Archive for October, 2008
Countering Fascist Forces: Defending the Idea of India
25-26 October 2008
The urgency to intervene in defence of democracy, secularism and justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the country today.
The rise of communal fascism has emerged as a threat not only to its immediate victims but to the very long-term survival of India as a unified nation of diverse religious, linguistic and ethnic groups. The mysterious and condemnable acts of terrorism that have shaken different parts of the country have engendered a climate of fear, insecurity and fuelled the politics of communal division.
In recent months, vicious attacks have been mounted across India against religious minorities by Hindutva fascist organizations and communalism has even become the dominant tenor of public discourse. In Maharashtra the regional chauvinist forces of Bal and Raj Thackeray, both offsprings of the Hindutva politics of hate, has targeted north Indians in a bid to drive them out of the state.
The BJP, RSS and their allies in the Sangh Parivar have mounted a vicious campaign against the Christian community across India. Orissa and over 10 states have seen violent attacks on the Christian community, their institutions, religious places, property and businesses on the basis of fabricated stories and hate campaigns.
Throughout the country Muslim youth are being targeted, without any or little evidence, as responsible for the various bomb blasts taking place in the country. There is a concerted attempt by the Indian police, intelligence agencies and certain political parties to portray all members of the Muslim community as ‘terrorists and extremists’ – to be arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in fake encounters. Sections of the media instead of investigating the truth are blindly parroting these sensational and unsubstantiated claims.
Even more disturbingly the accused are being systematically denied their basic right to legal defence by some bar associations themselves which have threatened, expelled and even violently attacked lawyers brave enough to take up these cases. The Indian judiciary has failed to take suo moto cognizance of such attacks as being contempt of court.
All this while hard evidence available against Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Sangh outfits of their direct involvement in terror attacks is not only being ignored but actively pushed under the carpet by the Indian state. The Hindutva terrorist groups like the Bajrang Dal are openly claiming responsibility for this communal violence against Christians and are yet being allowed to go scot-free.
There is a growing feeling among religious minority communities that the Indian state and judiciary is biased against them and unwilling to provide impartial justice even in cases such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid. No action has been taken on the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission report following the anti-Muslim pogrom in Mumbai of 1993. On the other hand some members of the judiciary are now willing to be puppets of communal forces, a dangerous trend set by the Nanavati Commission, which has exonerated the Narendra Modi government of responsibility for the Gujarat Genocide of 2002.
Instead of confronting these fascist forces the Indian state is cracking down hard on ‘soft targets’ like human rights and social activists. The fundamental rights of life, liberty, freedom of speech, religion and dissent guaranteed to all citizens by the Indian Constitution are being shred to pieces right in front of our eyes.
Entire swathes of the Indian North-East and Kashmir are covered by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that authorises even the lowest soldier to shoot and kill civilians on mere suspicion of their being ‘militants’. In Chhattisgarh, large numbers of citizens continue to be detained using the highly restrictive Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). Those defending the rights of the poor, Dalit, Adivasis and other marginalised people are being falsely branded as ‘extremists’ and ‘anti-nationals’. The state sponsored, unconstitutional ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign, which has unleashed horrific violence on innocent tribal populations over the past four years in the name of countering Maoism, is being justified by none other than the National Human Rights Commission itself.
All this is happening even as the forces of imperialism led by the United States, under the pretext of the so-called Global War on Terror, are busy re-colonising entire nations from Iraq to Afghanistan and are now targeting Pakistan in the immediate neighbourhood of India. The global media is contributing to this politics of hatred by demonizing Muslims worldwide and frightening ordinary citizens into giving up their basic democratic rights everywhere.
Within the country, the pattern of elitist development has turned a vast majority of the population into second-class citizens, reinforcing with misguided policies the apartheid of the ancient and racist caste system. The ghost of the East India Company, buried long ago, is being resurrected in myriad forms and those who run the Indian state are willfully abetting the return of a neo-colonial order.
It is a state of affairs that calls upon all those who value Indian independence, democratic rights and social justice to come forward, take responsibility and resist the onslaught by fascist and imperialist forces on the foundations of our national values and existence. We also urge all anti-communal activists and secular political parties to forge alliance to defeat fascism and communalism. We, the delegates and participants of the National Convention on Countering Fascism: Defending the Idea of India in New Delhi held on 25-26 October 2008 resolve as follows to:
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Opinion – News Analysis
Dr. Ilina Sen presents certain proposals made by Dr. Binayak Sen, medical practitioner and leading member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh. She has written this based on discussions with him during recent visits to the Raipur Jail where he is since May 14, 2007.
The present situation in South Bastar is characterised by an infinitude of chronic deprivation, along with a complete absence of political discourse. On the one hand we have the Salwa Judum, which the government dishonestly tries to characterise as a “people’s response to Maoism.” On the other hand, there is a purely military engagement between the state-based forces and the Maoists, which act as a proxy to a political discourse. Both parties to this enga gement deliberately ignore the fact that a purely military solution, imposed by either party, even if it were possible, would be neither valid nor sustainable.
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25-26 October 2008
Constitution Club Lawns
The urgency to intervene in defence of democracy, secularism and justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the country today. The rise of communal fascism has emerged as a threat not only to its immediate victims but to the very long-term survival of India as a unified nation of diverse religious, linguistic and ethnic groups.
In recent months, vicious attacks have been mounted across India against religious minorities by Hindutva fascist organizations and communalism has even become the dominant tenor of public discourse. Instead of rising to the challenge and confronting these fascist forces there is total apathy and indecisiveness among those in power. It is almost as if a silent coup has already taken place and India is on the verge of becoming a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
The RSS and organizations under its umbrella have mounted a vicious campaign against the Christian community across India. Over 10 states have seen violent attacks on the Christian community, their institutions, religious places, property and businesses. The Hindutva terrorist groups like the Bajrang Dal are openly claiming responsibility for this communal violence against Christians and are yet being allowed to go scot-free.
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Please sign and circulate widely this petition.
- sign on the online petition and/or
- write to the media about it and/or
- call or wirte to the Chief Minister and Governor of Orissa with the demands mentioned.
Shri Naveen Patnaik,
Chief Minister of Orissa,
Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road, P.O. Bhubaneswar
Distt. Khurda, Pin -751001
Office Phone 0674-2531100, 2535100, 2531500
Office Fax 0674-2400100
Residence Phone 0674-2590299
Principal Secretary to the CM, BK Patnaik: 2536682, 2322164
Shri M.C. Bhandare
Governor of Orissa
Phone: 0674-2536111, 0674-2536582
Release Abhay Sahu and scrap the POSCO project!
We the undersigned strongly condemn the arrest of Abhay Sahu, the leader of the anti-POSCO movement in Orissa and condemn the attack of the Naveen Patnaik government on democratic people’s movements.
Abhay Sahu, the visionary leader of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti was arrested unwarranted by the Orissa police near Pattamundai in Jagtsingpur district in the evening on 12 October 2008 on his return from the hospital after a medical check-up. The same night he was sent to the Central Jail in Choudwar in Cuttack district. Despite his fragile health condition, he was not given any medical help till the evening of 15 October 2008.
The motive of the state government behind Abhay Sahu’s arrest can clearly be seen as an attempt to repress people’s fight over their traditional and constitutional rights to lands and livelihoods and to divert public attention from attacks on Christians in the state so that it goes on unabated.
Thu, Oct 9 05:25 PM
New Delhi, Oct 9 (PTI) In the wake of deaths of a large number of children in Madhya Pradesh allegedly due to malnutrition, the National Human Rights Commission today said nearly half of the country’s children are not getting proper diet. “Nearly 50 per cent children in India suffer from malnutrition.
It is one of the worst problems we have,” NHRC chairman Justice S Rajendra Babu told PTI. Babu said a lot of schemes have been launched by the government for the welfare of children but all kids were not covered by them. “Government has taken up many programmes.
But no programme is good enough to cover all children,” he said. The NHRC chief claimed that government schemes meant for the benefit of children were not working properly else reports of malnutrition death would not have come.
“Government welfare programmes are not working in the manner they should be. They are not reaching to the needy.
Otherwise, so many deaths would not have taken place in Madhya Pradesh,” he said. According to a petition filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court by NGO Madhya Pradesh Right to Food Campaign, 159 children have died due to malnutrition in Shivpuri, Sheopur, Satna and Khandwa districts between May 8 and September 10.
“Whenever we get such reports, we inform the government. But unfortunately, the government’s response is always routine — that no such deaths have taken place.
They say that they were suffering from some other diseases,” he said. PTI.
‘No Double Standards in the Fight Against Terrorism’
In recent months the country has witnessed a spate of terrorist attacks in different cities as well as organised communal violence against religious minorities in several states.
We the undersigned strongly condemn all these acts of violence that have resulted in loss of life and grievous injury to scores of innocent people. It is clear that whoever is responsible for such violence should be severely punished under Indian law and all measures be taken to protect the lives of ordinary citizens under threat from their activities.
We find it deeply disturbing however that the Indian government as well as concerned state governments have adopted double standards in dealing with the two equally deadly phenomenon of terrorist bombings and communal violence.
On one hand throughout the country Muslim youth are being targeted, without any or little evidence, as responsible for terrorist attacks. In our view there is a concerted attempt by the Indian police, sections of the media and certain political parties to portray all members of the Muslim community as ‘terrorists and extremists’ – to be arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in fake encounters.
For Immediate Release
DGP Chhattisgarh Under Fire for Human Rights Record at Berkeley Conference
Berkeley, CA, September 30, 2008:
For a change it was the turn of Vishwa Ranjan, the high profile Director General of Police of Chhattisgarh, to be subjected to a grueling interrogation, about massive human rights abuses perpetrated by the police under his direction. Questioning him were students, faculty and members from a coalition of South Asian community groups at a conference on Indian Democracy at Berkeley, California, where he was one of the invited speakers.
And some of the ‘confessions’ that emerged from him were startling. The controversial arrest of film maker Ajay TG, the DGP said, was a ‘technical mistake’. The continued incarceration of Dr Binayak Sen in Raipur jail was the responsibility of the Chhattisgarh government and not the police.
In fact, so flustered was the DGP by the persistent questioning he ended up signing a petition to the Prime Minister asking for Dr Sen’s release! The card he signed reads ‘The imprisonment of this brave and good man is outrageous. I demand his immediate unconditional release’.
Ranjan earlier spoke at a panel at the FDRI/Berkeley Conference on Indian Democracy, trying to defend his record of jailing critics and supporting the Salwa Judum, a civilian vigilante army armed and backed by the state. Ranjan was handed a letter written by 106 academics calling for him to address a number of egregious human rights and police brutality cases; the signatories comprised professors from many universities including Princeton, Harvard, Yale, MIT, seven campuses of University of California and UC Berkeley’s Center for South Asia Studies, the organization co-hosting the conference.