Stand Against State-Military Atrocities on Students in Kashmir

End Impunity and Investigate Human Right Abuses and Killings by Armed Forces

cartoon Courtesy : Rebel Politik

As death, pain and suffering marks seasons in Kashmir, the summer has arrived with the news of more deaths and atrocities at the hands of military forces. On April 09, 2017, a mere 6.5% voters voted in the Srinagar by-poll. In the repoll at 38 booths on April 13, the vote percentage was even lower – just 2%. This shows that for Kashmir’s people, the movement of resistance that began in July last year has not ended. Armed forces shot dead eight civilians during the election process on April 9. At least one of these was summarily shot dead in clear violation of standard norms for dealing with civilian protests. Since then, a slew of atrocities against civilians have been videotaped and released – apparently by members of the troops themselves.   

On the day of re-polling, Farooq Ahmad Dar, a voter was picked up the 53 RR unit of Indian Army, and tied to the front of their jeep as the convoy passed through several villages. While this was supposedly done to ‘deter stone pelters’, this image reminds us of the brutal human shield policy used by Israeli forces against Palestinians. Taking human shields are not only prohibited under Geneva conventions (it is considered as hostage taking), it’s also the most inhuman form of warfare any ‘civilized’ military force can use. Shamefully, the Attorney General representing the Central Government has declared that this illegal act was a ‘smart thing’ for the officers to have done. Unfortunately, though this the first time such an incident has been photographed, military forces have been using relatives and family members of militants as ‘human shields’ in counter insurgency operations for long. We must also recognise that the claim that Dar was used as a ‘shield’ is a pretext, the reality is that he was subjected to public humiliation to remind the entire Kashmiri people of their subjugation. The incident can be compared to the incidents of stripping and parading etc that occur during atrocities against Dalits and adivasis.  

On 15 April, at least one armoured vehicle entered the campus of the Pulwama Degree College, followed by attempts by police to shift their post to the gates of the College. Students’ protests against this were met with brutal repression, in which more than 50 students were injured. The same evening, Sajjad Hussain Sheikh was killed after being shot in the head by BSF allegedly for protesting and pelting stones.

Outraged over the brutal crackdown on students, and killings by the forces, Kashmir is witnessing a massive student uprising with thousands of students, including women across the region protesting on streets. As usual, these students’ protests were encountered by crackdown by police and paramilitary forces which left hundreds injured.  Iqra Sidiq, B.Com first-year student of women’s college at Nawa Kadal in Srinagar suffered a serious skull fracture when she was hit on the head by a stone thrown by a CRPF trooper into the campus. There is video documentation of paramilitary troops lobbing tear gas shells and rocks over the walls and under the gates of the women’s college campus, indicating that students were attacked not just while protesting on the streets but even inside their own campus! 

With pictures and videos of atrocities against Kashmiris going viral, rather than addressing the issues the state is now trying to ban the internet and social media platforms.

In sections of the Indian media, there are attempts to justify the atrocity videos by highlighting a video of CRPF jawans being subjected to abuse and slaps etc by civilians. We need to underline here that there is a vast difference between unarmed civilians displaying anger against CRPF jawans, and Army, paramilitary and police indulging in organised, systematic, repeated acts of illegal torture and summary execution. Moreover, we need to recognise that if the jawans rather than political leaders are facing people’s anger in Kashmir, it is because the political leadership in New Delhi and Srinagar has abdicated its responsibility of addressing the political issues being raised by the Kashmiri people.  

  

We demand an impartial investigation into each of the incidents of atrocities and violence that have come to light since April 9, and punishment for the perpetrators. We appeal to students and people of the country to go beyond the highly opinionated and frenzied ‘broadcasts’ on mainstream TV screens and stand by the principles of democracy, justice and peace in Kashmir

 

SYRIA: STOP THE ATROCITIES IN ALEPPO

SYRIA: STOP THE ATROCITIES  IN ALEPPO

Ensure protection and safety of civilian population

 

The battle in Aleppo has reached in its final stage with government forces able to limit and circle the anti-government militias to a small area in the eastern part of the city. The war in Syria, which began in 2012 and considered to be the deadliest in the 21st century has already claimed millions of lives and another 7 million displaced from their homes. Most the housing infrastructure in Aleppo and other frontline cities have been totally destroyed due to heavy bombing in the civilian areas by all the parties to the conflict. Civilians were the major victim of this war, with thousands being killed in brutal premeditated massacres by extremist groups like Islamic State (IS) on one hand, and on the other, many becoming targets of deliberate killings and bombings by government forces (supported by Russia) and ‘moderate’ anti-government militias (supported by US and its allies).  Amidst the rubble of destroyed houses in Aleppo, thousands of civilians still are trapped between the two warring sides. As the government forces advance towards the east of Aleppo capturing the rebel held areas, there are disturbing reports of brutal summary executions and reprisal killings of men, women and children committed by both government and anti government militias.

We, call upon all the parties to the conflict in Syria to immediately end all forms of atrocities and coercion against the civilian population, and ensure complete protection and safety to civilians trapped in conflict zone. We strongly condemn all and any form of brutalities unleashed by both government and anti government forces against civilian population in the on going battle. Also, we call upon parties to the conflict to ensure the sanctity of established humanitarian corridor, and availability of aid and assistance to unarmed men, women, children, elderly and the wounded.

Massive Protests against Amendments to CNT and SPT Acts in Jharkhand!

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Raghuvar Hatao, Jharkhand Bachao!!

 

 

On 23rd November, in a notorious anti people policy decision, Raghuvar Das-led Bharatiya Janta Party government in Jharkhand had amended the land tenancy laws governing predominantly Adivasi regions to allow use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. After this shameless pronouncement of amendments of CNT and SPT Acts, thousands came out on the streets in protest in different parts of Jharkhand braving massive police repression. 

The Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act was enacted in 1908 after the heroic revolt led by Birsa Munda. The law restricts the sale of tribal land to non-Adivasis in 16 of Jharkhand’s 24 districts in central and western region. On the other hand, Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act enacted in 1876 had been passed following the valiant Santhal rebellion in 1855 against feudal land tenure systems of the colonial government. The 1876 Act prohibits sale of Adivasi land to non-adivasis in Santhal Pargana region along Jharkhand’s border with Bengal.

Earlier in June, the BJP government had passed an ordinance to make the changes, but this ordinance is still pending with the President. The government now desperately amended the laws by introducing a Bill on last Friday. The government shamelessly introduced and passed the Bill in merely three minutes without permitting any discussion!

The very existence of adivasis and original inhabitants of Jharkhand is in jeopardy under this BJP government which has time and again made policies to ensure that corporate companies get full control over the forests, land, and minerals of Jharkhand. The amendment of CNT and SPT acts is another notorious step in this direction.  But the people of Jharkhand have given the resounding call of “Raghuvar Hatao, Jharkhand Bachao” (“Remove Raghuvar, Save Jharkhand”) to intensify the fight against the ruling Government.

AISA stands in rock solid solidarity with the struggling people of Jharkhand in their fight against state sponsored corporate land grab, dispossessing and displacing adivasis!

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JNUSU Gives National Call to Intensify the #JusticeForNajeeb Movement

On the 10th of November, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) issued the following appeal to all progressive and democratic group across the country with an aim to further intensity the movement demanding Juctise for Najeeb – the JNU Student who went missing after a brawl with hooligans belonging to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

 

 

JNUSU APPEAL

#JusticeForNajeeb

An Appeal for Solidarity and United Protest Actions

Friends,

On 14th October night, Najeeb Ahmed, a student of M.Sc. Biotechnology, JNU was brutally assaulted and violently threatened by a group of ABVP students. From 15th October morning, Najeeb went missing from the campus. The disappearance of a student from a central university in the national capital after assault and intimidation of right wing lumpen is no doubt an ominous reflection of the dark times we are living in.  For past four weeks, students, teachers, staff members of JNU, and citizens of Delhi have been coming out on the streets demanding institutional accountability to bring back Najeeb.

What is absolutely shocking and shameful, the partisan role of the University administration in the whole affair. JNU administration has not taken action on its own nor filed any complaint with the police regarding the assault on Najeeb. None of the University press releases mention the vicious attack and intimidation on him.

Further, the JNU administration is stooping to the lowest levels by repeatedly churning out show-cause notices and threat letters to student activists involved in the movement for Najeeb.

On the other hand, the Delhi police did not allow Najeeb’s mother to mention the incident of assault on Najeeb in her FIR (which now stands as a simple FIR of kidnapping, against unknown persons).

The JNUSU and other eyewitnesses also filed a police complaint naming the persons who assaulted Najeeb and threatened to kill him. But it is utterly appalling that the assaulters named in the complaint have still not seriously interrogated nor have their call records been investigated so far. On the contrary, Delhi Police marshalled all its forces to manhandle Najeeb’s mother and family members and unleash repression on the student protesters demanding accountability from the Delhi Police.

Further, following massive protests during last week, the Delhi Police is now churning out misleading media feeds to divert attention from its own omissions and commissions.

A student from a minority community goes missing from the university, his assaulters roam scot free and the university administration – police – ruling government remain mute spectators. The pattern is simple, clear and unmistakable. The government of the day has waged a war on campuses and on all marginalized sections and dissenting voices across the country. Yesterday it was Rohith Vemula pushed to suicide, then it was JNU students charged with sedition and jailed, today it is Najeeb, tomorrow it may be any of us. From HCU, BHU, DU to JNU- everywhere it is the same design unfolding: the RSS-ABVP goons under full patronage of university administrations and the BJP government get away with each and every vicious attack across campuses, and Dalits, minorities and dissenting voices are intimidated, harassed and even institutionally murdered.

This is the time to fight back! We must unitedly resist Modi government’s war on the dignity and security of the oppressed people, on student-youth, on universities.

JNUSU and different national Students’ Organisations have come together to organise Country-wide Protests for Justice for Najeeb. We appeal to all democratic organisations and elected Student Unions to join hands in this united call for justice for Najeeb.

We appeal to you to endorse and observe the solidarity protest actions in different campuses on the following dates and participate in the “Chalo JNU” march in JNU on 15th November (Marking One Month of Najeeb’s Disappearance).

Against JNU VC’s Total Abdication of Institutional Responsibility Towards Najeeb! Against Continuing Political Protection to the Assaulters of Najeeb! Against Delhi Police’s Gross Non-Seriousness and Misleading  Media Feeds in the Search for Najeeb!

11 Nov : National Students’ Leaders Meet and Press Conference at JNU

12 Nov: Protest and Effigy Burning of JNU VC and Home Minister in Campuses Across the Country

13-14 Nov: Campaign in Different Campuses

15 Nov: Join National call of ‘Chalo JNU’

Juloos and Protest Meeting at JNU

Please upload photos and videos of your protest actions and also mail to us atmohit.jnusu@gmail,satrupa.jnu@gmail.com

In solidarity,

Mohit, President, JNUSU

Amal, VP, JNUSU    

Satarupa, Gen. Secy, JNUSU  

Tabrez, Jt.Secy, JNUSU

 

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Withdraw FIR Against Prof. Nandini Sunder and Others Filed by Chhattisgarh Govt.

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CPIML Statement

CPI(ML) strongly condemns the FIR filed by the Chhattisgarh government against Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad, CPI(M) Chhattisgarh state secretary Sanjay Parate, Vineet Tiwari from Delhi’s Joshi Adhikar Sansthan and six others. This FIR, ridiculously charging Prof. Sundar and others of the murder of an adivasi villager in Bastar, is clearly an attempt to intimidate all democratic voices speaking out against the ongoing state repression in Chhattisgarh. Apart from murder, they have been charged with criminal conspiracy and rioting.

The ridiculousness of the charges are patently visible. On 4 November, Shamnath Baghel was killed at his residence in the Tongpal area in Chhattisgarh, allegedly by Maoists. According to the Chhattisgarh police and Inspector General of Police Kalluri, Baghel had been getting threats from the Maoists. Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari, Sanjay Parate and an unidentified woman activist from Sukma have been accused of “inciting” adivasis against the government and seeking villagers support for Maoists. It is on the basis of these absurd allegations that Prof. Sundar and others are being charged and harassed.

Earlier this year, those named in the FIR were part of a fact-finding team that documented the repression in Bastar. Prof. Sundar and others have consistently been campaigning against the widespread human rights violations in Chhattisgarh. Time and again, democratic voices have exposed the blatant lies of the police and security forces. They have repeatedly brought to light the continuing impunity with which murders, rapes, fake encounters and widespread intimidation of adivasis is taking place in Bastar. It needs to be remembered that the Chhattisgarh Police was recently indicted by the CBI for not just burning 160 homes in Dantewada in 2011, but also for falsely suggesting that Maoists were responsible for the violence and damage. The current IGP Kalluri was the SSP of Dantewada in 2011 when this incident took place. Prof. Sundar, Swami Agnivesh amongst others had played a crucial role in bringing this horrific episode to light.

Clearly, the FIR now filed against Prof. Sundar and others are a punishment for their daring to expose the reality of Bastar, for daring to speak out against the ongoing brutalities unleashed by the police and security forces and supported by the Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh. Just two weeks ago, police and special auxiliary forces in Chhattisgarh burnt effigies of critics of human rights violations, including Prof. Sundar, at an official protest two weeks ago. And now this farcical FIR has been filed.

Truth is being turned on its head: those who expose murders by Chhattisgarh police and paramilitary forces are now being booked for murder. We are being asked to believe the opposite of truth. CPI(ML) demands an end to the intimidation and harassment of human rights activists, journalists and scholars exposing the reality of Bastar.

Saffronisation of FTII: Students oppose BJP appointee Gajendra Chauhan

FTII Students protest BJP saffronisation , Gajendra Chauhan

FTII student strike against Appointment of BJP man Gajendra Chauhan as Chairperson

Oppose BJP agenda of saffronisation of educational institutions.

AISA Stands in solidarity with the students of FTII in their strike against appointment of BJP man Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman. 

The indefinite strike called by FTII students is a much-needed resistance to the attempts of the BJP government to impose the RSS agenda of saffronisation of education.

Ganjendra Chauhan has been made the new Chairman of FTII – a post which has been honourably occupied in the past by the likes of Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Karnad, Shyam Benegal, U.R. Ananthamurthy and Saeed Akhtar Mirza. Gajendra Chauhan’s sole claim to ‘fame’ is his role as ‘Yudhishthir’ in the mega serial Mahabharata!

Barring this role (which he played way back in 1990s), he has made absolutely no contribution in carrying forward India’s film and television culture. His real credential and ‘contribution’ is in fact his long-standing support for the BJP/RSS!

For more than two decades, he has been an active supporter and campaigner for the BJP as well as for the likes of Asaram Bapu. He has openly espoused several causes dear to the Sangh brigade – including opposition to celebration of Valentine’s Day.

See Video: (Video credits- Ajayan Adat, FTII)

Along with Gajendra Chauhan, Anagha Ghaisas and Shailesh Gupta have been appointed into the FTII’s Governing Council. Like Chauhan, their only credential in the world of cinema and television seems to be their enthusiasm and willingness to produce propagandist videos and films to suit and spread the RSS/BJP’s ideology.

Ghaisas has for instance produced a film saluting the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a much-needed and awaited ‘revolution’ in India, and Shailesh Gupta has made films to promote Modi as a ‘messiah’!

The appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, Shailesh Gupta and Anagha Ghaisas show a clear pattern – the desire of the Modi government to infiltrate and fill all institutions with their ideologues, and to kill vibrant democratic spaces of debate, discussion and dissent.

From the FTII, to the ICHR, the IITs and the Censor Board of India, efforts are on to fill RSS ideologues in each and every institution and to convert these institutions in the Hindutva mould of ‘cultural nationalism’ and aggressive communalism. 

 

Reject Lyngdoh! Reject Central Univ. Act!

Uphold Campus Democracy! Uphold Academic Autonomy!

Onwards to 3 March

National March To Parliament

10676207_413611198794082_6422154250804811566_nThe Budget session of the Parliament has begun. The Modi govt has started the session by introducing its own version of ‘Land Grab Bill’ to rob the land and livelihood of the farmers, tribals and forest dwellers, fisher people, rural and urban poor-thus signalling in no uncertain terms in whose interest Modi is going to ‘Make’ India and whose life and livelihood he is determined to Unmake. For the students and youth, Modi slogan of ‘achchhe din’ has unfolded itself with calculated attacks on every avenue of public-funded quality education and stable dignified employment. The government refused to scrap the discriminatory CSAT in UPSC and brutalised the protestors, a 10% cap was introduced in the waiting list of the IBPS exam thus reducing employment options in the banking sector. The government tried to close down several ESIC-run, publicly funded hospitals, and this move was stalled only after the spirited protests of students and youth from across the country. In CSIR too, these government is reneging on its own promises, cutting jobs and leaving several qualified engineers in the lurch. In the private sector too, retrenchments are rampant – such as the recent spate of job-cuts in the IT industry. Recently came the 150% hike in NET-JRF exam fees.

Even as students and youth battle these assaults, the Modi government is planning to arm itself to quell to silence all dissent and resistance in educational institutions and central universities. A concerted effort is on to kill autonomy and academic independence, to institutionalise saffronisation of higher education, and curb all forms of campus democracy.

Curbing Campus Democracy through Lyngdoh:

Since 2006, the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations (LCR) have been used to curb the organised student movement. It was introduced in the name of curbing ‘money and muscle power’ – but as students in Universities across the country know all too well, the LCR has failed miserably in this stated claim. The blatant use of money and muscle power in the DUSU elections in Delhi are the best proof in fact of this failure. What the LCR has done, however, is to restrict the democratic participation of students. Several undemocratic, anti-student clauses now govern the conduct the student union elections: such as age restrictions, preventing those with records of ‘criminal charges’ and even ‘disciplinary actions’ from participating, restrictions on the number of times candidates can contest and huge involvement of the university administrations in the conduct of elections. The LCR has been used to attack the JNUSU constitution, which put in place the most democratic model of student union elections in the country. Despite our representation and protests, the current MHRD refuses to even review the LCR after so many years of its implementation, though a clear provision exists in the LCR for a review. For the powers-that-be, the LCR was and remains a useful weapon to curb students’ protests and ensure pliant and pro-administration student unions. In this era, where governments try their level best to wash off their hands from their primary responsibility of providing education to all, the LCR is being used to weaken the efficacy of democratic students’ participation in decision-making. For instance, in the name of curbing ‘criminals’ from contesting, the LCR allows administrations to prevent student leaders who have led protests, and consequently borne the brunt of administrative and police crackdown, from contesting.

Curbinging Academic Autonomy and Freedom, Institutionalising Saffronisation: Alongside the dismantling of public-funded quality education and stable employment avenues and curbing of campus democracy, Modi Sarkar has now come up with the dangerous proposal of a ‘common’ Central Universities Act to force all Central Universities to follow a ‘common’ admission, a ‘common’ syllabus, ‘centralised’ faculty recruitment and ‘transferrable’ faculty. Needless to say, this will end the autonomy of central Universities like DU and JNU, erode their uniqueness, erode their respective areas of strength in teaching and research developed through plurality of ideas, syllabus and rich traditions of student-faculty interaction.

We all know that RSS-BJP brigade, wherever and whenever they get power, gets down to communalise syllabus, distort history, replace science and rationality with myths and superstition; in short, saffronise education using state machinery. Through the ‘common’ Central University Act, the saffron brigade wants achieve its long term ideological agenda of saffronisation of higher education. In the name of ‘common’ syllabus and course structure, this Act will enable the RSS ‘think-tanks’ of ‘Dinanath Batra variety’ to impose their whims on all Universities including JNU. By ‘centralising all recruitments’, the Central Government will have a free hand to dictate faculty appointments of its choice. And the provision to ‘faculty-transfer’ will act as a weapon to keep the upright faculty members who ‘do not fall in line’ under permanent threat! During the previous NDA regime, we saw how the content of school textbooks was systematically rewritten to suit the ideological predilections of the Sangh brigade. This time around, the Modi government is trying to institutionalise its agenda through this draconian route.

The need of the hour is to resist all these draconian assault on academics, democracy and autonomy.

The need of the hour is to re-assert campus democracy not just in JNU, but in campuses across the country. The need of the hour is to restore the JNUSU constitution, to reject the draconian Lyngdoh recommendations all over the country and to ensure democratic  student union elections without the interference of University/college administrations. The need of the hour is to forge a robust student-faculty unity against the ‘common’ Central University Act. It is a battle to resist the Modi govt.’s design of unmaking democracy, academic autonomy, plural-rational education and dignified employment.

JNUSU has undertaken a concerted campaign on these issues. JNUSU and its teams have been visiting various campuses in the country holding meetings with students, appealed to other student unions and all progressive student organizations. As a part of this, JNUSU through an All-Organisation Meeting (on 16 February), decided to organise a National March to Parliament on 3 March (during the budget session) demanding restoration of the JNUSU constitution, scrapping of the Lyngdoh recommendations and  ‘Common’ Central Universities Act, and roll-back of saffronisation and commercialisation of education.

Speak Out Against the Spate of Racist, Xenophobic Hate Violence in the US

anti-racist 3The murder of three young Muslims in the US (in Chapel Hill), the brutal violence by US police on an aged Indian man, Sureshbhai Patel (in Alabama) were followed by vandalisation of the Hindu temple in Seattle and the arson of a mosque. These incidents have once again put the spotlight on deeply entrenched racism and politics of hate in the USA. It has been reported that the vandalism of the Hindu temple in Seattle and the arson of a mosque in Houston during last weekend was preceded by a spate of anti-Hindu attacks across the US in recent months. In last August a statue of a deity at a Hindu temple in Georgia state was desecrated with black paint. The phone lines of the temple in Monroe, near Georgia, were cut and graffiti with hate messages were written on it. Also in Bothell, a government-run school was also defaced with a swastika and the words, “Muslims Get Out,” according to a Q13 Fox report.

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Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a Muslim man Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha were gunned down in their home by a white neighbor. The killer had been reportedly been expressing prejudice and hatred for the hijab worn by Yusor Abu-Salha, and had picked fights before with the Muslim family.

In a familiar pattern, the US police are trying to portray the killings as the consequence of a ‘parking dispute’ rather than an Islamophobic hate crime. This is reminiscent of the Delhi Police chief trying to portray targeted vandalization and desecration of churches in India’s national capital as a ‘robbery’, comparable to ‘robberies’ of temples.

The US media also largely ignored and trivialized the murders, thereby reflecting their own unwillingness to recognize and challenge Islamophobia. But local people, including neighbours, co-workers, and fellow students of the three victims, came out in large numbers to protest the hate crime. On social media also, outrage over the killings spilt over with the ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ hashtag, striking a chord with ongoing protests against racist murders that had used the ‘Black Lives Matter’ hashtag.

Suresh Bhai Patel Hospitalised after brutal attack by Police in Alabama

Soon after, in Alabama, police officers slammed an old Indian man on the ground, breaking his neck and partially paralyzing him. Sureshbhai Patel was visiting his son’s family to help take care of his baby grandson. Seeing Sureshbhai on a walk in the neighbourhood, a neighbor reported to the police that a “skinny black guy” was wandering about, leading him to fear about his wife’s safety. Sureshbhai communicated to the police that he was from India and could not speak English. But the senior police officer threw Sunilbhai on the ground, grievously injuring him.

Initially the Alabama police put out a press release justifying the police brutality and blaming Sureshbhai for disobeying the police. It was only after media outrage  that  the police officer has been sacked and arrested.

It would be a mistake to assume that the police behaviour against Sureshbhai Patel was an aberration. The attack on Sureshbhai is part of a pattern of similar incidents involving police high-handedness and killings of Black and Latina people in the US. In fact, the senior police officer who attacked Sureshbhai was giving the younger trainee officer a lesson in routine racist high-handedness and brutality. Aware that his actions and words were being recorded, he kept up a commentary falsely implying that Sureshbhai was being non-cooperative and violent. And in incident after incident of killings of Black and Latina men, the US police have literally got away with murder. They would have got away in Sureshbhai’s case too, were it not for the diplomatic issues involved.

Indian civil liberties activists in the US have pointed out that it is not enough to respond to the attack on Sureshbhai by ‘educating’ US police officers to distinguish Indian Hindus from Blacks, or from Araband South Asian Muslims. Instead, the effort must be to forge solidarity between Black and Arab communities as well as South Asians of all faiths, to resist the fresh surge in racism in the US.

At the same time, our outrage over the prejudice and violence meted out to Sureshbhai Patel in the US, must also serve to make us introspect about xenophobia and anti-Black racism in India. When Black people are subjected to mob violence in India, the politicians and police here, too, tend to blame such violence on ‘criminal activities’ by ‘foreign nationals’ rather than on racist prejudice. When people from North Eastern states are attacked in Indian cities, the police try to claim that the incidents are random rather than racist. Violence against Muslim economic migrants and refugees alike tends to be justified, celebrated and promoted as action against ‘Bangladeshi infiltrators’.

Communal hatred and violence, at the hands of Hindu majoritarian groups as well as by police, against religious minorities in India has been systematic and state-sponsored. The BJP continues to systematically use anti-minority hatred and violence to expand its presence across India. Following President Obama’s remarks on the need to curb religious intolerance and by the scathing call by New York Times for Modi to break his silence, the Indian Prime Minister has finally declared his Government’s commitment to uphold religious freedom of all Indians. But these vague statements are mere lip service, given that no action has been taken against members of Modi’s own Cabinet and his team of MPs who have been at the forefront of the hate-mongering. Further, his words ring hollow in the face of the systematic persecution of activists who have been striving to pursue cases of communal violence, and the systematic impunity to the BJP President and police officers who staged fake encounters of Muslim men and women in Gujarat on Modi’s own watch.

The Chapel Hill murders, the assault on Sureshbhai Patel and the cases of temple vandalisation have reminded us all that racist and xenophobic prejudice and violence are no less a problem in the US than in India. The way forward is for movements against communalism, Islamophobia and racism in India, the US, UK and other countries to join hands with each other in closer solidarity and united struggle.

Achchhe Din Unfolding: 13 ESI Medical Colleges to be Shut Down!

Jeopardizing Public Funded Health Care for Workers, Dismantling Public Medical Institutions – Modi Govt’s Continuing War on Common People’s Rights and Facilities!

 

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Medical Students Protesting Against the decision of Closure of ESI Medical Colleges

In yet another assault on the public health system and on the public funded medical education, the Modi Govt. has decided to close down 13 Medical Education Institutions including medical colleges, dental colleges and nursing colleges which are run by the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). This is in continuation with a series of moves by the present govt. which have sought to massively cut down on public spending on providing basic facilities like health, education, employment. The medical education institutions were started by the ESIC in 2012-13. But in the Board Meeting of ESIC held on 4th January, 2015, the board headed by the Union Labour Minister Bhandaru Dattaraya decided to close down all the medical education institution run by the ESIC. Such a move will not only jeopardise the future of thousands of students presently enrolled, displace the teaching and non-teaching staff, but will also affect the hospitals and medical services under ESI, which as an institution, caters to the need of the unorganised working class of this country.

The shutting down of 13 medical education institutions is completely unacceptable. Firstly, this will mean a huge waste of public money as already around Rs. 5000 crores have been spent in constructing and running these institutions. Secondly, it will adversely affect the future of the two batches of students already enrolled in these institutions along with the teachers, paramedics and other staff. The student in these institutions are caught in a lurch as they are being offered two equally bad and undesirable options: complete their 5 year course at the present college or be transferred to a medical colleges run by the respective state govts. Transfer to state medical colleges will mean that the present batch of students would lose one or two years as they have to restart their education. Such an adjustment will also mean a cut in the number of seats for the state level students in the respective state level medical colleges for the coming two years. The second option of continuing in the same institution till the present batches finish their education and then shut them down is also not viable because the Medical Council of India (MCI) grants recognition only to those institutions that have batches in all five years. Since the ESIC Medical Colleges will have only two batches it is obvious that their degrees will not be recognised by the MCI.

Further, in closing down these public medical colleges, the govt is contradicting its own findings in its own Draft National Health Policy which clearly states that the private medical education institutions have failed to produce good well-trained doctors. The report also states that the govt. plans to establish around 50 more new medical colleges across the country to tackle the shortage of doctors in the country. Despite such findings and recommendations on paper, the Modi govt is proceeding with the decision to shut down the ESIC medical colleges. It is a common knowledge that health care facilities tend to be better in all those public hospitals which have attached educational and research centres- as we see in hospitals like AIIMS or Safdarjung. It is mandatory for the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel trained by the ESIC medical colleges to serve in the ESI hospitals for five years, thus ensuring smooth availability of quality skilled medical professionals in these hospitals.

ESI hospitals are meant to provide quality and affordable health care facility to the vast unorganised workers in the country. The move to close down the medical colleges run by the ESIC is a calculated attempt to downgrade the health services for the workers. Why can’t the Modi govt which brags of ‘smart governance’ ensure logical arrangement of takeover of the ESIC Medical Colleges by the Union Health Ministry, if the Labour Ministry is ‘unable’ to fund the ESIC medical colleges?

Let there be no mistake. The closing down of ESIC medical colleges is a part of the present government’s design to accelerate the process of privatising health care and public medical education and completely dismantle the network of public health care system. Indeed, the Modi. Govt. has launched an all-out attack on all social sector schemes be it expenditure in health and education or allocations for NREGA. It has now targeted public medical education by shutting down the ESIC run medical colleges.

The need of the hour is to resist and rebuff these attacks and save our public health care system and public medical education. Students of ESIC medical education institutions have launched a country wide movement to save their institutes. AISA stands shoulder to shoulder with them and lends full support and solidarity to them. AISA appeals to the students and teachers to come in support of the online signature petition and sign in huge numbers.

Leftist SYRIZA Registers Emphatic Electoral Win in Greece

 

tsipras

Alexis Tsipras, the Newly Elected Prime Minister of Greece

The Left has registered an emphatic win in Greece in the recently concluded elections, with the SYRIZA winning 36 per cent of the votes and 149 out of the 300 total seats. The SYRIZA, a coalition originally comprising of a broad array of forces – including democratic socialists, green Left as well as Maoist and Trotskyist groups in Greece – became a unitary party in 2013. In the elections this year, SYRIZA has conclusively defeated the previous center-right New Democracy party, which was reduced to a distant second. Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi, far-right, anti-immigrant came third in the elections after polling 6.3 per cent of the votes.

The election results in Greece are hugely significant, considering that the SYRIZA ran its entire election campaign on an anti-austerity plank. As several political commentators have pointed out, it is the working class of Greece, the poor, the unemployed and the retrenched workers who have powered this victory – thus delivering a huge blow to the EU-IMF dictated austerity measures that have plunged Greece into a chaos of debt and humanitarian crisis. Moreover, this is the first time since the Spanish revolution of 1936 that a Left party has won general elections in Europe.

Over the years, SYRIZA which started mobilizing support against the disastrous liberalization-globalization regime dictated to Greece, has been steadily increasing its support base. It climbed from 4% to 27% in the 2012 elections, when it managed to represent the social dynamics of the massive social movements rocking Greece.  After 2012, when the New Democracy-PASOK coalition government pushed harder on the neoliberal ‘restructuring’, SYRIZA captured the growing discontent and disillusionment in Greece. As Owen Jones points in the Guardian, it is the middle-aged working class women who have played a major role in this victory. He reports: “Outside the Greek finance ministry are cleaners who used to work there, until 16 months ago – like so many Greeks – they lost their jobs. ‘We were just numbers, not human beings,’ one tells me. Ever since, they’ve camped outside, battled riot police, and become iconic figureheads of the struggle against austerity. Plastered around their camp are defiant posters: a clenched fist in a kitchen glove, a cleaner sweeping away Greece’s discredited, despised political elite. ‘We hope to take back our lives, our jobs,’ I’m told. ‘After so many years, to be happy again’… Greece is a society that has been progressively dismantled by EU-dictated austerity. Outside one polling station, I speak to Georgia, who works at a hospital clinic manned by volunteers which caters for the impoverished. For unemployed Greeks denied access to the public healthcare system, such clinics are lifelines. Georgia has one clear ambition – that after a year or two of a Syriza-led government, her clinic will no longer be needed and will close. Syriza supporters speak often more as though they are in a disaster zone than competing in an election. Dealing with the “humanitarian crisis” is described as the new government’s number one priority.”

SYRIZA has won the elections on two specific proposals: (1) a social salvation plan to ameliorate the consequences of the neoliberal onslaught on the lower classes, and (2) a plan to re-negotiate the Greek public debt with the EU and the IMF, in order to make it sustainable. The emphatic win to these proposals is surely a mandate for the massive anti-austerity protests in Greece and Europe. Moreover, this mandate is an inspiration for movements in India and the rest of the world against anti-people, neoliberal policies. After Latin America, now Europe too is challenging the ‘There is No Alternative’ (TINA) narrative, and is reasserting the Left, defying those who had announced the demise of the Left and victory of capitalism long ago. No wonder then, that the IMF, as well as the powerful elite in Europe, have already stated that the victory of SYRIZA might have a huge ‘destabilizing’ effect in the whole of Europe.

(Originally Published in ML Update, 28 January, 2015)