AISA strongly condemns the shameful cover-up of the murder of innocent civilians in Pathribal in what was dubbed as a “joint operation” of the Kashmir police and the Indian Army. This is a shocking display of arrogance resulting from legal impunity accorded to the Indian Army under the draconian Armed Forces Special PowersAct (AFSA). Five innocent Kashmiris were picked up by the Indian Army and passed off as foreign terrorists responsible for the tragic Chhittisinghpora massacre in which scores of Kashmiri Sikhs were lined up and killed. While the CBI established through a probe that the bodies were those of locals and not of foreign terrorists, as claimed by the Army, and that the so-called encounter was actually pre-meditated, cold- bloodedmurder, the Supreme Court held that the culprits could not be tried in a civilian court because of immunity under AFSPA. Although the AFSPA provides for a normal trial with prior permission from the government, this permission is never granted.
The Supreme Court had asked the army to either conduct a court-martial or allow trial in a normal court. The army, of course, chose the easy way out and conducted a hoax investigation in an army court. The victims’ illiterate family members were asked to depose before an army court, hundreds of kilometres away from Kashmir, in Jammu’s Nagrota cantonment. What transpired in the name of trial was a travesty of justice. The DNA tests were initially forged, with samples from unknown persons used. However, when the actual DNA samples of relatives of the victims were used, they matched, thus proving that the bodies were those of local residents and not of foreign terrorists.
Friday, the 24th Jan 2014, will go down in history as yet another shameful day for democracy and human rights. In a shameful “verdict” the army concluded, after a hoax trial, that there was no prima facie evidence against the army men. This is despite the fact the CBI investigation had established the roles of Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Major Bijendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan in the mass-murder conspiracy. This is a travesty of justice, not only because five innocent Kashmiris were killed, but also because the “unidentified gunmen” who killed 35 Kashmiri Sikhs in Chhittisinghpora may be roaming free even today, possibly in uniform, with impunity. Why, after all, did Army need to plan out such an elaborate murder conspiracy days after the massacre of Kashmiri Sikhs took place?
This is not an isolated incident. Recently, the army “ordered court-martial against six of its men involved in the Machil fake encounter of 2010 in which three innocent Kashmiris were murdered. This is the encounter which triggered the 2010 protests in Kashmir. During the protests, a minor named Tufail Ahmad Mattoo, was ruthlessly beaten up by the police and killed on the street while he was returning from tuition. Tufail was not even involved in the protest. His murder sparked months of protests in Kashmir in which 120 young people were killed and thousands maimed or injured. For all this, the army men get a “court martial”!
It is important to note that these are cases in which murder had been established through a probe. The infamous Kunan Poshpora mass-rape case is listed for final hearings in a district court in Kashmir on the 1st of February, 2014. However, Kashmiri people have lost all hope in such probes. The shameful conduct of the army in Kashmir weakens the very foundations of democracy rather than strengthening national integrity. Kashmiri people are being held captive by the use of these draconian laws which allow the armed forces to get away with rape, murder and enforced disappearances.
AISA and AIPWA condemn the Calicut Bar Association’s decision to suspend Adv. Anima Muyarath for her Facebook post on 25th October 2013 regarding sexist comments from the fellow male lawyers in the Bar as well as at the office. She was suspended by the Association for a month since 30th December 2013 on grounds of ‘severe misconduct.’ At the General Body Meeting on 10th January 2014 which ratified the decision, Anima and another woman lawyer who supported her were attacked physically and verbally by male members. One of them threw a chair at the women, injuring one woman lawyer. Anima was threatened with remarks like “you have just seen the eve teasing part and we are capable of doing much more”.
On 25th October 2013, Anima updated her facebook status with a comment. The English translation of her Malayalam comment “It is now five months since I started practising at the Calicut Bar. I do not know if all work spaces in the world are like this. But I have met many silly (male) colleagues my age at the Bar and in office who address women as ‘Sugar candy’ , ‘Dear’ and follow them around with comments such as ‘You are so beautiful’ — just like Prem Nazeer did in old Malayalam films. It seems to me these men don’t even watch new films. This is the same old attitude — making women either ‘sisters’ or lovers by ‘caring’ for them or ‘keeping’ them. My sympathies to all these silly persons I have met in the last five months.” Interestingly , there are some elders who make proposals on seeing a woman. Are these people brokers or uncles?”
In Kerala, at a famous college in Thiruvananthapuram, students are agitating to demand an anti-sexual harassment committee according to Vishakha guidelines, after an allegation of sexual harassment against a faculty member was ignored. Earlier, we have seen the report submitted by the Deputy Director of Education, Govt. of Kerala justifying the anti-women speech made by an IAS officer and terming the protest against the speech by BA student Arya Suresh as ‘an act of immaturity’.
Sexist culture is deeply entrenched – but strong voices are fighting back. Colleges and universities, Bar associations and courts, media houses and other workplaces – women are raising their voices against sexism and sexual harassment. We call upon all students to support Anima Muyarath in her battle against sexist work culture in the Calicut Bar Association.
No Country for the Poor in the Capital of World’s Largest Democracy:
On 25th December when rest of Delhi was celebrating Christmas on one of the coldest days of the year, the poorest of the poor of Delhi witnessed the most inhuman apathy from the authorities of the Capital of the World’s largest Democracy. The poor slum dwellers of Mansarovar Park did not even imagine that the city that they build and serve daily with their labour without ever receiving the bare minimum human facilities will decide to destroy their minimal shelters and leave hundreds of women, old and children without a roof in this severe winter.
AISA- CPI(ML) team under the leadership of Com. Sucheta (AISA Jt. Secretary) and CPI-ML leaders Com. V K S Gautam and Com. Aslam reached the slums near the metro station of Mansarovar Park where the Northern Railway authorities along with Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) carried out the demolition drive. The demolition drive was carried without any prior notice or intimation leaving the slum dwellers especially women and children hapless victims, as most of the men were out on work. It is also worth noting that these slum dwellers have been living there for last 10-11 years and most of them have ration cards, Aadhar cards and voter ID cards. The way the demolition was carried out by Northern Railways and BJP led MCD right after the Delhi state elections have raised questions about the vindictive motive behind the demolition of the slums.
It was a painful sight at Mansarovar Park where hundreds of men and women were scavenging through the ruins caused by the bulldozers of MCD, while shivering young kids circled around small fires with new born babies struggling to keep them warm. The sheer insensitivity of the officials who carried out the demolition is even more chilling. Shivam a slum dweller whose slum was also destroyed by the bulldozer narrated that the authorities asked the driver of the bulldozer to bury all the belongings of the slum dwellers in the ground so that after the demolition is over the slum dwellers fight among themselves over the ownership of the buried clothes and utensils. Shocked and enraged by the inhuman dimension of the demolition drive AISA-CPI (ML) members immediately gave a call for resisting the displacement of the poor slum dwellers from Mansarovar Park and asked them to rebuild their slums.
AISA –CPI(ML) team decided to organize a flash protest demonstration at the office of the Divisonal Regional Manager of Northern Railway. The call of the flash protest received vociferous support from the slum dwellers and many women and men volunteered to join the demonstration. A very energetic protest demonstration was organized in front of the DRM office and all attempts to contain it by the police were thwarted by the protesters. The DRM agreed to meet a delegation and conveyed to the delegation from AISA-CPI(ML) – Slum Residents that demolition and displacement was stalled till March 2014 and the railways will provide with blankets and other basic necessities. He also conveyed that the Railways had given 11 crore rupees to the MCD for resettlement of the slum dwellers before the demolition drive was launched. The slum residents confirmed that no such initiative was intimated by the MCD during the demolition.
The AISA-CPI(ML) team returned back to the slums and the message of the withdrawal of displacement drive was received with a sigh of relief from the residents of the slums. While the Mansarovar Park slum dwellers will find some temporary relief, the incident exposed yet again the monstrous and inhuman face of development and beautification discourse of Delhi. Delhi which is often presented as the richest state in the country and proudly claimed to be an international City shows little respect for the fundamental rights of the poor that have been ensured by the constitution of the country. While Delhi basks in the wasteful extravaganza of shopping malls, wide roads and middle class consumption the poor people whose labour keeps Delhi going are denied the basic human rights. AISA-CPI(ML) feels that it is high time that the political question of life-livelihood and dignity of the poor people is brought back into the political discourse of Delhi.
AISA led JNUSU ran a fund raising capmpaign to collect relief for the those evicted in the Mansarovar Metro station. 31st December, 2013, AISA led JNUSU went there to distribute the blankets, woolens to the affected people. Anubhuti Agnes Bara, Vice President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union said “We demand that the MCD and the Railways take responsibility of the rehabilitation of these people who have been made homeless in this chilling cold. Most of them have been living here for at least a decade, providing them adequate housing is the responsibility of the government,”
Slum Resident Narrating his Experience:
Com. Sucheta’s Speech at the DRM office