August 27, 2014

Protest against the denial of bail to Dr. GN Saibaba!

Condemn the denial of bail to Dr. G.N. Saibaba! Speak out against the state’s attempts to throttle the voices of dissent! Release Saibaba, Hem and all other political prisoners unconditionally!

In an extremely condemnable judgment yesterday, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court denied bail to DU faculty Dr. G.N. Saibaba who has been languishing in Nagpur Centrail Jail since May. Upholding the prosecution’s version which portrays him as a prominent Maoist “leader”, the court sidelined the arguments put forward by Saibaba’s lawyer that police have no evidence to substantiate their claims and one could not be branded a Maoist merely because one’s social activism may resemble Maoist ideology. It is ironical that the same Bombay High Court, which in a judgment pertaining to the members of the Kabir Kala Manch who were also branded as “Maoists” had said that highlighting issues of social and economic inequality far from being a “crime” is commendable, has chosen to prolong Dr. Saibaba’s incarceration for precisely this “crime”. The fact that Saibaba suffers from 90% disability and is wheel chair bound was not paid heed to by the court which eagerly accepted the prosecution’s version that he was being provided adequate facilities and medicines. In reality, far from that being the case, Saibaba is incarcerated in solitary confinement in extremely inhuman conditions without medicines and adequate facilities. Even to go the toilet, two or three other inmates have to hold him as the western style toilet (which is the only one he can use) is not there. As a result of all of this, he has already collapsed twice in prison. The same court which denied bail to Dr. Saibaba, was however forced to grant bail to the Uttarakhand journalist Prashant Rahi who was framed a co-accused in the case as the police could not produce any document which they claimed to have recovered from him as evidence of his Maoist links. The defence of Comrade Hem of our organisation, who is also arrested on similar bogus charges, is yet to be heard by the court.
It is extremely clear that the state’s attempts to prolong Saibaba’s incarceration, without any evidence to substantiate their cock and bull story around him, is politically motivated to silence a prominent voice of dissent.  Over the past few years, Saibaba’s political activism has earned the ire of several people – from the VC of the Delhi University to the likes of Chidambaram, Manmohan and now their successors in the BJP. Even a year before he started being directly hounded by the state officials, their loyal crony DU VC Dinesh Singh had already made all attempts to evict Saibaba from his university accommodation for his role in several movements in the university. However, Saibaba’s activism was not confined to the university alone and he attempted to bridge links with various movements across the sub-continent. When the Indian state’s armed personnel marched into the forests of Central and Eastern India to crush the valiant resistance of the adivasi population against corporate plunder, Saibaba, along with others, was instrumental in galvanizing a large section of intelligentsia, civil society, students and teachers against this war. As the convenor of the Forum against War on People, he meticulously tore down the curtain of silence and also shred apart the high-sounding myth of ‘development’ that the Indian state uses to hide or justify this war. He is also the Jt. Secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front which has sought to forge solidarities amongst the various people’s movements in the sub-continent.
For the last few years, the state was profiling Saibaba in various ways and finally arrested him on 9th May in the most surreptitious manner. He was clandestinely abducted on 9th May by plain-clothed policemen of the Maharashtra police just steps away from his residence as he was on his way back from examination duty. Saibaba was blindfolded and pushed into a vehicle that swiftly took him to the airport from whence he was flown to Nagpur. The surreptitious manner in which he was abducted by the police itself testifies that they were wary of following the usual procedure for arrest in the absence of any evidence against him at their disposal. For quite a while before his arrest, especially since the arrest of Comrade Hem, the state was making a concerted attempt to arrest and frame Saibaba. Sections of the media were running a most vicious media trial against him. There was a dastardly raid at his residence within the university premises in September 2013 by a joint team of 60 policemen with a ridiculous warrant of “search for stolen property”, who took away his hard disk, computer and mobile without any seal. Despite several representations to the Delhi University, the Chancellor as well as the NHRC (which incidentally took note of the gross violations during the illegal raid of his house) such harassments continued unabated. In January 2014, the Maharashtra police came with the pretext of a so called “interrogation” and resorted to blatant threats and intimidations. The next step thereby was to surreptitiously abduct him and frame him under absurd charges. Ever since his arrest, there have been extremely vocal protests not just in the country but all across the world demanding his immediate and unconditional release.

Saibaba and Hem’s arrests are not isolated cases. As fascism stares us on our faces, all those – be it writers, intellectuals, artists, journalists, people’s activists – opposing it and speaking for people rights are increasingly being silenced and put behind bars. The democratic rights movement of our country, which since the days of the emergency has spoken up for the release of political prisoners is now faced with the arduous challenge of rising up to the occasion once again. In today’s context of an undeclared emergency, we have to repeatedly remind the powers that be that for every voice that they may hunt down for speaking the truth, there will be thousands of others who will come forward to speak up for justice. DSU condemns in strongest possible terms the denial of bail to Dr. GN Saibaba and appeals to all progressive sections to demand the immediate & unconditional release of Saibaba, Com. Hem and all other political prisoners. 

“Anti-AISAism” is the language of George Bush!

The fourth Lyngdoh-bound JNUSU elections are round the corner and the campus can already feel its heat. For more than two and a half years now, the elections and by effect the politics round the year in JNU have been guided by Lyngdoh Recommendations, rather than our own JNUSU constitution. The consequent depoliticisation is clearly palpable. Crunched by severe time constraints and various other restrictions, all our democratic bodies ranging from school GBMs to even the JNUSU elections are slowly but clearly turning into bureaucratic exercises bereft of their real significance. On top of that, election centric organisations ranging from the right wing – ABVP and NSUI to the pseudo-left AISA and SFI see students as nothing more than numbers who are to be mobilized by hook or crook only when it comes to voting. All of this contributes to increasing levels of de-politicization and were there in full public view in the recently concluded school GBMs, the decreasing level of political debates as well as the lumpenism and rowdiness with which even the JNUSU conducted itself in each and every school GBM.
AISA’s so called Anti-AISAism: A Language of the Ruling Classes: For the last 2½ years AISA has been in JNUSU - twice in absolute and once in relative majority. Their successive terms have witnessed repeated betrayal of several major students’ struggles and capitulation in front of the administration. And it is only natural and legitimate that today, they will be faced with several genuine questions and criticisms. However, each of these questions are evoking either hooliganism from AISA leaders and cadres or a much worse a quintessential ruling class logic that every criticism amounts to “anti-AISA’ism” (whatever that means!). Much like George Bush they want to proclaim that either you are with us or you are an agent of the administration and/or right wing!  But can such Bush-styled (il)logic hide the fact that the AISA led JNUSU has simply shunned from struggles, surrendered important students’ issues with their hollow politics of tokenism and has been more than eager to stand with the administration every time it undermined significant students’ demands.
  • ·         This recent desperation and empty rhethoric was in full display during the recent initiatives against Lyngdoh, when rather than responding to the questions posed by the Joint Front regarding our legal-political struggle against Lyngdoh, all that AISA managed to come up with is that this is a Front against AISA!
  • ·         Similarly, if anyone questions them as to what happened to their promise of intensifying the struggle for increasing MCM to Rs. 3000 (which is a crucial necessity for several students to continue their education at a time when mess bills itself are coming over Rs. 2000), their retort is the same “you are anti-AISA, this is anti-AISAism”.
  • ·         They come up with the same response when asked about the hostel crisis and why the struggle to build new hostels has not progressed by an inch in all these years.
  • ·         Their response is the same when questioned for their complicity with the administration in the repeated undermining of GSCASH verdicts, or as to why GSCASH decisions have not been made binding upon the administration (despite a UGBM mandate regarding the same).
  • ·         In fact, even the criticism of the conduct of JNUSU office bearers (from AISA) who have brazenly violated GSCASH rules and the clause of confidentiality makes all students a part of an anti-AISA conspiracy!  

It is amply clear for all these questions, AISA has absolutely no answers and ‘anti-AISAism’ has become a convenient bogey to cover up its inactions and failures. Far from being a democratic response to engage in any debate, this response is not even remotely political. It is not through posing of genuine questions and criticism but rather by surrendering struggles that administration and right wing gets emboldened in any university space. The students must see through and reject such empty rhetoric and hollow phrase mongering that seeks to drown all meaningful political debates. 
It takes years of struggles to make a democratic institution; the destruction of it, however, can happen much faster. That is precisely what is AISA doing to both the institutions like JNUSU and GSCASH. When the elections started under the draconian Lyngdoh in 2012, the UGBM had clearly mandated that this was to be merely an interim measure and the JNUSU will immediately strive to reinstate the JNUSU constitution. AISA entered the first election, with much fanfare with its’ so called ‘twin challenges’ - they claimed we need a Lyngdoh bound JNUSU in order to fight Lyngdoh! In the past two and a half years, there has not been any sustained political mobilization against Lyngdoh or around our legal case. But of late, after several organisations came together under the banner of the Joint Front Against Lyngdoh to successfully foreground the fight against LCR as the most important challenge, AISA has been trying to pose itself as the ‘sole crusader’ against Lyngdoh. They claim while AISA has been fighting Lyngdoh in the court, the rest are only interested in fighting AISA. If that indeed is the case as they claim, let us ask them what exactly AISA led JNUSU has done to intensify the political-legal fight against Lyngdoh? How is it that despite all their so called efforts that case in the Supreme Court has not moved an inch forward since November 2009? The fact of the matter is since 2010, AISA (along SFI and right wing organisations) has led the surrender to Lyngdoh and it is only that which is responsible for the present status quo on the legal front. Ever since the JNUSU elections were held, the only ‘efforts’ of successive AISA led or AISA majority JNUSUs have been reduced to token event management in the name of fighting LCR. In their so called ‘national convention’ against LCR two years back, they dangerously talked about reforming, rather than rejecting LCR and much in line with that did not even place a resolution demanding the restoration of the JNUSU constitution. And after more than a year of slumber after that, they organised a mess deputation to CJI last November, only after the Joint Front took a series of anti-Lyngdoh programmes both inside and outside the campus.
For a force for whom tokenism is all that matters, they are now brandishing these two initiatives as evidence of their anti-LCR credentials. If students and organisations now criticize them for their absolute inaction betrayal of their own stated commitment that the mass deputation would be followed up within a fortnight, their only response is that this is anti-AISAism!  So much so, they termed the Joint Front against Lyngdoh, which is the only force that is consistently fighting against and talking about Lyngdoh, as a front against AISA! Not even content with that, they shamelessly demobilized and campaigned against the referendum that the Joint Front held. A force that bars students from expressing their opinion with all forms of deceitful anti-campaign has no right to call itself democratic from any perspective. AISA members actively boycotted the referendum and their leaders could be seen around the booths making all efforts (in vain) to stop the students from casting their votes. But the fact that notwithstanding all their anti-campaign, almost 1600 students participated in the referendum and around 88% of them gave a resounding NO to Lyngdoh and upheld the JNUSU constitution is also a rejection of AISA’s desperate counter-campaign and attempts to curb the democratic rights of students.  If Joint Front is indeed a front against AISA as they say, what do they have to say about all those students who participated in the referendum organised by the Joint Front, notwithstanding their failed efforts to sabotage it?  
Much like JNUSU, AISA has also contributed to debilitating and hollowing out the institution of GSCASH by first its inactions and later and more dangerously by itself sabotaging it. So much for their much acclaimed call for ‘Bekhauf Azadi’, when here in campus they surrendered the fight for gender justice and simply remained as mute spectators when the administration lashed at GSCASH repeatedly shielding three influential faculty members found guilty by GSCASH. Even when a UGBM mandated JNUSU to fight to make GSCASH recommendations binding upon administration, the JNUSU simply refused to act. Far from mobilizing students to build a movement to force the patriarchal administration to backtrack, they refused to call protest demonstrations before important EC meetings and even shamelessly celebrated the verdicts of the EC that diluted GSCASH’s recommendations.
If all of this was enough, their real patriarchal face however has been exposed at its worst with the recent developments around the GSCASH complaint that has been filed against two JNUSU office bearers. First, these two office bearers, in a brazen violation of GSCASH rules, came out with a public notification informing students about the complaint filed against them. They said that the ‘students had a right to know from their own elected representatives’, when clearly no one has a right to know about GSCASH complaints and cases which are strictly confidential. Till date, AISA remains the only organisation that has not condemned this act of the JNUSU office bearers, who misusing their elected positions in JNUSU to present their public defence and build a public opinion in their favour even before the enquiry. Off late, AISA cadres have shunned even the minimum dignity and are going around the campus indulging in heinous slander and a rabid character assassination against the complainant and even hounding her in public. They are discussing their version of the case with lucid details and trying to delegitimize the complaint by portraying it once again as ‘anti-AISA conspiracy’. DSU would like to warn AISA if they don’t stop the rabid slander and character assassination of the complainant, DSU and the rest of the student community will resolutely take them to task. We can in no way allow such degenerate forces to do irreparable damage to the struggle for gender justice that was so painstakingly built by relentlessly fighting against the entrenched forces of patriarchy. In the past, we have seen many women who had filed complaints in the GSCASH were forced to leave the campus after they were hounded by such slander and character assassination. Such slander and public trial will only deter women in the coming days to file GSCASH complaints, especially if it happens to be against a leading political activist. It can make the lives of women who have braved to come forward to file a complaint a nightmare. AISA which swears by its campaign for gender justice has stooped so low, that it cannot simply allow the enquiry to happen quietly, but is raising a constant cacophony of smear campaign, gossip to build a public opinion in their favour. What then is the difference between AISA and any other regressive right wing force?
In the last one and a half years, all those demands and struggles that demanded a resolute fight from the side of the union simply vanished from the union’s schemes of things. Notable amongst it is the demand for 5 deprivation points for Muslim students given their abysmal representation in the campus, or the political struggle for the reduction of viva-voce marks. Both these demands are extremely important for the democratization of higher education in JNU and both requires resolute struggle. AISA has simply obliterated the first demand and relegated the second into a mere legal battle only. Now with the elections coming round the corner meaningless NGOised interventions and administrative decisions are now being showcased as ‘important achievements’.

Those in powers in the government, brand anyone who questions their authority and policies as “anti-national”. On one hand AISA is shunning away from all the struggles and, on the other hand it is brandishing all voices of criticism as ‘anti-AISAism’, and as per their convoluted logic against the union. JNUSU was never supposed to be a platform of power, but a platform of the students for struggle. This itself is fulfilling the dream of Lyngdoh, that students’ unions should be reduced to pliant bodies that pose no challenge to the forces of privatization and meritocracy. We must fight back and reject this hollow NGO brand politics that is being passed in the name of ‘Left radicalism!’

Release Comrade Hem immediately and unconditionally!

It has been a year since Hem, one of our leading comrades, was arrested & falsely branded as ‘a Naxal courier’ by the notorious Maharashtra police. The modus operandi that the police resorted to for his arrest and implication is a very common one – three days before his arrest was officially announced from Gadhchirolli, Hem was already in police custody illegally nabbed from a different location in Ballarshah while he was on his way for medical treatment. From there, he was taken to another place and was physically and mentally tortured. After initially denying his arrest, the police was finally forced to admit it after the news of the same trickled out to some civil society activists who reported the same to his family and friends. In the past one year, his arrest has been used as a pretext for further harassment and witch-hunt of more activists – Prashant Rahi, a journalist from Uttarakhand was picked up from Raipur, taken all the way to Gadchirolli and was shown as arrested from there. And in the meantime after carrying out the most vicious media trial against him and raiding his house in Delhi University last year, the same Maharashtra police also abducted and arrested the known public intellectual, Dr. GN Saibaba in May this year. All three have now been framed in the same case – of having been in touch with or delivering messages to the Maoist leadership –, booked under the draconian UAPA and are languishing in solitary confinement in Nagpur Central Jail.

Hem, who hails from Uttarakhand, joined in JNU in 2010 and was a B.A. student in the Chinese Centre of SLL&CS. Right from his days in Uttarakhand, Hem has been a prominent activist and part of many people’s movements – the people’s movement for a separate state of Uttarakhand, movements against displacement, for the rights of political prisoners as well as the students’ movement in the state. He was an Executive Committee member of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) and also joined DSU and Revolutionary Cultural Front after coming to JNU. Students of this campus are aware of the leading role played by Hem in many students’ initiatives in the campus – be it through his songs, poetry, street plays in his capacity as a cultural activist or in several students’ movements. In fact, just a week before he left for treatment for his polio-stricken left hand and was arrested midway, he was part of the hunger strike in JNU for the doubling of MCM scholarship. So if the absurdity of the police version is to be believed, a prominent activist known widely was chosen by the underground Maoist leadership to deliver messages for them; and that too time and again! The police claimed that at the time of his arrest they have recovered a micro-chip from Hem that contains these messages. But, for any evidence to have legal validity it needs to be made in front of independent witnesses, which has not been the case. In fact, the surreptitious way in which Hem was abducted, before his official arrest, belie the hoax claims of the police. In several cases involving Muslim youth framed as “terrorists” or dalits, adivasis, civil rights activists framed as “Maoists”, we have seen repeatedly how the police resort to fabricating and planting evidence while the accused are in their illegal custody. 

Fight against the state’s attempts to silence those who dare to dissent! For all that the police and the state agencies might say, we are aware of Hem’s real ‘crime’. As a voice against exploitation, Hem dreamt of a just society and was striving to actualize it in practice. And Hem is not the only one to have been branded and put behind bars for this crime. In today’s date as state sheds even the minimum pretense of being a ‘democracy’, one need not be an armed guerilla to be met with the most ruthless wrath of the state machinery. Several writers, poets, journalists, cultural and political activists who have refused the Indian state’s official line on questions of “development” and “progress” have been thrown behind the bars. In Nagpur Central alone, there are scores of activists charged with Naxal links. But, interestingly hardly any of these charges have ever reached conviction. Pointing to the charges against those accused of having Naxal links in Maharasthra, civil rights lawyer, Surendra Gadling recently told a news house how the police file multiple cases against the accused, at times even 60 to 70 cases against one person under UAPA, knowing that they have no evidence. So, even if they are acquitted in one case, they are immediately arrested in another. The stories of civil right activist Arun Ferreira, who was arrested on similar charges and then tortured, put through the illegal narco-test was recently acquitted of all the charges - but after 4 years of unjust incarceration. Same are the stories of trade unionist Vernon Gonzalves, radical Dalit writer Sudhir Dhawale and members of Kabir Kala Manch.

As Hem and others languish behind the bars in the Nagpur Central Jail, we still don’t know for how long they would remain incarcerated based on trumped up charges, fabricated stories and zero evidence. In Hem’s case, there has not even been a single hearing till date which clearly exemplifies that having no evidence against him, the state simply wants to prolong his period of incarceration by denying him the right to defend himself. Continuing his commitment to the cause of the oppressed & the marginalized even inside the prison, Comrade Hem was part of a historic hunger strike across different jails of the country in defence of their rights as political prisoners. So, while he fights on with countless others from behind the bars, we must carry on the same struggle outside against injustice, inequality and against an undeclared emergency on all those who dare to dissent, it is extremely important thereby that all progressive forces stand up against this injustice and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Comrade Hem, Prashant Rahi, GN Saibaba and all other political prisoners.

Release Hem Immediately and Unconditionally!

Communal persecution, imperialist war on terror and minority witch-hunting: The continuing ban on SIMI

August 18, 2014

Condemn the retraction of Sheetal Sathe as one of the speakers in a discussion by St. Xaviers College, at the behest of ABVP diktats! Let us not allow our academic spaces to be turned into the fiefdom of the fascist forces!

In yet another incident of ABVP hooliganism, Sheetal Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch was stopped from addressing a panel discussion called “Invisibility of Caste” in St. Xavier’s College’s cultural festival “Malhar”. To ensure Sathe’s non-participation, ABVP goons shot off a letter to the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Rakesh Maria, to pressurize the college administration to withdraw Sathe’s invitation. Branding her as a ‘Naxalite’ and ‘anti-national’, ABVP hooligans threatened that they would disrupt the program if it went ahead. This attempt to brand activists in order to gag their voices follows from a series of such incidents. Anyone who begins to assert their rights or exposes the inequalities in our society maintained by the present state machinery is immediately dubbed as a “Naxal” or “seditious” so that they can be arrested and tortured on baseless allegations. In the recent past, Maharashtra has specially gained notoriety for such witch-hunt. One would remember that it was precisely on this dubious branding that several KKM members were arrested (many are still behind bars) while others, including Sathe, were forced to go in to hiding. The recent acquittal of Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale from Nagpur Central Jail after four years of baseless incarceration hardly came as a relief for the democratic rights movement, as it is now faced with the challenge to get Comrade Hem of DSU, Prashant Rahi and Dr. GN Saibaba released from the same dungeons. All these gags and arrests of activists who speak out for justice and against oppression expose the duplicity and the inherently undemocratic character of the state, notwithstanding its hyperbole of being the ‘world’s largest democracy’.
Students of  FTII beaten up by ABVP goons, during a
programme organised by the former where they invited
Kabir Kala Manch 
Incidents like these also exemplify the close collusion between university administrations and the fascist forces. In a similar incident in 2010, the youth-wing of the fascist, Hitler-worshipping organization Shiv Sena forced the then VC of Mumbai University to remove Rohinton Mistry’s award-winning book Such a Long Journey from the B.A. syllabus. The VC not only meekly acquiesced to their demand but in a blatant abuse of power invoked emergency powers under Section 14 (7) of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994 to ban the book altogether! In Delhi University, sanghi goons have simply been given a free run by the police to target professors and students and in our own campus as well, we have seen repeated hooliganism from ABVP - be it ransacking the presidential debate in 2007, attacking programs or the recent attempt to violently sabotage the juloos called by DSU on the first year of Afzal Guru’s judicial murder. Despite overwhelming protests by the student community on each of these occasions, the administration has never taken any action against ABVP. On the contrary, it has only been too keen on witch-hunting students based on dubious complaints by ABVP. One would remember that the JNU Forum against War on People, which has been mobilizing opinion against Operation Green hunt, was banned for over 6 months, based on a bogus complaint by ABVP.

Sheetal Sathe was conspicuous by her absence at the panel discussion and it is only ironical that the discussion was called “Invisibility of caste”! For fascist forces such as ABVP/BJP, the likes of Dina Nath Batra and other self-proclaimed custodians of so called Indian culture, it is all the more important to clamp down on discussions, protests and mobilizations that foreground the entrenched violent inequalities of our society that they perpetuate.  And they do so both directly like the case above, as well through institutionalized penal instruments like the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations which depoliticize campuses & embolden the forces of Brahmanism & privatization. DSU condemns in the strongest possible terms the withdrawal by St. Xaviers’ College of Sheetal Sathe as one of the speakers and appeals to all progressive and democratic students to assertively confront such fascist forces and defeat their politics of threats and intimidation. We can in no way allow our academic spaces to be turned into the fiefdom of fascist forces!  

Speak up against the 18 year long ban on SIMI! Condemn the UAPA Tribunal’s decision to uphold the ban imposed by the Govt. on SIMI for the seventh time!

Resist the profiling & witch hunting of Muslims
by the communal fascist Indian state
in the name of “war on terror”!

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal upheld the undemocratic ban  imposed by the Indian state for the seventh time on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) with that extending the total period of ban to 18 long years!  The NDA regime had clamped down on SIMI way back in 2001 just a week after 9/11 adhering to the American cries for revenge making SIMI the    first casualty of the imperialist “war on terror”. Ever since, even without an iota    of evidence, without a single case been proven against them, under Congress  too, the ban on SIMI has been reviewed every 2 years and routinely extended apart from a short spell in 2008 when the landmark Geeta Mittal Tribunal that found no basis for the continuing ban. Such “incriminating evidence of anti-national activities” or “terror plots” included, for instance, protesting against the burning of Quran, against the US invasion of Afghanistan, against the inaction of the UN Security Council, or even merely the knowledge of internet, swimming or horse-riding! Some were even picked up for blasts that were later revealed to be the handiwork of the sangh. This year, under the provisions of the draconian UAPA, the ban has been extended for 5 years. This Tribunal,  headed by    Suresh Kait  confirmed on 27th July the Centre’s February 6th notification banning SIMI for another 5 years with the farce that the outfit  would      reorganize & “disrupt the secular fabric” of the country if not curbed.
The build up to this was being meticulously planned for the last one year. Ever since the weakening of the case against SIMI in 2008, the state hatched yet another series ofso called “masterminds” and “terror modules”, this time under     the fictitious Indian Mujahideen or IM. For a year or more stories of IM & SIMI working in coordination or the latter providing logistical support to IM began to be floated. Just a few months before the Tribunal, “confessional statements” were conjured up from supposed “IM linkmen” to manufacture a story of “SIMI terror modules regrouping”. The bogey of attack on Modi and SIMI’s alleged involvement in Patna Rally blasts was also resurrected timely to justify this ban.
It is high time that we speak up against the Indian state’s fascist tactic of banning an organization and orchestrating a communal fascist witch hunt of minorities faithful to the imperialist “war on terror”. It is the responsibility of all progressive democratic voices to demand an immediate revocation of the ban on SIMI.                 

June 25, 2014

In less than a couple of months and the Modi government bares its anti-people, communal fascist and plunderous fangs!

To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament--this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary- constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics­ - Lenin
The new government which came to power with the rhetoric of achhe din has started revealing within no time, whose good days have come. The new face of the ruling classes, within less than two months of assuming power at the centre, has gone on an all-out multi-pronged attack assaults on the toiling masses of this country; or the attack on muslim community as evident from the brutal  murder of Mohsin Sheikh and the rampage in Pune by the fascist goons of Hindu Rashtra Sena, or the attack on muslim religious establishments right after the election result in many parts of Gujarat and Karnataka; reinforcing with adding additional fire power the ongoing assault on the most oppressed masses codenamed Operation Greenhunt by sending 10,000 additional paramilitary to Chattisgarh; following it up with the clearing up of big investment projects worth thousands of crores held up for decades because of valiant people’s resistance. The latest in the scheme of the anti-people moves taken by the new government is the increase in the railway charges with 14.2 percent hike in all classes and 6.5 percent in freight charges.
The continuing targeted attacks, murder, arson and loot of Muslim lives and households: The recent attacks on muslim places are not aberrations but the continuation of the ongoing process of communal profiling, which hunting and assaults. Throughout the election campaign the likes of Togadia, Giriraj Singh, Amit Shah kept on with their vile declaration of Hindutva. A murderer like Amit Shah – the architect of fake encounters of Ishrat Jahan, Sohrabuddin, Tulsiram Prajapati – was let loose by the judiciary and unleashed upon UP to “deliver” for Modi by engineering “riots” and effecting communal polarization across the state in Muzaffarnagar, Faizabad, Bareli, Meerut, and so on by killing hundreds and displacing lakhs of Muslims. Playing on the majoritarian Hindu sentiment, he had declared “The elections in Uttar Pradesh, especially in western Uttar Pradesh, [are] an election for honor, for seeking revenge...and for teaching a lesson.” And right after the day of election results, this quest for ‘badla’ was evident in the attacks on mosques and madarsas, violence and arson by various hindutva organisations in various regions from Karnataka to Gujarat under different pretexts. And then Mohsin Sheikh was murdered by the members of a Hindutva organisation, for supposedly making ‘offensive’, ‘objectionable’ and ‘derogatory’ post about Chhtrapati Shivaji and Bal Thackeray on social media. It was clear that Mohsin had nothing to do with the facebook post and that the only reason for him being the target to be beaten to death was the skullcap and the beard he sported. After the killing of Mohsin, his murderers circulated a celebratory message that said, ‘Pahli wicket padli’ (The first wicket has fallen). And to justify the same, an appendage to this exchange of message was the comment from the BJP MP that ‘some amount of repercussions were natural’ to the “painful” post on Facebook. Further violence and terror was spread by these fascist henchmen and a number of muslim shops, homes, mosques and madrasas were damaged across Pune. In Mangalore Rashtriya Hindu Andolan, a Hindutva outfit has called for the morning Muslim call to prayer (Adhan) to be banned across the country. This communal profiling and targeting is not only by some fringe groups but by the whole state machinery with a fascist figure head at the helm.
Clearance for mining projects and additional forces to crush people’s resistance against the same: The proactiveness in clearing the seven big investment projects worth 21 thousand crore rupees, only shows the desperation of this government to bail out the crisis ridden imperialist order while paying back the corporation who had invested crores to bring him to power. All these are projects which were held up for years due to denial of environment, forest and other clearances and largely because of people’s resistance against the same. This includes a 235 kilometre long railway line between Dallirajhra and Jagdalpur in Bastar district of Chattisgarh to extract iron ore riches from Chhattisgarh's Rowghat area which was first proposed in 1983 but had not been cleared due to forest clearance. The other Projects include Hospet-Chitradurga Highway held up due to environment clearance, NDMC iron ore plant , A Rs 5,600-crore 1,050 MW power project in Odisha, being developed by KVK Nilachal Power, hydropower project in Sikkim, a Rs 9,000 crore power project in Chhattisgarh developed by RKM Powergen, ,1256 crore project by Essar Power in Gujarat's Hazira. All these projects are going to exacerbate the corporate loot of natural resources of the country by Multi National companies. But the present government which is indebted to the same corporate for funding its election campaign predictably plunged into clearing these pent up projects to facilitate further corporate plunder.
On one hand various projects are being cleared and on the other more fire power is given to the security forces in the mineral rich areas of Chhattisgarh in the form of additional choppers, over 20 more central battalions, more Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) s, deployment of central paramilitary along the inter-state borders.  The previous government which was equally hell bent on letting the corporate plunder the natural and mineral resources, had launched the Operation Green Hunt to ruthlessly obliterate the resistance of the people against such plunder. All across central and eastern India almost a lakh para-military forces were deployed along with special task forces and vigilante gangs for the last five years to crush the revolutionary movement of the people which had emerged as the most formidable challenge and opposition to the otherwise unabated corporate plunder. The new stooge of the imperialists i.e. the new government under Modi has expectedly and very adeptly picked up from where the previous one left and has intensified this brutal war.

Steep rise in the railway fare and freight charges: The most recent of its anti people policy is the hike in railway charges which is freight charges by 6.5% and fare by 14.2%. Most hit by this hike will be the daily commuters travelling with Monthly Season Ticket (MST) cost of which has nearly doubled on almost all routes, it will result in price rise of nearly all essential commodities causing additional burden on the toiling masses which are reeling under unprecedented inflation. It was the same BJP which came to power attacking the Congress on the issue of inflation and price rise, and on assuming power it is continuing the same old anti people policies of the congress with added belligerence.

The new government has decisively demonstrated its anti-people and fascist character within absolutely no time. All its pre-election rhetoric has fallen flat and the tightening grip of its communal fascist regime, corporate loot and plunder and anti-people policies of price hike is revealing its expected character every day. One can after all expect no change from this inherently oppressive and undemocratic parliamentary system where one stooge of the imperialist and feudal forces routinely replace the other, only to strengthen the onslaughts on the oppressed masses. We have seen this farce repeated over and over again, for the last more than 6 decades. It is only through a united and decisive battle of all the oppressed masses for transforming this inherently unequal, violent social order that we can establish a real and new democracy of equality and justice. 

June 12, 2014

An Open Letter to Chandan Mitra, Editor of Daily Pioneer

Stop your sanghi lies and vile propaganda of branding and false profiling of students, teachers and student organisations of JNU!

The Editor,
The Daily Pioneer,

Dear Mr. Chandan Mitra,

On the 2nd of June, an atrocious editorial, full of nothing but a bunch of lies and malicious and false propaganda, against Jawaharlal Nehru University, its faculty members and many of  student organizations functioning there was published in your newspaper titled, ‘Too Serious to be Brushed Aside’ written by some KG Suresh ( We strongly protest against this vile attempt by your newspaper to portray the students, teachers and various democratic organizations in such a malevolent light. JNU is known to the entire world for its democratic values and the space for every form of debate and discussion – a space that the students’ movement has created through its painstaking struggles for decades. JNU students have remained in the forefront of struggles against each and every anti-people move of the government and attempts to throttle voices of democracy and civil rights from the days of emergency till today. Certainly such a space has always remained an eye sore to the powers that be and unsurprisingly also to the current fascist government, which is now planting such fictitious stories in loyalist newspapers like yours to prepare a ground for McCarthyian witch-hunt. The editorial also claims as much by saying that ‘now that a nationalist government is in power and in a majority of its own it is high time that this great institution is cleansed of separatists, Maoists and anti-national forces’ (emphasis ours’). Can we ask you, how exactly do you intend to get a university cleansed of its students, the large majority of whom, raise uncomfortable questions and speak truth to power? Gujarat style - where all political dissents and dissidents are silenced, many times brutally, to ensure that a fascist figurehead remains at the helm? Or Kashmir style – where the universities have been turned into army and military cantonments?   

Expectedly, the entire editorial is solely based on inputs from the Intelligence Bureau and uses the age-old tactic of branding many democratic organizations and what it calls ‘liberal-feminist’ faculty as ‘anti-national’! Branding voices of dissent and a different political opinion as ‘anti-national’ rather than even making an attempt to politically counter it only brings out the ideological poverty of the writer as well as your newspaper. And if the IB inputs were not enough, the article also reproduces certain fancy myths which were claimed only by the fascist hoodlums of ABVP as facts (‘dance party was held to celebrate killing of 76 jawans’; ‘Indian flag was torn in Tapti hostel’ and so on!) which had been overwhelmingly rejected by the entire student community. But your vile attempts have crossed all limits by claiming that certain organizations as well as academic and political activities on campus ‘are receiving liberal funding from hostile foreign agencies!’ To be more specific, we would like to ask you which hostile agency funded which political or academic activity in JNU? Can you give even an iota of evidence to substantiate such bogus claims? The fact that media houses lie is a well known open secret, but there is a limit to which one can lie.

Although the editorial names scores of organization as carrying out ‘anti-national and terrorist activities’ our organization Democratic Students Union (DSU) seems to be its primary attack. Well, he has rightly said that DSU consistently raises the issues of Kashmir and North-East, demands repeal of AFSPA, ‘highlights alleged atrocities by the security forces in the Kashmir and North East, raising the unsubstantiated (sic) issues of mass graves and disappearances in Kashmir etc.’ Yes, we are unapologetic in our opposition to the extreme form of state terror that the Indian state has inflicted on the people of Kashmir and North-east and we also stand in complete solidarity with the people of these nationalities for their democratic right to self-determination including their right to secede from the Indian union. And for your very kind information, whether you accept it or not, the army’s atrocities on the people of Kashmir and the North-East, the disappearances and mass graves in Kashmir are not unsubstantiated but facts well documented by several civil society and even some state reports. In the future too we shall continue to extend our support to the people of the struggling nationalities and voice our categorical opinions against the heinous atrocities of the armed forces. Mr. Suresh seems to be quite perplexed about this, (and we don’t expect here he will be able to give a political rebuttal – here he is on a shaky ground) and his ridiculousness knows no bounds when he claims that ‘DSU is allegedly funded by Pakistan’! Mr. Mitra and Mr. Suresh, it is our conscience and political conviction, and not ‘foreign funding’ that is the guiding principle behind our political positions and activities. That, however, is too difficult for you to understand. Having sold yourselves out to big corporations that are destroying, looting and plundering our country and having aligned very closely to communal mass murderers, dalal media houses like yours only obliterate and vilify the different people’s struggles. But that shall not stop the progressive and democratic people from speaking out the truth. The constitution of India does guarantee a freedom of speech and expression and we shall not let jingoist and fascist forces to throttle them.

Every organization and individual in JNU are entitled to their right to freedom of speech and your newspaper has no right to subvert or question the same. Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy is absolutely within his rights to express his views over Kashmir and your newspaper has no business in branding him as ‘anti-national.’ Similarly, organizations like JNU Forum against War on People, PDSU, SFR, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, Students’ League, Campus front of India, The New Materialists, Popular front of India, Feminists’ Collective, Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, Revolutionary Cultural Front, Naga Study Forum etc. are all well known organizations which are constituted by either students or teachers or other academicians and many of them are active at an all- India level as well and are relentlessly raising many issues and fighting for the democratic rights of people. Apart from these, interestingly the author has named many more organisations - some of which never existed and some which are not functional anymore. Seems like the IB had also mistakenly forwarded Mr. Suresh some outdated files, and who unaware of it has simply copy pasted it from there!

The most disgusting claim made by this editorial was that ‘nationalist brave-heart dons (!) have come out against such activities notwithstanding attempts at character assassination through false cases of sexual harassment, denial of promotions and other pressure tactics such as boycott’. As an example of such ‘falsely implicated brave-heart don’ the author cites the name of Amitabh Kundu and alludes that he was implicated because ‘he lodged a complaint in the crime branch in January 2014 asking for urgent inquiry into the activities of DSU.’ Well, we would like to intimate the esteemed author of the bogus editorial that Amitabh Kundu was found guilty of sexual harassment by the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) in August 2013 – a fact accepted by also the Executive Council of JNU.

In each and every line of this fairy tale editorial, lies, propaganda and deliberate sabotage of facts are present. Some of them are out-rightly ridiculous while the rest are dangerous. Knowing the propensity of your newspaper, which long ago threw journalistic ethics to the dustbin to become the unofficial mouthpiece of the fascist sangh-parivar, we shall not waste our time to urge you to do more ethical journalism. We, however, take this opportunity to warn you not to engage in such smear campaign against our university. For your information our university is neither a monument to either Nehru or Jinnah. The progressive majority of this university uphold the dreams and visions of Bhagat Singh, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Savitribhai Phule, Birsa Munda and millions of other people who have dreamt, fought, lived and died for a society freee from all forms of exploitation which ensures equality and justice to all. And your veiled threats in such articles notwithstanding we shall continue to do so in the days to come.

We demand that you publish a retraction to the content of this article immediately otherwise we are going to take legal action against you. The political battle will anyway continue.

Thanking You,
Democratic Students’ Union

June 9, 2014

Feudal backlash, Patriarchal assaults, Caste atrocities & The Struggle of the Bhagana Dalts for justice & dignity

“The land is theirs (dominant castes’), the judiciary belongs to them, they have the money, and they are the government. All we had was dignity, and they stripped us of even that,” - mother of one of the rape survivors of Bhagana.
Your community people think that they can contest the Jats? What was done to you is a lesson for raising a voice against us. If you dare complain against anyone or identify any of the boys, your families will be killed,” – Rakesh Panghal, the sarpanch of the Bhagana village threatening the girls who were gang raped by the dominant castes
Amidst all the reports in the media these days of the heatwave and the new records it is breaking, little is said of the predicament of the dalit families, who in this heat (and now without a tent over their heads) have been living in the open in Jantar Mantar for almost two months defiantly carrying on their fight for justice. They have not been living here out of their own will or accord; rather they made this journey with much hope to bring their fight to the capital after being evicted from their village by the dominant castes for standing up to continual caste oppression, atrocities, social boycott and sexual violence. On 23rd March, four dalit women (two of them minors) were abducted, sedated, gang raped in Bhagana and then dumped at a railway station in Bhatinda by the dominant Jats. But just like justice had eluded them back in their villages, their appeals have fallen on deaf ears of those sitting in the comfortable AC rooms of the official echelons in Delhi. Over the past two months, they have staged several protests at the Haryana Bhawan, the NHRC, Home Ministry, Haryana CM’s office, NCW, SC/ST Commission and Jantar Mantar. Far from positively responding to their demands, the government, on the contrary, has now termed the dalit families living in Jantar Mantar as ‘encroachers on public land’! One can see an eerie similarity of the cruel ways in which this casteist-communal state further marginalizes different persecuted and oppressed groups. Just a few months back, the thousands of muslims families from Muzaffarnagar who had been forced out of their villages into ‘relief’ camps after facing one of the biggest communal carnages were similarly termed as encroachers on public land. Three days back, on the orders of the NDMC, over 500 policemen landed up at 5 am and forcibly removed and destroyed their tents, banners and the belongings giving them an ultimatum to vacate the place. Though the attempt of the authorities to displace them from Jantar Mantar was foiled that day because of the immediate response of several progressive organisations from across Delhi, they have now been given a new deadline, 15th June, to vacate Jantar Mantar.
The gang-rape of the dalit women in Bhagana comes in a series of assaults launched by the dominant castes on the dalits over the past few years against their self-assertion and needs to be seen in a particular political-economic context. In Bhagana village itself, for more than three years now, the predominantly landless Dalit community, has been consistently resisting the attempts by the Jats to encroach upon the lands earmarked for the Dalits as well as common lands. They also increasingly rejected the extremely exploitative Seeri system (a form of bonded labour) under which the dominant castes keep the dalits bonded round the year for very little money (much below the stipulated minimum wages) and which also negates the possibility of dalits claiming occupancy rights over the lands they work on. All this assertion was a direct threat to the economic as well as the political dominance of the Jats, who first retaliated by socially ostracising the dalits. Consecutive social boycott of the dalits announced by the khap panchayats in March and May 2012 completely restricted the access of dalits from the use of all common resources in the village including wells, barbers, local transport, grocery shops, schools, access to cattle feed, access to roads passing through the Jat areas and employment in the agricultural fields. Justifying the social boycott, a representative of the Panghal Khap in the region had boastfully told the media, “they dissented against those who gave them employment and means for survival. Such people must leave the village”. If the role of the state in aiding and abetting the dominant castes in the region had been indirect till now, now it directly intervened against the dalits. In September 2012, while the dalits had been sitting in front of the mini-secretariat at Haryana, the government slapped several protesters with charges of sedition and ‘exciting disaffection towards the government established by law’ and imprisoned 8 people (including 5 children) for a week! And in the meantime, the families who had stayed back in the village faced increasing wrath from the dominant castes who now started targeting dalit women.       

"The Jats use rape as a weapon to curb any resistance from Dalits, to teach us a lesson. They just want that Dalits should mutely obey them" was how one of the rape survivors from Bhagana explained how dominant castes use rape to subjugate the dalits. Though the Bhagana dalits’ protests forced the authorities to arrest five involved in the gang-rape, the sarpanch of the village under whose supervision the entire incident was executed is still at large and boastfully unapologetic. "Let them accuse all they want. What can happen with such accusations?" these words of the sarpanch to a journalist bring out the impunity that the dominant castes enjoy in this region. This is only made possible by the fact that those castes and sections who occupy land, resources and economic power effectively control all the institutions of the state, irrespective of which party is in power – from the local panchayats, state assemblies to the parliament, from the police to the judiciary and from the bureaucracy to the media. And this is a reality not only of Bhagana or Haryana but of the entire country. While the dalits from Bhagana were sitting at Jantar Mantar in their fight for justice, in another part of the country the AP High Court acquitted all the perpetrators of the massacre of 8 dalits in Tsunduru in Andhra Pradesh in 1991 following up on similar verdicts of the Patna High Court in last two years that acquitted all the Ranveer Sena hooldums responsible for the Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe massacres. With the rise of the Hindutva forces in the country today, whose very core is defined by Brahmanism, such attacks on dalits will only increase unless militantly resisted at every juncture. At the same time, we should also actively strengthen the struggle for revolutionary social transformation of this rotten system and it is these struggles alone that can provide justice to all the oppressed masses and persecuted communities.