March 10, 2014
Of Caste Massacres and Judicial Impunity: Bloodstains in Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe...
At the outset let me thank DSU for giving me this opportunity to pay my homage to comrade Yalavarthi Naveen Babu, who was martyred at the young age of 35 in Andhra Pradesh. I personally knew Naveen as a young man bubbling with revolutionary zeal and energy as an editor of Kalam, the organ of the AIRSF formed in 1990 and an organizer of the International Seminar on Nationality Struggles in Delhi in February 1996, which I attended. The last I met with him was in Chennai just a few months before his martyrdom. I complement DSU for instituting this memorial lecture, which would help young students in JNU to see how one of their own had lived and died for the cause of Indian revolution.
If Naveen had been living today, he would have been in forefront in protesting against the obnoxious pattern of judgements coming from Patna High Court in the cases of massacre of Dalits taken place in 1990s. As such, the topic decided for this memorial lecture is quite in tune with the memory of this revolutionary.
All of you know Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe, the small obscure hamlets in Bhojpur and Arwal districts of Bihar respectively, which were catapulted to the world map in mid 1990s for their infamous massacres of Dalits. About Laxmanpur Bathe massacre, the then president of India, K.R. Narayanan, had expressed his indignation saying it was a ‘national shame’. Unfortunately, Laxmanpur-Bathe was not to be the lone such shame; there were scores of them before and after Laxmanpur. A quarter century since, the process of law has reached to put a lid on these cases, reminding Dalits of the laws of Manu after 86 years they had burnt Manusmriti in Mahad and after 63 years the country had installed Bhimsmriti in its place. It only wakes them up to the hollowness of such rhetoric which unfortunately informed the Dalit movement after Babasaheb Ambedkar, during the last 56 years. It verily tells us that nothing has changed; if at all, it has changed only for worse. Worse, because in Ambedkar’s time Dalits, approximately were a homogenous mass, appeared like a giant getting up from his deep sleep of millenniums; now it is a hopelessly fragmented mass, splintered into classes and subcastes, pretending to be awake but actually in self imposed stupor to the reality around.
Most infamous early caste atrocities are associated with the communist movements and although their victims were all Dalits, the mainstream Dalits hesitated to identify with them as such. They demonstrated how caste and class (in a familiar sense; I would tend to incorporate caste within class and do away with this duality) intersected in an indeterminate complex web. No one would say, including communists that the goriest attacks on Dalits were purely class retribution and there was no caste angle to it. Far from it, the fact remains that these atrocities had happened because the victims were Dalits. The same question can be put to the protagonists of caste. Was it entirely because of caste? Only fools could say yes. Before this caste-class cauldron flared up in central Bihar in 1990s, it had all begun in down south in a place called Kilvenmeni way back in 1968 as a product of the changes in political economy that befell in the country during the first two decades after the transfer of power in 1947.
The very first case of the new genre of caste atrocity, as I have been calling them, happened on a Christmas Day in 1968, when 44 Dalit agricultural farm labourers and their family members, including women, children and old men, were brutally burnt alive in Kilvenmani, a small village in today’s Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. Kilvenmani and surrounding villages in erstwhile Thanjavur district had a considerable population of landless agricultural labourers, mostly Adi Dravida Dalits, and most agricultural lands in the area belonged to temples and absentee landlords. This feudal formation was an ideal ground for the communist movement to experiment with the peasant struggle. As such from the 1930s itself, the communists under the CPI had begun working in Tanjavur district and had become quite strong in the area with the following among the tenants and landless labourers, who were organized as farm workers union. After the split in the communist party, the leadership of the area had gone to the CPI (M). On the fateful day, the tragedy followed an agitation over the demand from the farm workers for an increase in wages. The haughty landlords rejected the demand. One G. Naidu, a landlord from a nearby village, was the President of Paddy Producers Association of East Thanjavur, who took the leading role in suppressing workers` strike during the harvest season. On the day of the incident, a hit man of G. Naidu was killed in a scuffle with workers. It enraged landlords to retaliate. As per the celebrated account of noted Anthropologist Kathleen Gough, (Read Kathleen Gough, "Indian Peasant Uprisings", Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Vol. 8, 1976) the landlords reached the Dalit hamlet in their cars followed by tractors carrying some 300 people laced with knives and guns in the night. They surrounded the Dalit settlement and began to shoot and knife people. People ran helter skelter to the paddy fields. They herded remaining people, mainly women and children, into a small hut and set it on fire, burning all the inmates alive. The victims of Kilvenmani included 28 paraiyars and 16 pallars (all Dalits). Sixteen of the dead were women, five men and 23 children. Gough’s chilling account of the incident would still send shivers down anyone’s spine.
After the incident the local police arrested 23 landlords. The district court acquitted 15 of the accused and sentenced the rest to various terms of liberal imprisonment ranging from one to ten years. The case went to appeal in the Madras High Court, where all the accused were released. In its judgment, the court simply said: “The rich landlords could not be expected to commit such violent crimes and would normally hire others to do while keeping themselves in the background.” While the landlords who had personally brought and led the killers killing 44 Dalits, in an unprecedentedly horrific incident, several Dalit workers were duly tried for the murder of the hit-man and awarded various jail terms. Gough reports: “Twenty-two harijans from in or near [Kil]Venmani were jailed for 2 months without trial on suspicion of violence. Eight Harijans from [Kil]Venmani, all of whom lost close relatives in the fire, received jail sentences for the alleged murder of P. Padaiyacchi (the hit-man), one being sentenced to life imprisonment and actually imprisoned for seven years. One of the remaining Harijans received five years` rigorous imprisonment, three of them two years, and three, one year.” Kilvenmani thus had set the tone inaugurating the new genre of caste atrocities, which would be followed for a long time. Gough clairvoyantly observed: “Many more can be expected before India`s agrarian exploitation is overcome.”
How and why did Kilvenmani take place? If we want to make sense of history for our struggles, then such questions assume importance, not just their narratives. Kilvenmani should be seen as the product of the momentous change that was befalling the country side. After the transfer of power, the new ruling dispensation under Jawaharlal Nehru went full blast in its treachery against people. While people aspired for ‘land to the tillers’, and end to their bondage and misery under feudal lords, the rulers wanted to make India congenial for the incipient bourgeoisie, duly accommodating the interests of landlords but cheating people at the same time by projecting itself as ideologically socialist and thereby pro-people. This treachery skillfully ran through everything including the very making of the constitution itself. On the one hand, the Constitution spoke of high sounding ideals but on the other rendered those sections (for example, Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution) ineffective which were meant to achieve them. On the one hand the Constitution provided a lofty vision and on the other, the regime adopted the entire colonial structure of governance. What interfaced with common people were the same old oppressive bureaucracy and Indian Penal Code, drafted by that shrewd colonial strategist Thomas Babington Macaulay.
The notion of Nehruvian socialism lazily associated with Nehru regime was actually to support the bourgeois plan. Signaled by the increasing militant anti-British activities, the British capital had started leaving the country after 1931, which process grew in volume during and after the Second World War, particularly following the Quit India campaign in August 1942. Actually, it did not always take the form of the outright folding up of undertakings; it was sometimes just in the form of the liquidation of entire holdings or their transfer to Indian hands. [It is estimated that Rs. 13.5 billion worth of British capital had slipped out between August 1942 and July 1948. See, Vivek Chibber, Locked in Place: State-Building and Late Industrialization in India, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2003, p. 107.] One can see the instrumental role of the Quit India movement in strengthening the Indian bourgeoisie to take over British firms. Although the transfer of power would open up sea of opportunities, they still did not possess the strength to mobilize required capital and more importantly to manage political aspects. Taking stock of these things, eight big industrialists and technocrats of the day [Purushottam thakurdas, JRD Tata, GD Birla, Ardeshir Dala, Lala Shri Ram, Kasturbhai Lalbhai, AD Shroff and John Mathai] created a Plan in 1944 [later published in 1945 as memorandum Outlining a Plan of Economic Development for India, Parts One and Two, Penguin, Hammondsworth, 1945] that included all that came to be associated with Nehruvian socialism. Actually, the idea of this Plan had born in December 1942, in the aftermath of the great success of the Quit India movement for the Indian business. This plan that would be known as Bombay Plan presented the 15-year investment horizon with the aim of doubling the per-capita income and trebling the national income.
Formally, Nehru did not accept the Bombay Plan, but as it stands, our first industrial policy statement as well as our three five year plans could be seen to have been informed by this Plan. The very source of the five year plans, which for the people and the world projected India into the Soviet camp, (and alarmed the capitalist camp during the cold war era) as they were then associated with socialist planning, could be seen in this Bombay Plan. Curiously, it was adopted while the Constitution was still in the making. All the noises in favour of the poor and depressed; rhetoric of reducing inequality and public sector scaling commanding heights, etc. are to be found in the Bombay Plan.
Merely adopting the investment plan was not however enough unless the actual sources of savings, supply and demand and politics also were aligned. From this perspective, the vast countryside assumed great importance. Taking cue from the peoples’ aspirations for land reforms, often voiced during the freedom struggle, a programme of land reform was undertaken. If the intention had truly been to distribute land among the landless, it could have been executed centrally in one stroke but it was done though a plethora of convoluted land ceiling legislations in states, the resultant effect of which would be to create a class out of the populous shudra caste, which would act as political ally of the national bourgeoisie at the centre. This strategic masterstroke replacing the entrenched feudal class from the minority upper castes by the class with most populous caste base transformed the entire configuration of the rural India. With an alibi of wide spread hunger, which indeed was a reality, the government brought in the capitalist strategy of Green Revolution, which besides hugely enriching the newly created class of rich farmers, seeded capitalist relations in the vast countryside. It brought in money economy and created markets for inputs, outputs, implements, services and credit. In caste terms, it pushed out erstwhile high caste landlords and installed rich farmers of shudra caste in their place, effectively transferring the baton of Brahmanism in villages from a minority to majority base. With the collapse of traditional jajmani relations of interdependence of village people, Dalits were reduced to be rural proletariat, utterly dependent on the shudra caste rich farmers for their farm wages. This new paradigm soon gave rise to wage struggles, which flared up under communist leadership in certain pockets. Kilvenmani was its earliest expression.
The golden era of capitalism, which had begun with the devastation of the world in the World War II and ran for two decades until mid-1960s during its reconstruction started throwing up inherent contradictions of capitalist system by the ending years of the decade. It manifested in the form of various social unrest all over the world. Many movements during the latter half of the 1960s including Naxalite movement in India also should be included among its manifestations. The movement born out of a minor clash between landlords and tenants in a remote corner of the country acquired its strategic focus on countryside inspired by the Chinese revolution. With its anti-feudal, anti-imperialist slogans, it attracted large mass of rural poor, particularly Dalits wherever it reached. Central Bihar, where class polarization coincided with caste divisions, soon came to prominence because of its armed clashes. As per the data compiled by my friend Prakash Louis, there were more than eighty massacres where the victims have been the farm labourers belonging to the lower castes and the perpetrators were the upper caste landlords. These attacks did not go unanswered and there were massacres of the upper castes too but they hover around just 15 in number, less than one-fifth of the total. In one such incident, the Bara Massacre, in Gaya district, the MCC (Maoist Communist Centre) cadres killed 35 persons of the Bhumihar Brahmin caste (landlords) known to have links with the Savarna Sena (a precursor to the notorious Ranveer Sena) in February 1992. It led to the invocation of TADA by the then Lalu Prasad Yadav government in Bihar. In 2001, the special TADA court and the District and Sessions Court in Gaya awarded death sentences to several of the accused. Some of which were read down to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court in 2002. The lower caste people accused in the Bara Carnage case for killing upper caste villagers met very different destinies from that of the upper caste landlords who executed most other carnages in Bihar where the victims belonged to lower castes. It told a very disturbing but the original tale. It is almost a rule: if you are a lower caste villager who participated in the killing of upper caste militia men, you were sure to get a death sentence, or life imprisonment. However, if you are an upper caste militia man killing lower caste people, you are quite likely to walk free. After all, hasn’t Manu’s code prescribed differential punishments for different castes committing the same crime?
With the lower caste retaliation in Bara, the frequency of upper caste attacks became frequent. Landlords floated many senas [see for the comprehensive list Prakash Louis, People Power: The Naxalite Movement in Central Bihar, Delhi: Wordsmith, 2002], which began enacting Dalit massacres. On 11 July, 1996, some 150 men belonging to Ranvir Sena armed with guns, swords, sickles, and lathis surrounded Bathani Tola in Bhojpur district’s Sahar block in Central Bihar and ruthlessly hacked the Dalits in the broad daylight at around 1 pm. As the terrified villagers ran to hide themselves, the men started burning houses. They entered the mud huts, pulled out women and children, slit their throats, shot them, and stabbed them with swords. 11 women and 9 children, including an infant, and 1 man were killed. The dead were all Dalits and Muslims. The survivors and eyewitnesses recognized the attackers and named them clearly in the FIR, as these were men from their own villages who had not even tried to hide their faces during the attack. An FIR was lodged against 33 people the day after the massacre. In all, the Bhojpur police framed charges against 63 persons in October 1996. The accused were convicted by the Sessions Court, Ara and sentenced three persons with capital punishment, and the remaining twenty with life imprisonment in May 2010. The case went into appeal to the Patna High Court. In July 2012, a Division Bench of judges Navneeti Prasad Singh and Ashwani Kumar Singh cited “defective evidence” and acquitted all of them. In their judgement they said, “We regret such a ghastly incident took place. However, the investigation was not fair. Apparently, the investigation moved in a particular direction – far from the truth, not above suspicion.” The counsel for the witnesses in the Bathani Tola, Anand Vatsyayan, expressed his surprise saying, “The evidence at hand was more than sufficient to uphold the judgement passed by the Ara sessions court…. The Supreme Court guidelines in the event of a massacre are quite clear. The eyewitnesses need not remember all the names. And, of the six prime witnesses questioned in this case, all had conclusively pointed fingers at the persons convicted by the lower court.” But who do you say all this and to what avail?
Laxmanpur-Bathe was another site of a massacre, where 58 Dalits were killed by the upper-caste Ranvir Sena on the night of 1 December 1997. The village, just 125 km from Patna along the banks of river Sone, was targeted because Ranvir Sena members believed the Dalits there, mostly poor and landless, were sympathizers of the Maoists who had killed 37 upper caste men in Bara. Ranvir Sena, a militia of upper caste landlords, was created by Bhumihars to take on the Naxalites, mostly who had several Dalits as foot soldiers. In April 2010, 13 years after the massacre, the District and Sessions court in Patna convicted 26 persons for the Laxmanpur- Bathe massacre. The court gave death sentence to 16 convicts and life imprisonment and Rs. 50,000 fine for 10 others, for murder, criminal conspiracy and atrocity. In the judgment the court noted that the massacre was “More than the ‘rarest of the rare cases’, it was a heinous crime.” At the same time, 19 other accused were acquitted for lack of evidence. The conviction by the lower court, in fact, came after the High Court’s intervention to expedite the trial which was not moving. Eventually the judgement came after 11 years of the massacre. Within that period, Ranvir Sena carried out series of attacks in Rural Bihar, which resulted in 38 out of 91 eye witnesses turning hostile. The Patna High Court Division Bench comprising Justices V.N. Sinha and A.K. Lal acquitted on October 9, 2013 all the 26 convicts. In their judgement they said, “since the prosecution failed to establish the charge against the Appellants beyond reasonable doubts, they stand acquired.”
In fact these cases were not the isolated instances of the culprits getting scot free in the High Court. Actually, the cases that were decided by the Patna high court present a pattern that the lower courts after years convicting some accused and the High Court acquitting all of them for want of evidence. This happened four times in quick succession that all the accused in massacre cases were acquitted by the High Court. Earlier in July 2013, 9 of the 10 persons convicted by a special district court for killing 34 Dalits at Miyanpur village in Aurangabad district were acquitted by the Patna High Court. In March 2013, all the 11 accused convicted by a lower court for the massacre of 10 CPI-ML sympathizers at Nagari village in Bhojpur district in November 1998 were acquitted by the High Court. Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur-Bathe were just the repeats.
It is not in Bihar alone. One can easily discern an interesting pattern in the judgements on the infamous caste atrocity cases irrespective of the states, courts or the judges. Under the pressure created by the public outcry, the lower courts generally drop charges against key criminals and award the remaining convicts salutary punishments which may not be technically warranted by the kind of case prosecution presented. The prosecution’s case will of course be based on shabby investigation police provides, notwithstanding his/her ability vis-à-vis the defendant advocate. Invariably, the convicts would go to the higher court in appeal against the judgement. By then the public outcry would not only have died down, but also the case would have completely faded away from the public memory. The higher court would take hard look at the case before it and would land up reducing the punishments if not altogether discharging the convicts. In many ways Khairlanji is an exemplary case to illustrate contemporary processes in this context and hence I had written a book and followed it up with a few write ups.
To recount, in Khairlanji, a Dalit mother and her young daughter and two sons were lynched by the upper caste village mob to death as the culmination of a long standing conflict which overtly had its roots in the land dispute. The culprits with their connections with local politicians and state administration, tried to suppress the case as a collective punishment meted out by the outraged villagers to a defiant woman of loose character. But somehow it came to limelight and burst out into a spontaneous statewide agitation. While the government came down heavily against the agitators, labeling them as naxals, it had to invite CBI to investigate and designate the session court at Bhandara as the ‘fast track’ court for its trial. The state however managed not to lose its control over the outcome and appointed its own prosecutor ignoring an advocate suggested by the activists’ group that had brought the incident to the fore. The investigation done by the local police was intentionally lackadaisical. The fast track court, which was constituted on the premise of the application of the Atrocity Act (Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989), came to the conclusion that there was no caste angle to the crime (and hence this Act did not apply), there was no outrage of women’s modesty and it was not a premeditated crime. Thus, it painted this gory atrocity as a simple crime that gets committed in a feat of rage. The initial story of ‘loose character’ was transformed into a case of revenge by the villagers against the witness the mother and daughter stood against the culprits in a case of beating of a man from neighouring village that sent them to jail. (As a matter of fact, they did not go to jail for even for a minute and were given bail, which rather led to their attacking the victims). Although, the case was completely punctured, taking away its foundational content, the verdict succeeded deflecting attention from it by awarding death to six of the eight accused and life imprisonment to two on the ground of their young age. Mind it, the crime was committed by a collective of all caste Hindus in the village. Initially 70 odd people were named, it dropped down to 40 odd and ultimately to just 11. Of these, eventually only 8 were convicted. If one compares the names of the convicts with the names in the original FIR, one would clearly see that the main culprits were already taken out and the convicts were ordinary people, who may at the most be marginally involved in the crime.
The judgement was foolishly hailed as the landmark judgement because it was for the first time that deaths were awarded in the case of a caste atrocity. The Dalit leaders had publicly celebrated it by distributing sweets. Ramdas Athawale, a Dalit leader who was with NCP, the party which had local linkage with the culprits and had control over police, felicitated Ujwal Nikam, the high profile public prosecutor in the case, ignoring the fact that not many years ago, he had stood in defence of Manohar Kadam, that infamous butcher of Ramabai Nagar. Athawale has since graduated to join the alliance with Shiv Sena, the party of Bal Thackeray, the rank hater of Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Dalits to get himself a Rajya Sabha seat. [Anyways, as I speak, almost all Dalit leaders are joining the BJP, which until recent years was accused by them as the party of Brahmans for Brahmanism] Dalits, who have been observing the anniversary of Ramabai Nagar martyrdom every year, magnanimously ignored this misdemeanor of their leader. But should they have rejoiced at the broad depiction of the case as a mere crime committed in a huff? Khairlanji had a heavy context of a decade long caste conflict, for anyone to see but unfortunately the prosecution failed to present it to the court. Rapes as reported by fact finding teams was out of bounds because of the lacuna in post mortem, but the women’s naked corpses cried aloud that their modesty was outraged. The prosecution failed to establish what was so obvious. It also failed to show that it was planned when the villagers knew that Surekha and Priyanka had identified the assaulters of Siddharth Gajbhiye to the police. Having taken out all winds of its sails, the court still punished as many as six persons with death sentence. The way the case was made out, surely the death sentence was unsustainable. But Dalits celebrated it by distributing sweets, following their jubilant leaders!
The case went to the High Court to confirm the death sentence, and also to deal with four appeals (two by CBI and two by the accused). The High Court verdict came out on 14 July 2010. As expected, the justices AP Lavande and RC Chavan of the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court commuted the death sentence of six convicts to 25 years imprisonment. Basically, the court did not think it was the “rarest of the rare” case and confirmed that there was neither caste angle nor any planning involved in the crime. Expectedly, it caused flutters among Dalits, who had rejoiced at the previous verdict of the Bhandara Sessions court unprecedentedly awarding death to six of the eight accused. As expected, the state government came forward and filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the commutation of death sentence. The case is pending in the Supreme Court for the last three years and it is anybody’s guess what would happen to it. Recently, we have formed a committee in order to support the husband of the woman, the lone survivor of the family. But without resources, it may be uphill task to drive it.
Quite like Khairlanji judgement which said that the killing of Dalits did not have anything to do with caste, or conspiracy and the women’s naked bodies did not involved assault on women’s modesty, the Patna High Court in its Laxmanpur-Bathe judgement considered this one of the worst massacres in the history as just a casual accident. It directed the State to pay compensation to the next of kin of the 58 deceased and 4 injured of Laxmanpur-Bathe from its fund. The Court ordered the trial court to calculate the amount of compensation after taking into account the age, income of the deceased and the injured in the light of the provisions of Section 163-A and II Schedule of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. [State of Bihar v. Girja Singh, Death Reference No.5 of 2010, Decided on 9/10/2013] It only showed monumental insensitivity in comparing such a abominable caste carnage with something in the nature of a rather unfortunate automobile accident.
These judgements outraged conscience of many well meaning people but in this country of 1.3 billion they constituted not even a drop in the ocean. Barring a few notable exceptions of The Hindu, Times of India and few others, the reaction of the media was muted. For it the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, ‘the god’ was far more important than Laxmanpur-Bathe judgement. The news of the former that came two days later than the judgement, totally eclipsed the Laxmanpur-Bathe. Commenting on the verdict, columnist Kuldip Nayar said: “An upper caste judge has released all the accused on the plea that there was no evidence. It is a travesty of justice...If the High Court judge did not find any evidence, he could have constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to work under its supervision to hold a fresh probe...What has happened at Laxmanpur is the fate of Dalits all over the country. The equality before law, enshrined in the Constitution, is a farce.” It was the most apt reaction from a respected journalist.
Only three political parties – CPI (ML-Liberation), CPI(M) and Aam Aadmi Party formally expressed criticism of the Patna High Court verdict. Other parties either kept mum or tried to bake their political bread on the fire of indignation the judgement caused. Sharad Yadav, president of the JD(U), the ruling party in the state, demanded higher reservations for lower castes in the Judiciary. It is noteworthy that Nitish Kumar, the chief minister belonging to his party had disbanded the Justice Amir Das Commission of Enquiry set up to look into the links and the patronage that the Ranveer Sena militia had within the political parties in Bihar just within six months of his coming to power in November 2005. The links between Ranveer Sena thugs and politicians that the Amir Das Commission investigated cut across party lines, and included patronage networks deep within the BJP, the RJD, JD(U) and the Congress. Interestingly, Laxmanpur-Bathe or Batani Tola, as in every other case of caste atrocity, exposed the collusion between all mainstream parties. Indeed, it needs to be understood that they are all together as political class in contradiction with people.
Incidentally, Brahmeshwar Singh Mukhiya, the founder of Ranvir Sena who came to be known as the Butcher of Bathani Tola, was never tried for his role in the Laxmanpur-Bathe or for that matter, in any other case of Dalit massacre. In Laxmanpur-Bathe, the case against him was closed as he was said to be ‘absconding’ and ‘untraceable’. Actually, he was ensconced in the secure environs of Ara Central Prison at that time in some other minor case. Such a degree of shamelessness goes unaccounted in the country! He was rather acquitted and went on to form an organization called Akhil Bharatiya Rashtravadi Kisan Sangathan. He met with justice only after he came out of jail (He was murdered on 1 June, 2012 by six unknown assailants) like his counterparts in other atrocity cases such as G Naidu of Kilvenmeni or Ramaiah of Karamchedu.
Where do we go from here? As we have seen, the judgements in Laxmanpur-Bathe or Batani Tola cases are not in any way isolated instances of the bias of judiciary. It is a classic instance of pervasive caste virus in the country from which judiciary, as any other institution, cannot be immune. There is absolutely no doubt that these are condemnable judgements, notwithstanding the role of investigation and prosecution in spoiling the case. The judges had option to order SIT investigation, as Kuldeep Nayar commented, if they suspected foul play in investigation. But to conclude summarily dismissing the witness of survivors was the height of prejudice. The antidote to such prejudice cannot be reservations in judiciary as the likes of Sharad Yadav would think. It is not that the Dalits have not seen Dalit judges so far; they have even seen the chief justice of the Supreme Court from their caste. Can they say it made any iota of difference to justice to Dalits? This representation logic based on caste identity has emotional appeal but has really never worked. The politicians have made reservations as a weapon to deal with people at large but it is high time the latter had understood their game plan. It is high time, this reservation-philia is rethought by the people. A properly formulated scheme of reservations as an exceptional measure in favour of some exceptional people, as it was initially conceived during the colonial times, could surely contribute to not only social justice but also to the annihilation of castes. But the post-colonial scheme is an intrigue not only to preserve the caste system but also to aggravate it in the interests of the ruling classes. Laxmanpur-Bathe, Bathani Tola or Khairlanji or Kilvenmani, expose many an aspect of the system. But do we care for them? I hope your answer to this question will be yes.
If we do care, we are necessarily led to ponder annihilation of the caste virus, which has kept us divided in innumerable ways. This is the key problem of this land. Unlike the prevailing stereotype, the caste virus cannot be seen in terms of religio-cultural matter to be dealt with with some reforms or as an aspect of backwardness to be removed by the application of some remedial patch like reservations. It has corrupted every aspect of life, right from our individual selves to the modern institutional structure. Using the computer analogy, this virus cannot be removed unless we reformat our hard disk, the social structure through a thoroughgoing revolution. When we are rightly agitated over the miscarriage of justice to the Laxmanpur-Bathe or Bathani Tola victims, we should not merely attribute it to the caste prejudice of the judges sitting on the bench alone. This prejudice pervades everywhere and is well integrated with the system. While the existential struggles should go on challenging them as they are seen, we must be clear about its mechanics as well as dynamics. It will tell us that the real solution to Bathani Tolas or Laxmanpur-Bathes lies only in the annihilation of castes. I could end with my favorite aphorism: no revolution is possible in this country unless Dalits as the organic proletariat of this land joins the revolutionary forces and emancipation of Dalits also is not possible unless they are supported by those forces. This is the unified theory of Indian revolution. While it is easy to propose the strategy to implement this strategy in terms of orienting the Dalit movement along class line and conversely the left movement to internalize the goal of caste annihilation, implementing this strategy would entail huge amount of creativity and commitment. May Naveen’s memory inspire you to come forward to take up this historic task! Thank you.
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 1:40 PM
February 23, 2014
23 years since mass gang-rapes by the Indian Army at Kunan & Poshpora: The Horrors of the Indian occupation of Kashmir
More than a lakh killed, thousands ‘disappeared’, millions tortured and maimed…however, the history of Indian state’s war crimes in Kashmir will remain incomplete without the history of the massive sexual violence unleashed by its armed forces on the Kashmiri women. Ever since the Indian state sent its armed forces to brutally crush the Kashmiri people’s struggle for national self-determination, sexual violence has remained a weapon of war, oft-used by the army and paramilitary to subjugate the people of Kashmir. Despite the fact that many cases of sexual violence are forcibly buried under the military jackboot, and are rarely brought to light, even the official number of Kashmiri women raped by the Indian army and paramilitary runs into thousands in this most militarized zone of the world. The mass gang rapes of several women in the twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora in the Kupwara district of North Kashmir is one case thathas returned to haunt the Indian state and its armed forces repeatedly, despite its several overt and covert machinations to push it under the carpet.
Exactly 23 years back, on the intervening night of the 23rd and 24th February 1991, hundreds of soldiers belonging to the 4 Rajputana Rifles of the Army’s 68 brigade entered the villages of Kunan and Poshpora. It was what they termed as ‘a search and cordon operation’ – a term synonymous for the Kashmiri people with extreme state terror, torture, cold blooded killings, harassment and as that night showed massive violence on women. On that night, after confining the men of both these villages into store houses, the inebriated soldiers forcibly entered several houses, gagged the mouths of the women and took turns to repeatedly gang-rape them at gun point. “There was darkness all around. At 9.30 pm in the evening, the army entered the village. They took the men and children out and they were taken to a nearby bus stand. Then they entered our homes at around 11:00 pm and started assaulting women”, an old woman recalled that night in these words to a journalist.Another woman recounts “When the Armymen entered the house, they dragged away my daughter. I tried to escape but my daughter held me and asked, 'Moujimaikamistravakh (Mother, will you leave me behind with them)?' The soldiers dragged me away too."One more woman had the following to say “One by one, they raped me, while my five year old son was forced to watch, weeping beside the bed.” The bestiality of what transpired can be gauged from the fact that the youngest to be raped was 8 years old and the oldest was 70 year old. The Indian army even did not spare pregnant women, who were repeatedly kicked and beaten by the army while they took turns to rape. As a result of this ordeal, the baby one of the women later gave birth to was born with a broken arm. The brutality continued for hours and came to an end just around the crack of the dawn the next day. A local policeman who tried to raise alarm from the loudspeaker of the local mosque was also killed by the army. As per the official accounts, 53 women were raped by the army that night, whereas the locals of these two villages point out that the real number is over 100 for several woman have even till today not come forward to report. The reasons are many – fear of another reprisal by the army, shame as well as the fear of damaging their marriage prospects.
Developments thereafter have shown that far from merely being the work of some ‘individual crazed, drunken soldiers’, what happened that night enjoys the full support of the entire state apparatus. The very next day, in what was a move to further intimidate the people, the Deputy Commander came to the villages to tell the woman that the army had not done anything wrong. The entire village was cordoned off for several days, and the first FIRs could be filed only on 8th March. There was never an identification parade based on the depositions of the women, and the probe was itselfclosed within 4 months with the prosecution saying that the incident might have been ‘stage-managed’! The Divisional Commissioner of the Kupwara at that time, Wajahat Habibullah brushed aside the reports of his own junior officers - which confirmed the rapes - and called the incident “highly doubtful.” Meanwhile as news started trickling out from the two villages and was even reported in some newspapers, the Army directly got into the act. At the behest of the Defence Ministry, a special ‘fact-finding team’ of the Press Council of India comprising B.G. Verghese and K. Vikram Rao was dispatched to Kashmir. Their aim was to ‘dispose of the ‘grave charges’ of rapes by the army ‘which were being leveled in the press’. Not many in India would know that this so called fact-finding team spent more time in Srinagar talking to government and army officials, when it did decide to go to the two villages it flew in an Air Force chopper and stayed in the quarters of the very same brigade that had committed the gang-rapes. And finally when this report came out, it predictably did dispose of the charges calling the incident ‘a massive hoax’, ‘Pakistani propaganda’, etc that was meant to make the ‘army reluctant to go into such areas’! With this concocted report, the case was more or less considered closed by the state.
After several years of closure, Kunan and Poshpora have once again been in news recently. Because of the protracted battle of the survivors, the state was forced to re-open the case last year. However,what the state was forced to give with one hand, it very shrewdly took it away with another. The police first tried its best to ensure that the case is not re-opened but since public pressure punctured that plan successfully last year, the police has not started any fresh investigations. The army on its part has continued to remain non-cooperative repeating the old arguments - calling it ‘a politically motivated game against the army’; ‘re-opening this case is like flogging a dead horse’, and even ridiculously saying that ‘the Indian army is the best disciplined force in the world’! Several hearings have constantly postponed for either the prosecution does not turn up, or the police did not submit its report or at times even the judge remained absent. It would be anyways be naive to expect even a semblance of justice from the courts that are stooges of the army and the para-military.
The mass gang-rapes of women in Kunan and Poshpora were not in any way isolated instances. Over the next two decades the Indian army and paramilitary has raped thousands of Kashmiri women.These constitute a means of the Indian state and its army to assert its dominance over the people of Kashmir who had dared to rebel against its authority. In some cases, the Indian soldiers would slash the breasts of the Kashmiri women with knives telling them that their breasts will never give milk again to a new-born militant.It is this political context of military occupation and popular resistance against it that explains the impunity given by the state to the perpetrators of these crimes. But as history of the last two decades has shown, such bestiality and state terror has not been able to subdue the aspirationsor the movement of the Kashmiri people. All progressive and democratic forces should unequivocally condemn and oppose the Indian state’s war crimes and continued military occupation of Kashmir, and stand in solidarity with the Kashmiri people’s fight for their inalienable right for self-determination including the right to secede from the Indian union.
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 8:38 PM
February 22, 2014
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 4:45 PM
February 20, 2014
The murder of Nido Taniam or the rape of a 14 year old Manipuri girl in Munirka, are not isolated incidents. In each and every city in India, incidents of violence and rabid racial discrimination against people from the North East are in abundance. These two brutal incidents however have brought forcefully to the fore, the question of Indian Racism. Racism that is deeply ingrained and institutionalised in every structure of Indian state and society and yet which often goes unrecognized and unregistered. The murders of Nido Taniam or Richard Loitam are just extreme manifestations of the same. Since 2005, more than a 100 cases of serious violence including, murder, rape, grievous assaults and such crimes against people from the North East have been registered in Delhi alone. The real number is far higher as most of the cases are not even registered because of the pervasive racist character of the police and other legal institutions. The police rather than registering the cases and taking action against the perpetrators of the violence turn the gun on the people of the North East and hold them responsible for "inciting violence." The most shrewd instance of this being a booklet issued by Delhi police in 2007 that gave moral diktats to girls from north east to “dress according to sensitivity of local populace" and "advised" them against wearing “revealing dresses”. It further went on to deem their food habits as a "threat to public order" saying 'bamboo shoot, Akhuni and other “smelly” dishes should be prepared without creating “ruckus” in neighbourhood.' Such gross instances show how racism is institutionalized into the very system.
Racism has not been existing since time immemorial, but just like any other ideology of oppression it has a specific history. What we know as racism today was constituted and enforced with the colonial expansion, annexation and occupation of various regions by the European colonial forces. Racism and racial profiling of colonized people as inferior, backward, savage or uncivilized was an ideological necessity for these colonial forces to justify their ruthless expansion, plunder and extraction of resources from the colonies in the name of the so called "white man's burden to civilize". In the case of the Indian sub-continent too, the regions in North East to India had an extremely important geo-political, strategic as well as economic interest to the British colonialists. However, it was not that the people of north-east acquiesced to this colonial expansion, and there were several revolts, rebellions and resistance movements in the region. However, this history of the people of North East has been carefully obliterated. They have been viewed and portrayed with the gaze of the anthropologists that sought to vindicate British expansionism, but were never recognized as people with their own history. The portrayal of tribes in North East as "head hunters", "criminals", "savage" pervades the perception of people of North East in the official discourses of history. This same portrayal of the people from the North East to India as museumised artefacts was carried on by the Indian state post the transfer of power in 1947. And this has also contributed to the common-sensical "otherization" of the people of North East in the mainstream social perception. The embedded brahminical feudal social relations that discriminate against all oppressed masses also lash back at the people of North East with a deeply entrenched racist prejudice. The difficulty of people from North East to obtain a house or the continuous racist slandering that they receive everywhere emanate out of such racism that this state has sought to normalize for the past more than 6 decades. The same once again glaringly manifested today just across JNU when a Khap Panchayat in Munirka declared to forcefully evict the North east residents from the area. However, racism is not simply a state of mind but percolates deeper into the very institutions as well as foundations of this state.
Of obliterated history and destroyed geography: The Indian state much like its colonial predecessor, post the transfer of power, continued in denying the history of the various peoples and tribes of North East. What matters to the Indian ruling classes as far as the region is concerned is only the extraction of various natural resources in the regions. The entire geography of North East has been systematically destroyed for extraction of oil, natural gas, hydroelectric power, forest resources, carbon extracts and minerals. The extremely exploitative Look East Policy has sanctioned construction of big dams and mineral extraction all across the North East while the rampant ban on shifting cultivation and obtaining of timber that continues from the colonial times has destroyed the indigenous agriculture and forest dependent economy. And all of this has of course been done in the name of so called "development", whereas the reality is that all the regions North East to India remain grossly underdeveloped without opportunities for education or jobs. It is this that forces people from North East to migrate enmasse to Indian cities, where also in turn they are racially discriminated or as the cases of Nido, Taniam, Richard Loitam and many others have shown even killed. Notwithstanding its "integrationist" posturing, the Indian state has never considered the regions to its North East nothing more than avenues for surplus extraction through brute force and coercion. The idea of India as a nation state which was construed and established through the artificial borders drawn by the British colonialists continue to imprison and exploit various nationalities of North East with brutal military might.
The Indian racism has also been sustained through ruthless subjugation of the oppressed nationalities in North East and their struggles for dignity and nation self-determination. The deployment of huge army and para-military contingents all across North East under the impunity of draconian AFSPA, shows that it continues to remain occupied under the military jack-boot. In the past more than six decades, the Indian state has perpetrated the most heinous crimes to suppress the various movements for national self-determination in the region. In 1966, the Indian air force bombed Aizawl and other centres that had been liberated by the guerrilla fighters of the Mizo National Front to recapture them against the will of the people. Apart from destroying thousands of houses and murdering many hundreds of Mizos through such aerial bombardments, the Indian state also carried out the policy of "strategic hamleting" in Mizoram – a technique invented and widely used by the US Army in Vietnam. Fake encounters, rape, burning of villages, destruction of crops and property of the people, torture, custodial deaths has become the order of the day in the entire North East. From 1964 till the present, an armed struggle for national liberation is also being waged by the people of Manipur, despite severe state repression as exemplified by the brutal rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by the Indian army in 2004 or the murder in broad daylight of Chongkham Sanjit in 2009. Even on occasions when the people of various oppressed nationalities have declared their popular will to form free and independent countries of their own, the Indian ruling classes have never respected their democratic decision. For instance, in May 1951 the Nagas conducted a referendum to decide the political future of their nation in which 99% of the Nagas voted in favour of forming an independent and sovereign Nagaland. This refusal by the Indian state to recognise their democratic aspirations and its use of coercive power to keep the Nagas occupied led to the armed liberation movement led by the Naga National Council from 1952. From 1975, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) has spearheaded the Naga self-determination movement through armed struggle against the Indian occupation forces. Even the subsequent ceasefire agreement and the mutually-agreed guidelines of the talks have been regularly flouted by the Indian government. The collective leadership of the Nagas are being kept virtually under house-arrest and even imprisoned on frivolous charges, as in the case of Anthony Shimrey, the head of foreign affairs of the NSCN. Much like in Kashmir, the Indian state has also profiled and criminalised all these movements for national self-determination as "terrorist", "anti-national" and what not. Borrowing the policy of divide and rule from its colonial masters, it has also resorted to engineering several conflicts amongst the different communities, lest they identify the common enemy which is none other than the Indian state that exploits all these communities and repress them alike with escalated military strength.
Indian Union is a colonial formation, a prison-house of nationalities established through the use of brute force and intimidation. If the two hundred years of colonial rule marks the forcible integration of many independent nationalities like the Assamese to the Indian union, 1947 marks the territorial division of many other nationalities. The continued Indian occupation of Kashmir, Nagalim, Manipur and Assam, or its war on the people of central and eastern India under "Operation Green Hunt" shows that the army is the cornerstone of political power of this state and no principles of democracy or popular will find any place in it. This national oppression is maintained by the Indian ruling classes for continuing the semi-feudal semi-colonial system of extraction and exploitation of peoples' resources. Today, it is not simply the question of mere "human rights" in the region as it is often reduced to be. More than that, it is the violation and denial of the collective political right of the people to decide their collective destiny regarding national self-determination. And it is to perpetuate and ideologically justify this exploitative state of affairs, that the state has created and attempted to normalize xenophobia against the people from the region.
The violence against people of North East has not escalated suddenly. Just that, the corporate media has been forced to take cognizance of these regular instances of violence recently, due to the assertion of people. But this deeply entrenched problem of racism cannot be fought unless the progressive and democratic voices speak up against how it has been deeply institutionalised and validated through the subjugation of these various oppressed nationalites. And with that we also need to question and challenge this enforced brahminical notion of India which only reflects the perception of a dominant sections and their enforced jingoist hegemony, in the name of "national integration."
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 7:53 PM
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 7:43 PM
The body long lost, the eyes shut in history.
The fingerprints of the traces lost in the dust of history.
Where did the flesh and the bones go?
Where did the eyes lose their shine?
The dreams once dreamt, the rhythm of life vanished,
Vanished is the existence, vanished from the very facing history
And they turned out to be history, the unspoken, the unnamed history.
--- From a banner of ‘Association of Parents of Disappeared People’, Kashmir
The fingerprints of the traces lost in the dust of history.
Where did the flesh and the bones go?
Where did the eyes lose their shine?
The dreams once dreamt, the rhythm of life vanished,
Vanished is the existence, vanished from the very facing history
And they turned out to be history, the unspoken, the unnamed history.
--- From a banner of ‘Association of Parents of Disappeared People’, Kashmir
The most militarized zone in the world, Kashmir stands for a nation with obliterated history and unthinkable state terror for the past more than 6 decades. The Indian ruling classes have always tried to portray Kashmir as an 'inalienable part of India'. They have consistently denied their internationally committed promise, and guaranteed by as many as 18 UNSC resolutions, to let the Kashmiri people exercise a plebiscite. Even geographical misrepresentation has not been spared, and India has been showcasing a false map to the world which erases the LoC that splits Kashmir territorially and administratively. Kashmir as a nation therefore remains occupied mostly by India and partly by Pakistan and China. Overshadowed by the jingoist sentiments whipped up through multiple means, research on Kashmir is highly censored and reporting grossly restricted. Even internationally reputed journalists like David Barsamian, filmmakers like Udi Aloni, scholars like Richard Shapiro have either been deported from Kashmir or denied visas lest they bring out the reality of the brutalities of the Indian occupation of Kashmir.
As opposed to the official ‘history’ repeated ad nauseam in statist accounts, Kashmir was never a part of India. Amongst the many obliterated facts regarding the history of J&K, one that stands out is the fact that even in August 1947 Kashmir did not accede to India. During the colonial period, it was one of the largest princely states among the 572 ruled by Hindu Dogra elite [feudal chieftains and princely overlords] through whom the British extended their control in the region. After the partition of the sub-continent into two separate two-nation states, it was once again the opinion of Maharaja Hari Singh (the last of such overlords), and not the people of Kashmir, which was instrumental in the accession of Kashmir to India. In fact Maharaja‟s previous PM Ram Chander Kak was removed by him on the advice of Gandhi as he supported independence. Same was the case with many other officials and intellectuals who preferred independence. Later Prem Nath Bazaz a renowned Kashmiri Marxist intellectual, who supported accession to Pakistan, on the grounds of cultural and geographical ties, was exiled by the Indian backed regime of Shiekh Abdullah. The extension of colonial control through this mechanism had resulted in intensified feudal exploitation in the region against which the people of Kashmir rose up in revolt several times. It was in the midst of one such revolt in 1947 that the Indian ruling classes very cavalierly extended their control to the region. In 1947, the residents of Poonch who formed a formidable regiment under the British Army were systematically unarmed by the Dogra state and massacred at a big level aided by the Indian army. Some 200,000 Muslims were killed and many more “disappeared” or were forced to migrate. It was then that these people, seeing no other means, attempted to liberate Kashmir from Dogra-Indian combine and rose up in an armed rebellion for independent Kashmir. Hari Singh sought military help from first the Raja of Patiala and then from India to suppress this rebellion known as the Poonch Rebellion. On 26 October, 1947, the Indian state's military forces entered Kashmir for the first time to suppress this rebellion one day before the so-called ‘accession’ was signed. Even at that time, the then Indian Prime Minister Nehru stated that the people of Kashmir would be given a right very soon to decide their future through a plebiscite. In a broadcast from New Delhi on 2nd November 1947, Nehru said, “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given, and the Maharaja has supported it, not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer.” (Govt. of India, White Paper on J&K, Delhi, 1948, p.77)
Ever since this forcible ‘accession’, the history of Kashmir is a history of false promises and repeated betrayals of the Kashmiri people’s aspirations. In 1947, the Indian state installed the comprador government under Sheikh Abdullah and at the same time incorporated article 370 in the constitution to grant the Kashmiris some minimal autonomy as a substitute for plebiscite and self-determination. However, the developments there after even rendered this minimal autonomy invalid as the central government repeatedly intervened directly to stifle all voices of self-determination. Even its own loyalists like Sheikh Abdullah were not spared by Nehru and co. who arrested him for treason in 1953. After his arrest, the Indian state installed Ghulam Muhammad Bakshi who once in power declared Kashmir to be a permanent part of India. Successive rigged elections were held under the viral surveillance of the army in 1957 and 1962 with no opposition allowed. Sheikh Abdullah was finally released by Indira Gandhi in 1973 at the cost of a compromise deal with her to integrate Kashmir completely to India and the offices of President and PM were renamed as Governor and CM. Sheikh Abdullah for his complete betrayal of the aspirations of the Kashmiris had to face the wrath of the Kashmiris whose collective anger by this time knew no bounds. Once again in 1983 another government was overthrown in a coup by the Indian state which this time around installed another puppet by the name of Ghulam Mohammad Shah. It was however the elections in 1987 which were the major turning point in the history of Kashmir's on-going struggle for freedom. Several candidates who contested the elections seeking the mandate for plebiscite under the banner of Muslim United Front (MUF) were thrown behind bars after they won these elections, and known loyalists like Farooq Abdullah installed in their place. In all these decades, it was the will of a select few compradors from Maharaja Hari Singh to Ghulam Mohammad Bakshi and Sheikh Abdullah and his clan and not the aspirations of the people that determined the history of the region. And all of these betrayals convinced the people by the late 1980s that there was no other way forward but to take the struggle to a more assertive and militant form, even if it means taking up arms.
The armed struggle for complete Azaadi from India erupted in Kashmir after all forms of peaceful struggles were repressed and ignored. The state repression by the Indian security forces also escalated to absolute fascist proportions. 800,000 paramilitary forces protected under the impunity of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was deployed in Kashmir. In the following two decades, 100,243 people have been murdered while many simply "disappeared." At the end of 2010, more than 3000 bodies were unearthed from various unmarked mass graves spread around the valley containing bodies of people who were killed secretly by the army. However, the number of mass massacres perpetrated by the Indian army and para-military by open firing on people in Kashmir is mind boggling. Just to site a few glaring examples, on January 21 1990, 55 people were gunned down in Basanthbagh and Gawkadal in Srinagar by CRPF when 20,000 people came out in the streets to protest, defying curfew. Four days later on 25 January, 26 people were shot dead in Handwara town of Kupwara district. On May 21 in the same year, 70 people who were a part of a procession carrying the dead body of a prominent liberation leader were shot down near Islamia College of Srinagar. On 11th June 1991, the CRPF fired and killed 32 people in Chhotabazar Srinagar. On 6th January 1993, BSF killed and burnt alive 57 people in Sopore, and then razed down the whole town burning down a total of 72 structures. On 10 April, 1993, 47 people were burnt alive in Lal Chowk, Srinagar by BSF who razed more than 300 houses, shops and godowns. On 22 October, in Bijbehara BSF open fired on a procession killing 50 people. In 1998, once again on 8th August, 35 labourers were killed in Jammu by CRPF. In 2008, during the protests against land transfer to the Amarnath Yatra, the state killed 60 people including a senior Hurriyat Leader. In 2010, when people came out in the streets against the Indian occupation around 120 people, most of them youngster, were killed by the security forces. These are just few examples; the entire history of Kashmir is fraught with such brutal killings. More than 4000 women in Kashmir have been raped and molested by these occupation forces. On 23 February, 1991, around 80 women were gang raped by the Indian Army in Kunan and Poshpora villages. It is needless to say that the Indian state which actively orchestrated these massacres and rapes never booked a single perpetrator but kept giving them clean chits in the name of "national security" and "national integrity". Unspeakable torture, parading in the name of checks and raids, kidnapping, detention and harassment of people, curfew and pervasive surveillance defines the daily lives in Kashmir. Several torture chambers exist across Kashmir, where despicable crimes are committed against people who are arrested or illegally detained. Kashmir remains the most militarized zone in the world (even more militarized than Iraq and Palestine), and the state which administers the world's largest military occupation cannot call itself a democracy.
In India such massacres, rapes and the continued occupation of Kashmir are hardly talked about. Along with obliterating the history of the occupation, the Indian state apparatus has also craftily garnered a completely false image of the Kashmiri struggle to justify its brutal occupations. In media and films, the Kashmiri people's struggle is shrewdly portrayed as the handiwork of a "few foreign funded, Pakistan backed Islamic terrorists" who are trying to break "the sovereignty and the integrity of the India". The only 'concern' about Kashmir that is whipped up popularly among Indians by the communal fascist forces is the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1989. What is not discussed even in this regard, is that this exodus was engineered by none other than the then Governor Jagmohan. Each and every parliamentary party also toe the same jingoist line of "national security" and "national integrity". At best for some of these parties, especially the parliamentary pseudo-left [represented by CPI/AISF, CPM/SFI and CPI (ML) Liberation/AISA] what is "disconcerting" is only the "excesses" and violation of "human rights" done by security forces under the impunity of AFSPA. Some of them do talk vaguely about "democratic rights" and "aspirations" while maintaining a calculated silence on what exactly is this democratic right. Are the Kashmiris fighting merely against state atrocities, and AFSPA, or are they also fighting for their historically denied right to self-determination? In their completely decontextualized discourse even about human right violations, most of the fundamental questions are side-lined. Why exactly does the state need to deploy 8 lakh armed personnel in the valley and why exactly does it need to provide impunity to its armed forces through AFSPA? It is because these armed forces have been deployed to crush the national-liberation struggle in Kashmir which continues to inspire the millions of people in the valley, despite all the state terror and brutalities. Every genuine Marxist-Leninist organization in history has firmly upheld this principle of people's democracy of supporting the right to self-determination of oppressed nationalities, which far exceeds the bourgeois "liberals", "social democrats" & pseudo-Marxists who never get tired of talking about "democracy" every time, but expose their majoritarian nationalism and chauvinism when it comes to this question.
DSU remains committed to the Leninist principle of standing by and strengthening the struggles of oppressed nationalities for national liberation, and their democratic right to choose their own collective destiny, even if that choice is for secession.
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 7:41 PM
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 7:29 PM
Condemn the brutal violence unleashed by the Delhi Police, CRPF, CISF on students protesting against racial violence and for gender justice!
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 7:21 PM
Sangharsho ki jali mashaal, bhaage dushman or dalal! Demand exemplary punishment for sanghi hoodlums who unleashed violence in the mashaal juloos called to remember Afzal Guru on the first year of his martyrdom
Day before yesterday, the spectacular success of the mashaal juloos called by DSU on the first year of Afzal Guru’s martyrdom once again reasserted the progressive character of this campus. The juloos attended by hundreds of students decisively showed that the students of this campus refuse to bear the brunt of an enforced ‘collective conscience’ used by the Indian state to justify Afzal Guru’s judicial murder. We showed the ruling classes that the ‘collective conscience’ of the Modis, Gandhis, Pranab Mukherjees and Chidambarams are not shared by the students. We also powerfully asserted our strongest opposition to the forceful military occupation of Kashmir as well as other oppressed nationalities of the North East, and that we stand by their right to self-determination including secession. We also once again proved that the students of this campus will always align their support to the struggling masses of this sub-continent rather than stand by the oppressive agenda of the ruling classes of this communal fascist state.
Unnerved by the overwhelming solidarity of the students to the Kashmiri national liberation struggle, the lumpen brigade of the communal-fascist ABVP left no stones unturned to stop the juloos. Even before the march, they openly tore down DSU posters and in Mahi-Mandavi burnt the pamphlets of DSU. At the beginning of the juloos, these self proclaimed custodians of ‘nationalism’ came out in ‘full force’ (which at no point added up to more than 40 people) to physically stall the march. Throughout, they tried to block it at various junctures that lead to a lot of ruckus. But each and every time they were pushed behind by the students and the spirited juloos successfully culminated in Chandrabhaga. These handful of lumpens were led by known history sheeters like Sandip kr Singh, Anil Godara, Shubham Uniyal, Aditya Vardhan, Rajesh, Gaurav, Avishek. Frustrated by their inability to stall the juloos, these lumpen gangs started burning posters and finally even pelting stones. Two students (one from JNU and the other from IIMC) got seriously injured and were rushed to the hospital. One of them in fact had to get six stitches on his head. But NOTHING could deter the march and the protesting students. We marched forward, remembering Afzal, Maqbool and all martyrs of Kashmir. It was very shameful that when the ABVP was trying to create a ruckus, was giving extremely provocative and communal slogans and was unleashing violence, the AISA led JNUSU was conspicuous by its complete absence all through the march.
This rampant violence and hooliganism of the sangh brigade is nothing new. True to the fascist politics of their masters across the country, this is exactly how they have always tried to clamp down on the democratic ethos of the campus by trying to disrupt programme. The campus has not forgotten the way these lumpens vandalised the presidential debate in 2007 because someone dared to put forward the dalit critique of the brahminical myths built around Ram! We have not forgotten how these lumpens have repeatedly targeted muslim, dalit and Kashmiri students, how they created an extremely jingoist atmosphere during the last cricket world cup, disrupted a public meeting at Ganga Dhaba and even went to the extent of throwing a beer on a Kashmiri woman. This was their way of ‘celebrating’ India’s victory! We have also not forgotten how they vandalised a meeting of JNU Forum against War on People held against Operation green Hunt in Godavari dhaba in 2010. The politics of these hate mongering fascist goons thrive on such hooliganism.
The JNU administration’s past record shows that it stand one with these sanghis when it comes to clamping down on the democratic spaces of this university and providing impunity to these goons. And it is this that emboldens them. In the past few years, we have seen repeatedly the administration closing down several hostel messes for public meetings using the excuse of ABVP’s vandalism. It was only through the struggles of the progressive and democratic students of this university that we reclaimed these hard earned spaces. We would like to warn both the administration as well as these handful of sanghi lumpens not to test the patience and tolerance of the students repeatedly. Today, DSU has lodged a complaint to the proctor’s office against these indentified scoundrels, and has also given the administration two days time to take action against them. If the administration continues with its consistent track record of shielding them, the students will unitedly force the administration in the coming days to punish these goons. We also take this opportunity to warn the rascals of ABVP, that notwithstanding the administration’s shielding, the students of this campus will always take them to task each time they rear their fascist heads.
These hired goons of the mass murderers and rapists of Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar, Bathani Tola, Lakhsmanpur-Bathe, Kunanposhpora, Shopian, Chattsingpora, Pathribal, Brakpora and killers of Samjhauta Express, Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid are trying to create the same atmosphere of terror and vandalism across several campuses of the country. They facilitate the state’s agenda of silencing and intimidating those who speak out against injustice, oppression and exploitation. But as the hundreds of students showed on the 8th February, we will not let them create our campus into the fiefdom of the fascists. We will always confront these mercenaries of Modi, Chidambaram and co. and push back their fascist agenda. And we will also keep alive the legacy and the memories of the hundreds of thousands of martyrs of Kashmir, Nagalim, Manipur, Assam, Ealam, Palestine and India who have laid down their lives fighting for people and for life. We will keep them alive in our slogans, strengthened convictions and in our struggles. As Marx said, “Let life be dead, but death must not be allowed to live!”
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 7:03 PM