• stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : somnath bharti

NHRC directs action against Somnath Bharti #Khirkiraid #Vaw

Somnath Bharti

Agencies   March 31, 2014

First Published: 09:25 IST(31/3/2014) | Last Updated: 09:56 IST(31/3/2014)
 NHRC letter to Delhi Police.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Delhi police to take action against Aam Aadmi Party member Somnath Bharti for his midnight raid at the residence of African nationals in New Delhi Khirki’s Extension, said TV reports.

Activist-lawyer Shehzad Poonawala had petioned against Bharti. A judicial probe had indicted former Delhi law minister for his action.

Bharti had gone to Khirki Extension with a group of party volunteers and local residents where he claimed that a drug and prostitution ring was being run by some Ugandan women. Bharti had initially asked the police to raid the house. When the police refused saying they did not have warrant to do so, he led the mob on the raid. Delhi Police had registered a case in the matter on January 19 against unknown persons. A Ugandan woman had later filed an FIR in the case and identified Bharti. The BJP and the Congress had demanded immediate removal of Bharti from office, but the ruling Aam Aadmi Party supported him and said it would wait for the report of the judicial probe before taking any action.   Read more here –

Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

Khirki Raid – Clean chit to police, Somnath Bharti, AAP guilty, Will Kejriwal Reply now ? #Vaw

Somnath Bharti midnight raid: Judicial probe report gives clean chit to police

Press Trust of India | New Delhi | February 28, 2014 3:58 pm
Bharti had allegedly gone to the locality where he claimed that a drug and prostitution ring was being run by some African nationals.Somnath Bharti had allegedly gone to the locality where he claimed that a drug and prostitution ring was being run by some African nationals.


The probe report may come as a setback for the Aam Aadmi Party as former Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had strongly defended Bharti.

The judicial probe report into the midnight raid allegedly led by former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti against some African women in Khirki Extension on January 15 and 16 has virtually given a clean chit to the Malviya Nagar police.

The report has been submitted to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung on Friday, sources said.

The probe, which was conducted by retired Additional District and Session Judge BL Garg, has prima facie put the blame on the former Delhi Law Minister for creating the controversy pertaining to his midnight raid.

The probe report may come as a setback for the Aam Aadmi Party as former Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had strongly defended Bharti.

The Lt Governor had ordered the probe into the incident which took place last month and involved Bharti leading a group of locals on a midnight raid on some African residents of Khirki Extension in South Delhi.

Bharti had allegedly gone to the locality where he claimed that a drug and prostitution ring was being run by some African nationals.

Initially, he had demanded that police raid the place. However, when the they refused, saying they had no warrant to do so, he led the mob on the raid.

Delhi Police had registered a case in the matter on January 19 against unknown persons.

There were calls for the then AAP government to remove Bharti from office after one of the African woman, who was allegedly assaulted in the raid, accused him of having led the group that had barged into her house.

But AAP had backed Bharti and said it would wait for the report of the judicial probe before taking any action in the matter.

Read more –

Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

AAP leader Somnath Bharti leads mob, tries to barge into MCD office

AAP's Somnath Bharti's name crops up in another controversy

New Delhi Former Delhi Law minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Somnath Bharti was linked to a fresh controversy in the national capital on Monday after some people, alleged to be AAP workers, thrashed a civic official near the Deputy Commissioner (DC) office of South zone in Green Park.

According to the police, the victim was identified as Ashok Kumar, who is an executive engineer with the south municipal corporation.

“He was allegedly beaten up by some people who were protesting against the demolition of a house in Hauz Khas area in South Delhi,” said a police official.

The incident took place minutes before Mr Bharti along with some of his supporters reached the spot to protest against the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and its demolition drive.

Mr Bharti, however, claimed that those involved with the incident were not AAP workers and he had nothing to do with them.

He later met the South DC along with his supporters and questioned him as to why the MCD never takes action against the “high and mighty” and always targets the common man.

Mr Bharti also said that MCD should do a survey and make a list of people including MPs, ministers, MLAs and councillors who have broken building bye-laws and take action against them before razing the house of a commoner.

He also claimed that the authorities are specifically targeting AAP supporters.

In his complaint about the incident, the executive engineer claimed that he was beaten up by four people who were allegedly wearing AAP caps and were protesting outside the office before Mr Bharti arrived.

This is not the first time Mr Bharti’s name has cropped up in a controversy. Last month, he led a midnight raid where Ugandan women were allegedly abused over local complaints of a sex and drug trafficking ring. Mr Bharti, along with supporters and some residents, allegedly accosted the African nationals as part of their “raid” on a sex and drugs racket in a building in Khirki Extension, which is in the minister’s Malviya Nagar Constituency. He also took along a police team, who say he tried to bully them into arresting the women without a warrant or evidence.

The raid created a huge furore with the BJP and the Congress, along with activists, demanding Mr Bharti be sacked.

Read more here –
Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

Madhuri Bhaduri quits -says AAP has mentality of khap panchayat, treats women as animals

'AAP doesn't treat women as humans,' says founder member Madhu Bhaduri as she quits





Upset over being heckled at the National Council meeting for wanting to move a resolution over tendering an apology for law Minister Somnath Bharti’s vigilantism, former diplomat and Aam Aadmi Party founder-member Madhu Bhaduri has quit the party.




Bhaduri, a former Ambassador to Portugal, said she had given a formal request to the party on January 23 for a resolution and that former Navy Chief Admiral (retd) Ramdas was also aware of it.

“On the day of the meeting, when the session was going on, I again went to Ramdas, who was speaking at that time and told him that I also wanted to speak.

I had hardly started speaking and introduced a resolution when I was heckled,” Bhaduri claimed.

She said she is not angry, but “disappointed and disillusioned” with the party.

“I am not concerned with whether Bharti would be removed or not, my only concern is humanity and that women are also human beings… This party does not consider them as human beings,” she said.


“There is no space for women. If the other women leaders have any self-respect, they will quit too,” she added.
“The party has the mentality of a khap panchayat. There is no space for women,”“Women are human too but this party is not treating them like human beings,” the former Indian ambassador to Lisbon said.


Bhaduri claimed that AAP is “desperate” to win as many seats as possible in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Asked if she was with the party, Ms. Bhaduri told The Hindu on Sunday that she had nothing to do with a party “that humiliates women.” Sources in the party, however, said they had not received any formal communication from her on this. A senior leader spoke to her on Sunday but Ms. Bhaduri said she wanted to distance herself from the AAP.

Ms. Bhaduri, the former Ambassador to Portugal, said she strongly felt that the party should apologise for the inconvenience caused to some African women in Khirki Extension, who were suspected of being involved in flesh trade and drug trafficking, and wanted to move a resolution to this effect in the National Council. She was upset that a party which professes humanism did not back her resolution.

AAP sources said Ms. Bhaduri was a “valued member of the party” and was given full opportunity to raise the issue in the council meeting. But when she tried to move a resolution on behalf of the party, some members sitting in the front row opposed her loudly, upsetting her.

A resolution has to be approved by the National Executive Committee before being moved for ratification by the National Council, the sources said. To this, Ms. Bhaduri said that she had indicated that she wanted to move a resolution and “nobody told me that it should first be taken to the National Executive Committee.”

AAP spokesman Ashutosh said Ms. Bhaduri had raised some questions. “But there is a difference in her opinion and the party’s. She had been given a chance in the National Council meet. The party addressed her questions.”

Chief spokesman Yogendra Yadav said: “She was invited on the dais during the National Council meeting to express her views. She still does not subscribe to the party’s view.”

Bhaduri alleged that she was heckled at a meeting of the party’s National Council here on Friday for introducing a resolution condemning controversial Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s role in a midnight raid in Khirki extension.

The AAP, however, rubbished the allegations.

She is the second prominent AAP leader to have openly expressed her dissent barely within a month of the party forming the government in Delhi after its stunning debut in the Delhi assembly elections.

Vinod Kumar Binny, an MLA from Laxminagar, was expelled by AAP after he described Kejriwal as a ‘liar’ and a ‘dictator’. He has called for a ‘dharna’ against the AAP government.

Asked about the Bhaduri issue, senior party leader Ashutosh said she was the only member of the National Council who was called on the stage to put forth her views.

“She tried to put her views also. It is not always necessary that an individual’s views are in the line with the party.



“She was a founder member of the party. Our sympathies are with her. Moreover, AAP respects women the most and they are an important part of the organisation. I feel she should not have acted in haste,” he added.

She claimed that she is not against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti but the way the latter misbehaved with some Ugandan women was against the basic tenets of humanity.

Bhaduri, who was a member of the three important committees of the party — gender justice, foreign policy and national security alleged yesterday that the AAP has now become “aam aadmi prejudice party”.




Read mre here —



Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

A voice of dissent is drowned by the AAP high command

A file photo of Madhu Bhaduri. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Monday, February 3, 2014 – 11:18 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

I am a founder member of the Aam Aadmi Party. I had made a request to the Party secretary several days in advance of the National Council meeting in Delhi on January 30, that I wished to move a resolution to tender an apology by AAP to the Ugandan and Nigerian women living in Khirki extension for the humiliation they were subjected to by the members and supporters of AAP on the night of January 15/16, 2014. The draft of the short resolution was shared with some members of the party.

The proposed resolution was: “The National Council of the Aam Aadmi Party unanimously resolves to tender an apology to the women from Uganda and Nigeria living in Khirki Extension who, were forced to submit themselves to narcotic tests at the behest of some members and supporters of Aam Aadmi Party on the night of January 15/16, 2014. The Party deeply regrets the humiliation caused to the women. The Aam Aadmi Party disassociates itself, with  any racist comments made by the party’s members and supporters. It apologises for them. It is not a racist party.”

At the meeting I was not being given a chance to speak so I requested the last speaker, Admiral Ramdas to carry my views in his address which was the last at the meeting. This prompted the convener to allow me, ‘a voice of dissent’ as he put it, to address the gathering.

I was allowed to make two of the five points with which I intended to introduce the resolution. These were: 1) After taking oath at Ramlila ground as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had sung a song about insaniyat, (humanism). He said that AAP carried the message of insaniyat. Humanism does not allow the humiliation of women. It calls for an apology. 2) The institution of prostitution needs to be handled with careful consideration. AAP has a committee on gender justice which has Lalita Ramdas as its convener. The committee has come out with a carefully considered report. It could have been consulted. Displacing prostitutes, if indeed the women in Khirki Extension were prostitutes, which is yet to be established, is no solution. There are an estimated 30 lakh prostitutes in India. It will not be difficult to chase them out because 40 per cent are girls below the age of 13. Where can they be deported to, the Indian Ocean? AAP has chosen to displace the small number of African women who are helpless. They have no votes. Their humiliation was an attack on insaniyat. So was the negligence, which led to the death of several homeless people in the cold that night.

At this point I was told to stop. ‘You have had your say’ I was sternly told. The mike was taken away from me. The shouting brigade became very strong. I was told ‘not to make a spectacle before the media’. There was no media present in the hall. I was forced to step down from the stage.

What is emerging is the fact that AAP is backing well entrenched prejudices in society because they carry the weight of votes. The Aam Aadmi Party is already the party of Aam Aadmi prejudice. The talk of Vyavastha Parivartan and AAP ki Kranti sounds like the Sampurna Kranti of the JP movement in 1977, which vanished like steam as soon as the Janata Dal formed the government.

It is also clear that AAP’s talk of participatory democracy is a sham. The high command allows no dissent.


The writer retired as an ambassador of India

Read more here —


Related posts

Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti was once unethical spammer

,TNN | Feb 2, 2014,

Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti was once unethical spammer
Bharti denied any wrongdoing and insisted an associate was behind the dodgy business. Once he got to know of the “unethical” practices, he claims to have severed links with the person concerned.
NEW DELHI: Long before Delhi law ministerSomnath Bharti ventured into politics, he ran a business on the web that many allege was “unethical” and operated in the “grey zone”. His name is linked to a tech firm that spammed website owners and tried to make them pay for directory services they never solicited.

Bharti denied any wrongdoing and insisted an associate was behind the dodgy business. Once he got to know of the “unethical” practices, he claims to have severed links with the person concerned.

Records of Bharti’s involvement with this spam business date back to 2003-04. This was when he had links with a company called Topsites LLC that worked out of Malviya Nagar. In those days website administrators – also called webmasters – often registered with the Open Directory. allegedly copied data from the directory and its Malviya Nagar office called or emailed the webmasters, and said they were registered free, for now. But they’d have to pay if they wanted to continue listing. Some paid up, but many rejected the claims.

Once those emails/calls became frequent, webmasters on virtual forums began wondering what Topsites was and who owned it. In 2004, Conrad Longmore, a UK website owner and an Open Directory editor, began connecting the dots and started trawling WHOIS records — an online database that provides records of who registered a site and where it is hosted.

“Topsites copied websites from Open Directory and used the data to spam. It wrote to webmasters claiming Topsites was a major search engine and a big web directory. It asked them to pay to renew membership so that they could continue to be part of Topsites even though webmasters never asked to be included in the Topsites database. Many paid,” Longmore told TOI.

Topsites LLC also drew fire from Dan Balsam, a US lawyer known for suing spammers. This was after over 24 spam emails landed in his mailbox in 2003-04. “Dan filed a lawsuit in June 2004 against a number of defendants, including a man named Somnath Bharti, who apparently operated an entity named Topsites LLC,” Timothy Walton, Balsam’s lawyer told TOI. He said that the lawsuit resulted in an out-of-court settlement. The spammers agreed to pay $5,000 and promised not to spam Balsam.

Although Bharti stoutly denied involvement with Topsites LLC, a TOI check showed the directory service was indeed run out of a Delhi office. A person who worked for Topsites “customer support” in 2005, but didn’t want to be named, claimed that Bharti managed the business.

“Six or seven of us took calls and resolved webmasters’ queries. A system sent automated spam emails. The webmasters were told they’d need to pay around $10 to be included in the Topsites directory for a month. For a six-month listing, the rate was $30,” he said. In India, spamming isn’t a crime, but it is certainly unethical. In the US, spamming is a crime. Canada has strict anti-spam laws, so have Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

Digging deeper, Longmore found: “The clue to his (Bharti’s) involvement comes from the WHOIS records. After I published the information (WHOIS records), someone emailed me with more details, including his (Bharti’s) photograph and business card.”

Bharti promptly emailed Longmore denying involvement. The Open Directory editor says the details the mail gave actually confirmed his suspicion. “Webmasters discussing the matter on Google Groups provided a wealth of information on Topsites, Bharti and an entity called Madgen,” Longmore said.

The law minister’s election affidavit mentions Madgen that also operates out of Malviya Nagar. It says he owns shares in the company. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs website shows the firm was registered in 2002 and lists [email protected] as its email contact.

Denying involvement in spamming, Bharti emailed TOI saying: “Back in early 2000, server of Madgen Solutions Pvt Ltd was entrusted with an associate by me who misused it without my consent/knowledge. When the matter cropped up, I came to know that the said associate had generated mass emails soliciting business and had also impersonated me on multiple occasions. On exploring I found out that the emails generated were for a legitimate business, originating from a valid traceable IP address and in proper compliance with the laws applicable in the US, ie CANSPAM Act, then… hence this breach of trust between me and this associate of mine was not pursued in a court of law.”

Web Archives, aka Wayback Machine, which keeps record of old websites, has a snapshot of Bharti’s website — — in 2003. Taken on November 22, 2003, it exposes his link to Topsites. In a message posted on the website, Bharti had asked visitors to send emails to [email protected] or [email protected] “Topsites probably made several million dollars through this (spam) operation,” Longmore said.

Topsites became so notorious that it found its way in the list of top 100 spammers maintained by the Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO), a reliable naming-and-shaming web listing. It named Bharti among three Indians cited for mass spamming. In fact, media reports dating back to 2005 listed him as a leading spammer.

Topsites no longer exists, but Bharti’s name crops up in the staff list of a similar website called, a search engine and directory. It is hosted in India on the same server as — — that hosts, the minister’s official website.

AllWebHunt is poorly secured and shows up records of webmasters it contacted. It also shows details of payments made or refused. Records show nearly 1,000 entries, most webmasters having turned down payment demands.

Read mor ehere —


Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

AAP govt harassing Delhi women’s commission chief #Vaw

AAP government harassing me for summoning Law Minister Somnath Bharti: Barkha Singh, DCW chief

New Delhi, January 29, 2014

First Published: 16:09 IST(29/1/2014) |
Barkha Singh, chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), on Wednesday refused to step down and accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of harassing her for summoning controversial law minister Somnath Bharti in connection with the south Delhi raid.

A former Congress legislator, Singh had a public confrontation with Bharti’s lawyers last week when they appeared before the DCW on his behalf in the case of alleged harassment of a number of Ugandan women.

Singh, who had lost the assembly election from RK Puram, said she was holding a constitutional post and there was no need to resign from it though the Congress dispensation, which had appointed her, was defeated.


A number of AAP leaders want Singh’s resignation as her party was ousted from power.

Earlier this month, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Arvinder Singh Lovely had asked all partymen to quit from various posts in government-run boards and commissions. When asked about it, Lovely said he had withdrawn his directive.

“It is a constitutional post and I still have one year and four months left in my tenure. The AAP government is harassing me and targeting me because I summoned Bharti in connection with the ill-treatment of Ugandan women during the midnight raid in Khirki Extension.

“Those Ugandan women had come to me with their complaints and I did my duty. If they are removing me because I summoned the law minister, then it is totally wrong. It is an atrocity on me,” Singh said.

The DCW chairperson had summoned Bharti over allegations that he had led a group of supporters against some African women after claiming they were involved in a drug and prostitution racket.

Bharti did not appear before the commission on January 24 as directed by it, but sent his lawyers who were not allowed to put across their views by Singh.

The AAP, in a statement, had accused Singh of “politicisation” of the commission by its chairperson. Bharti had said the move to summon him was “politically motivated” since “Barkha Singh is a member of Congress”.


Read more here —

Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

A Racist Turn in India

Launch media viewer
African students demonstrated against discrimination at a protest in New Delhi last June. Deepak Malik/Demotix via Corbis

Contributing Op-Ed Writer


NEW DELHI — The Africans — Nigerians, Ghanaians, Ugandans — began leaving my neighborhood in New Delhi around December. Each week, more and more families exited. Some went to parts of Delhi considered more accepting of Africans; others to areas where the residents were thought to be less interfering in general. I have heard that some of the Ghanaian families had gone back to Africa, but I don’t know that for sure.

For years, they had been a part of the swirl of cultures, languages and races that makes up this part of the capital. The Nigerian women in their bright dresses out for evening strolls and the Cameroonian family with the curious-eyed baby at the ice-cream van had made a life for themselves alongside the Afghans, Tamils and Iranians.

On Oct. 31, about a month before the departures started, a Nigerian national, rumored to have been in the drug trade, was found dead in Goa. Nigerians in the coastal state protested his murder as an act of racism, while posters read: “We want peace in Goa. Say no to Nigerians. Say no to drugs.” One state minister threatened to throw out Nigerians living illegally. Another equated them with a cancer. He later apologized, adding that he hadn’t imagined there would be a “problem” with his statement.

The controversy has reverberated across the country, including in Delhi, 1,200 miles away, where the tolerance of African neighbors has turned into suspicion and even hostility.

One night, a police constable rang my doorbell. “Have you seen any man from the Congo entering and leaving the building?” he asked. “African man,” he clarified. He said he had received a report that a local resident was friendly with Africans, and he wanted to know, was this true? The question surprised me; neighborhood battles here are waged over water and parking spaces, not over ethnicity. Now neighbors had become nervous of neighbors.

Once the African communities had been singled out, complaints against them bubbled up like filthy water, in Jangpura, in Khirki Extension, in the alleyways off Paharganj, anywhere in Delhi they lived.

The fragile hospitality gave way to a familiar litany of intolerance: They were too loud, exuberant and dirty; the women were loose, the men looked you directly in the eye, they were drug takers and traffickers, and worse.

Residents of Khirki Extension, whose rambling lanes had seen an influx of artists, journalists and migrants, conducted their own investigation of their African neighbors, which they called the “black beauty” sting.

Coinciding with the city’s darkening mood, the newly elected Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi started a wave of cleanups as part of its mission to control “lawlessness.” The city’s law minister, Somnath Bharti, led a raid into Khirki Extension, claiming to be acting on residents’ complaints that Nigerians and Ugandans were involved in prostitution and drug trafficking. Media reports suggest that on the night of Jan. 15, he entered Africans’ homes with a group of vigilantes, without a warrant. In the fracas, a Ugandan woman was allegedly forced to give a urine sample, on the street, in the middle of the crowd. After she filed a complaint, Delhi’s court ordered the Police Department to pursue her case against Mr. Bharti.

These recent events have awakened dormant prejudices against Africans in India, aggravated by our tendency to prize fair skin over dark. “Habshi,” derived from the word “Abyssinian,” has become a common epithet for people of African descent.

So, on one hand, the racist turn in Delhi and Goa is unsurprising. On the other hand, we have a long, and neglected, history of cross-migration with Africa. While Indians have been settling on that continent since at least the 15th century, African roots in India run even deeper. Africans were brought over in numbers around the 13th century as slaves, but also as generals, guards, merchants, bodyguards and craftsmen. Many never went back. Now tens of thousands are here to study, and others work as chefs and in the garment and textile businesses, among other industries.

Despite our close ties and the shared history of colonialism, Africa doesn’t figure on the Indian map of curiosity and desire. Our admiration of China’s economic prowess is commonplace and unabashed; we are obsessed with the West, in terms of education, ideals of beauty and economic might. But Africa is invisible. Racist views can be spouted without consequence. Africa simply doesn’t matter.

There will be few repercussions for the Aam Aadmi Party if it continues with blanket policies against Africans. The party won on the promise of change, yet here it is, proving that it shares the same blindness as other, older parties.

These days, the Afghans and Indians stroll in my neighborhood park, enjoying the winter breeze. The Ghanaian and Cameroonian families moved away when their landlords doubled the rent only for them; the young Nigerian women left after one police visit too many.

Delhi’s residents say that the city belongs to everybody, because it belongs to nobody. As Bangalore and Mumbai became insular possessions, with political parties often driving out anyone who was from elsewhere, the capital claimed that it had room for all kinds of migrants, expats and outsiders. If the Aam Aadmi Party continues the divisiveness that older parties have excelled at, we’ll soon find reasons to go after all the people who live differently from “us,” who don’t belong here, who should go back to the places they came from.

Nilanjana S. Roy is an essayist and critic, and author of the novel “The Wildings.”

Read more here —

Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

Of AAP, dreams, and nightmares




I am avowedly anti-police. I am only half-convinced when I say that they are a necessary evil. The “necessary” part is what I get doubtful about. This last Saturday was different. I found myself uncomfortably on the same side as the police as I read the newspapers about Somnath Bharti’s self-righteous and racist escapades. To tell the truth, I did not immediately believe what I read. That was not because I had some personal knowledge of Bharti’s antecedents. But because, AAP was a phenomenon that I wanted to work.

These last few weeks, ever since AAP’s dramatic rise to power, I have been wafting in and out of mental states, between dreams and wakefulness. Dreams are fragile things. For me, AAP’s upsurge was a dream coming true. I come from a generation of Tamils that takes joy no matter whether AIADMK or DMK wins as long as the ruling party loses horribly. Ditto with Congress and BJP.

Now, this AAP thing was an early morning dream. I could see it, feel the joy of seeing disbelief and confusion writ large in the faces of BJP and Congress wallahs. I loved it. I did not know whether I liked AAP or not. But I liked what they did, how they did it. In terms of what they proposed to do, I had questions, suggestions and critical comments. To me, the stated lack of ideology – to begin with – was both an opportunity and a challenge.

Good dreams, especially the early morning types, are difficult to let go. And I’m a hopeless lover of good dreams. Sometimes, even after waking up, I try to return to sleep to recreate and hope against hope that I can seamlessly edit in a new scene from where I let off.

So here I was in my dream. Hope catalysed me into wanting to shape it. When doubts arose tainting the goodness of the dream with cynicism and analysis, my co-dreaming friends brushed it away with sound arguments and their own actions. I loved those friends of mine who jumped headlong into the dream. One became a member of AAP and then called for a consultation post-facto. Another was already halfway into her application for an MP ticket. Another, an elderly older sister whose faith that something good was happening, should happen, cannot not happen reminded me of all the good people that are players in this dream. This dream was different. We needed this dream after the almost uninterrupted nightmare of post-independence politics.

The possibility of the dream turning into a nightmare was real, and had to be confronted. I still hadn’t woken up. The dream scene cut to a rude interruption. Mr. Bharti entered the scene without warning. He and his goons. I don’t remember if they were wearing those funny hats that night in the dream. No. Not the Aam Admi caps. There was something else – like pillowcases with holes cut-out for eyes. It was confusion then. I saw a bunch of frightened African women. Loud voices. Abusive sounds. Shrill tones – all male — conflicting commands and directions to nobody in particular. The women were accused of being whores, junkies. The fear of the African women was palpable.

My dream was not going where I wanted it to. Like always, with this dream too, I didn’t seem to be in control. I knew who was, though — Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind is a person I know and grew to respect for all the unhesitating help he gave us when the Bhopal survivors were camped out in Jantar Mantar in 2008. It does not take a genius to know that he is one, gifted as he is with a razor keen mind that can not only conjure up an engaging framework for conducting a debate, but also overturn all other frames and draw his adversaries into his comfort zone for some easy pickings.

I knew he was in a hurry to change the world. I am too, and I can understand his enthusiasm. Unlike me, who has no real clue how to go about it systematically, Arvind had demonstrated that he has a game plan. Now that Bharti had weirded my dream, I felt certain that Arvind would do something to put the dream back on track.

But his response shocked me. First, he defended Bharti. Then he asked for the suspension of four police officers who had – in a rare show of compliance and respect for due process — refused to arrest the women or search their house without a warrant. He brushed off the harsh treatment meted out to the African ladies by suggesting that the area was a den of vice, and that the women may also be engaged in drugs and prostitution. Seamlessly, he moved to the crux of the plot – his demand that the Delhi Police were harbouring criminals, and that the force should be brought under State Government control.

Bharti’s midnight madness was not a random event. That and Rakhi Birla’s confrontation with the police over a dowry death were part of the same plot to lay claim to the police force. In itself, the demand for bringing the police under Delhi’s control is not objectionable. Neither is the use of a strategy and a plot.

What was objectionable is the Khidki plot. Bharti’s violent and racist harassment of the African women was part of a carefully rolled out plan that played on the base racist stereotypes harboured by Indians. The problem with the plot lies in the frames that it seeks to invoke and play on. The frame that Africans are oversexed junkies. The frame that prostitutes are women with loose morals, and that women with loose morals are plain dangerous. It is easy to justify abuse and violence against a woman if you brand her a whore. Contemporary Indian culture celebrates such behaviour.
AAP’s game-plan for laying claim to the Delhi police force hinged on propagating a negative stereotype of black people. They promoted a notion that because Africans are subjects of such a stereotype, they don’t deserve the due process before we raid their houses or take their urine samples.

AAP needs to revisit the stereotypes it chooses to invoke. The stereotype and the frame of a corrupt politician is a good one, and AAP has pursued that well. But morality stereotypes are a particularly deadly morass. Remember how the BJP invoked an anti-muslim frame to such deadly effect this last decade? As far as Indians are concerned, it seems that all races are screwed up except for Indian hindus who are god’s gifts to human kinds as long as they are not dalits, adivasis, fisherfolk, MBCs, OBCs, dark-skinned, or worse of all, women with an attitude.

To me, it is besides the point whether the African ladies were sex-workers or not. Whether the Africans were women or not is also besides the point. Whether they were Africans or not is also besides the point. Bharti had no right to behave in the manner he did. He had no reason to harangue the police and push them to violate due process.

The second element that hints of a nightmare in the horizon is the inherent notion of collateral damage and its inevitability or even necessity. It is projected that in this pursuit of public good by Aam Admis, some innocents are bound to get hurt, and that that is justified. The ones doing the good – like Bharti and AAP — will, of course, do the hurting.

This is a fundamentalist notion – development fundamentalists may believe that a nuclear power plant is a public good, and that the people of Koodankulam will have to smilingly bear the risks or be branded anti-national; Maoists may believe that it is ok to kill a few civilians or unsuspecting constables in the larger interests of the revolution; likewise with religious fundamentalists.

To me AAP is still a dream, not a nightmare. I am still hopeful that the progressive forces within AAP will ensure that the means are as important as the ends. AAP should not have used the African women as pawns in a political fight to secure control over the Delhi police. An apology to the African women is in order.

I was born in a screwed up world. I have grown up in one. I am living in a messed up world. I want it changed. But this is not changing it. This is messing it up in a different way. This time, the messing up is being done by those who claim to be changing it for the better.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

Vigilante justice, kh(AAP) style


Geetanjali Krishna  

 Last Updated at 22:36 IST
A few years ago, a young African man was found dead on one of the roads in our colony. A watchman discovered his body early morning. When I asked him later if he had seen or heard anything that night, he said: “it has to have been drug-related… These people are all like that only! They drink and dope and openly flaunt girlfriends – I think they are spoiling the atmosphere of our colony!” Later, all the neighbours agreed that the growing number of Africans staying in the villages behind the neighbourhood were a security hazard. “The fact that they have even opened their own grocery stores and beauty salons in the village, means they’re here to stay…” said one gloomily. Everyone shook their heads sadly and said that the entire neighbourhood would soon be riddled with drug pushers, pimps and worse. The mystery of the unfortunate man’s death was never resolved as far as I know, not that anyone around seemed interested.

Over the next couple of months, the African presence in our insular little neighbourhood increased. “To top it all, the number of North Easterners has gone up too!” said a despairing dowager. Taking advantage of the relatively cheaper rents in the villages behind Safdarjung Enclave, scores of youngsters from across the world were choosing to live there. The repercussions were immediately noticeable. A local general store began selling wine and beer. Kebab and momo stands mushroomed outside the booze shop. Party-goers thronged the once-quiet colony late at night and call centre cabs began clogging up the roads. I made the mistake of saying to my neighbours that much as I disliked the sudden spurt in traffic in our environs, it was nice to see so many young people around even in the wee hours.

“All those women that you see on the corner of our street are prostitutes,” said one venomously. “Stay away from these foreigners,” advised another, “they’ll spoil our young boys and girls with their brazen ways…” The local maids and cleaning ladies said that the Africans scared them. “I’d never work in their homes even if they paid me double,” sniffed one. The general consensus was that they weren’t like “white” foreigners who are desirable employers. “These people are mostly as badly off as we are…” they said. Convincing them to cut any slack or give any benefit of doubt to foreigners proved impossible. Public opinion hereabouts had tarred them all with the same brush.

Till a fortnight ago, I believed that illiteracy, insularity and racial prejudice went hand in hand. That people who didn’t know any better responded with fear and suspicion when they encountered people very different from themselves. Of course, now the Aam Aadmi Party’ (AAP)s Somnath Bharti has shown me otherwise. The IIT professor-turned law minister’s unlawful demand for a police raid at midnight on a house full of women, many of whom were African nationals, seemed to be based on the view that given the colour of their skin, their deeds must be black as well. He listened to the bigoted opinions of some locals in Khirki Extension, sought little proof, pronounced a kangaroo court-style judgment and meted his own brand of justice which entailed forcing the women to urinate in public and worse. Even the Delhi Police rebelled against him, but AAP continues to stand firmly by him.

They say Bharti’s popularity amongst the aam aadmis (and aurats) of Khirki Extension is sky-high today. He’s a hero now, even amongst some men who, as the victims of his vigilantism have alleged, have often asked them what their “going rates” are. All I can now do is hope he doesn’t come to visit the aam aadmis of my neighbourhood next…

Read more —


Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts