Modi, in an imperial style, will be in Gujarat tomorrow 17 Sep inaugurating the Sardar Sarovar dam on his birthday. And as he does this, he is signing a warrant for utter devastation drowning more than 40000 families living in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. Also, the water being released from other dams to fill the Sardar Sarovar is resulting drowning of thousands of families, houses, bridges, cattles, trees and large tracts of forest and prime agricultural land. Nothing could be more shameful than the sight of an elected Prime Minister forcing a celebration of his birthday on the edifice of destruction of lives and livelihoods of our people. Continue reading
The Government claims to lack funds for education. Is that true?
JNU, well known for its inclusive character and academic excellence, sustains itself with government funding of about Rs 170 crores per year. In the year 2016-17, government sops to super-rich corporates, through exemptions in corporate tax were to the tune of Rs 83,492 crores. Had the Government made corporates pay their taxes, the amount could have funded 491 affordable and good quality Universities like JNU! Continue reading
It is ordinary citizens from all over the country whose determined challenge to the Central Government’s efforts to violate privacy and demand revelation of data under Aadhaar that led to the landmark Supreme Court judgement upholding right to privacy as a fundamental right.
The Government of India as well as various BJP ruled states argued in Court that citizens do not enjoy a right to privacy; that the poor do not need privacy; that citizens do not have a right over their own bodies; that the Constitution made no mention of privacy.
The Supreme Court verdict demolished these arguments and upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right. It affirmed that the right to privacy is not “granted” by the Constitution; rather every person is born with this right which the Constitution recognizes and affirms.
In response to the Central government’s argument that privacy is an “elitist construct”, the verdict responded: “Every individual in society irrespective of social class or economic status is entitled to the intimacy and autonomy which privacy protects. The refrain that the poor need no civil and political rights and are concerned only with economic well-being has been utilised though history to wreak the most egregious violations of human rights.”
The verdict made it very clear that the right to privacy is the citizen’s protection against the State’s authoritarianism: “Fundamental rights are the only constitutional firewall to prevent State’s interference with those core freedoms constituting liberty of a human being. The right to privacy is certainly one of the core freedoms which is to be defended.”
After the verdict, the usually talkative BJP leadership went silent; and then, even as Modi remained silent on it, BJP leaders like Ravishankar Prasad began to claim – contrary to govt.’s own written submissions and arguments in the court- that they had always stood for right to privacy! At the same time, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who argued against right to privacy in Court, have gone to the extent of suggesting that the verdict can also be seen as a case of “judicial overreach”!
The BJP Government, in response to citizens who opposed Aadhaar, said that data mining under Aadhaar was valid since the right to privacy was not a fundamental right. Now that the right to privacy has been upheld as a fundamental right, BJP leaders are all trying to claim that since fundamental rights are subject to reasonable restrictions, right to privacy too is “not absolute” and is subject to restrictions!
This remarkable and historic verdict has many aspects that give fresh meaning and relevance to the Constitution. One of its most significant aspects is that it reviewed and corrected the Supreme Court’s own flawed judgments – upholding the Emergency and upholding Section 377 that criminalises LGBT persons.
The verdict affirms, “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”
The verdict also affirms, “I do not think that anybody would like to be told by the State as to what they should eat or how they should dress or whom they should be associated with either in their personal, social or political life.”
This has a direct bearing on the Constitutionality of laws under which BJP Governments have been justifying the raiding of private homes to search for beef; and attempts to ban the consumption of beef or slaughter of animals. Earlier, the Bombay High Court gave a verdict striking down sections 5(d) and 9(b) of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which criminalised and imposed punishment on persons found in possession of beef of animals, slaughtered in or outside the state, on the ground that it infringed upon a person’s “right to privacy”. The Maharashtra Government has challenged this in the Supreme Court arguing that right to privacy is not a fundamental right. Now after the latest SC verdict, this claim stands demolished.
In upholding the right to privacy, the verdict also safeguards the right to dissent and diversity: an immensely significant thing at a time when the BJP Government is seeking to brand every opinion, every practice, every taste that is not in tune with the “majority” view to be anti-national and criminal. The verdict makes it very clear that the Constitution safeguards the right of citizens to hold their own views and opinion and sexual, cultural, and dietary practices even if the majority does not approve of them. The verdict is a reminder that democracy is not about the rule of the majoritarian mob but about the securing of the rights of minorities and dissenters.
The implications of the verdict for Aadhaar are huge. No longer can the Government sustain its right to indiscriminately and mandatorily demand the revelation of data as a precondition to access their wages, their rations, their pensions. Just as the Emergency sought to take away the right to privacy and place citizens’ lives under state surveillance, so does Aadhaar – and the SC verdict has now put a spanner in those works. The Government can no longer justify giving citizens’ private data into the control of foreign and corporate companies. It can no longer justify extracting and using citizens’ private data for the purpose of surveillance and snooping.
Aadhaar is not – as the Government claims – simply a benign use of techonology to facilitate welfare measures. Surveillance technology is intimately linked with fascist and totalitarian projects. Can we forget that during Hitler’s rule, the IBM corporation created machines that served to identify and track Jewish populations across Europe, so that they could be ghettoized, and later transported to concentration camps?
Salute the courage of the two women who filed and pursued the complaint of rape against all powerful Gurmeet Ram Rahim, defying intimidation and death threats. It is their bravery we must thank for the conviction of Ram Rahim for rape in a CBI Court yesterday.
What we cannot forget or forgive is the manner in which the rape-accused Ram Rahim and his Dera continued to get patronage from political powers and Governments.
Ram Rahim was accused of raping two women. The CBI had chargesheeted him. He had arranged the murder of a journalist who reported the rapes. Yet, political parties had no shame in seeking his electoral support – and giving him government funds and patronage in return!
Ram Rahim enjoyed a political relationship with INLD and Congress. In the past several years, he shifted his loyalties to the BJP.
During last few days, why did the BJP Government of Haryana allow lakhs of Ram Rahim supporters to gather and riot in Panchkula? Why did Haryana police “forget to invoke” Section 144?
The answers are clear:
- Top BJP leaders – including Kailash Vijayvargeeya, National General Secretary of the BJP; Manoharlal Khattar, the Haryana CM; and the PM Narendra Modi – sought and received electoral support from the rape-accused Ram Rahim.
- 19 of the 47 BJP MLAs including Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala went to pay tributes to Ram Rahim and thank him for his support in the 2014 Assembly Elections
- At least 3 senior BJP ministers in Haryana – Ram Bilas Sharma, Anil Vij and Grover – have together gifted the Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Rs 1.12 crore!
- BJP Minister Ram Bilas Sharma who helped fund Ram Rahim, said during the riots that “Section 144 imposed in Panchkula did not apply to Dera supporters”!
- BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, in a blatant display of rape culture, said: “One person has complained of rape against Ram Rahim. Crores others believe he is God. Who do you think is right?”
- BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy tweeted, after the Court ordered the Dera’s properties to be attached to pay for vandalisation: “A new threat to Sadhus: Politicians & ashramites wanting to grab Ashram wealth by sending the Swamijis to jail. Sadhus must groom successors “
- I&B Minister Smriti Irani sought to gag the media covering the riots and in fact blame the media coverage for the riots by Ram Rahim supporters by tweeting: “Drawing attention of News Channels to Clause B of Fundamental Std. of NBSA refraining channels from causing panic, distress & undue fear.”
Today, BJP leaders justify their support by saying a) Ram Rahim was just accused of rape, not convicted and b) they were giving him funds and taking his support because the “Dera does good social work”. Such arguments actually help normalise rape and murder.
Asaram and Ram Rahim were accused of rape of women in their Ashram/Dera custody; and of murdering people to cover up their rapes. Ram Rahim has finally been convicted of rape, and his murder trial is on. BJP leaders like Subramaniam Swamy – with their open support for Asaram and Ram Rahim – are seeking to normalise and trivialise rape and murder.
Sakshi Maharaj of course is suggesting that rape complaints should not be decided by Courts but should be a popularity contest – those rapists who enjoy popular support must be acquitted!
Those political leaders like Modi, Khattar, scores of Haryana BJP leaders who flaunted their closeness to a man accused of rape and murder; Sakshi and Swamy who are openly defending the rapist even after his conviction; and Smriti Irani who is seeking to blame media rather that the BJP Government for the rioting – owe an answer to the people of India.
In 2012, we held the Congress Governments at Delhi and the Centre responsible for a rape and murder.
In 2017, shouldn’t the BJP Governments at Haryana and the Centre be held accountable for publicly supporting a rapist and, after his conviction, allowing his supporters to run riot and besiege two states and parts of Delhi?
Should they not resign?
See More : Signs of our times : “Modi”fied India
Protest demonstration was organised against the death of over 60 children in BRD hospital in Gorakhpur, constituency of the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The oxygen supply was cut by the supplier since the dues were not paid by the hospital administration. As a result of this criminal negligence, over 60 new born lives were lost .
The protest demonstration was called by CPI(ML) Liberation, AISA, AICCTU and AIPWA at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. The citizens and students of Delhi gathered to express their anger against this failing government and system. The demands of resignation of Chief minister Yogi Adityanath and health minister Siddharth Nath Singh were raised. The overhauling of the government health sector by increased budget and developed infrastructure was the other demand.
See More : Public Meeting : War Tank in Universities
AISA protested against the UGC and MHRD for reducing the scope of NET-JRF examination drastically by holding the NET exam once instead of twice a year and reducing the number of students qualifying NET from present 15% to a meagre 6%. AISA held protest demonstrations in different Indian cities namely Patiala, Chandigarh, Delhi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Ara, Darbhanga and Kolkata.
Today AISA protested in front of UGC head office in New Delhi. AISA demanded that the chairperson of UGC should come and talk with the student directly. Delhi police threatened the protestors as per their usual style. But the protestors held their ground. It forced UGC to send an additional secretary to come and talk with protestors. The questions that are asked to the UGC representative are
a) What happened to the June-July NET exam?
b) Why do the number of NET qualifying students being decreased from 15% to 6 % ?
c) Why did the UGC take the decisions without a proper notification?
d) Do the number of JRFs also being decreased?
The additional secretary quite naively told that June-July NET exam will happen but it is being postponed slightly.It is in common knowledge that notification for November exam is already out. The second question is answerd in a vague manner where she claimed in effect number of NET qualifying students will increase. She told that the issue of conduction of exams are not being discussed with UGC and it is under the purview of MHRD and CBSE. She told that no final decision has been taken on conduction of bi-annual NET examination. See the video here.
AISA demanded that a proper notification should be published on the UGC website clarifying the confusions around bi-annual NET and the 6% cap within 1 week. AISA resolved to go on a bigger agitation after looking into UGC’s clarification.
See Also: Letter of AISA activist Nitin from jail.
June-July 2017 NET Skipped! NET to be Conducted Only Once a Year!
Biannual NET-JRF Exam Scuttled in a Clandestine Manner!
Cap for NET Qualification Reduced from 15% to 6%!
Possible Scuttling of Reservation! Number of Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs) to Drastically Reduce!
In a clandestine manner the scope of NET and JRF qualification is being drastically reduced by the UGC and MHRD. Each year lakhs of students, from all over, work hard to prepare and sit for the NET as it is a decisive threshold in determining the eligibility for teaching position of Assistant Professor in Indian universities and colleges and also for obtaining JRF for pursuing higher research. But now, there seems to be a break in the practice of conducting NET twice in a year. CBSE had earlier expressed its unwillingness to conduct the NET exam twice a year as has been so far. After a protest from the student community, the UGC released a press statement saying that the CBSE has been asked to conduct NET exam in July 2017. But to our utter shock, the notification published by CBSE dated 6th June declares that NET exam will be held on 19th November 2017. That means the NET exam scheduled for July2017 is being effectively skipped. It is extremely unfortunate that the UGC after releasing press statements of conducting July NET has now withdrawn from accountability. The entire student community and lakhs of future aspirants have been betrayed.
In this context, we have also been informed of the alarming move by the UGC towards reducing the number of students qualifying in a Net exam. It has been reported in news papers that the UGC has decided to reduce the cap of students qualifying for NET to 6%. Till the NET exam conducted in January, 2017, 15% of the eligible students were issued NET qualification.
Qualifying NET exam merely confers eligibility to apply for the post for Assistant Professor. And those who qualify the JRF as well become eligible for Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs) only if they manage to get admitted to any UGC recognized research program in universities/institutions. In other words, NET and the JRF do not automatically guarantee either appointment in teaching posts or receiving fellowship. NET-JRF is merely a qualifying examination and the candidates have to go through further examination/interviews at respective institutions/universities to get appointment as faculty or admitted as research students. Why then the UGC is trying to reduce the number of NET qualifying students? Indeed, UGC has no explanation or accountability of this arbitrary trimming down. On the contrary, the move will gravely scuttle the opportunities of the students trying for teaching profession or aspiring to pursue higher research.
- Firstly, this restrictive 6% cap will deny thousands of students the opportunity of even applying for the posts of Assistant Professors.
- Secondly, it appears that the dual move of scuttling biannual exam and the 6% cap are being implemented to cut-down the number of Junior Research Fellowships in a clandestine manner. As the JRF forms only a fraction of the number of NET qualification, with much less number of students qualifying for NET every year, the number of Junior Research Fellowship will also decrease. It is becoming clear that UGC’s latest moves are nothing but yet another attempt to impose FELLOWSHIP-CUT in higher education in a surreptitious manner.
We have seen how the UGC have earlier tried to cut down Non-NET fellowships in 2015 and then imposed the restrictive cap of student-supervisor ratio through the 5 May 2016 UGC notification to restrict admission to post graduate research.
- Thirdly, with the 2nd June 2017 UGC notification that proposes to make NET qualification a mandatory criterion for enrollment in PhD in category-3 universities (a major chunk of the colleges/ universities in our country come under this category), this 6% cap and scuttling of biannual exam are bound to further shrink the scope of research for hundreds of students.
- Fourthly, it is not even clear to the student community as to how the reservation policy and the provision for relaxation in eligibility for SC/ST, OBC and PH/VH students would be applicable with this restriction of 6%.
- Immediate restoration of the Biannual Cycle of UGC NET exam – it must be ensured that the NET exam is held twice a year as per the existing norm. Since the current notification for the next NET exam has been declared for November 17th, the schedule for the July exam must be declared without any further ambiguous declarations and statements.
- The UGC must come out with a clear official notification published in its website and in mass media confirming the biannual NET as enough tricks have been played to shirk responsibility of conducting the exam as per norms.
- The UGC must also guarantee that the number of Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs) is not reduced. A clearly stated notification issued by the UGC must come in this regard as well.
- Revoke the restrictive 6% cap for qualifying the UGC NET. Expand rather than reduce the scope and opportunity of the number of students trying for teaching profession or aspiring to pursue higher research.
Demand Punishment of the ABVP Goons and Suspension of Police Officers who Let Day-Long violence Happen!
Reclaim DU and the City from Fascist Hooliganism!
Hundreds of students gathered to protest against disruption of a seminar in Ramjas college by ABVP goons. JNU student Umar Khalid was supposed to present a paper in the seminar. The ABVP which manufactured the crackdown in JNU last in year in February, vandalised the seminar by an open show of hooliganism. In front of police presence stones were thrown by ABVP goons at the seminar hall causing severe safety threat to the students and teachers present at the seminar. All these were done in front of Delhi Police at the spot who allowed the vandalism to happen through their intended inaction.
The next day, on 22nd February, hundreds of students gathered at Ramjas College for a peaceful protest march from Ramjas to Maurice Nagar Police station demanding action against ABVP hooliganism. What unfolded on 22nd as well was once again a public show of Delhi Police’s collusion with the ABVP in letting a reign of terror and violence spread over North Campus for several hours. ABVP goons surrounded and attacked the students who gathered for protest inside Ramjas College. They then started attacking protesters from different colleges of Delhi outside Ramjas as well. While the large number of protesters continued demanding arrest of ABVP goons, ABVP hooligans were let free by Delhi Police to attack the protesters. Along with physical violence on Protesters, ABVP pelted sharp stones at protesters several times. Several students and teachers got severely injured due to stone pelting and violence by ABVP. Several of them were taken to the hospital.
The protesters marched to Maurice Nagar Police station and filed complaint with the police. In spite of video footages, MLC reports, written complaints, the police hasn’t registered any FIR yet. The police itself was witness to ABVP’s hooliganism the entire day. However, it continues to refuse to initiate even the initial action and filing of FIR yet.
What is most shameful is that the Maurice Nagar Police force which did NOTHING to stop ABVP’s rioting the entire day unleashed brutal lathi charge on Protesters who were present in front of Maurice Nagar Police station demanding filling of FIR. The ABVP goons who were roaming free till then and were present near the police station colluded with the Delhi Police in beating up the students further. Several students who were at their way back from the protest were attacked by ABVP when they were alone. One AISA activist got severely injured when she was attacked by a group of ABVP activists in a bus.
It is necessary to emphasise that it is not the number or support of common students on ABVP’s side, but their collusion with state machinery such as the Delhi Police that emboldened their day long hooliganism and violence. The police’s role on 21st and 22nd February has proved beyond any shade of doubt that the Delhi Police is acting as the political organ of the BJP government in power.
*The police which regularly records all protests in the city is now clamming that they do not have any video footage of the incident. Several protesters and journalists have captured ABVP’s violence. But the police has till now denied to make these the basis of FIR, let alone their own eye witness account of the riot.
* In spite of severe head and body injuries faced by protesters no FIR against ABVP has been filed till now.
* The police which arranges several platoons of forces to arrest, detain and lathi charge protesters demanding justice in the city didn’t send extra force in DU to control the riot by ABVP.
* The police which did NOTHING to stop ABVP Hooliganism the entire day, brutally beat up students who were sitting peacefully in front of Maurice Nagar Police station demanding FIR.
Friends, last year February as well the Sangh and its student wing used the media and the police to unleash Crackdown on JNU and spread terror in the national capital. JNUSU President was beaten up at the Patiala House Court premises. But it was the immense unity and mobilisation of the students, teachers and citizens of Delhi that we reclaimed our city and universities from Fascist take over. Let us unite and fight back against the reign of terror and violence by ABVP. Let us hold hands and demand
* Immediate FIR and arrest of the ABVP goons who rioted in DU on 21st and 22nd.
* Suspension of police officers at Maurice Nagar for blatant inaction in stopping the riot and violence.
* Accountability of Delhi Police Commissioner in the entire episode. When goons took over the city’s streets and university, why wasn’t necessary force deployed to stop it? Why wasn’t the Delhi Police active in stopping the violence?
It is only through a powerful unity of the democracy and justice loving forces that we can defeat the political Nexus of the fascist goons and the police machinery. Let us unite and fight back.
Bombay HC Grants Bail to the Killers of Mohsin: Shamelessly Citing His Muslim Identity as ‘Provocation’!
Just after the BJP victory in Lok Sabha elections, in June 2014, a young Muslim IT professional Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh was brutally beaten to death on a Pune street by the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) mob wielding hockey sticks and stones. In a case of premeditated communal hate crime, Mohsin was targeted for the markers of his Muslim identity beard, skull cap and Pathani suit as he was on his way back from offering evening prayers at a mosque. After the brutal violence and killing of Mohsin, members of the HRS gang even shamefully exchanged a jeering message on their mobile phones that read pahili wicket padli (the first wicket has fallen) after BJPs victory. Now the Bombay High Court has shamelessly granted bail to three of the 21 arrested in the Mohsin murder case. In her January 12 order, Justice Mridula Bhatkar shockingly observed that the fault of the deceased was that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. More-over, it appears that in the name of the religion, they (the accused) were provoked and have committed the murder. The bail order in the Mohsin case chillingly reminds us of several such travesties in justice. These judgments are no different from the society issuing moralized suggestions such as appropriate clothing for women to avoid rape and in cases of racist violence and attack on people from the north-east, police forces blaming their smelly food habits as reason enough for provocation! It is in similar justifications like this issued by the judiciary and state machinery, where the very existence of marginality becomes a ‘provocation’ for violence. AISA expresses deep shock and condemnation at the absurd bail order and observation by the Bombay High Court and its utter failure to deliver justice to the victim of minority hate-crime and demands strictest punishment against the HRS culprits. The saffron right-wing has always indulged in a vicious communal propaganda and tried to shape the mainstream political and media discourse against religious minorities with constant mischievous references to love jihad, pink revolution, ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and Pak terrorists.
The shocking observations by the Bombay High Court order has the danger of conferring “legal” sanctity to communal prejudice and violence that is being sought to be normalised in the country. It is high time that we reassert that country must be governed by Constitutional morality, Constitutional rights and Constitutional principles and not by majoritarian prejudice. The Supreme Court must take suo motto cognizance of the shocking Bombay High Court observations and annul the order. In these dark times we must intensify our collective struggles against this grave injustice and resist this communal commonsense.
Hold the Kerala Government Accountable for Encounter Killings, use of Black Laws Like the UAPA, Wanton Arrests and Crackdown on Democratic Space!
The way the Kerala police has been involved since last month in encounter killings, arrests and framing of charges on political activists clearly transcends the boundary of merely maintainglaw and order in the state and indicates of a ceratin tactics of intimidation of political opponents to the ruling LDF government in the state.
On Nov 24th two maoist leaders were gunned down in the Karulayi forests in Nilambur, Kerala. The police as usual has come out with the version of self defence and cross fire as an explanation to the encounter killings. In spite of wide range demand of a judicial enquiry into the killings, the Kerala Government is trying to evade impartial judicial probe into the case by ordering a magisterial enquiry which will remain vulnerable to administrative manupulations.
In the aftermath of the killings, Rajeesh Kollakandi, who helped in releasing the body of the assasinated maoist leader, has been suspended from his government job in the technical education department of the state. In addition to it, UAPA cases have been framed on him.
Kamal C. Chavara, a novelist, was arrested under sedition law after the BJP’s youth wing Yuva Morcha had complained to the police against him charging him of insulting the National Anthem based on one of his Facebook posts. The Kerala police acted promptly and had arrested K.C. Chavara.
The first instance of arrest by the police for not standing up during national anthem in film screening came from Kerala when the more than prompt Kerala Police arrested six people who participated in the International Film Festival in Kerala.
A human rights activist Nadir was arrested under UAPA after he went to meet Kamal C Chavara the previous day, although his name does not appear in any FIR. Nadeer has been released after a day’s interrogation. The Kerala Police is trying to create the bogey of maoist link in Nadir’s case. Nadir was picked up by the police as unnamed accused in an FIR where six people have been mentioned under charges of UAPA.
The CPI-M in a statement in the context of K.C. Chavara’s arrest has said that it is against the use of sedition law. But this statement does not suffice to address the issue of intimidation of political voices and crackdown on freedom of expression. The arrests that has been done on the pretext of ‘insulting the national anthem’, even if sedition is not used, indicate towards succumbing to sentiments fanned by the right-wing forces in Kerala. The random use of UAPA and arrests of political activists under UAPA also raises concern over curbing of democratic space and the process of natural justice in Kerala. Black laws like the UAPA were introduced by the Congress Government to legalise unjust state actions on muslims and political activists. These laws are used to subvert the basic principles of natural justice where the burden to prove inncocence lies on the accused in stead of it being otherwise.
Statements by the CPI-M or the SFI that they are against the use of sedition law carry very little weight as long as the state police, working under the command of LDF govt, continue to surrender before rightwing jingoism or is used to intimidate and silence political opinions in Kerala.