Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rulers’ Inefficiency and Brutality end the Labourers’ Lives

T. Venkateshwarlu

On 7 April 2015 at early morning Andhra Pradesh police killed 20 red sandalwood labourers in the name ‘encounter’ at Sheshachalam forest area. According to police version, nearly 300 sandalwood labourers with red sandalwoods are found in ‘Chikatigala Kona and SacchinOdibanDa’ areas in Sheshachalam forest. The police warned the labourers but they attacked on police with their ‘sophisticated and dangerous’ weapons such as ‘axes and stones’. The police started firing to protect their lives from labourers attack. In that ‘war’ 20 labourers were killed in 20 miters range. Beside each labourer body, there is sandalwood, their shirt and footwear. Nobody is injured and arrested in hundreds of labourers even sandalwood did not recovered from other labourers those who escaped from the spot. This is the police narration of their ‘encounter’ story. It’s not a big puzzle to understand what happened in the Sheshachalam forest. Actually police killed 20 red sandalwood labourers with a strategy according to the rulers’ direction. The police did not have the courage and honesty to admit the truth that they did it. Because they thought it’s a best way to create fear among the sandalwood labourers to prevent sandalwood smuggling. The police and rulers want to cover their murderous act with a silly story. Their story may useful to the comedian cinema directors those who make comedy films based on nonsense scripts. 

Along with encounter story the police and rulers revealed some issues relating the red sandalwood smuggling. Those issues are that they arrested nearly 4000 sandal labouers and made propaganda in the village to create awareness about the ban on red sandalwood cutting. But they did not prevent the sandalwood cutting. Even some times they faced attacks by the labourers. But the arrested 4000 people are all belonged to labourers. The people who took the labourers for sandalwood cutting, who transport the sandalwood, who sell it in the international market, the officials who cooperate to the smuggling, the political leaders who protect the smugglers never arrested. These people did not get punishment. Only the labourers punished and put in jails those who came for this work to get some income for their families’ survival. Killing the sandalwood labourers is not the solution. It did not prevent smuggling. Actually the rulers did not have the commitment to eradicate the smuggling. If they have the commitment they would appoint efficient and honest officials and involve community in this operation. These officials would take stringent actions on smugglers including government officials and political leaders those who support and protect the smuggling. The sandalwood smuggling has been running for decades. Government has the information about smugglers, supporting officials and involving political leaders. The rulers would put vigilance in all ways in & out from the forest. The smugglers are not selling the sandalwood beside Sheshachalam forest area villages and the sandalwood is not small item like safety pin. They are selling sandalwood and that too they are transporting the wood to other countries through ships and flights. If Tamil Nadu is supporting to this smuggling activity, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) can discuss with the Tamil Nadu state CM and request to cooperate to end sandalwood smuggling. If the AP government did not get proper response from TN government it can put this issue before the center. AP rulers did not work in this way. Basically they did not have sufficient commitment to end the red sandalwood smuggling. This is the cause behind their inefficiency to prevent the smuggling. 

For the decades red sandalwood cutting is happening in Sheshachalam forest in Andhra Pradesh. Even nearby forest villagers used to cut the sandalwood to prepare home need material. The smuggling also has been happening for decades. In 2000 the government banned the sandalwood cutting and smuggling. Recently the sandalwood price has increased in the international market. Now in the international market one tone sandalwood price range Rs. 30 Lakh to 70 Lakh based on the quality of the wood. Last year AP government sold 4500 ton sandalwood for Rs. 1000 Crore and there are 8500 ton sandalwood reserves which were collected from the smugglers. AP government wants to sell this wood and it is eager to sell and earn money for the new capital city construction.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Sin and the Error

- Ravi Sinha
…it takes an error to father a sin.
─ J. Robert Oppenheimer[1]
Future historians of India may well describe the past year as a year of political sin. This was the year in which the man who had earlier presided over the Gujarat Carnage was awarded the ultimate prize. The year saw an election that touched a new low marked by shallowness, vulgarities and lies – in no small measure by the labors of the man himself. Equally appalling have been the exertions of a large class of literati and glitterati to portray philistinism and inanities spouted by the most powerful mouth as wisdom of a visionary leader.
An entire country seems to have gone blind – unable to see that the emperor has no clothes. In this age of incessant television it should be obvious to anyone that the supreme leader does not carry conviction even when enunciating relatively higher banalities. He is at his natural best only when he mocks someone as a shehzada or slanders and vilifies an entire community through phrases such as ame paanch, amara pachees. It is an irony of history that the republic which had Nehru as its first prime minister has one now for whom even common mythology is too cerebral. He must vulgarize Pushpak Viman and Ganeshaand reduce them to quackeries of aviation and surgery.
Misfortune of the nation goes beyond the man. Forces of the diabolic housed in the hydra-headedParivaar can now accomplish the impossible. They can now occupy the political center stage without leaving off the lunatic fringe. They can adopt Gandhi without renouncing Godse; erect world’s tallest statue of a leader who had punished their forefathers for assassinating Gandhi; even co-opt Bhagat Singh without batting an eyelid about what he stood for and what he had to say about ideologies like theirs. They can further refine the art of doublespeak. Their “statesmen” can pave the way for corporate plunder and call it sab ka vikas (development for all). Their “ideologues” can advocate sab ka saath(inclusion of all) by exhorting Hindu women to give birth to a minimum of four children each, lest Hindus are reduced to a minority “in their own country”.
All second comings are farcical but none more so than the ones in which caricatures come alive. It would be a cliché to invoke Hitler’s example while describing the megalomania of the current prime minister. But it would not be entirely wrong. He is larger than life because no one else – whether in the government or in the party – is allowed to be visible even as a pygmy. The Cabinet of Ministers seems to have been demoted lower than the back-room boys who formulate policies, write speeches and take sartorial decisions for the supreme leader. Even those stalwarts of yesterday, who brought the party to the center stage by unleashing havocs such as the Ram Janma Bhoomi Movement, have been consigned to the political dustbin. But, rather than a second coming of Hitler, this sordid episode appears more like Chaplin’s Great Dictator coming to life. The prime minister’s relentless globe-trotting and hobnobbing with the rulers of the world without any significant diplomatic achievement or concrete gain for India so far – except, perhaps, getting the United Nations to declare June 21st as the International Day of Yoga – evokes memories of a scene in Chaplin’s movie where the dictator plays around with an inflated globe.
The prime minister’s telling the Japanese corporate honchos that he has money in his blood, his frequent recounting of uncountable things that India’s ancient wisdom can teach to the world, his recent observation that Indian grandmother’s recipes are enough to save humanity from environmental disasters and this makes India worthy of leading the global endeavor to save the planet, and other such gems that he scatters regularly across the globe, also bring to mind one of Kurosawa’s later movies,Kagemusha. In the movie a political decoy was deployed to impersonate a dying warlord who had kept his enemies in awe for long. The impersonator manages to get over his many temptations and actually learns to act like the warlord within the royal house as well as on the battle field.
That day may yet be far in this case. The body-language of the prime minister – while posing with a world leader or posing conspicuously to the camera when all other statesmen and diplomats around the table are busy with their papers – betrays the countenance of an imposter, even if anointed to the throne through a process every bit constitutional and politically legitimate. The acts and demeanor of the prime minister are constant reminders that Indian people have been tricked into committing a political sin. And the irony is that they have committed it against themselves.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

And then they came for Oyasiqur Rahman Babu !

- Subhash Gatade
….It is not the young who are writing obituaries for the old,…I have seen the blood shed by so many young people steadily mounting up until now I am submerged and cannot breathe. All I can do is take up my pen and write a few articles, as if to make a small hole in the mud through which I can draw a few more wretched breaths. What sort of world is this ? The night is so long, the way so long….
( Lu Xun, Written for the Sake of Forgetting, P 234, Selected Works of Lu Xun, Vol III, Beijing)
Md Oyasiqur Rahman Babu , aged 27 years is dead. A travel agency executive by profession and a secular blogger by passion he was killed by radical Islamists in Tejgaon, Dhaka when he was going to office in Motijheel. The three assailants – who did not personally know each other – met just for planning the murder and then executed it with military precision.
Thanks to the courage exhibited by trans genders living nearby who caught hold of these murderers while the locals who watched the act before their eyes just dithered to move. Zikrullah, a student of Hefazat-e-Islam’s Hathazari Madrasa in Chittagong, and Ariful, student of Mirpur Darul Uloom Madrasa – were caught while the third member of the team, Abu Taher of Mirpur Darul Uloom, managed to flee the spot. The arrestees said they had killed Oyasiqur for writing on religious issues. It is a different matter that none of them had read his blog, they even did not know what blogging is, they  just executed the order issued by some mastermind. The duo told a police official :
“Our Hujur [religious teacher] told us that he [Oyasiqur] is an anti-Islamic person. It was our responsibility as believers to kill him. So, we killed him,”
It is a third killing by Islamists within a span of two years. First it was Ahmad Rajib Haider, who was killed by Radical Islamists in February 2013, when the historic Shahbagh movement was at its peak. Then came the turn of Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger, when death pounced on him last month, in Dhaka when he was coming out of the Ekushe Book Fair and now it is Washiqur Rahman.
All the three were premediated, copycat murders, one imitating the other. Cry of ‘hurt sentiments’, use of machetes, key role played by young Islamists associated with this or that Madarsa, brutality of the crime. Washqur’s case, they had tried to deface him in such a manner that it was difficult to even recognise him.
In an interview to NPR radio, Zafar Sobhan, editor of ‘Dhaka Tribune’ told that Oyasiqur Rahman Babu was part of a bloggers group called ‘Logical Forum’ – which carried lively debates on religion and fundamentalism and were critical of all religions.
He was known as Oyasiqur Babu on Facebook and used to write under pseudonyms on popular blogs. He had written several notes opposing irrational religious beliefs, superstitions and radical Islamists. An admirer of Avijit Roy who had recently changed his profile picture to the hashtag “#iamavijit” on a black background. His Facebook cover photo also displayed the hashtag #WordsCannotBeKilled. After Avijit’s death he had also mourned the killing of Ahmed Rajib Haider, known online as Thaba Baba and vowed to continue fighting.