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I feel ashamed of this reaction of an Israeli diplomat on Kashmir Files: Nadav Lapid, IFFI head of jury

Not taking anything back, I stand totally behind every word I said; it was my duty, my obligation to speak: Nadav Lapid to Karan Thapar for The Wire on his comments on the Kashmir Files and the furore they've created.

01 Dec 2022

Karan Thapar
Image: Youtube screenshot / The Wire

The well-known Israeli filmmaker whose comments as the head of the jury of the recently concluded International Film Festival of India at Goa on The Kashmir Files has created an enormous controversy tells television journalist Karan Thapar, “I am not taking back anything, I stand totally behind every word I said at the award ceremony”. Mr. Lapid went further and said: “In a way it was my duty, my obligation. I was invited to be frank not to speak vanities.”

Tragically however, Mr. Lapid has revealed that he has received hundreds, may be thousands, of threatening messages. Speaking specifically about the Israeli Ambassador who, in a public letter to Mr. Lapid which he tweeted, said Mr. Lapid should be ashamed of himself and claimed he had denigrated Indian hospitality and damaged India-Israeli relations, Mr. Lapid said: “I feel ashamed of this reaction of an Israeli diplomat”.

In a 32-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, from his residence in Paris where he’s returned, Mr. Lapid repeatedly and flatly denied that he had in an interview to India Today, reported on the Hindustan Times website, called The Kashmir Files “brilliant”. He also clarified that in a separate interview to CNN-News18 he was only apologizing for hurting the feelings of people who died in the killings in Kashmir or to their relatives but he was by no means apologizing for criticizing the film.

Mr. Lapid said: “Criticising a movie is not criticising India or criticizing what happened in Kashmir”. Referring to Anupam Kher’s claim that the criticism of The Kashmir Files is like denial of the holocaust, Mr. Lapid said that Mr. Kher, as well as Vivek Agnihotri, the director, must remember that their film is “not equal” to the tragedy that happened in Kashmir. He added how that tragedy is portrayed in a film can be legitimately criticised without questioning the veracity of the events it portrays.

Speaking about what he calls the vulgarity and crude quality of The Kashmir Files, Mr. Lapid spoke about the way “the bad guys” are portrayed. He said “the terrorists are like cartoon creatures”. He said they lacked “the truth of free life”. He said the portrayal is “a flat product”. Giving a few details he said: “Look at the way the main terrorist is portrayed with a tick in his eye … it’s an extremely bad joke”.

Interestingly, Mr. Lapid also insisted in this interview to Thapar, that “all the jury members shared exactly the same impression about the film”. 

Confirming comments he has made to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz and the Israeli website Ynet, Mr. Lapid said he felt a need to speak out and express what he believes is the truth possibly because many others in India may share this thinking but are unable to speak it publicly.

Mr. Lapid added that after the reaction in India he believes “my instinct was right … I had to tell the truth.” Mr. Lapid asked a question of those criticising him: “Do you want to live in a place where people are scared to open their mouth?”

These are just the most important aspects of Karan Thapar’s interview with Mr. Lapid. Thapar states in a press release that there’s a lot more in the interview. Mr. Lapid has spoken honestly, fully and often at great length to explain his views, his response to what others have said, his reaction  to the controversy and furore that has been created and how the film was pushed by the Indian government. He says, in reverse circumstances, he would welcome Indian filmmakers coming to Israel and criticising Israeli films on subjects that are sensitive to or important for the Israeli people.

Karan Thapar :” To understand Mr. Lapid you need to see this interview. As I said, the above precis has simply picked up some of the main points. There’s a lot more in the interview where Mr. Lapid should be allowed to speak for himself. This is why you must watch it. It’s also important to watch the interview to understand how some of the claims made about things Mr. Lapid is supposed to have said are either untrue or deliberate misinterpretations. At one or two points of the interview, Mr. Lapid talks about how people have “manipulated” what he said.”

Here is the link to the Karan Thapar Interview:

Related:

IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

The Kashmir Files: Calls for Muslim genocide ring out in cinema halls, hate brews outside

The Kashmir Files making resident Kashmiri Pandits feel unsafe

The Kashmir Files backed by PM, FM, CMs; continues to fuel divide

Hate floods in the wake of ‘The Kashmir Files’

Kashmiri Pandits refute communal claims made in The Kashmir Files

Govt to Blame, Where is Security for KP Families in Valley, Asks Sanjay Tickoo, KPSS

 

I feel ashamed of this reaction of an Israeli diplomat on Kashmir Files: Nadav Lapid, IFFI head of jury

Not taking anything back, I stand totally behind every word I said; it was my duty, my obligation to speak: Nadav Lapid to Karan Thapar for The Wire on his comments on the Kashmir Files and the furore they've created.

Karan Thapar
Image: Youtube screenshot / The Wire

The well-known Israeli filmmaker whose comments as the head of the jury of the recently concluded International Film Festival of India at Goa on The Kashmir Files has created an enormous controversy tells television journalist Karan Thapar, “I am not taking back anything, I stand totally behind every word I said at the award ceremony”. Mr. Lapid went further and said: “In a way it was my duty, my obligation. I was invited to be frank not to speak vanities.”

Tragically however, Mr. Lapid has revealed that he has received hundreds, may be thousands, of threatening messages. Speaking specifically about the Israeli Ambassador who, in a public letter to Mr. Lapid which he tweeted, said Mr. Lapid should be ashamed of himself and claimed he had denigrated Indian hospitality and damaged India-Israeli relations, Mr. Lapid said: “I feel ashamed of this reaction of an Israeli diplomat”.

In a 32-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, from his residence in Paris where he’s returned, Mr. Lapid repeatedly and flatly denied that he had in an interview to India Today, reported on the Hindustan Times website, called The Kashmir Files “brilliant”. He also clarified that in a separate interview to CNN-News18 he was only apologizing for hurting the feelings of people who died in the killings in Kashmir or to their relatives but he was by no means apologizing for criticizing the film.

Mr. Lapid said: “Criticising a movie is not criticising India or criticizing what happened in Kashmir”. Referring to Anupam Kher’s claim that the criticism of The Kashmir Files is like denial of the holocaust, Mr. Lapid said that Mr. Kher, as well as Vivek Agnihotri, the director, must remember that their film is “not equal” to the tragedy that happened in Kashmir. He added how that tragedy is portrayed in a film can be legitimately criticised without questioning the veracity of the events it portrays.

Speaking about what he calls the vulgarity and crude quality of The Kashmir Files, Mr. Lapid spoke about the way “the bad guys” are portrayed. He said “the terrorists are like cartoon creatures”. He said they lacked “the truth of free life”. He said the portrayal is “a flat product”. Giving a few details he said: “Look at the way the main terrorist is portrayed with a tick in his eye … it’s an extremely bad joke”.

Interestingly, Mr. Lapid also insisted in this interview to Thapar, that “all the jury members shared exactly the same impression about the film”. 

Confirming comments he has made to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz and the Israeli website Ynet, Mr. Lapid said he felt a need to speak out and express what he believes is the truth possibly because many others in India may share this thinking but are unable to speak it publicly.

Mr. Lapid added that after the reaction in India he believes “my instinct was right … I had to tell the truth.” Mr. Lapid asked a question of those criticising him: “Do you want to live in a place where people are scared to open their mouth?”

These are just the most important aspects of Karan Thapar’s interview with Mr. Lapid. Thapar states in a press release that there’s a lot more in the interview. Mr. Lapid has spoken honestly, fully and often at great length to explain his views, his response to what others have said, his reaction  to the controversy and furore that has been created and how the film was pushed by the Indian government. He says, in reverse circumstances, he would welcome Indian filmmakers coming to Israel and criticising Israeli films on subjects that are sensitive to or important for the Israeli people.

Karan Thapar :” To understand Mr. Lapid you need to see this interview. As I said, the above precis has simply picked up some of the main points. There’s a lot more in the interview where Mr. Lapid should be allowed to speak for himself. This is why you must watch it. It’s also important to watch the interview to understand how some of the claims made about things Mr. Lapid is supposed to have said are either untrue or deliberate misinterpretations. At one or two points of the interview, Mr. Lapid talks about how people have “manipulated” what he said.”

Here is the link to the Karan Thapar Interview:

Related:

IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

The Kashmir Files: Calls for Muslim genocide ring out in cinema halls, hate brews outside

The Kashmir Files making resident Kashmiri Pandits feel unsafe

The Kashmir Files backed by PM, FM, CMs; continues to fuel divide

Hate floods in the wake of ‘The Kashmir Files’

Kashmiri Pandits refute communal claims made in The Kashmir Files

Govt to Blame, Where is Security for KP Families in Valley, Asks Sanjay Tickoo, KPSS

 

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Kashmir Files is an attempt to sell Pandit pain for commercial & political gain: KPSS

Pain loses its meaning and becomes valueless when it is sold for commercial and political beliefs and benefits, says Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, Srinagar

01 Dec 2022

Kashmir Files

From the timeline of Shiv Kar

Did the Kashmiri Pandit's exodus happen? Of course it did. It was one of the most heinous, most tragic incidents in our country, no less in seriousness than the partition, or even the holocaust - with which the likes of Anupam Kher seem to compare it over and over again. Of course it happened. No one is denying that. If even one person has to go through what happened during the exodus, it is a historical tragedy. What is the problem then? Why is a film like 'The Kashmir Files' being panned as vulgar and dishonorable, while a film like 'Schindler's List' will go down in the halls of art as one that recorded history as it truly happened? The answer is simple - artistic intention. 

When Steven Spielberg made 'Schindler's List', he didn't make it so that people hate Germans. He made it to record history through art. But Vivek Agnihotri's artistic intentions are questionable. His film, his words, his thoughts are vengeful. Hurt is an essential foundation of the arts. But the moment you become vengeful, the moment you use your art to spread hatred instead of awareness, you cease to be an artist. Then, even if your art is technically brilliant, it will have no artistic merit at all. Your intention of creating a work of art is more important than the art itself. Which is exactly why Griffith's Birth of a Nation or Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, despite being technically brilliant and academically important studies, will always go down the history of cinema as downright unethical films. Artistic intention. You cannot let hatred and revenge rule over your art.

Facebook: Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a Srinagar-based group representing those Kashmiri Pandits who, at great risk to their lives and livelihoods, never migrated from the Valley has called The Kashmir Files an attempt to sell the community’s pain for commercial and political “benefits”.

“Pain loses its meaning and becomes valueless when it is sold for commercial and political beliefs and benefits,” the Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti tweeted.

 

 

KPSS president Sanjay Tikoo told the media the tweet was about the film, which he said had caused nothing but harm to the Pandit community. “The film is nothing but commercialisation of our pain, politicisation of our pain,” Tickoo said.

The Kashmir Files,  endorsed by the BJP, portrays the 1990 attacks on Pandits in Kashmir in a manner that seeks to demonise Muslims. Nadav Lapid, celebrated Israeli filmmaker and chief jury at the International Film Festival of India, had on Monday said the film was “propaganda” and “vulgar”.

The Samiti chief, who had criticised The Kashmir Files in the past as well, said the film had dealt a blow to decades-long efforts to bridge the differences between the Muslim and Pandit communities in Kashmir.

“The incidents in the filmare 100 per cent true but the picturisation is wrong. (For instance), it shows some Pandits being killed by militants in a village with local Muslims cheering the killings. Such things never happened here,” he said.

Tickoo said the film depicted the pain of the Pandits but not that of the Muslims.

“The film is called The Kashmir Files, not ‘The Kashmir Pandit Files’. But it never touched the (sufferings of the) other side, of people killed in State action,” he said.

Tickoo also said the film, along with the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, had ensured that local Muslims’ sympathy for Hindus in relation to the recent spate of targeted killings was reduced. “The kind of outrage you saw earlier is missing now. Earlier, you had at least 50 to 60 per cent, if not all, who said they wanted the (migrant) Pandits back,” he said.

“It (the film) has endangered our lives. It has also deeply affected the efforts that were happening for the past two decades to bridge the differences (between the two communities).”

While Tickoo criticised the film, he added that if Lapid, the Israeli filmmaker,  was questioning the Kashmiri Pandits’ suffering, he should question the Holocaust as well. Lapid had not commented on the plight of the Pandits but was speaking on the propaganda quotient of the film. In fact, Lapid said later that “I did not come to express one position or another on the conflict in Kashmir....”

Tickoo denied that Pandits had hit the streets in Jammu against Lapid, as some news channels had claimed.

He said the Pandits portrayed on TV as protesting Lapid’s comments were actually employees demonstrating against the government’s refusal to relocate them from Kashmir to Jammu following a spate of targeted killings in the Valley.

Tickoo acknowledged that some of the protest leaders had spoken out against the Israeli filmmaker (after the channels had sought their opinion on the subject).

Related:

IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

Singapore bans ‘The Kashmir Files’ 

The Kashmir Files making resident Kashmiri Pandits feel unsafe
 

Kashmir Files is an attempt to sell Pandit pain for commercial & political gain: KPSS

Pain loses its meaning and becomes valueless when it is sold for commercial and political beliefs and benefits, says Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, Srinagar

Kashmir Files

From the timeline of Shiv Kar

Did the Kashmiri Pandit's exodus happen? Of course it did. It was one of the most heinous, most tragic incidents in our country, no less in seriousness than the partition, or even the holocaust - with which the likes of Anupam Kher seem to compare it over and over again. Of course it happened. No one is denying that. If even one person has to go through what happened during the exodus, it is a historical tragedy. What is the problem then? Why is a film like 'The Kashmir Files' being panned as vulgar and dishonorable, while a film like 'Schindler's List' will go down in the halls of art as one that recorded history as it truly happened? The answer is simple - artistic intention. 

When Steven Spielberg made 'Schindler's List', he didn't make it so that people hate Germans. He made it to record history through art. But Vivek Agnihotri's artistic intentions are questionable. His film, his words, his thoughts are vengeful. Hurt is an essential foundation of the arts. But the moment you become vengeful, the moment you use your art to spread hatred instead of awareness, you cease to be an artist. Then, even if your art is technically brilliant, it will have no artistic merit at all. Your intention of creating a work of art is more important than the art itself. Which is exactly why Griffith's Birth of a Nation or Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, despite being technically brilliant and academically important studies, will always go down the history of cinema as downright unethical films. Artistic intention. You cannot let hatred and revenge rule over your art.

Facebook: Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a Srinagar-based group representing those Kashmiri Pandits who, at great risk to their lives and livelihoods, never migrated from the Valley has called The Kashmir Files an attempt to sell the community’s pain for commercial and political “benefits”.

“Pain loses its meaning and becomes valueless when it is sold for commercial and political beliefs and benefits,” the Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti tweeted.

 

 

KPSS president Sanjay Tikoo told the media the tweet was about the film, which he said had caused nothing but harm to the Pandit community. “The film is nothing but commercialisation of our pain, politicisation of our pain,” Tickoo said.

The Kashmir Files,  endorsed by the BJP, portrays the 1990 attacks on Pandits in Kashmir in a manner that seeks to demonise Muslims. Nadav Lapid, celebrated Israeli filmmaker and chief jury at the International Film Festival of India, had on Monday said the film was “propaganda” and “vulgar”.

The Samiti chief, who had criticised The Kashmir Files in the past as well, said the film had dealt a blow to decades-long efforts to bridge the differences between the Muslim and Pandit communities in Kashmir.

“The incidents in the filmare 100 per cent true but the picturisation is wrong. (For instance), it shows some Pandits being killed by militants in a village with local Muslims cheering the killings. Such things never happened here,” he said.

Tickoo said the film depicted the pain of the Pandits but not that of the Muslims.

“The film is called The Kashmir Files, not ‘The Kashmir Pandit Files’. But it never touched the (sufferings of the) other side, of people killed in State action,” he said.

Tickoo also said the film, along with the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, had ensured that local Muslims’ sympathy for Hindus in relation to the recent spate of targeted killings was reduced. “The kind of outrage you saw earlier is missing now. Earlier, you had at least 50 to 60 per cent, if not all, who said they wanted the (migrant) Pandits back,” he said.

“It (the film) has endangered our lives. It has also deeply affected the efforts that were happening for the past two decades to bridge the differences (between the two communities).”

While Tickoo criticised the film, he added that if Lapid, the Israeli filmmaker,  was questioning the Kashmiri Pandits’ suffering, he should question the Holocaust as well. Lapid had not commented on the plight of the Pandits but was speaking on the propaganda quotient of the film. In fact, Lapid said later that “I did not come to express one position or another on the conflict in Kashmir....”

Tickoo denied that Pandits had hit the streets in Jammu against Lapid, as some news channels had claimed.

He said the Pandits portrayed on TV as protesting Lapid’s comments were actually employees demonstrating against the government’s refusal to relocate them from Kashmir to Jammu following a spate of targeted killings in the Valley.

Tickoo acknowledged that some of the protest leaders had spoken out against the Israeli filmmaker (after the channels had sought their opinion on the subject).

Related:

IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

Singapore bans ‘The Kashmir Files’ 

The Kashmir Files making resident Kashmiri Pandits feel unsafe
 

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Karnataka: Controversy over decision to build colleges for Muslim girls

Sri Rama Sena founder Pramod Muthalik has challenged the ruling state government against building the colleges, saying it won't be allowed in the state.

01 Dec 2022

Pramod

Bengaluru: A controversy has erupted in Karnataka over the state’s ruling BJP government’s decision to build 10 new colleges exclusively for Muslim girls, with Hindu organisations warning of widespread protests.

The government is however moving ahead with its decision and has allotted a Rs 2.50-crore grant, sources said, adding that that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is all set to lay down the foundation stone for the colleges this month.

The colleges are going to be built in the Malnad and north Karnataka regions initially, and will expand later, the sources added.

Maulana Shafi Saadi, Chairperson of the Karnataka Wakf Board, said that the proposal for the exclusive colleges was made by the Board and the decision was taken after large number of Muslim girls have opted to stay at home since wearing of hijab is not allowed in college premises.

“The proposal was made to the Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani. The delegation was led by Karnataka Minister for Muzrai Shashikala Jolle and Kalaburagi MP Umesh Jadhav,” he said.

“The state government has consented to the proposal. I thank Minister Shashikala Jolle who took lead like a sister to ensure, Muslim girls are educated.”

However, the development has created a furore in the state.

Hindu Jana Jagruthi Samithi leader Mohan Gowda said that if colleges are being built Muslim girls, then Hindu educational institutes should also come up.

Maintaining that the decision is against the principles of secularism and the constitution, Gowda warned that “if the government does not revert it, protests would be launched”.

Sri Rama Sena founder Pramod Muthalik has challenged the ruling state government against building the colleges, saying it won’t be allowed in the state.

“We never thought BJP would indulge in appeasement of Muslims ahead of the Assembly elections. This is a divisive rule and the colleges are opened in the backdrop of the hijab crisis. This would make students develop a divisive mindset,” he explained.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

Karnataka: Controversy over decision to build colleges for Muslim girls

Sri Rama Sena founder Pramod Muthalik has challenged the ruling state government against building the colleges, saying it won't be allowed in the state.

Pramod

Bengaluru: A controversy has erupted in Karnataka over the state’s ruling BJP government’s decision to build 10 new colleges exclusively for Muslim girls, with Hindu organisations warning of widespread protests.

The government is however moving ahead with its decision and has allotted a Rs 2.50-crore grant, sources said, adding that that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is all set to lay down the foundation stone for the colleges this month.

The colleges are going to be built in the Malnad and north Karnataka regions initially, and will expand later, the sources added.

Maulana Shafi Saadi, Chairperson of the Karnataka Wakf Board, said that the proposal for the exclusive colleges was made by the Board and the decision was taken after large number of Muslim girls have opted to stay at home since wearing of hijab is not allowed in college premises.

“The proposal was made to the Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani. The delegation was led by Karnataka Minister for Muzrai Shashikala Jolle and Kalaburagi MP Umesh Jadhav,” he said.

“The state government has consented to the proposal. I thank Minister Shashikala Jolle who took lead like a sister to ensure, Muslim girls are educated.”

However, the development has created a furore in the state.

Hindu Jana Jagruthi Samithi leader Mohan Gowda said that if colleges are being built Muslim girls, then Hindu educational institutes should also come up.

Maintaining that the decision is against the principles of secularism and the constitution, Gowda warned that “if the government does not revert it, protests would be launched”.

Sri Rama Sena founder Pramod Muthalik has challenged the ruling state government against building the colleges, saying it won’t be allowed in the state.

“We never thought BJP would indulge in appeasement of Muslims ahead of the Assembly elections. This is a divisive rule and the colleges are opened in the backdrop of the hijab crisis. This would make students develop a divisive mindset,” he explained.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

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Bilkis Bano approaches Supreme Court to contest premature release of rape convicts

Survivor of Gujarat Riots Gang Rape Demands Justice, files petition against remission granted on August 15

30 Nov 2022

Bilkis bano

On November 30, Bilkis Bano approached the Supreme Court to contest the premature release of the 11 convicts who were given life sentences for the crime of gang rape and mass-murder during the Gujarat Riots in 2002. A writ petition has been filed by her, through Advocate Shobha Gupta, to the Supreme Court of India. Bilkis Bano has additionally filed a review petition in objection to the Supreme Court's ruling allowing the Gujarat Government to make a decision on the remission of the convicts.

Bilkis Bano's lawyer, advocate Shobha Gupta, mentioned the petitions before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud this morning. She questioned if the panel headed by Justice Ajay Rastogi, who wrote the prior ruling permitting Gujarat to determine the remission plea, would be able to hear the case because he is now in a Constitution Bench hearing. In response to this, CJI Chandrachud stated that "The review has to be heard first. Let it come before Justice Rastogi," as reported by LiveLaw.

When advocate Gupta submitted that the matter had to be heard in an open court, CJI added that "only the court can decide that," as reported by LiveLaw.

In response to advocate Gupta emphasizing on urgent listing of this case, the CJI then stated that that he will decide on the listing after looking into the matter this evening.

Brief background of the case:

During the communal violence that engulfed Gujarat in February- March 2002, in a particularly brutal attack, 14 members of Bilkis Bano’s family were killed, including Bano’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter whose head was smashed on a rock! On March 3, moving from one village to another, the group were spotted by gangs of men in two cars hunting for Muslims. At the time she was carrying Saleeha, her three-year-old daughter, in her arms. She recognised the men, mainly from her own village, who rushed towards her. They tore the child from her arms and smashed her head on the ground. The child died before her mother’s eyes. Three men gangraped the pregnant Bilkis. Her sister and cousin sister were also raped. One of them had given birth only the day before. The baby was with her. Every single one of the group of eight was killed including the baby. Bilkis, who had lost consciousness, was left for dead, but she survived.

After Bilkis Bano approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Supreme Court ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The accused were arrested in 2004 and the trial originally began in Ahmedabad. However, Bano expressed concerns about witness intimidation and evidence tampering and the case was transferred to Mumbai in August 2004. After a tortuous legal journey, the men were convicted by a special CBI court in January 2008. In 2017, the High Court upheld their conviction.

The order of remission:

After completing 14 years behind bars, Radheshyam Shah moved court for sentence remission. But the Gujarat High Court dismissed his plea stating the appropriate government to consider his plea under sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, was Maharashtra and not Gujarat. Then, Shah moved Supreme Court which ruled in May that Gujarat was the appropriate state to examine his plea. Besides, the presiding Judge who heard the trial in Mumbai after transfer, UD Salvi had also expressed his opinion against the remission.

A committee was formed to look into the plea for remission and according to Panchmahals collector Sujal Mayatra it “took a unanimous decision in favour of remission of all the 11 convicts in the case.” Both the Gujarat government and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) acceded to the request.

The convicts who were granted remission were: Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Mitesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Pradeep Mordhiya, and Ramesh Chandana. They are all residents of Randhikpur village located in Daud district of Gujarat. They were all known to Bilkis Bano and her family; while some were neighbours, others did business with her family. In May 2022, the Supreme Court bench of Justice Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath had held that Gujarat Government was the appropriate government to consider the remission in the case and directed that the remission applications be decided within two months. On August 15, 2022, as India was celebrating her 75th Independence Day, these convicts walked out of jail and were felicitated with garlands by their family and friends.

Outrage followed and many legal luminaries and civil society members also wondered how remission was granted for serious crimes like gang rape and mass murder. Justice UD Salvi, the judge who had convicted the eleven men, told Bar and Bench, “A very bad precedent has been set. This is wrong, I would say. Now, convicts in other gang rape cases would seek similar reliefs.” Then nearly 9,000 people from different walks of life in Mumbai participated in a signature campaign urging the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to reverse the decision to grant remissions.

Then an NDTV investigation revealed that at least five people on the Advisory Committee that recommended the release are allegedly connected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Citing an official document that lists the members of the advisory committee, NDTV said it included two BJP MLAs, a member of the BJP state executive committee and two others, who are also linked to the party.

Meanwhile, according to a report by journalist Barkha Dutt’s digital news platform Mojo Story, some of the eleven convicts were not living in their homes after their release. Families of some convicts said they were on pilgrimage, but none provided details of their whereabouts of when they would return. This is significant in light of the current hearings before the Supreme Court. If the court overturns the decision to grant remission, the men need to be traceable so that they can be re-imprisoned.

Petitions against the Remission:

On August 25, 2022, the Supreme Court bench comprising of the then Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath had issued notice to the state on the petition challenging the order of Gujarat Government allowing premature release of 11 convicts sentenced to life in the Bilkis Bano case for gangrape & murder. While Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal had narrated the grim facts of the case, relating to exodus of Muslim population, rampant incidents of rape and murders, etc., the counsel appearing for State of Gujarat on the other hand opposed the petition on ground of maintainability.

The order can be read here.

In October, 2022, the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court that it decided to release the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case on completion of their 14 years sentence as their "behaviour was found to be good". The approval for their release was granted despite opposition from a special court and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Gujarat government also submitted before the Supreme Court that it was the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that enabled the release of eleven men convicted in the Bilkis Bano case.

It is pertinent to note that one of the convicts, who was released by the Gujarat government on remission in the Bilkis Bano case, stands charge sheeted for outraging the modesty of a woman on June 19, 2020.

Mockery of Justice

Bilkis Bano case was and is among the rarest of rare case. Since March 2002, she has fought virtually alone in the most adverse of circumstances, helped mainly by a band of human rights activists, many of whom themselves became victims of the processes of injustice, precisely because of the help extended in cases like Bilkis’. After 20 years, Bilkis’s quest for justice is still not over. Today, a survivor of the most heinous crimes had to go to the court herself to demand justice, once again. It is not possible here to recount the dreadful story of her suffering. At every stage, her fight for justice has been destroyed, and her efforts trampled. The labour put in by multiple people, and the survivor herself, have come loose today. For securing women's rights in India, the pardons given to these convicts will have a long lasting effect. If, even the judiciary cannot defend the fundamental rights from excessive State power, then who will? If even conviction of a crime does not guarantee justice, then what will?

Related:

Bilkees Bano Case: Rejecting Appeals of 11 Accused Bombay High Court Upholds Convictions

‘Astonishing’, Need White Paper on Remission in Bilkis Bano: Justice Madan Lokur

Bilkis Bano case: SC orders copies of impleading petition to be given to convicts, State of Gujarat

Nearly 9,000 people participate in signature campaign to demand justice for Bilkis Bano

Bilkis Bano case: Convicts’ whereabouts unknown even as SC prepares to hear petitions challenging remission of sentences

Bilkis Bano case: SC issues notice in petition challenging remission of convicts’ sentences

Bilkis Bano case: Remission of convicts’ sentences challenged before SC

Bilkis Bano case: NHRC to discuss release of convicts?

A very bad precedent has been set: Judge who convicted 11 men in Bilkis Bano case

Over 6,000 Citizens Urge SC to Revoke Remission of Convicts in Bilkis Bano Case

Bereft of words, still numb: Bilkis Bano

Bilkis Bano case: Eleven people convicted of gang rape and murder freed

Bilkis Bano approaches Supreme Court to contest premature release of rape convicts

Survivor of Gujarat Riots Gang Rape Demands Justice, files petition against remission granted on August 15

Bilkis bano

On November 30, Bilkis Bano approached the Supreme Court to contest the premature release of the 11 convicts who were given life sentences for the crime of gang rape and mass-murder during the Gujarat Riots in 2002. A writ petition has been filed by her, through Advocate Shobha Gupta, to the Supreme Court of India. Bilkis Bano has additionally filed a review petition in objection to the Supreme Court's ruling allowing the Gujarat Government to make a decision on the remission of the convicts.

Bilkis Bano's lawyer, advocate Shobha Gupta, mentioned the petitions before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud this morning. She questioned if the panel headed by Justice Ajay Rastogi, who wrote the prior ruling permitting Gujarat to determine the remission plea, would be able to hear the case because he is now in a Constitution Bench hearing. In response to this, CJI Chandrachud stated that "The review has to be heard first. Let it come before Justice Rastogi," as reported by LiveLaw.

When advocate Gupta submitted that the matter had to be heard in an open court, CJI added that "only the court can decide that," as reported by LiveLaw.

In response to advocate Gupta emphasizing on urgent listing of this case, the CJI then stated that that he will decide on the listing after looking into the matter this evening.

Brief background of the case:

During the communal violence that engulfed Gujarat in February- March 2002, in a particularly brutal attack, 14 members of Bilkis Bano’s family were killed, including Bano’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter whose head was smashed on a rock! On March 3, moving from one village to another, the group were spotted by gangs of men in two cars hunting for Muslims. At the time she was carrying Saleeha, her three-year-old daughter, in her arms. She recognised the men, mainly from her own village, who rushed towards her. They tore the child from her arms and smashed her head on the ground. The child died before her mother’s eyes. Three men gangraped the pregnant Bilkis. Her sister and cousin sister were also raped. One of them had given birth only the day before. The baby was with her. Every single one of the group of eight was killed including the baby. Bilkis, who had lost consciousness, was left for dead, but she survived.

After Bilkis Bano approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Supreme Court ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The accused were arrested in 2004 and the trial originally began in Ahmedabad. However, Bano expressed concerns about witness intimidation and evidence tampering and the case was transferred to Mumbai in August 2004. After a tortuous legal journey, the men were convicted by a special CBI court in January 2008. In 2017, the High Court upheld their conviction.

The order of remission:

After completing 14 years behind bars, Radheshyam Shah moved court for sentence remission. But the Gujarat High Court dismissed his plea stating the appropriate government to consider his plea under sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, was Maharashtra and not Gujarat. Then, Shah moved Supreme Court which ruled in May that Gujarat was the appropriate state to examine his plea. Besides, the presiding Judge who heard the trial in Mumbai after transfer, UD Salvi had also expressed his opinion against the remission.

A committee was formed to look into the plea for remission and according to Panchmahals collector Sujal Mayatra it “took a unanimous decision in favour of remission of all the 11 convicts in the case.” Both the Gujarat government and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) acceded to the request.

The convicts who were granted remission were: Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Mitesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Pradeep Mordhiya, and Ramesh Chandana. They are all residents of Randhikpur village located in Daud district of Gujarat. They were all known to Bilkis Bano and her family; while some were neighbours, others did business with her family. In May 2022, the Supreme Court bench of Justice Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath had held that Gujarat Government was the appropriate government to consider the remission in the case and directed that the remission applications be decided within two months. On August 15, 2022, as India was celebrating her 75th Independence Day, these convicts walked out of jail and were felicitated with garlands by their family and friends.

Outrage followed and many legal luminaries and civil society members also wondered how remission was granted for serious crimes like gang rape and mass murder. Justice UD Salvi, the judge who had convicted the eleven men, told Bar and Bench, “A very bad precedent has been set. This is wrong, I would say. Now, convicts in other gang rape cases would seek similar reliefs.” Then nearly 9,000 people from different walks of life in Mumbai participated in a signature campaign urging the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to reverse the decision to grant remissions.

Then an NDTV investigation revealed that at least five people on the Advisory Committee that recommended the release are allegedly connected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Citing an official document that lists the members of the advisory committee, NDTV said it included two BJP MLAs, a member of the BJP state executive committee and two others, who are also linked to the party.

Meanwhile, according to a report by journalist Barkha Dutt’s digital news platform Mojo Story, some of the eleven convicts were not living in their homes after their release. Families of some convicts said they were on pilgrimage, but none provided details of their whereabouts of when they would return. This is significant in light of the current hearings before the Supreme Court. If the court overturns the decision to grant remission, the men need to be traceable so that they can be re-imprisoned.

Petitions against the Remission:

On August 25, 2022, the Supreme Court bench comprising of the then Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath had issued notice to the state on the petition challenging the order of Gujarat Government allowing premature release of 11 convicts sentenced to life in the Bilkis Bano case for gangrape & murder. While Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal had narrated the grim facts of the case, relating to exodus of Muslim population, rampant incidents of rape and murders, etc., the counsel appearing for State of Gujarat on the other hand opposed the petition on ground of maintainability.

The order can be read here.

In October, 2022, the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court that it decided to release the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case on completion of their 14 years sentence as their "behaviour was found to be good". The approval for their release was granted despite opposition from a special court and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Gujarat government also submitted before the Supreme Court that it was the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that enabled the release of eleven men convicted in the Bilkis Bano case.

It is pertinent to note that one of the convicts, who was released by the Gujarat government on remission in the Bilkis Bano case, stands charge sheeted for outraging the modesty of a woman on June 19, 2020.

Mockery of Justice

Bilkis Bano case was and is among the rarest of rare case. Since March 2002, she has fought virtually alone in the most adverse of circumstances, helped mainly by a band of human rights activists, many of whom themselves became victims of the processes of injustice, precisely because of the help extended in cases like Bilkis’. After 20 years, Bilkis’s quest for justice is still not over. Today, a survivor of the most heinous crimes had to go to the court herself to demand justice, once again. It is not possible here to recount the dreadful story of her suffering. At every stage, her fight for justice has been destroyed, and her efforts trampled. The labour put in by multiple people, and the survivor herself, have come loose today. For securing women's rights in India, the pardons given to these convicts will have a long lasting effect. If, even the judiciary cannot defend the fundamental rights from excessive State power, then who will? If even conviction of a crime does not guarantee justice, then what will?

Related:

Bilkees Bano Case: Rejecting Appeals of 11 Accused Bombay High Court Upholds Convictions

‘Astonishing’, Need White Paper on Remission in Bilkis Bano: Justice Madan Lokur

Bilkis Bano case: SC orders copies of impleading petition to be given to convicts, State of Gujarat

Nearly 9,000 people participate in signature campaign to demand justice for Bilkis Bano

Bilkis Bano case: Convicts’ whereabouts unknown even as SC prepares to hear petitions challenging remission of sentences

Bilkis Bano case: SC issues notice in petition challenging remission of convicts’ sentences

Bilkis Bano case: Remission of convicts’ sentences challenged before SC

Bilkis Bano case: NHRC to discuss release of convicts?

A very bad precedent has been set: Judge who convicted 11 men in Bilkis Bano case

Over 6,000 Citizens Urge SC to Revoke Remission of Convicts in Bilkis Bano Case

Bereft of words, still numb: Bilkis Bano

Bilkis Bano case: Eleven people convicted of gang rape and murder freed

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‘Not so serious’, says Karnataka education minister on teacher referring a student ‘Kasab’

None less than Karnataka’s Minister of School Education and Literacy B C Nagesh has shrugged off objectionable remarks by a teacher in Manipal while reacting to the recent controversy following an assistant professor allegedly referring to a student as "Kasab", felt that it is "not so serious".

30 Nov 2022

B Nagesh

BENGALURU: Karnataka’s minister of school education and literacy B C Nagesh dismissed prejudicial remarks by a teacher at an institute at Manipal while reacting to the recent controversy following an assistant professor allegedly referring to a student as "Kasab", felt that it is "not so serious". He asked why names from a particular community became a national issue, but names like "Ravana" or "Shakuni" which are so commonly used for referring, does not become an issue at all.

If politicians calling each other names like "Ravana" and "Shakuni" don't become an issue, there's no reason why an assistant professor allegedly referring to a student as "Kasab" should be a big deal, Karnataka primary and secondary education minister B C Nagesh said on Tuesday about the outrage sparked by the incident at Manipal Institute of Technology.

Nagesh told reporters that the teacher, seen in a video that went viral, alluding to the student as a terrorist and then facing an outburst that forced him to apologise, shouldn't have said what he did. "But it is just politics to appeal to a vote bank," he said, referring to the controversy that erupted even after both sides decided to bury it.

The Karnataka-based institute issued an official condemnation of the remark, besides barring the teacher from the classroom for now. "Even in the assembly, we have spoken like this many times. It doesn't become an issue. When someone speaks about Kasab, it becomes one. Why?'" Nagesh said.

In the video, recorded by a witness, the unnamed teacher is seen defending his remark as "a joke" when confronted by the student. "26/11 isn't funny. Being Muslim and facing such things in this country isn't funny. How can you label me a terrorist in front of everyone in the class? 'Sorry' alone won't help, sir," the student says.

After the assistant professor insisted he didn't mean to brand the student a terrorist, the latter shoots back, "Will you talk to your son like that? Will you call him by the name of a terrorist?" 

It is unfortunate, the incident shouldn't have taken place, the teacher should not have used that name. But I also feel that it is not such (a) serious thing, because we use the name of Ravana for many students many times, we also use the name of Shakuni many times, but that doesn't become an issue at all," Nagesh said. Speaking to reporters, he said, "Why the name of (a person) who belongs to a particular community becomes an issue, I don't know. Though the issue has been taken seriously and action has been taken against the teacher. But, why some names become a national issue, I cannot understand."

It was on Monday, November 28, that a video showing an assistant professor in Manipal calling a student by the name “Kasab”, and the student countering it, had gone viral. Later, the professor tendered an apology. The video had gone viral on social media, and the university has debarred the faculty from classes. 

Related:

Manipal University suspends professor who made “terrorist” jibe at student

Being a Muslim in this country and facing this every day is not funny

‘Not so serious’, says Karnataka education minister on teacher referring a student ‘Kasab’

None less than Karnataka’s Minister of School Education and Literacy B C Nagesh has shrugged off objectionable remarks by a teacher in Manipal while reacting to the recent controversy following an assistant professor allegedly referring to a student as "Kasab", felt that it is "not so serious".

B Nagesh

BENGALURU: Karnataka’s minister of school education and literacy B C Nagesh dismissed prejudicial remarks by a teacher at an institute at Manipal while reacting to the recent controversy following an assistant professor allegedly referring to a student as "Kasab", felt that it is "not so serious". He asked why names from a particular community became a national issue, but names like "Ravana" or "Shakuni" which are so commonly used for referring, does not become an issue at all.

If politicians calling each other names like "Ravana" and "Shakuni" don't become an issue, there's no reason why an assistant professor allegedly referring to a student as "Kasab" should be a big deal, Karnataka primary and secondary education minister B C Nagesh said on Tuesday about the outrage sparked by the incident at Manipal Institute of Technology.

Nagesh told reporters that the teacher, seen in a video that went viral, alluding to the student as a terrorist and then facing an outburst that forced him to apologise, shouldn't have said what he did. "But it is just politics to appeal to a vote bank," he said, referring to the controversy that erupted even after both sides decided to bury it.

The Karnataka-based institute issued an official condemnation of the remark, besides barring the teacher from the classroom for now. "Even in the assembly, we have spoken like this many times. It doesn't become an issue. When someone speaks about Kasab, it becomes one. Why?'" Nagesh said.

In the video, recorded by a witness, the unnamed teacher is seen defending his remark as "a joke" when confronted by the student. "26/11 isn't funny. Being Muslim and facing such things in this country isn't funny. How can you label me a terrorist in front of everyone in the class? 'Sorry' alone won't help, sir," the student says.

After the assistant professor insisted he didn't mean to brand the student a terrorist, the latter shoots back, "Will you talk to your son like that? Will you call him by the name of a terrorist?" 

It is unfortunate, the incident shouldn't have taken place, the teacher should not have used that name. But I also feel that it is not such (a) serious thing, because we use the name of Ravana for many students many times, we also use the name of Shakuni many times, but that doesn't become an issue at all," Nagesh said. Speaking to reporters, he said, "Why the name of (a person) who belongs to a particular community becomes an issue, I don't know. Though the issue has been taken seriously and action has been taken against the teacher. But, why some names become a national issue, I cannot understand."

It was on Monday, November 28, that a video showing an assistant professor in Manipal calling a student by the name “Kasab”, and the student countering it, had gone viral. Later, the professor tendered an apology. The video had gone viral on social media, and the university has debarred the faculty from classes. 

Related:

Manipal University suspends professor who made “terrorist” jibe at student

Being a Muslim in this country and facing this every day is not funny

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Hindu state by 2025? BJP-RSS 'will have no qualms' in changing basics of Constitution

30 Nov 2022

hindutva

It was ‘Constitution Day’ once again on 26 November, as the nation remembered with profound gratitude the day in 1949, on which the Constituent Assembly ‘adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves’ a meaningful Constitution.

The day was also a reminder that ‘Constitution Day’ for the citizens of India cannot be relegated to just one day- it has to be observed every single day; and secondly, the Constitution belongs to ‘we, the people of India’ and we should never allow it to be desecrated by anyone at any time!

Setting the tone for the day, was a momentous address delivered by the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud in the Supreme Court of India. CJI Chandrachud who took over the reins of the Apex Court just a couple of weeks earlier began his address by stating that the Constitution of India was a social contract between those historically in power and those who had been marginalised.

Highlighting the need to enhance the representation of marginalised communities in the legal profession, he said:
“The story of the Indian constitution is not just a story of legal text but is a story of human struggles and sacrifices, on undoing the injustices against the marginalised communities of society– the women, the Dalits and the disabled. The marginalised were the first to bring ideas or equality and liberty in the Indian law. The first wave of resistance against colonial power came from indigenous communities.”

He went on to add:
“It is essential that the judiciary reaches out to the people and not to expect the people to reach out to the judiciary. The infrastructure of technology must not be dismantled. Though the Supreme Court is located at Tilak Marg, it is the Supreme Court for the entire nation.

"The virtual access has made it possible for lawyers to argue cases from their own places. As a CJI, I am looking to adopt technology in listing of cases and court hearings, which will help to weed out institutional flaws such as delay in listing and hearing.”

In doing so, he gave a clearly direction to the judiciary and of course reiterated the fact that the Constitution belongs to ‘we the people of India!’
This address was not a one-off from CJI Chandrachud! In February 2019, delivering the Justice KT Desai Memorial Lecture at the Bombay High Court on ‘Why Constitution Matters’, he strongly said:

“The people who work the constitution may go terribly wrong and sometimes they do as when we jail a cartoonist for sedition or when jail instead of bail is given to a blogger who is critical of our religious architecture. When a mob lynches a person for the food that she or he eats it is the constitution which is lynched.

“When we deny to human beings the power of lover for reasons of religion or caste it is the constitution which is made to weep. That is exactly what happened yesterday when a groom belonging to the Dalit community was asked to climb down from a horse in a wedding procession. Let’s make no two bones about it. It is the constitution which weeps when we read of such incidents”.

A year later, in February 2020 striking a similar note at the Justice P.D. Desai Memorial Lecture at the Gujarat High Court, he said:
“When the Constituent Assembly was called to decide the fate of separate electorates in independent India, they decided that its inclusion was not essential to and even contrary to the requirements of a pluralistic society.

“They rejected separate electorates and dismissed the relevance of numerical disadvantage in a polity. The framers of the Constitution rejected the notion of a Hindu India and a Muslim India. They recognised only the Republic of India…

“Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while democratically elected governments offer us a legitimate tool for development and social coordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society… Inherent in the liberal promise of the Constitution is a commitment to a plurality of opinion.

“A legitimate government committed to deliberate dialogue does not seek to restrict political contestation but welcomes it…. taking democracy seriously requires us to respond respectfully to the intelligence of others and to participate vigorously, but as an equal in determining how we should live together.”
All this was in the wake of massive anti-CAA protests all over India!

Interestingly, in August 2022, just three months before he became CJI, Justice Chandrachud at the 11th Convocation Ceremony of the OP Jindal Global University Delhi said:

“Our constitutional culture does not maintain itself. It is for each one of us citizens to participate in the slow but vital task every day of transforming our Constitution from a charter of ideals to a reflection of reality… The judiciary has a greater role to play in promoting social democracy. However, the quest for a constitutional culture is not limited to the courtroom or black letter of the law.”

Invoking Dr BR Ambedkar, he described social democracy as a way of life that recognizes social liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.
CJI Chandrachud seems to be wedded to ‘Constitution Matters’ and rightly so, which should be a non-negotiable for anyone professing to be part of the legal fraternity. Seventy-three years ago on 26 November 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted and gave to “we, the people” a landmark Constitution which is the only sacred book of every Indian citizen; it is a bulwark of fundamental rights and directive principles, which are a prerequisite for any healthy democracy.

The Preamble, with its emphasis on justice, liberty, equality and fraternity and its commitment to India being and remaining a ‘sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’ spells out the vision and the intrinsic character of a unique Constitution.

Thanks to the vision of the women and men of the Constituent Assembly, we can take genuine pride in a Constitution which is forward-looking and all-embracing and which respects the pluralistic fabric of the country.

After many years of having and being guided by a masterpiece of a Constitution, unbelievable events have been unfolding in India in the recent past. Since 2014, the sanctity of the Constitution is being systematically destroyed and CJI Chandrachud has been on-target referring to them and for the need of judicial reform.

The current regime seems to have left no stone unturned to destroy the independence and the autonomous functioning of several Constitutional and other statutory bodies. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) the National Investigating Agency (NIA) have become ‘caged parrots.

The army has been compromised and the police have been taught to kowtow to those who have rendered them spineless! All these agencies, together with the Income Tax Department, are systematically used (rather, abused) to throttle voices of dissent and anyone who stands up for truth and justice! The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is browbeaten to bend backwards to cater to the whims and fancies of a Government that has sent the country into a downward economic spiral!

Media, the fourth pillar of a vibrant democracy, has been made largely impotent, completely godified! Other important bodies, like the Information Commission, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and even the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) have been made toothless and filled with pliable henchmen!

The Election Commission of India has become a pawn in the hands of the Government. On 24 November, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice KM Joseph, reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking a collegium-like system for the appointment of ECs and the Chief Election Commissioner and asked the parties to file written submission in five days.

During the hearing the bench made some strong remarks questioning if the Election Commission was actually an independent body. It had a pointed "hypothesis" for the central government: “Do you think the Election Commissioner... if he's asked to take on none less than the Prime Minister -- it's just an example -- and he doesn't come around to doing it: Will it not be a case of complete breakdown of the system?”

Ambedkar insisted on giving up the grammar of anarchy, avoiding hero-worship, and  work towards a social – not just political – democracy

The Apex Court said the Election Commission is "supposed to be completely insulated", and referred to how the government had spoken of appointing “a man of character"; it noted that, "character consists of various components... one particular characteristic required is independence".

The current Election Commission has demonstrated how partial it is : instead of announcing the dates of voting to the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Assemblies at the same time, it deferred the announcing of the Gujarat election dates till early November, only after the Prime Minister had completed his manipulative tasks of ribbon-cutting and inauguration of some populist schemes in Gujarat!

There are several other efforts being made to tamper with the Constitution, to negate its essence (justice, liberty, equality and fraternity) and to destroy some of the key dimensions of its democratic framework (sovereign, secular socialist), which are deeply interwoven into the pluralistic fabric of Indian society.

The current BJP/RSS combine, including some of their ministers and leading functionaries have often gone on record saying that once they have the pre-requisite numbers in Parliament, they will have no qualms of conscience to change fundamentals of the Constitution like that of ‘secularism’ and equal rights for all.

There are consistent proclamations for the establishment of a ‘Hindu State’ by 2025 (the centenary of the RSS); the annihilation of the minorities particularly the Muslims and Christians; ‘lynching’ of minorities is the ‘new normal’. There is talk of a ‘Common Civil Code’, of a national anti-conversion law and that the rights of the minorities guaranteed in the Constitution should be scrapped immediately!

There is the anti-Constitutional Citizenship Amendment Act; the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A where Kashmir is concerned.; labour codes which favour the corporates; thanks to the farmers agitation, the anti-farmer policies, are for the time being, in cold storage. The proposed Adani port in Vizhinjam Kerala will affect the livelihood of more than 56,000 fisher folk!

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is used selectively to target dissenters and human rights defenders who stand up for truth and justice on behalf of the exploited and excluded of the country! Governors of States, instead of safe-guarding the Constitution, have begun ‘yes-men’ of the regime! The list of anti-Constitutional policies and acts are endless!

On the eve of the enactment of the Constitution, 25 November 1949, in a passionate speech to the Constituent Assembly, Dr BR Ambedkar, the father of our Constitution, gave three unambiguous warnings: the need to give up the grammar of anarchy, to avoid hero-worship, and to work towards a social – not just a political – democracy!

Ambedkar was, at that time, perhaps visioning what India could become in 2022, and how these three aspects could not only destroy all that was sacred in the Constitution, but could result in the dismantling of the democratic framework which a new resurgent India was just born into and committed to!
Ambedkar said:

“If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives…. where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for (..) unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.

“The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

“The third thing we must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it, social democracy”.
Ambedkar added:

Will history repeat itself? It is this thought, which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realisation of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds, we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or above their country?

“I do not know, but this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we all must resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood!”
Ambedkar’s final words in that path breaking speech, sums up his views on the measure of responsibility owed to preserve the idea of India, as envisioned in the Constitution:

“If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principle of Government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer Government for the people to Government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them. . That is the only way to serve the country. I know of no better.”

“We, the People of India”, must pledge to and actually fight the fascist and fundamental forces who are destroying the sanctity of our Constitution. We can no longer sit in silence and in our comfort zones; we must rise as one people: our Constitution is all that matters; it belongs to us! In the words of Ambedkar “we are determined to defend it with the last drop of our blood”!

*Human rights & peace activist/writer

Courtesy: https://www.counterview.net

Hindu state by 2025? BJP-RSS 'will have no qualms' in changing basics of Constitution

hindutva

It was ‘Constitution Day’ once again on 26 November, as the nation remembered with profound gratitude the day in 1949, on which the Constituent Assembly ‘adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves’ a meaningful Constitution.

The day was also a reminder that ‘Constitution Day’ for the citizens of India cannot be relegated to just one day- it has to be observed every single day; and secondly, the Constitution belongs to ‘we, the people of India’ and we should never allow it to be desecrated by anyone at any time!

Setting the tone for the day, was a momentous address delivered by the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud in the Supreme Court of India. CJI Chandrachud who took over the reins of the Apex Court just a couple of weeks earlier began his address by stating that the Constitution of India was a social contract between those historically in power and those who had been marginalised.

Highlighting the need to enhance the representation of marginalised communities in the legal profession, he said:
“The story of the Indian constitution is not just a story of legal text but is a story of human struggles and sacrifices, on undoing the injustices against the marginalised communities of society– the women, the Dalits and the disabled. The marginalised were the first to bring ideas or equality and liberty in the Indian law. The first wave of resistance against colonial power came from indigenous communities.”

He went on to add:
“It is essential that the judiciary reaches out to the people and not to expect the people to reach out to the judiciary. The infrastructure of technology must not be dismantled. Though the Supreme Court is located at Tilak Marg, it is the Supreme Court for the entire nation.

"The virtual access has made it possible for lawyers to argue cases from their own places. As a CJI, I am looking to adopt technology in listing of cases and court hearings, which will help to weed out institutional flaws such as delay in listing and hearing.”

In doing so, he gave a clearly direction to the judiciary and of course reiterated the fact that the Constitution belongs to ‘we the people of India!’
This address was not a one-off from CJI Chandrachud! In February 2019, delivering the Justice KT Desai Memorial Lecture at the Bombay High Court on ‘Why Constitution Matters’, he strongly said:

“The people who work the constitution may go terribly wrong and sometimes they do as when we jail a cartoonist for sedition or when jail instead of bail is given to a blogger who is critical of our religious architecture. When a mob lynches a person for the food that she or he eats it is the constitution which is lynched.

“When we deny to human beings the power of lover for reasons of religion or caste it is the constitution which is made to weep. That is exactly what happened yesterday when a groom belonging to the Dalit community was asked to climb down from a horse in a wedding procession. Let’s make no two bones about it. It is the constitution which weeps when we read of such incidents”.

A year later, in February 2020 striking a similar note at the Justice P.D. Desai Memorial Lecture at the Gujarat High Court, he said:
“When the Constituent Assembly was called to decide the fate of separate electorates in independent India, they decided that its inclusion was not essential to and even contrary to the requirements of a pluralistic society.

“They rejected separate electorates and dismissed the relevance of numerical disadvantage in a polity. The framers of the Constitution rejected the notion of a Hindu India and a Muslim India. They recognised only the Republic of India…

“Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while democratically elected governments offer us a legitimate tool for development and social coordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society… Inherent in the liberal promise of the Constitution is a commitment to a plurality of opinion.

“A legitimate government committed to deliberate dialogue does not seek to restrict political contestation but welcomes it…. taking democracy seriously requires us to respond respectfully to the intelligence of others and to participate vigorously, but as an equal in determining how we should live together.”
All this was in the wake of massive anti-CAA protests all over India!

Interestingly, in August 2022, just three months before he became CJI, Justice Chandrachud at the 11th Convocation Ceremony of the OP Jindal Global University Delhi said:

“Our constitutional culture does not maintain itself. It is for each one of us citizens to participate in the slow but vital task every day of transforming our Constitution from a charter of ideals to a reflection of reality… The judiciary has a greater role to play in promoting social democracy. However, the quest for a constitutional culture is not limited to the courtroom or black letter of the law.”

Invoking Dr BR Ambedkar, he described social democracy as a way of life that recognizes social liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.
CJI Chandrachud seems to be wedded to ‘Constitution Matters’ and rightly so, which should be a non-negotiable for anyone professing to be part of the legal fraternity. Seventy-three years ago on 26 November 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted and gave to “we, the people” a landmark Constitution which is the only sacred book of every Indian citizen; it is a bulwark of fundamental rights and directive principles, which are a prerequisite for any healthy democracy.

The Preamble, with its emphasis on justice, liberty, equality and fraternity and its commitment to India being and remaining a ‘sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’ spells out the vision and the intrinsic character of a unique Constitution.

Thanks to the vision of the women and men of the Constituent Assembly, we can take genuine pride in a Constitution which is forward-looking and all-embracing and which respects the pluralistic fabric of the country.

After many years of having and being guided by a masterpiece of a Constitution, unbelievable events have been unfolding in India in the recent past. Since 2014, the sanctity of the Constitution is being systematically destroyed and CJI Chandrachud has been on-target referring to them and for the need of judicial reform.

The current regime seems to have left no stone unturned to destroy the independence and the autonomous functioning of several Constitutional and other statutory bodies. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) the National Investigating Agency (NIA) have become ‘caged parrots.

The army has been compromised and the police have been taught to kowtow to those who have rendered them spineless! All these agencies, together with the Income Tax Department, are systematically used (rather, abused) to throttle voices of dissent and anyone who stands up for truth and justice! The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is browbeaten to bend backwards to cater to the whims and fancies of a Government that has sent the country into a downward economic spiral!

Media, the fourth pillar of a vibrant democracy, has been made largely impotent, completely godified! Other important bodies, like the Information Commission, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and even the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) have been made toothless and filled with pliable henchmen!

The Election Commission of India has become a pawn in the hands of the Government. On 24 November, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice KM Joseph, reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking a collegium-like system for the appointment of ECs and the Chief Election Commissioner and asked the parties to file written submission in five days.

During the hearing the bench made some strong remarks questioning if the Election Commission was actually an independent body. It had a pointed "hypothesis" for the central government: “Do you think the Election Commissioner... if he's asked to take on none less than the Prime Minister -- it's just an example -- and he doesn't come around to doing it: Will it not be a case of complete breakdown of the system?”

Ambedkar insisted on giving up the grammar of anarchy, avoiding hero-worship, and  work towards a social – not just political – democracy

The Apex Court said the Election Commission is "supposed to be completely insulated", and referred to how the government had spoken of appointing “a man of character"; it noted that, "character consists of various components... one particular characteristic required is independence".

The current Election Commission has demonstrated how partial it is : instead of announcing the dates of voting to the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Assemblies at the same time, it deferred the announcing of the Gujarat election dates till early November, only after the Prime Minister had completed his manipulative tasks of ribbon-cutting and inauguration of some populist schemes in Gujarat!

There are several other efforts being made to tamper with the Constitution, to negate its essence (justice, liberty, equality and fraternity) and to destroy some of the key dimensions of its democratic framework (sovereign, secular socialist), which are deeply interwoven into the pluralistic fabric of Indian society.

The current BJP/RSS combine, including some of their ministers and leading functionaries have often gone on record saying that once they have the pre-requisite numbers in Parliament, they will have no qualms of conscience to change fundamentals of the Constitution like that of ‘secularism’ and equal rights for all.

There are consistent proclamations for the establishment of a ‘Hindu State’ by 2025 (the centenary of the RSS); the annihilation of the minorities particularly the Muslims and Christians; ‘lynching’ of minorities is the ‘new normal’. There is talk of a ‘Common Civil Code’, of a national anti-conversion law and that the rights of the minorities guaranteed in the Constitution should be scrapped immediately!

There is the anti-Constitutional Citizenship Amendment Act; the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A where Kashmir is concerned.; labour codes which favour the corporates; thanks to the farmers agitation, the anti-farmer policies, are for the time being, in cold storage. The proposed Adani port in Vizhinjam Kerala will affect the livelihood of more than 56,000 fisher folk!

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is used selectively to target dissenters and human rights defenders who stand up for truth and justice on behalf of the exploited and excluded of the country! Governors of States, instead of safe-guarding the Constitution, have begun ‘yes-men’ of the regime! The list of anti-Constitutional policies and acts are endless!

On the eve of the enactment of the Constitution, 25 November 1949, in a passionate speech to the Constituent Assembly, Dr BR Ambedkar, the father of our Constitution, gave three unambiguous warnings: the need to give up the grammar of anarchy, to avoid hero-worship, and to work towards a social – not just a political – democracy!

Ambedkar was, at that time, perhaps visioning what India could become in 2022, and how these three aspects could not only destroy all that was sacred in the Constitution, but could result in the dismantling of the democratic framework which a new resurgent India was just born into and committed to!
Ambedkar said:

“If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives…. where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for (..) unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.

“The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

“The third thing we must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it, social democracy”.
Ambedkar added:

Will history repeat itself? It is this thought, which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realisation of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds, we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or above their country?

“I do not know, but this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we all must resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood!”
Ambedkar’s final words in that path breaking speech, sums up his views on the measure of responsibility owed to preserve the idea of India, as envisioned in the Constitution:

“If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principle of Government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer Government for the people to Government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them. . That is the only way to serve the country. I know of no better.”

“We, the People of India”, must pledge to and actually fight the fascist and fundamental forces who are destroying the sanctity of our Constitution. We can no longer sit in silence and in our comfort zones; we must rise as one people: our Constitution is all that matters; it belongs to us! In the words of Ambedkar “we are determined to defend it with the last drop of our blood”!

*Human rights & peace activist/writer

Courtesy: https://www.counterview.net

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IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

While Israeli consulate has apologized, the jury chair found it “disturbing” that the movie was in the competitive section

29 Nov 2022

IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

Israeli filmmaker and jury chair Nadav Lapid’s comments about Kashmir Files being ‘propaganda’ has caused waves. The comments were made at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2022). The foreign filmmaker claimed that Vivek Agnihotri's film had the vibe of a "propaganda, vulgar movie." He continued by saying that he was "disturbed and startled" that the movie was included in the festival's competitive category.

In a video from the event, which has now gone viral on social media, Nadav Lapid can be heard saying, “We were, all of us, disturbed and shocked by the 15th film: The Kashmir Files. That felt to us like propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is to accept also a critical discussion which is essential for art and for life.”

The video can be seen here: 

 

 

The statement had led to an uproar amongst the cast and supporters of the movie, and even stirred an upheaval in the central government, whose Ministers had openly promoted the said movie, which portrays the exodus of Kashmiri Pundits in the 1990s and allegedly holds Muslims solely accountable for the persecution of Hindus in the hill state. Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, and Pallavi Joshi play the film's three main characters under the direction of Vivek Agnihotri. The film has received accolades from the government in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah both praising the acting and the storyline. Additionally, most of the states governed by the BJP proclaimed the movie tax-free.

The Kashmir Files, which was screened at the festival last week, was released in theaters on March 11. The movie revolves around the killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 from the valley. While the film was a hit in India, many critics have criticized it and called out for its alleged propagandist tone.

Following the controversy, Israel’s Consul General to Midwest Kobbi Shoshani expressed his contrasting views on the film. He took to Twitter and wrote, “I saw the Kashmir files and met the cast. I have a different opinion than Nadav Lapid. After his speech, I told Nadav my opinion.” He also mentioned that he had been systematically trolled by supporters  of the film since last night. 

BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya is one amongst the man who got offended by the remarks and responded via twitter that, "Israel's Ambassador responds to compatriot filmmaker Nadav Lapid's criticism of Kashmir Files. For the longest time, people even denied the Holocaust and called Schindler's List a propaganda, just like some are doing to Kashmir Files."

Referring to Nadav’s remarks, Anupam Kher, who received praise for his role in the movie, tweeted that “No matter how high the height of the lie is. It is always small in comparison to the truth.” He attached pictures from the movie with his tweet.

Meanwhile, Ashoke Pandit also slammed Nadav’s remarks. “I take strong objection to the language used by Mr Nadav Lapid for #kashmirFiles. Depicting the genocide of 3 lakh #KashmiriHindus cannot be called vulgar. I as a filmmaker & a #KashmiriPandit condemn this shameless act of abuse towards victims of terrorism.”

Incidents of hate instigated by Kashmir Files

Media reports of people exiting the theatre showed how people were moved by the performances, regardless of the distortion of facts used to tell the story. Some people said that Indian Hindus must watch the movie that has told a truth hidden by the liberal groups. 

However, the mood soon started getting heated inside the theatre halls where goons resorted to chanting slogans that often took an anti-Muslim hue.

Sanjay Tickoo of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) had spoken out against the rank divisive propaganda in the film, while stressing the targeted violence faced by the Pandit Valley in Kashmir in the 1990s.

One Twitter used Rohit Bishnoi shared a video clip where people yelled “Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro s***on ko” (Translation: Shoot the traitors) inside the hall, reiterating the words of hate-offenders who had originally given the call during Delhi elections, and more recently, BJP leader C.T. Ravi.

Genocide calls rung out in cinema halls, after the screening of The Kashmir Files. It was perhaps for the first time that open calls of hate against Muslims are being given in a public place. Video after video shows how some people rise after each show, in different cities, and claim that the movie has “revealed the truth to them.” Many have gone on to say that the movie is a “warning to Hindus to be careful” as if to indicate that Hindus are in danger. "Hindu khatre mein hain" was the slogan the Hindutva groups have been raising for years, even decades...

Video of one such incident can be seen here: (20) Kavita Krishnan on Twitter: "Calls for genocide of Muslims in theatres following the screening of #KashmirFiles. Will the film’s makers, actors, admirers including the PM appeal against such calls? You know the answer." / Twitter

 “The Kashmir Files makes resident Kashmiri Pandits unsafe,” the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) had said at the time. The group had been closely observing the hate generated online and offline soon after the Bollywood movie was released. The Samiti is an organisation that has for decades worked to address the concerns of resident Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus who have stayed back in the Valley.

Previous Criticisms of Kashmir Files

Singapore banned ‘The Kashmir files’, reportedly over its ‘proactive and one-sided portrayal’ of Muslims in Kashmir. The city-state's officials fear it could provoke religious and ethnic tensions.

Veteran actor Nana Patekar had stated in an interview that this “is not right”, he stressed a message of communal harmony, pointing out that Hindus and Muslims live peacefully and harmoniously in India. He argued that people of both religions live here and the making and showing of such movies spoils the environment.

Actor Adil Hussain too expressed his views about the movie on Twitter. In his post, he said, “Truth must be spoken! No doubt about it. But must be spoken Tenderly. Else purpose of speaking the truth loses its beauty. And the impact is reactive.Not responsive. We, for sure, don't want to fuel a reactive society but nourish a responve-sible one. Art Should not be reactive.”

Actress Swara Bhaskar and Gauhar Khan had also tweeted against the propaganda promoted in this movie. All the critics, mentioned above and more, were heavily targeted by the Right Wingers and suffered trolls.

In addition to this, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti had further condemned the manner in which the BJP had promoted this movie, especially Union Ministers. She had accused the ruling regime of weaponising Kashmiri Pandits’ pain and tearing apart old wounds. Another politician from the Opposition decrying the movie was Karnataka Rajya Sabha MP and Congress member Jairam Ramesh. He had described the movie as one inciting hate and propaganda.

Calls for genocide on social media

On March 20, 2022 Hindutva propagandist using the alias ‘Kattar Hindu’ on social media openly called for Islamic genocide. Citing a particularly gory scene in The Kashmir Files wherein a woman was made to eat grains soaked with her husband’s blood called upon “Hindus” to avenge the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits.

Using caustic language, he had instigated people to kill all “from young ones to old”. Making an ironic statement that he loves the country, he called upon people to wipe out the Indian Muslim community once and for all. He urged people to harass Muslims in any way possible stating that there is no need for a brotherly feeling among the two communities – once again, a singular statement considering the Indian Constitution’s endorsement of secularism.

Instead, he told his followed to abuse Muslims, sexually assault Muslim women of all ages, harass and torture them until they are forced to leave India.

“We won’t let them run from the country and we won’t let them live in the country. You all start harassing them,” he said in a video that has since been taken down from social media platforms. To top it all, he asked people not to engage in harassment publicly, openly accepting that the administration will arrest people because “the country is free and works on constitutional laws.” He further said, “The government will be forced to arrest you. Don’t do it openly. Think about whom you can target in a way that it doesn’t seem like you’re harassing them but they in fact do get harassed.” 

With this, Kattar Hindu not only owned up to the illegality of the actions demanded, but also that such actions go against the constitutional sentiments of India. And despite all this, he encouraged people to message him if they could not think of ways of harassment. In the video he also threatened to slaughter 6-month-old Muslim babies into two pieces and give one each to their parents.

 

Related:

The Kashmir Files: Calls for Muslim genocide ring out in cinema halls, hate brews outside

The Kashmir Files making resident Kashmiri Pandits feel unsafe

The Kashmir Files backed by PM, FM, CMs; continues to fuel divide

Hate floods in the wake of ‘The Kashmir Files’

Kashmiri Pandits refute communal claims made in The Kashmir Files

Govt to Blame, Where is Security for KP Families in Valley, Asks Sanjay Tickoo, KPSS

 

IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

While Israeli consulate has apologized, the jury chair found it “disturbing” that the movie was in the competitive section

IFFI jury chair outraged over inclusion of “Kashmir Files”; calls it propaganda

Israeli filmmaker and jury chair Nadav Lapid’s comments about Kashmir Files being ‘propaganda’ has caused waves. The comments were made at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2022). The foreign filmmaker claimed that Vivek Agnihotri's film had the vibe of a "propaganda, vulgar movie." He continued by saying that he was "disturbed and startled" that the movie was included in the festival's competitive category.

In a video from the event, which has now gone viral on social media, Nadav Lapid can be heard saying, “We were, all of us, disturbed and shocked by the 15th film: The Kashmir Files. That felt to us like propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is to accept also a critical discussion which is essential for art and for life.”

The video can be seen here: 

 

 

The statement had led to an uproar amongst the cast and supporters of the movie, and even stirred an upheaval in the central government, whose Ministers had openly promoted the said movie, which portrays the exodus of Kashmiri Pundits in the 1990s and allegedly holds Muslims solely accountable for the persecution of Hindus in the hill state. Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, and Pallavi Joshi play the film's three main characters under the direction of Vivek Agnihotri. The film has received accolades from the government in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah both praising the acting and the storyline. Additionally, most of the states governed by the BJP proclaimed the movie tax-free.

The Kashmir Files, which was screened at the festival last week, was released in theaters on March 11. The movie revolves around the killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 from the valley. While the film was a hit in India, many critics have criticized it and called out for its alleged propagandist tone.

Following the controversy, Israel’s Consul General to Midwest Kobbi Shoshani expressed his contrasting views on the film. He took to Twitter and wrote, “I saw the Kashmir files and met the cast. I have a different opinion than Nadav Lapid. After his speech, I told Nadav my opinion.” He also mentioned that he had been systematically trolled by supporters  of the film since last night. 

BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya is one amongst the man who got offended by the remarks and responded via twitter that, "Israel's Ambassador responds to compatriot filmmaker Nadav Lapid's criticism of Kashmir Files. For the longest time, people even denied the Holocaust and called Schindler's List a propaganda, just like some are doing to Kashmir Files."

Referring to Nadav’s remarks, Anupam Kher, who received praise for his role in the movie, tweeted that “No matter how high the height of the lie is. It is always small in comparison to the truth.” He attached pictures from the movie with his tweet.

Meanwhile, Ashoke Pandit also slammed Nadav’s remarks. “I take strong objection to the language used by Mr Nadav Lapid for #kashmirFiles. Depicting the genocide of 3 lakh #KashmiriHindus cannot be called vulgar. I as a filmmaker & a #KashmiriPandit condemn this shameless act of abuse towards victims of terrorism.”

Incidents of hate instigated by Kashmir Files

Media reports of people exiting the theatre showed how people were moved by the performances, regardless of the distortion of facts used to tell the story. Some people said that Indian Hindus must watch the movie that has told a truth hidden by the liberal groups. 

However, the mood soon started getting heated inside the theatre halls where goons resorted to chanting slogans that often took an anti-Muslim hue.

Sanjay Tickoo of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) had spoken out against the rank divisive propaganda in the film, while stressing the targeted violence faced by the Pandit Valley in Kashmir in the 1990s.

One Twitter used Rohit Bishnoi shared a video clip where people yelled “Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro s***on ko” (Translation: Shoot the traitors) inside the hall, reiterating the words of hate-offenders who had originally given the call during Delhi elections, and more recently, BJP leader C.T. Ravi.

Genocide calls rung out in cinema halls, after the screening of The Kashmir Files. It was perhaps for the first time that open calls of hate against Muslims are being given in a public place. Video after video shows how some people rise after each show, in different cities, and claim that the movie has “revealed the truth to them.” Many have gone on to say that the movie is a “warning to Hindus to be careful” as if to indicate that Hindus are in danger. "Hindu khatre mein hain" was the slogan the Hindutva groups have been raising for years, even decades...

Video of one such incident can be seen here: (20) Kavita Krishnan on Twitter: "Calls for genocide of Muslims in theatres following the screening of #KashmirFiles. Will the film’s makers, actors, admirers including the PM appeal against such calls? You know the answer." / Twitter

 “The Kashmir Files makes resident Kashmiri Pandits unsafe,” the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) had said at the time. The group had been closely observing the hate generated online and offline soon after the Bollywood movie was released. The Samiti is an organisation that has for decades worked to address the concerns of resident Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus who have stayed back in the Valley.

Previous Criticisms of Kashmir Files

Singapore banned ‘The Kashmir files’, reportedly over its ‘proactive and one-sided portrayal’ of Muslims in Kashmir. The city-state's officials fear it could provoke religious and ethnic tensions.

Veteran actor Nana Patekar had stated in an interview that this “is not right”, he stressed a message of communal harmony, pointing out that Hindus and Muslims live peacefully and harmoniously in India. He argued that people of both religions live here and the making and showing of such movies spoils the environment.

Actor Adil Hussain too expressed his views about the movie on Twitter. In his post, he said, “Truth must be spoken! No doubt about it. But must be spoken Tenderly. Else purpose of speaking the truth loses its beauty. And the impact is reactive.Not responsive. We, for sure, don't want to fuel a reactive society but nourish a responve-sible one. Art Should not be reactive.”

Actress Swara Bhaskar and Gauhar Khan had also tweeted against the propaganda promoted in this movie. All the critics, mentioned above and more, were heavily targeted by the Right Wingers and suffered trolls.

In addition to this, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti had further condemned the manner in which the BJP had promoted this movie, especially Union Ministers. She had accused the ruling regime of weaponising Kashmiri Pandits’ pain and tearing apart old wounds. Another politician from the Opposition decrying the movie was Karnataka Rajya Sabha MP and Congress member Jairam Ramesh. He had described the movie as one inciting hate and propaganda.

Calls for genocide on social media

On March 20, 2022 Hindutva propagandist using the alias ‘Kattar Hindu’ on social media openly called for Islamic genocide. Citing a particularly gory scene in The Kashmir Files wherein a woman was made to eat grains soaked with her husband’s blood called upon “Hindus” to avenge the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits.

Using caustic language, he had instigated people to kill all “from young ones to old”. Making an ironic statement that he loves the country, he called upon people to wipe out the Indian Muslim community once and for all. He urged people to harass Muslims in any way possible stating that there is no need for a brotherly feeling among the two communities – once again, a singular statement considering the Indian Constitution’s endorsement of secularism.

Instead, he told his followed to abuse Muslims, sexually assault Muslim women of all ages, harass and torture them until they are forced to leave India.

“We won’t let them run from the country and we won’t let them live in the country. You all start harassing them,” he said in a video that has since been taken down from social media platforms. To top it all, he asked people not to engage in harassment publicly, openly accepting that the administration will arrest people because “the country is free and works on constitutional laws.” He further said, “The government will be forced to arrest you. Don’t do it openly. Think about whom you can target in a way that it doesn’t seem like you’re harassing them but they in fact do get harassed.” 

With this, Kattar Hindu not only owned up to the illegality of the actions demanded, but also that such actions go against the constitutional sentiments of India. And despite all this, he encouraged people to message him if they could not think of ways of harassment. In the video he also threatened to slaughter 6-month-old Muslim babies into two pieces and give one each to their parents.

 

Related:

The Kashmir Files: Calls for Muslim genocide ring out in cinema halls, hate brews outside

The Kashmir Files making resident Kashmiri Pandits feel unsafe

The Kashmir Files backed by PM, FM, CMs; continues to fuel divide

Hate floods in the wake of ‘The Kashmir Files’

Kashmiri Pandits refute communal claims made in The Kashmir Files

Govt to Blame, Where is Security for KP Families in Valley, Asks Sanjay Tickoo, KPSS

 

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Manipal University suspends professor who made “terrorist” jibe at student

The video was widely circulated on social media, after which the University took prompt action and initiated a probe into the matter

29 Nov 2022

manipal

Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka has ordered a probe against its Professor who made a jibe at a Muslim student and called him by the name of a terrorist. The remark infuriated the student, who called out the professor for his casual Islamophobia and this was caught on camera by another student.

Initially, the video surfaced online and it was unconfirmed that the same was from Manipal University, however the news gained traction as many news media outlets reported on the same and it was confirmed that the incident took place at Manipal University.

As this incident got reportedly widely, Manipal University administration took note and immediately debarred him from taking classes and then ordered a probe. The professor had asked the student his name, and on hearing the name, he remarked: “Oh you are like Kasab”, NDTV reported. He was referring to Ajmal Kasab who was convicted and later hanged to death on various charges including murder, for his involvement in the terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008 that happened in Mumbai.

In the video, the student can be seen defending himself and telling the professor that he cannot speak about Muslim in such a derogatory manner and the professor seemed flustered and was apologizing seeing that the student got offended by his “joke”. The student said, “it’s not funny, 26/11 was not funny, Islamic terrorism is not funny. Being a Muslim in this country and facing this everyday is not funny.”

When the professor said, you are just like my son, the student responded, “ will you talk to your son like that and call him a terrorist? How can you call me like that in front of so many people, in the class. You are a professional you are teaching. You can’t call me like that.” The professor sounded clearly embarrassed and said sorry to which the student, “Sir, sorry doesn’t change the way you think or how you portray yourself”.

This incident is nothing but a depiction of casual, legitimised, Islamophobia in our everyday discourse that we need to address and speak up against. Casual Islamophobia can take a form of stereotyping, avoiding buying goods from Muslim vendors/shops, socially distancing from Muslims, making jokes about Muslims and their culture in private circles, depicting Muslims as “villains” in popular culture, using the ‘go to Pakistan’ or ‘love jihad’ trope casually, are all subtle forms of Islamophobia that one needs to speak against.

The fact that this professor felt that it was acceptable to crack some joke about Muslim being terrorists in a classroom setting is reflective of how, we as a society, have normalized laughing at the expense of Muslim community without realizing how precarious it can be, as one can end up hurting religious sentiments; which is not only an offence under the Indian Penal Code but also stand to erode our culturally diverse society.

The prompt action from the University is welcome, demonstrating that such abhorrent remarks are unwelcome in an educational institution and could serve as a deterrent. However, the awkward amusement from fellow students who also did not speak up, is concerning.

The public relations officer at the Manipal University, SP Kar, told Scroll that the incident was unfortunate and the institution strongly condemns it.

“An enquiry committee has been set up and for now the faculty is debarred from taking the classes,” Kar said. “A suitable way forward would be taken based on the findings. We are really sorry that this kind of incident happened.”

The University even released a statement on Monday and posted on its Twitter account

 

 

The University says that it prides itself with one of the biggest diversity  on campus and is committed to uphold constitutional values of treating everyone alike irrespective of their caste, religion, region, gender etc.


Related:

Being a Muslim in this country and facing this every day is not funny

46-year-old tribal man lynched in Rajasthan, CJP files complaint in NCST

Hatebuster: The real identity of the man supporting the accused Aaftab revealed!

Hindu Sena leader offers licensed swords for sale on Twitter

Hate watch: Christians attacked during Sunday mass in Chhattisgarh; 9 hospitalised 

Manipal University suspends professor who made “terrorist” jibe at student

The video was widely circulated on social media, after which the University took prompt action and initiated a probe into the matter

manipal

Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka has ordered a probe against its Professor who made a jibe at a Muslim student and called him by the name of a terrorist. The remark infuriated the student, who called out the professor for his casual Islamophobia and this was caught on camera by another student.

Initially, the video surfaced online and it was unconfirmed that the same was from Manipal University, however the news gained traction as many news media outlets reported on the same and it was confirmed that the incident took place at Manipal University.

As this incident got reportedly widely, Manipal University administration took note and immediately debarred him from taking classes and then ordered a probe. The professor had asked the student his name, and on hearing the name, he remarked: “Oh you are like Kasab”, NDTV reported. He was referring to Ajmal Kasab who was convicted and later hanged to death on various charges including murder, for his involvement in the terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008 that happened in Mumbai.

In the video, the student can be seen defending himself and telling the professor that he cannot speak about Muslim in such a derogatory manner and the professor seemed flustered and was apologizing seeing that the student got offended by his “joke”. The student said, “it’s not funny, 26/11 was not funny, Islamic terrorism is not funny. Being a Muslim in this country and facing this everyday is not funny.”

When the professor said, you are just like my son, the student responded, “ will you talk to your son like that and call him a terrorist? How can you call me like that in front of so many people, in the class. You are a professional you are teaching. You can’t call me like that.” The professor sounded clearly embarrassed and said sorry to which the student, “Sir, sorry doesn’t change the way you think or how you portray yourself”.

This incident is nothing but a depiction of casual, legitimised, Islamophobia in our everyday discourse that we need to address and speak up against. Casual Islamophobia can take a form of stereotyping, avoiding buying goods from Muslim vendors/shops, socially distancing from Muslims, making jokes about Muslims and their culture in private circles, depicting Muslims as “villains” in popular culture, using the ‘go to Pakistan’ or ‘love jihad’ trope casually, are all subtle forms of Islamophobia that one needs to speak against.

The fact that this professor felt that it was acceptable to crack some joke about Muslim being terrorists in a classroom setting is reflective of how, we as a society, have normalized laughing at the expense of Muslim community without realizing how precarious it can be, as one can end up hurting religious sentiments; which is not only an offence under the Indian Penal Code but also stand to erode our culturally diverse society.

The prompt action from the University is welcome, demonstrating that such abhorrent remarks are unwelcome in an educational institution and could serve as a deterrent. However, the awkward amusement from fellow students who also did not speak up, is concerning.

The public relations officer at the Manipal University, SP Kar, told Scroll that the incident was unfortunate and the institution strongly condemns it.

“An enquiry committee has been set up and for now the faculty is debarred from taking the classes,” Kar said. “A suitable way forward would be taken based on the findings. We are really sorry that this kind of incident happened.”

The University even released a statement on Monday and posted on its Twitter account

 

 

The University says that it prides itself with one of the biggest diversity  on campus and is committed to uphold constitutional values of treating everyone alike irrespective of their caste, religion, region, gender etc.


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Ex Bureaucrat, Rights Activist Ask EC to act against Amit Shah's remark on Gujarat 2002 Violence

Amit Shah's statement on how rioters were 'taught a lesson' in Gujarat after 2002 is both divisive and promotes enmity between groups, E.A.S. Sarma and Jagdeep Chhokar have said

29 Nov 2022

Amit Shah
Image: NDTV

Rights activists and other eminent citizens have urged the Election Commission to treat Union home minister Amit Shah’s recent statement during an election rally in Gujarat, in which he spoke about how the rioters were “taught a lesson” in 2002 and thereafter BJP has ensured peace till the present day, as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Urging the EC not to permit such “divisive exhortations”, they have also demanded a probe and necessary punishment in the matter.

`Shah’s statement was ‘highly objectionable’, sought to promote enmity’

Relying on a report by news agency Press Trust of India, former secretary to Government of India E.A.S. Sarma has, in a letter marked to Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners A.C. Pandey and A. Goel on November 26 first raised the issue of Shah’s “highly objectionable statement” during a rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district.

The news report had quoted Shah as saying: “During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society…..But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence.”

‘Taught a lesson’ implied people had taken law into their own hands

Sarma lso quoted from the NDTV report that quoted Shah, addressing a rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district, in support of BJP candidates ahead of the next month's Assembly elections.that said the same thing, 

"During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society.....But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence,"  

The former bureaucrat, Sarma says in his communication to the ECI that the “said statement apparently refers to how a political party and certain sections of the people ‘taught a lesson’, which in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands. If the statement is correctly reported, it would have serious public interest implications. 

The full text of the letter also reads, 

“I sincerely hope that Shri Amit Shah had not made any such statement but, if he had indeed made a statement to that effect, considering that it has come from him, holding the high and responsible office of the Union Home Minister, it assumes a great deal of importance, having wide ramifications for the ensuing Gujarat elections, scheduled to take place shortly and even for other Assembly elections scheduled to take place elsewhere in the country during the next few days.  

“The statement, if it is found to be true, violates the Model Code of Conduct in force, especially with reference to the following clause, 

"There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.   

“Shri Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the Election Commission in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience. The background and the aftermath of the Gujarat incidents of 2002 are so widely known that I do not have to explain the same to the Commission in detail.

“I believe that, as the custodian of free and fair elections in Gujarat and elsewhere, by virtue of Article 324, and the trust reposed by the electorate in the integrity and impartiality of the Election Commission, the Commission should act quickly, hold a special emergent meeting today, preferably during early hours, ascertain the veracity of the news report on Shri Shah's purported statement and, if the said statement is found to be true, the Commission should, as required, give an opportunity to the person who has made the statement to explain his position, take immediate penal action if necessary, so as to ensure that after-effects of the statement may not interfere with the integrity of the electoral process in the State. 

“From the statement referred, if it is true, I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted the course of the Gujarat elections in the short run and would have long-term adverse implications for the nation as whole. By token penalties imposed, the Commission may not be able to undo the considerable damage that would have already been caused, in which case, the only course of action left to the Commission is to consider deferment of the elections, till such time that the environment becomes conducive to conducting elections freely and fairly. 

“The Commission should also take note of the fact that the Union Ministry of Finance had earlier notified an unprecedented extension of the window for political parties receiving corporate donations, on which I had expressed my concern in my letter addressed to you on November 8, 2022, with a special reference to the Model Code. To the best of my knowledge, the Commission is yet to initiate any meaningful action on it!  

“I may further remind the Commission that its inaction in announcing Gujarat elections on October 14, 2022, simultaneously with announcement of elections in Himachal Pradesh (HP), and deferring Gujarat elections till November 3, 2022, for no plausible and convincing reason, resulted, in the Model Code of Conduct coming into force only on November 3. This indirectly (perhaps coincidentally!) gave license to the local authorities in Gujarat to go ahead with premature inauguration of the dangerous, incompletely restored Morbi bridge on Machchhu River, which in turn resulted in a horrific human disaster that took away the lives of more than a hundred innocent persons. Had the Commission announced the Gujarat elections along with its announcement of the HP elections, the Morbi accident would never have taken place! While the two events were not directly connected, it is a fact that the Commission did defer announcing the Gujarat elections, without citing any plausible and valid reason. It is essential that the Commission remains not only credible as a Constitutional authority but also appears to be so, in every respect. 

“The Election Commission of India is a unique, independent institution, owing its existence to Article 324 of the Constitution and the apex court has time and again emphasised that the Commission's responsibility is to ensure that nothing happens that affects the fairness of elections. During the time when the Model Code of Conduct is in force, the Commission has the authority to go to any extent to penalise those that violate the Code and take appropriate steps to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process in every possible way.  

“Several incumbents of the office of the Commission in the past had demonstrated the authority of the Commission in its full measure and the people of this country, who repose trust in the Commission's authority as an independent institution, expect the Commission to act objectively with the sole purpose of safeguarding the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, impervious to extraneous influences. The Commission cannot afford to permit political parties to indulge in divisive exhortations to the electorate and thereby influence elections against the public interest. “ 

The communication ends with a fervent appeal to the ECI to act firmly and decisively in this matter, keeping in view that the elections are going to take place in Gujarat very shortly (December 1, 5, 2022).  

Shah’s name had figured in complaints to EC in 2019 too

Incidentally, Shah’s name had figured in the complaints made to the EC ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections too, when then Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa had opposed five clean chits given by the Election Commission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah over alleged violations of the MCC.

There were five rulings then where one of the commissioners had dissented. This included an instance related to Shah who while referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad in Kerala had commented: “Rahul Gandhi is contesting in such a place where it is impossible to say when a procession is taken out, whether it is a procession in India or Pakistan.”

The Wire  has also spoken to Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). Stating that he supported Sarma’s letter, Chhokar said the home minister’s statement was also “in violation of section 153A of the Indian Penal Code”, which pertains to “promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”. He said the statement also attracts Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 that provides for disqualification on conviction for certain offences including for offences punishable under Section 153A of the IPC.

`Defer the polls till atmosphere is conducive’

Furthermore, Chhokar demanded, in view of the gross violation of the MCC, as already suggested by Sarma, the Commission immediately directs deferment of the elections in Gujarat “till such time that the environment becomes conducive to conducting elections freely and fairly”.

The social activist also sought initiation of action by the EC for the lodging of complaint and registration of First Information Report for the violation of Section 153A of IPC.

Will EC act? SC recently told it not to be a “yes man” of government

While both these citizen-activists have reposed faith in the EC to act on the matter, the Supreme Court recently stressed on the need for making the appointment of the CEC and the ECs “procedure-based and transparent”. The observation came while a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice K.M. Joseph, was on November 24 hearing pleas challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of the present CEC and ECs.

The court observed that those manning the Election Commission should not be “yes man” of the government but “independent who can act independently” even if it comes to taking on the prime minister.

In this regard, the bench also posed a hypothetical question to the government, saying: “Do you think the Election Commissioner… if he is asked to take on none less than the prime minister, it’s just example, and he doesn’t come around to doing it – will it not be a case of complete breakdown of the system?”

Related:

Hate Watch: Amit Shah says “more mazars than population” during Gujarat rally

Attempt to Destroy Gujarat Riots Legal Trail: Arundathi Roy

Ex Bureaucrat, Rights Activist Ask EC to act against Amit Shah's remark on Gujarat 2002 Violence

Amit Shah's statement on how rioters were 'taught a lesson' in Gujarat after 2002 is both divisive and promotes enmity between groups, E.A.S. Sarma and Jagdeep Chhokar have said

Amit Shah
Image: NDTV

Rights activists and other eminent citizens have urged the Election Commission to treat Union home minister Amit Shah’s recent statement during an election rally in Gujarat, in which he spoke about how the rioters were “taught a lesson” in 2002 and thereafter BJP has ensured peace till the present day, as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Urging the EC not to permit such “divisive exhortations”, they have also demanded a probe and necessary punishment in the matter.

`Shah’s statement was ‘highly objectionable’, sought to promote enmity’

Relying on a report by news agency Press Trust of India, former secretary to Government of India E.A.S. Sarma has, in a letter marked to Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners A.C. Pandey and A. Goel on November 26 first raised the issue of Shah’s “highly objectionable statement” during a rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district.

The news report had quoted Shah as saying: “During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society…..But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence.”

‘Taught a lesson’ implied people had taken law into their own hands

Sarma lso quoted from the NDTV report that quoted Shah, addressing a rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district, in support of BJP candidates ahead of the next month's Assembly elections.that said the same thing, 

"During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society.....But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence,"  

The former bureaucrat, Sarma says in his communication to the ECI that the “said statement apparently refers to how a political party and certain sections of the people ‘taught a lesson’, which in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands. If the statement is correctly reported, it would have serious public interest implications. 

The full text of the letter also reads, 

“I sincerely hope that Shri Amit Shah had not made any such statement but, if he had indeed made a statement to that effect, considering that it has come from him, holding the high and responsible office of the Union Home Minister, it assumes a great deal of importance, having wide ramifications for the ensuing Gujarat elections, scheduled to take place shortly and even for other Assembly elections scheduled to take place elsewhere in the country during the next few days.  

“The statement, if it is found to be true, violates the Model Code of Conduct in force, especially with reference to the following clause, 

"There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.   

“Shri Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the Election Commission in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience. The background and the aftermath of the Gujarat incidents of 2002 are so widely known that I do not have to explain the same to the Commission in detail.

“I believe that, as the custodian of free and fair elections in Gujarat and elsewhere, by virtue of Article 324, and the trust reposed by the electorate in the integrity and impartiality of the Election Commission, the Commission should act quickly, hold a special emergent meeting today, preferably during early hours, ascertain the veracity of the news report on Shri Shah's purported statement and, if the said statement is found to be true, the Commission should, as required, give an opportunity to the person who has made the statement to explain his position, take immediate penal action if necessary, so as to ensure that after-effects of the statement may not interfere with the integrity of the electoral process in the State. 

“From the statement referred, if it is true, I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted the course of the Gujarat elections in the short run and would have long-term adverse implications for the nation as whole. By token penalties imposed, the Commission may not be able to undo the considerable damage that would have already been caused, in which case, the only course of action left to the Commission is to consider deferment of the elections, till such time that the environment becomes conducive to conducting elections freely and fairly. 

“The Commission should also take note of the fact that the Union Ministry of Finance had earlier notified an unprecedented extension of the window for political parties receiving corporate donations, on which I had expressed my concern in my letter addressed to you on November 8, 2022, with a special reference to the Model Code. To the best of my knowledge, the Commission is yet to initiate any meaningful action on it!  

“I may further remind the Commission that its inaction in announcing Gujarat elections on October 14, 2022, simultaneously with announcement of elections in Himachal Pradesh (HP), and deferring Gujarat elections till November 3, 2022, for no plausible and convincing reason, resulted, in the Model Code of Conduct coming into force only on November 3. This indirectly (perhaps coincidentally!) gave license to the local authorities in Gujarat to go ahead with premature inauguration of the dangerous, incompletely restored Morbi bridge on Machchhu River, which in turn resulted in a horrific human disaster that took away the lives of more than a hundred innocent persons. Had the Commission announced the Gujarat elections along with its announcement of the HP elections, the Morbi accident would never have taken place! While the two events were not directly connected, it is a fact that the Commission did defer announcing the Gujarat elections, without citing any plausible and valid reason. It is essential that the Commission remains not only credible as a Constitutional authority but also appears to be so, in every respect. 

“The Election Commission of India is a unique, independent institution, owing its existence to Article 324 of the Constitution and the apex court has time and again emphasised that the Commission's responsibility is to ensure that nothing happens that affects the fairness of elections. During the time when the Model Code of Conduct is in force, the Commission has the authority to go to any extent to penalise those that violate the Code and take appropriate steps to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process in every possible way.  

“Several incumbents of the office of the Commission in the past had demonstrated the authority of the Commission in its full measure and the people of this country, who repose trust in the Commission's authority as an independent institution, expect the Commission to act objectively with the sole purpose of safeguarding the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, impervious to extraneous influences. The Commission cannot afford to permit political parties to indulge in divisive exhortations to the electorate and thereby influence elections against the public interest. “ 

The communication ends with a fervent appeal to the ECI to act firmly and decisively in this matter, keeping in view that the elections are going to take place in Gujarat very shortly (December 1, 5, 2022).  

Shah’s name had figured in complaints to EC in 2019 too

Incidentally, Shah’s name had figured in the complaints made to the EC ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections too, when then Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa had opposed five clean chits given by the Election Commission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah over alleged violations of the MCC.

There were five rulings then where one of the commissioners had dissented. This included an instance related to Shah who while referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad in Kerala had commented: “Rahul Gandhi is contesting in such a place where it is impossible to say when a procession is taken out, whether it is a procession in India or Pakistan.”

The Wire  has also spoken to Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). Stating that he supported Sarma’s letter, Chhokar said the home minister’s statement was also “in violation of section 153A of the Indian Penal Code”, which pertains to “promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”. He said the statement also attracts Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 that provides for disqualification on conviction for certain offences including for offences punishable under Section 153A of the IPC.

`Defer the polls till atmosphere is conducive’

Furthermore, Chhokar demanded, in view of the gross violation of the MCC, as already suggested by Sarma, the Commission immediately directs deferment of the elections in Gujarat “till such time that the environment becomes conducive to conducting elections freely and fairly”.

The social activist also sought initiation of action by the EC for the lodging of complaint and registration of First Information Report for the violation of Section 153A of IPC.

Will EC act? SC recently told it not to be a “yes man” of government

While both these citizen-activists have reposed faith in the EC to act on the matter, the Supreme Court recently stressed on the need for making the appointment of the CEC and the ECs “procedure-based and transparent”. The observation came while a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice K.M. Joseph, was on November 24 hearing pleas challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of the present CEC and ECs.

The court observed that those manning the Election Commission should not be “yes man” of the government but “independent who can act independently” even if it comes to taking on the prime minister.

In this regard, the bench also posed a hypothetical question to the government, saying: “Do you think the Election Commissioner… if he is asked to take on none less than the prime minister, it’s just example, and he doesn’t come around to doing it – will it not be a case of complete breakdown of the system?”

Related:

Hate Watch: Amit Shah says “more mazars than population” during Gujarat rally

Attempt to Destroy Gujarat Riots Legal Trail: Arundathi Roy

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Must take serious steps against ‘forced’ religious conversions: Centre Tells Supreme Court

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Centre has stated that it is aware of the grave issue of “forced conversions”

28 Nov 2022

SC

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Union Government said that it is "cognizant of the gravity and the seriousness" of the issue of forced religious conversions. This affidavit is in response to a PIL filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking measures to control forced conversions, the Union said that, "the relief sought in the present petition would be taken up in all seriousness by the Union of India and appropriate steps shall be taken as the Central Government is cognizant of the matter."

Incidentally, on April 9, 2021, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court, (Justices Rohinton Nariman, BR Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy) had dismissed a previously filed PIL by the same petitioner, Ashwini Upadhyaya commenting, “ I don't see a reason as to why any person above 18 cannot choose his religion. There is a reason why the word ‘propagate’ is there in the Constitution", had observed Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman. These oral observation was made when a bench headed by him was hearing a PIL filed by Ashwini Upadhyaya seeking to control black magic, superstition & mass religious conversion of SC/STs through intimidation, threats & gifts. Also observing that the PIL was nothing but a "publicity interest litigation", which was of a "harmful kind", the bench warned the petitioner that heavy costs will be imposed if the matter was pressed. Following that, the petitioner withdrew the petition but had within three days on April 12, 2021 made a representation to the Ministry of Home Affairs. This was followed by the present petition filed in January 2022 (Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs Union of India - W. P. (C) 63/2022).

The present and ongoing petition has sought for direction to the Union and State Governments to take stringent steps in order to curb forceful religious conversion by intimidation, threats and deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits. Upadhyay also sought directions to the Law Commission of India to prepare a Report as well as a Bill to control religious conversions.

The Supreme Court on the previous hearing on November 14, had termed the issue "very serious" and directed the Union to make its stand clear. In the affidavit filed in pursuance of the Court direction, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated "the right to freedom of religion does not include a fundamental right to convert other people to a particular religion. The said right certainly does not include the right to convert an individual through fraud, deception, coercion, allurement or such means"

November 14, 2022: Forceful conversion of religion will not only affect the Union of India but also affect the freedom of religion and conscience of individuals, the Supreme Court of India observed on Monday.

Terming this as a "very serious issue", a Bench of Justices MR Shah and Hima Kohli asked the Union of India to make its stand clear by filing a counter affidavit in the matter within November 22.

November 18: No coercive action against voluntary religious conversion: MP High Court Four days later, the Madhya Pradesh High Court barred state government to mandate inter-faith couples to declare conversion before district administration. The Madhya Pradesh High Court has barred the state government from using coercion against anyone who disobeys section 10 of the MP Freedom of Religion Act, which requires anyone who wishes to convert to another religion to notify the district administration in advance. The petitioners had asked the court to invalidate the MP Freedom of Religion Act 2021 as being unconstitutional.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court then issued this significant ruling, prohibiting the State Government from using coercion against anyone who violates Section 10 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, which calls for anyone wishing to change their religion to make a declaration to the District Magistrate.

A bench of Justice Sujoy Paul and Justice Prakash Chandra Gupta further ordered the state not to prosecute the adult citizens if they solemnize the marriage of their own free will after finding section 10 to be prima facie unconstitutional.

November 28, 2022, Supreme Court:

"The issue with respect to alleged conversion of religion, if it is found to be correct and true, is a very serious issue which may ultimately affect the security of the nation as well as the freedom of religion and conscience of the citizens. Therefore, it is better that Union government may make their stand clear and file counter on what further steps can be taken by Union and/or others to curb such forced conversion maybe by force, allurement or fraudulent means."

Referring to the judgment of the top court in Rev. Stainislaus vs. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors., the Union said, "The Hon'ble Court held that the word 'propagate' does not envisage the right to convert a person rather is in the nature of the positive right to spread one's religion by exposition of its tenets." The Supreme Court in the five-judge bench led by Chief Justice A. N. Ray had examined the scope of the words 'propagate' and 'public order'. The Union further submitted that the Supreme Court in the judgment had upheld the enactments which sought to control and curb the menace of organized, sophisticated large scale illegal conversions.

Union stressed upon the fact that such enactments are necessary for protecting the cherished rights of vulnerable sections of the society including women and economically and socially backward classes. Union also pointed out that the States of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana, have already made the legislations in this regard.

CJP’s Constitutional Challenges to State Laws against Autonomy and Free Choice 

Early last week, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the earlier (2020-2021) batch of petitions challenging the Freedom of Religious Acts introduced by some states legislatures in the name of ‘love jihad‘ against religious conversions done for the sake of marriages. Senior Advocate, CU Singh, appearing on behalf of ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace‘, one of the petitioners, mentioned the pleas before a Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice JB Pardiwala, for urgent listing.Informing the court about urgency of the matter, CU Singh informed the bench that the court had already decided the issue of right of change of faith being a part of fundamental right of choice in Shafin Jahan’s matter.

The petitions mentioned by the senior advocate CU Singh particularly challenge the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.

The Apex Court had also issued a notice in these batch of petition in January 2021. The laws promulgated by Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh also have been challenged before the court. Last year, Madhya Pradesh government made it mandatory for people to inform the officials two months in advance about interfaith marriage or willful conversion to another religion. Section 10 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act stipulates punitive actions including imprisonment and penalty if an individual fails to adhere to the law.

Related:

MP: Ahead of Assembly Polls, Govt Enacts PESA 1996, CM Believes 'It Will Stop Tribal Conversion'

No coercive action against voluntary religious conversion: MP High Court

 

Must take serious steps against ‘forced’ religious conversions: Centre Tells Supreme Court

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Centre has stated that it is aware of the grave issue of “forced conversions”

SC

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Union Government said that it is "cognizant of the gravity and the seriousness" of the issue of forced religious conversions. This affidavit is in response to a PIL filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking measures to control forced conversions, the Union said that, "the relief sought in the present petition would be taken up in all seriousness by the Union of India and appropriate steps shall be taken as the Central Government is cognizant of the matter."

Incidentally, on April 9, 2021, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court, (Justices Rohinton Nariman, BR Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy) had dismissed a previously filed PIL by the same petitioner, Ashwini Upadhyaya commenting, “ I don't see a reason as to why any person above 18 cannot choose his religion. There is a reason why the word ‘propagate’ is there in the Constitution", had observed Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman. These oral observation was made when a bench headed by him was hearing a PIL filed by Ashwini Upadhyaya seeking to control black magic, superstition & mass religious conversion of SC/STs through intimidation, threats & gifts. Also observing that the PIL was nothing but a "publicity interest litigation", which was of a "harmful kind", the bench warned the petitioner that heavy costs will be imposed if the matter was pressed. Following that, the petitioner withdrew the petition but had within three days on April 12, 2021 made a representation to the Ministry of Home Affairs. This was followed by the present petition filed in January 2022 (Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs Union of India - W. P. (C) 63/2022).

The present and ongoing petition has sought for direction to the Union and State Governments to take stringent steps in order to curb forceful religious conversion by intimidation, threats and deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits. Upadhyay also sought directions to the Law Commission of India to prepare a Report as well as a Bill to control religious conversions.

The Supreme Court on the previous hearing on November 14, had termed the issue "very serious" and directed the Union to make its stand clear. In the affidavit filed in pursuance of the Court direction, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated "the right to freedom of religion does not include a fundamental right to convert other people to a particular religion. The said right certainly does not include the right to convert an individual through fraud, deception, coercion, allurement or such means"

November 14, 2022: Forceful conversion of religion will not only affect the Union of India but also affect the freedom of religion and conscience of individuals, the Supreme Court of India observed on Monday.

Terming this as a "very serious issue", a Bench of Justices MR Shah and Hima Kohli asked the Union of India to make its stand clear by filing a counter affidavit in the matter within November 22.

November 18: No coercive action against voluntary religious conversion: MP High Court Four days later, the Madhya Pradesh High Court barred state government to mandate inter-faith couples to declare conversion before district administration. The Madhya Pradesh High Court has barred the state government from using coercion against anyone who disobeys section 10 of the MP Freedom of Religion Act, which requires anyone who wishes to convert to another religion to notify the district administration in advance. The petitioners had asked the court to invalidate the MP Freedom of Religion Act 2021 as being unconstitutional.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court then issued this significant ruling, prohibiting the State Government from using coercion against anyone who violates Section 10 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, which calls for anyone wishing to change their religion to make a declaration to the District Magistrate.

A bench of Justice Sujoy Paul and Justice Prakash Chandra Gupta further ordered the state not to prosecute the adult citizens if they solemnize the marriage of their own free will after finding section 10 to be prima facie unconstitutional.

November 28, 2022, Supreme Court:

"The issue with respect to alleged conversion of religion, if it is found to be correct and true, is a very serious issue which may ultimately affect the security of the nation as well as the freedom of religion and conscience of the citizens. Therefore, it is better that Union government may make their stand clear and file counter on what further steps can be taken by Union and/or others to curb such forced conversion maybe by force, allurement or fraudulent means."

Referring to the judgment of the top court in Rev. Stainislaus vs. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors., the Union said, "The Hon'ble Court held that the word 'propagate' does not envisage the right to convert a person rather is in the nature of the positive right to spread one's religion by exposition of its tenets." The Supreme Court in the five-judge bench led by Chief Justice A. N. Ray had examined the scope of the words 'propagate' and 'public order'. The Union further submitted that the Supreme Court in the judgment had upheld the enactments which sought to control and curb the menace of organized, sophisticated large scale illegal conversions.

Union stressed upon the fact that such enactments are necessary for protecting the cherished rights of vulnerable sections of the society including women and economically and socially backward classes. Union also pointed out that the States of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana, have already made the legislations in this regard.

CJP’s Constitutional Challenges to State Laws against Autonomy and Free Choice 

Early last week, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the earlier (2020-2021) batch of petitions challenging the Freedom of Religious Acts introduced by some states legislatures in the name of ‘love jihad‘ against religious conversions done for the sake of marriages. Senior Advocate, CU Singh, appearing on behalf of ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace‘, one of the petitioners, mentioned the pleas before a Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice JB Pardiwala, for urgent listing.Informing the court about urgency of the matter, CU Singh informed the bench that the court had already decided the issue of right of change of faith being a part of fundamental right of choice in Shafin Jahan’s matter.

The petitions mentioned by the senior advocate CU Singh particularly challenge the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.

The Apex Court had also issued a notice in these batch of petition in January 2021. The laws promulgated by Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh also have been challenged before the court. Last year, Madhya Pradesh government made it mandatory for people to inform the officials two months in advance about interfaith marriage or willful conversion to another religion. Section 10 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act stipulates punitive actions including imprisonment and penalty if an individual fails to adhere to the law.

Related:

MP: Ahead of Assembly Polls, Govt Enacts PESA 1996, CM Believes 'It Will Stop Tribal Conversion'

No coercive action against voluntary religious conversion: MP High Court

 

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