctioning of democracy in India. The controversy over their outrageous protest and the lack of desired public empathy and their distress led to Ima Nganbi’s remorseful statement, “We did it for the people of Manipur, we are not prostitutes.” A short interlude on the doyen of Manipuri theatre, Heinsnam Kanhailal, the first from North East India to receive Sangeet Natak Akademy Award in 1985 for his alternate theatrical experimentations, and his wife Sabitri, who appeared nude on stage for Mahasweta Devi’s story “Draupadi” in 2000, leads to the tale of Ima Ibetobi an actor herself who once performed for the theatre group, Manipur Dramatic Union. A description of Urmila, an award winning journalist campaigning on menstrual hygiene makes way for the narrative of Ima Tombi, the youngest of all the mothers who runs a small eatery at Paona Bazar and had even gone to Delhi for protest agaist AFSPA.  After introducing Dr. Biswajeet’s concept of “Blooming Manipur”, the author narrates her stint with Ima Jamini whose husband calls her “the man of the neighbourhood”. She positions herself as a mediator after the protest hoping for a plausible solution beyond oppression and resistance from either side. The defying sisterhood of the Meira Paibies resonates in her narrative:

“Once we are out of the house and are with women, we don’t care about our family and mundane affairs. Ours is a community in itself. Ours is a community in itself. We don’t care what husbands, sons or our daughters-in-law will think.” (The Mothers of Manipur, p. 101)

A social activist of international repute, the founder of Manipur women Gun Survivors Network, Binalakshmi Neprum’s narrative is linked to the narrative of Ima Taruni who recounts her memories of a difficult childhood with a garrulous father and later her fate with an alcoholic husband. Her existence intricately knitted between the threads of domesticity and activism, the author fondly calls her “a time capsule” embedding in her 78-year-old memory the changes in Manipur from a land of gems to a bloody state. Rehman narrates next the personal journey of Lin, a model and actress who played the role of the leading lady’s friend in Bollywood film Mary Kom. The narrative then turns to the tale of Ima Jibonmala who doesn’t wish to take side in connection to the UGs. The last two narratives describe the devotional Ima Gyaneswari and the forever absent-mother for her daughter, Ima Sarojini. The afterword in the book is the narrative of Manorama’s mother Thangjam Kunamleima, who says that her daughter’s soul will rest in peace only if the ASFPA goes. ‘Khumanleima’ implies “princess of the Khuman clan” who became spectrally reticent after her daughter’s death, as remembered her eldest child “Mono”, a good daughter and weaver, who remained unmarried to bear the responsibility of her siblings.

Phanek and enaphi, a part of the folk culture of the Meitis, find political relevance through the nude protest. The traditional phanekand enaphi are considered sacrosanct to a Manipuri woman and can’t be touched by a strange man. Pulling down  the enaphi  in collective resistance becomes a part of feminist ferocity no less than goddess Kali herself, as one of the mothers draws an analogy towards the intending enemy which in this case is the state machinery itself. The nude protest becomes sanctified as the Imas offer their prayers before plunging into the battlefield for the cause of retrieving their shame and social justice for Manorama, who was cremated by the authorities as an ‘unclaimed body’ as her family refused to accept her body until the guilty were punished. The mythical content of oral literature is not the content of this reading because it talks about the lived realities of the Imas in their social activism which achieved panoramic furiousness with the Kangla incident with an unprecedented future of social justice for Manorama. However it is the psychoanalytical approach to oral literature that seems to be the required methodological approach to a reading of the oral narratives amalgamated in Teresa Rehman’s gripping narrative of collective resistance of these elderly women all in their sixties or seventies against the assault on the collective honour of Manipuri women. The body as a trope of defiant protest evading the norms of gentility, shame, and sensuality that the Imas used in all their nakedness of the march was a culmination of their mental angst repressed in their “collective unconscious”. Mental illness itself is seen by certain feminists as a subversive act, one that disrupts the dominant culture and asserts its own voice. French feminist Helene Cixous defines behaviour dictated by patriarchy as insane and the repressed zone of true womanhood. The image of the insane woman, she suggests, is exemplary of what women are and should be if they are to stand out of the false male-dominating world. The nude protest was an exhibition of emotional strength beyond the point of insanity or the “false consciousness” of the power structure from a Marxist point of view. Jung’s concept of “collective unconsciousness” is relevant to the mothers’ astounding manner of voicing dissent through the collective medium of their nude bodies. The Jungian model says that collective emotions are hidden in the unconscious; archetypes are experienced but not understood. As Rehman unflinchingly declares in the preface:

“15 July 2004 will remain imprinted in every Manipuri’s heart. The iconic protest will continue to trigger debate and stand out in collective memory. It will always speak of the turmoil of people trapped in a world chock full of violence. It will always reflect the larger story of Manipur – a land torn asunder by conflict and brutality, but constantly exerting the might of its conflict and brutality, but constantly exerting the might of its cultural traditions and humane spirit, to triumph.” (The Mothers of Manipur, p.xxxix)

The protest though a gendered one cannot be read in isolation with the customary Nupi Lan of the Manipuri community in an increasingly growing scene of “false consciousness” after the coming down of the iconic activist, Iron Lady Irom Sharmila. Nevertheless, the book is not without a few shortcomings in terms of conception. Rehman is absolutely silent about the political interventions in the aftermath of the protest. Nonetheless it takes remarkable courage as a female journalist in revisiting a traumatic memory in the insurgency-prone state of Manipur far away from communication comforts. At certain places in the book, the narratorial ‘I’ seems both obtrusive and obvious, an unavoidable narcissistic stance in a journalistic account of a bold authorial voice. The non-linear, subversive manner of rhapsodizing makes The Mothers of Manipurvery much a manifesto of ecriture feminine and a remarkable document in folkloristic “orality” and historicity for further academic intervention.

Bio:
Sabreen Ahmed, PhD (JNU), is assistant professor at the Department of English (A post-graduate department under Gauhati University), Nowgong College, Nagaon, Assam, India

The Body as an Oral Text: A review of Teresa Rehman’s ‘The Mothers of Manipur’

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India – DY Chandrachud, the Justice Who Marches to a Different Tune

Bhima Koregaon case, 5 activists get four more weeks in house arrest


 NEW DELHI: In this week of a slew of important judgements from the Supreme Court, one Justice has entered the public eye, without even trying to. Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud is noticeable for his views, not hesitant to take a position away from that of the majority view, and categorical and firm in his opinion.

He has done so again today in the Bhima Koregaon case regarding the arrest of the five activists. While the majority view by Justice AM Khanwilkar and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra turned down the plea for a probe by a Special Investigation Team into the Bhima Koregaon case and extended the house arrest of the activists by four weeks, Justice Chandrachud insisted that the arrests were without basis. And that the Maharashtra police was biased and cannot be trusted, and hence a court monitored investigation by SIT was necessary.

The five activists — Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj — will be kept under house arrest for another four weeks as per the apex court ruling today, till the disposal of the petition. The judgement written by Justice Khanwilkar for himself and the CJI held that it was not a case of arrest for dissent, and that there were no particular facts to prove mala fide on the part of the police. Justice Chandrachud in his dissenting note said that the Maharashtra police could not be trusted and was biased, and that an independent probe should be allowed as “deprivation of liberty cannot be compensated later.”

Justice Chandrachud is noticeable and prominent in his views in the Supreme Court, often differing from his colleagues and crystal clear in his observations. He recently created a stir with his dissenting note on the Aadhaar Act judgement where he said that passing of Aadhaar Act as a money bill was a fraud on the Constitution and wholly illegal. His was a minority judgement of one in a bench of five judges. “Aadhaar is about identification and is an instrument which facilitates a proof of identity. It must not be allowed to obliterate constitutional identity,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud is associated with a number of recent progressive judgements such as recognising privacy as a fundamental right, LGBT rights and the repeal of Section 377, decriminalising adultery — with his deep knowledge of constitutional law and commitment to human rights shining through. Not just this, he has not hesitated to differ from earlier rulings of his own father Justice Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud, recognised as a far more conservative Judge, and the longest serving Chief Justice of India.

The elder Justice Chandrachud in the Sowmithri Vishnu vs Union of India case had upheld the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that made adultery a criminal offence. His son Justice DY Chandrachud in a landmark judgement, just a day ago, overruled this in Joseph Shine vs Union of India with adultery no longer a criminal offence. This has been welcomed by women groups and progressive citizens across India. And as Live Law has pointed out, Justice DY Chandrachud affirmed individual dignity and sexual autonomy in his path breaking judgement, in complete contrast to the moral conservatism of his father in the case of Sowmithri Vishnu.

As the younger Justice observed, “autonomy is intrinsic in dignified human existence. 497 denuded the woman from making choices. Respect for sexual autonomy must be emphasised. Marriage does not preserve ceiling of autonomy. Section 497 perpetrates subordinate nature of woman in a marriage.” And he went on to criticise his father’s judgement with, “Sowmithri Vishnu fails to deal with the substantive aspects of constitutional jurisprudence on the validity of Section 497: the guarantee of equality as a real protection against arbitrariness, the guarantee of life and personal liberty as an essential recognition of a truly equal society…”

Earlier too, Justice DY Chandrachud had differed with his father on the privacy judgement. And instead, held that the rulings rendered by all the four judges of the time, including his father, constituting the majority in ADM Jabalpur were seriously flawed. This was last year in August when the apex court held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In so doing, Justice DY Chandrachud, also on the bench, overruled a judgement of his father. The elder Justice had maintained, along with the majority then, that the right to personal liberty has no hallmark and therefore when the right is put in action it is impossible to identify whether the right is one given by the Constitution or is one which existed in the pre-Constitution era.

Justice DY Chandrachud ruled last year that, ”ADM Jabalpur must be and is accordingly overruled.” And stated that the ruling by the four judges, including his father, was seriously flawed.

Fifty nine years old, Justice DY Chandrachud was the former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court and a former judge of the Bombay High Court. And after a public school education, college at St Stephens, Law from Delhi University he went on to Harvard University for his LL.M degree.

Today, Justice DY Chandrachud was the lone dissenting voice in the Elgar Parishad case, upholding the right to an independent probe into the arrest of five activists. Also today, he upheld the right to gender equality, forming part of the 4-1 majority verdict in the historic judgement allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Whilst lone dissenting judge Indu Malhotra said that “religious practices can’t solely be tested on the basis of the right to equality,” Justice DY Chandrachud called the practice to ban women from entering a “form of untouchability.” “Religion cannot be cover to deny women the right to worship… To treat women as children of a lesser god is to blink at constitutional morality,” he said.

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Bhima Koregaon case -WSS condemns the majority judgment of the Supreme Court

 

WSS deeply condemns the majority judgement of the Supreme Court which has dismissed the PIL filed by Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Satish Deshpande, Prabhat Patnaik and Maja Daruwalla and has in effect granted the notorious Pune Police impunity to carry on with its fabricated and malafide investigation in the Bhima Koregaon (FIR No. 4/2018) case. The Court in its vague majority judgement has failed to do its duty as a Constitutional Arbitrator and as the vanguard of the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India to protect the liberty of the dissenting activists – who have been arrested by the Pune police which unabashedly flouted due process.  

The short sighted majority judgement has held that there is no form of malice in the investigation conducted by the Pune Police and refused to interfere with the current investigation and dismissed the prayer demanding that the investigation be referred to a Special Investigation Team (SIT). It has further held that the arrests were not initiated to curb dissent but to investigate the connection of the aforementioned activists Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, and activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, to banned organisations.

On the other hand, the exhaustively reasoned dissenting judgement of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud most explicitly states that on inspection of the evidence submitted by the Maharashtra Police, its claim of connecting all the accused persons to a banned organisation is contrary to logic.  He further takes cognizance of the use of electronic media by the Maharashtra for besmirching the reputation of the above activists. The dissenting judgement deemed the press conferences held by the Pune Police and the leakage of such letters which are still under investigation stage, ‘disturbing’ and to be “causing serious concern” and holds that the manner in which the ADG has behaved casts a cloud on the investigation and purports bias on the part of the Pune Police. Furthermore, he also specifically mentions and condemns the vilification campaign run by Republic Channel against Sudha Bharadwaj, who is one of the arrested activists and member of WSS.

He further goes on to say that the police are not adjudicators nor can they announce guilt and very strongly asserted that the Pune Police “is manipulating public media” to create and facilitate a media trial. He further in his judgement takes stock of the lack of credibility in the letters and finally holds that “the conduct of the Pune police fortifies the need to a fair investigation” and that “Dissent is a part of a vibrant democracy”, however unpopular the dissent is Criminal law is amenable to Constitutional mandate and hence the court as the constitutional arbitrator has the duty to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 32 to ensure that liberty is not sacrificed at the altar of conjecture. In the past few weeks we have been witness to several judgements of the Supreme Court such as the Adultery Judgement, the Sabrimala Judgement, and the Sec. 377 Judgement, where civil rights and liberties have been invoked and elaborated upon, loftily reading them as the spirit of the Constitution and the democratic framework. As these civil liberty claims are given a much needed boost and careful articulation by the Supreme Court, matters of political import have met with a cold, rigid, conservative approach.  All these lofty judgements and the principles on which they are based will cease to have meaning if they are not applied by the court in cases where individual liberties and claims are impinged upon by the State.

WSS reiterates its strong condemnation of the targeting of dissent and suppression of all resistance. The attack on democratic rights activists, lawyers, journalists and writers has happened in draconian waves, where those active in defending the arrested are picked up in the next round of arrests. The first round of arrests in this particular Bhima Koregaon case targeted WSS member Professor Shoma Sen, Advocate Surendra Gadling, activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut. Advocate Surendra Gadling was the lawyer for Prof. G.N. Saibaba, Mahesh Tirki, Vijay Tirki, Pandu Narote, Hem Mishra and Prashant Rahi, while the others arrested with Advocate Gadling were active in condemning that round of arrests. Prof. Shoma Sen was Head of the English Department at Nagpur University and a dedicated feminist and anti-caste activists and two months away from superannuation at the age of 60 when she was picked up by the police. Mahesh Raut however appears to have been solely targeted for being active against state sponsored displacement in Gadhchiroli and in trying to implement Constitutional provisions safeguarding adivasi rights. It appears that the attack on Sudha Bharadwaj was likewise primarily targeting her work on the ground as a lawyer and trade unionist in implementing Constitutional provisions in safeguarding adivasi land rights and labour rights for the last three decades in Chhattisgarh. As part of Janhit, an organization providing legal aid, she has taken up cases of illegal land acquisition, violations of forest rights, environmental issues, forced evictions, human rights violations, and violations of laws like the Forest Rights Act and Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA), etc. Apart from the scores of cases she has fought for workers across the state. Sudha had also spoken out against the previous round of arrests through the long-standing civil liberties organization, PUCL, and the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers. The repeated and concentrated attacks against Advocate Surendra Gadling, and then Advocates Sudha Bharadwaj and Arun Ferreira who were active in protesting the arrest of a lawyer who is just doing his job in defending his clients from marginalized dalit adivasi Muslim and bahujan backgrounds, show a clear pattern of clamping down on dissent even within the framework of the court system, not to mention clamping down on the social activists working outside the court system in civil society. This has a chilling effect on all activists standing with marginalized communities and sends a clear message that marginalized communities have no hope in fighting for the on-ground implementation of their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

In the meantime, those who actually assaulted the Dalit Bahujan and Muslim communities in Bhima Koregaon roam freely with impunity. This FIR was filed first, in Pune (rural) and names Milind Ekbote and Sambaji Bhide as the instigators of the violence. It is therefore a mystery as to why the Ambedkarites who are upholding constitutional values of Liberty, equality and fraternity and were demanding the arrest of these perpetrators, were arrested instead of the perpetrators, on the basis of a second FIR filed in Pune (urban), which has no connection to any actual violence! This is meant to strike terror amongst the vast majority of people who have been daring to speak out against the anti-people policies of the state.

The entire framework of the UAPA has no place in a modern democratic system and the time has come for the Constitutional courts to hold this draconian law as unconstitutional for violating the rights of countless citizens. It is well known that in UAPA cases, the chances of bail are minimal and the time spent in custody by those charged is effectively used as punishment. It is a fear mongering and vindictive tactic of branding. Whatever happens in the court, the larger political struggle for democratic rights and opposing UAPA, and opposing the corporate assault on adivasi people in the greed for mining these lands will continue and intensify.

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all arrested in the Bima Koregaon case, the punishment of the real perpetrators of violence and the repeal of draconian laws such as UAPA.

 

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

 

Convenors Ajita, Nisha, Rinchin and Shalini; Email ID [email protected]

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