Skip to main content

Gender rights NGOs' 'If we do not Rise' action on Gauri Lankesh day of tribute

Counterview Desk

More than 400 gender rights groups and human rights organisations across the country have announced Hum agar uthhe nahin toh… (If we do not rise…) campaign on September 5, 2020, marking the third anniversary of the assassination of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh. “The campaign is aimed at uniting voices against targeted attacks on the constitutional rights of the people of India”, a joint statement issued by them said.
The statement regrets, while undermining democratic institutions, including the judiciary, the Government of India is turning the Covid- 19 crisis into an “opportunity” to further “dilute and destroy laws protecting hard won workers’ rights”, is “busy” privatising public sector units that belong to India’s people, and is seeking to “destroy” the Environmental Impact Assessment processes thereby facilitating “plunder” of natural resources.

Text:

India’s democracy and Constitution are facing an unprecedented crisis. The last few years have seen a collapse of democratic institutions in the country. The independence of the judiciary and other institutions of oversight has come under a serious cloud and the functioning of the Parliament has been gravely compromised. 
The government has institutionalised corruption and lack of transparency in election funding with the system of Electoral Bonds, which allows corporations to surreptitiously divert black money to the coffers of the ruling party. The dilution of the Right to Information Act has hit at the fundamental democratic right of citizens to question the government and hold it accountable.
The growth of fascist and neo-liberal forces in the country, and the resulting rise in violence in society, has deeply impacted the lives of women and members of the LGBTQIA communities. Attacks on religious minorities have created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. The country has witnessed a systematic attempt to spread communal hatred and divide people on religious lines. 
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) pushed through Parliament by the government, together with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), destroys the secular fabric of India’s Constitution by making religion a basis for giving Indian citizenship. People all over India rose up in a peaceful and unique, women led movement to protect the Constitution. Unfortunately, targeted communal violence was unleashed in response to the movement. Instead of arresting leaders who made hate speeches inciting violence, the women and people who worked for unity, peace and the Constitution are being arrested and incarcerated.
In August 2019, the Government assaulted India’s Constitution and federalism by abrogating Article 370 and destroying the statehood of Jammu & Kashmir. The internet has not been restored even one year on; there is a complete clampdown on speech and democracy, and Kashmiri political prisoners are incarcerated in jails all over India without trial, and even former Chief Ministers are being held in house arrest. More recently, the Government has amended the region’s domicile law.
The last few years, have witnessed a frontal attack on the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution – the right to dress, speak, write, eat and choose one’s religion– which has impacted women and the LGBTQIA communities disproportionately. Voices of dissent have been systematically silenced and labelled anti-national. 
Activists, journalists and academics engaged in various movements are languishing in jails, without access to the legal provision of bail; and women like Gauri Lankesh have had to pay with her life for exercising the fundamental right to speech and expression. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (2019) has been amended and used to implicate dissenters and arrest them.
There has been a steady deterioration in the rule of law with alarming cases of police excesses, including custodial deaths.
Regressive laws like the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act have adversely impacted the rights of Transgender persons. There are very few provisions in place to protect the safety and rights of the entire LGBTQIA community. There have also been several moves to dilute SC/ST/OBC reservations and the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
Neo-liberal economic policies and growing crony capitalism have adversely impacted women in general, but especially those who belong to the Dalit, Adivasi and other marginalised communities. Their fragile economic base has been devastated.
Covid-19 crisis has been turned into an opportunity by the current regime to dilute and destroy laws protecting hard won workers’ rights
The Covid-19 crisis has further exposed the apathetic and anti-poor nature of the current regime. The unplanned and harsh lockdown imposed to combat the pandemic resulted in economic devastation. It meant instant cessation of all income earning opportunities for millions leading to unemployment, hunger and destitution among the working poor, especially migrant workers. Heart-rending reports and images of migrants walking for hundreds of kilometers, often carrying children came to characterize the lockdown. 
India’s economy was already struggling to recover from the demonetisation disaster and the country was facing the worst unemployment crisis in 45 years. The lockdown has pushed the crisis to catastrophic proportions. The pandemic has also exposed the dismal state of the country’s public health system. Gender based violence and caste-based atrocities against Dalits have risen sharply during the lockdown.
The Covid-19 crisis has been turned into an opportunity by the current regime to dilute and destroy laws protecting hard won workers’ rights. At a time when the pandemic prevents people from protesting in large numbers, the Government is busy privatising public sector units that belong to India’s people, and seeking to destroy the Environmental Impact Assessment processes thereby facilitating plunder of our rivers, forests and land and at the same time proposing adverse changes to agrarian policies.
The New Education Policy is riddled with several problems - it seeks to ensure greater centralisation, communalisation and commercialisation of the education system. There have been moves to dilute laws to protect women in the name of mitigating Covid-19 revealing the anti-women attitude of the regime.
Women and LGBTQIA persons have been at the forefront of the movement to save India’s Constitution. The Hum agar uthhe nahin toh… “if we do not rise” campaign is an initiative to safeguard constitutional values and principles.
As part of the campaign, thousands of individuals and groups will come together across the country to raise their voices on the issues mentioned both on-line and on the ground. They will:
  • Make videos of 2-5 minutes which will be shared on various social media platforms
  • Do Facebook lives 
  • Create posters, animation, memes, songs and performances and circulate on the social media 
  • While observing physical distancing norms, gather in small groups with placards and slogans 
  • Give memoranda on different issues to local authorities 
As part of the campaign we will also be releasing factsheets on various themes including violence against women, transgender people, health, political participation of women, migrant workers, women farmers and sex workers.
We appeal to all artists, intellectuals, academicians and concerned citizens to join the campaign on September 5.
We stand together to defend our Constitution and our democracy.

Comments

TRENDING

Whither Govt of India strategy to reduce import dependence on crude oil, natural gas?

By NS Venkataraman*  India presently imports around 80% of it’s crude oil requirement and around 50% of its natural gas requirements . As the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas are virtually stagnant and the domestic demand is increasing at around 7% per annum, India’s steadily increasing dependence on import of the vital energy source is a matter of high energy security concern. This is particularly so, since the price of crude oil and natural gas are considerably fluctuating / increasing in the global market due to geo political factors, which are beyond the control of India. India has promised to achieve zero emission by the year 2070, which mean that the level of emission has to start declining at slow and steady rate from now onwards. It is now well recognized that global emission is caused largely due to use of coal as fuel and natural gas as fuel and feedstock. While burning of coal as fuel cause emission of global warming carbon dioxide gas and sulphur

Muslim intellectuals met Bhagwat, extra-constitutional authority 'like Sanjay Gandhi'

By Shamsul Islam*  In a significant development a delegation of five Muslim intellectuals namely former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi; former senior bureaucrat Najeeb Jung; former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer U Shah; politician-cum-journalist Shahid Siddiqui (presently with RLD); and businessman Saeed Shervani [Samajvadi Party] met RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat at RSS Delhi headquarters. The meeting was kept secret for reasons known to the participants and was held in August. According to the Muslim intellectuals the meeting held in “a very cordial” atmosphere continued for 75 minutes whereas time allotted was 30 minutes! In a post-meeting justification of the parleys Quraishi stated that their main concern was “the insecurity being increasingly felt by the Muslim community in the wake of recurring incidents of lynching of innocents, calls by Hindutva hotheads for genocide and the marginalisation of the community in almost every sphere”. This delegation consistin

'Massive concern for people': Modi seeking to turn India into global manufacturing hub

By Shankar Sharma*  The news item quoting Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet, "Want to turn India into a manufacturing hub: PM Modi at SCO Summit" should be of massive concern to our people. One can only continue to be shocked by such policies, which can be termed as ill-conceived to say the least. Without objectively considering the environmental and social impacts on our communities in the medium to long term, such policies will also result in massive economic impacts because a lack of environmental and social perspective cannot be economically attractive either. In order to become the global manufacturing hub, India will have to meet an enormous demand for energy of various kinds, and in order to meet this much energy demand the economy has to manufacture enormous number of appliances/ gadgets/ machineries (to generate and distribute commercial forms of energy such as coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, and renewable energy (RE) sources such as so

Denying dissent democratic space in Gujarat: 'sad narrative of eroding ethical values'

By Sandeep Pandey*  A padyatra (foot march) was to be taken out between 26 September and 4 October, 2022 from Randhikpur village in Dahod district of Gujarat to Ahmedabad to apologise to Bilkis Bano. Randhikpur is Bilkis Bano’s village. In 2002 Gujarat communal violence she was gang raped, her 3 years old daughter, another child in womb and a total of 14 family members were killed. 11 people were convicted and sentenced for life in 2008. However, on 15 August, 2022 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech from Red Fort appealing to people to change their attitude towards women and treat them with respect, a district level committee of Panchmahal decided to release the 11 rapists and murderers. A Bhartiya Janata Party leader described four of these criminals as virtuous Brahmins. Before the padyatra could begin from Randhikpur, on 25 September night, 7 activists were picked up from Godhra corporator Hanif Kalandar’s house where they had gone for d

Pesticide companies' lobbying 'seriously impairing' basics of governance, regulation

Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi*  The Indian agricultural sector is grappling with low incomes, shortage of natural resources, increasing pest incidence and low public investments in research and extension. Pest attacks are increasing. Previously unknown pests are attacking crops. Farmers, indebted as they are due to various market mechanisms, are finding it hard to protect their crop investments. Thus, farmers are pushed into the conundrum of pesticide usage by pesticide markets and companies. Pesticide usage in India is increasingly becoming a regulatory problem. Regulation has not been effective in the face of such challenges. Scientific expertise on pesticides is often subsumed in the policy tradeoffs that, in the ultimate scenario, encourage production and marketing of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). Expert Committee reports, which are recommending withdrawal of certain HHPs, are not being acted upon. Lobbying by pesticide companies has seriously impaired the basics of governance an

Kerala health bill public hearing? Here the minister 'ensured' cameras were turned off

By Our Representative  On Friday, September 30, 2022, about 100 members of the general public gathered at the conference room of the collectorate at Ernakulam, Kerala, to express their apprehensions about the Kerala Public Health Bill, 2021, which the state assembly referred to a 15-member select committee chaired by state health and family welfare minister, Veena George. Minister Veena George asserted at the outset that this was a sitting of the select committee, and all cameras would need to be turned off. Advocate PA Pouran, general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Kerala, stood up in protest, arguing that the meeting was a public hearing and should ideally be televised to reach vast numbers of people. Other members of the audience protested too, but the minister insisted that the gathering was part of a sitting of the select committee.  “Why then did you invite all of us?” protested George Mathew, who had arrived from Aluva and earlier served as a member of t

How Gandhian values have become 'casualty' in India under majoritarian BJP rule

By Sandeep Pandey*  A Muslim youth was beaten recently when he tried to witness the famous garba performance during the Hindu religious nine days festival of Navratri in Gujarat. There was a time when Muslims could easily participate in Garbha events in an atmosphere of cordiality. Bilkis Bano was gang raped in 2002 Gujarat communal violence, her 3 years old daughter, the child in womb and a total of 14 family members were killed. 11 accused were awarded life term. However, recently a District level committee has decided to release all the culprits. A ruling Bhartiya Janata Party leader has described some of these criminals as virtuous Brahmins, the highest among the Hindu hierarchical caste system. In a communally polarized Gujarat today most Muslims feel offended by the decision of the government and BJP supporters either justify the release of rapists and murderers or just ignore the ignominious decision. Mahatma Gandhi came from the Guj

GoI 'feeling threatened' by forces which can potentially fight 'Brahmanical fascism'

Counterview Desk  A network of civil rights and people’s organisations , Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)*, has characterised the recently-imposed ban on Popular Front of India (PFI), National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) and other organisations as “Brahmanical Hindutva fascist” move of the Government of India (GoI), calling it “onslaught on democratic dissent”. In a statement, CASR said, the move is aimed at terrorizing and vilifying the Muslim community, adding, at the same time, the GoI is curbing any protest and demonstration against the “fascist diktat of ban”, with peoplebeing “detained and arrested.” It added, “This kind of attack on right to oppose or criticize any step of government should be conceived as an attack on the very democratic values of the people.” Text : On 28 September 2022, Central Government led by BJP-RSS banned the Popular Front of India, National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, Campus Front of India, National Wom

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".

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”