Skip to main content

'Targeting Modi' a repeat of Gujarat in early 21st century, narrative changed from 'Jihadi' to 'Urban Naxal': NSI

Counterview Desk
The New Socialist Initiative (NSI), which calls itself "collective committed to regeneration of revolutionary socialist politics" and is spread in several states, has said that the recent arrests of human rights defenders and public intellectuals is the “BJP's McCarthy moment”, reminding people that it is similar to the type of witch-hunt happened in the US regime in late 1940s and early 1950s against writers, scholars and activists “alleging Left leanings”. 
Saying that the arrests clearly suggest that Indian “democracy is under siege”, in a statement, it insists, “With ground slipping fast beneath its feet, BJP government resorting to draconian measures."

Text of the statement:

Strongly condemning the recent arrest of five activists -- New Socialist Initiative strongly condemns the arbitrary and malicious manner in which the Pune Police, at the behest of its saffron masters, raided the houses of leading human rights activists, lawyers, professors and poets in different cities simultaneously and arrested five of them -- Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao -- under concocted charges.
Demanding immediate release of all these persons unconditionally and withdrawal of fabricated charges filed against them under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) , it also said that appropriate action should be taken against the guilty policemen as well involved in this act.
Reports of these raids reveal that the police had no qualms in treating these persons - who are highly educated and have devoted larger part of their lives fighting for the marginalised and exploited upholding constitutional methods - as dreaded terrorists and also insulting their near and dear ones.
The case of Prof Satyanarayan, Head of the Department of Cultural Studies and Dean of inter-disciplinary studies at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) - a highly respected academic and scholar in his field and author of many books - reveals, how his house was also raided just because he happens to be son in law of Varavara Rao, a well-known Telugu poet and activist. Police had the gall to question his wife why (despite being a Brahmin) she has opted for intercaste marriage (with a Dalit) and why does not she puts 'sindoor' on her forehead.
The fast changing developments reveal this ill-conceived move has completely backfired and has led to tremendous outrage and uproar all over the country, with marches and rallies organised in different cities and towns joined by hundreds of people. Declaring that the unfolding situation in the country as worse than emergency, with a 'republic of Hope' turning into 'republic of fear' people have underlined that the present government has resorted to this move basically to deflect attention of the wider populace over its all round failure in managing the economy or addressing the issue of growing ruptures in social fabric or reining in vigilante gangs who have made a mockery of rule of law.
It need to be noted that even the mainstream print media has also questioned the government for this ill thought move and charged that it is BJP's McCarthy moment reminding the people of the witch hunt by the US regime in late fourties and early fifties against writers, scholars and activists alleging left leanings.
The unprecedented intervention by the highest courts of the country in this issue has played a key role in putting the government on the defensive. The Supreme Court created history of sorts when it allowed a third party intervention in this case responding to a petition filed by leading intellectuals and constituting a three member bench an issue a notice to the Maharashtra Police. Terming that 'Dissent is safety valve of Democracy' it has reminded the government that democracy would not be safe if the government quells dissent. As of now the focus of the case has shifted to the Supreme Courts, which will deliberate on the issue next week.
It is crystal clear that the immediate trigger for this action on part of the Pune Police was the great expose by the Maharashtra ATS itself of a cache of arms, explosives and detonators from the houses of Hindutva zealots allegedly associated with the Sanatan Sanstha and related Hindutva groups, arrest of five activists and unearthing of a plot to further exacerbate communal tension by putting bombs at crowded places and festivals.
In fact, these revelations had put added pressure on the government at the state level as well as the centre to ban the Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliated organisation Hindu Janjagruti Samiti. which openly talk of 'Destruction of Evildoers as Spiritual Practice'. It should not be forgotten here that these outfits have been under the scanner of the investigating agencies for more than a decade, for their promotion of violent activities and even involvement of their associates in terror acts and earlier governments in the state had similarly sent its recommendations to the centre to ban these outfits.
It is important to emphasise that this expose was possible because of investigations into the assassination of Gauri Lankesh (Sepember 2017) undertaken by Karnataka police which had revealed how people associated with these organisations were not only responsible for this particular killing but earlier assassinations of rationalists, scholars and left activists – namely Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare and Prof Kalburgi – which had rocked the nation The Maharashtra ATS is reported to be in possession of a hit list prepared by these terrorists of many scholars, activists, social workers who have always remained critical of the idea of Hindutva world view and have consistently opposed its proponents.
The powers that be had also presumed that nationwide arrests - followed by a pliant media - would also help cover up their blatant failures on the economic front. In fact it is for everyone to see that the way in which the BJP dispensation led by Modi has bungled the economy has also become more and more apparent.
Close on the heels of the controversy around Rafael deal which is being called a 'Defence Scandal Larger than any thus far" and where "gross misuse of office and monumental criminal misconduct" is evident has come the report released by Reserve Bank of India itself which has revealed that 99.3 per cent of the demonetised currency has returned to the bank which has vindicated what ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said on the floor of the house that the whole demonetisation exercise was 'organised loot and legalised plunder".
Barring few cheerleaders of the present dispensation there is general consensus that within a span of one year the Modi government has delivered ‘twin blow’ to the economy firstly through demonetisation and secondly through the ill-conceived Goods and Services Tax (GST), which have proved to be a complete disaster for our economy and broke the back of small businesses.
Whatever might have been the claims of the present dispensation before assuming power, they have proved a disaster on the employment front also. While two crore jobs were promised to the youth, not even 2 lakh new jobs have been created till date.
As the unfolding developments demonstrate the government’s calculations in this case have gone awry. It had felt that with these arrests of leading human rights activists, renowned intellectuals it would be able to deflect people's attention from its cosy approach towards these Hindutva terrorists and their deadly machinations. And as already discussed the government is finding itself on the backfoot on this issue.
Equally troubling for the government has been the arrest of a person associated with Shiv Pratishthan, an organisation floated by Sambhaji Bhide, a fanatic Hindutva leader, in the arms haul case. It is the same organisation which is allged to be involved in the Bhima Koregaon violence against Dalits when they in their lakhs had taken out a massive procession to the Vijay Stambh situated at Koregaon near Pune to commemorate 'victory of Dalits' against the Peshwas two hundred years ago.
A FIR filed immediately about the violence had directly blamed Sambhaji Bhide and another Hindutva zealot Milind Ekbote for this orchestrated violence. Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar, who was a key speaker at the 'Elgaar Parishad' event held a day earlier in Pune to 'celebrate this Dalit victory' had also lodged a similar complaint against these zealots and asked the police to take up the cases under SC-ST Atrocity Prevention Act (1989). While the Maharashtra police has not even deemed it necessary to even interrogate Sambhaji Bhide – with Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis giving him clean chit on the floor of the house – it seems to be hyper active in following a fabricated case by a Hindutva activist against these left leaning scholars, activists.
We should not forget that these raids and arrests are in continuation of arrests of Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Advocate Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson in June on allegations of 'instigating the Bhima-Koregaon violence' which was witnessed a day after the Elgaar Parishad and also being part of a 'Rajiv Gandhi type assassination plot' targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Time and again two retired judges of the Supreme Courts, Judge P B Sawant and Justice Kolse Patil, have underlined that they were the organisers of this Elgaar Parishad and the persons arrested earlier or in this round had no role to play in its organising the government wants to 'prove' that these persons were involved in it.
The cavalier manner in which the government itself is investigating the alleged assassination plot is visible not only in the questions raised by the Delhi HC about the irregularities and lapses on part of Maharashtra Police when it was hearing the Habeas Corpus petition against the transit remand ordered by the CJM Saket Court in the context of Gautam Navlakha’s arrest but also the time gap of around three months in the two round of arrests.
The story of this plot -- supposedly targeting Modi -- reminds one of the Gujarat of the first decade of the 21st century, when similar plots were talk of the town, when Modi happened to be chief minister of the state. It witnessed deaths of many a innocents in fake encounters on the specious claim that the particular 'jihadi' had come to assassinate Mr Modi. It is now history how many a police officers spent years in jail for their alleged role in these fake encounters. Today, the word 'Jihadi' has been replaced by 'Urban Naxal' – a new narrative which the government wants to build against its critics and dissenting voices.
The New Socialist Initiative is of the opinion that draconian laws like UAPA – which have been used in arresting these activists and which have earlier been used against thousands of activists and innocent persons - should not have any place in democracy.
The New Socialist Initiative has appealed to the people at large – citizens, residents of this country who still believe in democracy, secularism, equity, pluralism – to remain vigilant about the machinations of the powers that be at the centre, as survey after survey indicate that the BJP under Modi is fast losing its popularity, and it is possible that to remain in power in next elections it may resort to divisive agendas to polarise people.

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

PLFS data: Is rising employment good news? Deeper analysis suggests contrary results

By Ishwar Chandra Awasthi, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav*  Results of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2020-21 , released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India (GoI) on June 14, 2022, show improvement in work force participation rate (WPR) and labour force participation rate (LFPR) and declining unemployment rate. Four rounds of data have been released from 2017-18 to 2020-21 based on PLFS. The general trend in the last four rounds clearly shows consistent increase in WPR and LFPR and falling unemployment rates by usual status (PS+SS). Though increase in WPR and LFPR is reported highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19, yet rising trend in these two key indicators continues throughout, and similarly fall in unemployment is registered highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19. Clearly, the recent results give some solace and relief after unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic that has entailed enormous loss of human lives and livelihoods and crippled economic activit

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Drop all falsed charges': 150 citizens demand early release of AltNews co-founder

Counterview Desk  About 150 concerned citizens have demanded the release of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checkng newsportal AltNews, arrested over a 2018 tweet which allegedly hurt religious sentiments, even as booking for criminal conspiracy and having received foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Denied bail last weekend and sent to 14-day judicial custody, the concerned citizens, in a statement, regretted that while the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Delhi police on a petition filed on behalf of Zubair challenging the legality and propriety of his police remand and the seizure of his electronic devices, the “frivolous case” continues. Excerpts: The illegal arrest of Mr. Mohammed Zubair happened on June 27, 2022, by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity over a tweet from 2018. The IPC Sections included 153(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race,

Chennai residents 'suffering': Faulty design, implementation of storm water project

By NS Venkataraman*  The Greater Chennai Corporation is now implementing storm water drainage project in 559 roads, covering a distance of 1033 kilometres, which cost around Rs 4,070 crore. For this massive project, which is targeted to be completed between April and September this year, huge loan has been availed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others. Several technocrats have pointed out that the project has been designed with outdated technology and quality of the implementation is so poor that the residents have been put to great hardships. As part of the project, digging of the road has been done to around 5 to 6 feet deep and width of around 4 to 5 feet. The drains are being constructed using steel reinforced cement concrete with two walls on either side with provisions for manhole, chute etc. This has been done in front of several houses leaving little space between the gate of the house and that of the drainage structure. As the work has been going on for mor

Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah  A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers. Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study. According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%)

'Contractor-official nexus led to RTI activist's murder': Fact-finding team seeks probe

Courtyard inside of PWD office where Ranjeet Soni was killed Counterview Desk  A fact-finding team* visited Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP) on June 19, 2022 to meet with the family of Ranjeet Soni, who was shot dead on June 2, 2022 inside the premises of the PWD office in Vidisha. The objective was to gather information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ranjeet Soni and his work on exposing corruption through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A report prepared by the team members says that Ranjeet had been extensively using the RTI Act to access information from the government, and upon receiving documents showing misuse of public funds or corruption, he was filing complaints to various authorities including the Lokyukta, Publi Works Department (PWD) and the Chief Minister’s Office. It notes, Ranjeet used to work as a contractor and often undertook government works in collaboration with other contractors, including those being investigated for his murder. A f

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria