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CAA-NPR-NRC protests cut across all religious and communal divides

From multi-faith prayers to Sikhs offering langar to protestors at Shaheen Bagh, the CAA-NPR-NRC protests are a show of unity and solidarity

19 Jan 2020

 shaheen bagh

“I only know that I have grown up hearing the sounds of temple and church bells, Azaan from the mosque and Gurbani from the Gurdwara. I hear them and I feel I can get sound sleep,” said Rehana Shabnam, a Wasseypur homemaker to The Telegraph.

The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have rejected the communal colour that was sought to be spread across the country. People from all faiths, castes and socio-economic strata have come together in unity to voice their displeasure against the fascist CAA that the government imposed on its citizens.

Unity in diversity has always been India’s strength. Shabnam says, “In our country, we have survived natural calamities and external aggression because of mutual coordination, amity, and harmony among people of all religions, and now this, is simply drawing lines.”

Not that fear hasn’t gripped the minorities, Sufia Parween, another Wasseypur resident says, “As a student of sociology I can claim that the harmony with which people of different religions live in our country is unmatched. I’m fearful about the losing this harmony with the discriminatory CAA, NRC and NPR. That’s why I am at the dharna.

This harmony between Hindus and Muslims or even among other members of the society has been present in the veins of India for years. Celebrating festivals together and looking out for each other during trying times has always been the culture of the Indians.

At Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim neighbourhood that has seen women at the helm of protests, people from different faiths have come together to show their solidarity towards the minorities. A multi-faith prayer ceremony or “sarva dharma sambhava” had been organised where a Hindu-style “hawan” was conducted and chants of the Sikh “kirtan” reverberated in the air. Scriptures from the Gita, Bible, Quran and Gurbani were read and after that all the people came together to read the Preamble of the Constitution in their movement against the CAA.

The culture of India’s diversity became even more evident when a group of Sikh farmers from Punjab arrived to Shaheen Bagh, set up a tiny kitchen under a pedestrian bridge and prepared breakfast and lunch for more than a 1,000 people, including children, who were there protesting against the CAA.

Shabnam too reminisced of the fact that generations of people like her have received and given Diwali laddoos and sewai on Id. “It’s always been like this here, exchanging sweets on festivals, marriage invitations...this is how we live.”

In Delhi’s India Gate, where protests were on, 44-year-old Mohammad Fuaad leaned over a police barricade on a chilly winter night offering Veg Biryani to protestors; while Khalsa Aid held a ‘chai langar’ helping protestors soothe themselves with piping cups of tea.

Taking a jibe at PM Modi, Ajaz Ahmad, a tea seller selling ‘secular chai’ at Shaheen Bagh says, “Chaiwale, teri chai unsecular hai,” a dig based on his 2014 election campaign where Modi said he was a tea seller in his childhood.

The protests that had started with Assam fighting to protect its indigenous identity soon spread throughout the country as people started unravelling and understanding the intentions behind the implementation of the CAA and NRC.

The final straw was the attack on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University by the police, after which the students from all across the country roared against the divisive law notwithstanding the pressure tactics of the government. Defying Section 144 that the government so arbitrarily slammed across the nation, nothing deterred the will of the people who withstood the barrage of lathis, tear gas, bullets and even stun grenades to protect the Constitution of India from getting torn apart.

From them, the baton was passed to the women, who became the brave face of the protests, tackling work and family responsibilities and still making their presence felt, understanding how adversely the NRC would affect them if implemented.

Young and old alike have come to the streets singing songs of defiance, of bravery and of resistance. Shaheen Bagh, the icon of women-led protests made its presence felt everywhere in the country.

Academics, actors, politicians, students and people from not just India, but even across borders stood against the government’s fascist policy and in solidarity with the people who were killed during the protests and the students who were attacked by the administration.

But more than a show of solidarity that has emerged in people taking care of each other during this trying time, what is more apparent is the common voice that has cut across all religious and communal lines and which is asking the same question as Maulana Mubarak Hasan from Wasseypur asks, “Why is the information for genealogy being sought under the NPR? Our forefathers were born and brought up in this land and sacrificed their lives to secure freedom from foreign rulers. Now we are asked to submit proof of our citizenship?”

Related:

Shaheen Bagh is everywhere!
Shaheen Bagh – The Playground of Resistance
More than 300,000 women take to the streets against CAA and NRC in Malegaon

 

CAA-NPR-NRC protests cut across all religious and communal divides

From multi-faith prayers to Sikhs offering langar to protestors at Shaheen Bagh, the CAA-NPR-NRC protests are a show of unity and solidarity

 shaheen bagh

“I only know that I have grown up hearing the sounds of temple and church bells, Azaan from the mosque and Gurbani from the Gurdwara. I hear them and I feel I can get sound sleep,” said Rehana Shabnam, a Wasseypur homemaker to The Telegraph.

The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have rejected the communal colour that was sought to be spread across the country. People from all faiths, castes and socio-economic strata have come together in unity to voice their displeasure against the fascist CAA that the government imposed on its citizens.

Unity in diversity has always been India’s strength. Shabnam says, “In our country, we have survived natural calamities and external aggression because of mutual coordination, amity, and harmony among people of all religions, and now this, is simply drawing lines.”

Not that fear hasn’t gripped the minorities, Sufia Parween, another Wasseypur resident says, “As a student of sociology I can claim that the harmony with which people of different religions live in our country is unmatched. I’m fearful about the losing this harmony with the discriminatory CAA, NRC and NPR. That’s why I am at the dharna.

This harmony between Hindus and Muslims or even among other members of the society has been present in the veins of India for years. Celebrating festivals together and looking out for each other during trying times has always been the culture of the Indians.

At Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim neighbourhood that has seen women at the helm of protests, people from different faiths have come together to show their solidarity towards the minorities. A multi-faith prayer ceremony or “sarva dharma sambhava” had been organised where a Hindu-style “hawan” was conducted and chants of the Sikh “kirtan” reverberated in the air. Scriptures from the Gita, Bible, Quran and Gurbani were read and after that all the people came together to read the Preamble of the Constitution in their movement against the CAA.

The culture of India’s diversity became even more evident when a group of Sikh farmers from Punjab arrived to Shaheen Bagh, set up a tiny kitchen under a pedestrian bridge and prepared breakfast and lunch for more than a 1,000 people, including children, who were there protesting against the CAA.

Shabnam too reminisced of the fact that generations of people like her have received and given Diwali laddoos and sewai on Id. “It’s always been like this here, exchanging sweets on festivals, marriage invitations...this is how we live.”

In Delhi’s India Gate, where protests were on, 44-year-old Mohammad Fuaad leaned over a police barricade on a chilly winter night offering Veg Biryani to protestors; while Khalsa Aid held a ‘chai langar’ helping protestors soothe themselves with piping cups of tea.

Taking a jibe at PM Modi, Ajaz Ahmad, a tea seller selling ‘secular chai’ at Shaheen Bagh says, “Chaiwale, teri chai unsecular hai,” a dig based on his 2014 election campaign where Modi said he was a tea seller in his childhood.

The protests that had started with Assam fighting to protect its indigenous identity soon spread throughout the country as people started unravelling and understanding the intentions behind the implementation of the CAA and NRC.

The final straw was the attack on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University by the police, after which the students from all across the country roared against the divisive law notwithstanding the pressure tactics of the government. Defying Section 144 that the government so arbitrarily slammed across the nation, nothing deterred the will of the people who withstood the barrage of lathis, tear gas, bullets and even stun grenades to protect the Constitution of India from getting torn apart.

From them, the baton was passed to the women, who became the brave face of the protests, tackling work and family responsibilities and still making their presence felt, understanding how adversely the NRC would affect them if implemented.

Young and old alike have come to the streets singing songs of defiance, of bravery and of resistance. Shaheen Bagh, the icon of women-led protests made its presence felt everywhere in the country.

Academics, actors, politicians, students and people from not just India, but even across borders stood against the government’s fascist policy and in solidarity with the people who were killed during the protests and the students who were attacked by the administration.

But more than a show of solidarity that has emerged in people taking care of each other during this trying time, what is more apparent is the common voice that has cut across all religious and communal lines and which is asking the same question as Maulana Mubarak Hasan from Wasseypur asks, “Why is the information for genealogy being sought under the NPR? Our forefathers were born and brought up in this land and sacrificed their lives to secure freedom from foreign rulers. Now we are asked to submit proof of our citizenship?”

Related:

Shaheen Bagh is everywhere!
Shaheen Bagh – The Playground of Resistance
More than 300,000 women take to the streets against CAA and NRC in Malegaon

 

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Women gather at Agripada in thousands; show way against CAA-NPR-NRC

The women-led protest is one in the long line of agitations inspired by the women of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh

18 Jan 2020

Women protest

The women of Mumbai led a historical protest in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) at the YMCA Ground in Agripada.

Shouting slogans of ‘Inquilab’ and ‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’, thousands of women including, activists, teachers, homemakers and students gathered at the protest organized by the Mumbai Citizens Forum, saw the attendance of Dr. Asma Zahra (AIMPLB), Mrs. Supriya Sule (MP, NCP), Anjali Ambedkar, CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad, Malika Oberoi, Wardha Beg (AMU) and Chanda Yadav (JMI) among many others.

Activist Teesta Setalvad addressed the crowd saying, "If a law that fundamentally attacks the Constitution is passed, then it is our duty to protest. No piece of paper can prove our citizenship. That is why we are saying that we will not show our documents to anybody."

Armed with the tricolor, the women inspired by the iron ladies of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, displayed banners that stated ‘stop dividing the nation’ and wore burqa head veils with bands that had ‘No NPR/NRC/CAA’ written on them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking to the Mumbai Mirror against the ‘divisive laws’ that CAA and NRC are, a doctor and a teacher at the protest said, ‘We are known by our country. We are proud to be Indians and proud to be Muslim. Loyalty to our country is part of our faith and we’ve proven it. When we go on our pilgrimage, Haj, we carry the Tiranga. The soul of Hindustan has been enriched by the blood of our grandfathers who gave their lives for freedom. And you dare tell us to prove that we are Indians by showing some documents!”

The women also said that the current regime was diverting the minds of the people by bringing in divisive politics instead of focusing on issues like unemployment and the worsening economy. Shehla Faiz, an MBA student who came to the protest with her mother Nasreen, a retired school principal told the Mumbai Mirror, Politicians thrive on divisive laws and spread hatred. The CAA and NRC go against the essence of Bharat.

With the chant of ‘Hum Kaagaz Nahi Dikhayenge’ reverberating in the air, the women kept up their voices in the hope that the CAA would be revoked and the NRC wouldn’t be implemented. Protester Zakia Ansari said, “Let the PM give in writing what he has said: that the NRC won’t be brought in. Like a mother protects her children, the Constitution protects us. We will make sure there’s no change in it.”

Women gather at Agripada in thousands; show way against CAA-NPR-NRC

The women-led protest is one in the long line of agitations inspired by the women of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh

Women protest

The women of Mumbai led a historical protest in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) at the YMCA Ground in Agripada.

Shouting slogans of ‘Inquilab’ and ‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’, thousands of women including, activists, teachers, homemakers and students gathered at the protest organized by the Mumbai Citizens Forum, saw the attendance of Dr. Asma Zahra (AIMPLB), Mrs. Supriya Sule (MP, NCP), Anjali Ambedkar, CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad, Malika Oberoi, Wardha Beg (AMU) and Chanda Yadav (JMI) among many others.

Activist Teesta Setalvad addressed the crowd saying, "If a law that fundamentally attacks the Constitution is passed, then it is our duty to protest. No piece of paper can prove our citizenship. That is why we are saying that we will not show our documents to anybody."

Armed with the tricolor, the women inspired by the iron ladies of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, displayed banners that stated ‘stop dividing the nation’ and wore burqa head veils with bands that had ‘No NPR/NRC/CAA’ written on them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking to the Mumbai Mirror against the ‘divisive laws’ that CAA and NRC are, a doctor and a teacher at the protest said, ‘We are known by our country. We are proud to be Indians and proud to be Muslim. Loyalty to our country is part of our faith and we’ve proven it. When we go on our pilgrimage, Haj, we carry the Tiranga. The soul of Hindustan has been enriched by the blood of our grandfathers who gave their lives for freedom. And you dare tell us to prove that we are Indians by showing some documents!”

The women also said that the current regime was diverting the minds of the people by bringing in divisive politics instead of focusing on issues like unemployment and the worsening economy. Shehla Faiz, an MBA student who came to the protest with her mother Nasreen, a retired school principal told the Mumbai Mirror, Politicians thrive on divisive laws and spread hatred. The CAA and NRC go against the essence of Bharat.

With the chant of ‘Hum Kaagaz Nahi Dikhayenge’ reverberating in the air, the women kept up their voices in the hope that the CAA would be revoked and the NRC wouldn’t be implemented. Protester Zakia Ansari said, “Let the PM give in writing what he has said: that the NRC won’t be brought in. Like a mother protects her children, the Constitution protects us. We will make sure there’s no change in it.”

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Turmoil in the North East: A Bru Story

Part-2 of a series that explores the diverse and complex socio-political dynamics in the Northeast.

18 Jan 2020

Bru Community

After 22 years of being ousted from their homes and being forced to live in refugee camps, the Bru community has finally found a permanent home in Tripura as per a new agreement signed in New Delhi on Thursday. The Bru tribe had been displaced from their traditional home in Mizoram in wake of an ethnic conflict in 1997. Since then 32,000 Bru people have been living as refugees in Tripura and even parts of Assam.

Several attempts have been made to repatriate them, but most have resulted in failure. The most recent attempt was made last year and ended in tragedy when after the deadline for repatriation talks ended, the government stopped the flow of food and other supplies to six refugee camps forcing the Brus to evict or starve!

Six peopledied before Kirit Pradyot Deb Barman, scion of the erstwhile Manikya royal family of Tripura, intervened demanding Brus be granted the right to live and settle in Tripura.  

Now, the center has finally reached a solution to the long-standing crisis. On Thursday, a quadripartite agreement was signed in the presence of Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Mizoram Chief Minister Pu Zoramthanga and leaders of Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF), the largest forum of Bru migrants. A Rs 600 crore package was announced for the resettlement of Brus. The terms of the previous resettlement agreement in Mizoram have now been tweaked for the purpose of resettlement in Tripura as follows:

· Rs 1.5 lakh housing assistance to the migrants into three instalments

· Rs 4 lakh one-time cash assistance for sustenance to be handed over after 3 years

· Rs 5,000 monthly cash assistance

· Free ration for two years to migrants who wish to be permanently settled in Tripura

Pradyot Deb Barman, who is also the Chairman of The Indigenous progressive regional alliance - T.I.P.R.A has welcomed the new agreement tweeting, “It’s a start and a wonderful one at that! Our Bru people have been given the rehabilitation inside Tripura! United we stand.”

"According to the agreement, those willing to go back to Mizoram can go and the rest can stay in Tripura. They have to stay in either of the states. He said a large quantum of land would be required to rehabilitate these 34,000 people and it would take at least six months," Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told NDTV.

 

Brief history of Brus

Brus who are also called Reangs are an agrarian tribe practicing Jhum cultivation. In the late 90s there emerged a movement to create an autonomous Bru territory carved from western Mizoram, parts of Triura and even Bangladesh. In September 1997 the movement gained momentum and on October 21, 1997, a forest guard was killed in the Dampa Tiger Reserve allegedly by members of the Bru National Liberation Front. This led to clashed with the Mizos, and eventually 37,000 Brus were forced to flee Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram. 

While 5,000 people returned over 9 phases of repatriation since then, but around 32,000 continued to live in six refugee camps in Tripura. In these refugee camps they were given 600 grams of rice for each adult and 300 grams for each minor every day, along with a daily allowance of Rs 5 and Rs 2.5 respectively. They were forced to live in makeshift bamboo huts without proper power or water supply.

When the last repatriation agreement was launched in 2018 there were fears of persecution at the hands of Mizos upon their return leading most Brus to reject the deal. But when the deadline for the repatriation talks ended on November 30, 2019, relief supplies to the refugee camps were stopped. Six people including four infants died allegedly due to starvation. This led to Brus blockading the streets categorically stating that they will not entertain any talks of repatraition while they were being forced to starve! 

That’s when Pradyot Deb Barman made an appeal that Brus be permitted to stay in Tripura. Various Bru refugee groups came together to lobby for the best solution for the decades old crisis and now it appears that the tribe can finally live in peace.

Turmoil in the North East: A Bru Story

Part-2 of a series that explores the diverse and complex socio-political dynamics in the Northeast.

Bru Community

After 22 years of being ousted from their homes and being forced to live in refugee camps, the Bru community has finally found a permanent home in Tripura as per a new agreement signed in New Delhi on Thursday. The Bru tribe had been displaced from their traditional home in Mizoram in wake of an ethnic conflict in 1997. Since then 32,000 Bru people have been living as refugees in Tripura and even parts of Assam.

Several attempts have been made to repatriate them, but most have resulted in failure. The most recent attempt was made last year and ended in tragedy when after the deadline for repatriation talks ended, the government stopped the flow of food and other supplies to six refugee camps forcing the Brus to evict or starve!

Six peopledied before Kirit Pradyot Deb Barman, scion of the erstwhile Manikya royal family of Tripura, intervened demanding Brus be granted the right to live and settle in Tripura.  

Now, the center has finally reached a solution to the long-standing crisis. On Thursday, a quadripartite agreement was signed in the presence of Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Mizoram Chief Minister Pu Zoramthanga and leaders of Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF), the largest forum of Bru migrants. A Rs 600 crore package was announced for the resettlement of Brus. The terms of the previous resettlement agreement in Mizoram have now been tweaked for the purpose of resettlement in Tripura as follows:

· Rs 1.5 lakh housing assistance to the migrants into three instalments

· Rs 4 lakh one-time cash assistance for sustenance to be handed over after 3 years

· Rs 5,000 monthly cash assistance

· Free ration for two years to migrants who wish to be permanently settled in Tripura

Pradyot Deb Barman, who is also the Chairman of The Indigenous progressive regional alliance - T.I.P.R.A has welcomed the new agreement tweeting, “It’s a start and a wonderful one at that! Our Bru people have been given the rehabilitation inside Tripura! United we stand.”

"According to the agreement, those willing to go back to Mizoram can go and the rest can stay in Tripura. They have to stay in either of the states. He said a large quantum of land would be required to rehabilitate these 34,000 people and it would take at least six months," Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told NDTV.

 

Brief history of Brus

Brus who are also called Reangs are an agrarian tribe practicing Jhum cultivation. In the late 90s there emerged a movement to create an autonomous Bru territory carved from western Mizoram, parts of Triura and even Bangladesh. In September 1997 the movement gained momentum and on October 21, 1997, a forest guard was killed in the Dampa Tiger Reserve allegedly by members of the Bru National Liberation Front. This led to clashed with the Mizos, and eventually 37,000 Brus were forced to flee Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram. 

While 5,000 people returned over 9 phases of repatriation since then, but around 32,000 continued to live in six refugee camps in Tripura. In these refugee camps they were given 600 grams of rice for each adult and 300 grams for each minor every day, along with a daily allowance of Rs 5 and Rs 2.5 respectively. They were forced to live in makeshift bamboo huts without proper power or water supply.

When the last repatriation agreement was launched in 2018 there were fears of persecution at the hands of Mizos upon their return leading most Brus to reject the deal. But when the deadline for the repatriation talks ended on November 30, 2019, relief supplies to the refugee camps were stopped. Six people including four infants died allegedly due to starvation. This led to Brus blockading the streets categorically stating that they will not entertain any talks of repatraition while they were being forced to starve! 

That’s when Pradyot Deb Barman made an appeal that Brus be permitted to stay in Tripura. Various Bru refugee groups came together to lobby for the best solution for the decades old crisis and now it appears that the tribe can finally live in peace.

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US Congresswoman slams violations of human rights in Kashmir

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell cosponsored a resolution urging India to end communication restrictions and detentions in J&K

18 Jan 2020

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Taking a poor view on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell co-sponsored Resolution 745 of the United States Congress, so that the US can let the world know that it won’t stand by while these violations happen.

 

 

Dingell was talking about the situation that ensued in Kashmir after Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019, taking away the state’s special status. Children, activists and political leaders were illegally detained, journalists were barred from showing the ground reality of the situation, emergency medical facilities came to a halt, businesses suffered and communication in the now Union Territory came to a standstill with the curb on internet and telephone services.

Dingell represents the 12th Congressional District of Michigan. The resolution no. 745 that was introduced in the House last year by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal now has 36 co-sponsors of whom two are Republicans and 34 from the Democratic Party. It is currently before the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.

Apart from urging India to end restrictions on communications and mass detentions in Jammu and Kashmir as swiftly as possible, the resolution also calls upon the government to preserve religious freedom for all residents. It also states that people across the United States maintain ties with family and friends in Jammu and Kashmir and have reported difficulty contacting their loved ones since the communications blockade was imposed on August 5, 2019.

The resolution also reads that international human rights observers have documented the police’s use of excessive force against detained people and excessive and indiscriminate use of pellet shotguns, tear gas, and rubber bullets against protesters; and that India’s Public Safety Act violates article 9(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by allowing authorities to not communicate grounds of detention for up to 10 days of detention, and also to withhold any information considered “to be against the public interest to disclose”.

In conclusion the Resolution read that the House of Representatives, condemn, at the highest levels, all religiously motivated violence, including that violence which targets against religious minorities.

The complete contents of Resolution no. 745 may be read here.

Congressman Brad Sherman also said that had been pushing the US Ambassador to visit Kashmir for a long time and was looking forward to his report, especially the restrictions the Ambassador faced and whether he was able to visit detainees.

 

 

Last week, India had invited envoys from 16 countries to get a sense of the security situation in Kashmir, and to understand the threat terrorism poses to the Union Territory.

The envoys had met political leaders including Ghulam Hasam Mir, Altaf Bukhari and Shoaib Iqbal Lone among others.

This was the second tour of foreign delegates to J&K since August 5, 2019. In October, the Centre had invited members of the European Union in a bid to portray an air of normalcy in Kashmir and had faced a lot of flak for the same.

Also, amid the current frayed ties between India and Pakistan, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has said that India will also be inviting Pakistan PM Imran Khan along with other leaders or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to discuss multilateral economic and trade cooperation later this year.


Related:

Internet partially restored in Kashmir
SC bats for freedom of speech, trade in Kashmir
Indian Foreign Minister refuses to meet Pramila Jayapal for raising concerns about Kashmir
 

US Congresswoman slams violations of human rights in Kashmir

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell cosponsored a resolution urging India to end communication restrictions and detentions in J&K

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Taking a poor view on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell co-sponsored Resolution 745 of the United States Congress, so that the US can let the world know that it won’t stand by while these violations happen.

 

 

Dingell was talking about the situation that ensued in Kashmir after Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019, taking away the state’s special status. Children, activists and political leaders were illegally detained, journalists were barred from showing the ground reality of the situation, emergency medical facilities came to a halt, businesses suffered and communication in the now Union Territory came to a standstill with the curb on internet and telephone services.

Dingell represents the 12th Congressional District of Michigan. The resolution no. 745 that was introduced in the House last year by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal now has 36 co-sponsors of whom two are Republicans and 34 from the Democratic Party. It is currently before the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.

Apart from urging India to end restrictions on communications and mass detentions in Jammu and Kashmir as swiftly as possible, the resolution also calls upon the government to preserve religious freedom for all residents. It also states that people across the United States maintain ties with family and friends in Jammu and Kashmir and have reported difficulty contacting their loved ones since the communications blockade was imposed on August 5, 2019.

The resolution also reads that international human rights observers have documented the police’s use of excessive force against detained people and excessive and indiscriminate use of pellet shotguns, tear gas, and rubber bullets against protesters; and that India’s Public Safety Act violates article 9(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by allowing authorities to not communicate grounds of detention for up to 10 days of detention, and also to withhold any information considered “to be against the public interest to disclose”.

In conclusion the Resolution read that the House of Representatives, condemn, at the highest levels, all religiously motivated violence, including that violence which targets against religious minorities.

The complete contents of Resolution no. 745 may be read here.

Congressman Brad Sherman also said that had been pushing the US Ambassador to visit Kashmir for a long time and was looking forward to his report, especially the restrictions the Ambassador faced and whether he was able to visit detainees.

 

 

Last week, India had invited envoys from 16 countries to get a sense of the security situation in Kashmir, and to understand the threat terrorism poses to the Union Territory.

The envoys had met political leaders including Ghulam Hasam Mir, Altaf Bukhari and Shoaib Iqbal Lone among others.

This was the second tour of foreign delegates to J&K since August 5, 2019. In October, the Centre had invited members of the European Union in a bid to portray an air of normalcy in Kashmir and had faced a lot of flak for the same.

Also, amid the current frayed ties between India and Pakistan, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has said that India will also be inviting Pakistan PM Imran Khan along with other leaders or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to discuss multilateral economic and trade cooperation later this year.


Related:

Internet partially restored in Kashmir
SC bats for freedom of speech, trade in Kashmir
Indian Foreign Minister refuses to meet Pramila Jayapal for raising concerns about Kashmir
 

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International educational institutions condemn police brutalities in JNU, Jamia, AMU

Education International, CSA and NTEU called upon the GoI to ensure that universities uphold democratic values and human rights for all

17 Jan 2020

Police Image courtesy: outlookindia.com

The violent attacks on the students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in their fight for affordable education and right to freedom of expression have called for international condemnation.

Education International and its 400 member organizations representing 32.5 million teachers and education personnel in 171 countries has strongly criticized the incidents saying, “Universities  are the institutions that prepare the next generation of leaders, protect freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and uphold the dignity and human rights of all students and staff by providing a “safe space” to exercise these rights and to participate and contribute to an equal, democratic and just society.”

In its statement, Education International also said, “Recent attacks at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Aligarh Muslim University, the Jamila Milia Islamia University and now JNU make it increasingly difficult for students, staff and their organisations to voice their opinions on government policies, politics and socio-economic issues, including their right to demand access to and provision of affordable quality education for all.”

Taking stock of the incidents where students of JNU were brutally attacked by the Delhi police during their fee hike protest and later the police inaction they witnessed as alleged right-wing goons attacked them in an attempt to break their strike, and also the brutal attacks on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in the light of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, the institution has called on the government of India to:

1. Conduct a thorough independent inquiry into the violence and bring the culprits to justice.

2. Immediately remove M. Jagadeesh Kumar from the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University for his continuous failure to maintain a safe academic environment.

3. Ensure that universities uphold democratic values and human rights for all.

4. Pressure the JNU administration to engage with the JNU students’ union and teachers’ union to find a solution to their demands.

Apart from the Educational International, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) also wrote a letter to JNU Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar saying, “Recent events at Jawaharlal Nehru University raise serious concerns about the integrity of the institution and its commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and the defence of its role as a community of scholars.”

Reaffirming that “universities have a special role in democracy” and “violence of any sort has no place in a University”, NTEU General Secretary Matthew McGowan asked the VC to “stand up to protect and defend the students and staff of the University, and to ensure that JNU’s long standing reputation as an defender of intellectual integrity and rigour is protected. We call on you and the Government of India to condemn these attacks in the interests of a strong and vibrant democracy, and to take all necessary actions to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.”

The Commonwealth Students Association too put out a press release in support of rallies to condemn police brutalities during peaceful student protests. In its statement Asia General Representative Shomy Hasan Chowdhury shared CSA’s stand on the issue saying, “We are deeply concerned by the violation of human rights to “freedom of expression and peaceful public association” indicated in reports of unjust and inhumane treatment by the police officers.”

Its statement also read, “The Commonwealth Students’ Association encourages similar student-led rallies to decry police brutality and promote values of tolerance, respect and understanding articulated in the Commonwealth Charter. We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that students’ rights, voices and interests are upheld and valued in decision-making processes and program implementation.”

The incidents of violence against students in premier educational institutions in India have had a seismic impact on the global educational community. This kind of show of solidarity has only bolstered student movements in India.

Related:

International condemnation for CAA, travel advisories issued
Human rights groups decry the use of torture in J&K, seek UN probe
India is losing its economic way: Growth is significantly lower, debt and distress are growing

International educational institutions condemn police brutalities in JNU, Jamia, AMU

Education International, CSA and NTEU called upon the GoI to ensure that universities uphold democratic values and human rights for all

Police Image courtesy: outlookindia.com

The violent attacks on the students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in their fight for affordable education and right to freedom of expression have called for international condemnation.

Education International and its 400 member organizations representing 32.5 million teachers and education personnel in 171 countries has strongly criticized the incidents saying, “Universities  are the institutions that prepare the next generation of leaders, protect freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and uphold the dignity and human rights of all students and staff by providing a “safe space” to exercise these rights and to participate and contribute to an equal, democratic and just society.”

In its statement, Education International also said, “Recent attacks at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Aligarh Muslim University, the Jamila Milia Islamia University and now JNU make it increasingly difficult for students, staff and their organisations to voice their opinions on government policies, politics and socio-economic issues, including their right to demand access to and provision of affordable quality education for all.”

Taking stock of the incidents where students of JNU were brutally attacked by the Delhi police during their fee hike protest and later the police inaction they witnessed as alleged right-wing goons attacked them in an attempt to break their strike, and also the brutal attacks on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in the light of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, the institution has called on the government of India to:

1. Conduct a thorough independent inquiry into the violence and bring the culprits to justice.

2. Immediately remove M. Jagadeesh Kumar from the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University for his continuous failure to maintain a safe academic environment.

3. Ensure that universities uphold democratic values and human rights for all.

4. Pressure the JNU administration to engage with the JNU students’ union and teachers’ union to find a solution to their demands.

Apart from the Educational International, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) also wrote a letter to JNU Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar saying, “Recent events at Jawaharlal Nehru University raise serious concerns about the integrity of the institution and its commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and the defence of its role as a community of scholars.”

Reaffirming that “universities have a special role in democracy” and “violence of any sort has no place in a University”, NTEU General Secretary Matthew McGowan asked the VC to “stand up to protect and defend the students and staff of the University, and to ensure that JNU’s long standing reputation as an defender of intellectual integrity and rigour is protected. We call on you and the Government of India to condemn these attacks in the interests of a strong and vibrant democracy, and to take all necessary actions to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.”

The Commonwealth Students Association too put out a press release in support of rallies to condemn police brutalities during peaceful student protests. In its statement Asia General Representative Shomy Hasan Chowdhury shared CSA’s stand on the issue saying, “We are deeply concerned by the violation of human rights to “freedom of expression and peaceful public association” indicated in reports of unjust and inhumane treatment by the police officers.”

Its statement also read, “The Commonwealth Students’ Association encourages similar student-led rallies to decry police brutality and promote values of tolerance, respect and understanding articulated in the Commonwealth Charter. We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that students’ rights, voices and interests are upheld and valued in decision-making processes and program implementation.”

The incidents of violence against students in premier educational institutions in India have had a seismic impact on the global educational community. This kind of show of solidarity has only bolstered student movements in India.

Related:

International condemnation for CAA, travel advisories issued
Human rights groups decry the use of torture in J&K, seek UN probe
India is losing its economic way: Growth is significantly lower, debt and distress are growing

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Internet partially restored in Kashmir

153 websites whitelisted including banking and financial services, but no social media or news

17 Jan 2020

kashmir

Just days after the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Jammu and Kashmir administration for shutting down internet in the region, the Home Department via an order passed on January 14 has partially restored internet in some parts of the Union Territory. Broadband and 2G services were restored in Jammu, Sambha, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi as per an order passed by Shaleen Kabra, Prinicpal Secretary in the Home Department.

However, only 153 websites have been whitelisted so far. These include Gmail, Wikipedia, PayPal, Western Union, some banking websites including that of J&K Bank, 38 educational websites, among others. Websites of other services such as passport assistance, tax filing, UIDAI were also whitelisted and are available where there is broadband. Among entertainment websites and streaming services, Netflix and Amazon have been green-lighted.

However, popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are still not up. News websites also appear to not have been whitelisted. This is purportedly due to apprehensions of “separatists / anti-national elements within who are attempting to aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages.”

The entire orfer may be read here:

On January 10, while passing the landmark judgment the SC had made several key observations. On the primary contention that prohibitory orders had a chilling effect on freedom of press, the court said, “There is no doubt that the freedom of the press is a valuable and sacred right enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. This right is required in any modern democracy without which there cannot be transfer of information or requisite discussion for a democratic society.”

Significantly, the court ruled, “We declare that the freedom of speech and expression and the   freedom   to   practice   any   profession   or   carry   on   any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article   19(1)(g). The   restriction   upon   such   fundamental rights should be in consonance with the mandate under Article 19 (2) and (6) of the Constitution, inclusive of the test of proportionality.”

On the subject of temporary suspension of internet, the court said, “An order suspending internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017. Suspension can be utilized for temporary duration only.” It added, “In any case, the State/concerned authorities are directed to consider forthwith allowing government websites, localized/limited e­banking facilities, hospitals services and other essential   services, in those regions, wherein the internet services are not likely to be restored immediately.”

Internet partially restored in Kashmir

153 websites whitelisted including banking and financial services, but no social media or news

kashmir

Just days after the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Jammu and Kashmir administration for shutting down internet in the region, the Home Department via an order passed on January 14 has partially restored internet in some parts of the Union Territory. Broadband and 2G services were restored in Jammu, Sambha, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi as per an order passed by Shaleen Kabra, Prinicpal Secretary in the Home Department.

However, only 153 websites have been whitelisted so far. These include Gmail, Wikipedia, PayPal, Western Union, some banking websites including that of J&K Bank, 38 educational websites, among others. Websites of other services such as passport assistance, tax filing, UIDAI were also whitelisted and are available where there is broadband. Among entertainment websites and streaming services, Netflix and Amazon have been green-lighted.

However, popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are still not up. News websites also appear to not have been whitelisted. This is purportedly due to apprehensions of “separatists / anti-national elements within who are attempting to aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages.”

The entire orfer may be read here:

On January 10, while passing the landmark judgment the SC had made several key observations. On the primary contention that prohibitory orders had a chilling effect on freedom of press, the court said, “There is no doubt that the freedom of the press is a valuable and sacred right enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. This right is required in any modern democracy without which there cannot be transfer of information or requisite discussion for a democratic society.”

Significantly, the court ruled, “We declare that the freedom of speech and expression and the   freedom   to   practice   any   profession   or   carry   on   any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article   19(1)(g). The   restriction   upon   such   fundamental rights should be in consonance with the mandate under Article 19 (2) and (6) of the Constitution, inclusive of the test of proportionality.”

On the subject of temporary suspension of internet, the court said, “An order suspending internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017. Suspension can be utilized for temporary duration only.” It added, “In any case, the State/concerned authorities are directed to consider forthwith allowing government websites, localized/limited e­banking facilities, hospitals services and other essential   services, in those regions, wherein the internet services are not likely to be restored immediately.”

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A letter that should shake our world: Dalit scholar suicide triggers outrage

17 Jan 2020

First Published on: January 18, 2016


Rohith (right) carrying a poster of Ambedkar along with other belongings, after his suspension

Rohith Vemula will live on

Anguished and shocked at Rohith’s death, expelled students vow to continue the protest with support of others

Nationwide protests will take place following the suicide by Vemula Rohith, a Dalit student at the university of Hyderabad (UoH) on the evening of Sunday, January 17. The first protest, spontaneous and angry, took place at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) late night, about 9.30 p.m. on Sunday January 17, 2016 itself. Vemula Rohith left a poignant suicide note before he took his life by hanging himself in the room of a colleague-friend in Hyderabad.

The next protest will take place outside the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) and its minister, Smriti Irani at 2 p.m. on Monday January 18. Irani had, according to protesting students and a letter written by a ruling party Member of Parliament (MP)—see https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/we-shall-not-be-silenced-protest-against-expulsion-dalit-research-scholars -- obviously interfered in the matter of unlawful suspension of five PHD students and in protecting the student saffron wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

The students belonging to the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) of which Rohith Vemula was an active part, had been furthering a debate on issues related to social justice, including communalism, ensuring that they get effectively flagged on the campus. Irani’s alleged interference can be traced to a letter written by none less than Bandaru Dattatreya , Secunderabad BJP MP and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) dubbing ASA “casteist, extremist and anti-national”. The communication demanded that the “dynamic leadership” of Smriti Irani, Minister of Human Resources and Development, bring about a “change for the better” in the institution. The ‘change for the better’ in ideological terms (for the Sangh Parivar) meant overruling an earlier decision of former Vice Chancellor of the University RB Sharna who revoked an earlier suspension of the same students after the decision was found to be not in accordance with the decision taken by the Proctorial Board of the UoH (August-September 2015). Sharma soon retired after which the newly appointed and more politically compliant, Appa Rao ‘fell in line’ with Dattarayera’s communication and Irani’s interventions.

Anguished at the loss of life of one of their own, one of the five PHD students unlawfully suspended, students from the ASA and other students organizations including the Students Federation of India (SFI) told Sabrangindia that though deeply disturbed there is a steely determination among the students that the late night, sleep out protest will continue.

Vemula Rohith, was one of the five PHD students who had been expelled had been successfully protesting the high-handedness of the authorities, sleeping out in the open since the night of January 4, 2016, when the doors to their rooms were illegally locked though they had been quietly studying in their rooms following the suspension. Sabrangindia had carried a story on the protest on January 12. His colleagues were in a day-long meeting and it appears that Rohith Vemula hanged himself in another room of his friend-colleague on Sunday evening. The 28-year-old, hailing from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, was a Ph.D second year student. His letter tells a poignant tale
 


"Good morning, 
 I would not be around when you read this letter. Don't get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write. 

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt. 
The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living. 
I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense. 

May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past. 

I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That's pathetic. And that's why I am doing this. 

People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don't believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds. 

If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that. 
 Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive. 

 "From shadows to the stars." 

 Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing. 
 
To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future. 

For one last time, Jai Bheem 

I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself. 

No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act. 

This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this. 

Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone. "

A Hindi translation of the note left by Rohith Vemula can be seen here
 
It is a battle for freedom of expression. The Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) decided to screen Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai on campus last year (2015). The ABVP tried, unsuccessfully, to disrupt the screening. The saffron outfit began abusing students affiliated to the ASA on facebook and social media. Widespread protests by all students at this hate-mongering forced the student to submit a written apology. However, local BJP and RSS supporters joined with ABVP to force the VC to expel the ASA leaders on fabricated charges, although, a committee appointed by the VC had already given a favourable report finding no fault in the ASA or the students affiliated to it.

The persuasion in this communication appears to have worked. The Vice Chancellor buckled under pressure and without looking into the background of the case or even hearing the students, expelled them.

This expulsion from the hostel of five Dalit student leaders of the Ambedkar Students Association(ASA) at the Hyderabad Central University is illustrative of the manner in which politico-ideological considerations and governmental authority are being abused with impunity to suppress all points of view other than the self professed ‘nationalism’ of the Hindutva  brigade. Another reason for the expulsion was the claim that they had opposed the death sentence to Yakub Memon!

Several students groups from the university have also launched a legal battle. They have challenged the University of Hyderabad (UoH)’s decision to expel five Dalit scholars for allegedly attacking a student and a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).  Seeking justice, the suspended students, on December 18, filed a writ petition in the Hyderabad High Court. This development has come in the wake of university issuing orders, banning the Dalit scholars from hostels, barring their entry into common places in groups, administration building and disallowing their participation in students union elections as a punishment.

The unique sleep out research protest of the research scholars is backed by 10 student outfits on campus. Student supporters have been gathering singing slogans and participating in the seep out protests. All of us all over India most now organise protests and sleep out protests against the highhanded intolerance and authoritarianism of the present government.  The death of Rohith Vemula must not go in vain. 

A letter that should shake our world: Dalit scholar suicide triggers outrage

First Published on: January 18, 2016


Rohith (right) carrying a poster of Ambedkar along with other belongings, after his suspension

Rohith Vemula will live on

Anguished and shocked at Rohith’s death, expelled students vow to continue the protest with support of others

Nationwide protests will take place following the suicide by Vemula Rohith, a Dalit student at the university of Hyderabad (UoH) on the evening of Sunday, January 17. The first protest, spontaneous and angry, took place at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) late night, about 9.30 p.m. on Sunday January 17, 2016 itself. Vemula Rohith left a poignant suicide note before he took his life by hanging himself in the room of a colleague-friend in Hyderabad.

The next protest will take place outside the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) and its minister, Smriti Irani at 2 p.m. on Monday January 18. Irani had, according to protesting students and a letter written by a ruling party Member of Parliament (MP)—see https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/we-shall-not-be-silenced-protest-against-expulsion-dalit-research-scholars -- obviously interfered in the matter of unlawful suspension of five PHD students and in protecting the student saffron wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

The students belonging to the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) of which Rohith Vemula was an active part, had been furthering a debate on issues related to social justice, including communalism, ensuring that they get effectively flagged on the campus. Irani’s alleged interference can be traced to a letter written by none less than Bandaru Dattatreya , Secunderabad BJP MP and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) dubbing ASA “casteist, extremist and anti-national”. The communication demanded that the “dynamic leadership” of Smriti Irani, Minister of Human Resources and Development, bring about a “change for the better” in the institution. The ‘change for the better’ in ideological terms (for the Sangh Parivar) meant overruling an earlier decision of former Vice Chancellor of the University RB Sharna who revoked an earlier suspension of the same students after the decision was found to be not in accordance with the decision taken by the Proctorial Board of the UoH (August-September 2015). Sharma soon retired after which the newly appointed and more politically compliant, Appa Rao ‘fell in line’ with Dattarayera’s communication and Irani’s interventions.

Anguished at the loss of life of one of their own, one of the five PHD students unlawfully suspended, students from the ASA and other students organizations including the Students Federation of India (SFI) told Sabrangindia that though deeply disturbed there is a steely determination among the students that the late night, sleep out protest will continue.

Vemula Rohith, was one of the five PHD students who had been expelled had been successfully protesting the high-handedness of the authorities, sleeping out in the open since the night of January 4, 2016, when the doors to their rooms were illegally locked though they had been quietly studying in their rooms following the suspension. Sabrangindia had carried a story on the protest on January 12. His colleagues were in a day-long meeting and it appears that Rohith Vemula hanged himself in another room of his friend-colleague on Sunday evening. The 28-year-old, hailing from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, was a Ph.D second year student. His letter tells a poignant tale
 


"Good morning, 
 I would not be around when you read this letter. Don't get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write. 

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt. 
The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living. 
I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense. 

May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past. 

I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That's pathetic. And that's why I am doing this. 

People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don't believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds. 

If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that. 
 Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive. 

 "From shadows to the stars." 

 Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing. 
 
To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future. 

For one last time, Jai Bheem 

I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself. 

No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act. 

This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this. 

Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone. "

A Hindi translation of the note left by Rohith Vemula can be seen here
 
It is a battle for freedom of expression. The Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) decided to screen Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai on campus last year (2015). The ABVP tried, unsuccessfully, to disrupt the screening. The saffron outfit began abusing students affiliated to the ASA on facebook and social media. Widespread protests by all students at this hate-mongering forced the student to submit a written apology. However, local BJP and RSS supporters joined with ABVP to force the VC to expel the ASA leaders on fabricated charges, although, a committee appointed by the VC had already given a favourable report finding no fault in the ASA or the students affiliated to it.

The persuasion in this communication appears to have worked. The Vice Chancellor buckled under pressure and without looking into the background of the case or even hearing the students, expelled them.

This expulsion from the hostel of five Dalit student leaders of the Ambedkar Students Association(ASA) at the Hyderabad Central University is illustrative of the manner in which politico-ideological considerations and governmental authority are being abused with impunity to suppress all points of view other than the self professed ‘nationalism’ of the Hindutva  brigade. Another reason for the expulsion was the claim that they had opposed the death sentence to Yakub Memon!

Several students groups from the university have also launched a legal battle. They have challenged the University of Hyderabad (UoH)’s decision to expel five Dalit scholars for allegedly attacking a student and a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).  Seeking justice, the suspended students, on December 18, filed a writ petition in the Hyderabad High Court. This development has come in the wake of university issuing orders, banning the Dalit scholars from hostels, barring their entry into common places in groups, administration building and disallowing their participation in students union elections as a punishment.

The unique sleep out research protest of the research scholars is backed by 10 student outfits on campus. Student supporters have been gathering singing slogans and participating in the seep out protests. All of us all over India most now organise protests and sleep out protests against the highhanded intolerance and authoritarianism of the present government.  The death of Rohith Vemula must not go in vain. 

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Shaheen Bagh is everywhere!

Inspired by the spirit of Shaheen Bagh, women-led protests against the CAA-NPR-NRC soar

17 Jan 2020

Pune protest

Shaheen Bagh – a Muslim neighbourhood near the Jamia Millia Islamia University has now become an iconic, exemplary inspiration for people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) throughout the country.

The protest at Shaheen Bagh is led by women, who with children in tow, have been sitting under a multi-colored canopy, staging a peaceful protest for a month now. Undeterred by strong arm tactics of the government, the sisters of Shaheen Bagh look after each other and now their protests has reached other corners of the country, sprouting other Shaheen Bagh’s everywhere.

In what can be termed as one of the longest protests since Independence, since the announcement of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) becoming an Act, men and women are occupying parks, maidans and roads to register their protest.

One such protest that started four days ago is being staged at Roshan Bagh in Allahabad. Sarah Ahmed one of the protestors spoke to The Telegraph saying, “If sisters are sitting in protest at Shaheen Bagh, why can’t Roshan Bagh sisters do the same?”

It is very brave of the women of Roshan Bagh to come out to the streets, especially after the brutal crackdown of the UP police and government on protestors across the state on December 19 in which more than 15 people were killed.

 

 

“Every protest is being crushed in UP and we’ve been enduring it. Har baar toh aisa nahi ho sakta, kahin na kahin se toh chingari nikalti hi hai. Aur yeh Roshan Bagh wahi chingari hai (This cannot continue, a spark is ought to emerge from somewhere. Roshan Bagh is that spark),” said Ahmed.

In Kolkata, Shaheen Bagh 2.0 has erupted in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Park Circus. CM Mamata Banerjee has held protests there and the area has seen massive women-led protests against the CAA. Women and children armed with placards, shouting slogans and singing songs of grit and determination can be found not giving up their fight for justice.

Their fight is not just against the CAA and NRC tells Nousheen Baba Khan to The Telegraph. Their fight is also a silent one for breaking gender barriers, making a mostly male-dominated area their own. "Who are these women? They are those who live in slums, and affluent localities; many are students – but all have gathered here to protest, to break taboos and inspire others," says Nousheen.

 

https://twitter.com/porcoofine/status/1217769933414625280

In Bihar too, various snippets of the Shaheen Bagh protest can be seen at Patna’s Sabzibagh, Gaya’S Shanti Bagh and in towns of Kishanganj, Bahadurganj and Gopalganj. Braving the bitter cold, protestors, political activists and student leaders have gathered to voice their displeasure against the CAA-NPR-NRC.

 

 

 

 

 

“Shaheen Bagh has become the face of ongoing protests and galvanized people. In solidarity, we’ve started protests in Kishanganj as well so that it continues to inspire people,” said Abu Affan Farooquee, an advocate from Kishanganj to The Telegraph.

In Pune’s Kondhwa, slogans of ‘Hum kya chahte, azaadi?’, ‘Inquilab Zindabaad’ and ‘Samvidhaan Bachao’ resonate in the air as the protestors take a leaf out of the Shaheen Bagh protests.

 

 

 

Protests like these are also taking place in Jaipur’s Albert Hall, Raipur’s Jaistambh Chowk and Delhi’s Khureji.

 

 

 

 

However, what is most important to be kept in mind that these protests that have come to be born in mostly Muslim areas aren’t just seeing participation from Muslims. Amid staunch threats from the police and state administrations, people from all religions, castes, creeds and socio-economic strata have stood in unity against the fascist Modi government.

 

Related:
Shaheen Bagh – The Playground of Resistance
Lipstick - and an Iron Will - under my burqa
More than 300,000 women take to the streets against CAA and NRC in Malegaon

Shaheen Bagh is everywhere!

Inspired by the spirit of Shaheen Bagh, women-led protests against the CAA-NPR-NRC soar

Pune protest

Shaheen Bagh – a Muslim neighbourhood near the Jamia Millia Islamia University has now become an iconic, exemplary inspiration for people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) throughout the country.

The protest at Shaheen Bagh is led by women, who with children in tow, have been sitting under a multi-colored canopy, staging a peaceful protest for a month now. Undeterred by strong arm tactics of the government, the sisters of Shaheen Bagh look after each other and now their protests has reached other corners of the country, sprouting other Shaheen Bagh’s everywhere.

In what can be termed as one of the longest protests since Independence, since the announcement of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) becoming an Act, men and women are occupying parks, maidans and roads to register their protest.

One such protest that started four days ago is being staged at Roshan Bagh in Allahabad. Sarah Ahmed one of the protestors spoke to The Telegraph saying, “If sisters are sitting in protest at Shaheen Bagh, why can’t Roshan Bagh sisters do the same?”

It is very brave of the women of Roshan Bagh to come out to the streets, especially after the brutal crackdown of the UP police and government on protestors across the state on December 19 in which more than 15 people were killed.

 

 

“Every protest is being crushed in UP and we’ve been enduring it. Har baar toh aisa nahi ho sakta, kahin na kahin se toh chingari nikalti hi hai. Aur yeh Roshan Bagh wahi chingari hai (This cannot continue, a spark is ought to emerge from somewhere. Roshan Bagh is that spark),” said Ahmed.

In Kolkata, Shaheen Bagh 2.0 has erupted in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Park Circus. CM Mamata Banerjee has held protests there and the area has seen massive women-led protests against the CAA. Women and children armed with placards, shouting slogans and singing songs of grit and determination can be found not giving up their fight for justice.

Their fight is not just against the CAA and NRC tells Nousheen Baba Khan to The Telegraph. Their fight is also a silent one for breaking gender barriers, making a mostly male-dominated area their own. "Who are these women? They are those who live in slums, and affluent localities; many are students – but all have gathered here to protest, to break taboos and inspire others," says Nousheen.

 

https://twitter.com/porcoofine/status/1217769933414625280

In Bihar too, various snippets of the Shaheen Bagh protest can be seen at Patna’s Sabzibagh, Gaya’S Shanti Bagh and in towns of Kishanganj, Bahadurganj and Gopalganj. Braving the bitter cold, protestors, political activists and student leaders have gathered to voice their displeasure against the CAA-NPR-NRC.

 

 

 

 

 

“Shaheen Bagh has become the face of ongoing protests and galvanized people. In solidarity, we’ve started protests in Kishanganj as well so that it continues to inspire people,” said Abu Affan Farooquee, an advocate from Kishanganj to The Telegraph.

In Pune’s Kondhwa, slogans of ‘Hum kya chahte, azaadi?’, ‘Inquilab Zindabaad’ and ‘Samvidhaan Bachao’ resonate in the air as the protestors take a leaf out of the Shaheen Bagh protests.

 

 

 

Protests like these are also taking place in Jaipur’s Albert Hall, Raipur’s Jaistambh Chowk and Delhi’s Khureji.

 

 

 

 

However, what is most important to be kept in mind that these protests that have come to be born in mostly Muslim areas aren’t just seeing participation from Muslims. Amid staunch threats from the police and state administrations, people from all religions, castes, creeds and socio-economic strata have stood in unity against the fascist Modi government.

 

Related:
Shaheen Bagh – The Playground of Resistance
Lipstick - and an Iron Will - under my burqa
More than 300,000 women take to the streets against CAA and NRC in Malegaon

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Rohith Vemula March: The Caste Turn for Student Delhites?

16 Jan 2020

First published on February 23, 2016



Rohith Vemula gives them the perfect point of departure

 
Delhi is a city that has naturalised caste: a gardener believes he is born to be a gardener; a maid believes she was born to be a maid. Its so called efficiency has something to do with this aspect. Even among academics and students, the understanding and discussions of caste stay at their abstract best. Most of them are well meaning to be concerned about the "upliftment of Dalits" but in the busy-ness of their own professional lives, they really couldn't do much. The city kept running on the shoulders of the Dalits. Caste was a matter to be encountered only in reservation debates and that was a sort polemics only the political class could go through with.
 
But Rohith Vemula's one-note altered the caste debates in the country, from asking, "How can discrimination against Dalits be stopped?" or, "How can Dalits be uplifted" to, "Why is our society so inhumanly casteist?" or, "When will upper castes improve?", making every one ask the question, "Why are we like this?". The fact that his suicide note did not have a single word about caste discrimination, it only spoke about the need to travel from "shadows to stars" and the impossibility of it, struck a code with Delhi's students. Now they knew it was not about Dalits alone; it was more about them. Or the impossibility of being themselves ethically in this system. Now the onus was on the academic community: to make sure that Rohith is the absolute last to be orphaned to death.
 
The huge march in solidarity with JNU (against the trending #ShutdownJNU) on February 18 had many posters of Rohith Vemula and slogans such as, "JNU to bahana hai, Rohith ka mudda dabana hai" (JNU is an excuse to distract from Rohith's issue) prominently demonstrated such a change. The straight-line from FTII through HCU and OccupyUGC to JNU that students kept drawing was quite in place: the central government doesn't seem to understand the ways in which students work or think.
 
The Narendra Modi government might be good at attacking known political or social formations but students are an evolving social category and it clearly doesn't have the tools. If FTII was a clear case of trying to show "we can, so we will", OccupyUGC was an unnecessary provocation and HCU was MHRD's flexing its muscles gone terribly awry and JNU its hurried conclusions riding on hyper sensationalist jingoism. The mass media debates on national/anti-national, continued on social media, made students realise their common sense and regular discussions were stuff that could be termed "anti-national" and they found themselves in a strange situation where they had to explain their very existence to friends and family in the "tax payer entitlement" narrative. Students who were not part of any existing political formation also felt alienated and they kept telling themselves and others: students have to fight as students. In fact, they found a student issue with a cosmic objective to fight for.
 
The "Chalo Dilli" march on April 23rd and its clarion call "Delhi for Rohith Vemula" became exciting not just because more than 5,000 people walked a kilometre together from Ambedkar Bhawan to Jantar Mantar, or because there was a representation from all parties other than the BJP for the rally, but because the students had found a new icon in Rohith Vemula. It was difficult to dispute him or reject him if you didn't have party obligations or social interests.

The speciality of this icon was in its social content: caste was becoming an issue of political debate in student lives. Some Delhi students whose encounter with caste as a political issue was rather new also kept shouting "Jai Bheem" in an event primarily organised by Dalit organisations. 
 
One of the limitations of the Indian student movements has been their being floated and managed by students who socially belong to the ruling elite of the country. This is quite different from the Western situation where student movements have been political, academic and cultural manifestations of social changes. The chemical change of thinking in the 1960s was a result of socio-economic changes that ushered in women, African Americans, refugees, third world students and homosexuals into academe in huge numbers.
 
In India, such a turn hasn't happened. Nationalism and universal class wars were the concerns of student politics in earlier decades. But now the organising principle of Indian society is their problem as students. It might be the caste turn for student discourses. 
 
Surely, unlike in the University of Hyderabad, where the number of Dalit students is huge and the discourse of caste is very strong, Delhi still doesn't have such a situation. But it must now emerge to address the huge blind spot they have now realised. And Rohith Vemula gives them the perfect point of departure. 
 

Rohith Vemula March: The Caste Turn for Student Delhites?

First published on February 23, 2016



Rohith Vemula gives them the perfect point of departure

 
Delhi is a city that has naturalised caste: a gardener believes he is born to be a gardener; a maid believes she was born to be a maid. Its so called efficiency has something to do with this aspect. Even among academics and students, the understanding and discussions of caste stay at their abstract best. Most of them are well meaning to be concerned about the "upliftment of Dalits" but in the busy-ness of their own professional lives, they really couldn't do much. The city kept running on the shoulders of the Dalits. Caste was a matter to be encountered only in reservation debates and that was a sort polemics only the political class could go through with.
 
But Rohith Vemula's one-note altered the caste debates in the country, from asking, "How can discrimination against Dalits be stopped?" or, "How can Dalits be uplifted" to, "Why is our society so inhumanly casteist?" or, "When will upper castes improve?", making every one ask the question, "Why are we like this?". The fact that his suicide note did not have a single word about caste discrimination, it only spoke about the need to travel from "shadows to stars" and the impossibility of it, struck a code with Delhi's students. Now they knew it was not about Dalits alone; it was more about them. Or the impossibility of being themselves ethically in this system. Now the onus was on the academic community: to make sure that Rohith is the absolute last to be orphaned to death.
 
The huge march in solidarity with JNU (against the trending #ShutdownJNU) on February 18 had many posters of Rohith Vemula and slogans such as, "JNU to bahana hai, Rohith ka mudda dabana hai" (JNU is an excuse to distract from Rohith's issue) prominently demonstrated such a change. The straight-line from FTII through HCU and OccupyUGC to JNU that students kept drawing was quite in place: the central government doesn't seem to understand the ways in which students work or think.
 
The Narendra Modi government might be good at attacking known political or social formations but students are an evolving social category and it clearly doesn't have the tools. If FTII was a clear case of trying to show "we can, so we will", OccupyUGC was an unnecessary provocation and HCU was MHRD's flexing its muscles gone terribly awry and JNU its hurried conclusions riding on hyper sensationalist jingoism. The mass media debates on national/anti-national, continued on social media, made students realise their common sense and regular discussions were stuff that could be termed "anti-national" and they found themselves in a strange situation where they had to explain their very existence to friends and family in the "tax payer entitlement" narrative. Students who were not part of any existing political formation also felt alienated and they kept telling themselves and others: students have to fight as students. In fact, they found a student issue with a cosmic objective to fight for.
 
The "Chalo Dilli" march on April 23rd and its clarion call "Delhi for Rohith Vemula" became exciting not just because more than 5,000 people walked a kilometre together from Ambedkar Bhawan to Jantar Mantar, or because there was a representation from all parties other than the BJP for the rally, but because the students had found a new icon in Rohith Vemula. It was difficult to dispute him or reject him if you didn't have party obligations or social interests.

The speciality of this icon was in its social content: caste was becoming an issue of political debate in student lives. Some Delhi students whose encounter with caste as a political issue was rather new also kept shouting "Jai Bheem" in an event primarily organised by Dalit organisations. 
 
One of the limitations of the Indian student movements has been their being floated and managed by students who socially belong to the ruling elite of the country. This is quite different from the Western situation where student movements have been political, academic and cultural manifestations of social changes. The chemical change of thinking in the 1960s was a result of socio-economic changes that ushered in women, African Americans, refugees, third world students and homosexuals into academe in huge numbers.
 
In India, such a turn hasn't happened. Nationalism and universal class wars were the concerns of student politics in earlier decades. But now the organising principle of Indian society is their problem as students. It might be the caste turn for student discourses. 
 
Surely, unlike in the University of Hyderabad, where the number of Dalit students is huge and the discourse of caste is very strong, Delhi still doesn't have such a situation. But it must now emerge to address the huge blind spot they have now realised. And Rohith Vemula gives them the perfect point of departure. 
 

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Calling Smriti Irani's Bluff: Twisted Truths in Parliament

16 Jan 2020

First published on February 25, 2016



Goebbels was an interesting and effective man. Held responsible for many of the worst and most supremacist and violent ideas that guided Fuhrer Hitler’s reign, he is recalled in history, more as a frequently used adjective-term, to connote a particular kind of pernicious government propaganda based on lies, or at best half-truths (he headed the Propaganda Ministry of the Nazi government).

Goebbelsian propaganda has been the forte of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and was palpably evident in Minister, MHRD, Smriti Irani’s speech in the Lok Sabha yesterday, February 24,2016.

The broader issues raised in the speech by the Union Minister for Human Resources Development (MHRD) have already been effectively countered in The Telegraph : A [1]Fact Check on what HRD minister Smruti Irani said in Parliament [2] including countering systematic efforts at vilification and name calling.[3]

Here we put some Questions countering the Goebbelsian untruths surrounding the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula


Did or did not the central minister of the BJP, Bandaru Dattatreya write to Irani on August 17, 2015, a letter in which he clearly calls the activities and vision of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) as casteist and anti-national?  Letter can be seen here.

Was or was not Rohith Vemula’s Research Fellowship stopped (illegally) for seven months severely constraining and humiliating him?

Did or did not, on five occasions, bureaucrats of the MHRD under Irani write directly to the Vice Chancellor (VC) Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on the matter showing an unseemly interest in the case ?

(The letters are dated September 3, 2015 from the Under Secretary referring to comments by Bandaru Dattatreya, MOS, for Labour and Employment; another dated September 24, 2015, sent as reminder, signed by Deputy Secretary to the GOI; letter dated October 20, 2015, signed by Joint Secretary, MHRD; letter dated November 19, 2015, signed by Under Secretary to the GOI). Letters can be seen here.

Do or do not these letters show an obsessive interest by the Minister, MHRD that was, in effect, putting extraordinary pressure on the VC?

Is it or is it not true that a fellow student at HCU called the Health Centre immediately after learning of Rohith being hanged and within five minutes the CMO Health Centre, Dr P Rajashree reached the spot, felt his pulse and declared him dead nullifying the Goebellian lie to the nation in Parliament that no doctor or police were allowed to see Rohith till the next day? 
[The doctor certified Rohith's death at 7.30 pm: UoH medical officer counters Smriti Irani's statement - http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/doctor-certified-rohiths-death-730-pm-uoh-medical-officer-counters-smriti-iranis-statement#sthash.tdp9MlM4.dpuf]

Is it not true that Rohith Vemula was quietly cremated without family or friends as the authorities did not want to face up to the palpable anger on campus and outside?
 
Did or did not the newly appointed Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao receive a chilling letter from Rohith Vemula on December 18, 2015 –a month before his death --that clearly indicated a warning: that by the systematic exclusion and humiliation Rohith was being pushed, and reaching, the end of his tether?

[Rohith allegedly sarcastically said in the letter that every VC of HCU should “10 mg of sodium azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission… [and] a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students.” This handwritten letter should have been read as a precursor to what was coming. In the letter, Rohith allegedly goes on to say, “I request your highness to make preparations for the facility [of] ‘euthanasia’ for students like me. And I wish you and the campus rest in peace forever.” ]

Does or does this communication not squarely put the blame on the university authorities and, first and foremost, on the vice chancellor ?
[The letter traces the officially sanctioned “social boycott” of Dalit students after they took on a member of the ABVP for making derogatory remarks about Dalits. “Donald Trump will be a lilliput in front of you..”]




Did or does the VC feel at all disturbed by this communication? Does the GOI? Was there any communication between the VC, HCU authorities and Rohith and the other four research scholars between December 18, 2015 and January 17, 2016?

Were or were not the five Dalit Research scholars locked out of their rooms from January 4, 2016 onwards, compelling them to start a protest and sleep out, on the street, rubbing salt on wounds so to speak: since their research fellowship stipends had been illegally cut off from July 2015 onwards?

Were or were not the five Dalit scholars ostracised on campus and asked not even to visit the library for research, further humiliating them?

Is it or is it not true that senior functionaries of the GOI, including two central ministers (both women) have questioned the authenticity of Dalit identity of Rohith? link[4] (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rohith-Vemula-was-not-a-dalit-Sushma-Swaraj-says/articleshow/50788780.cms)

After January 17, 2016 and the tragic step that Rohith Vemula took, did or did not the GOI appoint Ajit Duval, National security Advisor the Task to investigate the real caste of Rohith Vemula?  (See Certificates)
[http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ajit-Doval-gets-report-saying-Rohith-Vemula-was-not-a-dalit/articleshow/50749810.cms; also see http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/was-rohith-vemula-dalit-or-not-and-does-it-matter-explained-37936]

Did the trail not begin politically: with the Vice President, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Hyderabad,  Nandanam Diwakar writing to Central minister Dattareya, (August 10, 2015), seven days before the latter writes to Irani, a letter in which wrong and exaggerated accounts of ABVP student, Susheel Kumar’s injuries are given as well as a litany of political opposition to Ambedkarites listed? Here is the letter.





Is it not true that the claim that the University’s Investigation Team had a Dalit is untrue (Irani’s claim); there were no Dalits in the team and it was in fact headed by a Brahmin?

Is it or is it not true that all claims that ABVP student leader, Susheel Kumar “was beaten up by Rohith”, made repeatedly are actually, are untrue; HCU registrar and others have rejected Susheel Kumar’s story on violence relying on medical reports show that he was admitted to hospital for appendicitis?

 Is it not true that the executive council of HCU only decided to suspend the students, that too from their hostels (Irani said they were expelled by the EC!) and that the trigger was a falsified account of a physical struggle between the RSS-affiliated ABVP and the ASA; with the former screaming “assault” and the hospital records suggesting an examination for a prior medical condition?


While Irani was giving what some have termed as a star performance in the Lok Sabha– even India’s prime minister tweeted his jubiliation at her speech-- Rohith Vemula's mother, Radhika, was at a candlelight vigil at India Gate demanding justice for her  26-year-old son. Radhika Vemula was picked up and taken to a police station in the heart of the capital when Smriti Irani was telling Parliament how condemnable it was that a "child was being used as a political tool".



Close to a month before, in a similar act the MHRD minister, Irani had, in a press conference, claimed that Rohith’s death had nothing to do with his being a Dalit.

Then Radhika Vemula had countered and I today recall those words, "I want to meet Smriti Irani and ask her 'On what basis did you declare my son to be anti-national? Your Ministry had written that my Rohith and other Dalit students were anti-national extremists. You said that he is not a Dalit. You accused him of getting a false certificate. Should I say it is because you got false certificates for your educational qualifications that you think others do so too? You stopped my son's stipend, you got him suspended from the university. You are the Minister for HRD, but you have no value for education. You can never understand how difficult it is for a Dalit to reach the stage of doing his PhD. You can never imagine the hardship, the struggle, the tears and sacrifice to reach that position. In three months, you destroyed what it had taken me 26 years to build. I am talking about my Rohith, he died at the age of 26.'"

Goebbelsian as the propaganda machine is, I do not really expect answers. There are two parallel streams at work here, one asserting, the other challenging the Indian Constitution. The war between truth, reality and propaganda is well and truly on.
 


[1] http://www.abplive.in/india-news/a-fact-check-on-what-smriti-irani-said-in-parliament-295872
[2] For the record, the writer of this article was mentioned by the Hon’ble Minister in her speech leading to several calls from the media: there were falsifications, probably deliberate here too: the Supplemenatry materials for teachers of the Don Bosco schools were prepared by me (the author of this article) in 2001; not when Kapil Sibal was a Minister; it was the Shiv Sena that had then taken objections to the manner in which Shivaji's Coronation was dealt with in the manuals.the author of the manuals has an adjudication in her favour from the State Human Rights Commission.
[4] http://www.firstpost.com/india/after-widespread-outrage-smriti-irani-claims-rohith-suicide-not-dalit-vs-non-dalit-matter-2591830.html; http://www.ndtv.com/opinion/smriti-irani-spoke-of-this-child-his-mother-wants-answers-1281036

Calling Smriti Irani's Bluff: Twisted Truths in Parliament

First published on February 25, 2016



Goebbels was an interesting and effective man. Held responsible for many of the worst and most supremacist and violent ideas that guided Fuhrer Hitler’s reign, he is recalled in history, more as a frequently used adjective-term, to connote a particular kind of pernicious government propaganda based on lies, or at best half-truths (he headed the Propaganda Ministry of the Nazi government).

Goebbelsian propaganda has been the forte of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and was palpably evident in Minister, MHRD, Smriti Irani’s speech in the Lok Sabha yesterday, February 24,2016.

The broader issues raised in the speech by the Union Minister for Human Resources Development (MHRD) have already been effectively countered in The Telegraph : A [1]Fact Check on what HRD minister Smruti Irani said in Parliament [2] including countering systematic efforts at vilification and name calling.[3]

Here we put some Questions countering the Goebbelsian untruths surrounding the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula


Did or did not the central minister of the BJP, Bandaru Dattatreya write to Irani on August 17, 2015, a letter in which he clearly calls the activities and vision of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) as casteist and anti-national?  Letter can be seen here.

Was or was not Rohith Vemula’s Research Fellowship stopped (illegally) for seven months severely constraining and humiliating him?

Did or did not, on five occasions, bureaucrats of the MHRD under Irani write directly to the Vice Chancellor (VC) Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on the matter showing an unseemly interest in the case ?

(The letters are dated September 3, 2015 from the Under Secretary referring to comments by Bandaru Dattatreya, MOS, for Labour and Employment; another dated September 24, 2015, sent as reminder, signed by Deputy Secretary to the GOI; letter dated October 20, 2015, signed by Joint Secretary, MHRD; letter dated November 19, 2015, signed by Under Secretary to the GOI). Letters can be seen here.

Do or do not these letters show an obsessive interest by the Minister, MHRD that was, in effect, putting extraordinary pressure on the VC?

Is it or is it not true that a fellow student at HCU called the Health Centre immediately after learning of Rohith being hanged and within five minutes the CMO Health Centre, Dr P Rajashree reached the spot, felt his pulse and declared him dead nullifying the Goebellian lie to the nation in Parliament that no doctor or police were allowed to see Rohith till the next day? 
[The doctor certified Rohith's death at 7.30 pm: UoH medical officer counters Smriti Irani's statement - http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/doctor-certified-rohiths-death-730-pm-uoh-medical-officer-counters-smriti-iranis-statement#sthash.tdp9MlM4.dpuf]

Is it not true that Rohith Vemula was quietly cremated without family or friends as the authorities did not want to face up to the palpable anger on campus and outside?
 
Did or did not the newly appointed Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao receive a chilling letter from Rohith Vemula on December 18, 2015 –a month before his death --that clearly indicated a warning: that by the systematic exclusion and humiliation Rohith was being pushed, and reaching, the end of his tether?

[Rohith allegedly sarcastically said in the letter that every VC of HCU should “10 mg of sodium azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission… [and] a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students.” This handwritten letter should have been read as a precursor to what was coming. In the letter, Rohith allegedly goes on to say, “I request your highness to make preparations for the facility [of] ‘euthanasia’ for students like me. And I wish you and the campus rest in peace forever.” ]

Does or does this communication not squarely put the blame on the university authorities and, first and foremost, on the vice chancellor ?
[The letter traces the officially sanctioned “social boycott” of Dalit students after they took on a member of the ABVP for making derogatory remarks about Dalits. “Donald Trump will be a lilliput in front of you..”]




Did or does the VC feel at all disturbed by this communication? Does the GOI? Was there any communication between the VC, HCU authorities and Rohith and the other four research scholars between December 18, 2015 and January 17, 2016?

Were or were not the five Dalit Research scholars locked out of their rooms from January 4, 2016 onwards, compelling them to start a protest and sleep out, on the street, rubbing salt on wounds so to speak: since their research fellowship stipends had been illegally cut off from July 2015 onwards?

Were or were not the five Dalit scholars ostracised on campus and asked not even to visit the library for research, further humiliating them?

Is it or is it not true that senior functionaries of the GOI, including two central ministers (both women) have questioned the authenticity of Dalit identity of Rohith? link[4] (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rohith-Vemula-was-not-a-dalit-Sushma-Swaraj-says/articleshow/50788780.cms)

After January 17, 2016 and the tragic step that Rohith Vemula took, did or did not the GOI appoint Ajit Duval, National security Advisor the Task to investigate the real caste of Rohith Vemula?  (See Certificates)
[http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ajit-Doval-gets-report-saying-Rohith-Vemula-was-not-a-dalit/articleshow/50749810.cms; also see http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/was-rohith-vemula-dalit-or-not-and-does-it-matter-explained-37936]

Did the trail not begin politically: with the Vice President, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Hyderabad,  Nandanam Diwakar writing to Central minister Dattareya, (August 10, 2015), seven days before the latter writes to Irani, a letter in which wrong and exaggerated accounts of ABVP student, Susheel Kumar’s injuries are given as well as a litany of political opposition to Ambedkarites listed? Here is the letter.





Is it not true that the claim that the University’s Investigation Team had a Dalit is untrue (Irani’s claim); there were no Dalits in the team and it was in fact headed by a Brahmin?

Is it or is it not true that all claims that ABVP student leader, Susheel Kumar “was beaten up by Rohith”, made repeatedly are actually, are untrue; HCU registrar and others have rejected Susheel Kumar’s story on violence relying on medical reports show that he was admitted to hospital for appendicitis?

 Is it not true that the executive council of HCU only decided to suspend the students, that too from their hostels (Irani said they were expelled by the EC!) and that the trigger was a falsified account of a physical struggle between the RSS-affiliated ABVP and the ASA; with the former screaming “assault” and the hospital records suggesting an examination for a prior medical condition?


While Irani was giving what some have termed as a star performance in the Lok Sabha– even India’s prime minister tweeted his jubiliation at her speech-- Rohith Vemula's mother, Radhika, was at a candlelight vigil at India Gate demanding justice for her  26-year-old son. Radhika Vemula was picked up and taken to a police station in the heart of the capital when Smriti Irani was telling Parliament how condemnable it was that a "child was being used as a political tool".



Close to a month before, in a similar act the MHRD minister, Irani had, in a press conference, claimed that Rohith’s death had nothing to do with his being a Dalit.

Then Radhika Vemula had countered and I today recall those words, "I want to meet Smriti Irani and ask her 'On what basis did you declare my son to be anti-national? Your Ministry had written that my Rohith and other Dalit students were anti-national extremists. You said that he is not a Dalit. You accused him of getting a false certificate. Should I say it is because you got false certificates for your educational qualifications that you think others do so too? You stopped my son's stipend, you got him suspended from the university. You are the Minister for HRD, but you have no value for education. You can never understand how difficult it is for a Dalit to reach the stage of doing his PhD. You can never imagine the hardship, the struggle, the tears and sacrifice to reach that position. In three months, you destroyed what it had taken me 26 years to build. I am talking about my Rohith, he died at the age of 26.'"

Goebbelsian as the propaganda machine is, I do not really expect answers. There are two parallel streams at work here, one asserting, the other challenging the Indian Constitution. The war between truth, reality and propaganda is well and truly on.
 


[1] http://www.abplive.in/india-news/a-fact-check-on-what-smriti-irani-said-in-parliament-295872
[2] For the record, the writer of this article was mentioned by the Hon’ble Minister in her speech leading to several calls from the media: there were falsifications, probably deliberate here too: the Supplemenatry materials for teachers of the Don Bosco schools were prepared by me (the author of this article) in 2001; not when Kapil Sibal was a Minister; it was the Shiv Sena that had then taken objections to the manner in which Shivaji's Coronation was dealt with in the manuals.the author of the manuals has an adjudication in her favour from the State Human Rights Commission.
[4] http://www.firstpost.com/india/after-widespread-outrage-smriti-irani-claims-rohith-suicide-not-dalit-vs-non-dalit-matter-2591830.html; http://www.ndtv.com/opinion/smriti-irani-spoke-of-this-child-his-mother-wants-answers-1281036

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