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SACW | 2 May 03 |

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 May, 2003 ALERT FOR ACTION: In Defence of the Indian Historian Romila Thapar http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex/Alerts/IDRT300403.html
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2003
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 May, 2003

      ALERT FOR ACTION: In Defence of the Indian Historian Romila Thapar


      #1. The new McCarthyism [Hindu-supremacism in the US...] (Praful Bidwai)
      #2. Letter from the Pakistan India Peoples Forum India Chapter
      #3. USA: Illinois Mosque vandalized [Long live Shri Rama Painted ] (Linda Rush)
      #4. History As Politics (Romila Thapar)
      #5. Why Modi drew a blank (Kuldip Nayar)
      #6. Bhopal Survivors Start Indefinite Fast in City Against Dow
      Chemical's Injustices
      #7. So has normalcy returned to Ahmedabad? Judge for yourself...
      (Tanvir Siddiqui )
      #8. Public institutions are becoming private militias (Sagarika Ghose)
      #9. Cry for justice in Kashmir
      #10. Upcoming Benares Convention on preservation of the
      secular and pluralistic fabric of the Indian society (26 June 03)



      Hindustan Times
      Friday, May 2, 2003

      Praful Bidwai

      The chickens are coming home to roost. The barrage of campaigns
      unleashed over the years by the Sangh parivar - against pluralism,
      secularism and humanism, and for Hindu-supremacism, hyper-nationalism
      and extremist intolerance - is reaching fruition in a variety of
      forms and institutions. Thus, unadulterated hate-speech directed at
      the religious-ethnic minorities has become routine within our public
      discourse. Vile attacks by chosen pro-Hindutva audiences on
      secularists and liberals are part of the gladiatorial entertainment
      fare regularly dished out by television channels.

      Praveen Togadia and Ashok Singhal have rapidly expanding clienteles
      simply because they never cease to shock - or hog publicity.

      Anyone who questions mindless militarism and the BJP's obsession with
      mass-destruction weapons, or rationally argues for India-Pakistan
      reconciliation, is liable to be branded a traitor. Saffronised
      textbooks peddling lies or whitewashing terrible truths about, say,
      casteism, or the persecution of Buddhists, are officially endorsed,
      indeed thrust upon a protesting public.

      Distinguished scholars of high integrity are maligned and attacked,
      never debated, because they disagree with the Hindutva line.
      Journalists of liberal-secular persuasion are liable to attract the
      most vicious of e-mails and even face exclusion, especially from the
      electronic media.

      Speaking for myself, I receive between 30 and 250 mails a week for
      each syndicated column I write. More than four-fifths are downright
      abusive and defamatory. The abusive bilge doesn't come at the
      conclusion of an argument. The mails start and end with calumny and
      four-letter words.

      Significantly, about 90 per cent of such abusers are North American
      NRIs, remarkable for their 'long-distance' or 'Green Card'
      hypernationalism. NRIs have emerged as a major instrument of
      communalism and torchbearers of intolerance.

      Their latest victim is the illustrious scholar and one of the most
      distinguished historians of Ancient India, Professor Romila Thapar
      whose accomplishments are rivalled by few others. Thapar has authored
      many seminal works, including classics like Asoka and the Decline of
      the Mauryas, A History of India (Penguin 1966, revised, expanded and
      just published as Early India), Ancient Indian Social History and
      Cultural Pasts, besides the more recent Sakuntala, Interpreting Early
      India and History and Beyond.

      Thapar, one of India's best-known academics around the world, has
      taught at a host of universities, including Oxford, Cornell, London
      and Paris, besides JNU. She has received honorary doctorates from
      Paris, Oxford, Chicago and Kolkata. She was recently appointed to the
      Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South at the US Library
      of Congress.

      This last appointment triggered what must be one of the most vicious
      and bigoted attacks ever launched on a scholar anywhere, in the form
      of an online petition, which now has 1,543 signatories, most of them
      NRIs. The petition would deserve some scholarly attention if it were
      drafted and signed by people who have at least read and are minimally
      aware of Thapar's work. Alas, it isn't.

      It accuses Thapar of being an ignorant, yet "avowed antagonist of
      India's Hindu civilisation", who wants to discredit India in the same
      way as the "Europeans discredited the American Indians' land claimsŠ"
      It says she "represents a completely Euro-centric worldview" and
      "disavows that India ever had a history"!

      This is breathtakingly ludicrous. Thapar has spent a lifetime arguing
      against 'Orientalist' western and Euro-centric interpretations of
      history which hold that ancient India lacked a sense of history and
      that pre-colonial Indian society was 'static' and 'stagnant'.

      Thapar is devoted to the study of India's civilisation with all its
      plurality of texts and multiplicity of traditions - secular and
      religious, metaphysical and scientific. How she could be an
      'antagonist' of 'Indian civilisation' defies comprehension except
      within an illiterate, philistine, and communal framework which holds
      that all 'Indian civilisation' was 'Hindu', even when it had Jain,
      Buddhist, animist and agnostic traditions.

      Even worse, the petition says, Thapar is engaged in a "war of
      cultural genocide", and the result of her research, 'Historical
      Consciousness in Early India', is "a foregone conclusion. She will of
      course attempt to show that Early India had no historical
      consciousness"! In reality, some of Thapar's most exciting work (e.g.
      Time as a Metaphor for History) attempts to refute the Euro-centric
      notion that Indians only had a cyclical concept of time, and to
      establish that there were a variety of forms of historical
      consciousness in India.

      The petition's crux is about not 'wasting' "our American resources
      on" a Marxist. This is also the thrust of a huge number of comments
      accompanying the petition. This is pure McCarthyism, the most
      shameful witch-hunt in 20th century America against anyone suspected
      to be a Communist, carried out by Senator Joseph McCarthy.

      Indeed, that's the spirit in which most of these vicious comments are
      made, including: "She is a pinko and a fake historianŠ" "This Thapar
      woman will be a Trojan Horse for Islamic terrorists in the US."

      "It is disappointing that the US that once opposed Communism is now
      in cahoots with one of its practitioners." "This stupid lady should
      be stripped of her citizenship." "Kick her out. Kick should be of
      such a force that she remains dead on the ground."

      Even Praveen Togadia (might he be the one-and-only?) has added his
      venom: "Ban Marxist Scholars from the USAŠ After all, the American
      communist party was banned."

      What takes the cake is the following: "Fidel Castro would have been a
      better choice (for the Kluge Chair). At least he is not a
      venom-spitting anti-Hindu. I am worried about the future of USA. The
      Indian communists have already infiltrated into all the American
      universities. And now the Library of Congress. McCarthy, where are

      Further comment is unnecessary.



      1st May 2003

      [Letter from the Pakistan India Peoples Forum India Chapter]

      Salutations of May Day!

      As you are aware, PIPFPD is a pioneering peoples' initiative for
      peace, democracy and friendly relationship between India and
      Pakistan. As part of the Forum's long standing commitment to these
      values, it has also achieved many a milestones in the history of
      India-Pakistan relationship. Many of you will also remember the five
      joint conventions the Forum has organised in the past 9 years of its
      existence. But unfortunately, the past two years of pronounced
      hostility between the governments and the diplomacy of 'brinkmanship'
      has brought both the countries and its peoples to a much earlier
      stage in history, whereby visa regimes and open war threats has
      become the order of the day.

      But keeping upto its objectives, the Forum kept alive the
      people-to-people interactions and dialogue through exchange of
      eminent citizens and organising of common programmes and strategies.
      The trip of six senior members of the Indian Chapter of the PIPFPD to
      Pakistan to attend the Sindh convention in March 2003 is the latest
      in this series.

      In a significant move, both the Indian and Pakistani chapters of
      PIPFPD are collectively organising an exchange of Members of
      Parliament. In this series the first is the 'Goodwill Visit' of
      Pakistani MPs to India between the 8th and 16th of May 2003. This
      delegation consists of 11 senators and MNAs from different regions of
      Pakistan. While in India, this team will address Public meetings,
      Press Conferences, etc, along with interactive sessions with Indian
      Parliamentarians and other eminent people. Some members of the
      visiting delegation will also be visiting other Indian cities
      including Kolkatta, Mumbai and Hyderabad. All these efforts will need
      enormous human and financial resources.

      We are writing this letter to seek your support and co-operation
      during this landmark visit of Pakistani MPs to India, organised by
      the Forum with support from some other organisations and individuals.
      We have the duty and responsibility to extend our hospitality to
      these guests. Being a non-funded peoples' initiative, the PIPFPD's
      biggest asset and resource are the members and well-wishers of the
      Forum, who have always supported and promoted such initiatives in the
      past. We seek your support and cooperation once more for making this
      historic step a big success. Kindly extend your support to this
      initiative by all means you can [...].

      Thanking you in anticipation,

      Yours sincerely,

      Sushil Khanna Syeda Hameed
      Gautam Navlakha
      Tapan Bose Deenadayalan
      Vijayan MJ
      On Behalf of the PIPFPD India Chapter

      Vijayan MJ
      PIPFPD Secretariat
      B-14 (SF), Gulmohar Park,
      New Delhi - 110049
      # (011) 2656 1743 / 2651 4847 / 2651 1504 (Fax)



      [ Mosques are vandalized all the time in the US but this is the first
      time, that overtly Hindu symbols were used. Its a distressing trend
      and should be noted !! ]

      o o o

      The Southern Illinoisan
      [Mon Apr 28 2003]


      BY Linda Rush

      CARBONDALE -- "We respect all religions and expect them to respect
      ours as well," said Dr. Muhammad Kamran, a Carbondale physician and
      member of the Islamic congregation in Carbondale. His 6-year-old son,
      Moosa, stood at his side.

      Kamran and other Muslims were standing in the parking lot of the
      Islamic Center on Poplar Street, just north of College Street,
      Monday. Sometime late Sunday night or early Monday, vandals had
      sprayed messages in black paint on the pale yellow siding and
      light-colored doors of the center.

      Police were contacted at 11:25 a.m. by a passerby who saw the damage.
      Construction workers nearby said the damage was evident when they
      arrived at work at around 6:30 a.m. Sgt. Mark Diedrick of the
      Carbondale Police Department said the graffiti was photographed, but
      no evidence was collected at the scene, nor are there any suspects.

      "Free Kashmir," read the only English message on the building.
      Kashmir is a disputed area, with India and Pakistan both claiming
      jurisdiction to the land that lies between them.

      Also sprayed on the building was a phrase that praises a non-Muslim
      Hindu god. It translates as "Long live Shri Rama," said one young
      man. "These are Hindu religious symbols, like a cross for
      Christianity. These symbols are seen in their temples."

      The Islamic Center has been in Carbondale for 18 years, serving a
      congregation of Southern Illinois University students and faculty,
      and numerous professional families in Southern Illinois. Between 30
      and 50 people will be gathered there for evening prayers. On Fridays,
      about 200 gather to pray at the mosque on North Wall and Chestnut

      And until Monday, the Islamic Center's only problems had been
      occasional beer bottles or trash strewn on the parking lot, damage
      the congregation believes is just a byproduct of student parties.

      The painted slogans, though, are hard to ignore.

      "It's good it didn't happen Saturday night," said Rizwan Hashmi, "or
      the children would have seen it when they came to Sunday school."
      Hashmi, a doctoral student at SIUC, heads the board of directors for
      the center. He said about 60 children ages 5 to 12 attend Sunday the

      "People come here for morning prayer at 5 a.m., but it was still dark
      then," Hashmi said. "Nobody saw the damage." The vandalism was on the
      sides of the building away from Poplar Street.

      Hashmi also left a phone message for the Federal Bureau of
      Investigation. Special agent Rick Stonecipher had earlier met with
      the board, asking its member to contract him if they had any
      problems, he said.

      Congregation member Iqbal Mohammed said, "We have many friends who
      are Hindus." Others, too, said it would be wrong to characterize the
      vandalism as an act by any one group. "It can be anybody," Hashmi
      added. "Everybody knows Carbondale is a peaceful place."

      As Moosa played quietly nearby in the gravel, Kamran was asked what
      he will tell his son and 8-year-old daughter, Haani, about the

      "I don't know what to tell him," he admitted quietly. "I do not know
      how to explain it to anybody. I don't want to tell him it was done by
      Hindus. Our neighbors and friends are Hindus."

      Hashmi said he would tell his children they will have to cope with
      those who disagree with them. "It's a good lesson to them -- each
      religion teaches its adherents to tolerate," he added.

      Anaz Zubair, too, cautioned against placing blame -- even with the
      reference to Kashmir. Pointing to his friend Hashmi, Zubair said,
      "I'm an Indian; he's a Pakistani. It's not as simplistic as they
      portray. It's a moot point." He believes one or two people simply
      committed a crime. "It's not the whole Hindu community."

      Zubair, an SIUC student, said Islam provides a lesson on tolerance,
      with a story about a nomad who went inside a mosque and urinated.
      When angry Muslims attempted to drive him out or punish him, Muhammad
      told them to let him be and not disturb him.

      "The lesson," Zubair said, "is not to lash out in anger when someone
      wrongs you."

      ( linda.rush@... 618-529-5454 x15079 )



      Web | May 01, 2003

      History As Politics
      Links between knowledge and ideology do not justify the passing off
      of political agendas as knowledge as is being done in the rewriting
      of history by the present central government; and that too of a kind
      not based on the understanding of history current among historians.

      [This is substantially the text of the Professor Athar Ali Memorial
      lecture, organised by the Aligarh Historians Society, at the Aligarh
      Muslim University on 8 February 2003



      The Hindu
      Friday, May 02, 2003

      Why Modi drew a blank
      By Kuldip Nayar

      I am not surprised that the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi
      drew a blank at a meeting of envoys to attract foreign investment. In
      fact, I would have been surprised if any one of them had been taken
      in by his glib talk.

      The question is not whether Gujarat is today peaceful and normal but
      whether those who disturbed peace through premeditated murder, rape
      and looting have been isolated for punishment. My information is that
      the high-ups, whether in the State Government or in the Sangh Parivar
      which backed Mr. Modi, have not been even questioned, much less
      named. Some of them were directing murder and worse on mobile
      telephones, police control rooms or otherwise.

      The State Government is still not serious and is pursuing the cases
      registered nonchalantly. Nobody is there to upbraid Mr. Modi. The
      authorities, supposed to be protectors, are exerting pressure for
      withdrawal of FIRs which many complainants had filed. Even in some
      rural areas, from where hundreds were ousted, there is a demand that
      the victims take back the FIR before their request even to return to
      their own homes is accepted.

      Economic boycott against Muslims continues unabated in several
      cities. There is normality, which the Chief Minister claims, is in
      the sense that no killing or looting is taking place. But the Muslim
      community remains frightened. Except for a few Hindu activists, the
      majority community has stayed distant from the Muslims. By and large,
      the Gujaratis give the impression as if what happened was inevitable
      and that Muslims had "asked for it." Even after 15 months there is
      very little remorse and definitely no repentance. This has hurt the
      foreigners the most because Gujarat is known as the land of Mahatma

      Mr. Modi should realise that the confidence of investors and others
      would be in proportion to the confidence the minority community
      shows. They are still a harassed, haunted lot. The State has turned
      its back on them. Until the minorities in Gujarat talk in good terms
      about Mr. Modi and his administration, investors would not return.
      During the rioting, one foreign firm withdrew from the State. It did
      not return even at the request of the Ministry of External Affairs.
      The firm felt so horrified over the happenings that it did not even
      care for the high profit it was making. The owners reportedly said
      that they had no future in Gujarat where the State itself was a party
      to murders and the like.

      In fact, the manner in which Mr. Modi has smeared the face of India
      has affected foreign investment in the rest of the country. The
      gaurav yatra, a shameless exhibition of the perversion and
      glorification of the crimes committed, may bring the votes, as they
      did in the State elections. But they can never bring back the honour
      which Mr. Modi and his party men `murdered' in broad daylight in the

      How can the question of foreign investment arise? A few brave Indian
      industrialists have told Mr. Modi to his face that they themselves
      could not consider investing in Gujarat because of what happened
      there. He should have offered an apology but instead took umbrage at
      their remarks. The CII was made to apologise on behalf of those who
      had criticised Mr. Modi.

      It is a pity that the Centre has not brought by this time legislation
      to implement the Genocide Convention, which India has signed and
      ratified. It should have used the measures allowed by the Convention
      to prosecute and punish all those who participated in the planning
      and execution of murder, rape, theft and destruction in Gujarat
      during the communal carnage. Were this to happen, foreign investment
      would flow even without Mr. Modi's asking for it.

      But the fact is that the Centre has been a mute witness to the
      concerted and systematic challenge to the secular foundation of the
      polity, to the extent that it failed to protect the life, liberty,
      reputation and property of a sitting High Court judge as well as a
      retired High Court judge still in service of the Government. I know
      that Mr. Modi's bent of mind is different. But then he should not be
      asking for investment from outside.



      Bhopal Survivors Start Indefinite Fast in City Against Dow Chemical's

      NEW YORK, 1 May, 2003 -- Two women survivors -- Rasheeda Bee and
      Champa Devi -- and long-time Bhopal activist, Satinath Sarangi, of
      the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) launched an
      indefinite fast from New York's financial district to highlight the
      truth behind Dow Chemical and Union Carbide's liabilities in Bhopal.
      In 1984, a poisonous gas leak from Union Carbide's pesticide factory
      killed 8000 in a matter of days. Survivors continue to suffer
      long-term health effects, and Carbide's toxic wastes strewn around
      the factory are a source of ongoing contamination and injury.

      "Dow has acquired Carbide's pending criminal and environmental
      liabilities in Bhopal that could be substantial in dollar terms. By
      refusing to acknowledge and address these liabilities, the company is
      prolonging the suffering of survivors and their children, and keeping
      its shareholders in the dark regarding issues that could
      significantly erode share value," ICJB said.

      "A hunger strike is our way of emphasising the truth that the tragedy
      in Bhopal continues, and that Dow as Carbide's new owner is now
      responsible for ensuring that justice is done in Bhopal," said
      Rasheeda Bee of the Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Workers
      Association. Forty six-year old Bee has lost five gas-exposed family
      members to cancers since the disaster. Partially blinded, she suffers
      psychiatric and respiratory problems due to exposure to Carbide's
      gases. Eight days into the hunger strike, the Bhopal activists will
      visit Midland, Michigan, to demonstrate outside the Dow shareholders
      meeting on 8 May.

      At least 30 other people, including 24 students from
      Massachusetts-based Wheaton College, and long-time Bhopal supporters
      from India and the United States fasted in solidarity today. The
      worldwide relay fast is expected to attract hundreds of people from
      around the world to join in protest against Dow Chemical. A similar
      fast begun last July lasted more than a month and involved 1500
      people from 10 countries. ICJB has declared May 8 as the day of mass
      action including hunger strikes organised by allies around the world.

      In February 2001, Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide. Carbide
      currently faces criminal charges for manslaughter in a Bhopal court
      for the deaths of more than 8,000 people in Bhopal, India, due to a
      poisonous gas leak from its pesticide factory in December 1984. The
      company has never appeared in court.

      Dow Chemical has denied having inherited any of Carbide's pending
      Bhopal liabilities. Meanwhile, the Indian Central Bureau of
      Investigation will report to the Bhopal court on progress made in
      including Dow as an accused in the criminal case against Carbide by
      30 May. If found guilty, Indian criminal law allows for the
      imposition of fines against the accused.

      "Under Indian law, the fines for manslaughter have no upper limit,
      and is determined by the size and ability of the accused party to
      pay, the magnitude of the crime, and the current state of the
      victims," said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information
      and Action. Dow is the world's largest chemical corporation with
      annual sales exceeding $30 billion. Billed as the world's worst
      industrial disaster, the Bhopal tragedy injured 500,000 people, and
      survivors and their children are impoverished and continue to suffer
      drastic long-term effects in the absence of economic rehabilitation
      measures and appropriate medical care. According to latest official
      estimates, 380 gas-affected people succumb to health effects each
      year, and more than 20,000 are exposed to the toxic wastes lying in
      and around the Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal.

      On April 25, 2003, survivors and survivors' organisations appealed a
      recent decision by the New York District Court to dismiss their
      claims for clean-up and compensation for contamination-related
      damages from Carbide. The State Government of Madhya Pradesh too has
      stated that it plans to approach the Indian Supreme Court in a bid to
      get Dow to clean up the toxic wastes left behind by its subsidiary
      Union Carbide.

      Separately, various communities impacted by Dow's pollution,
      including an African American community in Plaquemine, Louisiana, the
      Vietnam veterans, and the residents of Saginaw county near Dow's
      Midland headquarters, are seeking redressal for environmental and
      health damages due to Dow products or facilities. In fact, a
      stockholder has proposed a resolution at Dow's 2003 AGM asking the
      company to report to shareholders on identifying potential
      liabilities related to the company's operations, given the company's
      historical and ongoing engagement in processes known to produce or
      release persistent toxic substances such as dioxins. The proposal
      stems from findings of high levels of dioxin contamination in Midland
      and surrounding areas.

      "Dow has a lot of Bhopals in its closet. Dow's failure to address its
      responsibilities to communities is clearly an issue of environmental
      justice, because its pollution has disproportionately impacted poor
      communities worldwide, and communities of color in the United
      States," said Gary Cohen, director of Boston-based Environmental
      Health Fund and a member of the ICJB.

      The visiting survivors and members of the ICJB have sought a meeting
      with Dow Chairman William Stavropoulos on 8 May to press their
      demands that: Dow should arrange for long-term economic and medical
      rehabilitation and medical monitoring; for clean-up of toxic wastes
      and contaminated groundwater; and face trial in the Indian courts.

      For more information, visit: www.bhopal.net

      In the US:
      Nityanand Jayaraman. Cell: 520 906 5216. Email: nity68@...
      Krishnaveni G. Cell: 832 444 1731. krishnaveni_g@...

      In the UK:
      Tim Edwards. Email: tim@...

      In Bhopal, India:
      Rachna Dhingra. Email: rachna@...



      The Indian Express
      Movers and shakers in a divided city
      So has normalcy returned to Ahmedabad? Judge for yourself...
      Tanvir Siddiqui



      The Indian Express
      Friday, May 02, 2003

      In the mad king's court
      Public institutions are becoming private militias
      Sagarika Ghose
      I am the state!'' thundered Louis XIV, emperor of France also known
      as the Sun King. So might declare our own sun kings and sun queens.
      Today Mayawati can smash 137 cases against Mulayam Singh Yadav,
      rampage around UP erecting Ambedkar statues, transfer bureaucrats on
      sheer fancy and nobody can say a word. Jayalalithaa can turn a legal
      armoury on journalists for ''daring'' to criticise her. She can try
      and bulldoze a historical building for her own purposes, slam Pota
      against political rivals and nobody can do a thing.

      Laloo Prasad Yadav's mythological (and violent) lathi rally in Patna,
      resulted in citizens being stranded on the streets because state
      transport buses had been requisitioned for the RJD carnival. During
      Mulayam Singh Yadav's cycle rally, official black cat commandos
      scurried alongside his cycle, functioning as the Samajwadi Party
      chief's private chowkidars. Shahnawaz Hussain, minister for civil
      aviation, likes to keep flights waiting while he takes long lunches.
      He has a personal staff of about 50 people, all of whose salaries are
      paid by the taxpayer. Union Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma
      manhandles Jet Airways staff because he feels that there are too many
      delays. Welcome to a process which has been described as the
      ''privatisation of the public realm''. Regional potentates, armed
      with primordially loyal vote banks, often using violence as a
      legitimate political tool, have become democratically elected

      Privatisation of the public realm began with the Congress. The
      Congress was guilty of transforming the party apparatus into a
      servant of The Family and Indira Gandhi has often been called a
      democratic dictator. Yet, in the years of a strong national party,
      there was at least a lakshmanrekha, some semblance of respect for the
      law and the belief that the people's vote would redress wrongs. But,
      today, the privatisation of the public realm has meant that even the
      people's vote can be easily squandered and misused. Last February,
      Mayawati fought the UP elections against the BJP, yet ended up
      allying with the BJP to form a government. The people's will? Who

      So what is the ''public realm''? The public realm is the state, the
      judiciary, the law and order system, the Election Commission, the
      state broadcaster, the schools, the cultural institutions that belong
      to the state and therefore to the public and exist to serve the
      Constitution's version of the ''public good''. When this public realm
      is ''privatised'', that is when caste, family and personal rivalries
      conquer these institutions that belong to the people, then democracy
      ceases to exist. The autonomy of the state structure, after all, is a
      pre-condition of democracy, but if the state is simply parcelled out
      between private tribal and caste chieftains then simply being a
      citizen brings no rights. One has to either be aligned to one or the
      other tribal militia, to get opportunities, jobs and money.

      In the absence of a strong central party, caste and regional
      nationalism become larger than the government. This is seen in the
      BSP in UP, the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, Mulayam, Laloo or even Digvijay
      Singh's alleged ''interference'' in state electoral rolls. The
      plebeian politicians, once India's great hope compared to the elite
      politics of our feudal neighbours, are now poised to convert
      democracy into monarchy. The Yadavs were the democratic sons of the
      soil whose authentic actions would finally banish the upper castes of
      the Congress. But sons-of-the-soil politics rather than strengthening
      democratic institutions looks as if it is subordinating them to
      monarchical personality cults.

      Mayawati's epic legal action against Mulayam Singh is a supreme
      example of the privatisation of the public realm. In the days of
      Congress majorities, when there was a strong central government,
      Article 356 was used and misused to set aside troublesome state
      governments and impose president's rule. But today, with weak central
      leaderships, crucially dependent on local allies, regional queens
      like Mayawati and Jayalalithaa can simply run amok. No laws constrain
      them. They are accountable to no one. Mayawati is the leader of a
      fiercely loyal clan and insists that she is not just the chief
      minister of Uttar Pradesh but the patron saint of dalits. When the
      state becomes harnessed in the service to a particular clan, then it
      ceases to be a servant of the people and becomes a private militia.
      No wonder violent rhetoric is today considered legitimate behaviour.
      ''Muh tod jawab denge!'' ''Hamesha ke liye awaz band kar denge!''

      In fact, a crucial result of the privatisation of the public realm is
      the legitimisation of violence. Today, violence is the preferred form
      of settling disputes with the ruler taking on the role of an a battle
      commander. The gun, the lathi, the trishul, the communal riot and the
      political murder have become legitimate means of securing political
      goals. After all, if the state is the private property of a
      particular clan, then the clan will naturally even risk bloodshed to
      defend it, just as any individual might murder to safeguard family

      There are other examples of the privatisation of the public realm.
      When Murli Manohar Joshi takes steps to Hinduise education, he is
      forgetting the fact that public educational institutions cannot be
      warriors in his personal crusade against foreign imperialism. The
      minister for HRD is welcome to practise sanskritic traditions and
      endlessly study the Aryans, but why should the public realm-that is
      state sponsored schools and school textbooks-become hostage to
      Joshiji's private Vedic fantasies?

      The public realm should be value neutral and represent all sections
      because it exists to serve a diverse society and provide
      opportunities for everybody to get rich and educated. But while the
      crucially necessary privatisation of the economy is being stalled,
      leaders are busy privatising public life. In fact, the very concept
      of public life seems to be unknown. Ask Mayawati her concept of
      public life. Her likely answer will be: Public life is me! Perhaps
      Mulayam, Mayawati, Laloo, and Jayalalithaa, among others, can be sent
      on a summer training camp, made to consult dictionaries and
      understand the difference between "private property" and the "public



      May ?, 2003
      Cry for justice
      The allegations made by a Beerwah villagers against surrendered
      militants and Police have come as a challenge to the State government
      that boosts of being a people-friendly one. One Abdul Rehman Dar of
      Dangerpora Beerwah Wednesday told media persons that her two
      daughters were abducted by surrendered militants and the elder one
      was sexually abused. Making strong accusations against the Police he
      said that instead of helping him and his daughters Police protected
      the kidnappers and the rapists. The accusation is shocking and should
      not be brushed away as a trivial issue. Whenever any such tragedy
      strikes somebody, he looks toward Police for help and protection. But
      when the Police itself backs and patronizes the criminals, only God
      can save the victims. Same has happened in Dar's case. He approached
      Police for help and was not only denied the same but instead Police
      did everything to protect the accused. Somuchso that Police even
      showed scant respect to the court orders which had asked Police to
      protect the victimized father and his family from the gang of
      surrendered militants.
      Worst part of the story is that it is not only the Police that has
      turned the blind eye to the plight of this hapless family but the
      political establishment too has not come up to the mark. Dar told
      reporters that he alongwith his daughters met Peoples Democratic
      Party (PDP) leader and MLA Mehbooba Mufti who too did nothing to help
      them. This speaks volumes about the insensitivity of Kashmiri
      politicians. When out of power, Mehbooba Mufti's used to be the
      strong voice against the human rights abuses. She was in fact first
      from the mainstream lot of politicians who raised voice against the
      atrocities being committed by the surrendered militants who are
      working as Police and Army informer. One would love to believe that
      once in power she would see to it that this uncontrollable lot is
      tamed and taught to behave. But nothing of the sort has happened. If
      Dar is believed, and there is no reason not to believe him as in a
      society like Kashmir no father would dare to say publicly that his
      daughter has been raped unless it is true, Mehbooba Mufti had assured
      him help but did nothing. Question arises why the culprits have not
      been arrested yet and why a disciplinary action was not ordered
      against then district police chief of Budgam and SHO Beerwah who
      slept over the issue and protected the rapists.
      One may dispute the fact that there is a visible improvement on human
      rights front since PDP-led government assumed power in the State. But
      at the same time there is a lot that remains to be done. The
      surrendered militants who are presently working with Police and Army
      as informers have become law unto themselves. As they are confident
      that the security agencies are always there to protect them, they
      indulge in all kind of crimes and still roam around scot-free. Only
      yesterday a surrendered militant who works with the security forces
      shot dead a young boy in Sonawari area of district Baramulla. This is
      not the only case. Reports pouring in from different parts of the
      Valley suggest that these surrendered militants are indulging in
      worst types of human rights and the establishment is watching as a
      mute spectator as security agencies 'need their services for
      countering insurgency.' The worst part of the story is that against
      whom these elements commit atrocities dare not to raise their voices
      fearing reprisal from the armed goons who enjoy patronage of the
      security agencies. Now that the Beerwah villager has broken the myth
      and come to public with his allegations it is high time that
      government swings into action and takes stringent action against such
      elements. To begin with let the surrendered militants identified by
      Dar and his daughters be arrested and booked under the law of the
      land. The process of justice would be incomplete unless strong action
      is taken against the concerned SHO and SP who too by their
      indifference have played the role of partners in the crime.



      Greetings From PVCHR / FRM.

      We take great pleasure in extending to you our
      invitation to be the Special Guest at the 'BENARES
      CONVENTION & BENARES DECLARATION' scheduled for the
      26th of June 2003 in Varanasi.

      This is a historical convention bringing together all
      secular forces interested in the preservation of the
      secular and pluralistic fabric of the Indian society.
      Several renowned National and International social
      activist and secularist are participating.

      Your august presence as the Special Guest will help
      make this Convention a great success and we request
      you to find the time to participate and give your
      views at the Convention and lend your voice to the
      ìBenares Declarationî.

      We will much appreciate if you can contribute to the
      cost of your travel and we will take care of your
      accommodation, food and conveyance.
      Thanking you in anticipitation, we remain,

      Yours truly
      For PVCHR/FRM

      The city of Varanasi located on the banks of Ganga is
      one of the oldest cities of the World. Since centuries
      this city like the rest of our country has witnessed
      two streams of thoughts. On the one hand it is claimed
      by the Brahmanical Forces as their cultural capital
      and throughout they have attempted to impose their
      views on the rest of society. This has been opposed by
      the other stream of thought represented by such
      universally renowned figures as Gautam Buddha, Ashoka
      etc who strived for a classless society .In the days
      of British rule, the communal forces too tried to give
      their own identity to the city and was opposed by such
      secular figures as Kabir, Sant Ravidas, PremChand etc.
      It is due to the relentless struggle of these secular
      leaders that our country had emerged and remained for
      more than fifty years as a secular nation and a plural
      society. Now we are witnessing the renewal of this
      communal and fundamental virus raging across the
      country threatening the secular and pluralistic nature
      of our society and joining forces with Imperialism
      threatening our pluralism and people centric economic
      system. This has awakened the secular groups in the
      city of Varanasi represented by famous Intellectuals,
      Artists, Poets, Youths, Students, Trade Union and
      members of the Civil Society including renowned
      secularist like Bismillakhan, Gyanendra Pati, and Sant
      Vivek Das etc. They have decided to come together to
      opposes Brahmanical and Communal forces, Imperialism,
      Globalization and promote peoples livelihood, people
      democracy, Justice and Human Rights. To meet this
      threat and in continuation of the ancient secular
      tradition of Buddha and Kabir, the secular forces have
      decided to come together on the 26th of June 2003 at
      the grounds of the Bharat Mata Mandir. The 26th of
      June is significant as the UN declared International
      Day in support of the victims of torture .It is also
      important for Indians as the day Emergency was imposed
      in India. PVCHR has declared this day as the Day of
      Democracy. The venue of Bharat Mata Mandir symbolizes
      our struggle against colonialism when all Indians
      irrespective of their caste or religion participated
      and obtained their freedom from the British. Today we
      look forward to uniting the secular forces against the
      combined might of Fundamentalism and Imperialism.
      Benares representing an important trading center of
      North India and an important educational center with
      the location of world famous universities like Benares
      Hindu University, Kashi Vidyapeet, Sanskrit
      University, and Islamic Institutes. People from
      different walks of life including students come to
      this city from all parts of India and the world. Thus
      Benares will have a wide influence and ripple effect.
      Benares also represents the common cultures of the
      Muslims and Hindus who are engaged in manufacturing
      saris without any difference between them.
      We have talked to every section of Society of Benares.
      Almost all of them have welcomed this idea and have
      given their wholehearted support. Several prominent
      citizens of Benares like Prof.Mallik, Dr.Mahendra
      Pratap, Dr.R. P.Diwedi, Gyanendra Pati, Sant Vivek
      Das, and Pt.Vikash Maharaj. Several organizations like
      Savitri Ba Phule Mahilla Panchayaat, Gramyya, Mitra,
      Jan Mukti, and Bhoomi hakdari morcha, Prerna Kala
      Manch have also given their support.Mr. Sandeep
      pandey( Ramon Magsaysay laureate), Mr.D. Prempati
      (Dalit intellectual),Sanjai Rai(FIAN) & Mr. Suneet
      Chopara( Khet Mazdoor Morcha) and several others have
      extended their whole hearted support to the programme.

      The objective of conference: -
      1.To review the policies and strategies in regard to
      various issues related to human rights and child
      2.To workout a plan of action for the next two years.
      3.To initiate cultural fronts there by strengthening
      the cultural movement in the state.

      On the 26th of June, the venue will be prepared to
      accommodate a mass rally in which about 10,000 people
      will participate. After the rally will be the Benares
      declaration, strategies and action plan.
      Presidium of 5 people will conduct the conference
      sessions and the present Co-ordination committee will
      give press briefing to the press.

      The date of the Declaration: 26th of June 2003
      The Venue of Declaration: The Grounds of The Bharat
      Mata Mandir.

      PVCHR or The Peopleís Vigilance Committee on Human
      Rights is a human rights organization working on the
      grassroots level for the rights of the Dalit classes
      in particular and the rights of children in general.
      It was founded by Dr. Lenin and Poet Gyanendra Pati in
      the year 1996.[...].



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