Tuesday, March 31, 2015

शाह अब्दुल्ला, मेक्सिको की खाड़ी के परिंदे और सऊदी अरब की औरतें

- जावेद अनीस

Wajeha al-Huwaider demands the right to drive
वहाबीवाद का पोषक सऊदी अरब विश्व का सबसे मह्त्वपूर्ण और प्रभावी मुस्लिम देश है, यहाँ सऊद द्वारा 1750 में एक इस्लामी राजतंत्र की स्थापना की गई थी। सऊदी अरब विश्व के अग्रणी तेल निर्यातक देशों में शामिल है। यहाँ गठित होने वाली घटनाओं पर दुनिया की नजर बनी रहती है। सऊदी अरब के बादशाह शाह अब्दुल्लाह बिन अब्दुल अजीज अल सऊद का शुक्रवार को 90 वर्ष की अवस्था में निधन हो गया। अबदुल्ला की जगह अब उनके सौतेले भाई 79-वर्षीय सलमान सउदी अरब के नए शासक होंगें। शाह अब्दुल्ला की मौत के बाद उन्हें ‘मॉडर्न' सऊदी का जनक बताया जा रहा है, उनके तारीफ में कसीदे गढ़े जा रहे हैं, कहा जा रहा है कि उन्होंने महत्वपूर्ण राजनीतिक सुधारों के जरिये सऊदी अरब को आधुनिक बनाने की कोशिश की और अल कायदा के खिलाफ युद्ध में अमेरिका का साथ देते हुए जिहादी आतंक के खिलाफ अपना सहयोग दिया।

दरअसल सऊदी अरब एक बंद और तानाशाही की जकड़बंदी झेल रहा मुल्क है, यहाँ आधुनिक दुनिया के विचारों और लोकतांत्रिक, समतावादी सोच पर पाबन्दी है और जहाँ किसी भी तरह के असहमती की सजा मौत है, यहाँ सजायें भी मध्युगीन तौर-तरीकों से ही अंजाम दिए जाते हैं। वर्ष 1926 से शाह अब्दुल्लाह और उनके खानदान के लोग इस मुल्क पर तानाशाही के तौर हुकूमत कर रहे हैं जो अपने सत्ता को कायम रखने के लिए किसी भी तरह की विपरीत आवाजों को बेहरहमी से कुचलते रहे है। लोकतंत्र की एक सामान्य सी व्यवस्था के लिए उठी मांग को तुरंत घोटने में कोई कोताही नहीं बरती गयी। इस काम में इस्लाम की ओंट का भी बखूबी इस्तेमाल किया गया है। सऊदी अरब को मानवाधिकारों के उल्लंघन खासकर मौत की सजा और महिलाओं के साथ भेदभाव को लेकर अंतरराष्ट्रीय स्तर पर लगातार कड़ी आलोचना झेलनी पड़ी है। कुल मिलकर सऊदी अरब में दमन का स्तर असाधारण और इसके तरीके पूर्व आधुनिक है।

ह्यूमन राइट्स वाच के अनुसार साल 2014 के दौरान सऊदी सरकार द्वारा जिन 87 लोगों को मौत की सजा दी गई उनमें से ज्यादातर का सिर कलम किया गया था, और सवाल उठने पर अब्दुल्ला सरकार ने इसे शरीयत कानून के अनुसार की गई कार्रवाई बताते हुए जायज ठहराया था। पिछले साल अब्दुल्ला सरकार का एक शाही आदेश भी खूब चर्चित हुआ था जिसमें नास्तिकता को आतंकवाद की श्रेणी में रखते हुए इसका दोषी पाए जाने पर बीस साल तक की सजा और जुर्माने का प्रावधान किया गया था।

Monday, March 30, 2015

Acche Din Are Here Again!

- Subhash Gatade
..Government is set to defer indefinitely the implementation of notification for increasing the size of pictorial warning on tobacco products beyond April one, when it was to come into force. ..The notification regarding amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008 sought increase in the size of specified health warning from the current 40 per cent to 85 per cent of the principal display area of the package of tobacco products. [zeenews report]
The week gone by has brought back smiles on the face of Tobacco Corporates.

Thanks to the latest U turn by the Modi government, Acche Din would continue unabated for them. The non-transparent manner in which the decision was taken and the media was kept in the dark has raised further eyebrows. It was only on the evening of 24 th March that while talking to the media, the health minister J P Nadda had assured them that there is no rethink in the government on introducing pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of packaging for tobacco products from April 1 and within few hours of this interaction he left for Beijing.

Definitely Nadda must have found time within that limited period to sign the order deferring the notification or as some journalists believe he had already signed it and was just pretending to avoid some inconvenient moments. It need be added that the said notification was brought in last October, when Nadda’s predecessor Harsh Vardhan – another RSS Swayamsevak – was handling the department. It was declared at that time that it would be effective by 1 st April. Not very many people could have the premonition that the government is not keen about it and would reverse the decision at an opportune moment.

It is worth emphasising that India was not the only country from South Asia, which had taken a decision about it. Pakistan as well as Nepal both had similarly taken some concrete steps in that direction. Welcoming their decision the ‘World Conference on Tobacco or Health‘ had even urged all the three to ‘stand firm against the tobacco industry pressure’. It had also suggested to them that to effectively reduce tobacco consumption and improve public health it can raise tobacco excise taxes which would make tobacco less affordable and can also generate additional revenue for government which can be utilised for healthcare.

If India would have gone ahead with its decision, then it would have been the first country in the world which had so much space allocated for the pictorial warnings. Now that is passe because of some ‘unexplained reasons’. Coming to pictorial health warnings on tobacco products there are enough studies available which vindicate that it makes the product less attractive and target smokers or users of tobacco products by providing them with information on tobacco-related health risks. Discussing reasons to introduce pictorial warnings on tobacco products ECL which is an Association of European Cancer Leagues makes few things clear. They are:
1) Eye-catching: this is in line with the saying that “a picture paints a thousand words” and the general belief that an image can often be more powerful than words on a page.
2) Informative: research in four countries showed that in Canada, where pictorial warnings include information about the risks of impotence, smokers were almost three times more likely to agree that smoking causes impotence compared to smokers from the US, UK and Australia.
3) Additional motivation for smokers who want to stop smoking: 44% of smokers in Canada said the pictorial warnings increased their motivation to quit smoking.
4) Less attractive for youngsters: 48% of Belgian smokers aged 15 to 17 think the new warnings make the packaging look less attractive.
                                                                   - European Cancer League
As things stand Nepal would be the only country from this part of South Asia which would go ahead with this decision. Like in many other such steps – which have been hailed by majority of countries, around which there is even a global consensus- India has decided to opt out this time again. Few months back (September 2014) India was one of the few countries which had abstained from a historic vote on violence and discrimination against sexual minorities. Not some time ago it had taken similar embarassing stance when it had supported Russian resolution which had opposed extending benefits available to spouses of UN employees to same sex couples under the specious plea of sovereignty. It had voted alongside Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hashimpura : Who will Guard the Guards Themselves ?

- Subhash Gatade
Wait for justice to victims of Hashimpura has become much longer.
After around 28 years of the gruesome massacre allegedly by the personnel of the much feared PAC ( Provincial Armed Constabulary) for its biased approach , the Delhi court acquitted all 16 accused on ‘benefit of doubt due to insufficient evidence, particularly on the identification of the accused’.
There have been very few massacres in post-independent India which have shaken the civil society to the core and have propelled it to come forward and raise its voice. And the Hashimpura killings happen to be one such episode. One still remembers the words of the well-known journalist Nikhil Chakravarty who had visited the place along with few likeminded individuals and in his scathing write-up condemning the incident had compared the event with
“Nazi Pogrom against the Jews, to strike terror and nothing but terror in a whole minority Community”.
In fact, inquiry reports by organisations like the People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) and the People’s Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR) had clearly revealed that it was a case of barbaric cold-blooded murder by the PAC personnel. And forget public intellectuals or even reports by various civil liberty organisations, even the 1994 confidential report of the CBI had thrown light on the sordid saga.
“On 22nd May 1987 around 8.0 pm. they herded  40-42  ‘rioters’ in PAC Truck No. UR 1493 at Hashimpura overtly for taking them to Meerut Civil Lines or Police Lines. However, the Platoon Commander S.P.Singh drove to the Upper Ganga Canal Muradnagar(Ghaziabad) ignoring their protests. On reaching there they started to unceremoniously  shooting them down. When a few tried to escape they were shot down on the spot and their bodies were cast into the Canal. Rest of them were taken to the Hindon canal and there the sordid show was reenacted . ‘’
But as the survivors of this case and their silent supporters are trying to pick up pieces from the decision of the courts’ and have expressed their resolve to continue their fight for justice, perhaps all these words provide no consolation.
The day after the judgement one could witness anger on the streets of Hashimpura and many protesters even raised black flags on their houses and also took out a procession. One of the survivors of this incident even expressed his disillusionment with the words that ‘Muslims can never get justice in this country.’
Looking back the massacre also happens to be a case where one finds all the mainstream political parties which ruled UP during this period of 28 years colluded in one way or the other to save the perpetrators and thwart the process of justice. You name a party and you can discover the sinister pattern of connivance between the different actors in the state – ranging from the polity to the executive.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

[P.A.D.S Statement] The Dimapur Lynch Mob and Violence of Hurt Sentiments

Statement by People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism [P.A.D.S]

On 5th March a man was dragged out of the Central Prison in Dimapur in Nagaland by a mob. He was paraded naked on the streets of the town for hours while the crowd beat him up, took pictures and uploaded them on the internet. After seven kilometers of public torture he was tied to the City Clock Tower in the center of the town and beaten to death. Nine days ago, the man was accused of raping a Naga college student, and was arrested for that. The crime became the news of the town a week later. A demonstration by Naga Students’ Federation was held on 4th March against the rape. In public discourse the man, actually a Bengali speaking Assamese Muslim from the Cachhar region, became an IBI (illegal Bangladeshi immigrant) because of his religion and language. One prominent newspaper headlined the news with ’IBI rapes woman in DMU’ on its front page. Naga civil society organisations brought out statements calling for justice, but also detailing the menace of IBIs in the state, and how they would take over Nagaland if Nagas do not stand up against the crime. Demands were made to hand over the man to the community to be tried under customary Naga laws. Photocopies of the man’s picture were widely distributed. Blogs were filled with aggressive comments. When the moderator of one blog stopped putting up angry comments, another one by the name Naga Spears came along to keep the cyber fire burning.

It is not for the first time in the Indian sub-continent that crowds of citizens, otherwise ordinary in every sense, have brutally killed unarmed human beings. Communal riots of 1947 were perhaps the worst in human history. In independent India instances of unimaginable savagery abound as in Nellie 1983, Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002. The immediate context of these killings were different from each other, but they were all done in the name of some community interest, or its corollary, for teaching a community a lesson.

The allegation of rape was only a trigger for the lynching in Dimapur. Gnawing divides along community boundaries are a regular source of suspicion and every day forms of violence all over the North-East. Illegal Bangladeshi immigrant is a convenient label used against Bengali speaking Muslims, most of whom had actually migrated before independence to riverine areas, and are as much of Indian citizens as anyone else. Along with Adivasi Tea Tribes they are among the poorest in the North East. From Bodo areas in the lower Assam to the international border with Myanmar they are a regular target of xenophobic and communal politics. During an election rally for the current Lok Sabha Mr Modi had famously declared that all illegal migrants from Bangladesh will be sent back as soon as BJP government is formed. In other parts of India too the bogey of illegal Bangladeshi immigrant is a convenient ploy for communalism and xenophobia. Apparently, during the time of BJP government in Delhi, police stations in the city were given monthly quotas to ’catch’ and deport poorer Bengali speaking Muslims who are mostly rag pickers and have valid documents. Even people who may not be communal otherwise, turn ultra nationalist on the issue of supposed migration from Bangladesh. It is not difficult to imagine the reaction in the country if the person killed by the mob in Dimapur had actually been a Bangladeshi.

In many parts of the Norht-East including Nagaland political struggles against the Indian state have been on for more than five decades. The political landscape here is littered with armed ethnic mobilisations which have slid from collective grievances of oppressed communities to random and targeted killings of ’outsiders’. Such mobilisations also act to curtail the democratic rights of those internally oppressed within the community, most commonly women. These struggles may have legitimate reasons, but no one has a right to kill an unarmed human being, irrespective of whether he/she is an accused, or is an illegal immigrant.

Monday, March 16, 2015

On The Interrelationship between Bovine and Human Beings

- Subhash Gatade
”in our religious scriptures ( Puranas) life of a cow is more important than any number of people” ( Puranon me insaan se jyada gay ko mahtv diya jata hai)
- Giriraj Kishore, Vice President of VHP,
On the public lynching of five dalits, October 2002
BJP Haryana chief Ram Bilas Sharma has promised to treat cow slaughter as a crime as heinous as murder. If elected, he said at the manifesto release function…
 TNN | Oct 3, 2014, 05.06AM IST
There is a competition of sorts between BJP ruled states to fulfil what a Haryana leader said ‘ to fulfil Modiji’s dream’. Close on the heels of Maharashtra government’s getting clearance to ban cow slaughter, there is news in a section of the press that the government in Haryana would table a similar bill in the assembly.
Sharing few snippets of the bill and comparing it with punishment of other offences, a newspaper report tells us that if the offence is insult to modesty of women the maximum jail sentence would be one year or fine, if it is molestation then it would be two years or fine, for theft the maximum jail term would be three years, for assault it would be 3 months or fine,  and for causing grievous hurt it would be maximum seven years. (Times of India, 14 th March 2015) and if it is beef in any form then it would be punishable by upto ten years in jail.
Once the bill is passed by the assembly and ratified by the President, Haryana perhaps would reach number one position as far as extending punishment for this act. If for a similar act Maharashtra has stipulated 5 years punishment, M.P. has decided to have 7 years punishment, Haryana plans to give 10 years. People would very well remember that during campaign for assembly elections the BJP had promised to make a stringent law ‘equalling cow slaughter with murder’.
Undoubtedly, Giriraj Kishore, (1920-2014) the octogenarian leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an affiliated organisation of the RSS and a veteran of the Ram Janambhoomi movement, would have definitely rejoiced over this proposal about increase in quantum of punishment, in a state ruled by a fellow RSS Pracharak. He would have felt that the state is slowly inching towards ‘glory of ancient India’ which he had shared with people as far as interrelationship between bovine and human beings is concerned when the state had witnessed public lynching of five dalits by a blood-thirsty mob in Dulina, Jhajjar.
Not very many people would remember today his words when those hapless five dalits who were under police custody- who were engaged in trade in hides and were carrying a dead cow in a minitruck- were brutally killed by a few hundred/thousand mob of people, in the very presence of many senior officials of the police deptt as well as administration. (12 th October, 2002). It was an event very much on the lines of the recent Dimapur killings and in some ways worse than it. Instead of condemning this act of lynching of fellow human beings and demanding strict action against the perpetrators and at least expressing sympathies towards the departed victims Giriraj Kishor had in an obtuse way tried to ‘rationalise’ this clear crime against humanity by pontificating on how religious scriputres treat human beings vis-a-vis the bovine. Perhaps his reaction had also do with the fact that many activists of different Hindutva Supremacist organisations were found to be involved in committing the crime and this veteran of Ram Janambhoomi movement – who had started his social-political life as a RSS worker – wanted to send a message to the powers that be.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Goodbye Secularism! Enter Theocracy!!

- Subhash Gatade

Understanding the yet unfolding ‘Dietary Fascism’

Image Courtesy : bollypedia.in

To the question whether the Hindus ever ate beef, every Touchable Hindu, whether he is a Brahmin or a non-Brahmin, will say ‘no, never’. In a certain sense, he is right. From times no Hindu has eaten beef. If this is all that the Touchable Hindu wants to convey by his answer there need be no quarrel over it. But when the learned Brahmins argue that the Hindus not only never ate beef but they always held the cow to be sacred and were always opposed to the killing of the cow, it is impossible to accept their view…
B. R. Ambedkar 1
“Did the Hindus never eat Beef?” Dr Ambedkar has dealt with this specific issue holistically in his various writings and has also tried to link it with emergence of ‘untouchable’ castes.
At a time when the saffrons are keen to appropriate Ambedkar  – who had time and again cautioned his followers about the dangers of Hindu Raj 2 and appealed to them to fight the twin enemies of  Brahminism and Capitalism – and present him as someone who not only endorsed the Hindutva project but also opposed beef eating as cow was sacred to Hinduism, it would be opportune to pose this question afresh before them.
You may encounter either complete silence or sudden eruption supposedly to ‘drown’ the question itself. Either way they would demonstrate that they very well understand that getting into debate over this issue has the possibility and potential of subverting the very edifice built by them which blames ‘outsiders’ especially Islam or Muslim rulers for many of the ills of our society. They very well know that there is a world of difference between the idea of Hindutva promoted by them and what Ambedkar thought.
Taking into consideration this complete dissonance in both viewpoints and keen to lure Dalit masses in their dubious project of Hindu consolidation, the saffrons have devised a clever strategy of carving out a sanitised version of Ambedkar devoid of his revolutionary vision and bracketing him in its pantheon of leaders – comprising of Hedgewar, Savarkar, Golwalkar etc – whom it considers as ‘Pratah Smaraniya‘ (worth remembering in the morning) . And glossing over his direct attacks on Hinduism and his declaration in mid-thirties that ‘he may be born a Hindu but would not die a Hindu’ and implementing it ultimately by accepting Buddhism along with lakhs of his followers few months before his death, they are keen to project him as a Hindu social reformer to befool the Dalit masses.
For a politics which is based on exclusion and hatred of ‘others’ one cannot expect anything better. Selective amnesia vis-a-vis his contributions is an integral part of their project of adopting or assimilating Ambedkar to suit needs of their divisive politics.
Interestingly this approach of selective appropriation or remembrance of leaders who were not quite amenable to the project of Hindu Rashtra is not limited to them only. It is extended even to those personalities/leaders also whose worldview largely converges with the saffrons themselves.
Take the case of Swami Vivekanand, who is much celebrated and glorified in the Hindutva circles as one of their own. Not a day passes when Sangh and the plethora of affiliated organisations forget to lay claim to his legacy. While the RSS shies away from probing the past Vivekanand is more objective in revisiting it and thus one discovers that he is also not on the same page on the issue of beef eating with them.

Nation’s Honour, ‘IBIs’ and the Dimapur Lynching

- Bonojit Hussain

On 5th of March a mob of few thousands stormed the Dimapur central jail and after having dragged jail inmate Syed Sarif Uddin Khan, brutally lynched him while a gleeful lot clicked photographs of the lynching with mobile phone cameras.

Since the night of 5th March photographs of the brutalized dead body and a video of the lynching has gone viral on social media and activists across the country has rightfully condemned this horrific act of mob lynching. But most activists are under the impression that the outrage and subsequent lynching was because a Sumi Naga woman was allegedly raped by Syed Sarif Uddin Khan on the night of 23rd February. But one needs to understand that the outrage and the lynching of Khan wasn’t primarily about rape of a woman, it was more about how an outsider, more so a ‘lowly’ IBI (a very popular acronym for Illegal Bangladeshi Immigrant), has violated the Naga nation’s honour reposited in the bodies of its women by raping one of its ‘daughters’.

Syed Sarif Uddin Khan was originally from Karimganj district of Assam, and ironically comes from a family of Armymen. It is also true that he had been a long time resident of Dimapur, was married to a Sumi Naga woman and has a three year old daughter. But none of these facts matter because Syed Sarif Uddin Khan will remain an IBI for the lynch mob and scores of other people in Nagaland. This is so because most people in the Northeast believe that all Bengali Muslims are IBIs.

I have written elsewhere that in the Northeast IBI no longer has a literal meaning nor is it about citizenship, it is a racist shorthand, a template; a discursive formation under consolidation since the late 1970s which represent Bengali Muslims in the Northeast as a homogeneous ‘collective’ that is “lesser humans”, “menace” or in its extreme form as “locust”. This discursive formation is constituted through the deployment of series of clichés like sexual virulence, natural (almost genetic) proneness to criminality, uncivilized to the extent of being inhumanly dirty or unhygienic, breeds faster than dogs etc. Deployment of these kinds of clichés has remained the hallmark of regressive process of racializing a targeted group of people throughout the world, much of the anti immigrant racist movements in the first world also deploy similar clichés. The cliché of sexual virulence is made to stand out, so that ever member of the racialized group becomes a potential predator waiting for opportunity to violate the honour of the host nation that is believed to be embodied in the physical selves of the nation’s women.

This discursive formation draws its historical nutrients from the complex and yet unfolding history of the eastern theatre of partition of the sub-continent. In the ethnically balkanized milieu of the Northeast, Bengali Muslims are easiest target of racialized otherization; and this otherization does not become easy because they are different, but because in terms of certain cultural markers they are similar to the perceived embodiment of Bangladeshiness. 

IBI as a discursive formation first got consolidated during the anti-Bangladeshi immigrant Assam Movement (1979-1985) and provided various ethnic/nationality movements in the Northeast with a ready-made template of otherizing Bengali Muslims irrespective of their citizenship status compounded by a tacit impunity regarding killings of Bengali Muslims, which started from the Nellie genocide of 1983 in Assam.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

भगवा मंसूबों का गढ़

-जावेद अनीस

Photo Courtesy-Indian Express
मध्य प्रदेश को अमूमन शांति प्रदेश माना जाता है, लेकिन यह सूबा वंचित समुदायों के उत्पीड़न के मामलों में कई वर्षों से लगातार देश के कुछ सबसे खराब राज्यों के सूची में दर्ज होता आया है। एक दशक से ज्यादा बीजेपी के हुकमत के दौर में संघ परिवार ने भी इस राज्य में अपने भगवा मंसूबों को लागू करने के लिए सबसे मुफीद माना है। अगर मुख्यमंत्री शिवराज सिंह चौहान को दूसरे राज्यों में बीजेपी के मुख्यमंत्रीयो के मुकाबले संघ का सबसे ज्यादा फरमाबरदा वजीरे आला माना जाये को कुछ गलत नहीं होगा। पीछे करीब एक दशकों से देश के सेंटर में स्थित इस सूबे में संघ और उसके अनुवांशिक संगठनों को अपने कारनामों को अंजाम देने की खुली छूट मिली हुई है। अब यह सूबा महज प्रयोगशाला नहीं है, यह प्रयोग काफी हद सफल हो चूका है और इसकी जड़ें गहरी हो चुकी हैं। यह मध्यप्रदेश ही है जो सुनील जोशी,प्रज्ञा सिंह ठाकुर,कालसांगरा,देवेन्द्र शर्मा,संदीप डांगे जैसे हिंदुत्ववादी आतंकी संघी आतंकवादियों की शरणस्थली रहा है।

तथाकथित लवजिहाद, जबरन धर्मांतरण के नाम पर लोगों के अपने मजहब और प्यार को चुनने के आजादी पर खुलेआम हमले हो रहे हैं, मध्ययुगीन मानसिकता से ग्रस्त प्राइवेट पंचायतें और जाति संगठन आये दिन लड़कियों और स्त्रियों के सामने जीने और रहने का सलीका सिखाने के लिए डू ऑर नॉट टू डू के लिस्ट पेश कर रही हैं, राज्य में हुकूमत कर रही भाजपा,लगातार ऐसे कदम उठा रही है जिनसे अल्पसंख्यकों में भय व्याप्त हो रहा है। मध्यप्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री ने सरकारी कर्मचारियों से आव्हान कर दिया है कि वे आर.एस.एस. की सदस्यता लें। मध्यप्रदेश में हिन्दू संस्कृति को पिछले दरवाजे से जनता पर लादने का तरीका अपनाया जा रहा है। हर मौके का इस्तेमाल हिन्दू धार्मिक शब्दावली को शासकीय शब्दावली का भाग बनाने के लिए किया जा रहा है। स्कूल शिक्षकों के लिए ऋषि संबोधन चुना गया।इसी तरह, राज्य की बालिका कल्याण योजना का नाम है लाडली लक्ष्मी, बाल पोषण योजना का अन्नप्राशन, व जल संरक्षण कार्यक्रम का जलाभिषेक। स्कूलों में “सूर्य नमस्कार“ करवाया जाता है। राज्य के स्कूलों में योग अनिवार्य भी कर दिया गया था, बाद में उसे ऐच्छिक विषय बना दिया गया। चूंकि अधिकांश हिन्दू विद्यार्थी योग सीखते हैं अतः अल्पसंख्यक छात्र-छात्राओं का स्वयं को अलग-थलग महसूस करना स्वाभाविक है। मध्यप्रदेश में छुटपुट सांप्रदायिक घटनाएं लगातार जारी हैं ही । मध्यप्रदेश में 2009 से 2013 के बीच कुल 432 साम्प्रदायिक घटनायें हुई थीं और इस दौरान मध्यप्रदेश, साम्प्रदायिक घटनायें के मामले में देश में तीसरे स्थान पर रहा है।

मध्यप्रदेश उन चुनिन्दा राज्यों में शामिल रहा है जिसने साफ तौर पर सच्चर समिति की सिफारिशों को लागू करने से इनकार कर दिया था। सच्चर समिति की जो सिफारिशें गरीब मुसलमानों की बेहतरी की दिशा में एक अपरिहार्य कदम माना जा रहा था उन्हें राज्य सरकार सांप्रदायिक अलगाव का सबब साबित करने पर तुली हुई थी। ज्यादा दिन नहीं हुए हैं जब राज्य सरकार ने प्रदेश के सभी थानों को आदेश दिया था कि वो अपने क्षेत्र में ''ईसाई गतिविधियों" से जुड़ी जानकारी जुटा कर भेजें जिसमें कैथोलिक और प्रोटेस्टेंट ईसाईयों की अलग-अलग संख्या, उनकी आर्थिक स्थिती की समीक्षा, विदेशों से उन्हें मिलने वाले धन का ब्योरा, कौन-कौन से ईसाई संगठन आपराधिक मामलों में लिप्त हैं, कौन व्यक्ति उनसे जुड़े हैं और कौन से राजनीतिक संगठन उन्हें संरक्षण देते हैं आदि के जानकारी शामिल थीं। हालांकि बाद में भारी विरोध होने पर इस आदेश को वापस ले लिया गया था।

साल 2013 में मध्‍यप्रदेश की भारतीय जनता पार्टी सरकार ने एक ऐसा फैसला लिया था जिस पर ज्यादा ध्यान उस समय नहीं दिया गया था, राज्य सरकार ने धर्मांतरण के खिलाफ क़ानून में संशोधन कर उसे और ज्‍यादा सख़्त बना दिया गया, इस संशोधन के बाद “जबरन धर्म परिवर्तन” पर जुर्माने की रकम दस गुना तक बढ़ा दी गई और कारावास की अवधि भी एक से बढ़ाकर चार साल तक कर दी गई है। यही नहीं अब कोई नागरिक अपना मजहब बदलना चाहता है तो इसके लिए उसे सबसे पहले जिला मजिस्‍ट्रेट की अनुमति लेनी होगी। यदि धर्मांतरण करने वाला या कराने वाला ऐसा नहीं करता है तो वह दंड का भागीदार होगा। इससे पहले साल 2006 में भी एक ऐसा प्रयास हो चूका था जिसमें मध्य प्रदेश सरकार द्वारा विधान सभा में बिना बहस के ‘‘मध्यप्रदेश धर्म स्वातंत्रता विधेयक 2006‘‘ पास करा लिया गया था। बाद में मध्यप्रदेश के राज्यपाल ने इस विधयेक को एटर्नी जनरल की राय के साथ राष्ट्रपति को भेजा था। भारत के सालिसीटर जनरल ने विधेयक के कुछ प्रावधानों को धार्मिक स्वतंत्रता के मौलिक अधिकार के खिलाफ बताते हुऐ इसे असंवैधानिक करार दिया था क्योंकि इस विधेयक के तमाम प्रावधान मजहबी आजादी के खिलाफ थे। चूँकि राष्‍ट्रपति ने इसे मंजूरी नहीं दी थी इसलिए पहला प्रयास विफल रहा था दूसरा प्रयास लगभग सात साल बाद 2013 में हुआ जो सफल रहा। 

गौरतलब है कि पुराने धर्म स्वतंत्रता विधेयक धर्म स्वतंत्रता विधेयक 1968 में धर्म परिवर्तन से पहले जिला मजिस्‍ट्रेट से लिखित में अनुमति लेने की कोई जरूरत नहीं होती थी, लेकिन कानून में यह प्रावधान था कि धर्म परिर्वतन के एक माह के भीतर प्रशासन को इसकी सूचना देनी होगी।इस पूरी कवायद के पीछे संघ परिवार द्वारा प्रचारित “आदिवासियों के ईसाई करण” का वाही बहुप्रचारित तर्क है, हालांकि वहीँ दूसरी तरफ संघ परिवार खुद आदिवासी के हिन्दुकरण की कवायद में बहुत जोर शोर से लगा है। लेकिन विधेयक के संशोधन द्वारा संघ परिवार के संगठनों द्वारा आदिवासियों के घर वापसी जैंसे कर्मकांड करके धर्मान्तरण करने पर कोई रोक नहीं लगायी गयी है।

संघ परिवार और मध्य प्रदेश सरकार द्वारा मजहब चुनने के आजादी पर रोक कितनी सफलता पूर्वक लागू है यह पिछले दिनों हुई एक घटना से समझा जा सकता है, ग्वालियर संभाग के शिवपुरी जिले में स्थित बुकर्रा गांव में कुछ दलितों ने इस्लाम धर्म अपना लिया था, धर्मांतरण को लेकर दक्षिणपंथी हिन्दू संगठनों ने बहुत शोर मचाना प्रारंभ कर दिया। उन्होंने इस धर्म परिवर्तन को हिन्दू समाज के ऊपर एक नियोजित हमला बताया। कुछ अस्थानीय समाचारपत्रों ने भी ऐसी खबरें छापी की यह धर्म परिवर्तन जोर-जबरदस्ती से कराया गया है। हालांकि बाद में धर्म परिवर्तन करने वालों ने इससे इनकार करते हुए कहा कि उन्होंने किसी के भी दबाव में आकर धर्म परिवर्तन नहीं किया है।

पूरे बहस में किसी ने भी यह जानने-समझने का प्रयास नहीं किया कि आखिर वे क्या वजहें थीं जिसके चलते दलितों को अपना धर्म छोड़कर इस्लाम स्वीकार कर लिया, इसे एक पुरानी घटना से समझा जा सकता है, घटना सितम्बर 2010 की है, मुरैना जिले के मलीकपूर गॉव में एक दलित महिला ने ऊँची जाति के व्यक्ति के कुत्ते को रोटी खिला दी थी। जिस पर कुत्ते के मालिक का कहना था कि एक दलित द्वारा रोटी खिलाऐ जाने के कारण उसका कुत्ता अपवित्र हो गया है। गॉव के पंचायत ने सजा के तौर पर दलित महिला को उसके इस ‘‘जुर्म’’ के लिए 15000रु दण्ड़ का फरमान सुना दिया गया। हाल में ही नेशनल काउंसिल ऑफ एप्लाइड इकोनॉमिक रिसर्च (एनसीएईआर) और अमेरिका की यूनिवर्सिटी ऑफ मैरिलैंड द्वारा किये गये एक स्टडी के अनुसार छुआछूत को मानने के मामले में मध्य प्रदेश पूरे देश में शीर्ष पर है। सर्वे के अनुसार मध्य प्रदेश में 53 फीसद लोगों ने कहा कि वे छुआछूत को मानते हैं, चौंकाने वाली बात यह रही की उत्तर प्रदेश और बिहार जैसे प्रदेश भी इस सूची में मध्य प्रदेश से पीछे है।

दरअसल मध्य प्रदेश हमेशा से ही दलितों पर अत्याचार के मामले में ऊँचे पायदान पर रहा है। सरकारी आंकड़े बताते हैं कि दलित अत्याचार के केवल 29 फीसद दर्ज मामलें में ही सजा हो पाती है, 71 फीसदी मामले तो लबिंत रहते हैं। मध्य परदेश में नाई द्वारा बाल काटने को मना कर देने, चाय दुकानदार द्वारा चाय देने से पहले जाति पुछना और खुद को दलित बताने पर चाय देने से मना कर देना या अलग गिलास में चाय देना, दलित पुरुष पंच/सरपंच को मारने पीटने और दलित महिला पंच/सरपंच के साथ बलात्कार, शादी में घोड़े पर बैठने पर रास्ता रोकना और मारपीट करना, मरे हुए मवेशियों को जबरदस्ती उठाने को मजबूर करना, मना करने पर सामाजिक-आर्थिक बहिष्कार कर देना आदि जैसी घटनाऐं बहुत आम हैं, जो दलितों के आम दिनचर्या का हिस्सा बन गये लगते हैं। 

करीब 1200 लोगों की आबादी वाले बुकर्रा गांव की स्थिति भी अलग नहीं है यहाँ भी आर्थिक, सामाजिक स्थिति जिले के दूसरे गांव की तरह है। गांव में सबसे ज्यादा आबादी जाटवों की है, तो दूसरे नंबर पर ब्राह्मण समुदाय के लोग हैं। जाटवों का मोहल्ला हर गांव की तरह यहां भी अलग-थलग है। दलितों की आर्थिक स्थिति सबसे बदतर है और उनके साथ हर क्षेत्र में भेदभाव बहुत आम है, फिर वो चाहे अतिवर्षा से मिलने वाले मुआवजे या खेती के लिए मिली हुई जमीन पर खेती करने का मामला हो या रोजगार योजना के अंतर्गत काम मिलने का मामला हो, सभी मामलों में दलितों के साथ भेदभाव होता है।

दलितों द्वारा इस्लाम स्वीकार करने के बाद हिन्दूवादी संगठन सक्रिय हो गये और उन सब पर दबाव बनाया जिनने इस्लाम स्वीकार कर लिया था या करने वाले थे। चूंकि मध्य प्रदेश के कानून के अनुसार कोई भी नागरिक बिना शासन को सूचित किए धर्म परिवर्तन नहीं कर सकता और इन लोगों द्वारा धर्म परिवर्तन की सूचना नहीं दी गयी थी इसलिए जिले के प्रशासन ने भी धर्म परिवर्तन करने वालों के खिलाफ कानूनी कार्यवाही शुरू कर दी। प्रशासन और कानून के नज़र में वे अपराधी समझे गये। इसी दौरान हिन्दुवादी संगठनों ने इन लोगों पर दबाव बनाना शुरू किया और खुलेआम चेतावनी देने लगे कि अच्छा होगा की वे जल्द ही इस्लाम धर्म को त्याग कर फिर से हिन्दू बन जायें। इंडियन एक्सप्रेसमें छपी एक खबर के अनुसार हिन्दू संगठनों द्वारा बुकर्रा और आसपास के गांव में अतिवादी हिन्दू संगठनों द्वारा दलित समाज के लोगों को इकट्ठा कर उनको धर्म परिवर्तन की घटना के विरूद्ध भड़काया गया। बैठक भी हुई और जिसमें इस बात को लेकर विचार किया गया कि जो दलित इस्लाम स्वीकार करना चाहते हैं उनके विरूद्ध क्या कार्यवाही की जाये। इस कार्यवाही में उनकी फसलों को जलाना, उनके ऊपर जुर्माना लगाना हो सकता है।

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

[DUTMM Statement] Victory for Security Workers at Delhi University Hostel

- Statement by Delhi University Theka Mazdoor Manch (DUTMM), 4th March, 2015

On the evening of the 3rd of March, 2015, house-keeping & sanitation workers and security guards of UGHG (Under-graduate Hostel for Girls) Dhaka Hostel Complex informed DUTMM (Delhi University Theka Mazdoor Manch) about the sudden removal of 16 security guards under Knight Watch Agency. The Section Officer had been asked by the hostel authorities to convey the immediate dismissal of the security guards to the supervisor. DUTMM along with the workers reached the hostel premises early this morning in protest against this unjust decision of the hostel authorities. There was no written notice of the removal. And we also found out that the field officer of Knight Watch Agency had no complaints against any of the workers. After hours of protest at UGHG along with student residents of the hostel, the Provost Prof. Rita Kakkar finally agreed to meet representatives of DUTMM.

The charges of the removal of 16 security guards (of which one had to be retained for about 2 weeks to train new guards) was dismissed by the Provost constantly as a case of 'miscommunication'.

Finally, under pressure from the protest, the Provost conceded to sign a tripartite agreement letter. The signatories to the agreement letter were representative of DUTMM, Provost and Resident Tutor, and Student Representatives of the hostel. However, the Provost, even after signing the agreement letter, repeatedly reiterated the management committees informal discussions about rotating/shifting workers periodically so that the workers do not familiarise themselves to their workplace and start unionising. 

It was agreed upon by all signatories that:

1. A representative committee constituted by hostel authorities, office staff, security guards, safai karmacharis, mess workers and students in order to redress grievance and complaints.

2. The safai karamcharis currently employed in hostel be retained on renewal of contract or contracting of new contractor.

3. The information of removal of 15 security guards was an instance of misinformation from the office.

4. A Students' Union be instituted in the hostel at the earliest on an urgent basis after a meeting with the students.

5. Minimum wages and ESI and PF be ensured to all workers in the hostel.

6. A letter will be written to the University in order to ensure payments of back wages and arrears of workers employed in the hostel being paid wages below minimum wages.

Down with contractualisation of work!! Long live workers-students-teachers solidarity!!

Below is a digital copy of the original agreement letter:

We are all Mukto-Mona

- Subhash Gatade

‘Our aim is to build a society which will not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy but would rather be based on reason, compassion, humanity, equality and science’.
- Avijit Roy
“Dr Dabholkar who was fighting against superstition was assasinated because he was a rationalist. All such people who have embarked upon a path of reason and rationalism, propagated these ideas, had to make tremendous sacrifices. Dr Dabholkar was not the first and would not be the last person who sacrificed himself on the altar of rationalism. This unending struggle between rationalism and irrationalism is going on since ages and it is for you to decide whether it needs change or not.”
- Comrade Pansare
Words, ideas scare fundoos rather fundamentalists of every kind, colour and stripe.

The mere possibility that a free mind can question, challenge and ultimately upturn the ‘ultimate truth’ the faithful have received through their ‘holy books’ rather unnerves them and they react in the only way they are familiar with. Resort to machetes to take on ideas or use meat cleavers to deal with unchained minds, quoting sanction from the same ‘books of wisdom’.

Close on the heels of one such silencing of voices of reason, sanity, justice, progress on the streets of Kolhapur (India) – assassination of 82 year old Communist leader Com Govind Pansare by Hindutva zealots – has come the news about similar killing of 42 year old Avijit Roy, by machete wielding Islamist militants on the streets of Dhaka (Bangladesh), when the prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger, a author, an advocate of free expression, scientific ideas and secularism, was coming out of the Ekushe book fair along with his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna. She was also badly wounded in her attempt to shield Avijit from attackers and is now admitted to ICU.

Apparently there was nothing common between Comrade Pansare and Avijit, while Com Pansare had been active with the Communist movement since his young days in various capacities and wrote in Marathi lambasting the Communal and casteist forces and was equally at ease in leading people’s movement against toll tax and participating vigorously in anti-superstition campaigns, whereas Avijit happened to be a software engineer by profession, who had started the bilingual website ‘Mukto-mona’ (Free Mind) in 2000 which was very popular among free-thinkers, rationalists, skeptics and humanists and was also in the forefront of coordinating international protests against government censorship and imprisonment of bloggers back home.

It is a different matter that both shared equal antipathy towards religious extremism of every kind and had taken upon themselves the task of combatting it in every possible way at tremendous risk to their own selves. Threats were part of their lives, not some time ago one such zealot had even threatened Com Pansare with a warning that ‘Tumcha Dabholkar karu’ (You will face consequences like Dabholkar) in a unsigned letter, reminding him of the assassination of a great fighter for rationalism in July 2013 and Avijit also continued to face similar threats regularly through emails and on facebook. It is now history none of them decided to tone down their attacks against obscurantism, closing of minds and what Avijit use to say ‘virus of faith’.

It is worth emphasising that both of them also shared passion for words.

Com Pansare wielded pen like a sword and wrote articles, booklets, books in Marathi to sensitise people around and awaken them from deep slumber. Many of his books have gone into multiple editions but his most popular monograph is ‘Shivaji Kon Hota?’ (Who was Shivaji) – which has sold more than one lakh copies and has been translated in few other languages as well. In this booklet, Com Pansare had tried to counter the appropriation of medieval era King Shivaji’s by Hindutva Supremacist forces who projected his image of a ‘Hindu King’ opposed to Muslims. Pansare with painstaking research threw light on his policies and administration and provided documentary proof that he had many Muslims in top positions of his army and one of his close comrade in his escape from Aurangjeb’s custody was Madari Mehtar and thus tried to present a very balanced picture of his contributions. In an ambience dominated by the likes of RSS and Shiv Sena, his little monograph captured imagination of the ordinary people and acted as a ‘weapon’ in the hands of individuals, formations who were fighting for an inclusive polity. Challenging communal elements from both the communities he emphasised that it is high time that people recognise their composite heritage and build solidarities cutting across caste, communities.