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Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.

Repetitive, non-creative strategy? Why is annihilation of caste still a 'distant' dream

By Aviral Anand*  If Dr BR Ambedkar's birth anniversary is a day of celebration, it is also a day of reflection. To honor the struggle of someone as dedicated and revolutionary as Dr. Ambedkar, one must be able to look back on what has been achieved and also look forward to what needs to be done.

April 14 as #DalitDiwali: Are Bahujan leaders 'insensitive' in choosing symbols?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Dr Mama Deshmukh is a veteran Bahujan historian. In a conversation with me recently, he said that only Ambedkarite Buddhists are capable to lead the Bahujan movement. He insisted, they should get united. An interesting part of his discussion was the advise to Ambedkarites to be sensitive towards 'egos' of the Marathas, Kunbis and other Bahujan communities.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Gujarat love jihad Bill infringes on women's rights, 'criminalises' marginalized Muslims

Counterview Desk  In a memorandum submitted to Gujarat governor Acharya Devrat, signatories on behalf of the India's top civil society network, National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM), Gujarat, has said that the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021, passed recently in the state assembly, is "unconstitutional, infringes on the rights of women and polarizes the society along lines of religion."

Whither reforms? Pandemic 'witnessed' poor labour market governance in India

By Simi Mehta  Eminent labour economist and professor, Human Resources Management Area at XLRI -- Xavier School of Management, Dr KR Shyam Sundar’s new book titled ‘Essays on COVID-19, Labour Market Reforms and the World of Work in India’, released at a virtual event, has been dedicated the book to the premier international academic body (co-founded by former President Shri VV Giri), the Indian Society of Labour Economics.

Farm laws: Modi govt concocting false narratives, 'ignoring' ill-effects of its steps

By Rahul Singh Rana, Sandeep Pandey* The Farmers' protests are into their fourth month now. These protests started with people from Punjab and Haryana breaking barricades and heading towards the Indian capital. As expected, these protesting farmers were met with force at several places. Undeterred by the challenging circumstances, the farmers were able to reach at the borders of Delhi. 

Andhra govt, Centre 'collude' to repeat Bhima Koregaon type case against rights activists

Counterview Desk  In a comprehensive statement, running into about 3,500 words, India's premier human rights organisation, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), even as condemning the recent "unprecedented attack" on rights activists by the Andhra Pradesh government, with the Centre's National Investigation Agency (NIA) and stood in "solidarity", has said that the main aim of the "witch hunt" is to silence dissent.

Federalism in danger? Law 'paralyses' Delhi governance, follows abrogation of Article 370

Counterview Desk  In an open statement, a group of former civil servants of the all-India and Central services, who have worked for decades with the Central and State governments, have said that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amndment) Act, 2021, is not only "bad in law", it also "deprives Delhi’s citizens of the right to govern themselves in matters such as health, education, water, power, electric supply and roads."

Myanmar junta crackdown: Demand to allow refugees in India, sign Geneva Convention

Counterview Desk  India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as seeking restoration of democracy in Myanmar and declaring "support" to the "civil disobedience movement" against the military (Tatmadaw), has demanded that the Government of India (GoI) should allow refuge to Myanmar’s citizens "fleeing persecutions and violence."

Varanasi court verdict on physical survey of Gyanvapi mosque 'violates' Ayodhya verdict

By Our Representative  The Popular Front of India, a civil rights network, has said that the Varanasi district court order directing the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out a “physical survey” of the Gyanvapi mosque is a “clear case of abetting the Sangh Parivar assault on the Constitutional rights of religious minorities.”

Chhattisgarh Naxal attack: Why no CRPF jawan from Delhi, Mumbai upscale area?

By Aviral Anand*  A jawan from Tripura about to get married. Another, from a village in Bilaspur, looking forward to a new home. A recent father... The stories of martyred jawans are almost always the same, and the scenes of mourning too similar, set as they are overwhelmingly in rural or mofussil India. Has one ever heard of someone from, say, the preposterously-named residential complexes like "Maple Gardens Society" in the posh outskirts of the national capital, for example, ever falling victim to an ambush in Bastar?

Reminiscing Kashmir human rights lawyer, 'killed' 25 yrs ago by Indian army fugitive

Arshad Andrabi with photo of brother Jalil Andrabi, Srinagar, June 12, 2012 By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai*  Accused of murdering human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi, who was chairman of the Kashmir Commission of Jurists, exactly 25 years ago, it became a big news when a former Indian major, Avtar Singh, was found dead after he killed his wife and two children, and finally himself, in Selma, California. The event took place on June 9, 2012.

Sedition law: Independent India carrying imperial legacy to 'silence' dissent, criticism

By Prem Verma* The Indian sedition law owes its origin to the British Sedition Act of 1661, an Act of Parliament of England which was passed as an Act for safety and Preservation of His Majesties Person and Government against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts. However sedition was abolished in Great Britain through the Coroners and Justice Act of 2009.

'Defiance' of Election Commission guidelines in Tamil Nadu: Do media, politicians care?

By NS Venkataraman*  With the polling in Tamil Nadu over, many citizens heave a sigh of relief that they would be spared from the noise made by politicians and media at least for the next few weeks, it is time to reflect for a moment about the role of the Election Commission in Tamil Nadu and what kind of respect it commanded from the media and the political parties.

Why India's officials dislike anti-atrocities law more than the 'much misused' NSA

By Martin Macwan*  The judicial trial in the case of unnatural death of George Floyd is aired live on the American TV channel. It is also shown on other international channels. The most noticeable testimonies are of the police officers. They have clearly testified that the accused police officer in the case has broken the rules and protocols under which police officers have been trained.

Arbitrary, vindictive? There is no ground for disciplinary action against Saibaba: DUTA

Counterview Desk Objecting to the termination of top human rights leader Dr GN Saibaba's services, the DelhiUniversity Teachers' Association (DUTA), in a representation Prof PC Joshi, acting vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi, even as appealing to review disciplinary action against him, has said that the Ram Lal Anand College, where he serves as associate professor, or its Governing Gody, has "never made out a case for disciplinary action" independent of the criminal case filed against him.

Decision to terminate Prof Saibaba's services 'inhuman, arbitrary, against natural justice'

By Our Representative  Taking strong exception to the decision of the Ram Lal Anand College, Delhi University, to terminate services of well-known left-wing human rights activist Dr GN Saibaba as associate professor with effect from March 31, 2021, a civil rights group fighting against his continued incarceration for his alleged Maoist links has said the move is “arbitrarily”, and is “in complete violation of all principles of natural justice.”

Chhattisgarh Naxal attack: 'Failure' to address Adivasi concern over their natural resources

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The brutal Naxal attack on the security forces in Chhattisgarh is a reminder of how the Naxals have amassed huge weapons to 'protect' their zones. It is a complete intelligence failure on the part of both the Central and state governments who allowed this massive assault to happen. This was the same region where earlier the Maoists had ambushed security forces killing them in large numbers.

PUCL warns against using Chhattisgarh tragedy for further militarisation of Bastar

By Our Representative  India's well-known human rights organisation, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), while condemning the "heavy loss of lives in the encounter between Maoists and security forces in Chhattisgarh", has appealed to all political parties to "maintain calm", insisting, it is time to "bring an end to all hostilities."

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

Subsistence to sustainability: Empowering women through self-help groups model

By Moin Qazi*  In the development sector, the focus on efforts to empower women is growing, but COVID-19 has put the hard-won progress in the field at risk. The shadow of this pandemic falls on women by way of loss of employment opportunities. Women hold the majority of insecure, informal, and lower-paying jobs.

Doubling of incomes? Niti Aayog view 'hides' the plight of 86% small, marginal farmers

By Dr Gian Singh* On March 28, 2021, Dr Ramesh Chand, Member (Agriculture) of the Niti Aayog, said that if the Agriculture Acts are not implemented soon, the target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 would not be achieved. He said that the government was ready to discuss these laws with the farmers section by section. Farmer leaders should consider this offer.

Nearing 180th day of incarceration, Stan Swamy carries cross, 'awaits' his Easter

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  April 4 was Holy Saturday 2021! Christians, in an age-old custom, waited devoutly, in patient silence but with deep hope: The tomb which contains the body of Jesus would be thrown wide open in a few hours, revealing the Resurrection of Jesus, his triumph over death and the promise to mankind of eternal life. 

Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja  By Our Representative  A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.

From Golana to Sonadar: Is social justice for Gujarat Dalits of concern any more?

MLA Jignesh Mevani (independent) paying homage to Amrabhai Boricha  By Martin Macwan*  The news were disturbing. There was unruly confrontation between the District Magistrate and an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat. Amrabhai Boricha, head of the lone Dalit family in Sanodar village, Bhavnagar district, was brutally murdered in the presence of his family members and the police guards assigned to protect his life.

Andhra, Telangana 'collaborate' with Centre to target human rights defenders: NAPM

Counterview Desk  India’s civil rights organisation, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), while condemning a spate of “fabricated” FIRs and “arbitrary raids” on activists’ homes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, has regretted that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Unlawful Activities Prohibition Act (UAPA) “have become tools of stifling all democratic assertion and dissent by the current regime”.

Maoist link? Raids on Andhra, Telengana activists for their 'fight' against injustice

By Our Representative  The National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO), condemning National Investigation Agency (NIA) recent raids on Telangana and Andhra Pradesh activists, has said that it wasn’t any surprise that NIA raided the houses of around 25 activists of the two states for their alleged links with Maoists.

Ahmedabad tribal workers site demolished for metro project: Whither rehab policy?

By Mina Jadhav*  The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has demolished 69 settlements of tribal construction workers in front of Srushti Arcade, Motera, Ahmedabad. The settlement had come into news last year at the time of the visit of US President Trump to the Motera stadium.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Chhattisgarh Congress govt 'targeting, hounding' anti-mining woman tribal leader

Counterview Desk  A signature campaign begun to free tribal rights activist Hidme Markam, and other activists like her, addressed to Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has said that she is languishing in jail on “false and unfounded charges” despite being a seasoned and deeply committed activist, who has been raising her voice against “indiscriminate” corporate greed and “state-sanctioned” devastation through arbitrary development projects.

#MittiSatyagraha: Parallel civil society Dandi yatra continues amidst police 'obstruction'

Activists stopped at Umrachhi on way to Dandi  By Our Representative A civil society-sponsored #MittiSatyagraha Yatra, which has commenced across India amidst Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high profile Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, has seen a nervous administration in Gujarat seeking to block the entry of  activists at a spot near Dandi, where the yatra was heading.  The yatra has begun from Mumbai (Maharashtra), Bhadwani and Rewa (Madhya Pradesh), Champaran (Bihar), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Varanasi (UP), Bellary (Karnataka) and Amritsar (Punjab), and is scheduled to reach Delhi borders on April 6.

J&K: US govt report concern over arbitrary arrests, detention, 'denial' of fair trial

By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai* The United States Department of State, 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, issued on March 30, 2021 has reproached India on her human rights record. The country report graphic documentation of human rights violations being committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

When Deoras wrote 'approvingly': Hedgewar saved him, others from Bhagat Singh's path

By Mohan Guruswamy*  The term 'gotra' has Rigvedic origins. It originally was used to denote cattle belonging to the same cowshed, and hence to a single owner. In course of time it evolved to be equivalent to lineage. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline.

Food habits, climate change: Indian politicians don't even refer to 'existential' threats

By Shankar Sharma*  Average westerner's eating habits lead to loss of four trees every year, and renewables plus batteries offer Australia the same energy security as coal, according to a recent research , which adds, our food habits thus are a major cause of climate change.

Stan Swamy, 84, has 'no history' of violence against others, bail rejection unbelievable

By Our Representative  In an appeal for “immediate bail” to 84-year old social activist Stan Swamy, more than 2,500 signatories have regretted that they are “shocked by the rejection of a bail application filed by him in the Bhima Koregaon case by the special NIA (National Investigation Agency) court on March 22, 2021.” Swamy was arrested on October 8, 2020 and continues to languish in jail.

Gujarat coin campaign to end untouchability: Dalit rights NGO begins donations drive

By Our Representative  As part of a unique campaign to melt all the brass utensils and articles collected from across India and mint a 1111 milligram diameter coin, on which the image of Dr BR Ambedkar's famous anti-untouchability Mahad satyagraha of 1927 will be engraved, Gujarat’s top Dalit rights organisation, Navsarjan Trust, has begun a major donations drive from people willing to take part in what has been called “no rallies, no sit-ins, no slogans and no call for Bharat bandh” programme.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Delhi manhole deaths: 'Inexperienced' Dalit workers were forced to enter in sewer line

By Our Representative A team consisting of civil society network, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) activists, who visited to the families of two sanitation workers who died while cleaning up a sewer on March 25, 2021 in Pearl Grand Banquet Hall in Gazipur, Delhi, has regretted that government agencies, owners of septic tanks and contractors "are openly violating the Manual Scavengers Act, 2013 and directions are given by Delhi High Court", one reason why "poor Dalit sanitation workers are being killed while cleaning sewer/septic tanks."

Violation of India's global obligation? 107 coal blocks 'offered' for commercial mining

Counterview Desk  In a letter emailed to Dr S Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs, Government of India, well-known power and climate policy analyst Shankar Sharma has posed a question as to what stance would India take at the Climate Summit in US proposed by President Joe Biden in US next month, at a time when the Government of India has already announced its decision to offer “40 plus 67 coal blocks for commercial mining.”

Bihar's govt's legal armour for 'unbridled' powers to suppress dissent, rights activists

Counterview Desk  India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), has demanded the Bihar government should immediately withdraw the “undemocratic” Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, calling it a draconian law, insisting it was “passed in a draconian manner.” It adds, the bill, passed on March 23, on the anniversary of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, “effectively turns Bihar into a Police Raj.”

Gujarat rivers' highly toxic discharge cause 'great risk' to livelihood in towns, villages

By Our Representative  In a letter to the chairman and member-secretary, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Government of India’s anti-pollution watchdog, and to officials its Gujarat counterpart, senior environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), have said that one of the state’s biggest rivers, Mahisagar, which flows off the state's cultural capital Vadodara, has turned into “disaster in motion.”

Law in my kitchen: Notion of privacy in the context of gender, body, desire, sexuality

By Simi Mehta, Anshula Mehta The law in India never uses the word ‘desire’. There is no law of desire or vocabulary present in the State that talks about desire. However, this “term can refer to a gamut of things including gender, politics, culture, history, sociology and all the subjects that go into making law what it is.” Desire acts as the bridge between the mind and the body.

'Little reason' to agonize over Ashoka Varsity, Pratap Bhanu Mehta's resignation

By Aviral Anand*  A certain section of the Indian intelligentsia is very perturbed at the recent events at Ashoka University. The alarm seems chiefly about the resignation of one of its star faculty, Pratap Bhanu Mehta. It is almost laughable this should have elicited the horror that it seems to have, given that Ashoka is a private university with a good number of businessperson-types among its founders. And the fact that PB Mehta has always been a sedate intellectual, his critiques quite mainstream and even good natured, most often.

'Anti-constitutional, high handed': NAPM on Gujarat farm leaders' arrest at press meet

By Our Representative  Calling the recent arrest of several Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leaders on March 26, the day on which farmers across the country were observing Bharat Bandh, “anti-constitutional” and “high handed”, the Gujarat chapter of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India’s top civil society network, has said that this was done “under instructions of the state government”.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Why apex court 'shouldn't entertain' Rizvi's petition to remove 26 verses from Quran

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed* Waseem Rizvi has stirred the hornet’s nest. In a recent PIL in the Supreme Court, he has demanded the removal of 26 verses from the holy Quran claiming that terrorists used these verses to "promote jihad". Waseem is going around throwing tantrums as earlier: He had written to the Prime Minister to close down all the madrasas since these breed terrorists. This was very badly viewed in the community. In 2017, Rizvi announced to offer the entire Ram Mandir area to the government.

New pregnancy law: Should women justify abortion? Whither reproductive rights?

By Simi Mehta, Nishi Verma* Abortion is a highly emotional issue and one that excites deeply held opinions. However, equitable access to safe abortion services is first and foremost a human right. On March 17, 2021, India’s Parliament passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Bill, 2021 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. 

Punjab meet on Bhagat Singh: 'Insufficient' presence of Dalit farm, industry workers

By Harsh Thakor*  On March 22 the youth of Punjab at a conference, staged by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)-Ugrahan  and the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) at the grain market in Sunam, tried to resurrect the spirit of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. It was staged in the hometown of martyr Udham Singh, whose name glimmers in the annals of India's anti-colonial history.