आइसा नेता नितिन का जेल से पत्र

Courtesy Janchowk

‘हमारे आदर्श भगत सिंह और चंदू हैं, सावरकर नहीं, जो जेल के भय से माफ़ीनामा लिखकर छूटे’

उत्तर प्रदेश की राजधानी लखनऊ में पिछली 7 जून को मुख्यमंत्री योगी आदित्यनाथ के खिलाफ आइसा समेत कई संगठनों के छात्रों ने विरोध-प्रदर्शन किया था। इस मौके पर एक दर्जन से ज्यादा छात्रों और उनके नेताओं को गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया था। गिरफ्तारी के बाद इन सब पर गंभीर आपराधिक धाराएं लगा दी गयी थीं। निचली अदालत से जमानत खारिज होने के बाद तकरीबन तीन हफ्ते बाद इन नेताओं को ऊपरी अदालत से जमानत मिल पायी। लेकिन अभी भी आइसा के एक नेता नितिन राज को जमानत नहीं मिल सकी है। बताया जा रहा है कि इसके पीछे वजह पुलिस द्वारा मांगी गई घूस का न दिया जाना है। बाकी साथियों की रिहाई के बाद जेल में अकेले बंद नितिन राज ने एक पत्र जारी किया है। पेश है नितिन का पत्र।)

 

आज शायद भारतीय छात्र आन्दोलन अपने इतिहास के सबसे दमनात्मक दौर से गुजर रहा है, जहाँ छात्रों को अपनी लोकतान्त्रिक माँगों को लेकर की गई छात्र आन्दोलन की सामान्य कार्यवाही के लिए भी राजसत्ता के इशारे पर महीनों के लिए जेल में डाल दिया जा रहा है। छात्र आन्दोलन से घबराई योगी सरकार, जो कि इसे किसी भी शर्त पर कुचल देना चाहती है, हमें इतने दिनों तक जेल में रख कर हमारे मनोबल को तोड़ने की कोशिश कर रही है। लेकिन हम क्रान्तिकारी परम्परा के वाहक हैं हमारे आदर्श भगतसिंह और चंदू हैं, सावरकर नहीं, जो जेल के भय से माफ़ीनामा लिखकर छूटे और अंग्रेजों की दलाली में लग गए। हमें अगर और दिनों तक जेल में रहना पड़ा तब भी हम कमजोर पड़ने वाले नहीं हैं।

 

        कल जब हमारे साथ के सभी आन्दोलनकारी साथियों की रिहाई हो गई और मेरी नहीं हुई तो पहले कुछ कष्ट हुआ लेकिन जब से पता चला कि मेरी रिहाई BKT थाने में हमारे साथियों द्वारा रिश्वत देने से इंकार करने के चलते रुकी है तब मुझे जानकर ख़ुशी हुई। यदि रिश्वत देकर मेरी रिहाई कल हो गई होती तो मैं छूट तो जाता परन्तु वो भ्रष्टाचार के खिलाफ आन्दोलन, जिसके चलते मैं जेल में आया, शायद हार जाता। जो कि इस आन्दोलन की मुख्य अंतर्वस्तु को ही भटका देता। मुझे गर्व है कि मैं भ्रष्टाचार के खिलाफ सही मायने में लड़ रहा हूँ और अपने सिद्धांतों के साथ खड़ा हूँ भले ही मुझे इसके लिए अधिक दिनों तक जेल में क्यों न रहना पड़ रहा हो। जेल में मैं बस हमारे प्रिय छात्रनेता चंद्रशेखर प्रसाद (चंदू) के शब्दों में “ यह मेरी व्यक्तिगत महत्वाकांक्षा है कि मैं चे ग्वेरा की तरह जियूँ और भगतसिंह की तरह मरूं”, को याद करके खुद को राजसत्ता के दमन से ज्यादा मजबूत पाता हूँ और लड़ने की एक नई ऊर्जा प्राप्त करता हूँ। 

 

                    आज पूरे देश में जिस तरीके से कार्पोरेट फासीवादी ताकतों की सत्ता स्थापित है उसमें लगातार दलितों, अल्पसंख्यकों, महिलाओं व अन्य वंचित तबकों पर हमले बढ़ रहे हैं। पूरे देश में एक ऐसी भीड़ पैदा की जा रही है जो सिर्फ अफवाह के चलते किसी की भी हत्या कर दे रही है। हमारे किसान जब अपने अधिकारों की मांग करते हैं तो उन्हें गोली से उड़ा दिया जा रहा है। अगर छात्र-नौजवान शिक्षा और रोजगार की बात करता है तो उसे जेल में ठूंस दिया जा रहा है, जो भी सरकार पर सवाल उठाता है उसे देशद्रोही करार दे दिया जाता है। इस भयानक दौर में मैं देश के सभी छात्र नौजवानों से अपील करता हूँ कि भगत सिंह के क्रांतिकारी विचारों से प्रेरणा लेते हुए समाज के सभी उत्पीड़ित तबकों को गोलबंद कर इन जनविरोधी, लोकतंत्र विरोधी सरकारों को उखाड़ फेंकने की जिम्मेदारी लें। ये काम सिर्फ छात्र-नौजवान ही कर सकते हैं।
अंत में मैं फिर इन सरकारों से कहना चाहता हूँ कि तुम्हारा कोई भी दमन और तुम्हारे भ्रष्टतंत्र की कोई भी बेशर्मी और बेहयाई क्रांतिकारी नौजवानों के मंसूबों को तोड़ नहीं सकती। 

 

इंकलाब जिंदाबाद !!                                                     नितिन राज
दिनांक-02.07.2017                                                  नेता, आइसा
जिला कारागार, लखनऊ

 

Source : Janchowk

One Year Since Rohith’s Institutional Murder! Demand Rohith Act!

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One Year Since Rohith’s Institutional Murder in HCU

Students against RSS: the Battle for Justice and Equality; Against Discrimination and Victimisation Continues!

Intensify the Agitation for Rohith, for Najeeb!

Defeat the Nexus of RSS-Puppet Administration in Universities!

Demand Rohith Act!

On the coming 17 January, it will be one year since Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder in the HCU. He, along with four more activists of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA – HCU), was suspended from the University after ABVP (student wing of RSS) filed a complaint against them. Political vendetta and targeting was clear: no less than Smriti Irani, the then MHRD, intervened on the basis of the ABVP’s complaint. Two union ministers (Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani) instructed the HCU administration to dance to the tunes of ABVP. This resulted in the punishment of five Dalit students, violating all norms of enquiry and justice. Rohith Vemula, who made it to a Central University defeating formidable structural discrimination that Dalits in this country face to access higher education, was pushed to death.

An unprecedented upsurge followed. Students from universities all across the country demanded #JusticeForRohithVemula. We demanded punishment of the HCU VC, Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya for misusing their office to fulfil RSS’ agenda. We demanded that a Rohith Act be passed to make caste based discrimination in educational institutions a punishable offense.

Rather than listening to the demand of a Rohith Act, the then MHRD hit out from the floor of the Parliament to Rohith and his comrades. BJP-RSS-ABVP started a full-fledged campaign to vilify Rohith, denying his Dalit identity and his subsequent victimisation.

Today, students in Indian universities are facing exactly what the RSS-BJP-ABVP want to hide. Today, students in our universities are in a battle against the RSS’s road map of converting universities to prisons where ideas are curtailed, dissent is crushed and struggle for universal right to quality education, equality and freedom of expression is silenced:

  • Rohith was pushed to his death in HCU. And Najeeb Ahmad, the JNU student who has been missing since more than two months, was subjected to violence and threats to his life by ABVP goons before he disappeared. Threat, violence, disappearance: this is RSS’s dream project for minorities in India. And pliant University administrations are shamelessly aiding and abetting this project. The JNU administration framed Najeeb himself as an accused, and has only issued token ‘punishments’ to the ABVP goons who assaulted him in full public view. JNU VC has instead served notice to those students who protested against the ABVP, demanding justice for Najeeb.
  • Nine students from marginalised sections were suspended by the JNU VC without even any chance of defending themselves being given. The VC who himself violated procedures and forcibly imposed his agenda on the AC meeting suspended these students alleging disruption of the same.
  • A Dalit school going student was beaten by his classmates in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. His crime? He scored well in exams which according to casteist norms, Dalits are not supposed to do.
  • Five Dalit students and activists of EFLU Hyderabad have been charged with defamation from a faculty member because they complained of caste-based discrimination. Systematic Push Out of students from marginalised sections from universities continue. And now talking about it is deemed ‘defamatory’.
  • Eight Dalit students of the BBAU, Lucknow have been rusticated by the puppet administration of the university. These students are Ambedkarite activists who have been a part of the BBAU students’ agitation to defend reservations in the university and against RSS takeover of University spaces.
  • Seven students of BHU have been rusticated for sitting in hunger strike demanding 24×7 library facilities in the university. The BHU VC, who takes pride in identifying himself as a RSS sympathiser, has seen a ‘violation of BHU tradition’ in this demand. To convert a central university into RSS’s dream laboratory, the BHU administration imposes atrocious sexist rules on women students. Police action on students and explicit threats by the VC are the new normal.
  • UGC has come out with a dangerous notification (5th May, 2016) which instructs universities to allot 100% weightage in viva-voce in entrance exam. If implemented, this would mean denial of admission to students from marginalised backgrounds. Subjective biases based on social prejudices determine viva marking unlike comparatively more objective evaluation in written. JNU VC has recently forcibly imposed this on the admission process. If not resisted, this would be the reality in all our universities.

Wherever students are asserting the idea of a university as a space that rejects caste-based hierarchy and communal division, that defends the right to free speech and critical thinking, that upholds the idea of quality and accessible education for all – they have been attacked by RSS’s agents inside universities. The ABVP has attacked AISA activists and vandalised Pinjra Tod’s programs in DU. They have attacked students remembering Ambedkar on his anniversary in Allahabad University.

These goons have been given full protection and patronage by administrations who are puppets of the RSS. While the RSS is in a war mode against knowledge, rationality, justice and equality inside universities, students all across the country are not ready to leave an inch in their struggle to defend azaadi from casteism, communal violence, sexist rules and witch-hunt of political expressions.

When we are approaching one year of struggle demanding #JusticeforRohith, let us once again rise up in rage to demand a Rohith Act. Let us intensify the agitation against RSS’s takeover of University spaces.

Patent Over People? Modi Govt.’s Moves, Kept Under Wraps…

pharma1Much hype and hyperbole has surrounded US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to India, with the Modi government trying it best to project this visit as a sign of India’s ‘emergence’ as a global power. Much is also being made of the Modi government’s pet ‘Make in India’ project.

Under all the hype, however, lies the plain fact that the Modi government has been busy ever since it came to power in know-towing to American strategic and corporate interests including US nuclear lobbies as well as US based multinational pharmaceutical companies. A particular area of concern has been in pharmaceuticals, as India is said to be the world’s top supplier of affordable generic versions of drugs under patent that otherwise would be out of reach for millions of poor patients. Several crucial policy changes are being mooted in the drug/pharmaceuticals sector and in our patent regime, which will literally endanger the health and lives of millions of Indians.

In less than six months, the Modi government has taken several steps that play into the hands of large international drug companies, or Big Pharma as these are popularly known, on a number of issues ranging from pricing of commonly-used medicines to intellectual property rights (IPR) of pharmaceutical formulations.

Some facts:

  • ·   The first of these steps which came on the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in Sept 2014 entailed a rollback of guidelines issued by the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA). The guidelines, issued under the Drug Price Control Order, 2012, gave the NPPA the power to fix prices of even those drugs that were not on the national list of essential medicines. Using these guidelines, in July 2014, the NPPA had capped the prices of 108 medicines – most of them for cardiac diseases and diabetes, two very widespread ailments in India. Within two months of the NPPA order capping the prices of these 108 drugs, the government instructed it to revoke the guidelines. While it later clarified that the July cap on prices would still remain valid, the order has effectively ensured that the NPPA cannot take similar action in the interest of consumers in future. Given the timing of the move, this was nothing but an attempt by the Modi govt to send the “right signals” to US-based drug MNCs.
  • ·   The second indication came in the US-India joint statement, issued at the end of Modi’s US visit, which stated that an annual “high-level intellectual property working group” would be set up, which would have “appropriate decision-making and technical-level meetings as part of the Trade Policy Forum”. It is well known how the American administration consistently uses ‘trade working groups’ to push for patenting rules that favour its Big Pharma lobby.

·  Almost simultaneously Union Commerce and Industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a statement that the government would roll out a ‘revised policy on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)’! She also indicated that this policy would focus on ‘boosting innovation and tone up the overall administration, besides setting up a ‘think- tank’ to strengthen the country’s patent regime !!

pharma2Sitharaman’s statement to ‘revise’ the patent policy sounded an alarm bell among the public health activists. Countering the minister’s claim that ‘India doesn’t have an IP policy’, they pointed out that India had followed the Indian Patents Act 1970 till 1995 and then made use of the 10-year transition period provided by the WTO agreement on TRIPS to arrive at the current Indian IP legal regime after considerable debate inside and outside Parliament in 2005. So what is the REAL intent behind Sitharaman’s statement? Whose interests her govt is planning to serve by altering/overriding the present patent policy?

The flexibility of ‘compulsory licensing’ in IPR available through TRIPS is what the US and its pharmaceutical industry have been vehemently objecting to and wanted to get scrapped. ‘Compulsory licensing’ essentially allows national govts to allow domestic companies to manufacture essential and life-saving drugs and sell them at cheap rates in emergency situations without the consent of the patent owner. This is one of the “flexibilities” on patent protection included in the WTO’s agreement under TRIPS. Compulsory licences are one of the most effective tools used by developing countries to break the monopoly pricing power of drug MNCs, especially for life-saving and essential drugs. Even the US government used this provision to threaten Bayer when the anthrax epidemic took place in 2009.

  • ·   Subsequently, during the so called ‘Innovation Dialogue’ (16-21 Nov 2014) organised in India,  in a glaring instance of conflict of interests, many pharmaceutical MNC representatives, as part of the delegation from US-based ‘Intellectual Property Owners’ Association’ (IPOA),  arranged a meeting   with members of Indian judicial tribunals, higher judiciary and officers who are dealing with intellectual property (IP) cases of these companies! It was clearly an attempt to influence judges regarding the outcome of some pending crucial cases related to IPR and important drugs.
  • ·  The Modi government has appointed Arvind Subramanian as its the chief economic adviser: Subramanian is well-known for having advised the US government to initiate disputes against India before the WTO on pharmaceutical patents! Earlier, in written submissions  to a US congressional committee as part of the process of review of IPR protection of various countries, including India, Subramanian has echoed the pet demands of the US pharma industry:
  • If India does not address the problems created by Section 3(d) of the patent legislation or by compulsory licensing… the US should consider initiating WTO disputes against India.  In that testimony he also wrote: “India could consider eliminating the additional efficacy requirement for patentability in Section 3(d) of its patent law.. India could commit to a stay on government-initiated compulsory licenses”.
  • So now, the Modi-appointed chief economic advisor of the Government of India is essentially a US corporate spokesperson, who argues for dilution of provisions in the existing Indian patent law, and who wants to tweak laws to allow more profits for Big Pharma !!!
  • ·   In August, the BJP government in Rajasthan drastically reduced the scope of the ‘Mukhyamantri Nishulk Dava Yojna’. Instead of keeping this free medicine scheme universal, the Vasundhara Raje government cut-off nearly 8.5 million people from the list of beneficiaries by stating that the scheme will be open only to beneficiaries of the food security scheme.

In just the past few months, BJP and the Modi government have clearly indicated that their priorities DO NOT lie in providing affordable and quality medical care to common people. Instead, they are far more interested in defending and protecting the profit drive of big Pharma lobby, which seek to gain from sickness and disease of people in Asia and Africa. Each and every step taken by the Modi government has moved towards this end – reducing the powers of the NPPA, providing American pharma lobbyists a dedicated ‘platform’ to push for pro-corporate patenting regimes, reducing the scope of free medical care and appointing pro-corporate voices on important posts in the government. One wonders how Modi expects Indian companies to mass-produce and sell affordable medicines ‘Made in India’ when the government is so busy know-towing to US corporate interests!

Meet India’s  (?!?) Chief Economic Advisor

US business faces three major challenges in India. Two challenges common to all foreign business are: first, the weak and uncertain regulatory and tax environment that affects the civil nuclear industry, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, and more broadly the operations of foreign multinationals in India. Second, although the broad macroeconomic picture is one of opening and surging trade and investment, protectionism in selected sectors has re-surfaced. India is seeking increasing recourse to localization—in banking, telecommunications, retail, and solar panels among others—which favors domestic providers of inputs and equipment over foreign providers. Thus, broad trade and macroeconomic policies toward foreigners are moving in the right direction but sectoral policies have experienced setbacks.”

Who could have said this?

A trade specialist working for the US interests? An advisor to some US trade body or an advisor to the US government? Or an overseas critic of prime minister Narendra Modi’s plans to localise manufacturing? The answer is none of the above, but the current Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian.

This is not a random statement that he could have made long ago, but has been taken from his testimony before the “Ways and Means Committee of the United States Congress”, which was hearing on “US-India trade relations.” in March 2013.

excerpted fromIndia or US? Whose interests will the Chief Economic Advisor Subramanian serve?” by  G Pramod Kumar published in Firstpost 21 Oct 2014 (http://www.firstpost.com/

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Condemn the Paris Attacks, Resist Islamophobia and Expose ‘Free Speech’ Hypocrisy

The massacre of the journalists and cartoonists at the Paris-based magazine Charlie Hebdo is heinous and condemnable. Terrorist actions like the Paris massacre can only become fodder for the global campaign of Islamophobia that is being used to justify wars, occupations, and torture.

Along with the Paris massacre, the Norway massacre by the Islamophobic Anders Breivik; threats against Salman Rushdie; the persecution of Taslima Nasreen in Bangladesh and in India; the Peshawar massacre; the harassment of MF Hussain, forcing him to leave India; the pulping of Wendy Doniger’s book under threats from Hindutva groups; the recent vandalisation of theatres showing the film PK, and the hounding of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, forcing him to announce his ‘death as an author’ – all are instances of violence and terrorism in the name of religious fanaticism and xenophobia. There are countless other instances of Governments (from the USA to Israel to France to India) hounding dissenting political journalists, whistleblowers, writers, filmmakers and so on.

Violence or demands for bans against cartoonists, writers, filmmakers or artists who are irreverent to one’s faith, cannot have any place in a democratic world. Undoubtedly everyone has a right to take offence to or express dissent or protest against writings, art or films. But such opposition should be expressed in words, in art, in films, or in peaceful protest. Threats, actual violence or bans stifle the very spirit of democracy.

Condemnation of the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo staffers, however, cannot mean condoning the content of their cartoons. It is true that Charlie Hebdo did carry cartoons that sought to ‘offend’ other religions too, including Christianity. The use of images of the Prophet in defiance of religious prohibitions, in itself, is not what makes the Charlie Hebdo cartoons offensive. The fact is that the bulk of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons since 2001 have been of a coarsely racist, misogynist, Islamophobic variety. Steeply rising Islamophobia the world over took the form of anti-immigrant xenophobic politics and hate-inspired violence in France in those years. In this backdrop, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons caricaturing Muslims for wearing beards and veils, displaying humiliating sexual violence against Muslim men and women, and sexist comments on Muslim women getting welfare benefits, are indistinguishable from garden-variety racism and xenophobia. Contrary to their claim, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons cannot be celebrated as Leftist iconoclasm or atheist irreverence. A former staffer of the magazine, Oliver Cyran, had in an article written before the massacre, scathingly criticized Charlie Hebdo for its racist, Islamophobic turn post 9/11.

The official ‘secularism’ of the French State also is beset with much the same problems as the Charlie Hebdo magazine. France’s ban on the hijab or the display of ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols (which can be interpreted to mean bindis or turbans also) – which France claims is in the best tradition of French secularism – coincides with the xenophobic slurs and attacks on those same symbols. When wearers of bindis, burqas and turbans are vilified as ‘pinheads’, ‘ragheads’ and so on in many European countries and USA, the wearing of those symbols becomes a defence of identity and dignity. To ban those symbols amounts to serving the cause of racism, under the cloak of secularism and feminism! A recent article on Charlie Hebdo in a prominent Indian daily, that claimed the magazine was ‘anti religion not anti Islam) commented that increasing immigration and “people of colour from former French colonies moving in as citizens of France” has caused “considerable strain on French identity.” But if French ‘secular’ identity comes under “strain” thanks to diversity and immigration from the countries France itself colonized, then surely there is something deeply flawed about such ‘secularism’? Can it be called ‘secularism’ at all if it cannot accommodate the social, cultural and religious self-expression of the ‘Other’ who are its former colonial subjects?

The claim that freedom of expression is absolute – in France in general as well as in the Charlie Hebdo magazine – is false. France and other European countries have laws against anti-Semitic hate-speech. Charlie Hebdo sacked a staffer who was misleadingly accused of anti-Semitism on the grounds that he mocked at a French politician for marrying a Jewish heiress for money. Yet the same magazine saw nothing racist or Islamophobic in content mocking at Muslims or immigrants for their clothes or colour, with crude images of sexual violence. The problem seems to be France’s inability to recognize Islamophobia and anti-Arab xenophobia as hate-speech at all.

It is no coincidence that France is the first country in the world to ban pro-Palestine protests. It is no excuse that some of those protests were violent or anti-Semitic. After all, innumerable instances of Islamophobic violence has not resulted in any bans or curbs on Islamophobic ‘self-expression’ in France! The French State could and should have acted to prevent and punish any anti-Semitic violence, as also Islamophobic and xenophobic violence. But banning pro-Palestine demonstrations smacks of high hypocrisy on its claims of holding high the standard of ‘Liberty’ and ‘free speech.’ In France, sociologist Said Bouamama and rapper Saidou have been put on trial, under pressure from a far-right group, for a book and song they brought out in solidarity with French working class youth, and in protest against racism. In a statement after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Said and Saidou have called out the hypocrisy of the French State and warned against an explosion of racism and Islamophobia against working class immigrants.

The response of most ruling regimes to the Paris Attacks has been marked by hypocrisy and a self-serving agenda of boosting Islamophobia. One article exposing such hypocrisy notes, “The only person in prison for the C.I.A.’s abominable torture regime is John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower. Edward Snowden is a hunted man for divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a thirty-five-year sentence for her role in WikiLeaks.” A cartoon on the internet points to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s hypocrisy, with a caption saying “I assassinated 17 journalists, among 2143 other Palestinians in Gaza, only last summer. Today I walked in the first line in the Paris Rally, protesting terrorism and assuring freedom of speech is a basic right.”

The instances of hypocrisy from India also abound. The Sangh Parivar is trying to use the Paris massacre as a pretext to spread hatred against Islam and Muslims. It must be remembered that the Sangh Parivar and other Hindutva groups are the ones responsible for acts of horrific violence in the name of ‘defending’ their faith. These acts of violence include the assassination of MK Gandhi, the burning alive of Graham Staines and his two little sons, and numerous communal pogroms targeting Muslim and Christian minorities, as well as the organized intimidation against writings of Wendy Doniger, Perumal Murugan, Rohinton Mistry, AK Ramanujam; Anand Patwardhan’s films; Facebook posts by Mumbai girls; MF Husain’s art, to name just a few. Anders Breivik who massacred many young people in Norway, was inspired in part by the ideology and violent actions of the Sangh Parivar in India. The Modi Government is treating protests against land grab or destruction of forests as a form of ‘blasphemy’ against pro-corporate development, and has just prevented an activist from flying out of the country on these grounds.

Any attempt to frame the Paris Attacks – as 9/11 was framed – as an attack by Islam on Western values of ‘democracy’ and ‘free speech’ and to stoke Islamophobic panic and hatred, must be firmly resisted. Yes, the attacks are a heinous, terrible, unconscionable crime. But this crime cannot be used to shield and justify the crimes against humanity and freedom committed by the very same powers that masquerade as defenders of ‘democracy’ now. Racism, Islamophobia, communalism, wars and occupation, as well as repressive muzzling of critics of capitalism and imperialism, are real and present dangers to democracy as much as are the ISIS, the Taliban, the Boko Haram and other such outfits.

Excerpts From Statement by Said and Saidou

Our book and song came about in the middle of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to impose a racist definition of national identity.

One spontaneous response from young people in working class areas was to write graffiti on the walls saying “Nique la France”—“Fuck France”.

This graffiti was political, and showed the youth’s opposition. Of course, the mainstream media presented it instead as a danger to the republic.

Our book and song were intended to make sure this youth wasn’t left isolated, by bringing the visible support of a sociologist and a musician.

They highlighted the France that we don’t and can never love. The France of the counter-revolutionaries that put down the Paris Commune in 1871, Nazi collaborators, police searches, racist crimes, Islamophobia and Zionism.

A far right group attacked us for racism against “white people”—and the court decided to take their complaint seriously.

Apparently the book’s tone is unforgivable. It is a call for the mobilisation and self-organisation of people in working class areas.

What’s also unforgivable is that we’ve linked together different fights in one common denunciation of the global system.

In France’s crisis-stricken society, the mere expression of revolt is considered dangerous.

Our trial is an attempt to intimidate activists in the hope that they stop expressing the anger that’s present in the poorer classes and especially among young people from migrant backgrounds.

Now politicians and the media have captured the emotion that people feel at the Charlie Hebdo attack.

They are sending out a message of fear to justify repressive measures against working class areas that are living through massive impoverishment and racial discrimination.

The debate in the media is already focusing on the need for a French equivalent of the US Patriot Act passed after 9/11.

The calls for national unity are actually an attempt to divide ordinary people according to their religions—or their assumed religions. To do this, the state has to present young Arab and black people as a danger to safety.

In three days 50 Islamophobic acts have taken place in France.

The anger is great among people from migrant backgrounds. But the media hype is drowning it out.

Thousands of school and college students refused to take part in the minute’s silence of the “I am Charlie” campaign.

Others put up their own posters, graffiti or tweets such as “I am Palestine” or “I am against Islamophobia”.

We need to bring together these forces to refuse national unity and respond to the official campaign.

We want to send a message to working class areas of refusing to be intimidated, cowed or afraid. And it’s a call for self-organisation and solidarity against the unprecedented repression that is on its way.

NO to Homophobia! NO to Misogyny!

homosexuals-in-iran_use it for khap
There is more to celebrate than a parade.
 
 There are voices to be heard
 
 That will keep up the murmur
 
 Even after the songs are sung,
 How many threads will you pull apart?
 
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
are also on the faces of people passing by
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
And the dream that you dare to,
Oh why, oh why can’t I?

Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?  ~Ernest Gaines

Homophobia is a term that provides some kind of shorthand for a host of unwarranted behavior against people who engage in non-heteronormative sexual behavior(s). Is it really a phobia- a fear or is it sheer hatred? Homophobia happens to be written into the law- in the archaic Indian Penal Code under Section 377 drafted by Macaulay which dates back to the colonial times- leading to widespread hate crimes and profiling of gender and sexual minorities- homosexuals, transgenders, intersex and queer persons. Sexual violence against transgenders in police custody has been reported. Other than that, same-sex couples are routinely targeted, exploited and threatened by the police. Due to lack of support from families, many are driven to suicide. The active marginalization of LGBTQIH people is one of the darker secrets of our Republic.

All of this is justified by using the bogus classification of natural versus unnatural. Quite recently, former Justice Katju in his Facebook post, flaunted the same mentality by saying that non-reproductive sexual relations are non-necessary and that the only purpose of man-woman relations is procreation. Saying that “a woman has to get hold of a man, not merely to make her pregnant, but also to look after her and provide for her financially while she is performing this role”, he endorsed the same misogynistic attitude that treats women as tools for producing babies as did Member of Parliament, Sakshi Maharaj who called upon Hindu women to produce four babies, to serve the project of turning India into “Hindu rashtra”. That there are numerous human actions- sexual and non-sexual- that are not directed toward procreation and that homosexual behavior has been observed even among animals, is irrelevant to this misinformed ideology.

The historic Delhi High Court verdict in 2009 that decriminalized homosexual activity between consenting adults said, in no uncertain terms, that Section 377 is a violation of fundamental rights of Indian citizens. It upheld the constitutional morality that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar famously spoke of in his draft Constitution speech, as opposed to public/majoritarian morality. The 2013 Supreme Court judgment, however, was a huge setback to the movement as it upheld public morality as opposed to Constitutional morality- stripping homosexual people of their right to a dignified life by criminalizing their identity.

While homophobia has been successfully made part of common sense through institutional discrimination and violence, there’s a need to ask whether “Indian culture” really espouses an inherently homophobic mentality. There are, for example, ancient writing and art that testify to widespread non-heteronormative sexual behavior among Indian people. Indeed, there is nothing ‘Indian’ about criminalizing homosexuality, rather it is a Macaulay sponspored colonial imposition of Victorian ‘morality’ on our people to serve patriarchy. And the self-appointed ‘custodians’ of Indian culture, are wielding this colonial tool to  “purify” Indian culture, witch-hunting and rendering invisible any forms of existence other than an majoritarian, upper caste, heterosexual identity. The most organized force against any form of diversity is, of course, the RSS and its affiliates. Inside and outside the campus, there has been a steady rise in violent targeting of disadvantaged and minority voices. Progressive democratic forces have always rejected fascist mindset and vandalism on JNU campus. However, with the rise of the right-wing to power at the Centre, these vandals feel empowered enough to bully LGBT groups outside and inside the campus.

Although the JNU campus offered a united resistance to such retrograde trends, evident in the huge turnout in Rainbow Walk, Rainbow Trees on campus are being targeted and vandalised again and again. We urge the student community to remain vigilant against these misogynistic, homophobic, fascist elements and reject their designs. It is the subversive power of individual’s right to sexual expression and identity, individual’s right to choice and love, the twin challenge that it poses to both patriarchy and caste, that has unnerved those who are vandalizing the Rainbow trees. It is this subversive power that challenges domination and discrimination and speaks for plurality, diversity and dignity of every identity that needs to be upheld in dark times like these.

See Also Is ‘Kiss of Love’ Against Indian Culture? Is it Obscene? Why Should We Defend It?

Com. Sudhansu, AISA’s State President of UP Expelled by Lucknow University Administration for Organising Talk on Women’s Right to Choose!

Who is Afraid of Love?

love zehadOn 15 November 2015, the AISA unit of Lucknow University (LU), held a convention on the campus premises on ‘Prem Se Darr Kisko?”(Who is afraid of love? Love Azaad vs. the lie of Love Jihad) The convention was organized in the light of the increasing communalisation of love in Uttar Pradesh by the RSS/BJP machinery. The urgent need to dispel the myth of love- jihad was further necessitated by the spate of provocative statements and threats being issued by BJP leaders like Yogi Adityanath on a daily basis and the falling apart of the mythical love-jihad propoganada by the sangh machinery after it came to light that in the much hyped love-jihad case of Merut, it was actually the local BJP leaders who had threatened and subsequently bribed the family members of the girl to falsely accuse their daughter’s Muslim partner. The AISA unit of LU obtained formal permission from the university authorities for organising the convention (permission letter attached). However, on the day of the convention, when CPI (ML) Liberation’s Politburo member and AIPWA national secretary Com. Kavita Krishnan was about to deliver her talk, the ABVP goons entered and vandalised the convention venue, manhandled the speakers and other students (especially women) among the audience and disrupted the talk. While disrupting the talk they proudly raised pro-khaap and pro-moral policing slogans while also threatening those against their regressive, patriarchal, communal and parochial views with ‘goliyon se aarati‘ (salutation by showering bullets). Most disturbingly, the University authorities with whom layed the responsibility to ensure that such disruption does not happen, chose to collude with the vandalists. That all this happened in a state university of a state whose ruling party claims to be the most fervent upholder of secular values, is a serious give-away not only of their false claims of standing for secularism but also to the heightened fear and insecurity the minorities must be experiencing every passing moment. permission of hall

Two months later, in a most shocking and disturbing turn of events, the University authorities who had earlier failed to rein in the vandalists and also failed to ensure that the university campus remained a space of critique, democratic dialogue and freedom of expression, instead of coming down on the disruptors of academic and secular spaces has chosen to take action against those who stand for democracy, secularism and rights of women. LU authorities have now issued orders to expel Com. Sudhanshu, state AISA president and a student of LU, for standing up for the rights of women to make their own decisions, for having challenged sangh brigade’s unabated hate mongering and for having the courage to stand for ‘love’ during the time of ‘hate’.

Punishment for Spreading Love in the Time of Hate: Resist Surrender of University Authorities to Right Wing Patriarchal Forces:

At this juncture, it becomes all the more important to ask ‘Who indeed is afraid of love’, so afraid, that they would rather let vandalists and goons run loose and unreined in the university than safeguard the democratic, egalitarian and secular ethos of institutional spaces! What kind of University feels threatened when issues of ‘women’s right over their bodies and choices’ are raised? What kind of university allows open threats and intimidation of women and then follows it up by penalising those who stood with the women resisting such threats? What kind of university shuts its eyes when a group such goons throw money at girls dancing on a stage during an college event (as reported by the female students on the day of the convention) but suddenly wakes up when the same women bravely stand up and assert ‘no more’!! And also, what is about the state government’s mindset, that university authorities feel so emboldened to punish those who stand against the sangh brigade’s hate mongering and daylight lumpenism!!

In recent times we have seen how educational institutions are becoming brazenly anti-women and instead of creating spaces for questions and critiques, are instead going all out to curb them. From beating up Jadavpur students at midnight for daring to demand justice for a fellow student, to issuing show cause notices to students for organising events in order to assert people’s rights over the spaces they daily occupy. Last month, the authorities of Calicut Universities had issued show cause notices to common students and several left activists including those from AISA for organising  a “Hug of Love” event in their college on 10 December 2014. At a time when the self-appointed guardians of morality have been busy spreading “hate” through divisive speeches and campaigns like “love-jihad” targeting different communities, the students’ of Calicut Law College had undertaken this initiative to ensure that we remember love, the most unifying of human emotions. By issuing show-cause notice to the students, the Calicut Law College administration violated a key principle on which any institute of higher education is founded, which is,  that there be presence of critical thought and freedom of expression, and the college/university administration is beholden to safeguard that freedom. Though the university later was forced to withdraw the notices under tremendous pressure from progressive sections it nonetheless showed itself to be replete with the very regressive and irrational notions that it must instead be striving to replace.

By bowing down before communal and patriarchal forces, the LU too has shown itself to , be an unthinking agent of the status-quoist and right-wing forces in the state, when it considers a convention on love, secularism and women’s agency as immoral, problematic and an unfit topic of discussion among students.

We appeal to all democratic section to unite against the expulsion of comrade Sudhanshu and build up a massive resistance against shameless surrender of LU administration to right-wing hate mongering forces.

See   NO to Homophobia! NO to Misogyny!

AISA Wins the Post of Vice-President in the Allahabad University Students’ Union (AUSU) Elections!

A Significant Advance of Students’ Agenda Against the Politics of Muscle Power, Dominant Power-Lobbies and Communalism!

In the AUSU elections this year, 2 out of five central panel posts have been won by the Left forces, while much hyped ‘saffron wave’ got reduced to 1 post!

AISA's AUSU Central Panel Candidates

AISA’s AUSU Central Panel Candidates

The verdict of the Allahabad University Students’ Union Election held on 21st November has manifested the aspiration of common students for a fundamental change inside the University for democracy, equality and struggle for students’ rights amidst an overall atmosphere of violence and lumpensim created by dominant casteist lobbies and ruling class political parties.

Comrade Neelu Jaiswal from AISA has won the post of Vice-President and comrade Vidyotma Maurya has been elected as the PG/Research Scholar representative from Arts Faculty. Comrade Pawan Kumar from AISA gave a tough fight to ABVP representative for the post of Joint Secretary and polled second in the post.  Other than AISA comrades, two representatives from AIDSO- comrade Ankush Dubey as Cultural Secretary and Comrade Vimsingh Chandel as UG representative from arts faculty have also got victory in the election.

The democratic space within students’ politics in the city has been strengthened by the victory of two left representatives out of five Central Panel Posts in AUSU. ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, which was trying to cash on the claimed NaMo wave got a major setback in the final results with only one post by a slender margin. The post of President and General Secretary have gone to Samajwadi Chhatra Parishad, the student wing of the SP.

Among the contesting forces in the election it was only AISA that kept the spirit of democracy, social justice and gender equality alive. While most of the candidates were busy displaying dominance of caste combinations, money and muscle power, it was only AISA that made the rights of common students and deprived sections an agenda of the election. The academic atmosphere of AU is marked by absence of basic minimum infrastructure and facilities. Books are not issued from the central library of the university. Most of the students do not get hostel and are forced to live in tiny sized rooms in rent. Most of the teaching posts are lying vacant and regular classes are a far-fetched dream of the students. Basic minimum facilities like photocopying, canteen or laboratories with updated instruments are absent from the university.  In such an atmosphere of academic anarchy, it is only AISA that has built up movement demanding these facilities throughout the year and has made these issues a fundamental point of election campaign.

In contrast to this, the rest of the forces and student wings of the ruling parties, be it SP or BJP, tried to cash on their position in power and opportunist combinations to mobilize votes. Devoid of any pro-student agenda, they contested the election by trying to polarize the campus on caste and communal lines. Several incidents of lumpenism targeting teachers from minority community, use of sexist abuse targeted at them or spreading the lie of love jihad were part of their pre-election preparations.

ausu2

AISA’s Electoral Procession in Allahabd University

Along with raising issues of academic rights of the students inside the university, AISA also took up the task to expose the anti-people policies of these governments. Our campaigners and candidates urged students to make student wing of the ruling SP accountable on the question of increasing attack on women and dalits in UP under SP rule. The betrayal of the SP government on the question of social justice by not implementing the three tier reservation in Public Service Commission posts has also been exposed by AISA. The question of increasing unemployment in UP while thousands of government posts are lying vacant for years in UP was a part of election campaign of AISA. When the ABVP representatives thought they can win elections by naming NaMo, AISA comrades made them accountable among the common students on the question of CSAT, scam in SSC results, price rise, black money and communalization of academics and society.

The entire election process be it nomination rallies, election campaign or post-verdict violence has exposed the farce of Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations.  AU administration was a complicit witness to the open violence and show of money and muscle power by ABVP, SP and other dominant lobbies. Flouting all election norms, lakhs of rupees have been spent by the candidates. Big campaign hoardings in the city, luxury cars and lakhs of printed photos were all part of campaign by the lumpen and ruling class groups. Nomination rallies of these forces were marked by several rounds of firing and bombardment. Rampant violence between groups of candidates was common throughout the election period. In one such incident, a group of lumpens tried to attack our women comrades when they intervened to stop fatal attack on another candidate during campaign.

Immediately after the results were declared, ABVP goons started firing throughout the city and created hooliganism and violence. Along with ABVP, goons led by the outgoing president of AUSU who was supporting the anti-reservation lobby in the election, attacked the residence of the Election Commissioner. It is a real irony that Lyngdoh Committee which was introduced in the name of scuttling money and muscle power in the student union elections is only used to scuttle democratic rights and space for democratic forces in student politics (as is happening in JNU).

The result of the AUSU has encouraged the democratic movement and aspiration in the university. In the coming days, AISA is committed to carry forward the struggle against the dominant power lobbies and communal forces, against the anti-student regimes of the SP in UP and BJP at centre under the banner of AUSU and the progressive forces elected in the students union.

Resist Efforts at Fomenting Communal Tensions in Trilokpuri

“We were gheraoed from all sides. When the rioters came in, we asked for police help but they said that they did not have any instructions to intervene. For four hours, the stone pelting continued. Some of the children got hurt, yet the police was a silent spectator”, Testimony of a woman in Trilokpuri

trilokpuri1In the last week of October, Delhi witnessed another well-orchestrated campaign of hate and communal rumor mongering, leading to large-scale violence. Vested interests, led by former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya, used the situation to spread all sorts of wild rumours, to foment tensions and violence. And in the midst of this communal riot mongering, the Delhi Police refused to intervene, as witnesses’ testimonies clearly show.

It all started on 23rd October in Block No. 20 of Trilokpuri, when a temporary ‘Mata ki Chowki’ was erected. An altercation ensued over playing a  high volume loudspeaker on the  Diwali evening while the prayers were being offered at a nearby mosque. The altercation soon took an ugly turn, and stone-pelting started. However, on the night of 23rd October itself, the altercation had been resolved. It is in this situation that former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya intervened, to fuel the religious sentiments of the majority community. Sunil Vaidya organizes a closed door meeting in his office, in which he reportedly calls upon his cadres to construct a temple at the place of ‘Mata ki Chowki’. Soon after, in the late evening of 24 October, an unruly crowd of around 3000 people barged into Block 20 and started pelting stones firing randomly. According to locals, these people were outsiders who had been brought to Trilokpuri. Soon the situation went out of control and the Police smd the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was deployed. Two boys got wounded in the firing, and several youngsters got hurt with bricks and stones. They were taken to the hospital by the Police. The tension spread from Block 20 to other blocks in Trilokpuri. The same night, more than 20 youths were picked by the police without following any legal proceedings. On 25th October, the riots spread to different blocks of Trilokpuri; Blocks 15-20-27 are the most affected. The tension spread from Block 20 to 27-28, 15-9, 6-8, Kalyanpuri Block 13; and Indira and Sanjay camps. Police came to Block 27 at night. According to residents, they broke several vehicles which might have been specifically marked as ownned by Muslims. Then the police entered the gorakhSanjay Camp, and here they broke open all locked doors claiming that men had been hidden inside. Various teams visiting the Sanjay camp in the succeeding days (on 26/27th October) have noted the broken doors in this area. They have also met several women with injury marks on their bodies and with visible lathi marks. The injured were not going to government hospitals dreading possibilities of false cases being slapped uopn them.cases being framed against them. Moreover, the local MLA from AAP has not also been seen in the area, except to roam around with the police for a while. There were unsubstantiated rumours of Muslims urinating at the Mata ki Chowki, of pork being placed in front of the mosque and meat and bones in front of Mata ki Chowki, of drunken brawls and lecherous men. From the afternoon of 27th October itself, news of the death of one of the two young boys (both of whom are Hindus) from Block 28 who had been shot during police firing on 24th October was being circulated all over Trilokpuri. There were also rumours that a ‘shav yatra’ of this boy would be organized in Trilokpuri, and that this yatra would result in fresh riots and violence. It later turned out that the news of the boy’s death was false. The instigators of this rumour mongering – former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya and local RSS leader Ram Charan Gujarati for instance – continue to roam around freely in and out of the police stations and in the area. In the de-facto BJP office at Sunil Vaidya’s residence in Block 21, groups of around 25-30 young men gather regularly even though Section 144 was supposedly imposed. Currently, several Muslim families in the area have either left the area all together, or have sent women and children for the relatives’ places situated in other parts of Delhi for safety. There are also reports that young men as well as women and children are kept locked in their homes for fear of their safety, and for fear that the police will pick them up and frame them in false cases.

Role of the Police

To begin with, the police remained a mute witness for four whole hours on 24th October, even as the tensions kept escalating. This lack of prompt action only encouraged the rioters. The Police came to action on 25th, after the riots having spread to various parts of Trilokpuri. Even while in Action, their obvious bias could be seen in several instances. They arbitrarily picked up construction workers (mostly poor, and from the minority community) from Block 27. They entered the local mosque wearing shoes, and there are also reports that they desecrated books in the mosque. The police used sexually abusive language against members of both communities. According to several narratives emerging from Trilokpuri, the police beat up women and the elderly. Two youngsters were seriously injured in the police firing on 25th October. Some serious concerns have arisen with regard to the arrests and FIRs filed by the police. It appears that the arrests were entirely arbitrary and selective. For instance, Jameel was arrested and thrown into police custody when he accompanied his mother to visit his brother in jail, flouting all existing legal norms of arresting. Some Hindu men have been arrested, but Muslims constitute an overwhelming majority of those arrested. In some of the FIRs, there is no specific mention of the accused – thus leaving the doors open for subsequent false arrests and charge sheets. Most of the accused have been charged under several provisions of the IPC, including under section 307 (attempt to murder) a non-bailable offense. Moreover, when the accused were produced in the Karkardooma court on 26th October, JNUSU representatives present there found the accused  with injuries and limping. according to the accused they were not given food or medical help in jail for two whole days. It was only after interventions made people present there in the court they were provided with food. Moreover, their relatives have not been allowed to meet them. The accused were later sent to Tihar jail, where they are reportedly being beaten up.

Currently, there is a heavy police presence in many parts of Trilokpuri. However, in the name of ensuring ‘peace’ and ‘security’, the police has now de-facto gheraoed block 15 and 27, where majority of the Muslim population of Trilokpuri resides. Just last month, we saw an orchestrated campaign of communal hate mongering in Bawana. Moreover, apart from Trilokpuri, there are reports of increasing communal tensions in other parts of Delhi such as Majnu ka tila and Nand Nagari. Clearly, as the Delhi polls approach, these attempts at communal polarization are only going to increase – attendant with violence and hate-mongering.

CITIZENS’ PROTEST IN FRONT OF THE DELHI POLICE HQ

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JNUSU President Comrade Ashutosh Addressing the Citizens’ Protest

Concerned by the Serious police inaction, prejudiced behaviour towards minority community a Citzens’ Protest by organised by the students and intellectuals of the city On 1st November. AISA, JNUSU and various other left and democratic organizations participated in this demo. AISA took an important role in organizing the Demo. Despite being called in a short notice, more than hundred students and citizens participated in it. Representatives of organizations and individuals expressed their opinion questioning Delhi Police.
JNUSU President Comrade Ashutosh raised the inadequacy and stereotypical biases with which Police acted in Trilokpuri. AISA national President Comrade Sucheta demanded immediate arrest of Ex BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya. Delhi University Unit Secretry Comrade Aman addressed the meeting.

A delegation consisting of JNUSU office bearers (JNUSU President Ashutosh,Vice President Anant, General Secretary Chintu, Joint Secretary Shahqat) as well JNUSU councilors Rama Naga and Fayaz met representatives of the Delhi Police and submitted a detailed note with the following demands:

1. Strong action against responsible police officers who failed to act in time to stop the violence.

2. Immediate action against well-known instigators like Mr. Sunil Vaidya and Ramcharan Gujarati.

3. The police must come clean on the number of FIRs filed and arrests done till now. Any FIR without proper name and description of the accused must not be pursued by the police in the court.

4.  Further arrests without warrant and legal norms must be stopped immediately.

5. Those accused persons who are inside Tihar jail must be provided proper security, medical and legal aids.

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Citizens’ Protest in front of Delhi Police HQ

Who Is Afraid of Love? Communal, Patriarchal Bogey of ‘Love Jihad’

The black haired Jewish youth lies for hours in ambush, a satanic joy in his face, for the unsuspecting girl whom he pollutes with his blood and steals from her own race.By every means, he seeks to wreck the racial bases of the nation he intends to subdue. Just as individually he deliberately befouls women and girls, so he never shrinks from breaking the barriers race has erected against foreign elements. It was, and is, the Jew who brought Negroes to the Rhine, brought them with the same aim and with deliberate intent to destroy the white race he hates, by persistent bastardization, to hurl it from the cultural and political heights it has attained, and to ascend to them as its masters. He deliberately seeks to lower the race level by steady corruption of the individualAdolf Hitler in Mein Kampf

It was in Nazi Germany that Hitler sought to portray relationships between the ‘racially inferior’ Jewish youth and the ‘pure’ German woman as a conspiracy to break racial barriers and “subdue” Germany. That was in Germany under the throes of fascism.

love-jihad0

Right Wing Campaign posters of Love Jihad

And now, in India, we are seeing the political force which is running an elected government presiding over a vicious campaign with obvious racist and fascist overtones. Under the garb of the so-called ‘love jihad’, the RSS-BJP-VHP-ABVP are seeking to criminalise consensual inter-religion relationships, specifically relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women.

During the recently conducted by-poll elections in Uttar Pradesh, the RSS-BJP ran a vicious campaign led by Yogi Adityanath against the ‘love jihad’. For the most part, it is a campaign that does not bother to base itself on fact. It is a campaign that willfully peddles stories of Hindu women either being duped or coerced into marrying Muslim men and into changing their religion, that seeks to paint the entire Muslim community as ‘predators’ of Hindu womens’ izzat and Hindu ‘honour’. The similarities with Hitler’s narrative are clear: Muslim men ‘enticing’ unsuspecting Hindu women as part of some grand conspiracy, the subsequent dangers to the ‘nation’ and Hindu culture. It is essentially a new name for an old prejudice, a campaign which draws upon the prevalent communal common sense in our society and milks it to the hilt to spread hatred of the Muslim or the Christian ‘other’. Young men and especially young women who choose, of their own volition, to fall in love and marry outside of ‘permitted’ caste and religious boundaries almost inevitably have to face massive opposition, if not wrath from friends and family. And now, with this organized ‘love jihad’ campaign, this opposition has only been rendered a more organized, potent and dangerous form.

Taking a cue from Amit Shah’s vicious campaign in Muzzafarnagar during the Lok Sabha elections, and from the likes of Yogi Adityanath, the ABVP and the VHP are now roaming around ‘advising’ women about the dangers of entering relationships with Muslim men. In September, at a 2-day meeting held in Lucknow, the ABVP declared that it will form groups of girls on university campuses and educational institutions to curb incidents of ‘love jihad’ in which Muslim youths allegedly lure Hindu girls  into marriage and  convert them to their religion. “These vigilante groups will not only counsel girls against ‘love jihad’ but also approach the authorities, including principal and proctor of educational institutions, if they come across any case where any Muslim youth was trying to lure a Hindu girl posing as a Hindu,” said Shreehari Borikar, national general secretary, ABVP. (Indian Express Sep 22, 2014).

Recently, in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP state Vice President and MLA Usha Thakur, has taken it a step further by issuing a diktat to ensure that Muslim men aren’t allowed to attend garbas in Indore to prevent women from becoming ‘victims’ of ‘enticement’ and ‘love jihad’!

So now, we will have the entire state machinery and vigilante groups of VHP-ABVP activists cracking down on any consensual relationship between adults, deeming it to be immoral, illegal, or part of some conspiracy!

It is indeed ironic that these campaigns, which openly seek to undermine the autonomy and agency of adult women, are being sold in the name of women’s ‘empowerment’, ‘safety’ and ‘security’.Empowerment is about individual rights and individual agency, and these campaigns are in fact designed to undermine the right and agency of adult people.

Such campaigns are completely uncalled intrusions into people’s personal lives, decisions and relationships. The bogey of women’s ‘honour’ and ‘safety’ has frequently been used as a justification to curb women’s freedom. RSS-VHP-ABVP’s campaign is the latest in this attempt to police women and their decisions in the name of their ‘safety’. And let us also not forget that “protecting” women’s ‘safety’ has always been a useful trope to spread suspicion and hatred against the Muslim “other”.Indeed, it is an offensive which is as communal as it is patriarchal.

Women’s freedom can be ensured only through women’s freedom and equality and respect for their agency, not through such dangerous campaigns that aim to criminalise consensual relationships and spread communal hatred in the name of women’s safety.

Reject Consorted Efforts of Communal Hate and Riot-mongering in Delhi! Report from AISA’s Visit TODAY to Bawana and Narela

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Poster Used by Fascist Forces to Incite Communal Tensions in Delhi

After the RSS-BJP-VHP’s attempts to stoke communal tensions across Uttar Pradesh through vicious campaigns against the so-called ‘Love Jihad’ and cow slaughter, this orchestrated campaign of communal hate mongering is now being replicated in Delhi too. Over the past few days, as Id approaches, a campaign against cow slaughter by a group calling itself the ‘Hindu Krantikari Sena’ is being used to threaten and intimidate Muslims. In the backdrop of this ongoing campaign of communal hate and riot-mongering in Narela and Bawana in Delhi, a team consisting of AISA’s Delhi state leadership, CPI(ML) leaders and AICCTU leaders from Narela visited these areas today. This team, which also included JNUSU Vice President Anant, JNUSU-SSS councilor Rama Naga, AISA Delhi Convenor Omprasad and other AISA leaders from Delhi, met with several families in Bawana and also with local activists and leaders working against the orchestrated communal hate mongering.

The facts of the current situation are as follows:

The epicenter of the current communal tensions in the Narela-Bawana area is the JJ colony in Bawana. The residents of this colony consist of families who had been displaced in 2004 from various slums in Delhi such as Yamuna Pushta. According to the residents of the colony, for years together, dating back to time when they lived in different slums in Delhi, Muslims and Hindus in the colony – consisting mostly of poor working class families – have lived together in harmony. However, there have often been concerted attempts by politically motivated forces to deliberately vilify the atmosphere in JJ colony and in other parts of Narela and Bawana through communal hate mongering. In 2012 for instance, completely unsubstantiated claims were made that Muslims were illegally ‘slaughtering cows’ during Id. This vicious campaign of lies and slander went on, without a shred of evidence, creating a huge amount of communal tension in the area.

This year too, as Id approaches, we are witnessing a dangerous communal campaign by forces calling themselves the ‘Hindu Krantikari Sena’. Several inflammatory posters have been put up in the area claiming that the ‘India-Pakistan war’ had reached Bawana, and asserting that the Hindu religion was under ‘threat’ from daily cow slaughter. On 2nd October 2014, these communal forces alleged, with no evidence whatsoever, that a truckload of cows had been brought into the JJ colony for slaughter. There are also reports that a compliant regarding cows being brought into JJ colony had been made by calling the Police helpline number ‘100’. Till date, the Police and local administration has refused to reveal the source of the call and of this ‘information’ about rampant cow slaughter by Muslims, despite repeated demands by the residents of JJ colony. Subsequent to this rumour, around 200 men – accompanied and escorted by some members of the Delhi Police – entered the colony and conducted a ‘search’ of any building they deemed ‘suspicious’. This also included one of the local mosques. No cow was found during this search. The search however obviously resulted in huge tensions and a palpable atmosphere of fear amongst Muslims in Bawana and Narela. During the ‘search’, there were also incidents of violence, intimidation and stone pelting. One young Muslim man was injured in the stone pelting. Moreover, one Hindu man in the locality who rears cows was also subjected to this campaign of intimidation – the crowd initially refused to believe that he was a Hindu, and even when they did they tried to forcibly confiscate all his cows claiming that he would sell the cows to the Muslims in the locality for slaughter. In all, the whole point of the entire exercise of ‘searching’ the colony was clearly to spread communal hatred and division and to disturb the peace and amity in the entire region.

After these incidents of 2nd October, the residents of JJ colony have been demanding proper surveillance and security by the government and the local administration. They demanded that the police closely monitor the situation, and prevent any attempt to plant ‘evidence’ of cows in the locality to implicate the Muslims and further exacerbate the situation. These demands assume all the more importance given that on late night of 3rd October, there were allegedly attempts by some Hindu men to release cows in the area as ‘evidence’. Despite repeated demands, the local police has not taken adequate steps to control this volatile situation. They accompanied, escorted and therefore encouraged the ‘search’ conducted on 2nd October. Moreover, they have not yet revealed the call details, or taken any action against the person who falsely complained that a truck load of cows had been brought into the area. Today, the local administration allowed the Hindu Krantikari Sena to conduct a huge meeting and ‘Oath Taking’ against cow slaughter on the eve of Id, where inflammatory speeches were made.

As a result of the intervention of democratic forces who have expressed their horror at the unfolding communal tensions being orchestrated in Narela and Bawana, some deployment of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) has been made in the area – as per the demand of the residents of the JJ colony. AISA, CPI(ML) and other democratic forces such as IFTU and PMS who visited Bawana today have assured the residents of their complete support in the face of this highly condemnable communal hate mongering. Trade union leaders in the Narela industrial area have established close contact with the residents of JJ colony so that immediate and coordinated resistance can be organized in case of any orchestrated communal flare-up. In the days to come, all progressive and democratic forces will have to come together to ensure that all such efforts at stoking violence and hatred are robustly resisted and defeated.