Students Against CWG : Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

Today, 13th October 2010, around 250 students of Jawaharlal Nehru University took out a march from the university to nearby slum outside the university. The students were protesting against the hiding of the slums from public view by placing view cutters of the Common Wealth Games around them. In a measure to ‘beautify’ the city the Delhi Govt. has put up Common Wealth banners to hide the slums. Two days back some students of JNU visited the slums and had spoken to residents to find out the difficulties they are facing by this act of hiding their existence in the city. The residents informed the students that to move in and out of the slums they are being forced to show slips and this has caused them great difficulties to procure basic provisions and also to go out for their daily work. Further they said that the attempt to cover them and monitor their movements made them feel like they were living in a prison rather in a city.

The students of JNU took their protest march to this slum, formed a human chain and distributed pamphlets among the general public informing them about the dark realities of the Common Wealth Games and protested peacefully. The students raised slogans against the CWG as a symbol of British colonial legacy, the pro- rich attitude of the Delhi and Central Govt., violation of workers rights, displacement of migrant workers, denial of hostel facilities to students and the overall attempt to portray the Common Wealth Games as a symbol of ‘vibrant’ India while ignoring the dark realities caused by the games.The students were also joined by residents of the slums during their protest. While the students were peacefully protesting Delhi Police arrived and threatened to arrest the students for protesting against the Common Wealth Games. Shephalika Shekhar, President of JNU AISA unit said, ‘ It is extremely shameful that the ruling classes of the country continue to celebrate the colonial legacy at the cost of livelihood and dignity of the poor’. Abhishek, Vice President of JNU AISA unit said, ‘ This is the most starking example of untouchability and social apartheid forcing the toiling masses of the country towards ghettoisation.

The students were also joined by Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy and Dr. Happymon Jacob of the School of International Studies JNU, in the protest march. They expressed their solidarity with the movement and criticised the anti poor policies of the UPA Govt.

Sucheta De

All India Students Association (AISA)

9868383692

13/10/10

Ayodhya Verdict: When ‘Faith’ Becomes Law …..and when Facts, Evidence, Logic and Justice are Sacrificed…..

60 years after the matter was first referred to the court, the Allahabad High Court has finally delivered the much-awaited verdict on the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid issue. In what has been correctly referred to by constitutional experts as ‘panchayati justice’ dictated by political compulsions rather than by facts or legal considerations, the court entirely dismissed the petition of the Sunni Waqf Board which has owned the land for close to five centuries. Instead, the court shockingly held that as per the ‘beliefs’ of Hindus, the property under question is indeed the birth place of ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’. Further, according to the HC, a Ram temple previously existed at the disputed site, which was demolished to construct the Babri Masjid – and therefore, the Hindus can claim rights over the property. After having thus dismissed the Muslims’ legal claim over the property, the court has then proceeded to nevertheless allocate one-third of the disputed property to the Sunni Waqf Board.

What the court has essentially done is that it has paved the way for more Babri Masjids to happen. One wonders, had the Babri Masjid not been demolished by the Sangh Parivar, would the HC have given the same verdict? Had this verdict been implemented pre-1992, the 500-year old mosque in this ‘secular’ country would have been demolished not by marauding Hindutva mobs, but legally and under the aegis of the esteemed Allahabad HC!

Sangh Parivar’s ‘Faith’ Prevailed Over Facts and Evidence

This bizarre verdict is indeed historic – for probably the first time, a court of law has dealt with what is essentially a dispute over land, property and ownership on the basis of purported ‘faith’. And the Sangh Parivar is already gloating over this legal ‘stamp of approval’ on a matter of ‘faith’.

So, what is the basis of the final judgment? How do the Hindu groups have claim to 2/3rd of the land (1/3rd to the representatives of ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’ and 1/3rd to the Nirmohi Akhada)? The three judges in this case have different opinions. Two of the judges have concluded that a Ram temple indeed existed at the site and was subsequently demolished for constructing the mosque. It is to be noted that there is NO established, conclusive historical and archeological basis for coming to such a sweeping decision. The much touted ASI report (prepared during Vajpayee’s NDA regime) which claims that there was ‘some large Hindu structure’ existing at the site has been questioned by several eminent historians. Moreover, even the spurious ASI report does not pretend that demolition of a temple had indeed taken place, or that Lord Ram was born at the site! The basis of the verdict is thus ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ (of the Sangh Parivar and its advocates), not facts and evidence. A look at the some of the conclusions the judges have come to raise extremely disturbing questions for our secular and democratic polity:

“This court is of the view that place of birth, that is Ram Janmabhumi, is a juristic person. The deity also attained divinity like Agni, Vayu, Kedarnath. Asthan is personified as the spirit of divine worshipped as the birthplace of Ram Lala or Lord Ram as a child.” (Justice Dharam Veer Sharma)

“It is declared that the …. disputed structure being the deity of Bhagwan Ram Janamsthan .. as per the faith and belief of the Hindus, belongs to the plaintiffs [Hindus]” (Justice Sudhir Agarwal)

“The disputed building [Babri Masjid] … was built against the tenets of Islam. Thus, it cannot have the character of a mosque” (Justice Dharam Veer Sharma)

In a secular democratic state, all arms of the state have to respect every citizen’s religious faiths and beliefs. However, the state should not and in fact cannot arbitrate disputes on the basis of the faiths and beliefs of any community – this is precisely the difference between a secular democratic state and a theocratic, fascist state.

Moreover, on what basis can the three judges determine what constitutes ‘Hindu’ beliefs and faiths? Or what is against the ‘basic tenets of Islam’? Can any court accept the Sangh Parivar and its advocates as the authentic representatives of ‘Hindu beliefs’? Is it the job of a court of law to arbitrate on essentially theological issues? The Allahabad HC has thus substantially overstepped its role, with dangerous repercussions.

Dangerous Precedence

India has a complex history: there are records of Hindu temples coming up after the demolition of Buddhist monasteries, of mosques being built after the demolition of temples and vice versa. These are incidents of the past, which happened when India was not a declared secular, democratic republic (unlike the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid). Now, in modern India, is the Allahabad HC verdict (which gives credence to purported ‘beliefs’ of some alleged and unproven wrongs committed in the ancient and unrecorded past) the right way of dealing with our history? Such precedence will lead to complete chaos in the country and a complete destruction of our secular polity.

All three judges in the case have admitted that the Ram idols were illegally smuggled into the mosque premises in 1949. They have however chosen NOT to take legal cognizance of this clearly communal and criminal act while delivering the judgment! Similarly, they have chosen not to address the issue of Babri Masjid’s demolition, which was again a clearly criminal and communal act. This verdict has in a sense legalized, justified and strengthened the very ideological basis of ‘belief’ which led to several patently illegal acts such as the installation of Ram idols within the Babri Masjid premises and the demolition of the mosque in 1992.

By allowing ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ to guide a legal verdict in the court of law, the Allahabad HC has set an extremely dangerous precedent. Now, what can stop someone from arguing in court (quoting the Ayodhya verdict as a precedent) that it is the ‘belief’ of Hindus that people of the same gotra are brothers and sisters and therefore should not be allowed to marry? Or that it is the ‘belief’ since times immemorial that widows should commit sati and should be revered for it?

The Future Challenge of Defending Secular Credentials

“Some have suggested the mistaken idea that to remember is dangerous, because by remembering, history will repeat itself as a nightmare. Yet…it is amnesia that makes history repeat itself, repeat itself as nightmare. Amnesia implies impunity, and impunity encourages crime”.

–      Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano

Some commentators have applauded the HC’s attempts at ‘reconciliation’ – since both the Hindus as well as Muslims have been given some land (it is another matter that the RSS and the BJP have already started throwing hints that the Muslims should give up their land for the construction of a grand Ram Temple in the spirit of harmony and ‘amity’!). The Hindu and the Indian Express have joined P. Chidambaram in lauding the verdict, and Pratap Bhanu Mehta has gone to the extent of laughably arguing that the verdict represents the ‘depoliticisation of religion’! One wonders, why this hesitancy in recognizing the obvious saffronization of the judiciary? It is highly unfortunate that today, ‘secular’ voices like Javed Akhtar and Barkha Dutt, and even the CPI(M)-card-holding N Ram (editor of The Hindu) are telling us to do exactly what Galeano warned us against – resort to amnesia and provide immunity to those who are hell-bent on destroying our democratic and secular fabric.

The fact of the matter is that any real ‘reconciliation’ can only happen on the solid basis of justice and truth. The HC verdict not just operates on faith and denies justice, it also dangerously ratifies the very ideological basis of ‘faith’ which led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Thus, shockingly, according to the verdict, Hindu ‘beliefs’ prove that the 500-year old Masjid was an ‘illegal’ structure and that the Muslims had no business praying there! And this is precisely why the HC verdict cannot be termed as genuine ‘reconciliation’.

The Ayodhya case is a true test of our secular and democratic credentials. The system has till now miserably failed this test – whether it is the judiciary or the executive (the surreptitious placing of the idols in the mosque, the opening of locks of the mosque for worship by Hindus and the 1992 demolition for instance). Predictably the matter has now been placed before the Supreme Court. If at all we want to safeguard any notions of being a modern, democratic state, the Supreme Court will have to correct the dangerous precedent set by the Allahabad High Court.

AISA Organises Seminar Against Operation Green Hunt in West Bengal

On 29th August AISA, along with the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) held a seminar titled “New tactics of Imperialism and Operation Green Hunt”. The venue was Rabindra Niloy Hall in Midnapore town, which is just 40 kms away from Lalgarh (one of the nerve centres of the Operation Green Hunt).

At Lalgarh, state and central forces are currently jointly carrying out a campaign of terror against the tribal population. In the past, this area had seen a flourishing people’s movement with mass participation of the local population. However, the Maoist intervention in Lalgarh has resulted in converting this mass movement into an exclusively military movement. This in turn has provided the enthusiastic state government as well as Chidambaram’s Home Ministry the very opportunity they were looking for to justify the entry of armed forces in Lalgarh to browbeat and terrorise the villagers and quell the movement.

In this situation such an initiative by the students and youth of conducting a seminar received an encouraging response from local intellectuals. The main speaker at the seminar was Nabarun Bhattacharya, President, West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad. Other speakers at the seminar were Amit Dasgupta (Secretary, West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad), Arup Dasgupta from APDR, Sudarshan Pal (Professor, Kharagpur College) and Comrade Jul Mukherjee (Joint Secretary, West Bengal State Committee, AISA).

The seminar began with the rendition of popular songs of resistance by Nitish Rai and Prabir Bol of West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad. Recalling that a former US President had once arrogantly claimed that ‘Globalisation is Americanisation’, Nabarun Bhattacharya said that the concept of ‘Green Hunt’ has been derived from “Green Berrets”, the US special forces unit notorious for the mayhem it created in Vietnam. He also pointed out that the Maoists are paying the price for looking at the Lalgarh movement through a militarist prism.

Comrade Jul Mukherjee stressed on the fact that the real reason for Operation Green Hunt is not to counter the ‘Maoists’ – it is rather to facilitate corporate land grab in the face of spirited resistance of the common people struggling for their lives and livelihoods. Operation Green Hunt is being carried out by 2,200 police stations in 223 districts in 7 states with the aim of advancing the cause of imperialist globalisation and to honour the MoUs signed with multinational behemoths. The Orissa government alone has signed 45 MoUs. The UPA’s mining policies have been prepared in order to perpetuate corporate control over natural resources. In keeping with the UPA’s anti-poor character, the Forests Rights Act (which is supposed to protect tribal rights) is being flouted with ease. From Kasmir to Lalgarh, from Noida to Tamil Nadu’s Pricol factory, democracy is being stifled. Such a multifaceted attack on democracy should be met with a multifaceted response, and the Maoists’ militarist response to Green Hunt is therefore flawed since it only provides legitimacy to the state for campaigns like the Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt.

Amit Dasgupta said that war is a bailout for imperialists in their time of crisis. In this country, was is being waged against the tribal community. He pointed out that the current Home Minister of India was the legal advisor of Vedanta till as late as 2004.

Com.Shoumyadip Bannerjee, an AISA activist from IIT Kharagpur anchored the seminar.

On 29th August AISA, along with the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) held a seminar titled “New tactics of Imperialism and Operation Green Hunt”. The venue was Rabindra Niloy Hall in Midnapore town, which is just 40 kms away from Lalgarh (one of the nerve centres of the Operation Green Hunt).

At Lalgarh, state and central forces are currently jointly carrying out a campaign of terror against the tribal population. In the past, this area had seen a flourishing people’s movement with mass participation of the local population. However, the Maoist intervention in Lalgarh has resulted in converting this mass movement into an exclusively military movement. This in turn has provided the enthusiastic state government as well as Chidambaram’s Home Ministry the very opportunity they were looking for to justify the entry of armed forces in Lalgarh to browbeat and terrorise the villagers and quell the movement.

In this situation such an initiative by the students and youth of conducting a seminar received an encouraging response from local intellectuals. The main speaker at the seminar was Nabarun Bhattacharya, President, West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad. Other speakers at the seminar were Amit Dasgupta (Secretary, West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad), Arup Dasgupta from APDR, Sudarshan Pal (Professor, Kharagpur College) and Comrade Jul Mukherjee (Joint Secretary, West Bengal State Committee, AISA).

The seminar began with the rendition of popular songs of resistance by Nitish Rai and Prabir Bol of West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad. Recalling that a former US President had once arrogantly claimed that ‘Globalisation is Americanisation’, Nabarun Bhattacharya said that the concept of ‘Green Hunt’ has been derived from “Green Berrets”, the US special forces unit notorious for the mayhem it created in Vietnam. He also pointed out that the Maoists are paying the price for looking at the Lalgarh movement through a militarist prism.

Comrade Jul Mukherjee stressed on the fact that the real reason for Operation Green Hunt is not to counter the ‘Maoists’ – it is rather to facilitate corporate land grab in the face of spirited resistance of the common people struggling for their lives and livelihoods. Operation Green Hunt is being carried out by 2,200 police stations in 223 districts in 7 states with the aim of advancing the cause of imperialist globalisation and to honour the MoUs signed with multinational behemoths. The Orissa government alone has signed 45 MoUs. The UPA’s mining policies have been prepared in order to perpetuate corporate control over natural resources. In keeping with the UPA’s anti-poor character, the Forests Rights Act (which is supposed to protect tribal

On 29th August AISA, along with the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) held a seminar titled “New tactics of Imperialism and Operation Green Hunt”. The venue was Rabindra Niloy Hall in Midnapore town, which is just 40 kms away from Lalgarh (one of the nerve centres of the Operation Green Hunt).

At Lalgarh, state and central forces are currently jointly carrying out a campaign of terror against the tribal population. In the past, this area had seen a flourishing people’s movement with mass participation of the local population. However, the Maoist intervention in Lalgarh has resulted in converting this mass movement into an exclusively military movement. This in turn has provided the enthusiastic state government as well as Chidambaram’s Home Ministry the very opportunity they were looking for to justify the entry of armed forces in Lalgarh to browbeat and terrorise the villagers and quell the movement.

In this situation such an initiative by the students and youth of conducting a seminar received an encouraging response from local intellectuals. The main speaker at the seminar was Nabarun Bhattacharya, President, West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad. Other speakers at the seminar were Amit Dasgupta (Secretary, West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad), Arup Dasgupta from APDR, Sudarshan Pal (Professor, Kharagpur College) and Comrade Jul Mukherjee (Joint Secretary, West Bengal State Committee, AISA).

The seminar began with the rendition of popular songs of resistance by Nitish Rai and Prabir Bol of West Bengal Gana Sanskriti Parishad. Recalling that a former US President had once arrogantly claimed that ‘Globalisation is Americanisation’, Nabarun Bhattacharya said that the concept of ‘Green Hunt’ has been derived from “Green Berrets”, the US special forces unit notorious for the mayhem it created in Vietnam. He also pointed out that the Maoists are paying the price for looking at the Lalgarh movement through a militarist prism.

Comrade Jul Mukherjee stressed on the fact that the real reason for Operation Green Hunt is not to counter the ‘Maoists’ – it is rather to facilitate corporate land grab in the face of spirited resistance of the common people struggling for their lives and livelihoods. Operation Green Hunt is being carried out by 2,200 police stations in 223 districts in 7 states with the aim of advancing the cause of imperialist globalisation and to honour the MoUs signed with multinational behemoths. The Orissa government alone has signed 45 MoUs. The UPA’s mining policies have been prepared in order to perpetuate corporate control over natural resources. In keeping with the UPA’s anti-poor character, the Forests Rights Act (which is supposed to protect tribal rights) is being flouted with ease. From Kasmir to Lalgarh, from Noida to Tamil Nadu’s Pricol factory, democracy is being stifled. Such a multifaceted attack on democracy should be met with a multifaceted response, and the Maoists’ militarist response to Green Hunt is therefore flawed since it only provides legitimacy to the state for campaigns like the Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt.

Amit Dasgupta said that war is a bailout for imperialists in their time of crisis. In this country, was is being waged against the tribal community. He pointed out that the current Home Minister of India was the legal advisor of Vedanta till as late as 2004.

Com.Shoumyadip Bannerjee, an AISA activist from IIT Kharagpur anchored the seminar.

rights) is being flouted with ease. From Kasmir to Lalgarh, from Noida to Tamil Nadu’s Pricol factory, democracy is being stifled. Such a multifaceted attack on democracy should be met with a multifaceted response, and the Maoists’ militarist response to Green Hunt is therefore flawed since it only provides legitimacy to the state for campaigns like the Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt.

Amit Dasgupta said that war is a bailout for imperialists in their time of crisis. In this country, was is being waged against the tribal community. He pointed out that the current Home Minister of India was the legal advisor of Vedanta till as late as 2004.

Com.Shoumyadip Bannerjee, an AISA activist from IIT Kharagpur anchored the seminar.