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Toronto’s Consul General of India Keynotes Hindu Nationalist Event

Toronto’s Consul General of India Keynotes Hindu Nationalist Event


“Dinesh Bhatia’s presence at an RSS event inspires fear,” say Indian minorities

ONTARIO, Canada: Oct. 31, 2018 — Some minorities of Indian origin are asking for Dinesh Bhatia, the Consul General of India’s Toronto consulate, to resign after he appeared as the keynote speaker at an Oct. 19 event which was hosted by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the international wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the world’s largest paramilitary.

“Thousands of Indians fled religious and ethnic persecution in India to find refuge in Canada,” says Ram Mohan, an activist with Canadian Minorities of India (CMI). “Many refugees, including Christians, Dalits, Muslims, and Sikhs have endured persecution at the hands of the RSS. The moment Consul General Bhatia spoke on a stage featuring photographs of RSS leaders, he discarded his diplomatic credentials. Bhatia’s presence at an RSS event inspires fear in the hearts of many Canadians from Indian minority communities. He must resign.”

Bhatia was joined at the event by Ved Nanda, Sanghchalak (Leader) of HSS North America, and Saumitra Gokhale, International Coordinator of HSS. Garlanded photos on the stage included K.B. Hedgewar and M.S. Golwalkar. Hedgewar, who founded the RSS in 1925, said his intention was “to put in reality the words ‘Hindustan of Hindus.’” He stated, “Hindustan is a country of Hindus. Like other nations of other people (eg. Germany of Germans), this is a nation of Hindu people.” Golwalkar, who was the RSS’s longest-serving leader, stated, “We repeat: in Hindustan, the land of the Hindus, lives and should live the Hindu Nation.”

“The RSS calls Indian Christians ‘foreigners’ and murders them,” says Bill Rogers, a U.S.-based observer of international Christian persecution. “One horrible example is the 2008 Odisha Pogrom, where the government of Odisha is on record saying that it was the RSS and its affiliates who massacred dozens of Christians and made so many tens of thousands refugees in their own country. A diplomat who claims to represent a secular country has no business going anywhere near an RSS event.”

The RSS is the parent of a family of organizations known as the Sangh Parivar. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, “Sangh Parivar entities aggressively press for governmental policies to promote their Hindu nationalist agenda, and adhere in varying degrees to an ideology of Hindutva, which holds non-Hindus as foreign to India.” In June 2018, the CIA labeled the RSS as a nationalist organization and its affiliate, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), as a religious militant organization.

“The RSS, VHP, and HSS are supremacist groups which spread hatred against non-Hindu Indians,” explains Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs. “The RSS and VHP are implicated in pogroms against Indian minorities, assassinations of journalists, and terrorist acts. They share ideological affinity with white nationalists. White nationalists want a whites-only nation while the RSS wants a Hindus-only nation. Both are anti-Semitic. Both glorify Aryanism. Both lynch minorities. Horrifying events like the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh are regularly replicated in India by Hindu nationalists who invade churches, mosques, and gurdwaras.”

Friedrich notes, “The goals of the RSS are very clearly indicated in the writings of Golwalkar and of Savarkar — the originator of the term Hindutva. Both suggested that Indian minorities should be treated the same way as Nazi Germany treated the Jews.” He identifies a selection of quotes from both figures taken from the 1920s to 1960s.

“We are Indians because we are Hindus and vice versa,” wrote Savarkar. He said that, “India must be a Hindu land, reserved for the Hindus.” Asserting that “so far as the Moslem minority is concerned… we must watch it in all its actions with the greatest distrust possible,” he concluded, “If we Hindus in India grow stronger, in time these Muslims… will have to play the part of German-Jews.”

“Conversion of Hindus into other religions is nothing but making them succumb to divided loyalty in place of having undivided and absolute loyalty to the nation,” wrote Golwalkar. He demanded, “Muslims and Christians here should give up their present foreign mental complexion and merge in the common stream of our national life.” Claiming that “the first Semitic religion was Judaism — an intolerant faith,” Golwalkar declared,

“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Bhatia courted controversy earlier this year when his office protested the presence of a Punjab pavilion at the July 2018 Carabram multicultural festival in Brampton, Ontario.

According to Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, consular officials threatened to “go to the highest office in the country and cancel this festival.” Their objection was that the Sikh community wanted to host a Punjab pavilion apart from the India pavilion. “This type of unwarranted interference by Indian officials in a local cultural festival in Brampton was shocking,” said Jeffrey. The office of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland stated, “Interference in domestic affairs by foreign representatives in Canada is inappropriate.”

Meanwhile, RSS Sarsanghchalak (Supreme Leader) Mohan Bhagwat and HSS Sanghchalak Ved Nanda have both sparked protests in the U.S. over the past year.

In September 2018, Bhagwat faced relentless resistance when he keynoted the VHP-organized World Hindu Congress (WHC) in Chicago. African-Americans, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, and Sikhs united in two days of street protests. Several U.S. politicians who were scheduled to attend dropped out, some issuing statements.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to U.S. Congress, was confirmed to chair the WHC but dropped out after protests against her sharing the stage with Bhagwat. She stated, “Due to ethical concerns and problems that surround my participating in any partisan Indian political event in America, effective immediately, I respectfully withdraw myself.” Ram Villivalam, a nominee for Illinois State Senate, was scheduled to appear but also dropped out. Citing the presence of “nationalist individuals and organizations affiliated with WHC 2018,” he stated, “Therefore, I cannot participate in this convening…. I do not support any group and/or an event arranged or led by organizations that intimidate minorities, incite discrimination and violence, commit acts of terror based on race or ethnic background, promote hate speech, and/or believe in faith based nationalism.”

In November 2017, Nanda stirred controversy in California when the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, an organization he chairs, sponsored demands to revise school curriculum. A broad spectrum of Indian minority groups — including Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and Ravidassias — protested proposed revisions which included removal of the word “Dalit,” insertion of language claiming that the caste system created “social stability,” insertion of language suggesting that Dalits (formerly known as Untouchables) chose to do “dirty work” which made them untouchable, insertion of references to the mythical Saraswati River as a geographical reality, removal of references to Sikh Guru Nanak’s opposition to Brahmanism (the philosophy holding the highest caste, Brahmans, as superior) and the caste system, and labeling of U.S. Congressman Dalip Singh Saund as an Indian instead of a Sikh.

“Nanda directly modeled his efforts to revise American curriculum after efforts by Bhagwat and his predecessors to rewrite Indian curriculum according to the whims of Hindu nationalists,” notes Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “We have seen solidarity among diverse communities protesting the California curriculum changes as well as the WHC in Chicago. Indians in Canada, including freedom-loving Hindus, should also unite, speak out, expose, reject, and eject Consul General Dinesh Bhatia’s affiliation with the agenda of militant religious nationalism.”

Toronto’s Consul General of India Keynotes Hindu Nationalist Event

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From Allahabad to Prayagraj: What’s in the name?

 Adityanath Yogi as Commissar

Ram Puniyani

Adityanath Yogi, Chief Minister of UP seems to be on the name changing spree. In his latest move he has changed the name of famous city of UP, Allahabad to Prayagraj. Prayag is the meeting point of rivers and since this city is the meeting point of Ganga, Yamuna and probably of invisible Sarswati, this name might have been chosen by him in his attempts to remove the Islamic touch to the names of our cities. As such many a versions of the origin of the name of this city are circulating. One such says that it was Ila-vas. Ila being the mother of mythological Pururva. Another such says it was in the name of Alha of Alha-Udal (part of popular folk lore) fame. More concrete records tell us that Akbar had named it Illaha-bad or Illahi-bas. Illaha is a generic term of Gods. He regarded this city as holy city of Hindus and Illah-bas in Persian means ‘abode of Gods’. This is clear from the records and from the coins of that time and reflects the inclusive spirit of Akbar. Earlier Yogi had made many changes in the names like that of Mughal sarai to Pundit Deendayal Upadhayay Junction, Agra airport in the same leader, Urdu Bazar to Hindi Bazar, Ali Nagar to Arya nagar etc. He regards all Muslim sounding names as being alien.

In an interview Yogi said he has to change many more names. On his agenda is to change the name Taj Mahal to Ram Mahal, Azamgarhg to Aryamgarh and to cap it all as per him the name India in our constitution should be changed to Hindustan. As per him these places were renamed after invasion of Muslim kings, so there is a need to re-change them. In UP Mayawati had already begun this name changing game which was to some extent reversed by his successor Akhilesh Yadav. Now in a more persistent way Yogi is identifying the Muslim sounding names and changing them one by one.

Adityanath Yogi is the Mahant of famous Gorakhnath Math. His predecessor of Math was in also politics, and Yogi has been a major player on the political chess board in UP. He comes from the Hindu Mahasabha stream of politics. His dominance has been very visible as his slogan, UP mein rahna hay to Yogi Yogi Kahna hoga (If you want to stay in UP, you have to Chant Yogi-Yogi) had been prevalent in parts of UP. His Hindu Yuva Vahaini has been in the news off and on; not for right reasons. He belongs to the group of large number of Holy men, Sakski Maharaj, Sadhvi Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Nirnajan Jyoti etc. who have been part of Hindu nationalist agenda. As such Holy men are supposed to have renounced the World to focus on spiritual pursuits, but this lot seems to be more active in Worldly pursuits.

The phenomenon of these holy men-women being in politics seems to be there in many post-colonial states. In these countries there has been absence of radical land reforms and there is persistence of hold of landlord-clergy which seems to be the reason for the God people to be in political arena. In these places God men and women has been part of the politics, which opposes the democratic values as being Western or alien, being against the spirit of ‘our’ land. They in a way harp on the pre Industrial values of birth based hierarchies. Surveying these countries one can see the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, succeeded by many Ayatollahs. In Pakistan the Mullahs have been working closely with the military and landlord elements to undermine the democratic possibilities in society. In Pakistan the most prominent name which emerged was that of Maulana Maududi, who worked closely with Zia Ul Haq in Islamization of Pakistan. In neighboring Mynamar, the monks like Ashin Wirathu, also called ‘Burma’s bin laden’, are part of the politics to oppose the democratic society, to target the religious minorities there.

Back to India we have seen the crop of these Holy men, dominating the political scene in various ways. Most of these Godmen-women have been part of Hindu nationalist movement and are very vicious as far as hate speech is concerned. One recalls that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti had used the word haram Jade, Sakshi Maharaj was booked for blaming Muslims for population growth. Yogi himself has many cases pending against as far as hate speech is concerned. The worst of these was when he advised the rape of dead Muslim women.

Yogi has intensified the communal agenda to no end. UP state is organizing Hindu religious festivals. One recalls that the on occasion of Divali, the Helicopter carrying Lord Ram and Sita landed and the Gods were received by Yogi. UP State also organized the lighting of lamps in big numbers. Recently he had again been in news for the declaration that state Government will spend 5000 crores for the Kumbh mela. All this is taking place at a time when the state is suffering sever crunch in regards to health care and other infrastructure related issues. Young children, infants have died in hospital for lack of facilities; times and over again. The cities where name change has been brought about languishes with bad infrastrures and state constantly lags behind in Human growth indices, what to talk of the abysmal condition of human rights in the state. The condition of minorities is worsening as state sponsored moves to trample on their livelihood in the form of closing many the meat shops, which was done right at the beginning of his rule in UP, among other steps which is order of the day.

Yogi also bluntly stated that secularism is a big lie. His actions are showing as to how he is forcing the march of the state in the direction of Hindu nation, without any qualms for secular values as enshrined in our Constitution!

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I Fear Lynching More Than Triple Talaq: Journalist Arfa Khanum


NEW DELHI — Renowned journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani has asked if the government will act against lynching because she fears it more than Triple Talaq. The central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi passed an ordinance on Wednesday making Triple Talaq a criminal punishable offence. Arfa and many others have opposed the government move.

Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted: “The triple talaq debate being wrongly (or deliberately) pushed as Hindu vs Muslim; should be liberal voices Vs conservative; gender justice vs male supremacy. The bill may have flaws, can be amended, but principle of a woman being denied constitutional rights is unacceptable IMHO.”

To this tweet, Arfa, Senior Editor, The Wire, commented: “Supporting this utterly hypocritical govt on Triple Talaq shows what exactly is wrong with ‘Hindu liberals’ in India today. SC declared it unconstitutional. Means TT is ineffective even when the man pronounces it. Then why jail term? Why do you want to send more Muslim men to jail?”

On Arfa’s comment opposing the ordinance, Krishna Khandelwal replied to her: “Aap to khud bhi TT ke kkhauf meiN jeeti aayi hoNgi to phir ab khushi manaiye.” (You must have been living in fear of Triple Talaq, so you should now celebrate (the ordinance).

In response, former anchor with NDTV and Rajya Sabha TV, Arfa just dropped this bomb: “Nahi. Main Triple Talaq se zyada lynching ke khauf mein jeeti hoon. (No, I live in fear of lynching more than Triple Talaq). Should I expect the govt to do something about it? Of course not ! Because it does not ‘appease’ their Hindutva vote bank.”

Arfa Khanum Sherwani@khanumarfa

Nahi. Main Triple Talaq se zyada lynching ke khauf mein jeeti hoon.
Should I expect the govt to do something about it ? Of course not ! Because it does not ‘appease’ their Hindutva vote bank.

Krishna Khandelwal@krsnakhandelwal
Replying to @khanumarfa

Aap to khud bhi TT ke kkhauf meiN jeeti aayi hoNgi to phir ab khushi manaiye.

Triple Talaq has been a pet issue of PM Modi as he has been talking about it from various platforms, including at least twice in his Independence Day speeches from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

Besides, he has been raising the issue at election rallies also. With the Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections in four BJP-ruled states around the corner, the BJP government is said to have brought the ordinance to make brownie points over Congress on one hand and communally polarize the electorate on the other. Congress and other Opposition parties had blocked the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Countering the BJP’s ‘sympathy for Muslim sisters’, the minority community leaders have often questioned its silence over lynching of poor Muslims by politically-backed cow vigilantes, making dozens of Muslim women widows. Most of the incidents of lynching have happened in BJP-ruled states including Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Rather than ensuring justice to the victims, several BJP leaders and even ministers were seen coming out in support of the lynching accused. Consequently, the police in those states have almost failed to ensure conviction in any case of lynching.

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Aligarh Encounter- Rights group writes to UP DGP, asks 11 questions


Shabana, mother of 22-year-old Mustakeem who was killed by police in ‘encounter’ in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh on 20 September 2018. (Photo credit- Gajendra Yadav-The Indian Express)

Caravan News

LUCKNOW — Eminent human rights group Rihai Manch has demanded a high-level probe into the 20th September police ‘encounter’ in which two alleged criminals were shot dead on the camera of ‘invited’ media in Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh. Citing the videos of the shootout and the x-ray reports of the deceased, Manch has raised 11 questions over the authenticity of the ‘real encounter’.

Hours after the Police shot dead Naushad, 17, and Mustakeem, 22 in probably country’s first ‘encounter-on-camera’ on Thursday, families of the two had addressed a press conference in Aligarh and made strong charges against the police. Contrary to the police version that the duo opened fire at a patrolling police team Thursday morning but were killed in retaliatory fire from the police, the families told mediapersons that both Naushad and Mustakeem were picked up by the police from their home on Sunday, four days before the shooting.

Prima facie, Rihai Manch said, the Aligarh incident looks like an “extension of the state-sponsored encounter politics.” It appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance of the videos of the shootout and order a probe.

After the shootout, Aligarh City SP Atul Kumar Srivastava had said: “Mustakeem and Naushad stole a motorbike and two mobile phones Wednesday in Kwarsi police station area. Police were looking for them. Around 6 am on Thursday, they were heading towards Harduaganj when they were intercepted. The two started firing, triggering crossfire. They rode off to an abandoned building near Machhwa canal not far from Harduaganj and the exchange of fire continued. The gunfire lasted one-and-half hours. They were injured and taken to the district hospital where they died.”

The Police also said that two were accused of murdering six people, including two temple priests in the last couple of months in the state.

The rights group said that the two were picked on 16th September, the police announced reward on their head on 18th September and they were killed on 20thSeptember.

The families had addressed a press conference in the evening on 20th September.

Rafikan, Mustakeem’s grandmother, was quoted by The Indian Express as saying: “They (Police) came in around 2.30 pm Sunday and picked up both, along with Mustakeem’s brother Salman, who was arrested Tuesday, and my son Naseem, who is mentally ill.”

Naushad’s mother Shaheen, a daily wage labourer, said: “We will file a case against the police for the injustice.” “My boy was picked up from home by the police on Sunday morning. He was murdered in cold blood,” she said.

In its letter to Uttar Pradesh DGP, Rihai Manch has raised some points that, it said, require probe:

  • Public Relations Officer, SSP, Aligarh called media persons at 6:36 AM. They were again called at 6:59 AM and they were taken to the site of the ‘encounter’.
  • Several questions arise after seeing videos and photos of the spot. SP City along with three other policemen is firing but five other policemen standing very near are busy in talks with each other. It looks like a police exercise or a photo-op.
  • Is there any provision to call media during serious operation like encounter? Were media asked to shoot only the actions of the policemen?
  • Police said the two criminals got wounded in police firing and while being taken to hospital they could tell their name and address. But x-ray report shows that two bullets had entered and exited from their chests. Bullets had ripped apart their hearts and lungs. In this condition, it does not look possible that the victims would give any statement. What looks certain is that they were brought to hospital dead.
  • When they were hiding as the police said, how could it be possible that both got two bullets each and only in the chests and the bullets exited out? Were they shot from very close range?
  • The families said that the two were picked by police on 16th September and the police had taken their Aadhaar cards also. Police again reached their homes to question family members and to tell that the two fled police custody.
  • Police took thumb impressions of family members on papers, asked them to immediately bury the bodies and issued notice to those who raised questions and demanded an independent probe.

In the letter written by Rihai Manch’s president Adv. Mohammad Shoaib, the rights group has demanded the DGP to order a probe.

A copy of the letter has also been sent to National Human Rights Commission and Chief Justice of India.


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Suspend agreements with India until Human Rights activists are released: MEP to European Commission


Nine Members of the European Parliament sent today the attached letter to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms. Federica MOGHERINI, regarding the raids on homes and arbitrary arrest of nine human and democratic rights activists across India on August 28 (2018).

With this letter MEPs Lídia Senra, Ángela Vallina, Paloma López, Merja Killonen, Ana Gomes, Clara Aguilera, Ciprian Tănăsescu, Claude Moraes and Julie Ward urge for the cancellation of all the agreements with the Indian government until the human rights activists are released and the hunt against the Adivasi peoples, Dalits, religious minorities population and Kashmir, Manipuri people is stopped.

They also demand the immediate release of Prof. GN Saibaba, Susan Abraham, Varavara Rao, Father Stan Swamy, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Advocate Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and all human rights defenders in India.

MEP Letter to European Commission

High Representative of the European Union for Foreing Affairs and Security Policy

We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament, condemn the raids on homes and arbitrary arrest of nine human and democratic rights activists across India, on August 28, 2018.

Amongst the people raided are Anand Teltumbde, Stan Swamy, Kranti Teluka and Prof K Satyanarayana. But the raids also included Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves, all five are now under arrest charged under one of the most draconian law: the UAPA, Unlawful Activity Prevention Act.

This is one of the most barbaric laws, copied from the colonial law book, which allows an indefinite detention (arrest) of any citizen the Government suspects of having an intent to commit a crime against the State.

These raids and arrests are the follow up of the arbitrary arrests, a few months ago, of Sudhir Dhawale, Adv Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson. These five are lawyers, journalists and human rights activists who have been implicated in totally fabricated charges of organizing the violence in Bhima Koregaon at the beginning of this year.

The Indian Government adds these most recent raids and arrests to the continuous and relentless repression on the democratic voice and aspirations of the Indian. This amounts to a very serious attack on the already crumbling state of democracy in India. Regarding the words of Aakar Patel, Executive Director Amnesty International India: ʹThese arrests are a matter of grave concern. Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut have a history of working to protect the rights of some of Indiaʹs most marginalized people.

Their arrests raise disturbing questions about whether they are being targeted for their activism. Anyone arrested for legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression must be released immediately and unconditionally.ʹ During the current European Parliament term, two written questions have been addressed to the European Commission regarding one of the most painful cases: the situation of the Indian teacher GN Saibaba. He has a 90% physical disability, aggravated in recent months with acute pancreatitis, and it was recommended the removal of his gallbladder.

Because of this, this life imprisonment sentence is actually a death sentence for this professor, who has done nothing but defend the rights of the Adivasis and Dalits people with words, as well as denounce the counterinsurgency strategy ʹOpera on Green Huntʹ. On June 26, United Nations human rights experts urged the government of India to release the teacher for health reasons and to ensure immediate access to medical care, including appropriate treatment and rehabilitation: ʹWe would like to remind India that any denial of reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in detention is not only discriminatory but may well amount to ill-treatment or even torture. In particular, solitary confinement should be prohibited when the conditions of prisoners with disabilities would be made worse by this measure.ʹ

The answers given by you on behalf of the European Commission were the following:
ʹThe EU has been closely following cases of human rights defenders arrested in India, including the cases of professor Saibaba, accused of having links with Naxal militants, and of Ms. Arundathi Roy, accused of contempt of court for her article defending the cause of Professor Saibaba.
The EU Delegation in New Delhi has made appeals on humanitarian grounds with the National Human Rights Commission. The EU attaches great importance to the issues at stake, most importantly to the freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial and the rights of human rights defenders. These issues are also addressed at the EU-India human rights dialogue.ʹ ʹThe EU continues to follow the case of professor Saibaba convicted by sessions court in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra in March 2017. As Professor Saibaba lodged an appeal against the verdict with the Nagpur High Court, the case is still sub judice. The EU has been raising the case on humanitarian grounds with the Indian authorities.ʹ How can the European Commission have contacts and agreements with a Government that defends that there are first and second class humans, indiscriminately kills the Adivasis, Dalits and religious minoritiesʹ population and imprisons human rights activists? We urge for the cancellation of all the agreements with the Indian government until the human rights activists are released and the hunt against the Adivasi peoples, Dalits, religious minorities population and Kashmir, Manipuri people is stopped.

We also demand the immediate release of Prof. GN Saibaba, Susan Abraham, Varavara Rao, Father Stan Swamy, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Advocate Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson Mahesh Raut and all human rights defenders in India.

Sincerely yours,
MEP María Lídia Senra
MEP Ángela Vallina
MEP Paloma López
MEP Julie Ward
MEP Merja Killonen
MEP Ana Gomes
MEP Clara Aguilera
MEP Ciprian Tănăsescu
MEP Claude Moraes

Keywords : Federica MOGHERINI, European Parliament, Human Activists, Arrests, Varavararao, Pune Police
(2018-09-13 02:45:54)

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India – The first lynching- Mohammad Akhlaq

Three years after the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq, there is no remorse in his village. There is a sense of menace.

Mohammad Akhlaq, Dadri lynching, cow violence, Mohammad Akhlaq death, nationalism, cow slaughter, India news, Bisara cow slaughter, Indian Express

Three years after the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq, there is no remorse in his village. There is a sense of menace. (Illustration: CR Sasikumar)Last week, I went to the village of Bishada. On September 28, it will be three years since Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched here by cow vigilantes. My reason for going to Bishada was to see if there was remorse, regret or sadness about what happened. The lynching forced out of the village its only Muslim family. It had been their home for more than 70 years. The road to Bishada is paved and goes past the sprawling compound of the state-owned NTPC power company.

Bishada is so urbanised that it is almost a small town. As soon as I entered the village, I started asking where I could find the house of Mohammad Akhlaq. I asked shopkeepers and passersby and whoever I asked responded with hostile silence or pretended they had no idea who I was talking about. Finally, I met a man who told me that I should drive to the other end of the village and ask there. Was he in the village on the night that Akhlaq was dragged out of his home and beaten to death? “Yes. But, this is a big village and what happened was very far from my house so I didn’t see anything.”

Before I could ask more questions, he scuttled off. I drove through the village then got out of my car and wandered about cramped, smelly streets for several minutes before finding a group of men sitting on rope beds in a doorway that led to a large courtyard. They greeted me politely, until I mentioned Akhlaq’s name. Then, a sullen silence descended before one of them said the family had gone away so there was no need to come here to ask about them. I asked if people were sad that the only Muslim family in the village had been driven away. After another sullen silence, someone said, “Too much was made of what happened because there was an anti-Hindu Samajwadi Partygovernment and because the media made such a drama about it.”

A man was dragged out of his home late at night and beaten to death, I said, and his young son beaten very badly, so to ignore what happened was not easy. At this point, a man who said his name was Rishipal said, “Look it was my father who brought the family here 70 years ago and gave them land to settle here because we needed an ironsmith. But, as the only Muslim family, they should have respected Hindu sentiments and Akhlaq should not have killed that calf.”

Did anyone see him do it, I asked, and a chorus of voices rose to declare that “the children” had seen him trying to dispose of the calf’s head and this had incensed them. One of the men in the group said one of these “children” was his brother’s son and he had spent two years in jail along with 18 other youths from the village. “It was very wrong what happened to them because there was a mob of 2,000 people that night so nobody knows who killed him. My nephew was not even there.”

If there had not been an anti-Hindu government in Uttar Pradesh, they said, then these youths would not have gone to jail at all. Besides, did I not think it was wrong for Akhlaq to have killed the calf? I said that I had no proof that he had and this caused a minor uproar in the gathering. “What are you saying? They found 10 kilos of meat in his fridge. Is that not proof?” I said it was hard to imagine that much meat fitting even into a very large fridge and this made them very angry.

Rishipal intervened to calm tempers and explained why there was no remorse for what happened to Akhlaq. “He had become an Islamic fanatic,” he said, “do you know that he has an aunt (masi) in Pakistan and that it was after he started visiting her that he began to change. He started talking like a jihadi. He would not answer us when we greeted him with Ram, Ram. He used to talk about Islam all the time and forgot that it hurts Hindu sentiments when cows are killed.”

So, he was killed because he killed a cow? This question made them suspicious and a chorus of denials went up. Nobody was saying that anyone from the village killed him, they said, nobody knew who killed him because the mob was so large. In any case, he did not die in the village he died in hospital some days later. No, the next day. “If the and the f. SP government had not made such a big thing out of it there would have been no problem. Why do you people keep asking about him? He has gone. And his family doesn’t live here any more.”

To reduce tensions I changed the subject and asked if the village was happy with the Yogi government. This evoked a flood of accolades. The village now had electricity for 20 hours a day, even in the rainy season, and every home had a gas cylinder and a water tank was being built so that every home would get water supplied to it directly. And Yogi had done a remarkable thing by killing more than 4,000 criminals.

It was only after talking for a while about the “parivartan” and “vikas” that had come, they said, only because Narendra Modi was prime minister and Yogi chief minister did I raise the subject of Akhlaq again. I asked if someone could direct me to his house. I was directed to a narrow alley in which two brightly coloured metal doors led to homes that belonged to Akhlaq and his brother. The doors looked as if they had not been opened in a very long while.

Human rights groups estimate that more than 97 per cent of killings by cow vigilantes have happened since 2014. Senior leaders of the BJP boast about how there have been no major riots since Modi became prime minister. Maybe not. But, the lynchings have made too many ordinary Hindus believe that it is open season on Muslims and have created in ordinary Muslims a sense of being second-class citizens in their own country. A peculiar menace hangs in the air

The first lynching

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‘Digital India’ De-facto ‘Deleted India’ #Poem


By- Rohit Prajapati

Slum Dwellers will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Street Vendors will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Small Shops will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Ordinary People will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Public Transport System will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Not Poverty, but Poor will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Natural Resources will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Ponds and Lakes will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Rivers and Ravines will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Employment will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Equality will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Environment will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Nature will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Love and compassion will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Gender Justice will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Communal Harmony will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Public Health Facilities will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Public Education Schools will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Right to Protest will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Voice of Dissent will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Freedom of Expression will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Rule of Law will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Democracy will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Real Life will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Dignified Life will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Peace & Justice will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

That is why I want to ‘Delete’  ‘Digital India’.

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India -Remembrance of 10th anniversary of killings in Kandhamal, Odisha

RSS-Sponsored Pogrom of Christians Commemorated in Delhi

RSS-Sponsored Pogrom of Christians Commemorated in Delhi

NEW DELHI: September 2, 2018 — Women wiped tears from their eyes and buried their weeping faces in their shawls as they recounted personal experiences of victimization in three different pogroms against religious minorities in India.

Six victims from three different pogroms spanning 34 years sat in solidarity on stage at the Constitution Club in New Delhi on August 25, the 10th anniversary of a 2008 pogrom against Christians in the Kandhamal district of India’s eastern state of Odisha. Social activist Harsh Mander, who has personally led teams to investigate violence in Odisha, moderated the panel which also included victims from the 1984 Sikh Genocide in Delhi and the 2013 Muzaffarnagar Pogrom in Uttar Pradesh.

After the victims spoke, human rights activist John Dayal explained, “These cases are separated by decades or years, separated by hundreds and thousands of kilometers, separated by ideologies perhaps, but with a common denominator — the killers can largely be said to belong to a right-wing ideology, even if the political party or the political patch they were wearing at any given time was different.” Following Dayal’s remarks, activist Vijayan MJ moderated a panel of six other speakers who, aside from discussing details of the three pogroms, focused on the identities and motivations of the perpetrators.

All six panelists corroborated Dayal’s claim that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliate, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), organized or participated in the various pogroms. The RSS provides ideological support to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); a majority of the BJP’s Union Cabinet, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are RSS members. Along with the VHP and other outfits, the RSS and BJP are known collectively as the Sangh Parivar, a “Family of Organizations” which propagates an ideology of “Hindutva” that views non-Hindus as foreign to India.

Anirban Bhattacharya, a leader from Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organisation, asked, “Why are we remembering Kandhamal after 10 years?” He explained, “One important thing about remembering Kandhamal, remembering Muzaffarnagar, remembering 1984 is to figure out where did we go wrong.” Linking the violence in Kandhamal to the 1999 murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines in another district of Odisha, he remarked, “I think that all of us heard about that brutal burning of the father and his family…. 1999, this happened, and it over-emboldened the RSS that we can be more aggressive from here on because, ultimately, there was nothing that was working against them.”

Highlighting the VHP’s program to “reconvert” tribals (also called Adivasis) from Christianity to Hinduism for the purpose of “cleansing the land of foreign religion,” Bhattacharya suggested “everyone knew” such activities would escalate to violence. Noting that “the warning signs were there,” he said the authorities “ignored those signs,” adding, “Even our so-called secular forces, they were not concerned with Hindutva terrorism — and let’s call it so.” Consequently, he argued, the human rights condition has deteriorated on a national scale. “That has ultimately led to this. Today, Graham Staines is happening all across the country.”

Paul Diwakar of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) touched upon caste as a fundamental element of the violence. “This is not a fight among religions,” stated Diwakar. “This is a fight primarily among those communities who have been for too long pushed outside — even though they are human beings, even though they have contributed. They have tried their best, whether through business, whether through religious conversion, whether through education, whether through farming, to make their life better. And every time, wherever they have done, they have been hit.” Explaining that Dalits (formerly called Untouchables) and Adivasis often adopt non-Hindu religions in an attempt to escape caste, Diwakar concluded, “In 2008, it has become a wide attack against Christians primarily because, over the last three to four decades in that area, Dalits and some Adivasis had tried to take refuge through religious conversion to assert their dignity and their humanness…. So, while I think we recognize this as a religious, communal divide, we should also see that beneath the layer, it was primarily an assertion of intergenerational expulsion through caste oppression.”

Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh, a human rights activist from Kandhamal, warned that secularism in India is under attack through legislative means. “In Odisha, we cannot call ourselves a secular country since 1967, the year when Odisha introduced the first anti-conversion law,” said Kumar. “Under this law, if a person wants to change one’s religion, then that person’s priest or pastor must go to the police, and the police will come and verify [the legitimacy of the conversion]. That means you reduce every citizen as if they do not have a conscience. You make them infantile. That type of law is in ten states — in eight states in operation. Can you call it as a secular country?”

Shabnam Hashmi from Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) said the various incidents of violence are all part of “the whole design of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra (nation).” Hashmi warned that, today, “RSS is a lot more stronger. There is no doubt about the fact that they have this design of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra. They are working systematically on every plane possible. And they have gone very deep into the society, everywhere, including the civil society.” She connected her claims to her work pursuing justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat Genocide, saying, “When I started working in Gujarat, we thought that RSS was infiltrating every single aspect, but we thought they would not infiltrate the civil society. Gujarat shocked me very badly because people who were very established in the civil society, I realized they were not with us.” She concluded, “That fact is there, that RSS is infiltrating every sector, whether it is army, police, public life, cultural organizations, schools, education.”

Describing the extent to which Sangh Parivar outfits are proven perpetrators of violence against India’s minorities, Dayal said that, in 2008, “Manmohan Singh was in power in Delhi, but in Bhubaneswar [the capital of Odisha] it was Mr. Patnaik with almost a 50% coalition of the BJP. All the important ministries were with the BJP. It was only after the violence that Mr. Patnaik became the first Chief Minister in history to put on record of a legislative assembly that a communal violence — in this case, against Christians — was triggered, carried out, and sustained by the Sangh Parivar.”

Drawing a parallel between the killings of Christians in 2008 and the killings of Sikhs in 1984, Dayal concluded, “The assembly records of Odisha indict, on record, the RSS. If, in 1984, you say the State was complicit — and I say the State was complicit — here, the State was even more complicit.” Dayal added that the RSS is even implicated in the genocide of Sikhs, an incident which is usually laid only at the feet of the Indian National Congress. “Everybody thinks that the perpetrators of the 1984 violence were Congress lots, which of course they were, but for every Congress lot his companion was an RSS lot,” he said. “I’m an eyewitness. I’ve said many times that I’m very happy to depose before any Commission which would want to reinvestigate the ’84 riots and the role of all sorts of people.”

Professor Apoorvanand of Delhi University and political activist Annie Raja also participated in the panel.

“None of the victims of any of these pogroms have seen any sort of true justice,” says Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “Eyewitness testify that Members of Parliament led the 1984 genocide. Although the MPs are identified by name, all of them were punished with nothing less than political success. Similarly, in the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat, Chief Minister Modi was implicated by human rights groups, Gujarati police officers, and even convicted perpetrators, yet he was punished with election to the Prime Ministership of the country. India is trapped in a vicious cycle of impunity which compounds impunity.”

Praising the Delhi convention, Valmuci added, “We hope to see acts of solidarity like this repeated over and over again on ever grander scales, and we urge all the oppressed Mulnivasi people of India to unite in common cause to resist totalitarianism.”

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Anand Teltumbde: On India’s rising authoritarian tide

Photo: dgSolidarity / Youtube

Photo: dgSolidarity / Youtube

On 28 August 2018, homes of several civil-rights activists, lawyers and writers across India were raided by the Maharashtra police for having ‘links’ with Maoists. Of these, five were arrested, in what is seen as a highly controversial, and authoritarian, attempt to silence dissenters. The Supreme Court has halted the five activists’ immediate arrest and put them under house arrest, saying that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy” and “if you don’t allow the safety valve pressure cooker will burst.”

Anand Teltumbde, a public intellectual and a civil-rights activist based in Goa, was among the nine whose home was raided. He has authored many books and written numerous articles. Some of his books are: Dalits: Past, Present and FutureMahad: The Making of the First Dalit RevoltThe Persistence of Caste: The Khairlanji Murders and India’s Hidden Apartheid and most recently, Republic of Caste. In this interview, Teltumbde describes the impact of his harassment by the police, what lies behind Indian government’s increasingly authoritarian moves, and why the term ‘urban Naxals’ has gained political currency.

Himal Southasian: Your home was raided as part of the simultaneous raids across cities in India. What in your opinion led to this action on the part of the government?

Anand Teltumbde: Frankly speaking, I cannot even imagine that such a thing could happen to me. I did know about the earlier raids and arrests of five persons, one of them, Professor Shoma Sen, being an executive member of the organisation, the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), of which I am the general secretary. It is one of the civil-rights organisations that were born after the Emergency and, in its heyday, had illustrious people in Maharashtra, like the celebrated Vijay Tendulkar, associated with it. Other notable organisation that I am part of is the All India Forum for Rights to Education (AIFRTE), of which I am one of the presidium members. This nine-year-old federated organisation is struggling for the educational rights for all children through neighborhood schools. None of these organisations have any connection with violence; rather, any violence, both by the state or any organized group, is taken by us as violation of civil rights of people and is acted against.

Besides this activism, which has been integral part of my life since my school days, I have consistently been a brilliant student. I did my Mechanical Engineering from the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT, one of the national institutes of technology), did my MBA from the country’s prestigious institute, IIM, Ahmadabad, and my PhD in Cybernetics Modeling from University of Mumbai. By virtue of my education, I landed up in the corporate sector where I rose up to the rank of executive director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and ended my corporate stint as managing director and CEO of Petronet India Limited, a holding company in petroleum infrastructure formed by all oil companies in the private sector. After my corporate career, I was invited by the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology as professor in its B-school, where I taught over five years. I came two years ago to Goa as senior professor in one of the premier B-schools in the country, opening for them a center of Big Data Analytics and launched this year a very novel course in the country.

Can anyone in their wildest dreams associate such a profile with Maoism? My role as a defender of peoples’ democratic rights and public intellectual has been in contrast to my formal association with capitalism, both during and after my corporate career.

The only possible reason is that I have been writing critically about the anti-people policies of the government through my column in the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), pamphlets and books. I have been doing this as a public intellectual for over the last three decades. I suppose it to be my role and also my fundamental right. But the present government that has been victimising people who have spoken against it would not take it as such and try to incriminate with fabricated evidence.

But to link me with Maoist activities is bizarre by any standard. I personally keep myself very busy with my intellectual activities. Managing an academic course in the frontier technology itself is a challenge requiring full-time engagement. Besides, I have my committed writing schedule for books and columns. Moreover, everything of me, including all my writings, my cell phone number and emails are in the public domain. With such a background, to link me with Maoist-like groups could only be a product of either of poor mind or highhanded recklessness.

HSA: The raids were carried out by the Maharashtra state police. The state government in Maharashtra is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as is the national government. Do you think this action is at the behest of the ruling party?

AT: The entire construction of this weird identity of ‘urban Maoists’ is a carefully carved out strategy of the present government to curb the resistance to its anti-people policies. On the one hand, the government takes credit for decimation of the Maoist movement. Indeed, for over a decade, the governments have been fighting an open war with all its might, against this ill-clad, ill-fed army of tribal people called Maoists. They are increasingly holed up in a small forested part of central India. On the other hand, the state raises a bogey of Maoism, which comes handy for it to keep its armour of draconian legislature and suppress voices of democratic rights. With this invention, they began painting the intellectuals and activists as more dangerous than the gun-wielding Maoists in the forests. It can be applied summarily to anyone who is critical of the government. The only task is to produce some documents, as they have been doing, supposedly recovered from the hard disks of the computers confiscated in the raids of marked up activists. Therefore, raids on the houses of such people become a prerequisite and an integral part of the strategy.

The current episode is so ill-constructed that even a child would fault it, but with the media under its control, the government is going berserk as its lies get exposed, entangling more respected activists who have sacrificed their otherwise brilliant careers and comfortable lives to serve the oppressed people. It all started with an Elgar conference which was organized by two retired judges, one from the supreme court – Justice P B Sawant – and the other from the high court –Justice B G Kolse Patil. More than 300 organisations, belonging to Dalits, OBCs, Marathas and Muslims became part of it. The potential Dalit-Maratha unity portended a threat to the BJP and therefore it commissioned its agents provocateurs –Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide – to break this budding unity by creating a controversy over the tomb of Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Shivaji, who was said to have been cut into pieces by Aurangzeb. However, the entire planning fizzled out as at the local level, and the Dalits and Marathas patched up and ended the controversy.

However, the next day, as planned by Bhide and Ekbote, their goons mounted an attack on the Dalits congregated at Bhima Koregaon. The violence was clearly unleashed on Dalits, and, to that extent, they could not be accused of committing it. But the salvage operation began with accusations that the inflammatory speeches in the conference were responsible for the violence. An FIR was lodged against Jignesh Mevani, the newly elected MLA from Gujarat and a promising young leader, and Umar Khalid, the PhD student in JNU [Jawaharlal Nehru University]. It irked Dalits, and as their demand for the arrests of Ekbote and Bhide picked up momentum, the police began insinuating Maoist infiltration into the conference. This was a repeat of what happened in the protest movement sparked off after Khairlanji in 2006, when, at the instance of the police, the then home minister had insinuated the infiltration of Naxalites.

Initially, they began the canard that the Elgar Parishad was funded by the Maoists. Justice Kolse Patil has since then been vehemently refuting this police charge but to no avail. It just served as an excuse to conduct raids on the houses of many activists, many of them having nothing to do with Bhima-Koregaon. These raids provided the police an opportunity to produce letters purportedly written by the Maoist leaders that established not only the conspiracy of Bhima-Koregaon but also larger plots like killing Modi. They would, however, not touch the named culprits in Ekbote and Bhide. Ekbote was arrested at the instance of the Supreme Court to be bailed out after a few days and Bhide would get a clean chit from the chief minister. The politics in it was clear, as there were insinuation to Congress and Prakash Ambedkar, who has been trying to forge unity of all opposition parties in Maharashtra. Bhide’s protection gets directly linked with Modi as he adored him publicly.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka police would unearth the network behind the murders of Gauri Lankesh, the last in series of the murders of four rationalists, including Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Com Govind Pansare and Prof M M Kalburgi. Following that, the Maharashtra ATS [Anti-Terrorism Squad] exposed the horrific murder infrastructure linked with Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. The government, with mere suspicion of plotting the murder of Modi, would slap UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act] on the tens of intellectuals and activists, but would be reluctant to arrest the culprits who killed not one but four important people, and who were caught with huge stocks of explosives and arms! As such, these plots of murdering Modi were played out at least four times in Gujarat when he was the chief minister, where many innocent people were encountered to complete the drama, as the SITs [Special Investigation Teams] under supervision of the Supreme Court exposed.

As the demand for action against the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti resonated, the government vindictively escalated its actions against the activists, this time the incredible kinds, who had impeccable public reputation of being intellectuals and activists in their own right.

Another dimension to this construction is the electoral strategy of the BJP. In the year of elections, which assumes a ‘do or die’ battle in the scheme of the BJP, in so far as it expects to consummate its long-cherished goal of establishing a Hindu Rashtra in India, it is vital to consolidate its constituency with nationalistic credo and weaken the potential unity of those who were not likely to vote for it. Busting the imaginary Maoist network would do this trick: it would steel its own constituency, convert some sections of the Marathas to its side, and Dalits, knowing their allergic attitude to the communist left, would be detached from its radical elements, with the possibility of being wooed to support the BJP.

It is thus clear that the entire operation is going according to the strategy of BJP governments, both at the centre as well as in Maharashtra.

HSA: Harassment of activists and writers through the police and courts appear to be on the rise in India. What other forms of attack on dissent by the government do you foresee?

AT: It is difficult to imagine to what extent the BJP governments will go in decimating dissent. Because, already ‘Maoist’ and ‘terrorist’ tags are being used with impunity to incarcerate people. Up till now, not-so-well-known people were targeted, but this time they have attacked the ones who may be called the topmost pro-people activists and intellectuals in the country. The message is loud and clear to all others: to not speak against the government. There has been an alarming rate of encounter killings in BJP-ruled states, particularly in the Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh. Then there are killer gangs and lynching squads who kill people with impunity. Nothing remains as such undone. What might happen is that the pace of these things may go up still further.

HSA: How will this impact other dissenting voices? How do you cope with the challenge yourself?

AT: Personally, my world is suddenly shattered. The manner in which three police vans entered the campus of my institutes with some two dozen policemen, terrorised people around, and opened my house in our absence despite the advice of senior professors that they should wait for the director to come before opening the house. My students would look at me with bewilderment. Fortunately, the action is so bizarre that none of them believe the government story that I had links with the Maoists. My wide network of friends and professionals may not understand it. All my investment in building a network of Industry Associates for my ambitious Programme on Big Data would go down the drain, endangering the careers of my students who are admitted in the course. There are several repercussions in the professional sphere. But the suffering and mental agony my family is made to undergo is more painful. My wife, the granddaughter of Babasaheb Ambedkar, whom Modi never tires in feigning devotion to, would not have bargained for this fate, without the slightest wrong doing on our parts. I can bet the entire police plot will be exposed as a big fabrication, but it will take years. When the process itself is a punishment, there does not remain a hope of justice. If one goes by record, over 99 percent Maoist-accused are acquitted for the lack of any evidence against them but there is no scope to ask the counter question as to why they were arrested in the first place, who was responsible for their arrest, and holding them accountable, at least compensating the loss the innocent person suffered. It is a bizarre state that the Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to individuals, which are brutally trampled upon by the simple policemen with draconian laws to protect them. Effectively, there is no defence for an individual against the mighty state. Basically, there is no accountability for the powers that be in India. It tears apart all pretensions of this country to be a democracy!

It is a scary prospect that I shudder to imagine.

HSA: You have compared what is happening today in India with what happened during the Emergency. What are the similarities and are there significant differences?

AT: The Emergency was certainly a nightmare for the Indian people and needs to be condemned. But all said and done, it was according to the Constitution. It was a declared emergency, which would come to an end. But the current repression is worse because it ordinarily crushes people without any need to declare extraordinary circumstances. It only reminds one of the fascist formations in Italy in the 1930s and Nazi ones in Germany in the 1940s. It creates new normals that are antitheses of democracy.

HSA: You have described Indian democracy as a ‘fascistic democracy’. Can you explain your use of the term?

AT: India flaunts itself as the biggest democracy in the world, but if you take a close look, you will find that it has been the rule of moneybags and traditional high-caste elites from the beginning. The label of democracy is only justified by the periodic elections that happen in the country. But the entire design of these elections (first past the post) has been such that they could be won only with money and muscle power. The poor people and minority communities remain effectively disenfranchised. The entire colonial infrastructure that the post-colonial state adopted for governance became, in the hands of the native ruling classes, a monopoly of power of the upper castes backed by the money power of the businesses. Implanted on the feudal culture, it takes the fascist form right from the village level to the level of capital.

HSA: While the term ‘anti-national’ has been applied to a wide range of dissenting people and opinions, why do you think labels like ‘Naxals’ or ‘urban Naxals’ have been applied in particular to the individuals arrested or raided this week?

AT: The anti-national is a propaganda label; it does not have punitive provision in law. But Maoist becomes a dreaded label particularly because the Maoist Party is a banned party. Antinational could be used in a jingoistic manner to denigrate targetted people in the society, and, of course, to instigate the so called ‘nationalist’ gangs to teach them a lesson. But ‘Naxals’ and ‘urban Naxals’ are used to punish people who are anti-government. Both are dissents, but it differs in kind as well as in degree. Both can be arbitrarily pasted on people; the former just to denigrate a person in public but the latter to materially devastate him.

HSA: What kind of response do you think is necessary to resist the tide of authoritarianism in the country?

AT: Authoritarianism is ingrained in the Indian system, but it has intensified since the 1990s with the Social Darwinist ethos of neoliberalism. The previous authoritarianism was accommodative in the sense that it operated on a cultural substratum of caste. It did not have to be ruthless. But post-1990, the ruling classes are extra vigilant to suppress any resistance in the bud. This is manifested everywhere in the galloping increase in budget allocations on the police and military during the first decade of globalisation.

It requires a broad mass movement to demand repeal of all draconian laws. Basically they serve as the instruments to terrorise people into silence. I expect, with the extreme point having been reached, the people would wake up to the reality and come together to dismantle the infrastructure of state terrorism. An independent commission should be set up to examine constitutionality of this infrastructure from the standpoint of fundamental rights of an individual. If an individual does not have a defence against the mighty state, the entire constitutional superstructure is useless.

HSA: Do you see the emergence of a political force that would provide that resistance?

AT: Unfortunately, I do not think it is happening at the moment. But there is a huge accumulated unease in people which is bound to create the requisite political force not in the very distant future. The BJP under the tutelage of the Modi-Shah duo has played a risky game to fortify its electoral position, but, in the process, has alienated even its supporters. The demonetisation bereft of any economic rationale, the implementation of the GST without proper planning, the Hindutva hoodlums enjoying the confidence of the state machinery, and the galloping of atrocities on Dalits, Adivasis, women, Muslims and those who speak against the government has sufficiently annoyed people who supported it until recent elections. What is needed is the leadership to translate this massive disgruntlement of the masses into a coherent resistance force. I am hopeful this will be done soonest.


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India -After arrest of Human rights activists, Now Journalist illegally detained #WTFnews

Release journalist Aasif Sultan from illegal detention
Srinagar, Sept. 1:
The Kashmir Working Journalist Association (KWJA) and Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA) have taken strong note are shocked and outraged to learn that a Srinagar based journalist, Aasif Sultan, has been under illegal detention at Police Station Batamaloo for the last six days.
We demand his immediate release from illegal custody, and action against police officials in charge of the station, and S P South Srinagar for keeping a journalist under illegal detention for a week.
Sultan, an Assistant Editor with the monthly newsmagazine, Kashmir Narrator, has been picked up from his home in Batamaloo on Monday night, purportedly for questioning, and since then police has not released him.
We have learnt that Sultan is being questioned for his report on slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, published in a recent issue of Kashmir Narrator, along with other stories and has been asked to report his sources to police. Apart from the mistreatment meted out to him in custody, he is also being put questions about his “political ideology”.
The editor of Kashmir Narrator, Showkat Motta, said police has been dilly dallying Sultan’s release through hollow assurances. He said, rather than releasing Sultan at the earliest, SP South Srinagar, G V Sundeep Chakravarthy even questioned him about his “political ideology”.
“I thought I will resolve the issue with them amicably and was trying to avoid confrontation but they (police) are prolonging his illegal detention,” Motta said. “They are asking him who he has talked to, why he has done this and that story, They are discussing headlines with him in lock up and pressurising him to become police source.”
It is no secret that police and intelligence agencies have been trying their best to police the media in Kashmir, and harassing the media organisations and journalists has been a routine, but we want to make it clear that the journalist fraternity will fight such efforts tooth and nail.
We are seeking release of Sultan at an earliest and ask the government and police chief to explain the laws and rules under which he has been kept in lockup for the past six days.
Both KWJA and KJA also demand initiation of disciplinary and legal action against police officials for violation of the fundamental rights of an individual through prolonged illegal detention

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