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Residents of Jamia Nagar and left organisations voice their solidarity with India’s farmers

From asserting the rights of farmers to making demands at their behest, various organisations voice support to encourage the peasant movement.

28 Nov 2020

Political and civic organisations on November 28, 2020 voiced their support with the nationwide farmers protest against the new agriculture laws.

Leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Nationalist Congress Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Communist Party of India -Marxist Leninist and other left organisations, in a joint statement, said that the Nirankari ground allotted to farmers by the central government is too small to accommodate the tens of thousands of protesters approaching Delhi.

“We the undersigned demand that a larger ground like Ram Lila Maidan or similar must be allotted for this peaceful protest and all necessary arrangements must be made for their stay and food,” they said.

Demanding that the government adhere to the democratic process and norms and address the concerns of the protesting farmers, leaders reiterated their opposition to the new agriculture laws that threaten India’s food security, Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and destroy Indian agriculture and farmers.

“Braving severe repression, tear-gassing, heavy water cannoning, roadblocks, police barricades and digging up the national highways surrounding Delhi akin to waging a ‘war’ on our farmers, tens of thousands of farmers have successfully reached the National Capital of Delhi. We salute their determination and courage in this massive protest demanding the withdrawal of the retrograde anti-Kisan agri laws,” said the press statement.

The Indian National Congress (INC) published a separate video demanding an apology from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath after Minister of State, Forest, Environment and Climate Change Anil Sharma called protesting farmers “gundas” (hooligans.)

Similarly, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted in support of protesting farmers.

Meanwhile, people of Shaheen Bagh, Batla House, Abul Fazal, Jauhri Farm, Zakir Nagar, Ghaffar Manzil, Jamia Nagar extended their strong support to “farmers agitating against the 'fascist farman' (Diktat) of the right-wing neoliberal regime.”

“We the people of Jamia Nagar will be shortly visiting protest sites in a collective of Muslim men and women with our demands to repeal the CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act] and anti-farmer, anti-labour laws. This elected government should note that we elected them to enact and implement the guiding principles of the Indian Constitution, which promotes social justice, equality and fraternity, not eroding them through the process of Jingoistic majoritarianism. We won't allow them to further erode and control the executive, judiciary, legislative, media and sell India to fascist and corporate lobbies of Ambani and Adani,” they said in a press statement.

They also demanded the government repeal its “anti-people laws” passed in 2014-2019 as well as policies passed during the current tenure.

Earlier on Saturday, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) stated that Punjab and Haryana farmers have continued their onward march towards Delhi. The coalition called it an “unprecedented and undeterred mobilization ever witnessed in the history of the country.”

Moreover, they condemned the Uttar Pradesh government for its brutal, barbaric repressive behaviour against farmers’ protests in the state. Protestors from Uttarakhand have also been camping in Uttar Pradesh since they were detained by the state police.

Leaders also countered the notion that these protests are mainly Punjab-centric by pointing out that farmers are attempting to enter Delhi from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh, indicating that the resistance is pan-India. Further agitations are underway in numerous states including in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and other areas.

“The lack of sincerity of this government is apparent in numerous ways. Empty assurances and statements will not be believed by farmers any more. The government chose to ignore farmer protests for months on end now, and tried to malign it in numerous ways. It spent crores of rupees of taxpayers’ money in a publicity blitzkrieg in the name of ‘farmers being misinformed’. This very attitude and approach of the Govt. is unacceptable,” said leaders in a press statement.

Related:

Cop gets drenched in water, farmer slapped with attempt to murder case!
Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan: Punjab farmer's soldier son martyred 
Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?
Nirankari ground, a moral victory for India’s protesting farmers
Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!

Residents of Jamia Nagar and left organisations voice their solidarity with India’s farmers

From asserting the rights of farmers to making demands at their behest, various organisations voice support to encourage the peasant movement.

Political and civic organisations on November 28, 2020 voiced their support with the nationwide farmers protest against the new agriculture laws.

Leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Nationalist Congress Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Communist Party of India -Marxist Leninist and other left organisations, in a joint statement, said that the Nirankari ground allotted to farmers by the central government is too small to accommodate the tens of thousands of protesters approaching Delhi.

“We the undersigned demand that a larger ground like Ram Lila Maidan or similar must be allotted for this peaceful protest and all necessary arrangements must be made for their stay and food,” they said.

Demanding that the government adhere to the democratic process and norms and address the concerns of the protesting farmers, leaders reiterated their opposition to the new agriculture laws that threaten India’s food security, Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and destroy Indian agriculture and farmers.

“Braving severe repression, tear-gassing, heavy water cannoning, roadblocks, police barricades and digging up the national highways surrounding Delhi akin to waging a ‘war’ on our farmers, tens of thousands of farmers have successfully reached the National Capital of Delhi. We salute their determination and courage in this massive protest demanding the withdrawal of the retrograde anti-Kisan agri laws,” said the press statement.

The Indian National Congress (INC) published a separate video demanding an apology from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath after Minister of State, Forest, Environment and Climate Change Anil Sharma called protesting farmers “gundas” (hooligans.)

Similarly, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted in support of protesting farmers.

Meanwhile, people of Shaheen Bagh, Batla House, Abul Fazal, Jauhri Farm, Zakir Nagar, Ghaffar Manzil, Jamia Nagar extended their strong support to “farmers agitating against the 'fascist farman' (Diktat) of the right-wing neoliberal regime.”

“We the people of Jamia Nagar will be shortly visiting protest sites in a collective of Muslim men and women with our demands to repeal the CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act] and anti-farmer, anti-labour laws. This elected government should note that we elected them to enact and implement the guiding principles of the Indian Constitution, which promotes social justice, equality and fraternity, not eroding them through the process of Jingoistic majoritarianism. We won't allow them to further erode and control the executive, judiciary, legislative, media and sell India to fascist and corporate lobbies of Ambani and Adani,” they said in a press statement.

They also demanded the government repeal its “anti-people laws” passed in 2014-2019 as well as policies passed during the current tenure.

Earlier on Saturday, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) stated that Punjab and Haryana farmers have continued their onward march towards Delhi. The coalition called it an “unprecedented and undeterred mobilization ever witnessed in the history of the country.”

Moreover, they condemned the Uttar Pradesh government for its brutal, barbaric repressive behaviour against farmers’ protests in the state. Protestors from Uttarakhand have also been camping in Uttar Pradesh since they were detained by the state police.

Leaders also countered the notion that these protests are mainly Punjab-centric by pointing out that farmers are attempting to enter Delhi from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh, indicating that the resistance is pan-India. Further agitations are underway in numerous states including in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and other areas.

“The lack of sincerity of this government is apparent in numerous ways. Empty assurances and statements will not be believed by farmers any more. The government chose to ignore farmer protests for months on end now, and tried to malign it in numerous ways. It spent crores of rupees of taxpayers’ money in a publicity blitzkrieg in the name of ‘farmers being misinformed’. This very attitude and approach of the Govt. is unacceptable,” said leaders in a press statement.

Related:

Cop gets drenched in water, farmer slapped with attempt to murder case!
Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan: Punjab farmer's soldier son martyred 
Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?
Nirankari ground, a moral victory for India’s protesting farmers
Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!

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Remembering Mahatma Jyotirao Phule

The good and the less known; here’s the wonderful legacy left behind by the revolutionary figure.

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:news18.com

In 2010, Maharashtra’s then Minister of Public Works Department Chhagan Bhujbal handed ‘Gulamgiri’ a book written by Mahatma Jyotirao Phule to former US President Barack Obama. The dedication section of the book read:

“To the good people of the United States as a token of admiration for their sublime, disinterested and self-sacrificing devotion in the cause of Negro Slavery; and with an earnest desire, that my countrymen may take their noble example as their guide in the emancipation of their Sudra Brethern from the trammels of Brahmin thralldom.”

Obama was surprised to see an Indian author pay tribute to the US civil movement in 1873 and sadly so are many Indians even today.

Although nearly every Indian studiously uses the prefix ‘Mahatma’ before the social reformer’s name, who died on November 28, 1890, few people know about the events and factors that led to the bestowal of such a title.

Phule’s family originally belonged to the Mali community that constituted one of the Shudra castes in Maharashtra. As such, Phule was treated like a lower-caste by people around him which influenced his future efforts to bring about the development of lower-caste communities. Following his community’s customs, Phule was also married to a girl of his father’s choosing, at the age of 13.

However, the influential moments that led to his social endeavours occurred in 1848. That year, Phule resolved to challenge the caste-system and social restrictions following a wedding ceremony of his Brahmin friend in 1848 wherein the bridegroom’s relatives insulted and abused Phule for participating in an upper-caste ceremony.

Again in 1848, he read ‘The Right of Man’ by Thomas Paine that inspired Phule to focus on women’s education and not just lower-caste men. Accordingly, he taught his wife Savitribai how to read and write in the same year. The couple went on to establish the first indigenous girls-school in Pune. During this time, they also met Muslim teacher Fatima Sheikh who offered them residence and went on to work at Phules’ school. The trio were at the forefront of providing education to children of marginalised communities.

The Phules also opened two more schools for children from then untouchable castes like Mahar and Mang.

Other than education, Phule also worked for the empowerment of widows. Phule was deeply upset by an incident in 1863 when a Brahmin widow was sentenced to jail for killing her new-born baby that she had originally tried to abort. Moved by the incident, Phule along with his wife and dear friend Sadashiv Ballal Govande began an infanticide prevention centre. Soon pamphlets appeared all over Pune advertising the centre.

 “Widows, come here and deliver your baby safely and secretly. It is up to your discretion whether you want to keep the baby in the centre or take it with you. This orphanage will take care of the children [left behind]” read the pamphlets.

It must be understood that this was an age when women had little to no bodily autonomy. Female infanticide was common and the Phule couple themselves were married in their childhood. Other women were married to older men and became widows even before reaching their teenage years. Pained by this realisation, he decided to become an advocate of widow remarriage.

While striving to bring about these social changes, Phule also attacked the Vedas, the most fundamental texts of upper-caste Hindus as a “false consciousness.” He also openly called Rama in Ramayana a symbol of Aryan oppression.

Another little known information is that Phule introduced the Marathi word ‘Dalit’ – meaning broken or crushed – that was later popularised by Dalit Panthers.

He created the Satya Shodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) that worked for the social rights and political access of women, Shudras, Dalits, and other under-privileged groups in Maharashtra in 1873. Individuals from any caste and class were invited to the organisation.

Another surprising fact about the social activist is that Phule worked as a merchant, cultivator and municipal contractor in 1882 – professions once unimaginable for his flower-selling family.

As a government contractor, he supplied building materials required for the construction of a dam on the Mula-Mutha river near Pune in the 1870s. Later in 1876, Phule became the Municipal Commissioner (council member) in Pune and served unelected until 1883.

Related:

Reading Dr. Ambedkar’s Who Were The Shudras
Demolition of caste system essential for the survival of democracy in India
Remembering Jyotiba Phule, on His 189th Birth Anniversary, April 11
Love-Letters like no other

Remembering Mahatma Jyotirao Phule

The good and the less known; here’s the wonderful legacy left behind by the revolutionary figure.

Image Courtesy:news18.com

In 2010, Maharashtra’s then Minister of Public Works Department Chhagan Bhujbal handed ‘Gulamgiri’ a book written by Mahatma Jyotirao Phule to former US President Barack Obama. The dedication section of the book read:

“To the good people of the United States as a token of admiration for their sublime, disinterested and self-sacrificing devotion in the cause of Negro Slavery; and with an earnest desire, that my countrymen may take their noble example as their guide in the emancipation of their Sudra Brethern from the trammels of Brahmin thralldom.”

Obama was surprised to see an Indian author pay tribute to the US civil movement in 1873 and sadly so are many Indians even today.

Although nearly every Indian studiously uses the prefix ‘Mahatma’ before the social reformer’s name, who died on November 28, 1890, few people know about the events and factors that led to the bestowal of such a title.

Phule’s family originally belonged to the Mali community that constituted one of the Shudra castes in Maharashtra. As such, Phule was treated like a lower-caste by people around him which influenced his future efforts to bring about the development of lower-caste communities. Following his community’s customs, Phule was also married to a girl of his father’s choosing, at the age of 13.

However, the influential moments that led to his social endeavours occurred in 1848. That year, Phule resolved to challenge the caste-system and social restrictions following a wedding ceremony of his Brahmin friend in 1848 wherein the bridegroom’s relatives insulted and abused Phule for participating in an upper-caste ceremony.

Again in 1848, he read ‘The Right of Man’ by Thomas Paine that inspired Phule to focus on women’s education and not just lower-caste men. Accordingly, he taught his wife Savitribai how to read and write in the same year. The couple went on to establish the first indigenous girls-school in Pune. During this time, they also met Muslim teacher Fatima Sheikh who offered them residence and went on to work at Phules’ school. The trio were at the forefront of providing education to children of marginalised communities.

The Phules also opened two more schools for children from then untouchable castes like Mahar and Mang.

Other than education, Phule also worked for the empowerment of widows. Phule was deeply upset by an incident in 1863 when a Brahmin widow was sentenced to jail for killing her new-born baby that she had originally tried to abort. Moved by the incident, Phule along with his wife and dear friend Sadashiv Ballal Govande began an infanticide prevention centre. Soon pamphlets appeared all over Pune advertising the centre.

 “Widows, come here and deliver your baby safely and secretly. It is up to your discretion whether you want to keep the baby in the centre or take it with you. This orphanage will take care of the children [left behind]” read the pamphlets.

It must be understood that this was an age when women had little to no bodily autonomy. Female infanticide was common and the Phule couple themselves were married in their childhood. Other women were married to older men and became widows even before reaching their teenage years. Pained by this realisation, he decided to become an advocate of widow remarriage.

While striving to bring about these social changes, Phule also attacked the Vedas, the most fundamental texts of upper-caste Hindus as a “false consciousness.” He also openly called Rama in Ramayana a symbol of Aryan oppression.

Another little known information is that Phule introduced the Marathi word ‘Dalit’ – meaning broken or crushed – that was later popularised by Dalit Panthers.

He created the Satya Shodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) that worked for the social rights and political access of women, Shudras, Dalits, and other under-privileged groups in Maharashtra in 1873. Individuals from any caste and class were invited to the organisation.

Another surprising fact about the social activist is that Phule worked as a merchant, cultivator and municipal contractor in 1882 – professions once unimaginable for his flower-selling family.

As a government contractor, he supplied building materials required for the construction of a dam on the Mula-Mutha river near Pune in the 1870s. Later in 1876, Phule became the Municipal Commissioner (council member) in Pune and served unelected until 1883.

Related:

Reading Dr. Ambedkar’s Who Were The Shudras
Demolition of caste system essential for the survival of democracy in India
Remembering Jyotiba Phule, on His 189th Birth Anniversary, April 11
Love-Letters like no other

Related Articles


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Cop gets drenched in water, farmer slapped with attempt to murder case!

This is not the first time Navdeep Singh has been accused under Section 307 IPC, since he joined the farmers protest in September.

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:latestly.com

He is being hailed across the country as a braveheart hero who risked injury but turned off a high-pressure water cannon to save his fellow farmers, and their food and clothes, from getting soaked in the dead of winter. But, according to the Haryana Government, Navdeep Singh has made an attempt to murder, because a policeman got drenched when the nozzle turned in his direction. A few seconds before that happened, the water cannon was shooting high pressure jets at protesting farmers. 

Navdeep Singh, son of a farmers' body leader Jai Singh, has been charged with attempt to murder which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, along with other charges including rioting and violation of Covid-19 rules. The young man, however, has said he has done none of that, and was only attempting to save the farmers and their supplies from getting soaked. No one was reported injured in the incident, videos of which went viral on social media soon after.

“I have no regrets,” says Navdeep Singh speaking to a local news channel, “We did not think of what could happen, we left home thinking even if we get shot in the chest we will fight for our rights.” From the video it appears that Navdeep Singh had in fact risked his own life and limb, when he leapt from the water cannon vehicle after turning it off, onto another vehicle to avoid a beating from the policeman who had also climbed atop the tanker to nab him. 

The young farmer has not become the centrepoint of the most iconic moment of the protest yet. The  26-year-old Navdeep Singh has been accused, for the second time this year by the Haryana Government, of attempt to murder, for shutting off the tap of the water cannon that was firing jets of ice cold water upon the marching farmers, including senior citizens. He was also interviewed by local media outlets but one of the most telling one is by Rubika Liyaquat of ABP news, who tries her best to appear ‘objective’ while asking him leading questions, however Singh remained poised, calm and articulate and told her what transpired.

“We were walking towards Delhi from Ambala on November 25, the police had put up barricades and we requested them to allow us to pass. We told them we need to go towards Delhi and talk about our rights”. The police asked the group to wait for half an hour but they got more forces deployed. “We then moved ahead removing the barricading and they launched the water cannons on us, it was very high pressure. Navdeep then recalled how he then jumped from his trolley tractor onto the water cannon and turned the nozzle away, “But it completely turned to the other side, water drenched the policemen (on the road) who cleared the way, then police started hitting me with lathis from below. One climbed atop and tried to grab me, then I jumped onto a tractor trolly,” he recalled how he risked his life to avoid being possibly hit by the police.

Anchor Liyaquat continued to ask him “why was he the only one who climbed atop the water cannon when all other farmers were protesting on the ground?” She asked him why he “claimed the tap drenching cops” was an ‘accident’? Navdeep calmly replied that they were carrying supplies (food and clothes) in their trolleys in preparation for a long wait in Delhi, and he wanted to save them from getting drenched. She then asks him why he jumped from the water cannon. He did it to keep the march going.

https://news.abplive.com/videos/news/farmers-protest-navdeep-singh-narrates-experience-after-fir-filed-under-section-307-1399044

According to Navdeep, the farmers’ purpose was to reach Delhi, he said it is not just IPC 307 that he has been accused under, “but no one was hurt, we did not injure anyone. They have accused me of 307 earlier, in September when they accused me under section 307 on September 10 at a rally (at Pipli near  Kurukshetra) when we were lathi charged at a protest rally.” Even then no one was hurt, but the police charged Navdeep under section 307 in two different police stations. 

Anchor Liyaquat asked him if he “did not feel it was wrong to ‘target’ the policemen doing their duty?”

“We have not targeted them, we have not fired at them,” he replied calmly, the anchor then had no choice but to ask him basic questions like which aspect of the law was most objectionable and if he was affiliated to any unions. He said he was affiliated with Bharatiya Kisan Union after the farming laws were passed in Parliament. While all those with vested agendas are trying to now find reasons to add political motive to the actions of a young farmer, Navdeep Singh continues to be hailed as a hero. 

“For the BJP, anyone who protects our Annadatas is a criminal. For the rest of India, he is a true hero!

 

“Who exactly gets murdered as a weapon is turned off is beyond me. All my respect to Navdeep Singh"

 

Related:

Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan: Punjab farmer's soldier son martyred 
Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?
Nirankari ground, a moral victory for India’s protesting farmers
Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!
LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020

Cop gets drenched in water, farmer slapped with attempt to murder case!

This is not the first time Navdeep Singh has been accused under Section 307 IPC, since he joined the farmers protest in September.

Image Courtesy:latestly.com

He is being hailed across the country as a braveheart hero who risked injury but turned off a high-pressure water cannon to save his fellow farmers, and their food and clothes, from getting soaked in the dead of winter. But, according to the Haryana Government, Navdeep Singh has made an attempt to murder, because a policeman got drenched when the nozzle turned in his direction. A few seconds before that happened, the water cannon was shooting high pressure jets at protesting farmers. 

Navdeep Singh, son of a farmers' body leader Jai Singh, has been charged with attempt to murder which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, along with other charges including rioting and violation of Covid-19 rules. The young man, however, has said he has done none of that, and was only attempting to save the farmers and their supplies from getting soaked. No one was reported injured in the incident, videos of which went viral on social media soon after.

“I have no regrets,” says Navdeep Singh speaking to a local news channel, “We did not think of what could happen, we left home thinking even if we get shot in the chest we will fight for our rights.” From the video it appears that Navdeep Singh had in fact risked his own life and limb, when he leapt from the water cannon vehicle after turning it off, onto another vehicle to avoid a beating from the policeman who had also climbed atop the tanker to nab him. 

The young farmer has not become the centrepoint of the most iconic moment of the protest yet. The  26-year-old Navdeep Singh has been accused, for the second time this year by the Haryana Government, of attempt to murder, for shutting off the tap of the water cannon that was firing jets of ice cold water upon the marching farmers, including senior citizens. He was also interviewed by local media outlets but one of the most telling one is by Rubika Liyaquat of ABP news, who tries her best to appear ‘objective’ while asking him leading questions, however Singh remained poised, calm and articulate and told her what transpired.

“We were walking towards Delhi from Ambala on November 25, the police had put up barricades and we requested them to allow us to pass. We told them we need to go towards Delhi and talk about our rights”. The police asked the group to wait for half an hour but they got more forces deployed. “We then moved ahead removing the barricading and they launched the water cannons on us, it was very high pressure. Navdeep then recalled how he then jumped from his trolley tractor onto the water cannon and turned the nozzle away, “But it completely turned to the other side, water drenched the policemen (on the road) who cleared the way, then police started hitting me with lathis from below. One climbed atop and tried to grab me, then I jumped onto a tractor trolly,” he recalled how he risked his life to avoid being possibly hit by the police.

Anchor Liyaquat continued to ask him “why was he the only one who climbed atop the water cannon when all other farmers were protesting on the ground?” She asked him why he “claimed the tap drenching cops” was an ‘accident’? Navdeep calmly replied that they were carrying supplies (food and clothes) in their trolleys in preparation for a long wait in Delhi, and he wanted to save them from getting drenched. She then asks him why he jumped from the water cannon. He did it to keep the march going.

https://news.abplive.com/videos/news/farmers-protest-navdeep-singh-narrates-experience-after-fir-filed-under-section-307-1399044

According to Navdeep, the farmers’ purpose was to reach Delhi, he said it is not just IPC 307 that he has been accused under, “but no one was hurt, we did not injure anyone. They have accused me of 307 earlier, in September when they accused me under section 307 on September 10 at a rally (at Pipli near  Kurukshetra) when we were lathi charged at a protest rally.” Even then no one was hurt, but the police charged Navdeep under section 307 in two different police stations. 

Anchor Liyaquat asked him if he “did not feel it was wrong to ‘target’ the policemen doing their duty?”

“We have not targeted them, we have not fired at them,” he replied calmly, the anchor then had no choice but to ask him basic questions like which aspect of the law was most objectionable and if he was affiliated to any unions. He said he was affiliated with Bharatiya Kisan Union after the farming laws were passed in Parliament. While all those with vested agendas are trying to now find reasons to add political motive to the actions of a young farmer, Navdeep Singh continues to be hailed as a hero. 

“For the BJP, anyone who protects our Annadatas is a criminal. For the rest of India, he is a true hero!

 

“Who exactly gets murdered as a weapon is turned off is beyond me. All my respect to Navdeep Singh"

 

Related:

Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan: Punjab farmer's soldier son martyred 
Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?
Nirankari ground, a moral victory for India’s protesting farmers
Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!
LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020

Related Articles


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Shrey Hospital Fire: Four months on, no evidence yet!

The inquiry commission set up three months ago headed by a retired High Court Judge has not submitted its report yet

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com

On August 6, 2020, a massive fire broke out in a designated Covid 19 Hospital in Ahmedabad, killing 8 patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

It was later reported by SabrangIndia that the said Shrey Hospital did not have a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation according to Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services Chief Fire Officer M F Dastur. The hospital director, and prime accused Bharat Mahant, and later, an unidentified ward boy, were held for interrogation.

All hospitals are required to renew the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Fire department annually. Following the fire at Shrey Hospital, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation ordered a fire audit at 72 Covid care facilities. 20 have been found to be lacking the NOC as of August 7, revealed SabrangIndia reports.

Four months later, Times of India has reported that police are yet to find any evidence of negligence by the hospital authorities. Assistant Commissioner of Police M. A Patel told Times of India, “We have been investigating on the basis of reports of the FSL and fire department but no substantial evidence was found against Mahant and the other three other accused, who are out on bail.”

Another Police officer added that there was no negligence on part of the Hospital and that the fire was caused due to a spark in the electric socket which spread rapidly because of the oxygen supply in the Hospital. “The oxygen supply was essential for Covid 19 patients and the fan was kept in the ward on request of a patient. So, there was no negligence on part of the Hospital authorities”, the official said.

Justice K A Puj’s Panel

On August 11, the State Government had set up a judicial inquiry commission headed by Retired Gujarat High Court Judge K A Puj, to probe the fire incident at the hospital. The commission was expected to submit its findings in three months.

The term of the commission ended on November 11, and it is yet to submit its report on the incident. The commission was supposed to bring out the details of the incident, identify those who were responsible for the loss of eight patients and other injuries and seek remedial measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

Minister of State for home and law Pradipsinh Jadeja told TOI, “The commission has yet not submitted its report. I will check the status of the inquiry report.”

Fire Safety Equipment

Soon after the incident, on August 10 the Chief Electrical Inspector H H Khoja submitted to the State Government that a staggering 76% of hospitals of the 365 Covid 19 designated hospitals in Gujarat were found to have defective wiring and overloading issues, making them extremely susceptible to fire caused due to short circuits.

On November 28, Times of India reported that around 11% of the hospitals in Ahmedabad lack fire safety equipment. The Municipal Commissioner had ordered the fire department to carry out checks on all Covid Hospitals to see if their fire safety facilities are in a proper condition.

Ahmedabad, at the moment, has 99 hospitals that are treating Covid patients. Fire NOC for Covid hospitals are mandatory too, but was not strictly implemented until the Shrey Hospital fire incident. Fire Department officials have apprised the media that once the 99 hospitals are thoroughly inspected, it would be clear how many have fire equipment in working condition.

Allegations by victim’s family

Before the police investigation was handed over to ACP Patel, an FIR had already been registered on August 10 under the Indian Penal Code sections of 304 A (causing death by negligence), 336 (endangering life or personal safety), 337 (causing hurt by negligent or rash act endangering life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering human life).

SabrangIndia had reported about the despair amongst the family members of the victim who perished in the fire. Human Rights Advocate Suhel Tirmizi who lost his wife Ayesha in the incident informed SabrangIndia that the charges against the perpetrators were not serious enough. As per him, the hospital owner and others were just booked under section 304 A of the IPC instead of 304 which deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The punishment stipulated under section 304 is more than section 304A which is a mere 2-year period or fine or both. The other issue raised was that the CCTV cameras in the hospital were not functioning, and the one that was, its view was blocked by an opaque curtain. Moreover, fire-fighting equipment was neither available in the ICU, nor were staff trained to handle it. It has also been alleged that the mobile phones of a few victims were missing. Investigation of all these claims are still underway.

As fate would have it, Gujarat reported another tragic fire incident at Rajkot’s Uday Shivananda Hospital where five Covid 19 patients were killed on November 27. A three judge Bench of the Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognisance of the fire and sought responses from the State of Gujarat and Centre.

Related:

Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!
SC takes suo moto cognisance of Rajkot Covid Hospital fire
Shrey Hospital case: Victims’ families demand CBI inquiry
Ayesha Tirmizi was recovering when her life was cut short

Shrey Hospital Fire: Four months on, no evidence yet!

The inquiry commission set up three months ago headed by a retired High Court Judge has not submitted its report yet

Image Courtesy:ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com

On August 6, 2020, a massive fire broke out in a designated Covid 19 Hospital in Ahmedabad, killing 8 patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

It was later reported by SabrangIndia that the said Shrey Hospital did not have a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation according to Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services Chief Fire Officer M F Dastur. The hospital director, and prime accused Bharat Mahant, and later, an unidentified ward boy, were held for interrogation.

All hospitals are required to renew the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Fire department annually. Following the fire at Shrey Hospital, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation ordered a fire audit at 72 Covid care facilities. 20 have been found to be lacking the NOC as of August 7, revealed SabrangIndia reports.

Four months later, Times of India has reported that police are yet to find any evidence of negligence by the hospital authorities. Assistant Commissioner of Police M. A Patel told Times of India, “We have been investigating on the basis of reports of the FSL and fire department but no substantial evidence was found against Mahant and the other three other accused, who are out on bail.”

Another Police officer added that there was no negligence on part of the Hospital and that the fire was caused due to a spark in the electric socket which spread rapidly because of the oxygen supply in the Hospital. “The oxygen supply was essential for Covid 19 patients and the fan was kept in the ward on request of a patient. So, there was no negligence on part of the Hospital authorities”, the official said.

Justice K A Puj’s Panel

On August 11, the State Government had set up a judicial inquiry commission headed by Retired Gujarat High Court Judge K A Puj, to probe the fire incident at the hospital. The commission was expected to submit its findings in three months.

The term of the commission ended on November 11, and it is yet to submit its report on the incident. The commission was supposed to bring out the details of the incident, identify those who were responsible for the loss of eight patients and other injuries and seek remedial measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

Minister of State for home and law Pradipsinh Jadeja told TOI, “The commission has yet not submitted its report. I will check the status of the inquiry report.”

Fire Safety Equipment

Soon after the incident, on August 10 the Chief Electrical Inspector H H Khoja submitted to the State Government that a staggering 76% of hospitals of the 365 Covid 19 designated hospitals in Gujarat were found to have defective wiring and overloading issues, making them extremely susceptible to fire caused due to short circuits.

On November 28, Times of India reported that around 11% of the hospitals in Ahmedabad lack fire safety equipment. The Municipal Commissioner had ordered the fire department to carry out checks on all Covid Hospitals to see if their fire safety facilities are in a proper condition.

Ahmedabad, at the moment, has 99 hospitals that are treating Covid patients. Fire NOC for Covid hospitals are mandatory too, but was not strictly implemented until the Shrey Hospital fire incident. Fire Department officials have apprised the media that once the 99 hospitals are thoroughly inspected, it would be clear how many have fire equipment in working condition.

Allegations by victim’s family

Before the police investigation was handed over to ACP Patel, an FIR had already been registered on August 10 under the Indian Penal Code sections of 304 A (causing death by negligence), 336 (endangering life or personal safety), 337 (causing hurt by negligent or rash act endangering life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering human life).

SabrangIndia had reported about the despair amongst the family members of the victim who perished in the fire. Human Rights Advocate Suhel Tirmizi who lost his wife Ayesha in the incident informed SabrangIndia that the charges against the perpetrators were not serious enough. As per him, the hospital owner and others were just booked under section 304 A of the IPC instead of 304 which deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The punishment stipulated under section 304 is more than section 304A which is a mere 2-year period or fine or both. The other issue raised was that the CCTV cameras in the hospital were not functioning, and the one that was, its view was blocked by an opaque curtain. Moreover, fire-fighting equipment was neither available in the ICU, nor were staff trained to handle it. It has also been alleged that the mobile phones of a few victims were missing. Investigation of all these claims are still underway.

As fate would have it, Gujarat reported another tragic fire incident at Rajkot’s Uday Shivananda Hospital where five Covid 19 patients were killed on November 27. A three judge Bench of the Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognisance of the fire and sought responses from the State of Gujarat and Centre.

Related:

Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!
SC takes suo moto cognisance of Rajkot Covid Hospital fire
Shrey Hospital case: Victims’ families demand CBI inquiry
Ayesha Tirmizi was recovering when her life was cut short

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All it took was a WhatsApp ‘threat’ for UP police to take a 15-year-old away

The class 10 student is accused of allegedly threatening to 'blow up' CM Adityanath, family says he meant no harm

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:pressboltnews.com

Uttar Pradesh police took a teenager away from his family and lodged him at a juvenile home allegedly over a threatening message he sent. According to news reports the officials traced an alleged “death threat” targeting UP Chief Minister Adityanath, to the teenager's mobile phone. The 15-year-old boy is a class 10 student who lives in an Agra village with his family. According to police the boy had allegedly threatened to "blow up" the CM via a WhatsApp message sent on the state’s helpline number.

Noticing the “death threats,” a police man posted with the helpline team had filed an FIR for the alleged criminal intimidation. According to a report by The Indian Express, it took the police less than 24 hours to trace the message to the boy. The child was found and then taken away by the police on Sunday afternoon. However, his family had been unaware of the complaint until the police showed up, according to news reports, the boy’s family believes that he had meant no harm. They maintained that he was a well behaved teen, and a good student. He was probably just frustrated, or this was meant as a joke, said his family, upset that the child was taken away like a criminal.

Now, further investigations are reportedly underway, the police will also investigate if anyone else is also involved. According to another news report in the Jagran, the teenager has apparently said he was feeling angry about the “restrictions” created in the wake of the Covid-19pandemic. School was closed, and he was not allowed to play sports outside the house, all this led to frustration and resentment against the authorities, hence the messages. However, according to news reports the  Whatsapp messages have since been deleted but the police are now trying to recover them.

The Free Press Journal reported that this kind of arrest is not the first incident. And WhatsApp threats against the Chief Minister have also been reported in the past. According to FPJ, in May this year, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested an individual from Mumbai for threatening to kill UP CM Adityanath. The UP police's social media help desk had received a WhatsApp message threatening a bomb blast. The message was traced to Mumbai, and the UP Police alerted the Maharashtra ATS.

Related

Siddique Kappan used “journalist cover” to disrupt law & order: UP Govt to SC
UP SIT probe says there is no ‘love jihad’, rules out conspiracy, outside funding
UP cabinet clear ordinance against ‘love jihad’

All it took was a WhatsApp ‘threat’ for UP police to take a 15-year-old away

The class 10 student is accused of allegedly threatening to 'blow up' CM Adityanath, family says he meant no harm

Image Courtesy:pressboltnews.com

Uttar Pradesh police took a teenager away from his family and lodged him at a juvenile home allegedly over a threatening message he sent. According to news reports the officials traced an alleged “death threat” targeting UP Chief Minister Adityanath, to the teenager's mobile phone. The 15-year-old boy is a class 10 student who lives in an Agra village with his family. According to police the boy had allegedly threatened to "blow up" the CM via a WhatsApp message sent on the state’s helpline number.

Noticing the “death threats,” a police man posted with the helpline team had filed an FIR for the alleged criminal intimidation. According to a report by The Indian Express, it took the police less than 24 hours to trace the message to the boy. The child was found and then taken away by the police on Sunday afternoon. However, his family had been unaware of the complaint until the police showed up, according to news reports, the boy’s family believes that he had meant no harm. They maintained that he was a well behaved teen, and a good student. He was probably just frustrated, or this was meant as a joke, said his family, upset that the child was taken away like a criminal.

Now, further investigations are reportedly underway, the police will also investigate if anyone else is also involved. According to another news report in the Jagran, the teenager has apparently said he was feeling angry about the “restrictions” created in the wake of the Covid-19pandemic. School was closed, and he was not allowed to play sports outside the house, all this led to frustration and resentment against the authorities, hence the messages. However, according to news reports the  Whatsapp messages have since been deleted but the police are now trying to recover them.

The Free Press Journal reported that this kind of arrest is not the first incident. And WhatsApp threats against the Chief Minister have also been reported in the past. According to FPJ, in May this year, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested an individual from Mumbai for threatening to kill UP CM Adityanath. The UP police's social media help desk had received a WhatsApp message threatening a bomb blast. The message was traced to Mumbai, and the UP Police alerted the Maharashtra ATS.

Related

Siddique Kappan used “journalist cover” to disrupt law & order: UP Govt to SC
UP SIT probe says there is no ‘love jihad’, rules out conspiracy, outside funding
UP cabinet clear ordinance against ‘love jihad’

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Teesta Setalvad receives honourary Doctor of Laws degree from UBC

The journalist and human rights defender was recognised for her in the field of human rights and law to expose majoritarianism and religious fanaticism

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:Youtube

SabrangIndia co-founder Teesta Setalvad received her honourary doctorate from the University of British Columbia (UBC) on Thursday in an online ceremony. The Doctor of Laws degree was awarded online as international travel has been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Introducing Setalvad, UBC vice chancellor and Santa J. Ono said, “Teesta Setalvad is an Indian civil rights activist and an author who has made extraordinary contributions in support of marginalized populations plagued by communal violence.” He said Setalvad’s work has also “exposed majoritarianism and religious fanaticism in India and other parts of the world. She has also been influential on issues concerning rights of women, religious minorities, Indigenous persons, and the LGBTQ community.”

Accepting the honour Setalvad said, “This is indeed a rare, unusual and precious occasion. Rare and unusual because of the creative way in which we are together remotely online, given all the challenges our societies and peoples face in wake of the crippling Coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever the impact has been worse on our marginalized and unseen populations.”

On the subject of rights and privilege, Setalvad said, “There are Laws and Laws. Laws that can underline universal and sublime principles of equality, dignity, diversity and non-discrimination, emancipatory laws, and those that can institutionalise inequality, indignity, homogeneity and discrimination. Societies such as ours, that are still layered by privilege and structural difference and discrimination, resist the implementation of the former, especially if they have been passed to ensure the recognition of rights of those rendered voiceless, women, indigenous peoples (Adivasis), religious minorities, Dalits, working Indians.”

Teesta Setalvad’s entire speech may be read here:

Mr Chancellor, Mr President and Members of the UBC Community

This is indeed a rare, unusual and precious occasion. Rare and unusual because of the creative ways in which we are together, remotely online, given what all the challenges our societies and peoples face in the wake of the crippling Coronavirus Pandemic. Now more than ever, the impact has been worst on our most marginalised and unseen populations who, ironically are also among those who contribute most fundamentally to run our urban and rural economies. Precious because even in these solitary and otherwise bleak times, there comes such a moment where I, among others, am one of those fortunate enough to indulge in a moment of celebration, recognition and vindication for the work put in for the realisation of legal and civil rights, in defence of diversity and non-discrimination, for decades. It is a humbling and rewarding moment. To all the other recipients of the honorary doctorate degrees I offer Saluts!

Esteemed Friends, world over we are seeing a brute assault on fundamental freedoms and dignity, where, ironically it is the State and Governments that lead this charge. Sadness, Dread, Tears and Anger are what my fellow compatriots in the human rights and media fraternity within my country, and I wake up to each day as the Rule of Law premised on a Constitutional philosophy of due process, adherence to both transparency and accountability, is trampled.

For decades now, our involvement, and my obsession if you like, has involved working with the application of the law for the realisation of social justice, inclusion and compassion. In this journey, that often and inevitably leads to a conflict with entrenched interests within and outside Government, what is stark is the refusal of existing agencies to apply legal standards to interrogate available evidence, apply laws to question perpetrators in positions of power during the occurrence of mass, targeted crimes. Our job then, as lawyers and activists is to stay the course, persevere, not abandon the Survivor in her pursuit for justice and often therefore face the malice of an unforgiving system. To push the envelope in the pursuit of justice remains the real challenge. The long arm of the law is often twisted by vindicive regimes and substantive justice is often delayed, or completely denied.

Friends, today in my country as in so many across the world, which include Turkey, Hungary, Pakistan among many others, State power is being abused at every and all levels to stifle voices of social and political dissent. Jail terms under draconian anti-terror federal and state laws have denied lawyers, thinkers, activists and working citizens their freedoms. This abuse continues even as we meet and I speak. The northern region of Kashmir is a particular target and the media there functions under serious threat. Vendetta and Revenge appears to be the guiding principle of regimes. Promptness and Vigilance from the institutions created to check such fundamental abuses, are tardy and wanting. The challenge for us today is to renew the faith, the pledge to ourselves, the Constitution of India and the world, that we will not be silenced by this relentless assault.

There are Laws and Laws. Laws that can underline universal and sublime principles of equality, dignity, diversity and non-discrimination, emancipatory laws, and those that can institutionalise inequality, indignity, homogeneity and discrimination. Societies such as ours, that are still layered by privilege and structural difference and discrimination, resist the implementation of the former, especially if they have been passed to ensure the recognition of rights of those rendered voiceless, women, indigenous peoples (Adivasis), religious minorities, Dalits, working Indians.

In past centuries --before the world evolved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and countries evolved (or so we believed) on the former more inclusive and equitous frameworks –the term Black Laws to label those which denied and discriminated was common. Though today we understand that it is extremely racist to use such a term. Ironic is it not that in the 21st century world, and India –our being the world’s largest democracy – a string of such Anti-inclusion and anti-empowerment Laws are being passed by Legislatures that have one thing in common. A brute electoral majority. Electoral victories and majorities clearly do not deepen Constitutional Rights Driven Morality, they often vitiate it. Not only are these developments a challenge for the student of law, philosophy and political science but ought to raise a serious reckoning to all those concerned with taking or leading our societies towards a more humane and just order.

One of the most fundamental assaults in my country likely to cause a ‘civil death’ to millions of Indians has been through amendments in Citizenship Laws and threatened documentary tests of citizenship. Already in the north eastern state of Assam a staggering 2.2 million Indians and their families face the spectre of statelessness.

It is in this world of inverted order and disordered logic that another phenomenon challenges humane existence. The persistence, spread and legitimisation of Hate Speech (and Expression). Hate Speech is not Free Speech in that it almost always targets already vulnerable populations situated in structural, social or political inequality. Weaponising the nation state and weaponising religion go hand in hand when sedition, blasphemy and apostasy laws are used to block critical questioning and expression. Hate speech anywhere is proliferating and the vicious spoken and written word is often the precursor to the physical targeting of vulnerable populations and minorities.

The UBC academic community is a fit place to share these concerns with. A daunting challenge is to set right this inversion and put our societies and governments back on the road to both Truth and Justice.

Thank You ALL.

The remote ceremony may be viewed here: 

Setalvad finds herself in an august company. Some of the human rights defenders honoured this year include:

Keiko Mary Kitagawa, O.B.C., who with her family was among the more than 22,000 Canadians of Japanese descent uprooted, disposed, dispersed, incarcerated and enslaved during and after the Second World War. Kitagawa is a tireless social justice and anti-racism leader and activist, whose efforts led to Japanese Canadian students who had not been able to complete their education due to forced removal and incarceration in 1942, ultimately being conferred with honorary undergraduate degrees in 2012.

Tantoo Cardinal, C.M., a celebrated Canadian actor of First Nations/Métis descent who has been widely recognized for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada, especially breaking barriers for onscreen representation of Indigenous peoples and has challenged negative stereotypes throughout her career.

Tracy Porteous, a Registered Clinical Counsellor and leader in the Canadian anti-violence movement who for the better part of four decades has worked to address gender-based violence through cross-sectoral policy, program, training and legislative development.

Paul Thiele who overcame his own visual impairment to study comparative literature and complete his Bachelor of Arts degree. He subsequently became the co-founder, architect and head of UBC’s Crane Library, an invaluable resource centre for visually impaired students for over 50 years. His knowledge regarding visual impairment issues has helped to shape legislation and inform library management throughout Canada.

Other recipients include first ever Principal Dancer of Chinese-Canadian heritage at The National Ballet of Canada, Chan Hon Goh, one of Canada’s most celebrated and respected authors, Lawrence Hill, member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Doug Johnson, advocate for the rights of people with lived experience of dementia, Jim Mann, and UBC Chancellor Emeritus Sarah Morgan-Silvester who is known for championing diverse and inclusive environments, particularly for women.

Related:

UBC confers honorary doctorate on Teesta Setalvad

Teesta Setalvad receives honourary Doctor of Laws degree from UBC

The journalist and human rights defender was recognised for her in the field of human rights and law to expose majoritarianism and religious fanaticism

Image Courtesy:Youtube

SabrangIndia co-founder Teesta Setalvad received her honourary doctorate from the University of British Columbia (UBC) on Thursday in an online ceremony. The Doctor of Laws degree was awarded online as international travel has been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Introducing Setalvad, UBC vice chancellor and Santa J. Ono said, “Teesta Setalvad is an Indian civil rights activist and an author who has made extraordinary contributions in support of marginalized populations plagued by communal violence.” He said Setalvad’s work has also “exposed majoritarianism and religious fanaticism in India and other parts of the world. She has also been influential on issues concerning rights of women, religious minorities, Indigenous persons, and the LGBTQ community.”

Accepting the honour Setalvad said, “This is indeed a rare, unusual and precious occasion. Rare and unusual because of the creative way in which we are together remotely online, given all the challenges our societies and peoples face in wake of the crippling Coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever the impact has been worse on our marginalized and unseen populations.”

On the subject of rights and privilege, Setalvad said, “There are Laws and Laws. Laws that can underline universal and sublime principles of equality, dignity, diversity and non-discrimination, emancipatory laws, and those that can institutionalise inequality, indignity, homogeneity and discrimination. Societies such as ours, that are still layered by privilege and structural difference and discrimination, resist the implementation of the former, especially if they have been passed to ensure the recognition of rights of those rendered voiceless, women, indigenous peoples (Adivasis), religious minorities, Dalits, working Indians.”

Teesta Setalvad’s entire speech may be read here:

Mr Chancellor, Mr President and Members of the UBC Community

This is indeed a rare, unusual and precious occasion. Rare and unusual because of the creative ways in which we are together, remotely online, given what all the challenges our societies and peoples face in the wake of the crippling Coronavirus Pandemic. Now more than ever, the impact has been worst on our most marginalised and unseen populations who, ironically are also among those who contribute most fundamentally to run our urban and rural economies. Precious because even in these solitary and otherwise bleak times, there comes such a moment where I, among others, am one of those fortunate enough to indulge in a moment of celebration, recognition and vindication for the work put in for the realisation of legal and civil rights, in defence of diversity and non-discrimination, for decades. It is a humbling and rewarding moment. To all the other recipients of the honorary doctorate degrees I offer Saluts!

Esteemed Friends, world over we are seeing a brute assault on fundamental freedoms and dignity, where, ironically it is the State and Governments that lead this charge. Sadness, Dread, Tears and Anger are what my fellow compatriots in the human rights and media fraternity within my country, and I wake up to each day as the Rule of Law premised on a Constitutional philosophy of due process, adherence to both transparency and accountability, is trampled.

For decades now, our involvement, and my obsession if you like, has involved working with the application of the law for the realisation of social justice, inclusion and compassion. In this journey, that often and inevitably leads to a conflict with entrenched interests within and outside Government, what is stark is the refusal of existing agencies to apply legal standards to interrogate available evidence, apply laws to question perpetrators in positions of power during the occurrence of mass, targeted crimes. Our job then, as lawyers and activists is to stay the course, persevere, not abandon the Survivor in her pursuit for justice and often therefore face the malice of an unforgiving system. To push the envelope in the pursuit of justice remains the real challenge. The long arm of the law is often twisted by vindicive regimes and substantive justice is often delayed, or completely denied.

Friends, today in my country as in so many across the world, which include Turkey, Hungary, Pakistan among many others, State power is being abused at every and all levels to stifle voices of social and political dissent. Jail terms under draconian anti-terror federal and state laws have denied lawyers, thinkers, activists and working citizens their freedoms. This abuse continues even as we meet and I speak. The northern region of Kashmir is a particular target and the media there functions under serious threat. Vendetta and Revenge appears to be the guiding principle of regimes. Promptness and Vigilance from the institutions created to check such fundamental abuses, are tardy and wanting. The challenge for us today is to renew the faith, the pledge to ourselves, the Constitution of India and the world, that we will not be silenced by this relentless assault.

There are Laws and Laws. Laws that can underline universal and sublime principles of equality, dignity, diversity and non-discrimination, emancipatory laws, and those that can institutionalise inequality, indignity, homogeneity and discrimination. Societies such as ours, that are still layered by privilege and structural difference and discrimination, resist the implementation of the former, especially if they have been passed to ensure the recognition of rights of those rendered voiceless, women, indigenous peoples (Adivasis), religious minorities, Dalits, working Indians.

In past centuries --before the world evolved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and countries evolved (or so we believed) on the former more inclusive and equitous frameworks –the term Black Laws to label those which denied and discriminated was common. Though today we understand that it is extremely racist to use such a term. Ironic is it not that in the 21st century world, and India –our being the world’s largest democracy – a string of such Anti-inclusion and anti-empowerment Laws are being passed by Legislatures that have one thing in common. A brute electoral majority. Electoral victories and majorities clearly do not deepen Constitutional Rights Driven Morality, they often vitiate it. Not only are these developments a challenge for the student of law, philosophy and political science but ought to raise a serious reckoning to all those concerned with taking or leading our societies towards a more humane and just order.

One of the most fundamental assaults in my country likely to cause a ‘civil death’ to millions of Indians has been through amendments in Citizenship Laws and threatened documentary tests of citizenship. Already in the north eastern state of Assam a staggering 2.2 million Indians and their families face the spectre of statelessness.

It is in this world of inverted order and disordered logic that another phenomenon challenges humane existence. The persistence, spread and legitimisation of Hate Speech (and Expression). Hate Speech is not Free Speech in that it almost always targets already vulnerable populations situated in structural, social or political inequality. Weaponising the nation state and weaponising religion go hand in hand when sedition, blasphemy and apostasy laws are used to block critical questioning and expression. Hate speech anywhere is proliferating and the vicious spoken and written word is often the precursor to the physical targeting of vulnerable populations and minorities.

The UBC academic community is a fit place to share these concerns with. A daunting challenge is to set right this inversion and put our societies and governments back on the road to both Truth and Justice.

Thank You ALL.

The remote ceremony may be viewed here: 

Setalvad finds herself in an august company. Some of the human rights defenders honoured this year include:

Keiko Mary Kitagawa, O.B.C., who with her family was among the more than 22,000 Canadians of Japanese descent uprooted, disposed, dispersed, incarcerated and enslaved during and after the Second World War. Kitagawa is a tireless social justice and anti-racism leader and activist, whose efforts led to Japanese Canadian students who had not been able to complete their education due to forced removal and incarceration in 1942, ultimately being conferred with honorary undergraduate degrees in 2012.

Tantoo Cardinal, C.M., a celebrated Canadian actor of First Nations/Métis descent who has been widely recognized for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada, especially breaking barriers for onscreen representation of Indigenous peoples and has challenged negative stereotypes throughout her career.

Tracy Porteous, a Registered Clinical Counsellor and leader in the Canadian anti-violence movement who for the better part of four decades has worked to address gender-based violence through cross-sectoral policy, program, training and legislative development.

Paul Thiele who overcame his own visual impairment to study comparative literature and complete his Bachelor of Arts degree. He subsequently became the co-founder, architect and head of UBC’s Crane Library, an invaluable resource centre for visually impaired students for over 50 years. His knowledge regarding visual impairment issues has helped to shape legislation and inform library management throughout Canada.

Other recipients include first ever Principal Dancer of Chinese-Canadian heritage at The National Ballet of Canada, Chan Hon Goh, one of Canada’s most celebrated and respected authors, Lawrence Hill, member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Doug Johnson, advocate for the rights of people with lived experience of dementia, Jim Mann, and UBC Chancellor Emeritus Sarah Morgan-Silvester who is known for championing diverse and inclusive environments, particularly for women.

Related:

UBC confers honorary doctorate on Teesta Setalvad

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Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan: Punjab farmer's soldier son martyred on the border

22-year-old Rifleman Sukhbir Singh of 18 JAK RIF was killed in the line of duty on the LoC in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:dnaindia.com

Even as the State ordered paramilitary and police forces to use lathis, water cannons, trucks, deep trenches baricages and razor wires against farmers marching for their rights, a farmer's son was martyred at LoC in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Rifleman Sukhbir Singh of 18 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (JAK RIF) was just 22 years old, and hailed from a farmer’s family of Tarn Taran district of Punjab.

According to a report in the Indian Express, it was on Friday morning, when Kulwant Singh, a marginal farmer in village Khawaspur, Tarn Taran district, Punjab, got a life shattering phone call from the Army. He was informed that his son Sukhbir had been killed in the line of duty on the LoC in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir.  Rifleman Sukhbir Singh was just one month short of completing two years in the Army. He was among two jawans who died in the cross-border firing with the Pakistan Army that day, stated the news report.

His father was shocked and shattered, and was quoted saying, “Main taa bas che kanal zameen vich kheti karda haan. Sukhbir to saari aas si. Hun mainu pata nahi lag reya kee hoyega (I till only six kanals of land. I had pinned all my hopes on Sukhbir. Now I do not know what will happen).” 

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, condoled the death and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh for the next of his kin along with a government job for a member of the family.

According to Kulwant Singh, Sukhbir had come home on leave just four months ago, and arranged his sister’s wedding. “Apni bhen da vyah enne hee keeta chhutti aa ke, sara kujh enne keeta. Panj lakh rupaya udhaar lae ke aaya unit ton vyah layi (He had come on leave and got his sister married. He did everything. He took a Rs 5 lakh loan from the unit for the wedding),” said Kulwant.

The martyred soldier is the youngest of Kulwant’s four children, he has two elder sisters and his elder brother works as a labourer in Malaysia. Since childhood, Kuldeep had always wanted to join the army and serve the nation, recalled his father, “Cheevein sattvin ch seega te kehnda si main fauj vich jaana. Bada cha si ennu. Maharaj ne badi kirpa keeti te ae fauj vich select ho gaya. Te hun ae ho gaya hai (He was in class six or seven when he used to say I want to join the Army. He really wanted to join the Army. God was kind that he got selected. And now this has happened).” 

A marginal farmer, the father said he was immersed deep in his work and was not too aware of the farmer’s protests, and that no one from his village had marched to Delhi, “Main ta kamman vich lagga rehna. TV te vekheya si kujh raula pae reya. Sadde pindon koi nayi gaya (I remain busy in my work. I had seen on TV that there was some trouble. No one from our village has gone there),” Kulwant told IE.

According to the news report Rifleman Sukhbir’s body is expected to reach his village Khawaspur in Khadoor Sahib Tehsil by Saturday afternoon, and the cremation will take place in the evening. Rifleman Sukhbir Singh’s martyrdom in the service of the nation is a crucial reminder of the sacrifice of the farming community. Farmers from across the country, especially, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Utarakhand, etc have always sent their sons to defend the nation's borders, now it is to be seen how the Government recognises their sacrifice and treats the community, which is now fighting for their rights.

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We will stop your march at all cost: Political message to farmers?

Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan: Punjab farmer's soldier son martyred on the border

22-year-old Rifleman Sukhbir Singh of 18 JAK RIF was killed in the line of duty on the LoC in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir

Image Courtesy:dnaindia.com

Even as the State ordered paramilitary and police forces to use lathis, water cannons, trucks, deep trenches baricages and razor wires against farmers marching for their rights, a farmer's son was martyred at LoC in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Rifleman Sukhbir Singh of 18 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (JAK RIF) was just 22 years old, and hailed from a farmer’s family of Tarn Taran district of Punjab.

According to a report in the Indian Express, it was on Friday morning, when Kulwant Singh, a marginal farmer in village Khawaspur, Tarn Taran district, Punjab, got a life shattering phone call from the Army. He was informed that his son Sukhbir had been killed in the line of duty on the LoC in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir.  Rifleman Sukhbir Singh was just one month short of completing two years in the Army. He was among two jawans who died in the cross-border firing with the Pakistan Army that day, stated the news report.

His father was shocked and shattered, and was quoted saying, “Main taa bas che kanal zameen vich kheti karda haan. Sukhbir to saari aas si. Hun mainu pata nahi lag reya kee hoyega (I till only six kanals of land. I had pinned all my hopes on Sukhbir. Now I do not know what will happen).” 

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, condoled the death and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh for the next of his kin along with a government job for a member of the family.

According to Kulwant Singh, Sukhbir had come home on leave just four months ago, and arranged his sister’s wedding. “Apni bhen da vyah enne hee keeta chhutti aa ke, sara kujh enne keeta. Panj lakh rupaya udhaar lae ke aaya unit ton vyah layi (He had come on leave and got his sister married. He did everything. He took a Rs 5 lakh loan from the unit for the wedding),” said Kulwant.

The martyred soldier is the youngest of Kulwant’s four children, he has two elder sisters and his elder brother works as a labourer in Malaysia. Since childhood, Kuldeep had always wanted to join the army and serve the nation, recalled his father, “Cheevein sattvin ch seega te kehnda si main fauj vich jaana. Bada cha si ennu. Maharaj ne badi kirpa keeti te ae fauj vich select ho gaya. Te hun ae ho gaya hai (He was in class six or seven when he used to say I want to join the Army. He really wanted to join the Army. God was kind that he got selected. And now this has happened).” 

A marginal farmer, the father said he was immersed deep in his work and was not too aware of the farmer’s protests, and that no one from his village had marched to Delhi, “Main ta kamman vich lagga rehna. TV te vekheya si kujh raula pae reya. Sadde pindon koi nayi gaya (I remain busy in my work. I had seen on TV that there was some trouble. No one from our village has gone there),” Kulwant told IE.

According to the news report Rifleman Sukhbir’s body is expected to reach his village Khawaspur in Khadoor Sahib Tehsil by Saturday afternoon, and the cremation will take place in the evening. Rifleman Sukhbir Singh’s martyrdom in the service of the nation is a crucial reminder of the sacrifice of the farming community. Farmers from across the country, especially, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Utarakhand, etc have always sent their sons to defend the nation's borders, now it is to be seen how the Government recognises their sacrifice and treats the community, which is now fighting for their rights.

Related

Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?
Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Top 10 moments of November 26, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!
LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020
Right Wing media working overtime to discredit farmers?
We will stop your march at all cost: Political message to farmers?

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The Economist slams Modi regime again!

Cites examples of Arnab Goswami and Stan Swamy to highlight disparities in justice delivery

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

A November 28 briefing in The Economist, has once again voiced strong opinions against the Modi government. The piece titled Narendra Modi threatens to turn India into a one-party state minces no words as it enumerates instances of how there is a marked difference between how people are treated in India based on their support for the ruling regime.

It begins by giving the example of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswamy, whose case was addressed by the judicial system with an unprecedented speed. “Mr Goswami spent just a week in detention, and his case had hardly reached the lowest rung of courts, yet the country’s topmost judges ignored the court’s backlog of some 60,000 cases to schedule a bail hearing within a day of the anchor’s appeal. This is in a country where prisons hold twice as many inmates awaiting trial, some 330,000 people, as they do convicts,” said The Economist.

It goes on to showcase how a majority of undertrials, especially from oppressed and marginalized groups or religious and ethnic minorities seldom get access to justice at the same speed. It also highlights how the courts have treated cases of dissenters and activists. The piece sites examples of Fr. Stan Swamy as well as the hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed in Kashmir when several young men, some still teenagers, went missing during the shutdown in the region after the abrogation of Article 370.

The Economist then goes on to warn of impending authoritarianism in the country, given the systematic groundwork being prepared by the regime. “Many cogs in India’s institutional machinery are not merely complacent, but have grown complicit in a project that threatens to turn the country into a one-party state,” says the piece. It slams the police in particular for allowing itself to become a tool of oppression saying, “Of the ostensibly independent institutions that are now compliant, India’s police stand out. Despite individually humane and honest officers, the impression Indians hold of the force is that its main purpose is to protect the powerful and persecute the weak. A case in point is the Delhi police’s management of communal riots that racked parts of India’s capital for three days last winter, leaving 53 dead.”

It also cites examples of the regime's stranglehold over other institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), where the regime has instituted its ‘yes-men’ in positions of power. It even questioned the impartiality of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The Economist also sites examples of non-BJP run states in India being targeted by the party in a bid to overthrow existing state governments fiving examples of Madhya Pradesh where the party has been successful and West Bengal where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remains a thorn in the side for Amit Shah who The Economist calls “Mr Modi’s fearsome chief lieutenant”.

It criticizes the Modi government’s increasing stranglehold on the media saying, “In the past two months, new rules have curtailed the permitted level of foreign investment in online media and placed the entire sector under the authority of the broadcasting ministry.” Curbing access to foreign funding has been a strategy the government has used previously in shutting down human rights organisations and NGOs. It cites the example of how Amnesty International was forced to wrap up operations in India.

The entire piece as published in The Economist may be read here.

Related:

Time magazine calls Shaheen Bagh daadi global icon!
Spending is the easiest way to revive the economy: Abhijit Banerjee
George Soros calls out Modi on Kashmir, Hindutva
India plummets 10 place on Global Democracy Index

The Economist slams Modi regime again!

Cites examples of Arnab Goswami and Stan Swamy to highlight disparities in justice delivery

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

A November 28 briefing in The Economist, has once again voiced strong opinions against the Modi government. The piece titled Narendra Modi threatens to turn India into a one-party state minces no words as it enumerates instances of how there is a marked difference between how people are treated in India based on their support for the ruling regime.

It begins by giving the example of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswamy, whose case was addressed by the judicial system with an unprecedented speed. “Mr Goswami spent just a week in detention, and his case had hardly reached the lowest rung of courts, yet the country’s topmost judges ignored the court’s backlog of some 60,000 cases to schedule a bail hearing within a day of the anchor’s appeal. This is in a country where prisons hold twice as many inmates awaiting trial, some 330,000 people, as they do convicts,” said The Economist.

It goes on to showcase how a majority of undertrials, especially from oppressed and marginalized groups or religious and ethnic minorities seldom get access to justice at the same speed. It also highlights how the courts have treated cases of dissenters and activists. The piece sites examples of Fr. Stan Swamy as well as the hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed in Kashmir when several young men, some still teenagers, went missing during the shutdown in the region after the abrogation of Article 370.

The Economist then goes on to warn of impending authoritarianism in the country, given the systematic groundwork being prepared by the regime. “Many cogs in India’s institutional machinery are not merely complacent, but have grown complicit in a project that threatens to turn the country into a one-party state,” says the piece. It slams the police in particular for allowing itself to become a tool of oppression saying, “Of the ostensibly independent institutions that are now compliant, India’s police stand out. Despite individually humane and honest officers, the impression Indians hold of the force is that its main purpose is to protect the powerful and persecute the weak. A case in point is the Delhi police’s management of communal riots that racked parts of India’s capital for three days last winter, leaving 53 dead.”

It also cites examples of the regime's stranglehold over other institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), where the regime has instituted its ‘yes-men’ in positions of power. It even questioned the impartiality of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The Economist also sites examples of non-BJP run states in India being targeted by the party in a bid to overthrow existing state governments fiving examples of Madhya Pradesh where the party has been successful and West Bengal where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remains a thorn in the side for Amit Shah who The Economist calls “Mr Modi’s fearsome chief lieutenant”.

It criticizes the Modi government’s increasing stranglehold on the media saying, “In the past two months, new rules have curtailed the permitted level of foreign investment in online media and placed the entire sector under the authority of the broadcasting ministry.” Curbing access to foreign funding has been a strategy the government has used previously in shutting down human rights organisations and NGOs. It cites the example of how Amnesty International was forced to wrap up operations in India.

The entire piece as published in The Economist may be read here.

Related:

Time magazine calls Shaheen Bagh daadi global icon!
Spending is the easiest way to revive the economy: Abhijit Banerjee
George Soros calls out Modi on Kashmir, Hindutva
India plummets 10 place on Global Democracy Index

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Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!

Five killed, six injured as fire breaks out in Rajkot hospital’s ICU

27 Nov 2020

Hospital

A fire broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Rajkot’s Uday Shivananda Hospital, a designated Covid care facility, at about 12:30 AM on Friday, November 27. Five Covid-19 patients were killed and six patients were injured in the inferno.

Bhikha Theba, chief fire officer of Rajkot told the Indian Express that at the time of the fire there were 33 patients in the hospital, 11 of whom were in the ICU. He told the publication, “Three of them died on the spot while we managed to rescue the remaining 30 and shift them to Gokul Hospital.”

Rajkot municipal commissioner Udit Agrawal told IE that two other people died while receiving treatment after being shifted to the other hospital.

According to Theba, the fire was put out in 30-45 minutes. He told IE, “It appears that the fire could have been started by an electronic short circuit.”

Rajkot mayor Bina Acharya said that the hospital had fire clearance and fire fighting equipment. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakhs to the next of kin.

 

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who previously served as Chief Minister of Gujarat also offered his condolences:

 

 

The incident raises questions about how Covid care facilities are run in the state.

Chilling reminder of Ahmedabad Hospital fire

This incident brings back memories of a similar fire that broke out in the ICU of Shrey Hospital on September 6, in Ahmedabad killing eight people, all undergoing treatment for Covid-19. That incident was mired in controversy and a CBI inquiry was demanded when it was discovered that CCTV cameras did not record anything of significance on the night of the fire and that mobile phones of victims went missing mysteriously. Hospital authorities were accused of washing their hands off the incident by blaming it on the negligence of two junior level employees.

Civil society members had then issued a statement saying, “While the fire broke out reportedly due to a electrical short circuit, the inadequacy and non-adherence to standard fire safety mechanisms in the hospital, and the lack of evidence for any standard procedure of rescue having been initiated strengthens the suspicion that the hospital may have been criminally liable for the deaths of the unfortunate victims.”

The statement also pointed out failure to book the accused under proper sections of the law, saying, “For a fire of this nature, which took the lives of 8 helpless patients, which is likely to have occurred due to wilful negligence of fire safety rules and procedures, the charges should have been far more stringent.” They further demanded, “We feel that section 304 of the CrPC should have been invoked, and the failure of the police not to have done so raise(s) serious questions regarding their intent to do a free and fair investigation. There seems to be a conspiracy to get the hospital management off the hook.”

Related:

Shrey Hospital Fire: The curious case of the missing phones

Shrey Hospital case: Victims’ families demand CBI inquiry

Ayesha Tirmizi was recovering when her life was cut short

8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire 

Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!

Five killed, six injured as fire breaks out in Rajkot hospital’s ICU

Hospital

A fire broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Rajkot’s Uday Shivananda Hospital, a designated Covid care facility, at about 12:30 AM on Friday, November 27. Five Covid-19 patients were killed and six patients were injured in the inferno.

Bhikha Theba, chief fire officer of Rajkot told the Indian Express that at the time of the fire there were 33 patients in the hospital, 11 of whom were in the ICU. He told the publication, “Three of them died on the spot while we managed to rescue the remaining 30 and shift them to Gokul Hospital.”

Rajkot municipal commissioner Udit Agrawal told IE that two other people died while receiving treatment after being shifted to the other hospital.

According to Theba, the fire was put out in 30-45 minutes. He told IE, “It appears that the fire could have been started by an electronic short circuit.”

Rajkot mayor Bina Acharya said that the hospital had fire clearance and fire fighting equipment. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakhs to the next of kin.

 

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who previously served as Chief Minister of Gujarat also offered his condolences:

 

 

The incident raises questions about how Covid care facilities are run in the state.

Chilling reminder of Ahmedabad Hospital fire

This incident brings back memories of a similar fire that broke out in the ICU of Shrey Hospital on September 6, in Ahmedabad killing eight people, all undergoing treatment for Covid-19. That incident was mired in controversy and a CBI inquiry was demanded when it was discovered that CCTV cameras did not record anything of significance on the night of the fire and that mobile phones of victims went missing mysteriously. Hospital authorities were accused of washing their hands off the incident by blaming it on the negligence of two junior level employees.

Civil society members had then issued a statement saying, “While the fire broke out reportedly due to a electrical short circuit, the inadequacy and non-adherence to standard fire safety mechanisms in the hospital, and the lack of evidence for any standard procedure of rescue having been initiated strengthens the suspicion that the hospital may have been criminally liable for the deaths of the unfortunate victims.”

The statement also pointed out failure to book the accused under proper sections of the law, saying, “For a fire of this nature, which took the lives of 8 helpless patients, which is likely to have occurred due to wilful negligence of fire safety rules and procedures, the charges should have been far more stringent.” They further demanded, “We feel that section 304 of the CrPC should have been invoked, and the failure of the police not to have done so raise(s) serious questions regarding their intent to do a free and fair investigation. There seems to be a conspiracy to get the hospital management off the hook.”

Related:

Shrey Hospital Fire: The curious case of the missing phones

Shrey Hospital case: Victims’ families demand CBI inquiry

Ayesha Tirmizi was recovering when her life was cut short

8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire 

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The Constitution is a miracle! 

SabrangIndia co-founder Teesta Setalvad examines the significance of the Constitution in a Facebook Live discussion with Senior Advocates Rajeev Dhawan and Mihir Desai on Constitution Day

27 Nov 2020

Indian constitution

A Facebook Live discussion was organised by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) with Senior Advocates and human rights defenders, Rajeev Dhawan and Mihir Desai on the occasion of Constitution Day 2020. It was moderated by CJP secretary and SabrangIndia co-founder Teesta Setalvad.

The exclusive discussion started with Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan saying, “The Constitution is a miracle. If today we wanted to make a Constitution, we would not be able to do it." However, he laments that many things have gone wrong since it was first adopted on November 26, 1949. He said, “The Constitution consists of two parts- Political and Jurist. Political text’s custodians are the politicians and the Jurist text’s custodian is our Supreme Court. So, have our custodians failed us? Where is the failure and what do we do now? Every institution of the Constitution lacks morality now.” He cites the example of the President's rule in a state that proves to be a complete collapse.

He further pointed out, “If the institution feels like it, they issue contempt notices, or privilege notices. People are throwing chairs in the Parliament.” Advocate Dhawan feels that this is happening because people have forgotten the teachings of Babasaheb. B.R Ambedkar had once said, to deal with every part of the Constitution, as every part has a meaning. 

Dhawan criticised the police heavily and noted that Articles 21 and 19 cannot be functional if the police commit excesses. He told the viewers to consider what happened during the Gujarat riots, Mumbai riots and Shaheen Bagh. The top court's decision to limit the right to protest in an area where they direct one to protest is restrictive in his opinion. He asked, “Is this how it is going to be?”

“A majority government has become majoritarian. Look at love jihad and Babri Masjid cases," said Teesta Setalvad while asking Mihir Desai where does an activist and advocate go to push the constitutional framework forward. Mihir Desai, while agreeing with Rajeev Dhawan, said that the Constitution was born out of a national freedom struggle, it was a social reality. "The Constitution wasn't just a transfer of power, but a social and political transformation of power," said Advocate Desai.

A liberal Constitution, even though not perfect, gives protections to religious groups, caste groups, and on the basis of gender. "The Constitution gives us equality," said Desai, also bringing up how "the word 'secular' was added in the 1970s, but we all envisaged a secular country with no established one religion." He brought up cow slaughter, conversion and love jihad issues and said there has been a “creeping communalism” through judicial intervention.

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai asserted that in order to get a positive response from the Constitution, we all need to force the institution to be accountable and transparent. Apart from struggles on streets, the judiciary needs to be pushed to be constitutional friendly.

“We cannot allow a majoritarian government to become Fascist”, added Rajeev Dhawan. He quoted Justice Dwivedi and asked, “Is our Constitution in a state of being or state of becoming? It can never be in a state of being. Our Constitution was for the poor and migrant workers."

Rajeev Dhawan further appreciated the efforts of journalist and human rights defender Teesta Setalvad and called her a soldier of the Constitution. "The real struggle to push the effort of Constitutional freedom is in the courts and on the streets. The Constitution and Judiciary is a site of struggle and it is a forward-looking Constitution in the state of becoming," said Dhawan.

He further said, “When the institutions fail to act as custodians, citizens take on the struggle, they go to courts and that way the court becomes the site of struggle and citizens no longer look at courts as custodians of the Constitution.”

Teesta Setalvad further asked the ways in which we could reconcile the Constitution with 'treason' and 'sedition'. Mihir Desai answered that during the freedom struggle, many leaders were charged with sedition, a law brought about by the British, who later got rid of it in their own country. He wished that the Supreme Court would strike down sedition as it should not be part of our democratic nation. Article 19(1) (a) with its restrictions also have no place for sedition.

“These laws are being grossly misused”, said Mihir Desai. Rajeev Dhawan added that in case of sedition, the “process has become the punishment”. Sedition laws are not only colonial but heinous laws. Rajeev Dhawan questioned the reason behind people incarcerated in jail in the Bhima Koregaon case. He further said that it has become a 'hoodlum law' in which "the government and police are playing a role. They are trying to 'break the will' of the people and demoralise them."

Rajeev Dhawan went on to state, “When it comes to Article 370, we used to have Union Territories become states. Why did they make a state a Union Territory? The right to vote in parliament does not give you the right to break up a province”, he said. Dhawan agreed with Desai, and said that the citizens need to fight and approach the courts. He called Desai, who has fought many public interest and human rights related cases, a custodian of the Constitution. Mihir Desai finally said, “We have to be heard. We cannot be shouted down. We need to take back the institutions like ECI, RBI, CAG and prevent them from becoming the tools of the regime.”  

Rajeev Dhawan emphasised on the term “fraternity” which will help all of us to keep the optimism together. Concluding the session, Teesta Setalvad appreciated the efforts of our workers and farmers who had a spectacular general strike on November 26, 2020. She paid tribute to them as no amount of water cannons and barricades could stop them.  

"Fraternity and alliance building are the need of the hour," said Setalvad, while thanking the two legal luminaries who continue to inspire all of us.

The entire exclusive Constitution Day Special Discuss may be viewed here:

 

Related:

 

Inequality has gotten sharpened in India: Teesta Setalvad

Facebook Live, P. Sainath talks about the reality of media in the country, the ongoing crisis, and the role of alternatives

 

The Constitution is a miracle! 

SabrangIndia co-founder Teesta Setalvad examines the significance of the Constitution in a Facebook Live discussion with Senior Advocates Rajeev Dhawan and Mihir Desai on Constitution Day

Indian constitution

A Facebook Live discussion was organised by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) with Senior Advocates and human rights defenders, Rajeev Dhawan and Mihir Desai on the occasion of Constitution Day 2020. It was moderated by CJP secretary and SabrangIndia co-founder Teesta Setalvad.

The exclusive discussion started with Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan saying, “The Constitution is a miracle. If today we wanted to make a Constitution, we would not be able to do it." However, he laments that many things have gone wrong since it was first adopted on November 26, 1949. He said, “The Constitution consists of two parts- Political and Jurist. Political text’s custodians are the politicians and the Jurist text’s custodian is our Supreme Court. So, have our custodians failed us? Where is the failure and what do we do now? Every institution of the Constitution lacks morality now.” He cites the example of the President's rule in a state that proves to be a complete collapse.

He further pointed out, “If the institution feels like it, they issue contempt notices, or privilege notices. People are throwing chairs in the Parliament.” Advocate Dhawan feels that this is happening because people have forgotten the teachings of Babasaheb. B.R Ambedkar had once said, to deal with every part of the Constitution, as every part has a meaning. 

Dhawan criticised the police heavily and noted that Articles 21 and 19 cannot be functional if the police commit excesses. He told the viewers to consider what happened during the Gujarat riots, Mumbai riots and Shaheen Bagh. The top court's decision to limit the right to protest in an area where they direct one to protest is restrictive in his opinion. He asked, “Is this how it is going to be?”

“A majority government has become majoritarian. Look at love jihad and Babri Masjid cases," said Teesta Setalvad while asking Mihir Desai where does an activist and advocate go to push the constitutional framework forward. Mihir Desai, while agreeing with Rajeev Dhawan, said that the Constitution was born out of a national freedom struggle, it was a social reality. "The Constitution wasn't just a transfer of power, but a social and political transformation of power," said Advocate Desai.

A liberal Constitution, even though not perfect, gives protections to religious groups, caste groups, and on the basis of gender. "The Constitution gives us equality," said Desai, also bringing up how "the word 'secular' was added in the 1970s, but we all envisaged a secular country with no established one religion." He brought up cow slaughter, conversion and love jihad issues and said there has been a “creeping communalism” through judicial intervention.

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai asserted that in order to get a positive response from the Constitution, we all need to force the institution to be accountable and transparent. Apart from struggles on streets, the judiciary needs to be pushed to be constitutional friendly.

“We cannot allow a majoritarian government to become Fascist”, added Rajeev Dhawan. He quoted Justice Dwivedi and asked, “Is our Constitution in a state of being or state of becoming? It can never be in a state of being. Our Constitution was for the poor and migrant workers."

Rajeev Dhawan further appreciated the efforts of journalist and human rights defender Teesta Setalvad and called her a soldier of the Constitution. "The real struggle to push the effort of Constitutional freedom is in the courts and on the streets. The Constitution and Judiciary is a site of struggle and it is a forward-looking Constitution in the state of becoming," said Dhawan.

He further said, “When the institutions fail to act as custodians, citizens take on the struggle, they go to courts and that way the court becomes the site of struggle and citizens no longer look at courts as custodians of the Constitution.”

Teesta Setalvad further asked the ways in which we could reconcile the Constitution with 'treason' and 'sedition'. Mihir Desai answered that during the freedom struggle, many leaders were charged with sedition, a law brought about by the British, who later got rid of it in their own country. He wished that the Supreme Court would strike down sedition as it should not be part of our democratic nation. Article 19(1) (a) with its restrictions also have no place for sedition.

“These laws are being grossly misused”, said Mihir Desai. Rajeev Dhawan added that in case of sedition, the “process has become the punishment”. Sedition laws are not only colonial but heinous laws. Rajeev Dhawan questioned the reason behind people incarcerated in jail in the Bhima Koregaon case. He further said that it has become a 'hoodlum law' in which "the government and police are playing a role. They are trying to 'break the will' of the people and demoralise them."

Rajeev Dhawan went on to state, “When it comes to Article 370, we used to have Union Territories become states. Why did they make a state a Union Territory? The right to vote in parliament does not give you the right to break up a province”, he said. Dhawan agreed with Desai, and said that the citizens need to fight and approach the courts. He called Desai, who has fought many public interest and human rights related cases, a custodian of the Constitution. Mihir Desai finally said, “We have to be heard. We cannot be shouted down. We need to take back the institutions like ECI, RBI, CAG and prevent them from becoming the tools of the regime.”  

Rajeev Dhawan emphasised on the term “fraternity” which will help all of us to keep the optimism together. Concluding the session, Teesta Setalvad appreciated the efforts of our workers and farmers who had a spectacular general strike on November 26, 2020. She paid tribute to them as no amount of water cannons and barricades could stop them.  

"Fraternity and alliance building are the need of the hour," said Setalvad, while thanking the two legal luminaries who continue to inspire all of us.

The entire exclusive Constitution Day Special Discuss may be viewed here:

 

Related:

 

Inequality has gotten sharpened in India: Teesta Setalvad

Facebook Live, P. Sainath talks about the reality of media in the country, the ongoing crisis, and the role of alternatives

 

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