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Sabrang

PM’s ‘deafening silence’ on attacks on Christians concerning, outfits protest such attacks 

'The deafening silence of the Prime Minister on atrocities against Christians over a long period of time in different parts of the country is a notable, a matter of concern, said the Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum.

06 Jan 2023

attack on christians

New Delhi: Several of Meghalaya’s leading Christian organisations have expressed concern over the “ increasing targeting of the Christian community in rhe country”, also lamenting the Prime Minister’s silence on the issue, reported The Telegraph,

These concerns raised by Christian outfits come following the recent vandalising of a church in the Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh as also the December 16 letter issued by the Assam Police’s to districts in the state to obtain data on the number of churches and religious conversion, among others.

The Shillong-based Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum (KJCLF) in a statement said, “The deafening silence of the Prime Minister on atrocities against Christians over a long period of time in different parts of the country is significantly notable.”

The Forum, specifically flagged the recent attack on a church inside Vishwa Dipti Christian School premises on Monday, January 2, in Narayanpur of Chhattisgarh. Several, including the superintendent of police of Narayanpur district, sustained injuries from the attackers.  Five people, including a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, were arrested on Tuesday, January 3. The Congress party is in power in Chhattisgarh.

The Narayanpur incident is but the latest in a series of attacks on the Christian community over alleged conversion in Chhattisgarh.

Besides, the Catholic Association of Shillong raised concerns over the recent, controversial letter by the Assam police, describing it as “very alarming in nature, particularly towards Christian minorities in the state (Assam)”.

The recent disturbing developments targeting the Christian community in the country have drawn reactions from Meghalaya, which is a Christian-majority state. They have also brought about an unease in the National People’s Party-led coalition government of which the Bharatiya Janata Party is a constituent party.

Meghalaya’s overwhelming Christian majority is dominated by Catholics and followed by Baptists, Presbyterians, and of other denominations.

The Forum’s secretary Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Kharkongor said that the Forum had hoped that those in the seat of authority would have “strongly disapproved” of the adverse actions perpetrated by certain organisations against Christians and people who exercise their individual choice of faith and religion.

Extending its solidarity to the Christian community across India which “continues to experience aggression and injustice”, the Forum exhorted the authorities in the states and Union government to “protect the lives and properties of Christians and other minority groups” all over the country and to rein in the perpetrators of violence and hatred.

The Catholic Association of Shillong, for its part, urged the Union home ministry under Amit Shah to ensure exercises “targeting Christian minorities are stopped once and for all” while seeking “steps to enhance the space of communal harmony”.

On the recent letter issued by the Assam Police, the Catholic association said, “The details sought with regard to community, area and pattern of conversation surely befit the term prejudice towards some particular communities, regions and cultural receptivity of such community.”

The Catholic association statement also said “the seven particulars sought by the department specifically targeting Christians in the state… are nothing short of attempts to intimidate and threaten the community at large”.

“Further, we appeal upon the Government of Assam, particularly the chief minister of Assam, Shri. Himanta Biswa Sarma, to kindly reverse such an order with immediate effect and ensure that Christians in the state are shown the leaf of hope and confidence…,” the Catholic Association said. Whether such an “appeal” will work against a politician known for his publicly expressed controversial views, remains to be seen.

Earlier, in defending his government, Sarma had asserted that the letter in question had “ nothing to do with his government “I would like to clarify the position of the government of  Assam: we don’t want to have any survey on any church or, for that matter, on any other religious institution…. In short, I completely dissociate myself from the letter. It was never discussed at any government forum.”


Related:

Bastar violence: Anti-Christian Campaign causes breach in Adivasi unity

False allegation of Conversion leads to the continuing Abuse against Christians

Forcible Conversions in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts in Chhattisgarh - Part III

PM’s ‘deafening silence’ on attacks on Christians concerning, outfits protest such attacks 

'The deafening silence of the Prime Minister on atrocities against Christians over a long period of time in different parts of the country is a notable, a matter of concern, said the Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum.

attack on christians

New Delhi: Several of Meghalaya’s leading Christian organisations have expressed concern over the “ increasing targeting of the Christian community in rhe country”, also lamenting the Prime Minister’s silence on the issue, reported The Telegraph,

These concerns raised by Christian outfits come following the recent vandalising of a church in the Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh as also the December 16 letter issued by the Assam Police’s to districts in the state to obtain data on the number of churches and religious conversion, among others.

The Shillong-based Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum (KJCLF) in a statement said, “The deafening silence of the Prime Minister on atrocities against Christians over a long period of time in different parts of the country is significantly notable.”

The Forum, specifically flagged the recent attack on a church inside Vishwa Dipti Christian School premises on Monday, January 2, in Narayanpur of Chhattisgarh. Several, including the superintendent of police of Narayanpur district, sustained injuries from the attackers.  Five people, including a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, were arrested on Tuesday, January 3. The Congress party is in power in Chhattisgarh.

The Narayanpur incident is but the latest in a series of attacks on the Christian community over alleged conversion in Chhattisgarh.

Besides, the Catholic Association of Shillong raised concerns over the recent, controversial letter by the Assam police, describing it as “very alarming in nature, particularly towards Christian minorities in the state (Assam)”.

The recent disturbing developments targeting the Christian community in the country have drawn reactions from Meghalaya, which is a Christian-majority state. They have also brought about an unease in the National People’s Party-led coalition government of which the Bharatiya Janata Party is a constituent party.

Meghalaya’s overwhelming Christian majority is dominated by Catholics and followed by Baptists, Presbyterians, and of other denominations.

The Forum’s secretary Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Kharkongor said that the Forum had hoped that those in the seat of authority would have “strongly disapproved” of the adverse actions perpetrated by certain organisations against Christians and people who exercise their individual choice of faith and religion.

Extending its solidarity to the Christian community across India which “continues to experience aggression and injustice”, the Forum exhorted the authorities in the states and Union government to “protect the lives and properties of Christians and other minority groups” all over the country and to rein in the perpetrators of violence and hatred.

The Catholic Association of Shillong, for its part, urged the Union home ministry under Amit Shah to ensure exercises “targeting Christian minorities are stopped once and for all” while seeking “steps to enhance the space of communal harmony”.

On the recent letter issued by the Assam Police, the Catholic association said, “The details sought with regard to community, area and pattern of conversation surely befit the term prejudice towards some particular communities, regions and cultural receptivity of such community.”

The Catholic association statement also said “the seven particulars sought by the department specifically targeting Christians in the state… are nothing short of attempts to intimidate and threaten the community at large”.

“Further, we appeal upon the Government of Assam, particularly the chief minister of Assam, Shri. Himanta Biswa Sarma, to kindly reverse such an order with immediate effect and ensure that Christians in the state are shown the leaf of hope and confidence…,” the Catholic Association said. Whether such an “appeal” will work against a politician known for his publicly expressed controversial views, remains to be seen.

Earlier, in defending his government, Sarma had asserted that the letter in question had “ nothing to do with his government “I would like to clarify the position of the government of  Assam: we don’t want to have any survey on any church or, for that matter, on any other religious institution…. In short, I completely dissociate myself from the letter. It was never discussed at any government forum.”


Related:

Bastar violence: Anti-Christian Campaign causes breach in Adivasi unity

False allegation of Conversion leads to the continuing Abuse against Christians

Forcible Conversions in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts in Chhattisgarh - Part III

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Karnataka BJP accused of protecting rape accused, Dalit group warns of protest

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

05 Jan 2023

rape accused

Bengaluru: The ruling BJP government in Karnataka has been accused of protecting the accused in a rape case of a Dalit woman in Mysuru, with a group representing the community warning of staging a protest.

On Wednesday, the victim, an engineering graduate, filed a complaint in Mysuru city’s Vijayanagar police station against the accused K.S. Manjunath aka Santro Ravi, her husband who is alleged to have close ties with the state’s BJP leadership.

The incident had taken place in 2019.

The victim claimed that she had gone to Manjunath’s residence seeking a job as it was advertised in a newspaper on March 2, 2019.

The accused offered her a job and when she reported for duty, he gave her juice laced with drugs.

She alleged in the complaint that he raped her in a state of unconscious, took her photos and had also blackmailed her.

Later, Manjunath gave her life threat and got married to her forcefully.

Even after their marriage, he continued to harass and assault her, the victim told the police.

As the incident has come to light, Alagoodu Shivakumar, District Convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samithi, has warned that if the ruling BJP government does not initiate an action against the accused, they would stage a state-wide protest.

“The action should be taken against accused Santro Ravi. He has political connections, the government should take the case seriously,” he warned.

Meanwhile, JD (S) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy accused Majunath of having connections with all Ministers.

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

In the conversation, he asks the cop to address him as ‘sir’ and mainted that the Chief Minister also addresses him as ‘sir’.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

Karnataka BJP accused of protecting rape accused, Dalit group warns of protest

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

rape accused

Bengaluru: The ruling BJP government in Karnataka has been accused of protecting the accused in a rape case of a Dalit woman in Mysuru, with a group representing the community warning of staging a protest.

On Wednesday, the victim, an engineering graduate, filed a complaint in Mysuru city’s Vijayanagar police station against the accused K.S. Manjunath aka Santro Ravi, her husband who is alleged to have close ties with the state’s BJP leadership.

The incident had taken place in 2019.

The victim claimed that she had gone to Manjunath’s residence seeking a job as it was advertised in a newspaper on March 2, 2019.

The accused offered her a job and when she reported for duty, he gave her juice laced with drugs.

She alleged in the complaint that he raped her in a state of unconscious, took her photos and had also blackmailed her.

Later, Manjunath gave her life threat and got married to her forcefully.

Even after their marriage, he continued to harass and assault her, the victim told the police.

As the incident has come to light, Alagoodu Shivakumar, District Convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samithi, has warned that if the ruling BJP government does not initiate an action against the accused, they would stage a state-wide protest.

“The action should be taken against accused Santro Ravi. He has political connections, the government should take the case seriously,” he warned.

Meanwhile, JD (S) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy accused Majunath of having connections with all Ministers.

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

In the conversation, he asks the cop to address him as ‘sir’ and mainted that the Chief Minister also addresses him as ‘sir’.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

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On The Road, with the Bharat Jodo Yatra

05 Jan 2023

Bharat Jodo

For months since September, I had been devotedly following the forward movement of the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) as it wound its way through India’s five southern states. In early November 2022, the Yatra entered Nanded district in Maharashtra, kindling an earnest desire within me to welcome the yatris and walk with them on the soil of the state I call my home.

I am a gay man, someone who is attracted only to other men. My sexuality is an important and indivisible part of my identity, of which I am extremely proud. I work on diversity and inclusion at the national level within the All India Professionals’ Congress (AIPC), a forum through which I advocate justice for those marginalised because of their gender or sexuality: these include lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. I also study history, a discipline which reveals that this marginalisation was not always true for all of our recorded past.

I have spent twenty years in activism for LGBTQ rights, beginning with queer student activism through a collective called Anjuman in JNU, New Delhi, and later fighting the case against Sec. 377 in the Delhi High Court and in the Supreme Court. Victory in that case meant that people like me have the right not to be deemed criminals just because of whom we love. More recently, I petitioned our judiciary to endorse the right of people like me to marry those we love. Our community has worked hard, and made a great deal of progress, but the ascendance of the Modi regime has resulted in a backlash against it, a communalisation of our movement, increasing constraints on our liberties, as well as rising violence from state functionaries.

Since September, I have been watching other progressive LGBTQ people like me walk and participate in the Yatra in Kochi, Hyderabad and later, Nanded. Along the journey, some of them also meet and converse with the chief yatri, Rahul Gandhi, who is an old defender of our community. Encouraged by this egalitarian engagement, I decided to join the Yatra on its last three days in Maharashtra.

I begin my journey in Shegaon, a pilgrimage center in Buldhana district, home to the samadhi of the saint Gajanan Maharaj. Accompanying me is my older brother Yuri, who has special needs because of an intellectual disability, but who was once an athlete, and is more enthusiastic than I am about walking through the rural hinterland. Also with me are friends from the queer movement, community leaders young and old, whose work has made a deep impact on people’s lives.

At home in Thane, I have been practicing long walks to train my feet to withstand the ordeals of the path ahead. First, I saunter six kilometers. Then, ten. City-dwellers from privileged circumstances like me are unused to this strain. I am also overweight, unsure of, and perhaps a little anxious about how my body will react to the realities of the road. The Yatra logs in around 25 km a day; I have never walked that much on a single day in my life. Yet, with Yuri and my friends, I turn up in Shegaon because it feels like an historic awakening is enveloping the terrain through which the Yatra traverses. There is joy in the air. Perhaps this is what hope looks like too. Buses and cars are streaming from all over the surrounding districts and beyond for a rally in which local leaders and the former Congress President will speak. Lakhs are here. I am one with the multitudes.

At Shegaon, Rahul Gandhi delivers his address on how hatred, fear, and violence have enveloped India. I notice that his voice is gruff from speaking to hundreds of fellow yatris continuously for the past seventy-two days. When Nana Patole, the head of the Congress in Maharashtra is speaking, a muezzin recites the azaan in a faraway mosque. It is maghrib on a Friday. Nanasaheb halts midway through his speech, almost by instinct. The crowds remain deferentially silent, until the rendition ends. The India I have always loved and cherished, that makes room for everybody, is here.

The next morning, we begin walking at dawn. At this absurd hour on a weekend, crowds from the villages nearby line up the entire route of the Yatra. They are here to catch a glimpse of Rahul Gandhi – groups of women holding up thalis to perform his aarti, to anoint and welcome him to their homeland. When he passes, however, they remain to greet the other yatris in a show of hospitality that is both tender and endearing. They generously offer water to the visitors, put up cultural performances – sometimes dancing with their lezims and playing the dhol tasha, sometimes dressing their kids up as leaders of the freedom movement, sometimes singing patriotic songs to welcome us pilgrims. Maharashtra’s kindheartedness is on bountiful display.

This magnanimity, however, does not end at their front door. As the day progresses, some women yatris must use a restroom. They knock on a random door and are welcomed in to use the domestic facilities. This seems almost foreign to townspeople like me, brimming with suspicion and cynicism, who attach metal grills to our home’s open windows to ostensibly fortify ourselves from the elements outside.

I walk the Yatra with a rainbow flag as long as my frame, tied like a cape upon my back. This flag with six colors is the international symbol of the LGBTQ community, of the diversity of our gender and sexual experiences as human beings. Yet, as a lyric in the Bharat Jodo Yatra song suggests, India’s diversity also makes us a “rainbow nation”. The rainbow flag also stands for the beauty that emerges when we overcome our differences and walk together. Wearing the flag on my body is simpler, and makes my journey far easier than mounting it on a stick and holding it in my arms, like some other queer friends did on other legs of the Yatra. Over time, the flag becomes a part of me.

Many fellow yatris who pass me by know what the colors symbolise. To my pleasant surprise, some of the local youth from Buldhana too know what struggles it represents. (Perhaps my surprise indicates my own innate prejudice and arrogance about what the youth of Vidarbha might or might not know.) Some give me a thumbs up as they walk ahead. A crew of documentary filmmakers ask me why I’m wearing it. I tell them, like all flags, this one too carries hope – a thing that is difficult to find, and yet impossible to live without in times like ours.

Many children on the way are amused at the sight of a squat, rotund guy like me wearing a rainbow cape. They assume I’ve dressed up as a superhero, and scream, calling me Superman, Batman, Shaktiman, and most charmingly, “Jadugar” – a magician. I squeal those appellations back in a fun game of back-and-forth with them. I allow them their fantasy; it is not my place to speak to children about my queer identity, to explain to them what the rainbow flag actually is, without their parents or guardians present. When adults, who are unaware of what the colors symbolize, ask me, I explain to them what diversity is contained within this simple piece of cloth. I ask them if they know people like me in their neighborhoods and villages. The answer is almost always a resounding yes.

At some point during the Yatra, ahead of Matargaon Budruk in Buldhana district, a group of us queer friends have the chance to meet and walk with Rahul Gandhi, because of the extraordinary efforts made by Chayanika Shah, a queer feminist activist from Mumbai. The security cordon around him is huge and intimidating. He walks at a fast pace. Many yatris are simply attempting to enter the cordon to shake his hand or say hello to him. Others call out to him from the outside, as he walks. He is gracious. He smiles and waves as he speaks to the diverse citizens that his staff bring into the cordon to meet him. He is hesitant to meet the men within our group, since it is his grandmother Indira Gandhi’s birthday and he has vowed to speak exclusively to women that day, but he makes a noble exception and engages with us too. We are surrounded by accomplished young leaders of the Congress: Jothimani of Tamil Nadu, as well as Praniti Shinde and Varsha Gaikwad of Maharashtra, who pull us forward and help ensure the conversation occurs.

Rahul Gandhi’s mind is curious. What are the disabilities that queer people in India face? Why is it that Indian families reject their queer children, especially those that are transgender? What really is behind the mindset that holds on to so much prejudice? I am unable to give him an answer that incorporates the truth of every queer story I know, so I only tell him mine. He listens. Without anxiety, without interruption, with an immense, patient empathy. I notice the tilak on his forehead. Assuming it to be from the samadhi in Shegaon, I tell him why I love the saint Gajanan Maharaj. We converse about food, taste, caste, life, history, meditation, and faith. We speak about his friend Sachin Rao, the head of Training for the Congress, who has begun transforming my life and is helping me grow into a better politician. He offers my brother Yuri a toffee, which thrills him immensely. Rahul’s simplicity and straightforwardness are winning me over.

Between the two legs of the day’s walk, it is time to recharge and rest. A huge tent with nourishing, delicious food for the yatris is set up by the local Congress organisation. Another tent filled with mattresses and pillows lets us catch a brief nap before we head out on the road once more in the afternoon. Before it is time to walk again, I meet Sachin Rao briefly in his tent. To my surprise, he isn’t resting, but reading. He is one of over a hundred yatris who will walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. He is doing so barefoot. I don’t quite understand this asceticism that is so harsh upon the body. Yet my own feet, padded by the best sports shoes in the market, have already developed blisters like the feet of many other yatris have. Perhaps Sachin has made the wiser choice by stepping out of the cycle. It is 3 p.m. and time to walk again. He parts with a goofy smile that will sustain me for the rest of my trek. I cup his face in my palm, and head out of the tent. On the road, I hear the great Husain Dalwai, former Congress parliamentarian, aged 79, raising slogans to bolster the yatris’ spirits.

On the Yatra, on both sides of the roads between villages, we encounter field upon endless field of the local Kharif crop, that will soon be harvested. This is a deeply moving experience for me, ingrained as I am into the ways of the city. On one side of our path, the white fluff of young cotton stands up aloft from above the ground. On the other, the yellow blooms of tur dal bristle in the wind. This is where my clothes might come from, I imagine. Along with the pulse that is indispensable to most Indian kitchens. On occasion, local vegetable patches and even the odd organic farm make an appearance.

I think about the labour that helped sow this crop, the farmhands that would help harvest it soon, many of whom are also walking beside us on the Yatra. Some local farmers in Buldhana tell me that they have been blessed with good weather, but excess rain in some parts of Khandesh and in eastern Vidarbha have ruined the tur. India’s farmers have faced the worst assaults on their livelihood in the past few years. The inequities of climate change – with altered weather patterns and more intense rainfall – as well as government apathy will only make their situation worse.

Many Indians who survive outside the structure of agricultural production, too, step out to support the Yatra. In Jalgaon Jamod, I speak to a group of Dalit women, who are worried about rising prices and unemployment. They quote the cost of cooking oil, of jowar to me. They ask me what the meaning of a worker without work is.

Even as we attempt to outpace and remain ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s huge security convoy and the crowds that surround him, its momentum quickly overtakes us, the humbler-paced walkers among the yatris. Eventually, the dust that accompanies the onward march of such a horde passes by. A bullock cart loaded with people and produce ambles on. I struggle to tread along. Santra Pardhi, an Adivasi activist sees me flounder. Almost as encouragement, she raises her palm and says, “Nafrat ki lathi todo, aur Bharat Jodo.” [“Break the baton of hatred, and unite India!”] I raise my own palm to meet hers.

Now, at twilight, it is just the solo yatri or smaller groups that walk this open road. The sun is about to set. The Satpura mountains that rise high to the north, on the border between Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, are in sight. Some local bikers offer me a precious pillion ride to help me get to the evening rest stop. They are flummoxed, when I, burdened by severe self-doubt about my ability to complete the day’s route, and clearly dragging myself along, decline their aid and say that this last mile is the best part. It is evidence that no matter how uphill, the task can be done. It turns dark quickly. There are no lights on the highway, and I have only my feet to guide me and keep me on the tar. Right before 7 p.m. I hear the faint strains of the National Anthem in the camp in the near distance. Rabindranath Tagore’s tune lifts my bruised, damaged feet across the finish line. Over two days, I clock over 35 km, but as the various human intimacies on this long road teach me, the Yatra is more about the journey than the walk. 

(This essay first appeared in Marathi in the quarterly journal Sarvankash; the author is an

AIPC office bearer and also a member of the Congress party)

On The Road, with the Bharat Jodo Yatra

Bharat Jodo

For months since September, I had been devotedly following the forward movement of the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) as it wound its way through India’s five southern states. In early November 2022, the Yatra entered Nanded district in Maharashtra, kindling an earnest desire within me to welcome the yatris and walk with them on the soil of the state I call my home.

I am a gay man, someone who is attracted only to other men. My sexuality is an important and indivisible part of my identity, of which I am extremely proud. I work on diversity and inclusion at the national level within the All India Professionals’ Congress (AIPC), a forum through which I advocate justice for those marginalised because of their gender or sexuality: these include lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. I also study history, a discipline which reveals that this marginalisation was not always true for all of our recorded past.

I have spent twenty years in activism for LGBTQ rights, beginning with queer student activism through a collective called Anjuman in JNU, New Delhi, and later fighting the case against Sec. 377 in the Delhi High Court and in the Supreme Court. Victory in that case meant that people like me have the right not to be deemed criminals just because of whom we love. More recently, I petitioned our judiciary to endorse the right of people like me to marry those we love. Our community has worked hard, and made a great deal of progress, but the ascendance of the Modi regime has resulted in a backlash against it, a communalisation of our movement, increasing constraints on our liberties, as well as rising violence from state functionaries.

Since September, I have been watching other progressive LGBTQ people like me walk and participate in the Yatra in Kochi, Hyderabad and later, Nanded. Along the journey, some of them also meet and converse with the chief yatri, Rahul Gandhi, who is an old defender of our community. Encouraged by this egalitarian engagement, I decided to join the Yatra on its last three days in Maharashtra.

I begin my journey in Shegaon, a pilgrimage center in Buldhana district, home to the samadhi of the saint Gajanan Maharaj. Accompanying me is my older brother Yuri, who has special needs because of an intellectual disability, but who was once an athlete, and is more enthusiastic than I am about walking through the rural hinterland. Also with me are friends from the queer movement, community leaders young and old, whose work has made a deep impact on people’s lives.

At home in Thane, I have been practicing long walks to train my feet to withstand the ordeals of the path ahead. First, I saunter six kilometers. Then, ten. City-dwellers from privileged circumstances like me are unused to this strain. I am also overweight, unsure of, and perhaps a little anxious about how my body will react to the realities of the road. The Yatra logs in around 25 km a day; I have never walked that much on a single day in my life. Yet, with Yuri and my friends, I turn up in Shegaon because it feels like an historic awakening is enveloping the terrain through which the Yatra traverses. There is joy in the air. Perhaps this is what hope looks like too. Buses and cars are streaming from all over the surrounding districts and beyond for a rally in which local leaders and the former Congress President will speak. Lakhs are here. I am one with the multitudes.

At Shegaon, Rahul Gandhi delivers his address on how hatred, fear, and violence have enveloped India. I notice that his voice is gruff from speaking to hundreds of fellow yatris continuously for the past seventy-two days. When Nana Patole, the head of the Congress in Maharashtra is speaking, a muezzin recites the azaan in a faraway mosque. It is maghrib on a Friday. Nanasaheb halts midway through his speech, almost by instinct. The crowds remain deferentially silent, until the rendition ends. The India I have always loved and cherished, that makes room for everybody, is here.

The next morning, we begin walking at dawn. At this absurd hour on a weekend, crowds from the villages nearby line up the entire route of the Yatra. They are here to catch a glimpse of Rahul Gandhi – groups of women holding up thalis to perform his aarti, to anoint and welcome him to their homeland. When he passes, however, they remain to greet the other yatris in a show of hospitality that is both tender and endearing. They generously offer water to the visitors, put up cultural performances – sometimes dancing with their lezims and playing the dhol tasha, sometimes dressing their kids up as leaders of the freedom movement, sometimes singing patriotic songs to welcome us pilgrims. Maharashtra’s kindheartedness is on bountiful display.

This magnanimity, however, does not end at their front door. As the day progresses, some women yatris must use a restroom. They knock on a random door and are welcomed in to use the domestic facilities. This seems almost foreign to townspeople like me, brimming with suspicion and cynicism, who attach metal grills to our home’s open windows to ostensibly fortify ourselves from the elements outside.

I walk the Yatra with a rainbow flag as long as my frame, tied like a cape upon my back. This flag with six colors is the international symbol of the LGBTQ community, of the diversity of our gender and sexual experiences as human beings. Yet, as a lyric in the Bharat Jodo Yatra song suggests, India’s diversity also makes us a “rainbow nation”. The rainbow flag also stands for the beauty that emerges when we overcome our differences and walk together. Wearing the flag on my body is simpler, and makes my journey far easier than mounting it on a stick and holding it in my arms, like some other queer friends did on other legs of the Yatra. Over time, the flag becomes a part of me.

Many fellow yatris who pass me by know what the colors symbolise. To my pleasant surprise, some of the local youth from Buldhana too know what struggles it represents. (Perhaps my surprise indicates my own innate prejudice and arrogance about what the youth of Vidarbha might or might not know.) Some give me a thumbs up as they walk ahead. A crew of documentary filmmakers ask me why I’m wearing it. I tell them, like all flags, this one too carries hope – a thing that is difficult to find, and yet impossible to live without in times like ours.

Many children on the way are amused at the sight of a squat, rotund guy like me wearing a rainbow cape. They assume I’ve dressed up as a superhero, and scream, calling me Superman, Batman, Shaktiman, and most charmingly, “Jadugar” – a magician. I squeal those appellations back in a fun game of back-and-forth with them. I allow them their fantasy; it is not my place to speak to children about my queer identity, to explain to them what the rainbow flag actually is, without their parents or guardians present. When adults, who are unaware of what the colors symbolize, ask me, I explain to them what diversity is contained within this simple piece of cloth. I ask them if they know people like me in their neighborhoods and villages. The answer is almost always a resounding yes.

At some point during the Yatra, ahead of Matargaon Budruk in Buldhana district, a group of us queer friends have the chance to meet and walk with Rahul Gandhi, because of the extraordinary efforts made by Chayanika Shah, a queer feminist activist from Mumbai. The security cordon around him is huge and intimidating. He walks at a fast pace. Many yatris are simply attempting to enter the cordon to shake his hand or say hello to him. Others call out to him from the outside, as he walks. He is gracious. He smiles and waves as he speaks to the diverse citizens that his staff bring into the cordon to meet him. He is hesitant to meet the men within our group, since it is his grandmother Indira Gandhi’s birthday and he has vowed to speak exclusively to women that day, but he makes a noble exception and engages with us too. We are surrounded by accomplished young leaders of the Congress: Jothimani of Tamil Nadu, as well as Praniti Shinde and Varsha Gaikwad of Maharashtra, who pull us forward and help ensure the conversation occurs.

Rahul Gandhi’s mind is curious. What are the disabilities that queer people in India face? Why is it that Indian families reject their queer children, especially those that are transgender? What really is behind the mindset that holds on to so much prejudice? I am unable to give him an answer that incorporates the truth of every queer story I know, so I only tell him mine. He listens. Without anxiety, without interruption, with an immense, patient empathy. I notice the tilak on his forehead. Assuming it to be from the samadhi in Shegaon, I tell him why I love the saint Gajanan Maharaj. We converse about food, taste, caste, life, history, meditation, and faith. We speak about his friend Sachin Rao, the head of Training for the Congress, who has begun transforming my life and is helping me grow into a better politician. He offers my brother Yuri a toffee, which thrills him immensely. Rahul’s simplicity and straightforwardness are winning me over.

Between the two legs of the day’s walk, it is time to recharge and rest. A huge tent with nourishing, delicious food for the yatris is set up by the local Congress organisation. Another tent filled with mattresses and pillows lets us catch a brief nap before we head out on the road once more in the afternoon. Before it is time to walk again, I meet Sachin Rao briefly in his tent. To my surprise, he isn’t resting, but reading. He is one of over a hundred yatris who will walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. He is doing so barefoot. I don’t quite understand this asceticism that is so harsh upon the body. Yet my own feet, padded by the best sports shoes in the market, have already developed blisters like the feet of many other yatris have. Perhaps Sachin has made the wiser choice by stepping out of the cycle. It is 3 p.m. and time to walk again. He parts with a goofy smile that will sustain me for the rest of my trek. I cup his face in my palm, and head out of the tent. On the road, I hear the great Husain Dalwai, former Congress parliamentarian, aged 79, raising slogans to bolster the yatris’ spirits.

On the Yatra, on both sides of the roads between villages, we encounter field upon endless field of the local Kharif crop, that will soon be harvested. This is a deeply moving experience for me, ingrained as I am into the ways of the city. On one side of our path, the white fluff of young cotton stands up aloft from above the ground. On the other, the yellow blooms of tur dal bristle in the wind. This is where my clothes might come from, I imagine. Along with the pulse that is indispensable to most Indian kitchens. On occasion, local vegetable patches and even the odd organic farm make an appearance.

I think about the labour that helped sow this crop, the farmhands that would help harvest it soon, many of whom are also walking beside us on the Yatra. Some local farmers in Buldhana tell me that they have been blessed with good weather, but excess rain in some parts of Khandesh and in eastern Vidarbha have ruined the tur. India’s farmers have faced the worst assaults on their livelihood in the past few years. The inequities of climate change – with altered weather patterns and more intense rainfall – as well as government apathy will only make their situation worse.

Many Indians who survive outside the structure of agricultural production, too, step out to support the Yatra. In Jalgaon Jamod, I speak to a group of Dalit women, who are worried about rising prices and unemployment. They quote the cost of cooking oil, of jowar to me. They ask me what the meaning of a worker without work is.

Even as we attempt to outpace and remain ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s huge security convoy and the crowds that surround him, its momentum quickly overtakes us, the humbler-paced walkers among the yatris. Eventually, the dust that accompanies the onward march of such a horde passes by. A bullock cart loaded with people and produce ambles on. I struggle to tread along. Santra Pardhi, an Adivasi activist sees me flounder. Almost as encouragement, she raises her palm and says, “Nafrat ki lathi todo, aur Bharat Jodo.” [“Break the baton of hatred, and unite India!”] I raise my own palm to meet hers.

Now, at twilight, it is just the solo yatri or smaller groups that walk this open road. The sun is about to set. The Satpura mountains that rise high to the north, on the border between Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, are in sight. Some local bikers offer me a precious pillion ride to help me get to the evening rest stop. They are flummoxed, when I, burdened by severe self-doubt about my ability to complete the day’s route, and clearly dragging myself along, decline their aid and say that this last mile is the best part. It is evidence that no matter how uphill, the task can be done. It turns dark quickly. There are no lights on the highway, and I have only my feet to guide me and keep me on the tar. Right before 7 p.m. I hear the faint strains of the National Anthem in the camp in the near distance. Rabindranath Tagore’s tune lifts my bruised, damaged feet across the finish line. Over two days, I clock over 35 km, but as the various human intimacies on this long road teach me, the Yatra is more about the journey than the walk. 

(This essay first appeared in Marathi in the quarterly journal Sarvankash; the author is an

AIPC office bearer and also a member of the Congress party)

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IITs IIMs cave in to government pressure, agree to partial sharing of post grad research

When the Modi 2.0 government came up with a unique way to ensure compliance— data uploaded on Shodhganga considered for ranking under the National Institutional Ranking Framework— premier central institutions were forced to comply 

05 Jan 2023

IIT

For over a year, there has been a stand off between the central government and several IITs, NITs and IIMs. Concerned about academic autonomy apart from potentially hurting patent prospects (several officials in these institutions have opined that uploading PhD thesis on the digital repository would seriously affect patent prospects), the institutes have been compelled to give in. The government’s stated aim behind launching Shodhganga project is an aim to build an open access digital resource centre on “new knowledge.” The institutes gave in reported The Telegraph after the Centre tied submission to rankings.

These elite institutions reversed course after the government decided to consider research data uploaded on Shodhganga for granting ranks under the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). The top 100 institutions under the NIRF are granted certain exemptions from University Grants Commission regulations, which allows a degree of autonomy.  

The Modi government’s Shodhganga repository is maintained by Inflibnet, a sister concern of the UGC.

Until now individual institutions had, been sending data on students’ strength, faculty strength, research output, number of PhDs granted and facilities offered, among other things, to the NIRF team for rankings.

However, from this year, 2023, the data-capturing system of the NIRF will also collect from Shodhaganga the PhD data of each institution. The institutions have been asked to submit copies of theses of all PhD candidates in a digital format to Shodhganga. The repository will withhold public access to patentable materials for periods of six months to a year, which is much lower than the three years offered by several IITs.

Concerned on these requirements, IIT Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhuri said the institution had its own repository where theses were displayed for public access. However, the documents are uploaded after the patents are filed when there is a likelihood of patentability of specific work done by graduates.

If we upload the theses before filing patents, it will affect their grant of patents because the material is already in the public domain. It takes time for displaying the thesis. It is a problem for us if we give all our thesis copies for immediate public display to Inflibnet,” Chaudhuri said.

Hence, Chaudhuri said IIT Bombay had decided to share only those theses where there was no patentable material.

“We have asked our faculty members to say if any of their students’ thesis needs to be held back because of patentable material. We will not be able to share those specific theses with Inflibnet,” Chaudhuri said.

Meanwhile an official from the UGC told The Telegraph that Inflibnet had a policy of maintaining the confidentiality of any thesis for a period of six months to one year. However, certain IITs want a three-year embargo period. No decision has been taken so far, the official said.

The UGC’s regulation on the award of PhDs in 2009 wanted all higher educational institutions to send their theses to Inflibnet for open access.

“The purpose was to check duplication of work by researchers and plagiarism. If any scholar  plagiarises, they can be easily caught. Also, open access helps in the spread of knowledge to a wider audience,” the official said.

However, the centrally funded technical institutions (CFTIs) such as IITs, NITs and IIMs did not send their theses to Inflibnet while central universities complied. The UGC does not have any regulatory control over the CFTIs, so it did not take any action.

After the government’s decision to link NIRF ranking to the Inflibnet database, nearly 70 CFTIs including IIT Delhi, IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta have joined the Shodhganga repository.

Till the end of December 2022, nearly 4.12 lakh theses have been uploaded on Shodhganga. Out of about 1,100 higher educational institutions, nearly 800 have signed agreements with Inflibnet to send their theses. Nearly 150 others are expected to join soon, the UGC official said. The remaining institutions are new ones which may not have produced PhDs, he added.


Related:

IIT Bombay E-Summit 2022 faces flak for inviting Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary as speakers

Conference on Left Movement cancelled after ‘call from senior official in Edu (MHRD) ministry: IIT Bombay

Politics in education or politics of education?

IITs IIMs cave in to government pressure, agree to partial sharing of post grad research

When the Modi 2.0 government came up with a unique way to ensure compliance— data uploaded on Shodhganga considered for ranking under the National Institutional Ranking Framework— premier central institutions were forced to comply 

IIT

For over a year, there has been a stand off between the central government and several IITs, NITs and IIMs. Concerned about academic autonomy apart from potentially hurting patent prospects (several officials in these institutions have opined that uploading PhD thesis on the digital repository would seriously affect patent prospects), the institutes have been compelled to give in. The government’s stated aim behind launching Shodhganga project is an aim to build an open access digital resource centre on “new knowledge.” The institutes gave in reported The Telegraph after the Centre tied submission to rankings.

These elite institutions reversed course after the government decided to consider research data uploaded on Shodhganga for granting ranks under the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). The top 100 institutions under the NIRF are granted certain exemptions from University Grants Commission regulations, which allows a degree of autonomy.  

The Modi government’s Shodhganga repository is maintained by Inflibnet, a sister concern of the UGC.

Until now individual institutions had, been sending data on students’ strength, faculty strength, research output, number of PhDs granted and facilities offered, among other things, to the NIRF team for rankings.

However, from this year, 2023, the data-capturing system of the NIRF will also collect from Shodhaganga the PhD data of each institution. The institutions have been asked to submit copies of theses of all PhD candidates in a digital format to Shodhganga. The repository will withhold public access to patentable materials for periods of six months to a year, which is much lower than the three years offered by several IITs.

Concerned on these requirements, IIT Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhuri said the institution had its own repository where theses were displayed for public access. However, the documents are uploaded after the patents are filed when there is a likelihood of patentability of specific work done by graduates.

If we upload the theses before filing patents, it will affect their grant of patents because the material is already in the public domain. It takes time for displaying the thesis. It is a problem for us if we give all our thesis copies for immediate public display to Inflibnet,” Chaudhuri said.

Hence, Chaudhuri said IIT Bombay had decided to share only those theses where there was no patentable material.

“We have asked our faculty members to say if any of their students’ thesis needs to be held back because of patentable material. We will not be able to share those specific theses with Inflibnet,” Chaudhuri said.

Meanwhile an official from the UGC told The Telegraph that Inflibnet had a policy of maintaining the confidentiality of any thesis for a period of six months to one year. However, certain IITs want a three-year embargo period. No decision has been taken so far, the official said.

The UGC’s regulation on the award of PhDs in 2009 wanted all higher educational institutions to send their theses to Inflibnet for open access.

“The purpose was to check duplication of work by researchers and plagiarism. If any scholar  plagiarises, they can be easily caught. Also, open access helps in the spread of knowledge to a wider audience,” the official said.

However, the centrally funded technical institutions (CFTIs) such as IITs, NITs and IIMs did not send their theses to Inflibnet while central universities complied. The UGC does not have any regulatory control over the CFTIs, so it did not take any action.

After the government’s decision to link NIRF ranking to the Inflibnet database, nearly 70 CFTIs including IIT Delhi, IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta have joined the Shodhganga repository.

Till the end of December 2022, nearly 4.12 lakh theses have been uploaded on Shodhganga. Out of about 1,100 higher educational institutions, nearly 800 have signed agreements with Inflibnet to send their theses. Nearly 150 others are expected to join soon, the UGC official said. The remaining institutions are new ones which may not have produced PhDs, he added.


Related:

IIT Bombay E-Summit 2022 faces flak for inviting Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary as speakers

Conference on Left Movement cancelled after ‘call from senior official in Edu (MHRD) ministry: IIT Bombay

Politics in education or politics of education?

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‘Love Jihad’ the priority, not ‘small issues like roads, drains: BJP Karnataka Naleen Kumar Kateel

Tweeting a video of Kateel's hate-ridden speech, the Karnataka Congress posted from its handle on Monday (translated from Kanadda) “...Development of the state, employment and education are minor issues! It's shameful that BJP has asked its party workers not to talk about development, of which it has done little."

04 Jan 2023

‘Love Jihad’ the priority, not ‘small issues like roads, drains: BJP Karnataka Naleen Kumar Kateel

In one more example of its public functionaries indulging in targeted hate speech, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Karnataka state president has said that party workers in the state should focus on the issue of “love jihad” before the assembly elections later this year, instead of “road, gutter, drain and other small issues”. The statement of Nalin Kateel has drawn strong opposition from the opposition, with the Congress accusing the BJP of deliberately indulging in divisive polarization to cloud its absence of performance and delivery in government.

Karnataka goes to the polls in April-May 2023. The opposition Congress is in a reasonably strong position there. Over the past months, high levels of corruption have been exposed by the contractors in the state. In August 2022, an NDTV Expose showed how the bribe paying contractors accused the BJP-led government demanding monetary incentive for giving contracts, at an all-time high. The Karnataka State Contractors Association (KSCA) claimed that the BJP-led state government is the "most corrupt government" and said that they have to pay a 40 per cent commission to the government, reported Live Mint.

Nalin Kateel made these controversial remarks at the BJP’s ‘Booth Vijay Abhiyaan’ for cadre in Mangaluru on Monday (January 2). “I am asking you people – don’t speak about minor issues like road and sewage. If you are worried about your children’s future and if you want to stop ‘love Jihad’, then we need BJP for that. To get rid of love jihad, we need BJP,” he said as part of his speech intended to motivate booth-level workers.

On an overdrive to polarize the electorate, the state unit president also lauded the Union government for banning the Popular Front of India. “Had the PFI not been banned, today we wouldn’t have BJP leaders Monappa Bhandary and Hari Krishna Bantwal (of Dakshina Kannada) on stage. MLA Vedavyas Kamath would not have been here. There would have only been a garland over their photos,” he alleged, claiming that the group had planned a “series of murders”.

The Congress responded and hit out at the leader’s remarks immediately, saying this is the worst possible advice the party could give its workers and would only polarise society. The Karnataka Congress tweeted a video of Kateel’s speech with the message, “…Development of the state, employment and education are minor issues! It’s shameful that BJP has asked its party workers not to talk about development, of which it has done little.”

“This is the worst (reply). They are not looking at development, they are looking at hate, they are looking at dividing the country…That is why we are only looking at development,” D.K. Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress chief, reportedly said. “They are just playing people on emotion. We want jobs, we want that price rise should not affect people, we are worried about the daily living of people.”

Over the past decade, the bogey of “love jihad” has been floated by the BJP and its ideological affiliates, claiming that Muslim men are luring and forcing Hindu women into marriage to convert them. Little evidence has been found for such claims. Yet, several BJP-ruled states have brought in anti-love jihad laws; Hindu right-wing groups have demanded one in Karnataka too. Ground reports from several states, especially Uttar Pradesh have exposed that these laws are largely used to harass interfaith couples and put Muslim men behind bars.


Related:

CJP Pleas against ‘love jihad’ laws: SC seeks details on cases before HCs

Now MP home minister Narottam Mishra directs police verification by marriage registrars to “stop love jihad” cases

Shraddha Murder Case Turns Communal, Right-Wingers Term it Love Jihad

‘Love Jihad’ the priority, not ‘small issues like roads, drains: BJP Karnataka Naleen Kumar Kateel

Tweeting a video of Kateel's hate-ridden speech, the Karnataka Congress posted from its handle on Monday (translated from Kanadda) “...Development of the state, employment and education are minor issues! It's shameful that BJP has asked its party workers not to talk about development, of which it has done little."

‘Love Jihad’ the priority, not ‘small issues like roads, drains: BJP Karnataka Naleen Kumar Kateel

In one more example of its public functionaries indulging in targeted hate speech, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Karnataka state president has said that party workers in the state should focus on the issue of “love jihad” before the assembly elections later this year, instead of “road, gutter, drain and other small issues”. The statement of Nalin Kateel has drawn strong opposition from the opposition, with the Congress accusing the BJP of deliberately indulging in divisive polarization to cloud its absence of performance and delivery in government.

Karnataka goes to the polls in April-May 2023. The opposition Congress is in a reasonably strong position there. Over the past months, high levels of corruption have been exposed by the contractors in the state. In August 2022, an NDTV Expose showed how the bribe paying contractors accused the BJP-led government demanding monetary incentive for giving contracts, at an all-time high. The Karnataka State Contractors Association (KSCA) claimed that the BJP-led state government is the "most corrupt government" and said that they have to pay a 40 per cent commission to the government, reported Live Mint.

Nalin Kateel made these controversial remarks at the BJP’s ‘Booth Vijay Abhiyaan’ for cadre in Mangaluru on Monday (January 2). “I am asking you people – don’t speak about minor issues like road and sewage. If you are worried about your children’s future and if you want to stop ‘love Jihad’, then we need BJP for that. To get rid of love jihad, we need BJP,” he said as part of his speech intended to motivate booth-level workers.

On an overdrive to polarize the electorate, the state unit president also lauded the Union government for banning the Popular Front of India. “Had the PFI not been banned, today we wouldn’t have BJP leaders Monappa Bhandary and Hari Krishna Bantwal (of Dakshina Kannada) on stage. MLA Vedavyas Kamath would not have been here. There would have only been a garland over their photos,” he alleged, claiming that the group had planned a “series of murders”.

The Congress responded and hit out at the leader’s remarks immediately, saying this is the worst possible advice the party could give its workers and would only polarise society. The Karnataka Congress tweeted a video of Kateel’s speech with the message, “…Development of the state, employment and education are minor issues! It’s shameful that BJP has asked its party workers not to talk about development, of which it has done little.”

“This is the worst (reply). They are not looking at development, they are looking at hate, they are looking at dividing the country…That is why we are only looking at development,” D.K. Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress chief, reportedly said. “They are just playing people on emotion. We want jobs, we want that price rise should not affect people, we are worried about the daily living of people.”

Over the past decade, the bogey of “love jihad” has been floated by the BJP and its ideological affiliates, claiming that Muslim men are luring and forcing Hindu women into marriage to convert them. Little evidence has been found for such claims. Yet, several BJP-ruled states have brought in anti-love jihad laws; Hindu right-wing groups have demanded one in Karnataka too. Ground reports from several states, especially Uttar Pradesh have exposed that these laws are largely used to harass interfaith couples and put Muslim men behind bars.


Related:

CJP Pleas against ‘love jihad’ laws: SC seeks details on cases before HCs

Now MP home minister Narottam Mishra directs police verification by marriage registrars to “stop love jihad” cases

Shraddha Murder Case Turns Communal, Right-Wingers Term it Love Jihad

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CMIE Unemployment Data: HP & Punjab better than national average; Haryana has one of three persons jobless

According to the data provided by CMIE, an independent data base, Punjab is a state is much better placed than neighbouring Haryana having an unemployment rate of 37.4 per cent; Himachal Pradesh is also at 7.6 per cent, 0.8 per cent more than Punjab.

04 Jan 2023

unemployement
Representation Image | Reuters

Out of every 100 persons in the north Indian state of Punjab, currently ruled by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) only seven are unemployed. This was revealed in the unemployment data recently released by the Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy Private Limited (CMIE). With an unemployment rate of 6.8 per cent, Punjab has fared better than the national average of unemployment, which is at 8.6 per cent. State elections were held in Punjab in February 2022, before which this state has been consistently with the Congress party.

However, according to the same data, both Himachal Pradesh (HP) and Punjab are states that are better placed than neighbouring Haryana having an unemployment rate of 37.4 per cent. Himachal Pradesh is also at 7.6 per cent, 0.8 per cent more than Punjab. Haryana has been ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Predictably, economists of the state itself have looked at the data with suspicion. Government sources state that the government was working to provide jobs to the youths especially the labour department as well as the employment generation department in Punjab. Punjab’s record is interesting: it has set up District Bureaus of Employment and Training and has been imparting skill training to the youth. Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s government had stated Ghar Ghar rozgar scheme under which Rozgar Melas were held and the youth were given placement options.

Economists in Punjab, however, do not agree with the data, reports The Indian Express.  Dr Lakhwinder Singh Gill, Prof of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala said that it is difficult to draw long term conclusion from the quarterly data, “Relatively, the rate of unemployment is not only high but very high in Punjab if you look at the situation especially in last 10 years. The unemployment rates are much higher if you look at the number of youths going abroad in search of jobs, filing applications with various embassies, and preparing for IELTS. It clearly shows the younger generation is disheartened.”

He further told IE that the disillusionment has reached a pinnacle in Punjab whereby youths are so disillusioned with the whole system that they do not report unemployment that they do not get registered with the employment exchanges. Further poor conditions of employment, put them off. Another noted economist, Dr SS Johl asked, “The labourers get work. How many jobs do MBAs and MCAs get?”

Government defense

A functionary of the government however said that around 21,000 youth have got employment since April 1. More than 22,000 government jobs have been advertised.

Defending actions to increase employment opportunities, the employment department through its district offices is facilitating employment in private sector with target of facilitating private sector employment to 13000 candidates per month. In addition, self employment facilitations are provided as per the state level bankers committee targets. As many as 15,000 employers post vacancies and jobseekers apply against these vacancies without the mediation of the government, through a government digital platform.

The skill training eventually aimed at targeting training of 70,000 youth per year is being made available by the Punjab Skill Development Mission (PSDM).

Also read: Declining trend in unemployment rates in urban and rural areas: Ministry of Labour when in the just concluded Parliament session, the Ministry put forth data to indicate that total unemployment rate for 2020-21 was at 4.2%

Who is CMIE?

The CMIE is a privately held company that serves as both an economic think tank and a source of market intelligence data. The CMIE research department has developed databases on India’s economy and private sector companies. The unemployment rate is computed as the number of persons not employed but willing to work and actively looking for a job as a percent of the total labour force, where the total labour force is the sum of all those who are employed and those who are not employed but are willing and looking for a job. The data for the year 2022 is as follows:

unemployement


Related:

Fewer Jobs, Lower Wages: Workers Flay Centre for Neglecting their Interests

Madhya Pradesh has 7.72 Lakh Registered SC/ST Youths Without Jobs: Govt Data

CMIE Unemployment Data: HP & Punjab better than national average; Haryana has one of three persons jobless

According to the data provided by CMIE, an independent data base, Punjab is a state is much better placed than neighbouring Haryana having an unemployment rate of 37.4 per cent; Himachal Pradesh is also at 7.6 per cent, 0.8 per cent more than Punjab.

unemployement
Representation Image | Reuters

Out of every 100 persons in the north Indian state of Punjab, currently ruled by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) only seven are unemployed. This was revealed in the unemployment data recently released by the Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy Private Limited (CMIE). With an unemployment rate of 6.8 per cent, Punjab has fared better than the national average of unemployment, which is at 8.6 per cent. State elections were held in Punjab in February 2022, before which this state has been consistently with the Congress party.

However, according to the same data, both Himachal Pradesh (HP) and Punjab are states that are better placed than neighbouring Haryana having an unemployment rate of 37.4 per cent. Himachal Pradesh is also at 7.6 per cent, 0.8 per cent more than Punjab. Haryana has been ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Predictably, economists of the state itself have looked at the data with suspicion. Government sources state that the government was working to provide jobs to the youths especially the labour department as well as the employment generation department in Punjab. Punjab’s record is interesting: it has set up District Bureaus of Employment and Training and has been imparting skill training to the youth. Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s government had stated Ghar Ghar rozgar scheme under which Rozgar Melas were held and the youth were given placement options.

Economists in Punjab, however, do not agree with the data, reports The Indian Express.  Dr Lakhwinder Singh Gill, Prof of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala said that it is difficult to draw long term conclusion from the quarterly data, “Relatively, the rate of unemployment is not only high but very high in Punjab if you look at the situation especially in last 10 years. The unemployment rates are much higher if you look at the number of youths going abroad in search of jobs, filing applications with various embassies, and preparing for IELTS. It clearly shows the younger generation is disheartened.”

He further told IE that the disillusionment has reached a pinnacle in Punjab whereby youths are so disillusioned with the whole system that they do not report unemployment that they do not get registered with the employment exchanges. Further poor conditions of employment, put them off. Another noted economist, Dr SS Johl asked, “The labourers get work. How many jobs do MBAs and MCAs get?”

Government defense

A functionary of the government however said that around 21,000 youth have got employment since April 1. More than 22,000 government jobs have been advertised.

Defending actions to increase employment opportunities, the employment department through its district offices is facilitating employment in private sector with target of facilitating private sector employment to 13000 candidates per month. In addition, self employment facilitations are provided as per the state level bankers committee targets. As many as 15,000 employers post vacancies and jobseekers apply against these vacancies without the mediation of the government, through a government digital platform.

The skill training eventually aimed at targeting training of 70,000 youth per year is being made available by the Punjab Skill Development Mission (PSDM).

Also read: Declining trend in unemployment rates in urban and rural areas: Ministry of Labour when in the just concluded Parliament session, the Ministry put forth data to indicate that total unemployment rate for 2020-21 was at 4.2%

Who is CMIE?

The CMIE is a privately held company that serves as both an economic think tank and a source of market intelligence data. The CMIE research department has developed databases on India’s economy and private sector companies. The unemployment rate is computed as the number of persons not employed but willing to work and actively looking for a job as a percent of the total labour force, where the total labour force is the sum of all those who are employed and those who are not employed but are willing and looking for a job. The data for the year 2022 is as follows:

unemployement


Related:

Fewer Jobs, Lower Wages: Workers Flay Centre for Neglecting their Interests

Madhya Pradesh has 7.72 Lakh Registered SC/ST Youths Without Jobs: Govt Data

Related Articles


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Assam: Delimitation of Assembly, Parliamentary Seats, Merging of Districts Raise Apprehensions

The Assam government notification of December 31, 2022, suggests that almost 100 villages have been realigned with different districts from the existing ones.

04 Jan 2023

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a press conference in New Delhi.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a press conference in New Delhi. Image Courtesy: PTI

Two issues have caused widespread apprehensions across Assam; the parties in opposition, critics and concerned people have raised their concerns after the declarations of the delimitation process in the state along with the decision to merge four districts with four others. These issues are woven together and can not be seen in isolation.

On the eve of the New Year, Assam's chief minister (CM), Himanta Biswa Sarma, declared the merging of the four districts: Bajali, Biswanath, Hojai and Tamulpur, with Barpeta, Sonitpur, Nagaon, and Baksa. He, however, said that the decision is temporary. Sarma was in Delhi along with the cabinet ministers, and the press conference happened after the Assam cabinet meeting held in Delhi.

As told by Sarma, the reason for the decisions was to comply with the EC (Election Commission) notification that has banned creating new administrative units in the state until the delimitation exercise is completed. The EC ban has been effective from January 1, 2023. The question that emerges immediately is why the districts created earlier have to be merged. Even if the EC ban is effective, how do the existing districts violate the norms? They are anyways no new administrative units.

Notably, the CM declared that several villages had been separated from the districts they used to come under and included with other districts. For example, six villages in the Barpeta districts are now part of Bongaigaon.

The Assam government notification of December 31, 2022, suggests that almost 100 villages have been realigned with different districts from the existing ones. The local people have also registered protests in several districts after learning about the realignments. The other part of the issue is the delimitation itself. There are more questions than answers. Why the sudden haste of conducting delimitation at this point? Why had delimitation not happened in Assam since 1976?

The Background

Delimitation is a periodical process conducted throughout the country, where the Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies of the states are reframed. The last delimitation in India started in 2002, and the basis was the census report of 2001. Till 2008, most of the states witnessed the completion of the delimitation process, baring Assam and a few other states of the northeast.

Coming to the context of Assam, the delimitation of 2002 was opposed in unison by various regional organisations, civil societies and political parties. Protests on the street also reverberated inside the state Assembly, and a resolution was taken not to continue the exercise. Notably, the then speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly, Tanka Bahadur Rai, sent a letter to the chairman of the delimitation commission on May 16, 2007. The letter, based on the all-party resolutions taken on May 11, 2007, urged the commission not to continue with the exercise.

The point of disagreement was that without upgrading the NRC (National Registry of Citizens), the delimitation of constituencies does not have any meaning. Speaking to NewsClick, Lurinjyoti Gogoi, the president of AJP (Asam Jatiya Parishad) and a former AASU (All Assam Students' Union) general secretary, said, "On May 5, 2005, there was a meeting with the then PM Manmohan Singh. AASU was also a part of it, and the concerns of the people of Assam were raised there. Why the delimitation would be futile without the NRC being updated was clearly conveyed to the PM."

Lurin also said that there had been pilot projects at Chaygaon and Barpeta.

"But as the NRC upgradation process also started at that time, a consensus was built up that first the NRC and then the delimitation. The foreign immigration issue has been at the centre stage of Assam's politics since the 80s, yet it has not been resolved," Lurin said.

Santanu Borthakur, a senior advocate at the Gauhati High Court, said, "The delimitation process started in 2005 was contested at every level in Assam. The primary concern was the NRC, which has not been resolved yet. There was also a case at the high court that later went to the supreme court and a stay order over the exercise was in place. The supreme court recently removed the stay order, and the process restarts. However, it will again be based on the 2001 census report. Stay order over delimitation was also in place in Nagaland."

Foreigner issues and the NRC occupy much of Assam's politics even now. However, there need to be visible signs of getting the issues resolved. Pertaining to these, the delimitation process was halted in Assam. The delimitation commission even produced a draft in 2007, and protests and bandhs intensified hereafter, and the Assembly also came out with a resolution to not continue with the exercise. Thus, Assam could not see the delimitation during 2007-08. Since then, the process has been stalled.

The Present Conundrum

With the declaration of the delimitation and merging of districts, debates have reemerged in Assam. However, few protests or movements could be seen this time, though citizens of the concerned districts and villages have organised demonstrations. The apprehensions revolve around certain points—first, the delimitation will be based on the 2001 census. Then how will it be different from the earlier one? Second, the NRC has not been finalised yet, so the basis of opposition to delimitation in 2005 has not been withered. Third, will the exercise safeguard the indigenous people, as CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said?

Yes, these points still hold. Notably, the AASU has not been so vocal this time. It was the main force of movements in 2007 after the draft was produced.

According to a report in the leading Assamese daily newspaper, Amar Asom, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he informed AASU before the declaration of delimitation. However, Samujjal Bhattacharya, the chief adviser of AASU, declined this.

Nevertheless, there have not been any organised protests led by AASU this time. It is also worth mentioning that AASU was invited to a meeting with the CM and other ministers last year. Allegations are there that even the media was not informed about this meeting. And it is not quite known what was discussed.

Opposition parties feel something is fishy about the re-initiation of the delimitation process.

"This move is purely politically motivated," said Suprakash Talukdar, the Assam general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)).

Talukdar further questioned the dubious stand of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying, "In 2005, BJP was also opposing the delimitation process. Their arguments also hovered around the NRC and the 2001 census. Have those changed? Won't the delimitation this time be based on the 2001 census? The NRC is still in limbo. Then how come BJP supports this time? The BJP's double standard has been exposed this time."

"It is now well known that BJP has unprecedented control over the organs of the state machinery. The election commission is also in favour of them. Can we be sure that the process does not involve any vested political interest?"

Borthakur also said that the delimitation could be crafted so that the constituencies where the minority has a decisive role will be reframed. "The process may benefit the BJP in the short term," Borthakur said.

On the other hand, before initiating the process, there was no referendum or process involving the people's opinions. Assam's case has been particular, and even after the exercise was pending for such a long time, taking people's opinions was not even considered. "The entire process has undermined the democratic ethos," Gogoi commented.

"It is being carried out hastily, only targeting the 2024 general election. The BJP will try to advance their political agenda through it. We reaffirm that if delimitation has to be carried out, then it should be for the benefit of Assam's people, not for the benefit of BJP."

"And see how hundreds of villages have been reassigned with different districts overnight. And why have they merged the districts? There are financial issues as well. The state's economic condition is really poor, and running district administrations involve money, which the government may have tried to reduce," Gogoi said.

The opposition leader of the Assam Assembly, Debabrat Saikia, also raised similar concerns. Apart from demanding a clean process, he reiterated the pain and agonies of people involved in movements for separate districts.

"Districts have complicated historical facts involved and long struggles of people. The Bajali district was announced during Sarbananda Sonowal's regime. Before the anti-CAA movement, a young guy lost his life in a protest demanding a separate district. How can they forget that? The Bajali district and others were declared to please people during the CAA movement," Saikia commented.

CM Himanta Biswa Sarma is trying to put forward the 'protection of indigenous people's sentiment. In his press address in Delhi on December 31, he said that the entire exercise of delimitation and merging of districts had been done with a heavy heart but for a larger cause.

On this point, Sushanta Talukdar, a prominent journalist of Assam, commented, "I think the ruling BJP wants to advance its electoral strategy of using the Delimitation exercise by trying to create a perception of protecting indigenous communities even though the exercise being just readjustment of constituency boundaries has a limited scope of redrawing boundaries on ethnic lines. Reservation of constituencies post Delimitation will create more complexities which will be difficult for the ruling coalition to ignore."

"That is obvious given the oft-repeated statement by BJP to push the campaign that demographic threat to indigenous communities has come from erstwhile East Bengal origin Muslims. It remains to be seen what modalities the EC notifies for delimitation. Readjustment is not going to be permanent as a number of constituencies will go up after 2026," Talukdar said.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Assam: Delimitation of Assembly, Parliamentary Seats, Merging of Districts Raise Apprehensions

The Assam government notification of December 31, 2022, suggests that almost 100 villages have been realigned with different districts from the existing ones.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a press conference in New Delhi.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a press conference in New Delhi. Image Courtesy: PTI

Two issues have caused widespread apprehensions across Assam; the parties in opposition, critics and concerned people have raised their concerns after the declarations of the delimitation process in the state along with the decision to merge four districts with four others. These issues are woven together and can not be seen in isolation.

On the eve of the New Year, Assam's chief minister (CM), Himanta Biswa Sarma, declared the merging of the four districts: Bajali, Biswanath, Hojai and Tamulpur, with Barpeta, Sonitpur, Nagaon, and Baksa. He, however, said that the decision is temporary. Sarma was in Delhi along with the cabinet ministers, and the press conference happened after the Assam cabinet meeting held in Delhi.

As told by Sarma, the reason for the decisions was to comply with the EC (Election Commission) notification that has banned creating new administrative units in the state until the delimitation exercise is completed. The EC ban has been effective from January 1, 2023. The question that emerges immediately is why the districts created earlier have to be merged. Even if the EC ban is effective, how do the existing districts violate the norms? They are anyways no new administrative units.

Notably, the CM declared that several villages had been separated from the districts they used to come under and included with other districts. For example, six villages in the Barpeta districts are now part of Bongaigaon.

The Assam government notification of December 31, 2022, suggests that almost 100 villages have been realigned with different districts from the existing ones. The local people have also registered protests in several districts after learning about the realignments. The other part of the issue is the delimitation itself. There are more questions than answers. Why the sudden haste of conducting delimitation at this point? Why had delimitation not happened in Assam since 1976?

The Background

Delimitation is a periodical process conducted throughout the country, where the Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies of the states are reframed. The last delimitation in India started in 2002, and the basis was the census report of 2001. Till 2008, most of the states witnessed the completion of the delimitation process, baring Assam and a few other states of the northeast.

Coming to the context of Assam, the delimitation of 2002 was opposed in unison by various regional organisations, civil societies and political parties. Protests on the street also reverberated inside the state Assembly, and a resolution was taken not to continue the exercise. Notably, the then speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly, Tanka Bahadur Rai, sent a letter to the chairman of the delimitation commission on May 16, 2007. The letter, based on the all-party resolutions taken on May 11, 2007, urged the commission not to continue with the exercise.

The point of disagreement was that without upgrading the NRC (National Registry of Citizens), the delimitation of constituencies does not have any meaning. Speaking to NewsClick, Lurinjyoti Gogoi, the president of AJP (Asam Jatiya Parishad) and a former AASU (All Assam Students' Union) general secretary, said, "On May 5, 2005, there was a meeting with the then PM Manmohan Singh. AASU was also a part of it, and the concerns of the people of Assam were raised there. Why the delimitation would be futile without the NRC being updated was clearly conveyed to the PM."

Lurin also said that there had been pilot projects at Chaygaon and Barpeta.

"But as the NRC upgradation process also started at that time, a consensus was built up that first the NRC and then the delimitation. The foreign immigration issue has been at the centre stage of Assam's politics since the 80s, yet it has not been resolved," Lurin said.

Santanu Borthakur, a senior advocate at the Gauhati High Court, said, "The delimitation process started in 2005 was contested at every level in Assam. The primary concern was the NRC, which has not been resolved yet. There was also a case at the high court that later went to the supreme court and a stay order over the exercise was in place. The supreme court recently removed the stay order, and the process restarts. However, it will again be based on the 2001 census report. Stay order over delimitation was also in place in Nagaland."

Foreigner issues and the NRC occupy much of Assam's politics even now. However, there need to be visible signs of getting the issues resolved. Pertaining to these, the delimitation process was halted in Assam. The delimitation commission even produced a draft in 2007, and protests and bandhs intensified hereafter, and the Assembly also came out with a resolution to not continue with the exercise. Thus, Assam could not see the delimitation during 2007-08. Since then, the process has been stalled.

The Present Conundrum

With the declaration of the delimitation and merging of districts, debates have reemerged in Assam. However, few protests or movements could be seen this time, though citizens of the concerned districts and villages have organised demonstrations. The apprehensions revolve around certain points—first, the delimitation will be based on the 2001 census. Then how will it be different from the earlier one? Second, the NRC has not been finalised yet, so the basis of opposition to delimitation in 2005 has not been withered. Third, will the exercise safeguard the indigenous people, as CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said?

Yes, these points still hold. Notably, the AASU has not been so vocal this time. It was the main force of movements in 2007 after the draft was produced.

According to a report in the leading Assamese daily newspaper, Amar Asom, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he informed AASU before the declaration of delimitation. However, Samujjal Bhattacharya, the chief adviser of AASU, declined this.

Nevertheless, there have not been any organised protests led by AASU this time. It is also worth mentioning that AASU was invited to a meeting with the CM and other ministers last year. Allegations are there that even the media was not informed about this meeting. And it is not quite known what was discussed.

Opposition parties feel something is fishy about the re-initiation of the delimitation process.

"This move is purely politically motivated," said Suprakash Talukdar, the Assam general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)).

Talukdar further questioned the dubious stand of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying, "In 2005, BJP was also opposing the delimitation process. Their arguments also hovered around the NRC and the 2001 census. Have those changed? Won't the delimitation this time be based on the 2001 census? The NRC is still in limbo. Then how come BJP supports this time? The BJP's double standard has been exposed this time."

"It is now well known that BJP has unprecedented control over the organs of the state machinery. The election commission is also in favour of them. Can we be sure that the process does not involve any vested political interest?"

Borthakur also said that the delimitation could be crafted so that the constituencies where the minority has a decisive role will be reframed. "The process may benefit the BJP in the short term," Borthakur said.

On the other hand, before initiating the process, there was no referendum or process involving the people's opinions. Assam's case has been particular, and even after the exercise was pending for such a long time, taking people's opinions was not even considered. "The entire process has undermined the democratic ethos," Gogoi commented.

"It is being carried out hastily, only targeting the 2024 general election. The BJP will try to advance their political agenda through it. We reaffirm that if delimitation has to be carried out, then it should be for the benefit of Assam's people, not for the benefit of BJP."

"And see how hundreds of villages have been reassigned with different districts overnight. And why have they merged the districts? There are financial issues as well. The state's economic condition is really poor, and running district administrations involve money, which the government may have tried to reduce," Gogoi said.

The opposition leader of the Assam Assembly, Debabrat Saikia, also raised similar concerns. Apart from demanding a clean process, he reiterated the pain and agonies of people involved in movements for separate districts.

"Districts have complicated historical facts involved and long struggles of people. The Bajali district was announced during Sarbananda Sonowal's regime. Before the anti-CAA movement, a young guy lost his life in a protest demanding a separate district. How can they forget that? The Bajali district and others were declared to please people during the CAA movement," Saikia commented.

CM Himanta Biswa Sarma is trying to put forward the 'protection of indigenous people's sentiment. In his press address in Delhi on December 31, he said that the entire exercise of delimitation and merging of districts had been done with a heavy heart but for a larger cause.

On this point, Sushanta Talukdar, a prominent journalist of Assam, commented, "I think the ruling BJP wants to advance its electoral strategy of using the Delimitation exercise by trying to create a perception of protecting indigenous communities even though the exercise being just readjustment of constituency boundaries has a limited scope of redrawing boundaries on ethnic lines. Reservation of constituencies post Delimitation will create more complexities which will be difficult for the ruling coalition to ignore."

"That is obvious given the oft-repeated statement by BJP to push the campaign that demographic threat to indigenous communities has come from erstwhile East Bengal origin Muslims. It remains to be seen what modalities the EC notifies for delimitation. Readjustment is not going to be permanent as a number of constituencies will go up after 2026," Talukdar said.

Courtesy: Newsclick

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Assam: Massive evictions continue in Assam, 400 families displaced

In two eviction drives conducted within 2 weeks, the administration of two district claim that the drives were peaceful

02 Jan 2023

assam Eviction
Representation Image

On December 26, 2022 around 40 families in Kanara Satra in Assam’s Barpeta were evicted due to alleged illegal encroachment. Only a week prior to this, another major eviction drive was carried out in the state at Batadrava Than in Nagaon district. A senior police officer told The Indian Express that 400-bigha land was encroached on in Kanara Satra many years ago. “Approximately 400 people were evicted today,” the officer said. “Between 45 and 60 structures, all of them semi-permanent, were demolished. There was no resistance from those evicted; the whole process was carried out peacefully.”

A Congress MLA, Sherman Ali Ahmed was detained after he staged a protest against the demolition and demanded rehabilitation of those evicted. “The government must stop evictions without giving suitable rehabilitation to eviction victims. I demand that these people be rehabilitated within one month,” Ahmed told the media present at the spot.

The eviction drive in Nagaon was to clear 1,000 bighas (1.35 sq km) land which ended up evicting 359 families. After this massive eviction, the Congress had staged a walkout in the Assam Assembly. “All people, whether Hindus or Muslims, will have to vacate Satra land. We request people to leave encroached land, otherwise we will carry out eviction drives,” said Assam CM HImanta Biswa Sarma. Satra is a form of Hindu Vaishnavite monastery.

As reported by Scroll.in, the authorities have evicted 4,449 families since May, 2021 when the BJP government came to power.

Earlier protests against demolition drives have resulted in the murder of innocent people by the state. On September 23, 2021 two residents of Dhalpur were killed by police firing during an eviction drive targeting a minority Muslim community in Assam. One of them, Maynal Haque, was protesting against the evictions but 12-year-old teenager Shaikh Farid had nothing to do with the protests. Sabrang India’s sister organization, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) is before the Gauhati High Court seeking justice for these two victims in two separate writ petitions. In Farid’s case, the State claimed that the police fired in self defence.

A detailed analysis on rights against eviction and right to housing may be read here.

Related:

ASSAM POLICE FIRING: STATE RESPONDS TO VICTIM FAMILY’S PLEA, SAYS ACTED IN SELF DEFENCE

HATE WATCH: DECEASED BATADRABA FISHERMAN’S FAMILY DUBBED “JIHADI”

ASSAM: GAUHATI HC ORDERS EVICTION, GOALPARA LAWYERS ASSOCIATION DEMAND ALTERNATIVE HOUSING

Assam: Massive evictions continue in Assam, 400 families displaced

In two eviction drives conducted within 2 weeks, the administration of two district claim that the drives were peaceful

assam Eviction
Representation Image

On December 26, 2022 around 40 families in Kanara Satra in Assam’s Barpeta were evicted due to alleged illegal encroachment. Only a week prior to this, another major eviction drive was carried out in the state at Batadrava Than in Nagaon district. A senior police officer told The Indian Express that 400-bigha land was encroached on in Kanara Satra many years ago. “Approximately 400 people were evicted today,” the officer said. “Between 45 and 60 structures, all of them semi-permanent, were demolished. There was no resistance from those evicted; the whole process was carried out peacefully.”

A Congress MLA, Sherman Ali Ahmed was detained after he staged a protest against the demolition and demanded rehabilitation of those evicted. “The government must stop evictions without giving suitable rehabilitation to eviction victims. I demand that these people be rehabilitated within one month,” Ahmed told the media present at the spot.

The eviction drive in Nagaon was to clear 1,000 bighas (1.35 sq km) land which ended up evicting 359 families. After this massive eviction, the Congress had staged a walkout in the Assam Assembly. “All people, whether Hindus or Muslims, will have to vacate Satra land. We request people to leave encroached land, otherwise we will carry out eviction drives,” said Assam CM HImanta Biswa Sarma. Satra is a form of Hindu Vaishnavite monastery.

As reported by Scroll.in, the authorities have evicted 4,449 families since May, 2021 when the BJP government came to power.

Earlier protests against demolition drives have resulted in the murder of innocent people by the state. On September 23, 2021 two residents of Dhalpur were killed by police firing during an eviction drive targeting a minority Muslim community in Assam. One of them, Maynal Haque, was protesting against the evictions but 12-year-old teenager Shaikh Farid had nothing to do with the protests. Sabrang India’s sister organization, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) is before the Gauhati High Court seeking justice for these two victims in two separate writ petitions. In Farid’s case, the State claimed that the police fired in self defence.

A detailed analysis on rights against eviction and right to housing may be read here.

Related:

ASSAM POLICE FIRING: STATE RESPONDS TO VICTIM FAMILY’S PLEA, SAYS ACTED IN SELF DEFENCE

HATE WATCH: DECEASED BATADRABA FISHERMAN’S FAMILY DUBBED “JIHADI”

ASSAM: GAUHATI HC ORDERS EVICTION, GOALPARA LAWYERS ASSOCIATION DEMAND ALTERNATIVE HOUSING

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2022: A year of the ‘Bulldozer injustice’

What started as Yogi Adityanath being dubbed as “bulldozer baba” caught on as a trend for being a mode of punishment for those accused in criminal offences, the target majorly being people from the minority community

30 Dec 2022

Bulldozer

The ideology behind demolishing homes of miscreants is ‘an eye for an eye’ but bulldozer injustice is leagues ahead since at the receiving end are people from marginalised communities and they stand to lose their homes over political vendetta. While these demolitions are posed as lawful demolitions of encroachments on government land or illegal constructions, the timing and targets of these demolitions have a different story to tell.

Here's a look at how the political class used this infamous ‘bulldozer injustice’ and has glorified it for other states to follow in tow.  It was mainly pioneered by Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh followed by Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi as well. For this, the UP Chief Minister has famously earned the moniker “Bulldozer Baba” and he is hailed across party lines for the same.

What has become all the more apparent is that members of the minority Muslim community from economically week backgrounds are the main target of the administration. The same is demonstrated in the following incidents of bulldozer injustice through the year 2022.

Delhi

On April 20, municipal authorities demolished the entrance gate of a mosque in Jahangirpuri. This is merely an hour Supreme Court ordered to halt demolitions in that area. On April 16, communal violence had erupted after a Bajrang Dal procession on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti was passing by and clashed with the Muslims as it was going past the mosque. In complete media glare, the bulldozer demolished the mosque gate, despite being made aware of the court’s orders.

On August 2, 2022 the Delhi High Court observed that persons cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their doorstep “early in the morning or late in the evening” without any notice, rendering them completely shelter less. The plea was filed by Shakarpur Slum Union stating that the 3-day demolition drive conducted without any prior notice by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials in the area, demolished around 300 of the huts and shanties. Justice Subramonium Prasad disposed of the writ petition with a direction to the DDA to carry out further demolition only in consultation with the DUSIB. The Court further directed the DDA to give sufficient time to the residents to make alternate arrangements, or, steps should be taken to accommodate the dwellers in the shelters provided by the DUSIB for three months so that the persons, whose jhuggis are being demolished, are able to find some alternate accommodation.

On July 6, 2022 the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) bulldozed over 60 tenements in Gyaspur Basti opposite Sarai Kale Khan, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi. The DDA demolished even the anganwadis but spared a gaushala (cow shelter)! Residents say they have identity documents that make them eligible for staying put in their homes until proper provisions for resettlement are made for them. However, their documents were deemed irrelevant by the DDA authorities who claimed the land of the basti belonged to their department. Therefore, on June 27 the DDA with the Delhi Police carried out demolitions, allegedly without the legally-mandated four weeks’ notice to residents.

Uttar Pradesh

On March 31, 2022 UP police brought a bulldozer to the house of two rape accused, Amir and Asif to compel them to surrender. The police claimed that the bulldozer was necessary to conduct the raid to prevent he accused from escaping and stated that the staircase in the house was partly damaged in this exercise. This was admitted by UP Police before the Supreme Court, in an affidavit filed as a counter to the plea filed by Islamic cleric body Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind against such unlawful demolitions.

On April 13, 2022 Rampur district police ordered an inquiry into the demolition of the house of a murder accused. When UP saw spate of clashes in June over BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s remarks about the prophet, UP administration sprang into action as directed by the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. IN Sahranpur, SSP Akash Tomar admitted that properties of two accused, Abbdul Wakir and Muzammil were demolished.

On June 13, Prayagraj Development Authority demolished Javed Mohammad’s (Alias Javed Pump) house, who was deemed to be the “mastermind” behind the violence of June 10. In July, the Supreme Court refused to pass blanket orders against the demolitions and while issuing notice to the UP government warned that "demolitions have to be in accordance with law and they cannot be retaliatory".

On December 10, the home of declared terrorist Ashiq Nengroo, who is allegedly a commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, was demolished. His home in Pulwama, New Colony was allegedly built on government land.

Mahdya Pradesh

On April 10, Khargone in Mahdya Pradesh saw stone-pelting and arson during Ram Navami processions in which around 80 persons were arrested. Indore Divisional Commissioner Pawan Sharma told The Hindu that 45 homes were demolished of those accused of the violence. He said that their homes were encroaching on public land and the idea was to instil fear of financial loss among the accused.

On March 22, the Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan had said “Mama’s [pointing to himself] bulldozer has set off and will not stop unless wrongdoers are not entirely destroyed.” While on a visit to Raisen where a tribal youth died in a fight between two communities. Soon after, Chauhan reportedly ordered the demolition of the houses of people accused of starting the fight.

On the same day, the homes of three Muslim men accused in a case of gangrape in Sheopur, were demolished. “Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan directed the Sheopur administration to take punitive action against the accused involved in the gangrape of a minor girl. Their houses were demolished in police presence,” a government statement said, reported The Wire.

On March 28, illegal portions of a shopping complex of Sanjay Tripathi, accused of raping a 17-year-old girl, were demolished on the orders of the CM, reported DNA.

In September, civic authorities in Banmore town, Morena district demolished the house of a daily wage worker, Girraj Rajak, accused of raping a 3-year-old, saying that it was an “illegal construction”. Similarly, the ‘illegal house’ of a school bus driver was razed down in Bhopal as he was accused of sexually abusing a 3 year old girl, as she was returning home in the school bus.

In October, eviction notices were posted outside homes of person accused of pelting stones at a Garba pandal. Within 24 hours, homes of Abdul Gaffar Pathan, Abdul Rasheed, Amjad Pathan, Faiz Mohammad Pathan and Riyaz Pathan, residents of Surjani village were razed to the ground. In addition to the ‘Bedakhli’ order, the Sitamau Naib Tehsildar court also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on each family for allegedly building a pakka house encroaching government lands.

Gujarat

On April 10, stones were allegedly pelted in Khambat town in Anand District during Ram Navmi procession. In retaliation, the District Collector ordered demolition of “illegal structures standing on government land” many of which belonged to persons accused in the clashes.

On April 21, Surat Municipal Corporation together with police, demolished properties belonging to alleged gangster brothers Aarif and Sajju Kothari.

In October, around 100 structures were demolished on Bet Dwarka island with a population of around 10,000 and majority of whom belong to Muslim community. It is known for Dwarkadhish Mukhya Mandir, a Lord Krishna shrine. Among the demolished structures, 33 belong to religious sects, reported New Indian Express.

In November, 300 houses, huts and godowns were demolished in Jakhau harbour in Kutch district deeming them to be illegal. Since the demolitions, fishermen and traders have set up makeshift homes and makeshift cold storages with tarpaulins and bamboo roofs and are determined not to leave the area until the government offers a suitable alternative arrangement, reported Economic Times. A fish trader, told the publication that razing homes with bulldozers was more a symbolic action than an administrative decision.

Assam

In May, Assam police demolished eight houses in Shalnabari, Haidubi and Jamtal belonging to people from these villages who were accused of attacking a police station, beating up cops and setting vehicles on fire in protest against a custodial death. On May 21, Batdwara police station in Assam’s Nagaon district was set on fire by some people after Shafiqul Islam, a youth from Shalnabari, died in police custody, reported News18. On November 20, the Gauhati High Court reprimanded the Assam Superintendent of Police for bulldozing the homes of the five arson accused “under the guise of investigation”. The bench led by Chief Justice RM Chhaya and comprising Justice Soumitra Saikia questioned how the police demolished the house without permission and took suo moto cognizance [In Re State of Assam and others, PIL (Suo Moto)/3/2022] of the matter.

On July 12, Dibrugarh district administration demolished the residence of Baidulla Khan, who was the main accused in the suicide case of animal rights activist Vineet Bagaria.

In July, 90 houses in Karimganj’s Patharkandi town were demolished during an anti-encroachment drive. The Print reported that it was a Muslim dominated area and the residents told the publication that they have valid documents for the land.

In September, the Assam government cleared 1,000 bighas of land for setting up a 100MW solar plant, displacing 299 families (243 Muslim and 56 Hindus) who were staying on the encroached government land at Chitalmari 3 village under Borcolla constituency. The eviction notices were served around 8 months ago as well as 2 days prior to the eviction, as per one of the residents, reported The Telegraph. The administration dismantled a temporary madrassa and requested the residents to remove two masjids, which were accordingly removed.

Bihar

The state which is governed by the BJP and JD(U) in coalition, has the BJP rooting for the bulldozer action while the JD(U) maintaining its reservations about the same. In April, Bihar revenue and land reforms minister Ram Surat Rai (BJP) had said that bulldozer drive will be launched against absconding criminals and those encroaching the state government’s land. On the other hand, senior JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha said that Bihar doesn’t require a bulldozer model as the “Nitish Kumar model of governance is best”.

On November 30, Patna High Court pulled up the Police for illegally demolishing a man’s house and commented, “it appears that all the officials are hand in gloves with some land mafia and they have illegally demolished the house of the petitioner without following the due process of law”. The judge orally commented that he will give an order where the police officials responsible for this will have to pay compensation to the petitioner out of their own pockets. 

Related:

On the firing line:  Human rights warriors of 2022

2022: Looking back at the best judgments from Indian courts

Real Impact, Real Change: CJP’s year of monitoring violations: a review

 

2022: A year of the ‘Bulldozer injustice’

What started as Yogi Adityanath being dubbed as “bulldozer baba” caught on as a trend for being a mode of punishment for those accused in criminal offences, the target majorly being people from the minority community

Bulldozer

The ideology behind demolishing homes of miscreants is ‘an eye for an eye’ but bulldozer injustice is leagues ahead since at the receiving end are people from marginalised communities and they stand to lose their homes over political vendetta. While these demolitions are posed as lawful demolitions of encroachments on government land or illegal constructions, the timing and targets of these demolitions have a different story to tell.

Here's a look at how the political class used this infamous ‘bulldozer injustice’ and has glorified it for other states to follow in tow.  It was mainly pioneered by Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh followed by Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi as well. For this, the UP Chief Minister has famously earned the moniker “Bulldozer Baba” and he is hailed across party lines for the same.

What has become all the more apparent is that members of the minority Muslim community from economically week backgrounds are the main target of the administration. The same is demonstrated in the following incidents of bulldozer injustice through the year 2022.

Delhi

On April 20, municipal authorities demolished the entrance gate of a mosque in Jahangirpuri. This is merely an hour Supreme Court ordered to halt demolitions in that area. On April 16, communal violence had erupted after a Bajrang Dal procession on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti was passing by and clashed with the Muslims as it was going past the mosque. In complete media glare, the bulldozer demolished the mosque gate, despite being made aware of the court’s orders.

On August 2, 2022 the Delhi High Court observed that persons cannot be evicted with a bulldozer at their doorstep “early in the morning or late in the evening” without any notice, rendering them completely shelter less. The plea was filed by Shakarpur Slum Union stating that the 3-day demolition drive conducted without any prior notice by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials in the area, demolished around 300 of the huts and shanties. Justice Subramonium Prasad disposed of the writ petition with a direction to the DDA to carry out further demolition only in consultation with the DUSIB. The Court further directed the DDA to give sufficient time to the residents to make alternate arrangements, or, steps should be taken to accommodate the dwellers in the shelters provided by the DUSIB for three months so that the persons, whose jhuggis are being demolished, are able to find some alternate accommodation.

On July 6, 2022 the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) bulldozed over 60 tenements in Gyaspur Basti opposite Sarai Kale Khan, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi. The DDA demolished even the anganwadis but spared a gaushala (cow shelter)! Residents say they have identity documents that make them eligible for staying put in their homes until proper provisions for resettlement are made for them. However, their documents were deemed irrelevant by the DDA authorities who claimed the land of the basti belonged to their department. Therefore, on June 27 the DDA with the Delhi Police carried out demolitions, allegedly without the legally-mandated four weeks’ notice to residents.

Uttar Pradesh

On March 31, 2022 UP police brought a bulldozer to the house of two rape accused, Amir and Asif to compel them to surrender. The police claimed that the bulldozer was necessary to conduct the raid to prevent he accused from escaping and stated that the staircase in the house was partly damaged in this exercise. This was admitted by UP Police before the Supreme Court, in an affidavit filed as a counter to the plea filed by Islamic cleric body Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind against such unlawful demolitions.

On April 13, 2022 Rampur district police ordered an inquiry into the demolition of the house of a murder accused. When UP saw spate of clashes in June over BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s remarks about the prophet, UP administration sprang into action as directed by the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. IN Sahranpur, SSP Akash Tomar admitted that properties of two accused, Abbdul Wakir and Muzammil were demolished.

On June 13, Prayagraj Development Authority demolished Javed Mohammad’s (Alias Javed Pump) house, who was deemed to be the “mastermind” behind the violence of June 10. In July, the Supreme Court refused to pass blanket orders against the demolitions and while issuing notice to the UP government warned that "demolitions have to be in accordance with law and they cannot be retaliatory".

On December 10, the home of declared terrorist Ashiq Nengroo, who is allegedly a commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, was demolished. His home in Pulwama, New Colony was allegedly built on government land.

Mahdya Pradesh

On April 10, Khargone in Mahdya Pradesh saw stone-pelting and arson during Ram Navami processions in which around 80 persons were arrested. Indore Divisional Commissioner Pawan Sharma told The Hindu that 45 homes were demolished of those accused of the violence. He said that their homes were encroaching on public land and the idea was to instil fear of financial loss among the accused.

On March 22, the Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan had said “Mama’s [pointing to himself] bulldozer has set off and will not stop unless wrongdoers are not entirely destroyed.” While on a visit to Raisen where a tribal youth died in a fight between two communities. Soon after, Chauhan reportedly ordered the demolition of the houses of people accused of starting the fight.

On the same day, the homes of three Muslim men accused in a case of gangrape in Sheopur, were demolished. “Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan directed the Sheopur administration to take punitive action against the accused involved in the gangrape of a minor girl. Their houses were demolished in police presence,” a government statement said, reported The Wire.

On March 28, illegal portions of a shopping complex of Sanjay Tripathi, accused of raping a 17-year-old girl, were demolished on the orders of the CM, reported DNA.

In September, civic authorities in Banmore town, Morena district demolished the house of a daily wage worker, Girraj Rajak, accused of raping a 3-year-old, saying that it was an “illegal construction”. Similarly, the ‘illegal house’ of a school bus driver was razed down in Bhopal as he was accused of sexually abusing a 3 year old girl, as she was returning home in the school bus.

In October, eviction notices were posted outside homes of person accused of pelting stones at a Garba pandal. Within 24 hours, homes of Abdul Gaffar Pathan, Abdul Rasheed, Amjad Pathan, Faiz Mohammad Pathan and Riyaz Pathan, residents of Surjani village were razed to the ground. In addition to the ‘Bedakhli’ order, the Sitamau Naib Tehsildar court also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on each family for allegedly building a pakka house encroaching government lands.

Gujarat

On April 10, stones were allegedly pelted in Khambat town in Anand District during Ram Navmi procession. In retaliation, the District Collector ordered demolition of “illegal structures standing on government land” many of which belonged to persons accused in the clashes.

On April 21, Surat Municipal Corporation together with police, demolished properties belonging to alleged gangster brothers Aarif and Sajju Kothari.

In October, around 100 structures were demolished on Bet Dwarka island with a population of around 10,000 and majority of whom belong to Muslim community. It is known for Dwarkadhish Mukhya Mandir, a Lord Krishna shrine. Among the demolished structures, 33 belong to religious sects, reported New Indian Express.

In November, 300 houses, huts and godowns were demolished in Jakhau harbour in Kutch district deeming them to be illegal. Since the demolitions, fishermen and traders have set up makeshift homes and makeshift cold storages with tarpaulins and bamboo roofs and are determined not to leave the area until the government offers a suitable alternative arrangement, reported Economic Times. A fish trader, told the publication that razing homes with bulldozers was more a symbolic action than an administrative decision.

Assam

In May, Assam police demolished eight houses in Shalnabari, Haidubi and Jamtal belonging to people from these villages who were accused of attacking a police station, beating up cops and setting vehicles on fire in protest against a custodial death. On May 21, Batdwara police station in Assam’s Nagaon district was set on fire by some people after Shafiqul Islam, a youth from Shalnabari, died in police custody, reported News18. On November 20, the Gauhati High Court reprimanded the Assam Superintendent of Police for bulldozing the homes of the five arson accused “under the guise of investigation”. The bench led by Chief Justice RM Chhaya and comprising Justice Soumitra Saikia questioned how the police demolished the house without permission and took suo moto cognizance [In Re State of Assam and others, PIL (Suo Moto)/3/2022] of the matter.

On July 12, Dibrugarh district administration demolished the residence of Baidulla Khan, who was the main accused in the suicide case of animal rights activist Vineet Bagaria.

In July, 90 houses in Karimganj’s Patharkandi town were demolished during an anti-encroachment drive. The Print reported that it was a Muslim dominated area and the residents told the publication that they have valid documents for the land.

In September, the Assam government cleared 1,000 bighas of land for setting up a 100MW solar plant, displacing 299 families (243 Muslim and 56 Hindus) who were staying on the encroached government land at Chitalmari 3 village under Borcolla constituency. The eviction notices were served around 8 months ago as well as 2 days prior to the eviction, as per one of the residents, reported The Telegraph. The administration dismantled a temporary madrassa and requested the residents to remove two masjids, which were accordingly removed.

Bihar

The state which is governed by the BJP and JD(U) in coalition, has the BJP rooting for the bulldozer action while the JD(U) maintaining its reservations about the same. In April, Bihar revenue and land reforms minister Ram Surat Rai (BJP) had said that bulldozer drive will be launched against absconding criminals and those encroaching the state government’s land. On the other hand, senior JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha said that Bihar doesn’t require a bulldozer model as the “Nitish Kumar model of governance is best”.

On November 30, Patna High Court pulled up the Police for illegally demolishing a man’s house and commented, “it appears that all the officials are hand in gloves with some land mafia and they have illegally demolished the house of the petitioner without following the due process of law”. The judge orally commented that he will give an order where the police officials responsible for this will have to pay compensation to the petitioner out of their own pockets. 

Related:

On the firing line:  Human rights warriors of 2022

2022: Looking back at the best judgments from Indian courts

Real Impact, Real Change: CJP’s year of monitoring violations: a review

 

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Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai Padmashali

She wrote a letter to MP Sushil Modi after he opposed same sex marriages in his Parliament speech

28 Dec 2022

Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai PadmashaliImage: Facebook

Transgender and Sexual minorities Rights Activist, Akkai Padmashali wrote to MP Sushil Kumar Modi seeking an apology to the LGTBTQIA community for the hurt caused by his speech in the Parliament during the winter session.

Modi, who is from BJP and a member of Rajya Sabha said on December 19 in his speech that he opposes legalisation of same sex marriage and that activists want to impose western laws in the country. He urged the government to strongly oppose any attempt to legalise such marriages.

Padmashali thus wrote to him stating that she was born a male and later transitioned into a woman, “this denial of marriage to those of us who are not biologically women is a denial of the very principle of equality and the right to lead dignified lives,” she wrote.

She also emphasised that there are other who fall under the rainbow spectrum of gender and not giving them the right to marry violates constitutional mandate of equality, dignity and inclusiveness.

She also pointed out that the rich cultural traditions of India have always made space for different kinds of love and different kinds of marriage. Further addressing his comment that same sex marriage would create havoc in personal laws, she said that recognising same sex marriages would be under the Special Marriage Act thus personal laws will remain untouched.

She also recalled Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words that “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment; it has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic”.

She also pointed out that he was wrong to assume that this was an attempt by left/liberal people. She wrote, “I would like to remind you that I am a part of the transgender community which is very much part of Indian culture and tradition. I am fighting for the right to marry for all. Thereby I am fighting for the right to equality and dignity for all persons. Some of us may be left, other liberal and yet others part of the hijra, transgender and sexual minority communities. There is a rainbow spectrum of support for the right to marry for all persons.”

“Our support for marriage for all is deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this land and our interest in the right to marry cannot be dismissed as an elite concern,” she added.

In November, the Supreme Court bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli issued notice to the Centre seeking response on a plea filed by two couples for making Special Marriage Act gender neutral. The bench has also sought assistance from Attorney General R Venkataramani in this matter.

The letter by Akkai Padmashali may be read here:

 

Related:

What CJI Chandrachud’s two-year tenure looks like

SC Collegium recommends elevation of first openly gay judge to Delhi HC

Purge incorrect, derogatory references to LGBTQIA+ persons: National Medical Commission

 

Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai Padmashali

She wrote a letter to MP Sushil Modi after he opposed same sex marriages in his Parliament speech

Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai PadmashaliImage: Facebook

Transgender and Sexual minorities Rights Activist, Akkai Padmashali wrote to MP Sushil Kumar Modi seeking an apology to the LGTBTQIA community for the hurt caused by his speech in the Parliament during the winter session.

Modi, who is from BJP and a member of Rajya Sabha said on December 19 in his speech that he opposes legalisation of same sex marriage and that activists want to impose western laws in the country. He urged the government to strongly oppose any attempt to legalise such marriages.

Padmashali thus wrote to him stating that she was born a male and later transitioned into a woman, “this denial of marriage to those of us who are not biologically women is a denial of the very principle of equality and the right to lead dignified lives,” she wrote.

She also emphasised that there are other who fall under the rainbow spectrum of gender and not giving them the right to marry violates constitutional mandate of equality, dignity and inclusiveness.

She also pointed out that the rich cultural traditions of India have always made space for different kinds of love and different kinds of marriage. Further addressing his comment that same sex marriage would create havoc in personal laws, she said that recognising same sex marriages would be under the Special Marriage Act thus personal laws will remain untouched.

She also recalled Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words that “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment; it has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic”.

She also pointed out that he was wrong to assume that this was an attempt by left/liberal people. She wrote, “I would like to remind you that I am a part of the transgender community which is very much part of Indian culture and tradition. I am fighting for the right to marry for all. Thereby I am fighting for the right to equality and dignity for all persons. Some of us may be left, other liberal and yet others part of the hijra, transgender and sexual minority communities. There is a rainbow spectrum of support for the right to marry for all persons.”

“Our support for marriage for all is deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this land and our interest in the right to marry cannot be dismissed as an elite concern,” she added.

In November, the Supreme Court bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli issued notice to the Centre seeking response on a plea filed by two couples for making Special Marriage Act gender neutral. The bench has also sought assistance from Attorney General R Venkataramani in this matter.

The letter by Akkai Padmashali may be read here:

 

Related:

What CJI Chandrachud’s two-year tenure looks like

SC Collegium recommends elevation of first openly gay judge to Delhi HC

Purge incorrect, derogatory references to LGBTQIA+ persons: National Medical Commission

 

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