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Media freedom and journalists’ safety must be ensured

Notwithstanding the fact that a contentious acts or directives impeding democratic rights certainly entails justified public outcry, hence an ideal democracy ought to steer clear of authoritarian despotic course; nevertheless depressing instances are there when attempts are made to stir up a furore and upset the apple cart, not necessarily to the advantage of the powers that be.

The Law Commission (LC) chairman ABM Khairul Haque — whose “short order” as former Chief Justice stipulating “two more general elections under the Caretaker Government” was excluded by him from his full verdict submitted 16 months later after retirement as a Functus Officio—-the LC has inflamed a fresh controversy.
The LC has recommended to the Bangladesh Press Council (BPC) that it [BPC] may have the power to stop the publication of any newspaper or service of any news agency for a maximum of 30 days if the paper or agency violates the directives of the BPC. It was advised that Article 12 (B) (power to fine and temporary closure of newspapers or news agencies) be included in the Act which says, the BPC is authorised to fine the editor or the journalist of a newspaper or news agency not following the clause and orders of Article 12 and 12 (A) of the Act. However, the BPC chairman Justice M Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed said they did not recommend hindering publication of newspapers through amendments in the Press Council Act. Sections of journalist union and the Editors Council are not in favour of giving such powers to the BPC.
The Article 39 of the Constitution of Bangladesh has separately guaranteed press freedom along with recognising citizen’s freedom of thought and conscience with regard to freedom of expression and speech. Though Milton’s Areopagitica eloquently protested censorship 373 years ago, and scholar-President Jefferson (who was in favour of “newspapers without a government” 208 years back), no democratic leader sermonised the do’s and don’ts for the media. While Khaleda Zia’s first term (1991 – 1996) saw publication of some 250 daily newspapers, Hasina in her first term (1996 - 2001) closed down two dailies and a weekly, the Dainik Bangla, The Bangladesh Times, and Saptahik Bichitra. On 17 May 2014 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the information ministry to complete the formulation of a broadcasting policy.
The Bangladesh media and journalists—-particularly those not toeing the government line—-have been facing repeated onslaughts which began in 1974 when press freedom was done away with by the Awami League (AL) regime headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Some 66 years ago the Awami League’s founder President Moulana Bhashani edited the most popular Bengali political weekly [Saptahik Ittefaq], and championed free flow of news and views of the opposition and of anti-establishment segments of the body politic. The irony of fate is that degenerate machinations were buttressed in independent Bangladesh by no other person than a sometime political disciple of the Moulana, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who absolutely gagged the press, resulting in the ban on all newspapers and periodicals of the country except 4 (four) daily papers under government control. 
That was a blatant betrayal because an overwhelming majority of the newspapers of the then East Pakistan gave a rock-hard support to Sheikh Mujib during his tempestuous political career before independence. And many media leaders were his genuine friends in need. He sacked one of the most courageous and well-known newspaper editors of the subcontinent, Abdus Salam who for 22 years headed the editorial team of the most respected opposition English daily, The Pakistan Observer.
During the present AL regime the working journalists of the country’s print and electronic media have witnessed with alarm the closing down of Channel One TV, Diganta TV, ban on Bengali daily Amar Desh, incarceration of its editor Mahmudur Rahman who has been languishing in prison for a long time in two terms and the administration’s failure in unearthing the murder of the journalist couple Runi and Sagar on 11 February 2012.
The core theme of the World Press Freedom Day 2016 is the need for protecting independent and free media, the access to which is people’s fundamental right and safeguarding journalists. We cross our fingers and hope against hope that the media freedom will be ensured and journalists will be safe from harm.

 
Stop political murders, blogger killings
Political violence has claimed 35 people and 3878 were injured in 280 incidents from January to March, 2016 during the grassroots level local polls, according to the Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK). 
Professor AFM Rezaul Karim Siddique of  Rajshahi University was killed on 23 April. Late last April, Xulhas Mannan, the country’s most prominent gay activist, the founder of the only magazine Roopban for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) community was brutally killed. He was openly gay but his own family was uncomfortable about discussing his sexual orientation. The killing has sent shockwaves within Bangladesh’s low-profile gay community, reported the BBC on 5 May.
Indeed, over the past several months a series of similar hacking deaths targeting secular bloggers, professors, foreigners and religious minorities happened. Sanjoy Majumder of BBC News said he tracked down the country’s most famous blogger, Imran Sarkar, “in his latest hideout.” Top leader of the Shahbagh Ganajagoron Mancha, Sarkar told  him, “I change my location frequently.” He receives death threats almost every day, many on his Facebook page, or his Twitter account, even through mobile text messages or over the phone. Sarkar told BBC that they would slaughter him.
Security analyst Brig. Gen. (retd.) Sakhawat Hossain believes that even if the Islamic State or al-Qaeda do not have a credible presence in Bangladesh as yet, it is a fertile breeding ground especially if the government does not act. As there is no scope for nonchalance or indifference to these highly dangerous elements who are claiming responsibility, we suggest that the government prioritise the issue and address it with utmost seriousness. 

Comment

Notwithstanding the fact that a contentious acts or directives impeding democratic rights certainly entails justified public outcry, hence an ideal democracy ought to steer clear of authoritarian despotic course; nevertheless depressing instances are there when attempts are made to stir up a furore and upset the apple cart, not necessarily to the advantage of the powers that be.

The Law Commission (LC) chairman ABM Khairul Haque — whose “short order” as former Chief Justice stipulating “two more general elections under the Caretaker Government” was excluded by him from his full verdict submitted 16 months later after retirement as a Functus Officio—-the LC has inflamed a fresh controversy.
The LC has recommended to the Bangladesh Press Council (BPC) that it [BPC] may have the power to stop the publication of any newspaper or service of any news agency for a maximum of 30 days if the paper or agency violates the directives of the BPC. It was advised that Article 12 (B) (power to fine and temporary closure of newspapers or news agencies) be included in the Act which says, the BPC is authorised to fine the editor or the journalist of a newspaper or news agency not following the clause and orders of Article 12 and 12 (A) of the Act. However, the BPC chairman Justice M Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed said they did not recommend hindering publication of newspapers through amendments in the Press Council Act. Sections of journalist union and the Editors Council are not in favour of giving such powers to the BPC.
The Article 39 of the Constitution of Bangladesh has separately guaranteed press freedom along with recognising citizen’s freedom of thought and conscience with regard to freedom of expression and speech. Though Milton’s Areopagitica eloquently protested censorship 373 years ago, and scholar-President Jefferson (who was in favour of “newspapers without a government” 208 years back), no democratic leader sermonised the do’s and don’ts for the media. While Khaleda Zia’s first term (1991 – 1996) saw publication of some 250 daily newspapers, Hasina in her first term (1996 - 2001) closed down two dailies and a weekly, the Dainik Bangla, The Bangladesh Times, and Saptahik Bichitra. On 17 May 2014 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the information ministry to complete the formulation of a broadcasting policy.
The Bangladesh media and journalists—-particularly those not toeing the government line—-have been facing repeated onslaughts which began in 1974 when press freedom was done away with by the Awami League (AL) regime headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Some 66 years ago the Awami League’s founder President Moulana Bhashani edited the most popular Bengali political weekly [Saptahik Ittefaq], and championed free flow of news and views of the opposition and of anti-establishment segments of the body politic. The irony of fate is that degenerate machinations were buttressed in independent Bangladesh by no other person than a sometime political disciple of the Moulana, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who absolutely gagged the press, resulting in the ban on all newspapers and periodicals of the country except 4 (four) daily papers under government control. 
That was a blatant betrayal because an overwhelming majority of the newspapers of the then East Pakistan gave a rock-hard support to Sheikh Mujib during his tempestuous political career before independence. And many media leaders were his genuine friends in need. He sacked one of the most courageous and well-known newspaper editors of the subcontinent, Abdus Salam who for 22 years headed the editorial team of the most respected opposition English daily, The Pakistan Observer.
During the present AL regime the working journalists of the country’s print and electronic media have witnessed with alarm the closing down of Channel One TV, Diganta TV, ban on Bengali daily Amar Desh, incarceration of its editor Mahmudur Rahman who has been languishing in prison for a long time in two terms and the administration’s failure in unearthing the murder of the journalist couple Runi and Sagar on 11 February 2012.
The core theme of the World Press Freedom Day 2016 is the need for protecting independent and free media, the access to which is people’s fundamental right and safeguarding journalists. We cross our fingers and hope against hope that the media freedom will be ensured and journalists will be safe from harm.

 
Stop political murders, blogger killings
Political violence has claimed 35 people and 3878 were injured in 280 incidents from January to March, 2016 during the grassroots level local polls, according to the Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK). 
Professor AFM Rezaul Karim Siddique of  Rajshahi University was killed on 23 April. Late last April, Xulhas Mannan, the country’s most prominent gay activist, the founder of the only magazine Roopban for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) community was brutally killed. He was openly gay but his own family was uncomfortable about discussing his sexual orientation. The killing has sent shockwaves within Bangladesh’s low-profile gay community, reported the BBC on 5 May.
Indeed, over the past several months a series of similar hacking deaths targeting secular bloggers, professors, foreigners and religious minorities happened. Sanjoy Majumder of BBC News said he tracked down the country’s most famous blogger, Imran Sarkar, “in his latest hideout.” Top leader of the Shahbagh Ganajagoron Mancha, Sarkar told  him, “I change my location frequently.” He receives death threats almost every day, many on his Facebook page, or his Twitter account, even through mobile text messages or over the phone. Sarkar told BBC that they would slaughter him.
Security analyst Brig. Gen. (retd.) Sakhawat Hossain believes that even if the Islamic State or al-Qaeda do not have a credible presence in Bangladesh as yet, it is a fertile breeding ground especially if the government does not act. As there is no scope for nonchalance or indifference to these highly dangerous elements who are claiming responsibility, we suggest that the government prioritise the issue and address it with utmost seriousness. 

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When RSS comes to Srinagar, there’s reason to worry

Abdul Majid Zargar

 
Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) has announced that it will hold a public rally in Srinagar somewhere in the middle of this year. It has already held a full public parade in Jammu on 22nd October 2015 flaunting arms and weapons in full public view. There should be no cringing about it as our own so-called mainstream politicians, acting more as merchants than governors, have brought this fascist organization to our door steps. One political party kissed it in Delhi and the other hugged it in Srinagar.               
Some depraved ministers, bereft of any conscience and political sagacity have said that this organization has a right to be in Kashmir. It is, therefore in the fitness of things that we know what RSS stands for, its aims and objectives, its treatment with Indian Muslims and its past connections with State of J&K.
 
RSS killed 5 lac Muslims in Jammu
The RSS was founded in 1925 as a social organization with the basic purpose of uniting the Hindu community and to uphold the Indian culture and civilization values, more than anything else. Drawing its inspiration from Nazis of Germany and other European right-wing groups, its basic aim has been to establish a Hindu Rashtra – a state where Hindus are the primary and supreme citizens to the exclusion of all others and the purpose of governance is to uphold Hindu principles. –The ‘all other’ non-Hindu citizens, in its reckoning, may live in this Rashtra but only as second class citizens subservient in all manners and respects to Hindus.        
Today RSS has grown into an extremely powerful militant Hindu nationalist organization with numerous allied organizations (generally referred to as Sangh Parivar), schools, charities, clubs and publications like ‘Panchjyana’, ‘Organiser’ and ‘Dharam Rashtra’ to spread its tentacles and ideological beliefs. It targets young minds and makes them hard-core to propagate its ideology.     Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), which seized power in New-Delhi on its own in 2014, is its political wing. When leader of Opposition in Indian Rajya Saba compared RSS to a global terrorist organization, he was not farther from truth. Noted historian Ramchander Guha calls it an organization of hate.
The RSS has a pathologic hatred towards Muslims. According to Golwalker’s book ‘we, or our nationhood defined’ deemed as RSS charter and bible, ‘Ever since the evil day when Muslims first landed in Hindustan—the Hindu nation has been gallantly fighting on to shake off despoilers”. In consonance with this wicked ideology, RSS has been organizing anti-Muslim riots since its inception. After partition of India into two Domains, it organized riots across India to either kill Muslims or make them to flee. In Jammu it killed or injured half a million Muslims in collaboration with Maharaja Hari Singh’s forces and under the direction and supervision of Mehr Chand Mahajan and Sardar Patel.
 
RSS runs military schools
Before putting the pogrom in motion, it deployed in July 1947 its Provincial Organiser B.R. Agrekar, an expert in military education, to Jammu and Kashmir to inspect and advise Maharaja’s forces and RSS Cadres. In neighbouring Punjab it lent a supportive role and helping hands to Maharaja of Patiala and Kapurthala to empty Muslims in their areas. In Alwar, it engineered a massacre of Muslims on an unprecedented scale. Any Muslim who escaped the massacre was later converted into Hinduism under the ‘shuddi’ Programme. The senior parcharak in-charge in Alwar at that point of time was none other than former Home Minster of India L.K.Advani. In fact Advani was jailed for three months in connection with RSS’s complicity in Gandhi’s murder.
In Hyderabad it infiltrated its armed cadres much before the Army operation (Known as Police action) to organize riots and kill Muslims. Nearly two lac Muslims are believed to have been killed by them in complicity with Indian army, though Sunder Lal report puts the figure at only twenty five thousand after visiting only one third of the districts comprising erstwhile Hyderabad. Recently it has also advocated economic boycott of Muslims through its twitter handle @RSS_Org followed by Modi and top BJP leaders. One reason why RSS reveres only Sardar Patel, among many Congressman, is that he allowed a free hand to its cadres in Jammu and elsewhere to Kill Muslims at will.
RSS has a military institution of its own known as Bhonsala Military School situated at Nasik, Mahrashtra. It was founded by B.S Monjee, the president of Hindu Mahasaba and later handed over to V. D. Sarvarkar in 1937. The school has branches in Nagpur and Pune and one such school for female cadres at Nashik is in pipe-line. Run by Central Hindu Military education Society, a subsidiary of RSS, its day to day affairs are managed by top retired army officers of the rank of colonels and Majors.
 
Spreading terrorism outside
Besides training RSS cadres in military arts, the academy acts as a feeder institute for entry into Indian military services. It explains why Indian military is becoming increasingly communal and intolerant towards minorities. Some of the military officers having attended RSS school were found involved in terrorist activities like Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit in Malegaon blast. It is another thing that another accused in Samjuta Expresss blast, Swami Aseemanad has confessed that he had the full approval and backing of Mohan Bagwat, current head of RSS in his terrorist acts directed against Muslims. To hide its embarrassment and escape criminal action, RSS has pleaded that his confession was obtained under duress. Now why should Police, mostly Hindus, apply force on a Swami, apparently a God-man, to extract his confession, is beyond any comprehension?
Not content with its activities at home, RSS has spread its tentacles in the international arena as well. It has weaved alliances with ‘Bodu Bala Sena’ of Sri Lanka and Sanatan Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh and 969 movement headed by Ashin Wirathu in Mynamar which has close relations with the military Junta there. Influenced by RSS ideology, all these outfits continuously instigate attacks against Muslims in their respective Countries and have publicly vowed to cleanse Muslims of their areas. So far they have killed thousands of Muslims, raped their women, burned hundreds of mosques and destroyed large number of Muslim properties and businesses. In-fact Myanmar has evicted lakhs of Rohingya Muslims who are living in sub-human conditions in various parts of Southeast Asia. Incidentally Brahmin Hindus claim Lord Budha as incarnation of Lord Vishnu and therefore find fanatic Buddists as natural allies against Muslims. (The International New York Times -October 16, 2014). To expand its ideological outreach, RSS has plans to involve more countries like Fiji, Thailand, Nepal, Philippines and Cambodia in its nefarious designs. So next time you hear of communal clashes in these countries, don’t be surprised as evil forces of RSS have already charted out a plan of action for their cohorts in these countries.
 
Countercurrents.org. The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E mail: abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com)

 

Comment

Abdul Majid Zargar

 
Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) has announced that it will hold a public rally in Srinagar somewhere in the middle of this year. It has already held a full public parade in Jammu on 22nd October 2015 flaunting arms and weapons in full public view. There should be no cringing about it as our own so-called mainstream politicians, acting more as merchants than governors, have brought this fascist organization to our door steps. One political party kissed it in Delhi and the other hugged it in Srinagar.               
Some depraved ministers, bereft of any conscience and political sagacity have said that this organization has a right to be in Kashmir. It is, therefore in the fitness of things that we know what RSS stands for, its aims and objectives, its treatment with Indian Muslims and its past connections with State of J&K.
 
RSS killed 5 lac Muslims in Jammu
The RSS was founded in 1925 as a social organization with the basic purpose of uniting the Hindu community and to uphold the Indian culture and civilization values, more than anything else. Drawing its inspiration from Nazis of Germany and other European right-wing groups, its basic aim has been to establish a Hindu Rashtra – a state where Hindus are the primary and supreme citizens to the exclusion of all others and the purpose of governance is to uphold Hindu principles. –The ‘all other’ non-Hindu citizens, in its reckoning, may live in this Rashtra but only as second class citizens subservient in all manners and respects to Hindus.        
Today RSS has grown into an extremely powerful militant Hindu nationalist organization with numerous allied organizations (generally referred to as Sangh Parivar), schools, charities, clubs and publications like ‘Panchjyana’, ‘Organiser’ and ‘Dharam Rashtra’ to spread its tentacles and ideological beliefs. It targets young minds and makes them hard-core to propagate its ideology.     Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), which seized power in New-Delhi on its own in 2014, is its political wing. When leader of Opposition in Indian Rajya Saba compared RSS to a global terrorist organization, he was not farther from truth. Noted historian Ramchander Guha calls it an organization of hate.
The RSS has a pathologic hatred towards Muslims. According to Golwalker’s book ‘we, or our nationhood defined’ deemed as RSS charter and bible, ‘Ever since the evil day when Muslims first landed in Hindustan—the Hindu nation has been gallantly fighting on to shake off despoilers”. In consonance with this wicked ideology, RSS has been organizing anti-Muslim riots since its inception. After partition of India into two Domains, it organized riots across India to either kill Muslims or make them to flee. In Jammu it killed or injured half a million Muslims in collaboration with Maharaja Hari Singh’s forces and under the direction and supervision of Mehr Chand Mahajan and Sardar Patel.
 
RSS runs military schools
Before putting the pogrom in motion, it deployed in July 1947 its Provincial Organiser B.R. Agrekar, an expert in military education, to Jammu and Kashmir to inspect and advise Maharaja’s forces and RSS Cadres. In neighbouring Punjab it lent a supportive role and helping hands to Maharaja of Patiala and Kapurthala to empty Muslims in their areas. In Alwar, it engineered a massacre of Muslims on an unprecedented scale. Any Muslim who escaped the massacre was later converted into Hinduism under the ‘shuddi’ Programme. The senior parcharak in-charge in Alwar at that point of time was none other than former Home Minster of India L.K.Advani. In fact Advani was jailed for three months in connection with RSS’s complicity in Gandhi’s murder.
In Hyderabad it infiltrated its armed cadres much before the Army operation (Known as Police action) to organize riots and kill Muslims. Nearly two lac Muslims are believed to have been killed by them in complicity with Indian army, though Sunder Lal report puts the figure at only twenty five thousand after visiting only one third of the districts comprising erstwhile Hyderabad. Recently it has also advocated economic boycott of Muslims through its twitter handle @RSS_Org followed by Modi and top BJP leaders. One reason why RSS reveres only Sardar Patel, among many Congressman, is that he allowed a free hand to its cadres in Jammu and elsewhere to Kill Muslims at will.
RSS has a military institution of its own known as Bhonsala Military School situated at Nasik, Mahrashtra. It was founded by B.S Monjee, the president of Hindu Mahasaba and later handed over to V. D. Sarvarkar in 1937. The school has branches in Nagpur and Pune and one such school for female cadres at Nashik is in pipe-line. Run by Central Hindu Military education Society, a subsidiary of RSS, its day to day affairs are managed by top retired army officers of the rank of colonels and Majors.
 
Spreading terrorism outside
Besides training RSS cadres in military arts, the academy acts as a feeder institute for entry into Indian military services. It explains why Indian military is becoming increasingly communal and intolerant towards minorities. Some of the military officers having attended RSS school were found involved in terrorist activities like Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit in Malegaon blast. It is another thing that another accused in Samjuta Expresss blast, Swami Aseemanad has confessed that he had the full approval and backing of Mohan Bagwat, current head of RSS in his terrorist acts directed against Muslims. To hide its embarrassment and escape criminal action, RSS has pleaded that his confession was obtained under duress. Now why should Police, mostly Hindus, apply force on a Swami, apparently a God-man, to extract his confession, is beyond any comprehension?
Not content with its activities at home, RSS has spread its tentacles in the international arena as well. It has weaved alliances with ‘Bodu Bala Sena’ of Sri Lanka and Sanatan Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh and 969 movement headed by Ashin Wirathu in Mynamar which has close relations with the military Junta there. Influenced by RSS ideology, all these outfits continuously instigate attacks against Muslims in their respective Countries and have publicly vowed to cleanse Muslims of their areas. So far they have killed thousands of Muslims, raped their women, burned hundreds of mosques and destroyed large number of Muslim properties and businesses. In-fact Myanmar has evicted lakhs of Rohingya Muslims who are living in sub-human conditions in various parts of Southeast Asia. Incidentally Brahmin Hindus claim Lord Budha as incarnation of Lord Vishnu and therefore find fanatic Buddists as natural allies against Muslims. (The International New York Times -October 16, 2014). To expand its ideological outreach, RSS has plans to involve more countries like Fiji, Thailand, Nepal, Philippines and Cambodia in its nefarious designs. So next time you hear of communal clashes in these countries, don’t be surprised as evil forces of RSS have already charted out a plan of action for their cohorts in these countries.
 
Countercurrents.org. The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E mail: abdulmajidzargar@gmail.com)

 


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 VIEW POINT 

Public humiliation of India’s hard won dignity

Dr Vacy Vlazna

 
I have a book that I treasure, a timeworn copy of Jawaharlal Nehru’s The Discovery of India written while he was imprisoned by the British in Fort Ahmadnagar charged with sedition.
I am grateful to the Father of Indian Democracy for the profound influence he had on shaping my fascination with the noble ‘panorama of India’s past’, culture and the modern noble resistance to the brutal and exploitative British colonial yoke. I also thank Pandit Nehru for his part in shaping my own moral principles and commitment to justice.
 
The magnifying irony
All people who challenge and resist fascism walk in Nehru’s footsteps towards equality, justice and the right to life of all humanity.
And today, ironically, it is India, not the British that persecutes Indian dissidents, such as Kanhaiya Kumar (and Rohith Vemula), who dare to denounce the racist nationalism and fascism creeping through the Indian government that is hailed by what Nehru (had) contemptuously called ‘governmentarians’ - the sycophants of authority “who hover round the skirts of government and echo the views which they think will be approved by those whose favour they continually seek.”
The lawyers who shamed their judiciary tenets by beating up Kanhaiya Kumar outside the Pataila House court belong to the lowly governmentarian tribe.
The irony magnifies given Kumar is the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union; the university named after the great man who lived an ethical approach to life and believed in the ‘application of an ethical doctrine to large-scale public activity’.
The spirit of Pandit Nehru must be spitting fire for the wrongful arrest of Kumar and his student colleagues- an arrest that symbolises the public humiliation of India’s hard won dignity and the “coarsening and distortion of what had seemed so right.”
And Kumar’s crime? Kumar showed solidarity with the people of Kashmir by protesting the hanging of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri, who was convicted in the organisation of the armed attack against the parliament in Delhi, and hanged to “assuage the collective conscience of the nation”
 
Arundhati reminds of Nehru’s legacy
In 2010 the Indian government also threatened to lay the same charge of sedition against Arundhati Roy for her stand with Kashmir,
“I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.”
“After describing her meetings with people caught up in the Kashmir violence, she said: “Some have accused me of giving ‘hate speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their fingernails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one.”
“Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor roam free.”
And Nehru himself is closely linked to the political rights of the people of Kashmir: “Govt. of India, White Paper on Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi 1948, p. 46. Telegram, dated 25 October 1947, from Foreign, New Delhi, to C.R. Attlee, Prime Minister of UK. From Prime Minister of India.[Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru]
“I should like to make it clear that [the] question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view, which we have repeatedly made public is that [the] question of accession in any disputed territory or State must be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people and we adhere to this view”.
 
‘Peace based on freedom’
Govt. of India, White Paper on Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi 1948, p. 55. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, in a broadcast from New Delhi on 2 November said:
“We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given, and the Maharaja has supported it, not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer.” Wikipedia.
To this day Nehru’s promise of a Kashmiri referendum has not been fulfilled but, 49 years later, dissidents, such as Kumar, Vemula and Roy remind the Indian government and the international community of Nehru’s prophecy: “There is going to be no peace in India or elsewhere except on the basis of freedom.”
 
Countercurrents.org. Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

Comment

Dr Vacy Vlazna

 
I have a book that I treasure, a timeworn copy of Jawaharlal Nehru’s The Discovery of India written while he was imprisoned by the British in Fort Ahmadnagar charged with sedition.
I am grateful to the Father of Indian Democracy for the profound influence he had on shaping my fascination with the noble ‘panorama of India’s past’, culture and the modern noble resistance to the brutal and exploitative British colonial yoke. I also thank Pandit Nehru for his part in shaping my own moral principles and commitment to justice.
 
The magnifying irony
All people who challenge and resist fascism walk in Nehru’s footsteps towards equality, justice and the right to life of all humanity.
And today, ironically, it is India, not the British that persecutes Indian dissidents, such as Kanhaiya Kumar (and Rohith Vemula), who dare to denounce the racist nationalism and fascism creeping through the Indian government that is hailed by what Nehru (had) contemptuously called ‘governmentarians’ - the sycophants of authority “who hover round the skirts of government and echo the views which they think will be approved by those whose favour they continually seek.”
The lawyers who shamed their judiciary tenets by beating up Kanhaiya Kumar outside the Pataila House court belong to the lowly governmentarian tribe.
The irony magnifies given Kumar is the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union; the university named after the great man who lived an ethical approach to life and believed in the ‘application of an ethical doctrine to large-scale public activity’.
The spirit of Pandit Nehru must be spitting fire for the wrongful arrest of Kumar and his student colleagues- an arrest that symbolises the public humiliation of India’s hard won dignity and the “coarsening and distortion of what had seemed so right.”
And Kumar’s crime? Kumar showed solidarity with the people of Kashmir by protesting the hanging of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri, who was convicted in the organisation of the armed attack against the parliament in Delhi, and hanged to “assuage the collective conscience of the nation”
 
Arundhati reminds of Nehru’s legacy
In 2010 the Indian government also threatened to lay the same charge of sedition against Arundhati Roy for her stand with Kashmir,
“I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.”
“After describing her meetings with people caught up in the Kashmir violence, she said: “Some have accused me of giving ‘hate speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their fingernails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one.”
“Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor roam free.”
And Nehru himself is closely linked to the political rights of the people of Kashmir: “Govt. of India, White Paper on Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi 1948, p. 46. Telegram, dated 25 October 1947, from Foreign, New Delhi, to C.R. Attlee, Prime Minister of UK. From Prime Minister of India.[Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru]
“I should like to make it clear that [the] question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view, which we have repeatedly made public is that [the] question of accession in any disputed territory or State must be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people and we adhere to this view”.
 
‘Peace based on freedom’
Govt. of India, White Paper on Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi 1948, p. 55. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, in a broadcast from New Delhi on 2 November said:
“We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given, and the Maharaja has supported it, not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer.” Wikipedia.
To this day Nehru’s promise of a Kashmiri referendum has not been fulfilled but, 49 years later, dissidents, such as Kumar, Vemula and Roy remind the Indian government and the international community of Nehru’s prophecy: “There is going to be no peace in India or elsewhere except on the basis of freedom.”
 
Countercurrents.org. Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

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