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Archives for : Justice

Mumbai’s ex-pilot behind group aiming to bully ‘media’ into submission

Mumbai's ex-pilot behind group aiming to bully ‘media’ into submission
PHOTO BY NILESH WAIRKAR
Vipul Saxena claims the group is not affiliated to any political party but will target ‘anti-national media’.Two ultra-nationalists, an ex-pilot and aviation engineer from Mumbai and a Supreme Court lawyer from Delhi, have formed a group to monitor the media for “biased and fake news stories”, triggering concern among journalists of harassment and intimidation.

The group – India Against Biased Media (IABM) – has already filed 25 cases of sedition against Swara Bhasker in different police stations across the country, an equal number of complaints against an anti-establishment YouTuber with 700,000 subscribers, and lodged cases against multiple journalists for their tweets in the wake of an attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid.

As the group’s initial actions prove, it makes no distinction between an actress airing personal views, a YouTuber fact checking government claims, and journalists tweeting news breaks. They are all “media” for it. Journalists and lawyers say the fact that its favourite tool seems to be a spray of cases against any individual the group deems to be “anti-national or anti-government” indicates that its members will focus only on browbeating media into submission.

Talking to Mumbai Mirror on Wednesday, Mumbai-based co-founder of IABM Vipul Saxena denied any political affiliation. “IABM is not affiliated to any political party and was formed as a platform after year-long deliberations between me and others. We discussed about forming a platform, and thought this will get some momentum a month later. But, within a week, we have received overwhelming support from more than 700 people. We have also been getting messages of support from abroad and even offers of monetary support,” he said.

Asked who will determine what is “biased news” or “fake news”, Saxena said he and his associates spread all over the country will do the job. “We are not against the media. We just want to have a fair and truthful version of news and events to be circulated so that foreign powers and anti-India forces do not misuse it to create social and religious disharmony. It is the responsibility of the Press Council of India, and there are provisions in the Press Council of India Act, but they have never issued any show-cause or summon to any media house or person for fake, biased, manipulated news. So we decided to shake up the system,” he said.

The group filed cases against Swara Bhasker after she tweeted a picture of a man tied to a jeep “as it reminded people of the ‘human shield’ incident in Kashmir involving Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi last year”.

YouTuber Dhruv Rathee has multiple police cases against him because he posted a video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking about a tea vendor using gas from an adjacent gutter to make tea and called Modi a liar.

IABM has filed cases against multiple journalists for tweeting “irresponsibly” after Umar Khalid was allegedly shot at in New Delhi. Delhi-based Advocate Vibhor Anand, who co-founded IABM with Saxena, said: “Within 15 minutes of the incident, journalists and activists were tweeting that Umar Khalid had been attacked. What they should have reported was there was a firing incident near the Constitution Club where Umar Khalid was also present,” he said.

Girish Kuber, editor-in-chief of Marathi daily Loksatta, called the setting up of IABM a matter of grave concern and said he wouldn’t be surprised if the group has the government’s blessings. “They don’t seem to understand that criticising the government does not mean a person is anti-national and that the media cannot be cheerleaders for the government,” he said.

Kuber said he himself has been a target of such cases. “A case for spreading communal disharmony was lodged against my paper at a Lucknow police station when Loksatta is not even circulated there. This is nothing but a form of harassment and intimidation. The I & B Ministry should clarify if what this group is doing is legal,” he said.

Press Council of India head Justice (retd) C K Prasad said the PCI will always safeguard the freedom of the press, and if some group is harassing journalists, action will be taken against them.

High Court lawyer Abhinav Chandrachud said calling an elected representative a liar does not amount to sedition. “The definition of sedition laid down by the Supreme Court time and again is inciting people to take up arms against the government,” he said.

Chandrachud agreed that IABM is trying to silence dissent with the threat of harassment. “In our country the process (of dealing with police or visiting a court) itself is punishment. Because even if you succeed in the end, by going through the process of a criminal proceeding or bail or a suit, you have already been punished,” he said.

Advocate Chandrachud said the right to free speech includes a right to make a bonafide mistake. “Broadly speaking, let’s say somebody makes a statement in the press that is later found to be false or incorrect. That by itself can’t be something which is punishable, unless of course the intention was to incite people to pick up arms against the government or to cause defamation or contempt of court,” he said.

Chandrachud also said that portraying India in a negative light or critiquing a government can never be an offence or a civil wrong. “People are entitled to their view as has been said in many cases. The answer to a speech that you consider wrong is more speech and not enforced silence,” he said.

The two founders of India Against Biased Media – Mumbai-based ex-pilot and aviation expert Vipul Saxena; (inset) and Delhi-based lawyer Vibhor Anand

The two founders of India Against Biased Media – Mumbai-based ex-pilot and aviation expert Vipul Saxena; (inset) and Delhi-based lawyer Vibhor Anand

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/cover-story/citys-ex-pilot-behind-group-aiming-to-bully-media-into-submission/articleshow/65417667.cms

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Statement on Shelter Home Violence

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) strongly condemns the brutal systemic and systematic patterns of abuse, harassment and violence meted out to residents of Government institutions and shelters in Bihar. Furthermore, WSS stands in solidarity with all victims of State sponsored violence, families of the survivors and all those involved in exposing this long running racket in Bihar.

 

In early June 2018, the entire country was shocked when findings of a TISS social audit of government run shelter homes for the vulnerable revealed patterns of gross sexual violence, abuse and neglect. In particular, the media chose to focus on the testimonies of residents of a shelter home in Muzaffarpur where minor girls, some as young as 8 and 10, reported cases of horrific sexual violence. Many of these media reports, more sensational than sensitive zeroed in on a single home, in spite of the TISS  report discussing similar instances of sexual assault in over 6 homes and other forms of abuse and neglect in homes across the state. The danger with this kind of reporting is that it bolsters the illusion that sexual violence within government institutions are one-off incidents as opposed to a systemic pattern in which shelter homes are turned into hubs of abuse and assault. Recent media reports tell us that two girls at the Aasra shelter at Nepali Nagar, Patna, were reported dead under mysterious circumstances and it is being suspected that they were probably the same girls who had been shifted from the Muzaffarpur home after the news of the rapes broke.

 

While the sexual violence against minor girls is truly horrific and warrants all the attention it is getting, it is important to take into account institutional violence that goes beyond the sexual. Any violation that takes away an individual’s right to dignity is a serious concern and we strongly condemn the civil society organizations and government institutions that allowed and even encouraged such acts. Narratives of different kinds of abuse, neglect, deprivation, and malnutrition abound in the TISS social audit report including homes being unable to provide basic facilities of safe lodging, regular meals or even a toilet with a latch, staff locking  up and beating children in homes, staff morally policing and verbally abusing female residents  to the point where one resident was pushed to commit suicide, lack of psychological support services to residents, lack of any support services for persons with disability etc.

 

These violations of dignity and bodily integrity must be understood in the larger socio-economic-political context. Since the early 1990s, the rising trend of NGO-isation has meant large sums of money have been pumped into civil society in the name of ‘development’, allowing the state to offload the provision of welfare services to private actors. In a scramble to occupy the gap left by the retreating State, NGOs fight to procure state funding; encouraging a trend that prioritizes accountability towards their funders, aka the State, over the people they work with. As a result, vulnerable lives of children, women, survivors of domestic violence, the elderly and the disabled are turned into mere numbers, reduced to targets to be met while their rehabilitation/ reintegration is seen as only a procedural and bureaucratic process. Any State that allows this kind of systematic dehumanizing of individuals is deeply rooted in brahmanical patriarchy, silently waging a war against women, children and the most vulnerable sections of society. In this case, many girls’ bodies were reduced to disposable sexual labour for the use of dominant classes.

 

The media reports seem to have zeroed in on Brajesh Thakur owner of the NGO ‘Seva Sankalp’ that ran Muzaffarpur shelters as the main accused in the rape of 34 minor girls residing at his shelter home.  While Brajesh Thakur should definitely be tried and punished for his crimes, this focus on the individual is limited in two ways. Firstly, as mentioned earlier in the statement, the focus on one individual/one home runs the risk of eclipsing other instances of neglect and consequently glosses over the institutional nature of the violence. Secondly, it ends up painting the picture of the individual abuser as a monster, as inhuman, as an aberration from the regular or the human. This makes it easier to ignore the fact that sexual violence is not a result of a ‘few bad apples’ but a culture that teaches cis-men to feel entitled to sexual favours, to use sex as a way to wield power over the oppressed; a culture fuelled by the happy marriage of patriarchy and caste; a culture that pervades all aspects of our everyday lives, including the state and the very mechanisms that claims to protect us from such violations.

 

The police, too, have been dragging their feet in this case. It took over four months after the submission of the TISS report for a formal complaint to be lodged against all the accused. It took the Bihar Department of Social Welfare two weeks after the lodging of the formal complaint to seal the Muzaffarpur shelter home and rescue 46 minor girls. Neither has any action has been taken against the other homes till date, nor have adequate monitoring structures being set up in those places.  16 girls and women from one of the shelter homes run by Brajesh Thakur are missing and neither the police, nor the State seem to be doing much to recover them. There were delays in the medical examinations of the rescued girls and they were encouraged not to use names in their testimony before the magistrate. This appalling behavior just goes to show the extent to which the state, its organs and civil society collude to perpetuate misogynist rape culture. It is cruel irony when the state – the same entity that claims to be the custodian of it’s most marginalized citizens, their safety and well-being, is also the one that violates them over and over again.

 

Finally, as citizens who oppose gender-based and sexual violence, we urge all fellow travellers with a conscience to see women and girls outside thema/beti/behen/bahu framework. Women and girls deserve a life free of all kinds of violence, regardless of whether we are someone’s ma/beti/behen/bahu or not. We demand a life of ‘bekhauf azaadi’ because we are human beings deserving a life of dignity, equality and bodily integrity.

 

We demand that:

1.     All survivors of abuse should be moved out of the original site of violence to High Court monitored safe institutions immediately.

 

2.     All accused should be tried in fast track courts to ensure rigorous punishment and timely justice. The sudden death of the two girls in the Patna shelter should be  enquired into, immediately and all shelter homes should be monitored more stringently by the CWC and the Deptt. Of Social Welfare, with clear accountabilities and penalties drawn out.

 

3.     Sensitive psychological support/counseling services and free legal aid services for survivors must be provided by the State Social Welfare Department.

 

4.     The Social Welfare department and police should recover the girl gone missing from the Madhubani Shelter Home, 11 women from another shelter home run by Brajesh Thakur and 1 woman missing from Shanti Kutir home in Muzaffarpur immediately.

 

5.     The Deptt. should ensure spending of  1% of its budget on transparency and accountability initiatives including social audits. Social audits of all homes should be regularly conducted as per the CAG Social Audit standards and the August 2017 Supreme Court Judgement on Social Audits.

 

6.     Information on inmates living in shelter homes, reasons for their entry and exit and details of their rehabilitation should be maintained by the CWC and other monitoring bodies of the Social Welfare Deptt. More transparency must be ensured in the functionality of the CWC, District Child Protection Unit and the District Level Monitoring Committees. The selection process, budget and spending of NGOs that run shelter homes, observation homes and short stay homes should be made public.

 

  1. The dilutions in rape laws, other sexual harassment laws and the SC-ST POA Act and their implementation and sentencing need to be prevented immediately and these laws should be enforced effectively and in fact, strengthened.

 

  1. In order to address gender-based violence in a more holistic way, it is crucial that the state provide institutional support for transgender persons as suggested in the NALSA judgement of Supreme Court, 2014, because like women, trans* persons are also extremely vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.

 

 

Ladenge! Jeetenge!                                                                                 Lade hain! Jeete hain!

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High Court upset with govt order on #Aadhaar link with biometric attendance

HC upset with govt order on Aadhar link with biometric attendance

Srinagar: Hearing a contempt petition, the J&K High Court on Friday directed the state Chief Secretary to file response on why an order has been issued directing employees to link their Aadhar cards with biometric attendance, when the court in an order dated September 11, 2017, had directed that Aadhar cards should not be linked with biometric attendance.

The court issued notice to Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam after a contempt petition in the case titled Syed Musaib versus Chief Secretary to J&K Govt was moved before the court today.

 

The petitioner, Syed Musaib, submitted before the court that the main objective of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) was to collect biometric and demographic data of residents, store them in a centralised database, and issue a 12-digit unique identity number called Aadhar.
He further submitted that a December 2011 parliamentary standing committee on finance led by Yashwant Sinha had rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, terming the project as “unethical and violative of Parliament’s prerogatives.”

The petitioner submitted that in 2013, a PIL filed by a former army officer had led the Supreme Court to direct the Government of India to clear its stance on the Aadhar project and had directed the government to widely publicise in print and electronic media that Aadhar was not mandatory for any welfare scheme.
A five-judge Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had also reiterated on the point of “right to privacy” that Aadhar was a purely voluntary scheme and could not be made mandatory till the matter was finally decided by the court, the petitioner submitted.

 

He further stated that in 2016, when the J&K government issued an order to government employees, pensioners and beneficiaries of government schemes to get themselves compulsorily enrolled in Aadhar to be able to draw their entitlements, the court overturned the order. Subsequently, another government order was passed making Aadhar card necessary for biometric attendance but it was overturned again by the High Court in an order dated September 11, 2017, in which the court directed that biometric system can be installed in government offices but it should not be linked to Aadhar.

 

The petitioner submitted before the court that despite clear directions, officials had again issued an order directing employees to link their Aadhar cards with the biometric attendance system, thus being guilty of contempt of court.

https://kashmirreader.com/2018/08/11/hc-upset-with-govt-order-on-aadhar-link-with-biometric-attendance/

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Karnataka: 22 youths got arms training, finds Gauri Lankesh SIT #WTFnews

Among these 22 youths was the man who allegedly shot at and killed Lankesh at the door of her Bengaluru home on September 5, 2017, police sources said.

Karnataka, Karnataka Hindutva group, Gauri Lankesh SIT, Hindu radical groups, India News, Indian Express news

The Karnataka State Forensic Science Laboratory has concluded that both Gauri Lankesh and Kannada scholar Prof M M Kalburgi, 77, were killed with the same 7.65 mm countrymade pistol.Over the last few years, a covert rightwing Hindutva group put as many as 22 Karnataka youths through training in the use of firearms so they could carry out assassinations of intellectuals, the nearly yearlong probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the state police into the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh is learnt to have found.

Among these 22 youths was the man who allegedly shot at and killed Lankesh at the door of her Bengaluru home on September 5, 2017, police sources said.

Details of the training provided to the 22 youths — chosen from a larger group of nearly 60 individuals recruited to carry out subversive activities in Karnataka, including fanning communal hatred and triggering explosive devices — emerged after the arrests recently of four key persons involved with the recruitment and training process.

 

The four men arrested by the SIT are Amol Kale, 37, a former Pune convener of the Sanatan Sanstha-affiliated Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and the alleged operations chief for the covert Hindutva group in Karnataka; Sujeet Kumar, 38, a former HJS activist; Rajesh Bangera, 50, a government employee and Sanatan Sanstha sympathiser who allegedly trained the youths using his licensed weapons; and Bharat Kurne, 37, of a fringe Hindutva group from Maharashtra called the Shiv Pratishtan Hindustan, and on whose 3-acre farm near Khanapur the arms training was allegedly provided.

The covert Hindutva group had also established a parallel network in Maharashtra and Goa, which was its primary area of operations, investigations by the SIT have revealed, police sources in Karnataka said. The radical Hindu Sanatan Sanstha is based in Goa. The arrests in Maharashtra on Friday of three individuals, including two who were closely associated with the Sanatan Sanstha and HJS, for allegedly plotting bomb attacks, is a fallout of the SIT’s findings on the existence of an extremist outfit behind the facade of a religious group.

Three of the 12 persons arrested by the SIT so far in connection with Lankesh’s murder — the alleged shooter Parashuram Waghmare, 26, a former Sri Rama Sena activist; and Ganesh Miskin, 27, and Amit Baddi, 28, both from Hubbali, and with a history of involvement in communal violence, who are accused of direct involvement in the shooting — were trained in the use of firearms at a vegetable farm run by Kurne alias Tomatar, SIT sources said.

Over the past few days, the SIT has also called in several persons, including Sandesh Shetty, 30, and Yuvaraj Kanchinadaka, 32, both of whom are linked to the Hindu Jagaran Vedike in Karnataka’s Mangaluru region, for their suspected involvement in the arms training.

“These two persons (Shetty and Kanchinadaka) were questioned and let off. They were called in for questioning on their links to the arms trainer Rajesh Bangera,” SIT sources said.

Some youths from Vijayapura, too, have been questioned for alleged links to the arms training programme at the Khanapur farm. The SIT will question each of the persons found to have undergone the training, and will prepare dossiers on them for monitoring by security agencies, police sources said.

The recruitment tactics of the covert Hindutva group in Karnataka whose members have been arrested for the Gauri Lankesh murder — and a plot to murder the Kannada writer and critic K S Bhagwan — is outlined in statements given to police by Sujeet Kumar, the former HJS activist who acted as the main recruiter for the group along with Kale, who was the operations chief.

As per a statement attributed to Sujeet Kumar — attached with the chargesheet filed on his role in the alleged plot to kill Bhagwan — the covert Hindutva group operates under great secrecy, using fake identities and an elaborate mechanism for communications to prevent detection by law enforcement agencies.

“We used deception tactics, so that if anyone from the group is caught, they alone are implicated and the group is not discovered,” says a statement attributed to Sujeet Kumar.

The covert group identified candidates for subversive underground activities through meetings of groups like the HJS, Sri Rama Sena and other Hindutva outfits before Sujeet Kumar interviewed them to test their commitment to establishing a Hindu Rashtra in India.

The most hardcore recruits would then be introduced to Amol Kale and a missing suspect, Nihal alias Dada, who would decide whether the recruit could be useful to the outfit, and what activities of the covert group they could be deployed for — including the use of guns to kill, and subversive activities like communal riots and bomb blasts — the SIT has found.

Sixty persons were recruited by Sujeet Kumar for the covert group in Karnataka over the last five years, sources in the SIT said. The group was also allegedly involved in similar activities in states like Maharashtra under the guidance of local leaders, SIT sources said.

“Maintaining secrecy is a prime focus for our group. When we recruit any youth for our activities we never give him our mobile numbers. We speak to them only through public phones initially. Once we are sure that a youth is suited to be a part of our activities we provide him with a mobile phone to be used for exclusive communication with us and we designate a code name for the youth for the communications,” Sujeet Kumar is quoted as saying in his statement.

After arresting Sujeet Kumar in May this year, the SIT found a stash of 22 mobile phones in the kitchen of the house that he occupied in Udupi in coastal Karnataka. Twenty-one phones were found in the possession of Kale when he was arrested. “These phones were used only for one-to-one communication with recruits. The recruits also had phones meant only for communicating with their recruiters. These phones would not be used to communicate with anyone else,” SIT sources said.

Investigations in the Lankesh case have revealed that the group’s recruits attempted to disrupt the screening of the film Padmavaat and trigger communal tension in Belagavi last November. The SIT probe found in Kale’s possession a list of 34 people — mostly writers and rationalists — from around the country, who had been identified as possible targets for assassinations.

The Karnataka State Forensic Science Laboratory has concluded that both Gauri Lankesh and Kannada scholar Prof M M Kalburgi, 77, were killed with the same 7.65 mm countrymade pistol. Kalburgi was shot dead on August 30, 2015. Findings from the comparison of ballistic evidence from the Lankesh and Kalburgi cases also suggests that the 7.65 mm countrymade gun was also used in the shooting of the Leftist thinker Govind Pansare, 81, in Kolhapur in Maharashtra on February 16, 2015. The ballistic evidence also indicates that one of the two guns used in the Pansare murder was used to kill the rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, at Pune in Maharashtra on August 20, 2013

Karnataka: 22 youths got arms training, finds Gauri Lankesh SIT

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Edward Snowden expresses concern over Aadhaar system

Edward Snowden

 Edward Snowden during the video conference on Saturday.

From an undisclosed location, Edward Snowden came live amid gathering at media fest in Jaipur on Saturday. The US intelligence contractor turned whistleblower and freedom of press activist discussed on concern related to citizen monitoring programs of world governments, including Aadhaar of India.

“If the Aadhaar system has to work, there should be criminal penalties on agencies for disclosing personal details. There is seriously something wrong with this system,” said Snowden.

He has been crusading against the citizen monitoring activities of the US government and the same dangers are hunting him down. His session on “Being a Whistleblower” narrated more that he spoke. The organisers were unsure of his appearance till the last hour and when he did came online, it was just a white background from anonymous ‘safehouse’.

Despite the hardships, he seems to be in comfort with the situation. “I used to work for the government and now I work for the public,” he said. Snowden said that while the terrorists remain technologically updated, such government monitoring is often used for citizens. He had the audience deliberating on the public government relation. “When governments fear from the public, its liberty,” he said.

Unfortunately, it’s people who fear governments in most cases and thus there remains need for a more collective effort towards a better tomorrow. As for him, the trend of ‘world turning in Chinese market’ was a greater concern than being haunted by his own government.

http://www.dnaindia.com/jaipur/report-edward-snowden-expresses-concern-over-aadhar-system-2648718

 

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Modi Govt Ad Spend Could Feed 46 Million Children Mid-Day Meals For A Year #WTFnews

Shreya Raman,

Bhopal: A hoarding of `World Hindi Conference` in Bhopal on Sep 6, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

Vehicles pass by a government of India poster around the World Hindi Conference in September, 2015. In its first 52 months in power, the National Democratic Alliance government spent Rs 4880 crore on publicity.

 

Mumbai: Midday meals for 45.7 million children for a year. One day’s wages for 200 million workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS). About 6 million new latrines. And at least 10 more Mars missions.

 

These were some of the things that could have been financed with the money that the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government spent on publicity in the four years it has governed India.

 

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government spent Rs 4,880 crore ($753.99 million) on advertising its flagship schemes in the 52 months between April 2014 and July 2018, according to the information made available to the Rajya Sabha (Parliament’s upper house) by Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state (Independent Charge) for information and broadcasting.

 

This amount is double the sum spent by the government’s predecessor in 37 months: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government spent Rs 2,048 crore ($377.32 million) between March 2011 and March 2014, according to this 2014 response to a Right To Information (RTI) query filed by activist Anil Galgali.

 

Of the Rs 4,880 crore the NDA spent on publicity, Rs 292.17 crore (7.81%) went to advertising four public schemes in three years–Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) for crop insurance, Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission) for a nationwide cleanliness campaign, Smart City Mission and Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (Ideal Village Scheme for Members of Parliament) for urban and rural development.

 

 

When these figures came to light in July 2018, the government was criticised for not investing the money in public utilities.

 

Prashant Bhushan

@pbhushan1

~5K Crores spent by Modi govt on advertising! Most of the advertisements are just of Modi’s face. Apart from a colossal waste of public money which could have been used to build schools & hospitals etc, it gives a huge unfair advantage to party in power https://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-has-spent-rs-4-880-cr-in-ads-since-2014-15-rajyavardhan-rathore-in-rajya-sabha/story-ChDcKQlI5WYAOY8kfOub2M_amp.html?__twitter_impression=true 

Government has spent Rs 4,880 cr in ads since 2014-15: Rajyavardhan Rathore in Rajya Sabha

The central government has spent over Rs 4,880 crore in advertisements through electronic, print and other media since 2014-15

m.hindustantimes.com

 

Ajay Maken

@ajaymaken

‘Modi Govt Spent Rs4,880 cr on Ads Since 2014’

Shame-Govts use huge amounts of Public money for self-publicity

As a leverage to muzzle the opposition&influence the minds of the electorate through news media

Most subtle form of Unfair Electoral Practicehttps://www.news18.com/news/india/modi-govt-has-spent-rs-4880-crore-on-ads-since-2014-parliament-told-1828503.html 

Modi Govt Has Spent Rs 4,880 crore on Ads Since 2014, Parliament Told

The information was given by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore in a written reply.

news18.com

 

IndiaSpend calculations showed that the money spent by the NDA on publicity could have been used in critical government projects ranging from child nutrition to public health and sanitation.

 

 

There’s been a 34% rise in govt ad spend in four years

 

Government expenditure on advertisements rose 34% from Rs 980 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,314 crore ($203.89 million) in 2017-18.

 

In 2016-17, the government cut down on print advertisements and channeled money into audio-visual publicity instead. But in 2017-18, it did the reverse–it spent more on print ads than audio-visual campaigns.

 

The 2017-18 trend seemed to have continued into this financial year too. The government’s bookings in the four months to July 2018 show that it has spent double the money on print advertising over audio-visual publicity.

 

(Shreya Raman is a data analyst with IndiaSpend.)

http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/govt-ad-spend-could-feed-46-million-children-mid-day-meals-for-a-year-65262

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World acclaimed Marxist Economist Samir Amir Dies at 86 #RIP

Egyptian French Marxist thinker Samir Amin, was one of the most prominent economists in the world

Mohammed Saad , Sunday 12 Aug 2018
Amin

Marxist thinker Samir Amin (Photo: AO)

World acclaimed Egyptian econimist and thinker, Samir Amin, has died on Sunday in Paris. He was 86.

Amir was hospitalized on July 21 and went back home on Saturday, but he passed away the following day.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, the prominent thinker died Sunday afternoon in France after serious complications following a brain tumor, reported his colleague Cherif Salif SY on social media.

 

“A very shocking news of passing away of Samir Amin after a brief period of memory loss to brain tumor and suffering,” said the fellow economist on Linkedin. “The world has lost a towering thinker and activist, a humble comrade and friend. Rest in Power and Peace, dear Comrade Samir,” he added, sending his condolences to Amir’s family and “comrades of Third World Forum.”

He published almost 30 books about capitalism and Marxism, his most important works being Accumulation on a World Scale: A Critique of the Theory of Underdevelopment, A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism: Modernity, Religion, and Democracy, and Capitalism in the Age of Globalization, among others.

Amin was born in Egypt in 1931 to an Egyptian father and French mother and spent his youth in Port Said. After studying in Egypt, he continued his diploma in political science in Paris in 1952, before getting a degree in statistics and then a doctorate in economics.

He worked first in Cairo at the Institute for Economic Management from 1957 to 1960 then moved between countries until becoming director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 1980.

He authored many books including The Liberal Virus 2003, A life Looking Forward 2006, Accumulation on a World Scale 1970 and Capitalism in the age of globalization 1997.

In an interview with Ahram Online in 2012 Samir Amin said that he believes that “this neo-liberal phase is in state of collapse. It doesn’t mean that capitalism is collapsing; but that its current form is collapsing and we’re entering a new phase. It has to adapt, and whether the new system will be biased to the ruling class or the masses, is still be revealed.”

He also said that “We should not just look at the Muslim Brotherhood as a political Islamist power but as a backward movement that rejects workers movements and social justice, preferring to talk about charity as a form to ensure their control over the people.  The Islamists accept the policies of dependency under the guise of open market and private ownership rights; they openly accepted the American role in the region and the USA support for Israel, including the Camp David agreements.”

Partial awareness emerges from particular struggles, for example, from the struggles of peasants or women for the defense of human commons or the struggle for respect of popular sovereignty. The progress of the convergence of these particular types of awareness would make it possible to advance towards the formulation of new ways to surpass capitalism. But note…increased awareness will not happen through successive adaptations to the requirements of capitalist accumulation, but through awareness of the necessity of breaking with those requirements. The most enlightened segments of the movement should not isolate themselves by brandishing their disdain for others. Rather, they should involve themselves in all struggles in order to help the others to advance their understanding.

—Samir Amin, “Reading Capital, Reading Historical Capitalisms,”
Monthly Review, July-August 2016, p. 148

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/18/309519/Books/World-acclaimed-Marxist-thinker-Samir-Amin-dies.aspx

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Reductionism in the digital universe #BookReview

Title:New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the FutureAuthor:James Bridle

Title:New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the FutureAuthor:James BridlePublisher:VersoPrice:$26.95

James Bridle on how complex technology darkens our life and culture, and the urgent need to shed digital fatalism

In 2016, when Nintendo’s Pokemon GO created a frenzy across the world, fans of the augmented reality (AR) game were up for a surprise in Russia. While playing the game — which basically means tracking down hidden Pokemons in real time and in real locations using AR technology on their smartphones — near Kremlin, many users found some functonality glitches on their devices,The Moscow Times reported. They found their GPS function compromised.

For starters, Pokemon GO uses Global Positioning System (GPS) to direct users to various locations where the funny comic characters would appear. Near Kremlin, many users found a mismatch between where the Pokemons appeared and the location marked on their devices. Technically, such a thing should not happen because GPS signals could not be tampered with. Or that was they, like many of us, had thought until then. And they were wrong.

Cyber security experts say what the gamers experienced in Kremlin was a process called GPS spoofing, giving enough evidence that Russian agencies were tampering with GPS by faking the signals. So, anyone would want to find a way to Kremlin using GPS would be virtually ‘relocated’ to Vnukovo Airport, which was 32 km away from the city centre. Many experts think this was done for defence purposes, to redirect incoming weapons targeting Kremlin using GPS. Instances such as GPS spoofing, where an advanced technology people believe is foolproof can be doctored and faked, reveal the “blind spots, structural dangers and engineered weaknesses” of computation in contemporary life, warns James Bridle in New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, a brilliant, unparalleled work on the perils of modern technologies and how they obfuscate social realities.

A complex web

Bridle believes technology has made human life extremely complex today by creating layers and layers of processes and systems where humans are condemned to cohabit machine intelligence in ways they cannot comprehend.

As a result, we don’t necessarily realise where we need technology’s assistance and where we don’t. Even that ability is controlled by the systems and processes of technologies we use. “Our social lives are mediated through connectivity and algorithmic revision,” writes Bridle. He explains how the entire world “becomes a code/space” as smartphones becomes powerful personal computers and computation disappears into every device around us, from fridges to cars to fitness bands.

What happens then? This “ubiquity underscores our failure to understand” how computation impacts the “very ways in we think”. Bridle gives the example Wikipedia, which is a beacon among open internet projects. Currently, Wikipedia relies on an army of software agents – bots – to enforce and maintain correct formatting, build connections between articles, and moderate conflicts and incidences of vandalism. At the last survey, bots counted for 17 of the top 20 most prolific editors and collectively make about 16 per cent of all edits to Wikipedia. That’s a “concrete and measurable contribution to knowledge production by code itself,” notes Bridle.

What exactly is the danger here? Clearly, algorithms, which bear within themselves all the ugly biases and prejudices of their creators, are slowly and gradually interfering in our cultural spaces by contributing faster and in many cases better.

At the outset, there may not be a problem and we are free to think such technologies (bots here) are just augmenting our lives. Bridle disagrees: “Computation does not merely augment, frame, and shape culture; by operating beneath our everyday, casual awareness of it, it actually becomes culture.” In a way, software gibberish replaces healthy sociocultural discourses. This can have ramifications in spheres such as public policy, art, journalism, healthcare, sports, welfare distribution and such.

Why do such things happen? This happens largely because of a purely functional understanding of technology. Bridle explains, enchantingly, the dangerous fallout of it, which he calls “computational thinking”, which is the belief that any problem can be solved by the application of computation. “Whatever the practical or social problem we face, there is an app for it,” Bridle mocks. This is some kind of a “solutionism”, which essentially means technology can find a fix to problems. As Evgeny Morozov explains in his witty, insightful 2013 work To Save Everything Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, this approach is inherently faulty because it underestimates and masks that fact that our imperfections make us human.

Bridle agrees. He says computational thinking forces its apostles (businessmen, policymakers and such) to think that it is impossible to think or articulate the world in terms that are not computable. Soon, the thought reverses in an obscene fashion.

They think that to be solved, all problems should be computable. That which is not computable or not digitally mappable or measurable or code-able is runs the risk of losing a solution or even falling out of the radar of governance, business and culture.

Digital fatalism

Bridle warns that computational thinking is predominant in the world today, driving the worst trends in our societies and interactions, and must be opposed by a “real systemic literacy”. Technology cannot be left to the whims and fancies of those who keep it complex. It should be democratised. Systemic literacy is the thinking that deals with a world that is not computable, Bridle explains, while admitting that it is “irrevocably shaped and informed by computation”.

But that’s not an easy job, in a world where data companies control pretty much everything an individual does and force their users to ignore their fallibilities and become what this reviewer would call digital fatalists, where they become extremely submissive before their digital service providers and accept their propaganda and conclude that everything that happens is inevitable (in a way predetermined by a Super Code) and we have to reprogramme our lives to get them in synch with the digital realities.

This is not some soft-coded paranoia. This is a reality we face every day. When governments ask us to have digitally traceable (and controllable) unique identities and then make such computable citizenship or identity documents mandatory for availing services that do not necessarily require such strict screening by any measure, and when we succumb to such demands without a whimper. We even praise such efforts without really understanding the complexity of such systems or their hidden abilities to be manipulated, we become submissive subjects of computational thinking.

Bridle asks us to stand up and say our existence is be understandable only through computation. We are more than the data we are. Technologies need to be audited (Morozov has argued for algorithmic auditors) and updated to reflect human values such as justice, ethics and inclusiveness. Equally important is to know that systems are fallible and in a world where even the GPS can be faked and choreographed, overreliance on technologies can be dangerous.

Bridle’s work is a great handbook for those who want to probe more on this. He speaks with the calmness of a prophet and the alertness and passion of an evangelist.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/article24674348.ece

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India – Hindu Rashtra is Here

 

Union Minister Jayant Sinha felicitating one of the convicts who have been awarded death penalty by a fast-track court after he got bail in the Ramgarh lynching case. — File photo

The Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

Christophe Jaffrelot

THE media often presents cow-related lynching cases as spontaneous reactions of the mob. Certainly, some ordinary people take part in them. But the perpetrators’ ideological orientation could be surmised from the fact that they often make their victims raise slogans such as “Gau mata ki jai (Hail the cow-mother)” or “Jai Hanuman (Hail Hanuman)”.

That the choice of victims for assault had less to do with cow protection than with underlying hostility toward Muslims is clear in the way Hindu cow-breeders and transporters have been spared during attacks — Pehlu Khan’s truck driver got away with a mere slap, whereas the others, all Muslims, were beaten (one of them to death). More importantly, most of the lynchings reported between 2015 and 2018 were perpetrated by vigilante militias or the result of the atmosphere they created, often using social media.

The most visible Hindu nationalist organisation in this domain, the Gau Raksha Dal (GRD), has chapters in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi and Haryana. In Haryana, one of the movement’s strongholds, the GRD emblem is a cow’s head flanked by two AK47s. Elsewhere, daggers replace firearms on the movement’s coat of arms. In practice, its members use cruder instruments like cricket bats, hockey sticks, lathis and so on.

In Haryana, the GRD and police have arrived at a division of labour. The president of the Haryana GRD, Yogendra Arya, told Ishan Marvel, the author of a remarkable piece of investigative journalism (‘In the name of the mother’, The Caravan, September 2016): “We have a huge network of volunteers and informants. […] As soon as someone sees something fishy, they call us up, and we then inform the volunteers of the relevant district, and the local police, who then set up joint nakas — checkpoints — to catch the smugglers. […] Police can’t do what we do, they have to follow the laws. They don’t have the resources and network we have.” The GRD thus acts as a community cultural police, with members closely monitoring the deeds of those who deserve not only to be reported, but also punished.

In Haryana, the convergence of two types of policing — official and unofficial — has reportedly been strengthened by the creation of a “cow task force” within the state police. An IPS officer heads this network, which has specialised officers in each district. These officials allegedly work with the GRD: In some respects, the state subcontracts policing tasks to non-state actors, turning them into a para-state force.

The other Indian state that criminalised beef consumption by law in 2015, Maharashtra, has taken similar steps. The state government appoints Honorary Animal Welfare Officers to implement this new law — former gau rakshaks have been hired for these jobs.

In Haryana, the osmosis between vigilante groups and the state goes well beyond this. Yogendra Arya, the national vice-president of the GRD, sat on the board of the Gau Seva Ayog, a Haryana government institution devoted to cow welfare, along with 10 others, who like him are longstanding members of the Sangh Parivar. The lack of distinction between non-state actors and government authorities has probably never been so great.

These developments have triggered a new dynamics of state formation, as defined by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale. In their study The Unhappy Valley, Berman and Lonsdale distinguish the formation of the state as a social institution and state-building as an administrative process. Reasoning solely in terms of state-building tends to reduce authority only to official agents and their actions. Berman and Lonsdale take into account private actors who work their way into the process of state formation through the “vulgarisation of power”, which involves commandeering public authority to further private ends. This approach has obvious heuristic advantages for the analysis of Hindu vigilante groups and their relationship to the state.

Collusion between police and Hindu nationalist movements is indeed evidence of the start of a transition from a state-building process, in which the administrative and coercive apparatus is supposed to treat all citizens equally, to a state-formation process wherein majoritarian non-state actors impose a social and cultural order.

What adds a layer of complexity to Berman and Lonsdale’s model is that in India, these non-state actors enjoy state protection. Though the authority they exercise is illegal, it is nevertheless seen as legitimate by the state in that it is inspired by the values and interests of the dominant community to which the government is accountable. In that sense, the Sangh Parivar is more of India’s deep state than a parallel government, all the more so as the BJP is part of the Parivar.

This shift from a neutral state to an ideological Hindu Rashtra illustrates a form of violent majoritarianism that can be observed in all countries where vigilantes bring minorities to heel with the more or less tacit agreement of shadow forces that share their biases or ideology (the relationship between white supremacists’ militias and the police in the US could provide other examples).

In addition to the Sangh Parivar’s influence at the grass roots and within the state apparatus, another variable needs to be factored in, as evident from the way a police officer recently bowed to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Guru Purnima. In that case, the authority of the saffron-clad chief minister was not only due to its temporal power but also because of his spiritual authority, a status no political leader has had in India. That is conducive to still another type of state, theocracy.

Not only has the prime minister abstained from condemning lynchings, some legislators and ministers have extended their blessings to the lynchers. Only a few of the lynchers have been convicted so far. Whenever lynchers have been arrested, the local judiciary has released them on bail. If the executive, legislature or judiciary do not effectively oppose lynchings, India may remain a rule-of-law country only on paper and, in practice, a de facto ethno-state.

The Hindu Rashtra label, in fact, perfectly describes the process at stake: It refers as much to a people united by blood ties, culture and social community codes, and a political framework. It is at once a society, civilisation, nation and state. In this way, the Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

c.indianexpress.com

Hindu Rashtra is Here

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Union Minister Jayant Sinha felicitating one of the convicts who have been awarded death penalty by a fast-track court after he got bail in the Ramgarh lynching case. — File photo

The Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

Christophe Jaffrelot

THE media often presents cow-related lynching cases as spontaneous reactions of the mob. Certainly, some ordinary people take part in them. But the perpetrators’ ideological orientation could be surmised from the fact that they often make their victims raise slogans such as “Gau mata ki jai (Hail the cow-mother)” or “Jai Hanuman (Hail Hanuman)”.

That the choice of victims for assault had less to do with cow protection than with underlying hostility toward Muslims is clear in the way Hindu cow-breeders and transporters have been spared during attacks — Pehlu Khan’s truck driver got away with a mere slap, whereas the others, all Muslims, were beaten (one of them to death). More importantly, most of the lynchings reported between 2015 and 2018 were perpetrated by vigilante militias or the result of the atmosphere they created, often using social media.

The most visible Hindu nationalist organisation in this domain, the Gau Raksha Dal (GRD), has chapters in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi and Haryana. In Haryana, one of the movement’s strongholds, the GRD emblem is a cow’s head flanked by two AK47s. Elsewhere, daggers replace firearms on the movement’s coat of arms. In practice, its members use cruder instruments like cricket bats, hockey sticks, lathis and so on.

In Haryana, the GRD and police have arrived at a division of labour. The president of the Haryana GRD, Yogendra Arya, told Ishan Marvel, the author of a remarkable piece of investigative journalism (‘In the name of the mother’, The Caravan, September 2016): “We have a huge network of volunteers and informants. […] As soon as someone sees something fishy, they call us up, and we then inform the volunteers of the relevant district, and the local police, who then set up joint nakas — checkpoints — to catch the smugglers. […] Police can’t do what we do, they have to follow the laws. They don’t have the resources and network we have.” The GRD thus acts as a community cultural police, with members closely monitoring the deeds of those who deserve not only to be reported, but also punished.

In Haryana, the convergence of two types of policing — official and unofficial — has reportedly been strengthened by the creation of a “cow task force” within the state police. An IPS officer heads this network, which has specialised officers in each district. These officials allegedly work with the GRD: In some respects, the state subcontracts policing tasks to non-state actors, turning them into a para-state force.

The other Indian state that criminalised beef consumption by law in 2015, Maharashtra, has taken similar steps. The state government appoints Honorary Animal Welfare Officers to implement this new law — former gau rakshaks have been hired for these jobs.

In Haryana, the osmosis between vigilante groups and the state goes well beyond this. Yogendra Arya, the national vice-president of the GRD, sat on the board of the Gau Seva Ayog, a Haryana government institution devoted to cow welfare, along with 10 others, who like him are longstanding members of the Sangh Parivar. The lack of distinction between non-state actors and government authorities has probably never been so great.

These developments have triggered a new dynamics of state formation, as defined by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale. In their study The Unhappy Valley, Berman and Lonsdale distinguish the formation of the state as a social institution and state-building as an administrative process. Reasoning solely in terms of state-building tends to reduce authority only to official agents and their actions. Berman and Lonsdale take into account private actors who work their way into the process of state formation through the “vulgarisation of power”, which involves commandeering public authority to further private ends. This approach has obvious heuristic advantages for the analysis of Hindu vigilante groups and their relationship to the state.

Collusion between police and Hindu nationalist movements is indeed evidence of the start of a transition from a state-building process, in which the administrative and coercive apparatus is supposed to treat all citizens equally, to a state-formation process wherein majoritarian non-state actors impose a social and cultural order.

What adds a layer of complexity to Berman and Lonsdale’s model is that in India, these non-state actors enjoy state protection. Though the authority they exercise is illegal, it is nevertheless seen as legitimate by the state in that it is inspired by the values and interests of the dominant community to which the government is accountable. In that sense, the Sangh Parivar is more of India’s deep state than a parallel government, all the more so as the BJP is part of the Parivar.

This shift from a neutral state to an ideological Hindu Rashtra illustrates a form of violent majoritarianism that can be observed in all countries where vigilantes bring minorities to heel with the more or less tacit agreement of shadow forces that share their biases or ideology (the relationship between white supremacists’ militias and the police in the US could provide other examples).

In addition to the Sangh Parivar’s influence at the grass roots and within the state apparatus, another variable needs to be factored in, as evident from the way a police officer recently bowed to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Guru Purnima. In that case, the authority of the saffron-clad chief minister was not only due to its temporal power but also because of his spiritual authority, a status no political leader has had in India. That is conducive to still another type of state, theocracy.

Not only has the prime minister abstained from condemning lynchings, some legislators and ministers have extended their blessings to the lynchers. Only a few of the lynchers have been convicted so far. Whenever lynchers have been arrested, the local judiciary has released them on bail. If the executive, legislature or judiciary do not effectively oppose lynchings, India may remain a rule-of-law country only on paper and, in practice, a de facto ethno-state.

The Hindu Rashtra label, in fact, perfectly describes the process at stake: It refers as much to a people united by blood ties, culture and social community codes, and a political framework. It is at once a society, civilisation, nation and state. In this way, the Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

c.indianexpress.com

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Open Letter to Home Minister- Stop Using 1984 as Your Counter to Every Incident of Lynching’

Sanam Sutirath Wazir

BJP led NDA Government had started putting the correct markers to win the trust of the Sikhs on the eve of the 2014 general elections. The party made a commitment that if voted to power, it will deliver justice to the victims of 1984.

On November 1, 2014, that is, on the 30th commemoration of the counter Sikh savagery, Narendra Modi had said: “a country that forgets its history can’t make history…That incident (anti-Sikh violence) was not a wound in the heart of any community. It was a dagger in the centuries-old fabric of India’s unity…our own people were murdered.”

Thereafter, on December 26, 2014, you characterized 1984 slaughters as a “Genocide.” While distributing cheques to the victims you said you choose this day because it’s the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s mother Mata Gujar Kaur and their sons, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh. You also said until the guilty are punished, the victims will not get relief. You assured victims and survivors that government is with them and will be with them in even bad days.

You said that the biggest incident of mob lynching happened in 1984. That is correct. But what have you done differently than the previous governments? Enhancing compensation is no justice.

On August 11, 2018, while speaking to the news agency Prime Minister highlighted his government’s promptness in bringing justice for the victims of violent crimes. He said his government will implement rule of law in true letter and spirit. But four years have passed and yet the inquiry is nowhere close to completion.

The impunity for the 1984 Sikh massacre has been used to downplay other incidents of mass violence. As long as the perpetrators of the carnage in 1984 go unpunished, the rule of law remains weakened in India.

The 1984 Sikh massacre is only used as political football by the BJP, and its evident from its regular comparison with the present mob lynching menace. Do two wrongs make one right?

Congress has failed the victims of the 1984 Sikh massacre, you have the opportunity to correct the wrong but it seems like you too are not interested.

Perhaps you are scared, if you will deliver justice to the victims of 1984 then it will send the wrong message to the administration which helped the state in slaughtering its own citizens. Or is it something to do with Gujrat 2002?

You appointed the SIT which was initially mandated for six months but they took nearly two and a half years and did nothing. Thereafter, the Supreme Court ordered another SIT that would comprise of a Chairman and two other members. However, nearly six months later, the third member of the SIT is yet to be appointed.

For too long, governments have only paid lip service to the victims and survivors of the 1984 massacre. No words can erase the pain and suffering these people have experienced. The only way forward is justice. But unless the issue is prioritized through speedy investigation it will be impossible for the victims to get justice. The first generation of the victims are now in their sixties. In another decade they might not be around or not be able-bodied to pursue long winding legal battles.

For once, let politics over the massacres of 1984 take a back seat and let the evidence speak for itself. 35-years may be a long time to wait but it can turn out to be a historic opportunity for the BJP government to deliver justice while the victims are still alive.

It is time for India to learn how to ensure that brutalities of 1984 do not remain a festering sore.

Sanam Sutirath Wazir is a Human Rights Activist from Kashmir.

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