Skip to main content

Flutter around "Muslim" activist's exit from top NGO, whose foreign funding was cancelled by Modi govt

Shabnam Hashmi
By Our Representative
There is a huge flutter in India’s top civil society circles around the sudden resignation of a 'Muslim' rights activist, Ovais Sultan Khan, from a highly acclaimed campaign voluntary organizations, Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (Anhad), founded by well-known social worker Shabnam Hashmi. Formed in the after the 2002 Gujarat communal riots, it was supported, among others, by top bureaucrat-turned-activist Harsh Mander and leftist historian KN Panikkar.
The flutter follows an open resignation letter of Khan as managing trustee of Anhad, published in Milli Gazette, which calls itself India’s “leading Muslim newspaper”, alleging “discrimination” because he attempted to “speak as a Muslim.”
Running into about 2,600 words, the letter, even as calling Hashmi “eminent human rights and minority rights activist”, says that those at the helm of affairs in Anhad sought to paint him as “a fundamentalist and an autocratic.”
Refusing to go into the strong allegation, Anhad, in an short rejoinder released on Facebook, signed by its trustees – Aban Raza, Amrita Nandy, Harsh Mander, Mukhtar Sheikh, Shabnam Hashmi and Shubha Menon – said, how in June 2017 its “founding and senior trustees” decided to move out and hand over the running of Anhad trust to the next generation, as a result of which the managing trustee's post went to Khan.
A year later, however, “many friends of Anhad felt that it would be good for a few of the founding trustees to rejoin the Trust, at least for a while, to ensure continuity of Anhad’s values along with change.” As a result, “A meeting of the trust was convened by the new trustees, which all except Khan attended, despite notice and consent.”
Ovais Sultan Khan
Anhad is one of the NGOs, which the Narendra Modi government barred from receiving foreign funds in December 2016 alleging that it was involved in "undesirable activities against public interest". Other NGOs whose foreign funding license was cancelled around the same time included Gujarat-based Dalit rights organization Navsarjan Trust, Sabrang Trust run by another senior woman human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, and the international environmental NGO Greenpeace.
Khan, says the Anhad rejoinder, “did not abide by the unanimous decision of the remaining trustees and, instead, three hours before the trust meeting unilaterally appointed two other trustees, whose names were never discussed either in the trust.”
This led the trustees to decide to not allow Khan to continue as managing trustee, though asking him to continue as a regular trustee, the rejoinder asserted, adding, following this, “Khan went public with his resignation” providing a “long and factually incorrect public statement, which diverts from the real facts of what led to his exit from Anhad.”
Khan, in his open letter, claims that under his young leadership Anhad expanded its wings as never before. “I attempted to heterogenise and humanise the protests for more deep engagement with those new non-activist people who want to join us but they fear”, adding, during the one year he was managing-trustee, Anhad “reached to those nameless marginalised Muslims, Dalits, women and OBCs who have never had been contacted.”
However, he regrets, he was made a subject of ridicule for highlighting the cause of the Muslims. “I told them that their problem is my Muslim identity”, he says.
Among the activities he recounts included his “solidarity visit” to the Aligarh Muslim University during the protests on the issue of attack on former vice-president Dr Hamid Ansari; and the Insaaf Yatra from Delhi to Muzaffarnagar-Shamli to “build pressure on local administration” not to withdraw criminal cases of those involved in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal violence and release of innocent juveniles jailed in alleged cases of cow slaughter.

Comments

manan said…
Muslim identity never was not a problem with ovais but he diverted from core values of Anhad which is equality social justice and human rights. Anhad refused to accept narrow idea of justice.#IStandWithAnhad

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.