Thursday, 31 October 2013

70% rise in crimes against women: Police

Crimes against women in Delhi shot up by over 70 per cent this year as compared to 2012, the Delhi Police told the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Stringent measures were put in place after the December 16 gangrape incident, but statistics submitted by the Delhi Police disclosed that the number of such offences have doubled during the last five years.

The number of cases of offences against women registered until October 15 this year is already more than the total cases registered last year. The number of rape cases has doubled since last year. Until October 15, 2013, 1,330 rape cases have been lodged as against 590 registered during the same period last year. Similarly, cases of molestation and eve-teasing have also gone up manifold compared to last year. While 727 molestation cases were registered in 2012, the number this year until October 15 is 2,844.

Eve-teasing cases too have witnessed a three-fold jump from 236 last year to 793 this year.
While 1,750 cases of kidnapping women were lodged until October 15, last year, over 2,900 cases have come to fore this year during the same period. Cases of dowry death and cruelty against women have also increased significantly — 2,487 women have been subjected to cruelty by husbands and in-laws and 123 women have been killed over dowry so far this year. The data was submitted during the hearing of a PIL, demanding probe by a special team into an alleged incident of policemen beating up Aam Aadmi Party members during a protest against non-registration of an FIR in a rape case.

After analysing the figures, the bench noted that women across the country suffered silently even as crimes against them grew over the last five years. "They have been suffering silently and only a few cases are coming up. Unfortunately, some memories are bad. Fifteen years ago, in Madhya Pradesh, a student protested against some rowdy elements belonging to a rich family and she was crushed by a jeep. Every day, in trains and buses, girls are subjected to molestation," the bench led by Justice G S Singhvi said.

"Why is it happening in the last few years? Why are people losing confidence? It did not happen 10 years ago. Every day, girls travelling in buses are subjected to molestation. Women continue to suffer," the bench said. It continued, "We remember Nirbhaya (December 16 rape victim) but the memories of the earlier incidents are not good and such cases happened earlier also. People are coming out on streets as they are not satisfied and their rights are not protected by government bodies." The bench has reserved its verdict on the PIL.

Statistics released recently by the Law Ministry showed how hearing in rape cases too is crawling. Of over a lakh pending cases across the country in 2012, only around 14,700 — or 14.5 per cent - have been decided. And the conviction rate too is poor. Only 3,563 people were convicted while over 11,500 people were acquitted.

Jadavpur V-C latest to quit Bengal’s ‘political’ campuses

The resignation of Professor Souvik Bhattacharya as the vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University has brought to the fore lack of autonomy and political interference in academic institutions in West Bengal. The situation is as bad as it was in the previous Left Front regime, with five vice-chancellors having quit their posts before Prof Bhattacharya since Mamata Banerjee took over.

While Bhattacharya cited personal reasons, his comments about "unfulfilled dreams", "importance of holding on to honesty, integrity and ethics" and that there were "impediments in working" were clear pointers to what led to such a step. It was no coincidence that he didn't keep Education Minister Bratya Basu posted while sending his resignation to Governor M K Narayanan. Before quitting, he had been trying to ensure academic decisions at the university were taken by those qualified to do so.

In October 2011, Amita Chatterjee had quit expressing disinterest in renewing her tenure as V-C of the Presidency University. A month earlier, Subrata Pal had stepped down as V-C of Burdwan University, saying the environment had become inhospitable for an academic. He said the problems during the Left regime had got worse under the new government.
In August 2011, Professor Nanda Dulal Paria resigned as the V-C of Vidyasagar University, reportedly irked at the meddling in academic affairs by non-teaching staff associations affiliated to TMC.

Gour Banga University in Malda saw two resignations in quick succession. After being assaulted by members of the TMC and Congress students' wings, V-C Gopa Dutta decided to quit in March 2012, officially blaming ill-health. Achintya Biswas, who took over as the V-C on May 14 that year, quit in July 2013. While his resignation was not accepted, on September 13, he again sent his papers to Narayanan, saying his ill-health didn't permit stay at Malda. Insiders said he was not able to cope with political pressure.

Presidency also saw an exodus of professors who had joined the institution in the past few months. An incident of violence in which men bearing TMC flags entered the campus and vandalised the Baker Laboratory was a final break for many on the promise to make the institute a centre of excellence. While universities in Bengal have always seen political intervention, insiders say it has never been so blatant.

Gujarat Government cracks down on right to freedom of expression // Activist and villagers detained

Justice KG Balakrishnan,Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
New Delhi
Dear Sir,
Date: 31 October 2013, 6.30 a.m.
Gujarat Government cracks down on right to freedom of expression.
· Activist and villagers detained and house arrests in wee hours of the 31st morning.
· Gujarat Government says tribals and activists do not speak up when CM is around or go to jail, at Kevadia.

On 30 October 2013, 4 activists, Rohit Prajapati, Trupti Shah, Amrish Brahmbhatta, Sudhir Biniwale, were put under house arrest by Rajpipla police even before they had reached venue. They were followed by police vehicles right form Devalia chokadi when they were travailing from Vadodara to Rajpipla. When they reached the place in Rajpipla there are as standing guards out side the place as if they are criminals. No policemen talked with them why they are doing so, what are the charges against them.

Meanwhile our activists and villagers from more than 7 villages are being detained from their homes by the police, again without pressing any formal charges. At midnight our activist Lakhan Musafir, Dhirendra Soneji, Dipen Desai, Rameshbhai Tadvi from Indravarna village, Shaileshbai Tadvi form Vagadia village, Vikrambhai Tadvi and 2 others form Kevadia and other villagers were detained illegally to create atmosphere of terror among villages to prevent planned well-announced peaceful hunger strike in villages.

As we are writing this at 6 a.m. on 31st morning so far we know at least 10  people from 5 villages are detained and taken to various police stations.

We fear further more police action shortly. This press release is to communicate that we activist and villagers had only announced symbolic protest in our own houses by staging day long hunger strike. Note, we were not to assemble at any public place or sit on dharna at any public place. The sit on protest in our own home is aimed at protecting our land, forest, livelihood, river, (jan ,jangal jamin, nadi, janavar). Only because the Gujarat chief minister Mr. Narendra Modi is schedule to preside the program for his plans for what he called the world’s largest statue, ‘The statue of Unity’. 

We had been denied the fundamental right to express our rights even in our own home. The statue of unity comes at what cost whose cost?

Rohit Prajapati          Swati Desai
Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti
For More detail Rohit Prajapati © 9426977940, Trupti Shah © 9427937162, Dipen Desai © 9427922046

NAPM Press Release: Sardar Patel’s statue is at the cost of Narmada Valley & Sardar Sarovar Project

Sardar Patel’s statue is at the cost of Narmada Valley and
Sardar Sarovar Project itself

Political Propaganda only to suppress failure of 70,000 crore SSP

Arrests of peaceful protestors condemnable

The pompous inauguration of the 2,500 crore rupees worth Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel Statue at Kevadia, Gujarat in the garb of ‘Unity and Progress’, is nothing but a Tourism Project of the Gujarat Government. which is being falsely claimed by the Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi as a ‘Statue of Unity’, without explaining to the nation as for what and of whom is thus ‘Unity’ for, as also against whom !! While the Project conceives of tourists reaching out to the hillock and the statue, to have a glimpse of the Dam, the statue itself will be staring at the plight of thousands of adivasis and other families displaced, but not yet rehabilitated by the Sardar Sarovar Dam fully and fairly.

With 50,000 families are still residing in the dam affected areas in the three states, in the hilly areas and densely  populated communities, upstream of the dam, whose houses, fields and lives are being drowned, in the most inhuman way by the Modi Govt, and its associates including the Government of Madhya Pradesh, pushing the dam to its full height of 139 mts,  ignoring the legal and human rights violations is unjustifiable. It’s a tragic contradiction that the Sardar Sarovar Project and the Statue itself, are both being promoted as pro-farmer, while in reality, the benefit distribution is being turned against the farmers, whether Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh !

It will also be a monument of stark reality wherein Gujarat’s own adivasis who were uprooted from their riverine environs, forests and agriculture, in 1961 for the sake of the Project and its supra structure, including 9 kinds of guest houses to helipads are yet to be rehabilitated ! Thousands of others from not less than 70 villages are being deprived of their status against the laws of the land, especially, the PESA (Tribal Self-Rule Act). The Statue is an insult to the tradition of the freedom movement and absolutely against the interests of the adivasis and farmers.

The Statue is part of the overall plan to deprive the 70 adivasi villages of their constitutional status as adivasi villages in violation of the PESA Act, obviously to be followed by grabbing of their land and natural resources and diversion of the same for unjustifiable ‘tourism’ purposes ! It is absolutely condemnable that the Govt. has arrested activists and villages who have been raising these genuine concerns. It is absolutely condemnable that when the Govt. has not rehabilitated thousands of families in M.P., Maharashtra and Gujarat for which the full budget is to come from Gujarat as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal and hence almost 8,000 families, including adivasi and dalit farmers are yet to receiv land based rehabilitation. Thousands of others - landless, fish workers, artisans, hawkers, potters, shop keepers, are to receive due package for alternative livelihood.

The Gujarat Government is all for symbolism with political motives and expediency. Sardar Patel who was known to be a farmer leader would have never approved this! While Gujarat claims to have no money for land to be purchased for rehabilitation of oustees in M.P., Maharashtra & Gujarat, as per their due entitlements, it goes in for unjustifiable expenditure of 2500 crores on the statue itself!  The budget for the statue project is more than the budget for rehabilitation of the densely populated villages including a township in the three states! It is also questionable that when the SSP, is still incomplete with more than 70% canal network yet to be constructed, as well as environmental compensatory measures including downstream impacts, catchment area treatment and command area development, each of which requires a few hundreds or tens of crores, the Modi Govt. is  diverting such huge amount for the Statue! No doubt Gujarat may recover part of its ‘investment’ from tourists making it a huge show but this will be at cost of irreparable losses to nature and nature-based communities and the country as a whole.

While there is so much propaganda about the statue, there is little is known about the manner in which Gujarat has been deceiving thousands of farmers in own state, who, it promised would be ‘beneficiaries’ of the Project. Even as Mr. Modi continues to make political demands for raising SSP to its full height, his Government has silently removed/planned to exclude 4 lakh hectares from the proposed command area. Deriding the mammoth cost of 70,000 crore rupees (as per the Report of the Working Report on Water Resources, Planning Commission, 2012 estimate), Gujarat has not been able to utilize the ponded waters at the present dam height of 122 mts, since not more than 30% of the canal network has been built as on date. As a consequence, the irrigation potential realized at the present height is only one-fourth of the claimed potential (barely 2 lakh hectares, out of 8 lakh hectares). All of this is illegal and unpardonable, since the project costs have shot up to 10 times [from initial cost of Rs. 4,200 crores to 45,000 crores (as on 2007) and Rs. 70,000 crores in 2012].

Having raised the bogie of ‘development’, couched as the Pride of Gujarat, Sardar Sarovar has miserably failed to live up to the tall claims that planners and politicians made. Not only has Gujarat not delivered adequately on the planks of irrigation, drinking water and electricity; it has in fact shown the temerity to alter the very terms of the NWDT Award (1979), by unjustifiably increasing the allocation of SSP waters for municipal and industrial use, thereby betraying its own people in Kutch and scoffing at the price that the farmers and adivasis in the submergence area of Madhya Pradesh (193 villages), Maharashtra (33 villages) and Gujarat (19 villages) are being forced to pay, in the form of prime agricultural land, habitats, forest, water, river, fish and culture. SSP, today,  has become a national liability, and truly a monument of mismanagement and injustice.

Since without the compensatory measures, there is already serious impact on the Narmada eco system, on farmers to fish workers, which are not compensated either by Gujarat or their own state governments.  Gujarat has been demanding and obtaining money from the Central Irrigation Scheme of AIBP, and maximum monetary assistance, during last 10 years has gone to SSP, almost 5,700 crores, yet Mr. Modi has the courage to say that the Centre is stalling the Project, only to stall the progress of M.P. and Gujarat.

If Gujarat has money for statues, why not for canals and rehabilitation, is a reasonable question that should have come from UPA and Planning Commission, which unfortunately has favoured the Gujarat Govt!

It is with SSP, at 122 mts height reached by now, that thousands of farmers have lost their land, but not a word is uttered or a rupee of compensation paid for more than 1,500 houses and thousands of hecatres of land with standing crop has been submerged illegally in the monsoon of 2012 and 2013, due to water releases from upstream dams! Serious impacts have been ignored, both by the Govt. of Gujarat and ant Ministry of Environment, as it also happens in the case of ambitious projects, where all the politicians avoid or neglect the truthful cost-benefit analysis. At least by now, we hope the UPA and Planning Commission would undertake a complete review of the social, environmental, economic and financial aspects of the SSP, in the context of the distorted priority of Gujarat Govt. as also the deliberately changed allocations of the Project.

Medha Patkar                      Devram Kanera                               Kailash Aawasya                 Jikubhai       
Noorji Padvi                                     Meera                       Saavabehan                           Devising Tomar      

Ph: 09423965153 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bangladesh targets only Nobel prize winner, Muhammad Yunus for being 'un-Islamic'

After being accused of "sucking blood" from the poor, Bangladesh's only Nobel prize winner  faces a new state-backed hate campaign seeking to paint him as un-Islamic and a spreader of homosexuality

Following years of attempts to discredit his legacy as a pioneer of micro-finance - since copied the world over as a development tool - the hounding has turned more personal and dangerous. The perceived crime of the 73-year-old was to sign a joint statement along with three other Nobel laureates in April 2012 criticising the prosecution of gay people in Uganda. Little remarked at the time, it has since been seized on by the Islamic Foundation, a government religious body, and amplified through tens of thousands of imams on its payrolls.

Protests have been held, leaflets calling him "an accomplice of Jews and Christians" have been distributed, and a "grand rally" has been called for October 31 in the capital Dhaka to denounce him. "How can a state-run organisation run a campaign of criminal intimidation? It'll instigate violence against professor Yunus," Sara Hossain, a top lawyer and rights activist, warned in an interview with AFP.
The harassment has echoes of another movement against feminist writer and religious critic Taslima Nasreen who was forced to flee the country after being denounced like Yunus. "It's unfortunate that he's facing the kind of campaign that I faced in 1994," Nasreen told AFP. "I was forced to leave the country because of the campaign by the fundamentalists, which the then government actively supported."
Yunus has been at odds with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since 2007 when he made a brief foray into the country's violent and polarised politics which is dominated by Hasina's family and her arch-rival Khaleda Zia. Yunus's recent statement calling for free and fair elections in January 2014 is also thought to have angered her following changes to the electoral process and a crackdown on the opposition.
In 2011, he was forced out of the board of his beloved Grameen Bank by the central bank in a move widely believed to be orchestrated by the prime minister who accused him famously of "sucking blood from the poor". Grameen Bank was set up by Yunus in 1983 to make collateral-free micro loans to rural and mostly women entrepreneurs. Its record in reducing poverty earned global fame and a Nobel Peace Prize for its founder in 2006.
Abul Kalam Azad, a spokesman for Hasina, rejected suggestions that the latest campaign against Yunus was directed by her. "She is not the DG (director general) of the Islamic Foundation," he told AFP. The Islamic Foundation is part of the Ministry of Religious Affairs with a mandate to promote Islam.
Director General Shamim Mohammad Afzal told AFP that it was his "moral responsibility" as a Muslim and head of the organisation to take a stand against the man nicknamed the "banker to the poor". "His statement has gone against the Koran and Hadith," Afzal told AFP, referring to the traditions of the Prophet Mohammad... read more:

Aung San Suu Kyi: falling from grace

Friday 25 Oct 2013
Ms Suu Kyi won’t be visiting any civil rights groups in London – the organisations who supported her vigorously when she spent nearly two decades under house arrest. Nor is she expected to drop in on members of the sizeable Burmese community in the UK. To do so would lead to the sort of robust exchange of views that our modern-day saint now seems keen to avoid.
As political heroes go, few rank higher that Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Most people know her as a modern-day saint – the diminutive democrat who defied Burma’s ruthless military leaders. Yet an increasing number are beginning to question Ms Suu Kyi’s judgement.
Remarks made in a BBC television interview this week in relation to that country’s brutal ethnic conflict between Buddhists and the minority Muslims have earned particular criticism. Observers and activists have accused Burma’s “icon of democracy” of factual inaccuracies and a surprising shortage of compassion.
Ethnic violence erupted last year in Sittwe, the capital of Burma’s Rakhine state. Rohingya Muslims bore the brunt of the violence with an estimated 142,000 now living in a series of squalid camps. In April, Human Rights Watch accused government and military officials, as well as local extremist groups, of ethnic cleansing.
When asked about HRW’s findings by the BBC, Ms Suu Kyi dismissed them out of hand. “It’s not ethnic cleansing,” she said. “What the world needs to understand (is) that the fear is not just on the side of the Muslims, but on the side of the Buddhists as well.” This is her standard response to questions about the violence. Nobody bears responsibility. Instead, “fear” is blamed. Everyone suffers “equally”. In Ms Suu Kyi’s world, victims and offenders are the same.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. The vast majority of Muslim Rohingya residents in Sittwe have been cleared out while Buddhists (for the most part) remain in their homes. Furthermore, the Rohingya are politically powerless. They are denied citizenship in Burma and face a wide range of draconian restrictions on healthcare, schooling, travel – even their ability to have children. The Buddhist population on the other hand face no comparable restrictions – and why would they? They control the local and state government.
Muslims in Burma were troubled by several other references in her BBC interview. First, a reference to those Muslims who had “managed to integrate” has made many feel uncomfortable. Here’s what she said: “I would like to make the point that there are many moderate Muslims in Burma who have been well integrated into our society….” That’s got many people asking whether she thinks Muslims have to acquire some sort of “Burmeseness” in order to be “accepted”. There is, of course, no such thing as a national identity in Burma. The constitution recognises 135 different ethnic groups
Secondly, Ms Suu Kyi seems to suggest that the violence was caused by Buddhists’ fear of what she calls “global Muslim power”, saying: “You, I think, will accept that there is a perception that Muslim power, global Muslim power, is very great and certainly that is the perception in many parts of the world, and in our country too.” This is dangerous territory for the Nobel Prize winner.
The Rohingya have not been linked with any acts of violence – or pan-Arab extremist groups like al-Qaeda – despite the desperate situation they find themselves in. If Burmese Buddhists perceive Muslim groups like the Rohingya to be part of a “global Muslim power movement”, it is incumbent on her, as a person with real moral authority, to correct that misconception...
- See more at:
T. J. Clark : PICASSO AND TRUTH From Cubism to Guernica
reviewed by JACK FLAM

Picasso: Wizard of the real
Because Picasso’s works of these years departed so radically from accepted norms, they were often greeted with hostility or puzzlement. In 1932, the psychologist Carl G. Jung famously compared Picasso’s paintings to the pictures made by schizophrenics, and called him an “underworld” personality who followed “the demoniacal attraction of ugliness and evil” rather than “the accepted ideals of goodness and beauty”.

o artist has reinvented the visible world in a more radical way than Picasso. In his stringent early Cubist paintings, composed with fragmentary geometric planes rendered in earth colours, the differences between figure and ground are hardly distinguishable, testing the limits of representation. After the First World War, he developed a very different kind of painting, paradoxically both flat and suggestive of intangible depth, hard-edged and often brightly coloured. The flexible space in these paintings permitted new kinds of interaction between emptiness and objects, and a broader range of subject matter, much of it erotic or violent, or both.
T. J. Clark focuses on those paintings of the 1920s and 30s in his ambitious but sometimes exasperating new book, Picasso and Truth, which is based on the six A. W. Mellon lectures he gave at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in 2009. Picasso’s works from this period have now become so familiar that their complexity and radical strangeness are often taken for granted, even overlooked. Clark’s book sets out to explore just how radical and how strange these paintings are, and the new kind of moral universe that they embody.
Because Picasso’s works of these years departed so radically from accepted norms, they were often greeted with hostility or puzzlement. In 1932, the psychologist Carl G. Jung famously compared Picasso’s paintings to the pictures made by schizophrenics, and called him an “underworld” personality who followed “the demoniacal attraction of ugliness and evil” rather than “the accepted ideals of goodness and beauty”. Although Clark does not mention Jung in this context, he casts his own similar position in a positive light, celebrating rather than damning the chthonic power of Picasso’s paintings. Clark acknowledges that Picasso’s art contains pathological elements, but he sees them as reflections of the pathology of an age rather than of an individual. For him, Picasso’s art is a judgement on a century that was rife with disaster... read more:

Illegal gold mining in Peru is destroying the Amazon

The ravaging of the Peruvian Amazon by a wave of illegal gold mining is twice as bad as researchers had thought. That is according to a new study using groundbreaking technology that’s discovered thousands of previously undetected small mines in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, near the Bolivian border, a global biodiversity hotspot. 
Thanks to its stunning wildlife, the region is home to various nature and indigenous reserves and dozens of thriving jungle lodges that welcome tourists from around the world. Yet it’s also experienced widespread devastation since the 2008 global financial crisis saw gold prices rocket. Thousands of miners have flooded into the region, dredging riverbeds and carving up vast tracts of the forest floor in remotes areas beyond the reach of the authorities.
They have also poisoned the water table for miles around by dumping hundreds of tons of mercury, which miners use to extract gold from the soil. According to the report, by the Carnegie Institution for Science and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the mining has cleared 15,180 acres of forest per year since 2008 — twice previous estimates. That’s roughly the size of 20 Central Parks.
The researchers made their discovery thanks to new technology including LiDAR, a laser mounted on a plane overflying the Amazon that creates 3D maps of the forest in far greater detail than anything previously achieved. “Our results reveal far more rainforest damage than previously reported by the government, NGOs, or other researchers,” said Greg Asner, the American scientist who led the study, in a statement.
“The gold rush in Madre de Dios exceeds the combined effects of all other causes of forest loss in the region, including from logging, ranching and agriculture,” he added. “This is really important because we are talking about a global biodiversity hotspot. The region’s incredible flora and fauna is being lost to gold forever.”
Ernesto Raez Luna, from Peru’s Environment Ministry and co-author of the report with Asner, added: “We are using this study to warn Peruvians on the terrible impact of illegal mining in one of the most important enclaves of biodiversity in the world, a place that we have vowed, as a nation, to protect for all humanity. “Nobody should buy one gram of this jungle gold. The mining must be stopped.” Twice the size of California, the Peruvian Amazon is one of the largest surviving stretches of tropical rainforest anywhere on Earth.
It’s home to a staggering array of plants, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. And its trees warehouse vast quantities of carbon that contribute to global warming when the jungle is destroyed. While many of the gold miners are poor locals desperate to support their families, others are wealthy businessmen using expensive mechanical diggers and even large boats to dredge riverbeds.
Police have raided some of the largest mining camps, where a Wild West atmosphere of guns and liquor rules. They have also blown up mining equipment and freed underage girls being forced to work in brothels, yet they have rarely been able to catch the miners working deeper in the jungle.

PRESS RELEASE: Women's Rights Organisation attacked in LUCKNOW October 29, 2013

29th October 2013, Press Club, Lucknow

On the evening of 27th October 2013, the office of Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiative (AALI), women’s rights organisation based in Lucknow, was attacked by Ashish Shukla, BSP leader from Amethi (Uttar Pradesh), along with his family and goons.

Around 5.00pm, the BSP leader Ashish Shukla, his wife Uma Shukla, son Akarsh Shukla along with 40‐50 men, barged into the premises of the house where the organisation is based and beat up the caretaker and his wife. The organization is based in the house of a retired High Court judge. They then forcibly entered the premises, beat‐up the two women AALI members, dragged them by the hair and abducted them. They took them to Khatu Shyam Mandir (Old Hyderabad Colony, Thana Mahanagar), where they were confined, badly beaten up and mauled for 45 minutes. 

When the team member refused to gave away information about the survivor’s whereabouts, she was threatened with rape and murder. In the meanwhile, the other team members got to know about the incident and managed to trace the girls. Girls were rescued by Mahanagar police from the temple. Some of the perpetrators were arrested. AALI’s office was also ransacked, property was damaged and documents were taken away. 

FIR regarding the incident was lodged the same evening at Mahanagar PS along with written statements by the two AALI team members. Given that present status AALI team is not functioning from that office. We are apprehensive about the manner in which investigation into the attack has so far been carried out. The main perpetrators (named in the FIR and
statements of girls) are still at large. We have been informed that one of them has already been released on bail.

The next day on 28th October 2013, the AALI team members were again physically and verbally abused in Civil Court premises when they were accompanying the girl to record her statement before the Magistrate, by the relatives of the survivor including her mother.

However, the threat and fear of further attacks still remains as the attackers have threatened the team members and are constantly enquiring about the whereabouts of the team members from the caretakers of the organization’s office. This attack has occurred in the context of the case of a 19 year old girl who approached AALI for help as she was being sexually abused within the home .

AALI followed all appropriate legal procedures and provided her safe shelter as per her wishes. The attackers are family members of the girl. We, women’s rights and human rights organisations based in Uttar Pradesh, vehemently condemned this attack on two staff members of AALI and demand strict action against the perpetrators.
We demand that the police conduct proper and prompt investigation in the case of attack against the staff members of AALI and arrest the perpetrators immediately. At this juncture we are all asking you to support us in this fight for justice. As the main perpetrator has been identified and given his power and influence, we demand immediate arrest of all those involved.

It is to be noted that this is not an isolated incident. In the recent past there have been attacks on Sahjani and Sanatkada. It is shocking to see the way muscle power and violence is being used that too in the State capital and in civil court premises. We strongly condemn this blatant display of power and use of brute force against women's human rights defenders. This is absolutely unacceptable and must stop. We demand justice, action and accountability. 

And we demand them now.

Saanjhi Duniya, 
Action Aid, 
Mahila Federation, 
Mahila Samakhya, 
Plan India, 

URI AVNERY - Is Israel an apartheid state? // Israel announces east Jerusalem settlements

IS ISRAEL an apartheid state? This question is not going away. It raises its head every few months. The term “apartheid” is often used purely for propaganda purposes. Apartheid, like racism and fascism, is a rhetorical term one uses to denigrate one’s opponent. But apartheid is also a term with a precise content. It applies to a specific regime. Equating another regime to it may be accurate, partly correct or just wrong. So, necessarily, will be the conclusions drawn from the comparison.

RECENTLY I had the opportunity to discuss this subject with an expert, who had lived in South Africa throughout the apartheid era. I learned a lot from this. 

Is Israel an apartheid state? Well, first one must settle the question: which Israel? Israel proper, within the Green Line, or the Israeli occupation regime in the occupied Palestinian territories, or both together?

Let’s come back to that later.

THE DIFFERENCES between the two cases are obvious.

First, the SA regime was based, as with their Nazi mentors, on the theory of racial superiority. Racism was its official creed. The Zionist ideology of Israel is not racist, in this sense, but rather based on a mixture of nationalism and religion, though the early Zionists were mostly atheists.

The founders of Zionism always rejected accusations of racism as absurd. It’s the anti-Semites who are racist. Zionists were liberal, socialist, progressive. (As far as I know, only one Zionist leader had openly endorsed racism: Arthur Ruppin, the German Jew who was the father of the Zionist settlements in the early 20th century.)

Then there are the numbers. In SA there was a huge black majority. Whites were about a fifth of the population.

In Israel proper, the Arab citizens constitute a minority of about 20%. In the total territory under Israeli rule between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the numbers of Jews and Arabs are roughly equal. The Arabs may by now constitute a small majority— precise numbers are hard to come by. This Arab majority is bound to grow slowly larger as time passes.

Furthermore, the white economy in SA was totally dependent on black labor. At the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip in 1967, the Zionist insistence on “Jewish Labor” came to an end and cheap Arab labor from the “territories” flooded Israel. However, with the beginning of the first intifada this development was stopped with surprising speed. Large numbers of foreign workers were imported: Eastern Europeans and Chinese for the building trade, Thais for agriculture, Philippinos for personal care, etc.

It is now one of the main jobs of the Israeli army to prevent Palestinians from illegally crossing the de facto border” into Israel to seek work.

This is a fundamental difference between the two cases, one that has a profound impact on the possible solutions.

Sadly, in the West Bank, the Palestinians are widely employed in the building of the settlements and work in the enterprises there, which my friends and I have called to boycott. The economic misery of the population drives them to this perverse situation.

In Israel proper, Arab citizens complain about discrimination, which limits their employment in Jewish enterprises and government offices. The authorities regularly promise to do something about this kind of discrimination.

On the whole, the situation of the Arab minority inside Israel proper is much like that of many national minorities in Europe and elsewhere. They enjoy equality under the law, vote for parliament, are represented by very lively parties of their own, but in practice suffer discrimination in many areas. To call this apartheid would be grossly misleading.

I ALWAYS thought that one of the major differences was that the Israeli regime in the occupied territories expropriates Palestinian lands for Jewish settlements. This includes private property and so-called “government lands”.

In Ottoman times, the land reserves of the towns and villages were registered in the name of the Sultan. Under the British, these lands became government property, and they remained so under the Jordanian regime. When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, these lands were taken over by the occupation regime and turned over to the settlers, depriving the Palestinian towns and villages of the land reserves they need for natural increase.

By the way, after the 1948 war, huge stretches of Arab land in Israel were expropriated and a wide array of laws enacted for this purpose— not only the “absentee” property of the refugees, but also lands of Arabs who were declared “present absentees”’— an absurd term meaning people who had not left Israel during the war but had left their villages. And the “government lands” in the part of Palestine that had become Israel also served to settle the masses of new Jewish immigrants who streamed into the country.

I always thought that in this respect we were worse than SA. Not so, said my friend, the apartheid government did exactly the same, deporting Blacks to certain areas and grabbing their land for Whites Only.

I ALWAYS thought that in SA all the Whites were engaged in the fight against all the Blacks. However, it appears that both sides were profoundly divided. .
. read more:

Israel on Wednesday announced plans to build 1,500 new homes in east Jerusalem, the part of the city claimed by the Palestinians, just hours after it freed a group of Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to set peace talks in motion.
The settlement construction was seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make up for the prisoner release, for which he has been sharply criticized at home. The prisoners were jailed for deadly attacks on Israelis.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Lital Apter said Wednesday that the 1,500 apartments would be built in Ramat Shlomo, a sprawling settlement in east Jerusalem. She said Israel also plans to develop an archaeology and tourism site near the Old City, home to Jerusalem's most sensitive holy sites.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future state, with east Jerusalem as their capital.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its eternal capital, and Netanyahu has vowed never to divide the city. Israel has built a series of settlements, including Ramat Shlomo, to solidify its control.
Although Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem is not internationally recognized, it considers these settlements to be neighborhoods of the city.
Israel first announced the Ramat Shlomo plans in 2010 during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel, sparking a diplomatic rift with Washington that took months to mend. Wednesday's decision is the final approval needed, and construction can now begin immediately, officials said. read more:

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Sexual Politics of Modi, the BJP and the Sangh Parivar

By India United Against Fascism 
28 October 2013

The systematic use of gang-rape as a weapon occurred in the Surat riots after the Babri Masjid demolition, and an ugly innovation was the videotaping of the gang-rapes. This was not a case of some random bystander filming the attacks, but a meticulously-planned spectacle with the venues flood-lit despite the fact that electric wires to the rest of the neighbourhood had been cut [1]. According to Praful Bidwai, Modi was the mastermind of the unspeakable atrocities against women in the 1992 Surat riots [2]. Modi is pictured there with Advani in their wake [3].

A decade later, the Gujarat pogroms of 2002 continued the grisly tale of gang-rape, sexual torture and mass murder; fake reports of sexual assaults on Hindu women were used to justify gruesome crimes against Muslim women and girls [4]. In some places, the rapists were actively supported or even instigated by Hindu women [5]. On this occasion, Modi presided over the sexual assaults as Chief Minister and Home Minister. His administration allowed the police to participate in sexual assaults, and made it impossible for survivors to get justice. A court in Gujarat closed the case of Bilkis Bano’s gang-rape and the massacre of 14 family members. She was able to get justice only because the Supreme Court directed the CBI to take over her case, and the case itself to be shifted out of Gujarat [6].

Sexual violence was also evident in the anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal (Odisha) in 2007-2008, including the gang-rape of a nun, Sister Meena. Harsh Mander notes the striking similarities to the Gujarat pogroms, including ‘the stunning brutality of the violence, often targeting women and girls,’ the inhuman conditions suffered by the survivors, and the complicity of the state government with the perpetrators [7].

The September 2013 anti-Muslim pogroms in Muzaffarnagar (UP), where Modi’s trusted Home Secretary Amit Shah had been sent six months earlier, also bore a striking resemblance to the Gujarat carnage. Once again, the violence included ‘using women’s body to inflict all kinds of violence, attack on children, rape of young girls and women and subsequent killings’ [8]. As in Gujarat, a fabricated incident of sexual assault on a Hindu girl was the pretext for carrying out a hideous ‘revenge’ on the bodies of helpless Muslim women and girls [9].

The pattern, over a period of more than two decades, is unmistakeable. Women and girls are seen, and treated, not as persons in their own right but as sexualised embodiments of their community’s honour, and consequently deliberate, systematic sexual assaults are carried out against them as a way of destroying their community. In each case, the attacks are accompanied by arson, looting, massacres and ethnic cleansing, the refusal to let survivors from the minority community return to their homes, or allowing them to return only on condition that they convert to Hinduism.

This reading of the BJP’s attitude to women is confirmed in a very different context: the Delhi gang-rape in December 2012. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj referred to the victim while she was still battling for her life as a ‘zinda laash’ (living corpse) and demanded the death penalty for the rapists, with feminist activists objecting to both [10]. Swaraj repeated her demand for the death penalty in the aftermath of the Shakti Mills gang-rape in Bombay (August 2013), when the survivor was very much alive and had expressed her determination to continue working as a photo-journalist [11]. Since in India the death penalty is supposed to be reserved for the rarest of rare crimes, what qualifies the crime of rape to belong to this category? Since not all murders attract the death penalty, it is clearly the belief that not only is the life of the survivor over once she has been raped, but that the honour of her family and community have been assaulted.

However, in other rape cases there is no such demand. Dalit women and girls are raped every day; most of these attacks are never reported, but in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape, when the issue was in the news, we heard about some of them (for example see [12] and [13]). Yet there was no demand from BJP leaders that the perpetrators be punished at all, much less hanged; indeed, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat claimed these rapes never happened at all [14]. There was no protest from them when Adivasi teacher and activist Soni Sori was subjected to sexual torture in Chhattisgarh under the supervision of SP Ankit Garg, not even when he was given a presidential award [15]. No call for the hanging of an uncle whose two-year-old niece died after he raped her [16]. And instead of protesting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides impunity for armed forces personnel accused of rape, BJP leader Arun Jaitley strongly opposes even a dilution of the act to allow for prosecution in cases of sexual assault [17].

The most glaring case is the sexual assault of a minor girl by self-styled ‘godman’ Asaram Bapu. Far from calling for him to be hanged, BJP leaders like Uma Bharati, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Prabhat Jha leapt to his defence [18]. Even when Asaram’s wife and daughter admitted supplying him with girls [19] and it became evident that the man was a serial rapist, Subramaniam Swamy of the BJP appeared on posters in trains plying from Gujarat alleging that the case against Asaram was ‘bogus’ [20]. Are these people really so naïve as to believe that he is innocent of all charges of sexual assault? Surely not. In his case, as in all the other cases where the BJP does not call for punishing rapists, the implicit assumption is that dominant men of the majority community are entitled to use the bodies of subordinate women and girls as they wish.

If women have no right to say ‘no’ to unwanted sex with dominant men, they have no right to say ‘yes’ to a man of their choice either. The whole BJP campaign against so-called ‘love jihad’ targets cross-community friendships and romances. After being used to beat up young men and women in Karnataka [21], it was a potent weapon in Muzaffarnagar, where they used a ‘bahu beti izzat bachao mahapanchayat’ to launch a massive pogrom [22]. In Maharashtra too, Hindutva vigilantes target Hindu women in consensual relationships with Muslim men [23]. In the Gujarat pogroms, Geetaben was sexually assaulted and brutally killed by the Sangh Parivar because she tried to save her Muslim husband [24], and she was not the only Hindu woman attacked. If women are not acknowledged as persons, then their will and consent are not recognised either.

It is undeniable that some of these reactionary attitudes to women and girls can be found among members of all parties. But it is only the RSS, which appointed Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, that has the distinction of seeking to replace the legal and constitutional rights of women in India with the law of Manu (Manusmriti), which dictates that women shall be subordinate to men from the cradle to the grave [25].


Also see: 
Democratic and secular voices in Muslim majority countries have too often been sacrificed by the left in the west in the name of anti-imperialism and identity politics.

Pak Parliament condemns Afzal Guru's hanging

NB: Communal fanatics are united in upholding mysogyny and patriarchal violence. Women across the religious divide know that there is no male (or female) defender of 'tradition' who can tolerate the freedom of women to choose their own life patterns. It is only when democrats expose and oppose fanatics of all colours that a genuine secular and social democratic movement will emerge. DS

Nitish Kumar draws Hitler parallel with Narendra Modi

In his 90-minute point-by-point rebuttal, Nitish said that Modi, in his "excitement" had given wrong information on Bihar's rich history. "It was said that Chandragupta belonged to the Gupta dynasty, while he is from Maurya dynastry," said Nitish. "The BJP leader... said Taxila was a great historical site in Bihar, but it is in Pakistan... It was said that Alexander came till the banks of the Ganga, but the fact remains that he was only able to reach Sutlej and had to return because of his failing health," said Nitish.

Two days after facing the brunt of the attack at BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's "Hunkar" rally, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hit back on Tuesday, comparing Modi to Hitler and saying that his desperate dream to unfurl the national flag at Red Fort would remain unfulfilled"You (Modi) are telling people 'chun chun ke saaf karo' (wipe them out one by one). You can win by getting votes, not by wiping them out... It is not just dictatorship, it is fascism, and those who believe in fascism, their icon is Hilter. They will do what Hitler did... The language of fascism will not work in a democracy," said Nitish, addressing the JD(U) state convention in Rajgir.

"Hitler's propaganda minister would tell a lie hundreds of times and it would seem to be true. The same thing is happening here now," he said, adding that the talk about a Modi wave was part of this misinformation campaign. "His dream to unfurl the national flag at Red Fort will remain a dream," he said. "I was watching his speech live. He kept drinking a lot of water and wiping his sweat. I want to know why there is so much impatience. For the man who aspires to occupy the highest post of the country has to be patient... why this unnecessary excitement and hurry?" said Nitish. While he dismissed Modi's barb that he (Nitish) dreamt of becoming the Prime Minister, he added, "even if one has such a dream, what is wrong with it?" Targeting Modi's brand of politics, Nitish asked why he wants to create "hatred". "I am told that half of the country's ice cream is consumed by people in Gujarat, but I often wonder how one who eats sweet things can use such harsh language," said Nitish. 

"I appeal to Hindus and Muslims not to fight each other or engage in riots. The threat of fascism is looming. Get prepared to fight it, be ready to sacrifice your life," he said. "Let not your differences lead to communal violence. Let the dream to hoist the national flag at Red Fort be a dream only," he said. Rejecting Modi's accusation that he had "betrayed and backstabbed" socialist stalwarts like Jaiprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia, Nitish countered,  "When have I deserted JP's ideology? Just because JP comes in BJP, he (Modi) made the allegation by linking the two together as it rhymes... Lohia brought parties together to fight the Congress. BJP is walking its own path alone. Where is the comparison?" he said, accusing the BJP of weakening the fight against the Congress.

"It was pretty clear that BJP, being the largest party (in the NDA), would have its PM candidate. We wanted a person who could take everyone along... but the BJP thought it could do so all alone," he said. He said senior BJP leader L K Advani had called him up before the JD(U) left the NDA, and reassured him on Nitin Gadkari's "promise" (on possible replacement of Modi as the BJP candidate). "I told him politely, Advaniji now people in your party are not listening to you so there is no basis to continue in the alliance," he said.

"I am not worried about the consequences... One who is sleeping peacefully alone can be assured that his neck will not be slit. I have full faith in the wisdom of the people of Bihar and these poll surveys should be treated as entertainment," said Nitish. On Modi terming him as an "opportunist", Nitish asked why the BJP did not snap ties in 2010. "I had told Sushil Kumar Modi that it would take one-and-a-half minutes for me to go to Raj Bhawan and tender my resignation. But you needed me then. And you call me an opportunist?" he said.
In his 90-minute point-by-point rebuttal, Nitish said that Modi, in his "excitement" had given wrong information on Bihar's rich history. "It was said that Chandragupta belonged to the Gupta dynasty, while he is from Maurya dynastry," said Nitish. "The BJP leader... said Taxila was a great historical site in Bihar, but it is in Pakistan... It was said that Alexander came till the banks of the Ganga, but the fact remains that he was only able to reach Sutlej and had to return because of his failing health," said Nitish.

Nitish also ridiculed Modi for invoking Lord Krishna to forge a connect between Yaduvanshi (Yadavs) and Dwarka in Gujarat. "First they tried to make Lord Rama their party worker, and they are now trying to do the same in the name of Lord Krishna," he said.

Countering Modi's claims of hosting him in Gujarat, Nitish said, "It was a dinner at a judge's place where both of us were invitees". He also denied Modi's story of sharing a table with him at a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister. "Such a thing never happened... Jaise ye kahani banawati, hawa banawati... ye kudrati hawa nahi hai (Just as the story is false, the (Modi) wave too is artificial... it is not natural," he said.

Taking on Modi for frequently playing the EBC card and harping on his early days as a tea vendor, Nitish said one does not become an EBC or OBC leader because of one's caste of birth. "Charan Singh, V P Singh were not born in lower castes but still championed the EBC cause. Even I am from an ordinary background. My father was a freedom fighter," he said.

On talks of a JD(U)-Congress alliance, Nitish said, "I am going to Delhi tomorrow to participate in an anti-communal rally in which leaders of about two dozen non-Congress and non-BJP parties will participate, but that has nothing to do with a third front or any other front." He pointed out that the JD(U) had organised a "massive agitation against the Congress on price rise, which galvanised the opposition and shook the UPA". Announcing the party's "Sankalp" rally as a direct response to BJP's "Hunkar" rally, Nitish said special status for Bihar would be the party's main poll plank in the 2014 elections.