Tuesday, February 16, 2016

‎Massive Anti-Modi Student Protests Spreading Fast Across India

Students across India are rallying against Modi government's attacks on academic freedoms. Massive protests were triggered when the Modi government arrested Kahaiya Kumar, the student union president at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Universities across India are ringing with the following slogans:

"Geelani bole azaadi, Afzal bole azaadi, jo tum na doge azaadi, toh chheen ke lenge azadi! (Geelani and Afzal demanded freedom. If freedom is denied, we will snatch it!)".

"Modi ka Hindutva nahin sahenge, Modi ke Brahmangiri nahin sahenge." (We will not tolerate Modi's Hindutva oppression. We reject upper caste Brahmin domination).

Geelani is the separatist leader demanding freedom of Jammu and Kashmir from illegal Indian occupation. Afzal refers to Afzal Guru who was executed by the Indian government on trumped up charges of terrorism.

Students also chanted in memory of Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old Muslim woman who was gunned down in Gujarat in June 2004 when the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ran the state as its chief minister. In September 2009, Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate called encounter fake. CBI , India's federal investigating agency, did not find link between her and LeT as was alleged by Modi's government in Gujarat.

Afzal Guru was accused of carrying out an attack on Indian parliament in Dec, 2001. The Indian supreme court judgment acknowledged the evidence against Guru was circumstantial: "As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy." But then, it went on to say: "The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender." This shameful Indian Supreme Court verdict to approve Guru's execution is a great miscarriage of justice with few precedents in legal annals.

Independent educators and academics in India feel they are under siege since Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Modi ascended to power. A concerted move is underway in many states across India to Hinduize education. RSS ideologues are being given key positions in India's educational and cultural institutions to realize a Hindu Nationalist vision of India.

Last year, Modi's BJP appointed  Gajendra Chauhan as head of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).  The staff and students protested the appointment describing Mr. Chauhan as grossly unqualified for the position. The Indian media have sharply criticized his work that includes films such as “Jungle Love,” “Vasna” (“Desire”), “Jungle Ka Beta” (“The Son of the Jungle”) and various other B-grade  movies. Aljazeera reported that his main qualification appears to be his affiliation with the Hindu Nationalist BJP as national convener for culture, responsible for promoting “the party’s ideology through cultural activities,” as he put it in an interview with The Indian Express.

In the Aug. 13, 2015 issue of The New York Review of Books, the economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen described how the government pressured him to step down from his position as chancellor of the newly formed Nalanda University — most likely because of his criticism of Modi before the elections, according to Aljazeera.

According to the Aljazeeera report, Mr. Sen has listed the ways in which the government has interfered in the management of many academic institutions — the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and the National Book Trust. It has proposed a bill that would give it direct control of the 13 Indian Institutes of Management. The caliber of two recent appointments is also alarmingly questionable: Lokesh Chandra, the newly selected head of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, which oversees India’s cultural relations with other countries, has said Modi is an incarnation of God, and Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, the new head of the Indian Council of Historical Research, has praised the caste system.

Massive student protests in India are the culmination of growing resentment against attempts by the Modi government to curb academic and intellectual freedoms and reshape educational and cultural institutions and the Indian society at large.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Dalit Death Shines Light on India's Caste Apartheid

Kashmiris Remain Defiant Against Indian Occupation

Hinduization of India Under Modi

Globalization of Hindutva

Hindutva Whitewash of Indian History

Hindu Nationalists Admire Hitler


Unknown said...

Across whole India?
A bunch of radicalized morons start protesting, then, you will include whole of our community?
Matter isn't of academic freedom, matter is of discipline and these morons don't know about discipline.
Students are not allowed by Academic Bodies to involve even in matters local elections in the favour of any party.
If any student is found by body involving in such activities, they are heavily fined and even rusticated many times.
In our college, we could not even put up a flag of any political party or band in our hand nearby the college.
And who are these students?
Involved in separatist activities. They must be jailed immediately.
And I can't understand what good is discovered by Pakistanis in it?
It must be freedom in their country(may be resulting instability), but in India,
A student must not actively involve in such activities.

Now, if we think that letting people to express their social and political views is nice,
then, these students are a bunch of separatists and have no right to even speak because of such anti national activities.

I'm also monitoring Pakistani channels.
It's duty of Indian Media to report properly about every big or small incident in India, but Pakistanis take every hype seriously.
For example, they believe here is any superiority complex of Hinduism (our media hype) or India has too much rape cases (in fact rapes per capita in India is Much lesser than Pakistan).
And a lot more things which I can't mention.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

We could not protect Bihar ki beti Ishrat Jahan, hopefully we will be able to save Pakistan ki beti Dr Afia Siddiqui.


Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India 'sedition' student beaten up in court by right-wing #Hindu lawyers. #JNU http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35593147 …

On Wednesday morning a group of lawyers outside New Delhi’s Patalia House court severely beat the student leader Kanhaiya Kumar from Jawahalal Nehru University (JNU) who is under arrest for sedition charges and was due to be presented at the court. (BBC, Guardian, Reuters). There are reports of media personnel also being attacked as well. A reporter for the newspaper First Post told the BBC he was beaten when he attempted to photograph the violence and forced to delete the captured images. Kumar was later remanded into custody and will be presented in court on March 2.

Kumar was arrested on Friday last week, for allegedly organizing a rally against the 2013 hanging of a Kashmiri man, Afzal Guru, where anti-India slogans were used. Kumar has denied all charges. Guru was convicted for his involvement in a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament when a suicide squad of five attackers stormed India's parliament complex killing seven people but were shot before they could enter the main chamber. Guru was convicted of helping organize arms for the gunmen. On Tuesday police in New Delhi also arrested a former Delhi University professor SAR Geelani on sedition charges after authorities claimed that the request for the space for the rally against Guru’s hanging came through Geelani’s email address (BBC). Geelani was a co-accused in the parliament attack case, but the Supreme Court cleared him in 2003.

Riaz Haq said...

Top academics including Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler condemn #India's #Modi's action at #JNU http://scroll.in/latest/803722/top-academics-including-noam-chomsky-judith-butler-condemn-centres-action-at-jnu … via @scroll_in

Members of the Indian and international academic community have come together in solidarity with the students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University and condemned the Centre’s actions against them. Two separate statements are being circulated, with their lists of signatories including some of the biggest names in Western academia, including Noam Chomsky, Orhan Pamuk, Judith Butler, Arjun Appadurai, Partha Chatterjee and Homi Bhabha.

The statements decry the police action against the students as being illegal, and state that the university should be autonomous as “a non-militarised space for freedom of thought and expression.” The statements criticise the sedition charge brought against JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, saying he was arrested without any evidence of wrongdoing. All the protests on campus have been peaceful, they said, and the law stipulates the necessity of a call to violence.

They go on to add that the Centre’s action betrays “the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated.” The academics also state that “an open, tolerant, and democratic society is inextricably linked to critical thought and expression cultivated by universities in India and abroad.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Twitter shows #Jammu in #Pakistan, Jammu & #Kashmir in #China. #India http://toi.in/8YAsCb via @toi_tech

Twitter has made a blunder as the site is showing the region of Jammu and Kashmir as parts of Pakistan and China. The micro-blogging site is facing a lot of criticism from the Indian users on social for this debacle.
When using location services, if you type Jammu then you will automatically receive suggestions for Jammu as part of Pakistan. Also, when you type Jammu and Kashmir in the field it shows the state to be part of People's Republic of China.
Twitter enables users to tag a place in their tweets. Consumers can either select their current location automatically (by GPS) or manually select a location option by typing the name of the city. Users were shocked to witness this situation, when they saw Jammu or Kashmir as part of countries like China and Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

"We were attacked, called #Pakistan ke dalle (pimps)": #India SC panel on assault by #Modi supporters on #JNU. #BJP https://shar.es/14Oy4a

Perturbed by reports of lawlessness at the Patiala House Courts complex when JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar was produced, the Supreme Court Wednesday made Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi “personally responsible” for the safety of the student leader who has been booked in a sedition case.
The bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Abhay M Sapre had to step in twice during the day to make sure “no harm is caused” to Kanhaiya, lawyers and journalists, and sought an explanation from the Delhi Police on reports that Kanhaiya was assaulted.
“It is reported today by the members of the (Supreme Court-appointed) committee that the accused was manhandled while he was produced before the (trial) court today. We, therefore, make it clear that the responsibility is exclusively that of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to ensure the safety of the accused,” the bench ordered.

The committee told the bench that they too were abused and called “Pakistan ke dalle” (pimps of Pakistan), “beh……”, that flower pots, bottles and pebbles were thrown at them at Patiala House Courts.
The day began with the bench hearing a petition filed by JNU alumnus N D Jayaprakash, demanding safety of the accused, journalists and others, apart from directives to the Delhi Police to ensure that access to justice is available to Kanhaiya too. Senior lawyers K T S Tulsi, Rajeev Dhavan, Raju Ramachandran and advocate Prashant Bhushan appealed for intervention by the apex court.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for Delhi High Court, told the bench that the administrative committee of the High Court was looking into the matter and had also sought a report on Monday’s incident from the chief judge of the Patiala House Courts. “The committee is meeting at 2 pm again today to discuss the matter further,” Luthra said.
Representing Delhi Police, senior lawyer Ajit K Sinha described Monday’s incident as “unfortunate”, adding that it happened in a charged atmosphere. “CRPF has also been deployed now. There are six ACPs and women SHOs stationed at Patiala House courts. Investigation is on regarding the earlier incident,” Sinha said.
At this, the bench issued a string of directives to ensure a conducive atmosphere during the hearing at Patiala House Courts where Kanhaiya was to be produced before a magistrate following completion of his police custody.
Directing Delhi Police to “take control of the situation,” the bench ordered restricted entry of lawyers, visitors and journalists inside the magistrate’s court room after Sinha assured no law and order problem would arise anymore.
But less than two hours after this order, Kapil Sibal and Prashant Bhushan showed up before the bench again at 2 pm, informing it about fresh violence at the Patiala House Courts and the attack on Kanhaiya.
At this, the bench summoned Sinha and sought a report on the incident. He was told to convey to the Police Commissioner the “concerns” of the court on the situation. The bench action must be taken against everyone irrespective of profession. It turned down a plea to summon Bassi, saying he must be busy in monitoring the situation but asked Sinha to speak to him immediately.
Around 3 pm, the apex court also appointed a five-member team of lawyers — Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan, Haren P Raval, Dushyant Dave and A D N Rao — to visit Patiala House Courts, along with Sinha, and report back on the situation there. Sinha was asked to speak to Bassi over the phone to provide adequate security to the panel.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's culture wars holding country back #caste, #colonialism, #Sedition . #JNU #dalitvirodhimodi #Modi #Facebook http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/indias-culture-wars-are-holding-back-progress …

In just seven weeks, the new year seems to have become troublingly old for India. Three old issues with all their upsetting associations – caste, colonialism and potentially seditious dissent – are back on the news agenda. They’ve restarted some very unpleasant conversations and in such a corrosive way that there is a sense of a country deeply polarised and almost at war with itself.

In January, the suicide of a lower caste Hindu doctoral student triggered nationwide protests as well as knee-jerk official defensiveness. Last week, India’s rejection of Facebook’s free, basic internet service raised questions about the implications of its ingrained fear of foreign dominance. And a row over the right to public dissent is rumbling on. It started just days ago with a police crackdown on the campus of a leading university in the capital New Delhi.

All three events are linked in a way that goes beyond being newsworthy. They have the same pathology. All are deeply embedded in the Indian psyche, sickening the body politic and rendering debate unfit for purpose. It may be fair to say that the hold of these three issues has never really been meaningfully discussed with complete candour, in any way that would acknowledge the real difficulties of laying them to rest.

Consider the snowballing controversy over allegedly seditious activity, especially on university campuses. Last week, the head of the student union of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University was arrested for sedition, under a law that dates to British rule. This university is sometimes described as an Indian Berkeley, with a proud tradition of left-wing debate on a range of issues such as communalism, social marginalisation, market forces, nuclear disarmament and the role of religion in politics.

The student leader’s alleged offence was to organise a protest against the hanging three years ago of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist who was convicted and put to the death over a 2001 plot to attack India’s parliament. Guru always denied plotting the attack and his execution triggered protests in Jammu and Kashmir.
Some Indian commentators criticised the government’s response as “disproportionate” and far more insidious than an attempt to crush dissent; it “wants to crush thinking”. JNU research scholar Saib Bilaval wrote that it was “the othering of liberalism”, making it “unpatriotic” to profess liberal views. Students on other campuses have since spoken up about the right to free expression and an editorial headlined “Do not disagree” in the Indian Express newspaper thundered that the message of the JNU arrest sits uneasily with India’s overwhelmingly youthful demographic.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of sedition cases pointing to lower tolerance of dissent. More damagingly, it indicates an incomplete examination of the nature and mechanics of nation-building. In the 69th year of its independence from British rule, some might justifiably say that India seems less confident about the limits – and merits – of democratic criticism and the role this plays in citizens’ compact with the state. The JNU row will subside, but the issue won’t go away.

Finally, colonialism. There are differing views worldwide on net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source. But when Indian regulators banned Facebook’s “Free Basics”, a programme controversially providing free mobile internet in poor countries, it was hard not to see it as a sign of a general anxiety about unfair foreign competition with the intention to dominate.

Software billionaire Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Bangalore-based IT group Infosys, recently admitted as much. “There is this real rising fear in India about digital colonialism,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Protests Against #India Student Leader's Arrest Spread - ABC News - #JNU #Modi #BJP http://abcn.ws/1mJeN15 via @ABC

A protest that rocked a New Delhi university this week spread across India on Thursday, with students and teachers in at least 10 cities demanding the release of a student leader arrested on sedition charges and accused of being anti-Indian.

The protesters were outraged by nationally televised scenes of Kanhaiya Kumar, the student union president at Jawaharlal Nehru University, being kicked and punched while he was escorted to a court hearing Wednesday, renewing allegations that the Hindu nationalist governing party is intolerant.

He was arrested last Friday over his participation in events where anti-India slogans were allegedly shouted. A New Delhi court has ordered him to stay in custody for two weeks. The court will hear his bail plea on Friday.

The demands for the student's freedom in the Indian capital were met by mobs of Hindu nationalists, including many lawyers, attacking students and accusing them of being anti-Indian.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindu groups accuse left-wing student groups of anti-nationalism because of their criticism of the 2013 execution of a Kashmiri separatist convicted of an attack on Parliament.

Kumar's treatment and attacks on teachers who supported him have triggered allegations that the Modi government and the BJP are cracking down on political dissent in the name of patriotism.

Soon after the protests began, India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted that anyone shouting anti-India slogans "will not be tolerated or spared."

The violence by lawyers occurred despite the Supreme Court ordering the police to ensure security in the court and has drawn wide criticism of the lawyers and police.

"Such a deliberate obstruction of justice amounts to constitutional contempt and cannot go unpunished," said Maja Daruwala of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

The Bar Council of India said it had appointed a three-member panel to investigate the violence by lawyers.

"We are going to take a strong action against them," Council president Manan Kumar Mishra said. "We are going to punish the lawyers if they are found guilty," he said before apologizing on behalf of the lawyer community.

On Thursday, students in at least 10 Indian cities marched through the streets and denounced Kumar's arrest.

In New Delhi, thousands of students, professors and journalists gathered in the center of the city. They carried flowers as a sign of peace, Indian flags and placards saying, "Free Speech under attack" and "Just because I don't agree, doesn't mean I am an anti-national."

Police said the rally was not authorized, but allowed the march to proceed to a central space used frequently for public protests.

In the southern city of Chennai, 40 students were arrested after they clashed with police.

In Kolkata, police were on alert as two groups of students held rival rallies in the Jadavpur University campus. Student groups affiliated with the BJP demanded strict action against Kumar and others who they accused of being anti-Indian.

Rks said...

Riaz bhai, the agitations are only in Delhi. Delhi is anyway non-Bjp state. Nobody in India approves these agitations. These are mostly Muslim and backward class students who live on government benefits.

Riaz Haq said...

19640909rk : " the agitations are only in Delhi."

Not true.

Here's a NY Times report about student protests spreading to 10 cities

A protest that rocked a New Delhi university this week spread across India on Thursday, with students and teachers in at least 10 cities demanding the release of a student leader arrested on sedition charges and accused of being anti-Indian. The protesters were outraged by televised scenes of Kanhaiya Kumar, a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, being beaten as he was escorted to a court hearing on Wednesday. Mr. Kumar was arrested last Friday over his participation in events where anti-India slogans were said to have been shouted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu nationalist groups accuse left-wing student groups of being anti-Indian, citing a recent student protest in support of human rights in Kashmir and criticism of the 2013 execution of a Kashmiri separatist convicted of an attack on Parliament. Protesters say the government is using the cover of patriotism to crack down on political dissent.


Riaz Haq said...

#Kashmir was never integral part of #India: Arundhati Roy. #Pakistan http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/kashmir-was-never-integral-part-of-india-arundhati/article847323.ece …\

Activist Arundhati Roy, who created a controversy by questioning Jammu and Kashmir's accession to the Union, on Sunday said the State was never an integral part of India.

“Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this,” the Booker Prize winner said.

Ms. Roy alleged that India became “colonising power” soon after its Independence from the British rule.

She was speaking at a seminar on the theme ‘Wither Kashmir: Freedom or enslavement' organised by the Coalition of Civil Societies (CCS) here.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's siege on #JNU: #Hindutva's battle for #India's classrooms is out in the open http://qz.com/619185 via @qzindia

The clusterfuck that is the current row over Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not really about Kanhaiya Kumar’s alleged sedition. It is merely one episode in a colossal tussle between the Left and Right over a prize catch: education, the shaping of the future citizen.

And there is apparently no place too low to go in pursuit of that quest.
The Indian state has criminally neglected education for decades. Despite plenty of primary schools, a Right to Education Act, and all the right policy noises, our education system is abysmal. Schools are often just empty rooms; teachers are absent or barely more literate than their students; a lack of infrastructure—from toilets to educational materials—hinders both enrolment and learning outcomes. Kids suffer the same social discrimination inside classrooms as they do outside.
Higher education has gotten more attention, and islands of excellence such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and JNU regularly produce people who do India proud. But in general, the absolutely crucial role of education in nation-building has suffered from an inexplicable lack of political backing.
Today’s central government, for all its dull-witted devotion to Vedic flying machines and cow urine, is sharply cognizant of the power of the classroom. And it will do all it can to capture it and cast it in its image. The Sangh Parivar is very clear about what kind of Indians it wants in India, and much more driven and organised in the pursuit of that aim.

Want a Hindutva nation that purges itself of “westernised”, “socialist” thinking? Catch ’em young and mould them.
Campuses are rich sources of leadership. You just have to take the campus as a place where people are exposed to new ideas and learn to think for themselves, and recast it as a boot camp. And if you can’t corral them into your way of thinking, intimidate them with the threat of violence.
The patriotism bogey

That project of re-educating India along Hindutva lines has been underway for much longer than two years. The RSS shakha is a potent classroom, and there are Hindu groups that enthusiastically train armies of children in the use of weapons and rhetoric to “fight ISIS” (read Muslims). This project has only picked up momentum since May 2014.
Narendra Modi’s right-leaning Hindutva government is deeply anti-intellectual, obscurantist, and regressive. Its ministers are comically incompetent, its public relations tone-deaf, and its instincts stone age.
Smriti Irani, India’s human resources development minister, wasn’t chosen for her progressive educational views. From the cultural chaperoning of Indian cinema-goers by the censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani to the ruckus at the Film and Television Institute of India over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan to the mess at JNU, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going for the jugular of Indian education.
When, crying sedition, the home ministry waded into what should have been an internal university matter at JNU, it did so with naked strategy, wearing only a bikini of incompetence.
But however stupid and embarrassing this government may be, it is very good at replicating its thinking by stoking rage and hatred.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry Haq. India will deal with these roaches in the same way china deal with theirs. With tanks.

Riaz Haq said...

#India deploys troops to deal with major continuing #caste violence in #Rohtak #Haryana http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/live-updates-jat-reservation-agitation-protests-continue-in-rohtak-haryana/article8260861.ece?utm_source=email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Newsletter …

Looting and arson continued in the town through Friday night with mobs targeting malls, shops and other buildings and many of them were set on fire.

Army personnel were airlifted on Saturday to Haryana’s violence-ridden Rohtak town after Jat protesters dug up roads to block the entry of military units.

Looting and arson continued in the town through Friday night with mobs targeting malls, shops and other buildings and many of them were set on fire.

Indian Air Force helicopters did several sorties to transport troops into some parts of Rohtak town. The helicopters landed insides the premises of the police lines.

“Around 20-30 troops were being brought into Rohtak town by choppers. They will be deployed in areas which are under siege of the Jat protesters,” a senior officer told IANS.

Curfew was clamped in Rohtak and Bhiwani towns on Friday evening with authorities issuing shoot-at-sight orders.

Live updates:

09: 48 a.m.: "Around 500 trains were affected, we had to cancel 72 trains yesterday," says Neeraj Sharma, CPRO Northern Railways.

09: 30 a.m.: Former Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Hooda has spoken on the unrest in the State. "There have been some law and order problems due to protests in the past but never at this scale," he said.

On Friday, the agitation that started a week ago, got even worse and resulted in the death of three people and dozens, including security personnel, injured.

The Army has been called in to eight districts — Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Sonipat, Hisar, Panipat, Jind and Kaithal.

The Jats are demanding reservation for the community.

Riaz Haq said...

Pankaj Mishra: #India's Savage, Invisible War, Unreason on #Kashmir, original sin of #Indian nationalism http://bv.ms/21lVef2 via @BV

Kashmiri Muslims remain as disaffected as ever -- and with good reason. A few hours before the assault on JNU last week, Indian security forces shot dead two Kashmiri students in the valley. The Indian media, and even those protesting against the scoundrels of patriotism, barely noticed just another day of impunity in Kashmir.

Neither such routine killings (by Indian govt), nor the endless crackdowns and curfews have changed or will change Kashmir’s ground realities. But last week’s multi-pronged assaults on JNU students revealed how profoundly and extensively a sustained lynch-mob hysteria over Kashmir had damaged Indian institutions -- security agencies and the legal system, as well as the media and the larger public sphere -- long before Modi’s ascent to power. In this sense, a long, savage but largely invisible war on India’s margins is finally coming home.


Last week, a tragic farce overwhelmed India just as Narendra Modi was promoting his ambitious “Make in India” program to spur domestic manufacturing. It began with Zee News, a jingoistic and vastly influential television channel, whose owner had openly campaigned for Modi’s election in 2014. Zee broadcast an amateur video that showed students at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India’s version of the London School of Economics, shouting slogans in favor of Kashmir’s independence and against the 2013 execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri accused of attacking the Indian parliament in 2001.

Some other ultra-patriotic channels picked up Zee’s accusatory refrain against JNU students: that they were “anti-national.” Modi’s home minister declared his resolve not to “spare” the culprits. His education minister tweeted her angry refusal to tolerate any “insult to Mother India.” Delhi police raided the university campus. They arrested, among others, the president of the student union and a former teacher, charging them with sedition no less.

The home minister quoted a tweet supporting JNU students by Hafiz Saeed, a notorious Pakistani militant, to accuse them of links with evildoers. Exercised about the insults to Mother India, a mob of politicians and pro-Modi lawyers at a Delhi court beat up -- on two successive days, as a crowd of policemen stood by -- journalists as well as JNU students, including the one accused of treason.

Soon after these extraordinary events it emerged that not only did Saeed’s supposed endorsement come from a parody Twitter account, but the original video of sloganeering students had also been doctored.

An avalanche of scorn has landed on the Modi government and its seedy partisans in the Indian media. Adverse international headlines have made “Fake in India” and “Hate in India” seem more plausible ventures than Make in India for now.

A government driven hither and thither by Twitter burlesque is guilty of abysmal ineptitude. But frenzied deception and self-deception over Kashmir are not unique to Hindu nationalists. Rather, unreason on Kashmir is the original sin of Indian nationalism, secular as well as hardline Hindu.

Tens of thousands have died during more than two decades of a vicious Pakistan-backed insurgency and counter-insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir; an unknown number have been tortured or “disappeared.” The violence drove away an entire community of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley where most of the state’s population lives.

During this time, the political and popular mood has progressively hardened in India. The extravagant middle-class fantasy of a “Global Indian Takeover” made local Kashmiri disaffection seem a trifling irritant -- to be tackled through a U.S.-led emasculation of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News: #India caste violence: 10 million without water in #Delhi as protesters damage water supply canal #Haryana http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35627819 …

More than 10 million people in India's capital, Delhi, are without water after protesters sabotaged a key canal which supplies much of the city.
The army took control of the Munak canal after Jat community protesters, angry at caste job quotas, seized it.
Keshav Chandra, head of Delhi's water board, told the BBC it would take "three to four days" before normal supplies resumed to affected areas.
All Delhi's schools have been closed because of the water crisis.
Sixteen people have been killed and hundreds hurt in three days of riots.
At the scene: Defiant India protesters stand ground in Haryana
Watch: What future for India's caste system?
Sixteen million people live in Delhi, and around three-fifths of the city's water is supplied by the canal, which runs through the neighbouring state of Haryana.
Mr Chandra said that prior warnings meant that people had managed to save water, and tankers had been despatched to affected areas of the city, but that this would not be enough to make up for the shortfall.
The army took control of parts of the canal on Monday morning, but repairs are expected to take time.
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder, who is near Delhi's border with neighbouring Haryana state, said protesters who have set up road blocks are refusing to budge.
"We don't trust them. Let's get something in writing. Let them spell it out," one demonstrator who refused to be named told the BBC.

The land-owning Jat community is relatively affluent and has traditionally been seen as upper caste.
They are mainly based in Haryana and seven other states in northern India.
Comprising 27% of the voters in Haryana and dominating a third of the 90 state assembly seats, they are a politically influential community. Seven of the 10 chief ministers in Haryana have been Jats.
The Jats are currently listed as upper caste but the demonstrators have been demanding inclusion in caste quotas for jobs and education opportunities that have been available to lower castes since 1991.
In March 2014 the Congress-led national government said it would re-categorise Jats as Other Backward Castes (OBC), opening the way to government job quotas.
But India's Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the Jats were not a backward community.
As jobs have dried up in the private sector and farming incomes have declined, the community has demanded the reinstatement of their backward caste status to enable them to secure government jobs.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Nationalist "Scholars" in #India demand that #Harvard U Press drop its well-respected editor. #Modi #BJP #JNU http://ihenow.com/1QkRAgs

The Murty Classical Library of India has been praised as an ambitious scholarly effort to make the classics of India available in the highest-quality English translations -- and to promote more study of those classics around the world. In the series, works are presented in their original languages (which include Bangla, Hindi, Panjabi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu) with English translations on opposite pages. Hundreds of titles may eventually be published. An article in The Hindu in October said that "few intellectual and literary ventures have more transformative potential" for scholarship and understanding of India.

In what some fear is an escalation of demands from Hindu nationalists to control study of their country's history and culture, more than 11,000 scholars in India have in only a few days signed a petition demanding the ouster of the lead editor of the series, Sheldon Pollock, who is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University and generally considered a leading expert on the classic works of Indian civilizations.
Academics in the West are concerned not only about the petition but the reasons it gives. Pollock is criticized because he disagrees with some views of Hindu nationalists, because he is leading the project (which involves an international team of scholars) from the United States and because he recently signed a statement of scholars that defended students and faculty members at Jawaharlal Nehru University who are protesting the arrest of the president of the student union on sedition charges.
Effectively, say Western academics, their counterparts in India who are affiliated with the governing Bharatiya Janata Party are sending a message to the United States and elsewhere that professors who criticize the nationalist moves by the government will find themselves facing hostility or other obstacles to working on India. The petition is attracting widespread attention -- much of it positive -- in the Indian press.
Several scholars said they were deeply concerned but also afraid to speak out right now. Harvard University Press declined to comment. So did Pollock.

The debate over the Harvard University Press series comes at a time when some scholars in India whose views clash with nationalists report losing their jobs or their influence. Further, some American universities have been debating grants from Indian nationalist groups that some say go too far in letting those groups influence those who would be hired as scholars and teachers. The University of California at Irvine in February rejected grants for endowed chairs for this reason.
University presses, which both publish about and in India, have been the focus of debate previously.
In 2011, Oxford University Press ended publication in India of some essays that angered nationalists. After many scholars worldwide protested the move, Oxford reversed itself and said that it would publish the works in India. Among the organizers of a letter by scholars that was influential in getting Oxford to resume publication was Pollock, who is now editing the Harvard series.

Riaz Haq said...

Controversial student activists of #Hindu #RSS #ABVP turn #India's universities into ideological battlegrounds. #BJP http://fw.to/YKln0HJ

They have disrupted movie screenings, scuffled with fellow students and briefly held a liberal journalist hostage.

And in recent weeks, the political activism of the student organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has become even more controversial in India.

Activists with the ABVP – which springs from the same Hindu nationalist organization as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party – complained about a campus event at the University of New Delhi where students condemned the hanging of a convicted terrorist.

Top government officials launched an investigation. Students who organized the Feb. 9 event were charged with sedition and the president of the student union was jailed.

That followed an episode at a university in the southern city of Hyderabad, where ABVP members complained to federal education officials about a student protest against the execution of a man convicted for his role in serial bombings in 1993. One student targeted in the complaint committed suicide.

The agitations have turned India’s university campuses into a battleground between liberal, secular voices and supporters of Modi’s conservative government – of which ABVP has become among the most prominent. The group’s leaders say they are fighting an ideological battle against professors and others they accuse of downplaying the traditions of India’s Hindu majority to appease minorities.

“There is a myth called secularism, which believes in denying Indian culture and tradition,” said Sunil Ambekar, national organizing secretary for the ABVP. “And these so-called intellectuals propagated this myth for all these years…. Instead of teaching patriotism, they encourage anti-national activities.”

Secularism is enshrined in India’s constitution, and professors who have clashed with ABVP say that India’s right-wing establishment sees an opportunity to promote a pro-Hindu agenda at universities. Professors worry that the group’s rising influence is shrinking the space for free debate.

“The government is using ABVP as its foot soldiers because to bring about ideological change in society, it is better to start with students,” said Milind Awad, assistant professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, where the February incident occurred.

ABVP maintains it is independent of the BJP, although many party leaders, including government ministers Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad, were members.

The group claims to be India’s largest student organization, with 9,800 chapters nationwide. Its membership doubled from 1.1 million in 2003 to 2.2 million a decade later. In 2014, the year Modi took office, the group said it added more than 900,000 members.

The group traces its roots to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a hard-line Hindu nationalist organization that was temporarily banned after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948 for spreading hatred against the independence leader. The organization, which also spawned the BJP, formed the student group to attract young followers.

Yadunath Deshpande, secretary of the ABVP in Mumbai, organized symposiums across universities last year with the aim of getting students to think “pro-nation.” One topic focused on “Indianizing” the subjects that students are taught.

“There are many aspects of our rich history ignored in India’s education curriculum,” Deshpande said.

Deshpande vigorously denied that the BJP had any say in its functioning.

“Students are gravitating towards ABVP because we take up student issues,” he said. “We will not hesitate in standing up to this government either if the situation arises.”

Tensions between the right and left wings have long roiled Indian university campuses. The difference now, many observers say, is that ABVP’s links to the governing party are prompting top officials to become involved in the disputes.

Riaz Haq said...

Patriotism: The last refuge of the #BJP #Hindu Nationalist scoundrels in #Modi's #India http://econ.st/1Qu4s1C via @TheEconomist

THE annual budget which India’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, presented on February 29th would normally have been the big political event of the week. That is not how proceedings in Parliament in the ensuing days made it appear. Both chambers were disrupted by angry exchanges over issues close to the hearts of the more extreme Hindu-nationalist wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Yet again, an ugly strain of BJP politics is distracting attention from what was supposed to be the party’s central agenda in power: ensuring rapid economic growth.

The damage to India’s image is painful. Faith in the police and other institutions has been undermined. Vigilante violence has seemed to win official backing. Street protests have proliferated; on March 2nd the police in Delhi used water cannon against protesters outside Parliament. This is not the outward-looking, investor-friendly image India hopes to project. And it threatens its liberal traditions of free speech. It is not just India-hating traitors who think that the trial of Afzal Guru was unfair and that his execution was used for political ends by the previous administration, led by the Congress party. The BJP’s definition of “sedition” precludes almost any debate on the future of Kashmir—a source of tension within India and with Pakistan since independence.

All of this looks like bad news for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Yet, beyond tweeting in support of a fiery speech by Ms Irani, his embattled human-resources minister, he has had little to say on the Rohith Vemula suicide and JNU furore. This follows a pattern: he rarely speaks out in ways that might alienate the BJP’s hardliners. He needs them, as his most loyal foot soldiers in looming state elections, including one in West Bengal in May; and Mr Modi is probably already thinking about the next general election, due by 2019. With that in mind, and following failure in an election in the big state of Bihar last November, he and his advisers may calculate that whipping up a chorus of angry Indian nationalism serves them better than talking about touchy issues such as caste—and better than promoting narrow “Hindu” causes such as protecting cows from beef-eating Muslims and Christians.

It also suits Mr Modi’s style, cultivated in his years as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, to portray himself as an outsider. He complains of plots by the press, NGOs, foreign meddlers and political pundits to destabilise his government. Despite leading India’s first single-party majority government in many years, he still governs as if he is waging an opposition campaign, with big rallies, catchy slogans and a sense of victimhood.

Hopes that Mr Modi would implement radical economic policies were clearly misplaced. He campaigned in 2014 less as a reformer than as a man who got things done. But ruling India has proved much harder than running Gujarat, and he is constrained by the lack of a majority in Parliament’s upper house. So the optimism of his election campaign, when he sought to represent the aspirational new urban middle classes, has been dented.

Mother tricolour
For all that India is the world’s fastest-growing big economy, to many Indians that is not how it feels. It is not creating enough jobs for its swelling workforce. The fresh spending in this week’s budget was aimed not at the middle classes but at the poor in the countryside, the voters whom Congress has long wooed. Last October Arun Shourie, a writer and minister in a former BJP administration, mocked Mr Modi’s government as “Congress plus a cow”. This week’s budget and political battles suggest things have moved on. It has become Congress plus a flag.

Riaz Haq said...

$59 billion in unpaid bank #debt by rich borrowers in #India sparks outcry. Non Performing #Loans jump 450% #Mallya http://fw.to/YY4lCZG

Bad Loans Of State Banks = Defence + Education + Roads + Health Spends. #Mallya just 1 of few thousand defaulters. http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/bad-loans-of-state-banks-defence-education-roads-health-spends-64398 …

If the unpaid loans made by India’s public-sector banks were recovered, they would be enough to pay for India’s 2015 spending on defence, education, highways, and health, according to an IndiaSpend analysis.

These bad loans, or gross non-performing assets (NPAs) as they are called in banking parlance, of public-sector banks crossed Rs 4.04 lakh crore ($59 billion), a rise of 450% since March 2011.

Private-sector banks also have an NPA problem, but their bad loans are less than half the level of public-sector banks, which account for 73% of all lending.

The crisis in Indian banking, which IndiaSpend has repeatedly flagged (here, here and here), has now reached a point where the NPAs of many public-sector banks are higher than their net worth.

This affects their ability to make fresh loans to business, and these bad loans are ultimately paid for by India’s taxpayers, the final guarantors of government-owned public-sector banks, as editor and columnist T N Ninan recently wrote in Business Standard.

“So what is to be done?” he wrote of the banking crisis. “The easy option is to take more of your tax money and give it to the same banks, on a platter. The government has talked of giving them another Rs 2.4 lakh crore—which works out to Rs 10,000 from every family, rich and poor.”

“Indeed, 19 of 24 listed government banks’ stocks now quote at less than half of book value, some at a discount of 75 per cent. Clearly, investors still think these banks’ books are akin to fiction.”

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India #BJP politician arrested for 'assaulting' horse #IsHorseAntiNational http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35839771 …

An Indian legislator from the ruling BJP party has been arrested for "assaulting" a police horse, forcing vets to amputate its leg.
Ganesh Joshi, a legislator from the northern state of Uttarakhand, allegedly beat the animal with a stick.
Veterinarians told reporters they had no choice but to amputate as gangrene was spreading in the animal's body.
Police told the BBC they were searching for others involved in beating the horse, named Shaktiman.
Mr Joshi denies assaulting the animal.

"The footage which the electronic media is showing by linking with an old clip - in which I am lifting a stick in front of the horse - has no connection at all [to the incident]," Mr Joshi told the BBC.
"The horse fell down when someone pulled its saddle and the animal sustained a fracture on its leg," he added.
Mr Joshi's arrest on Friday sparked protests in the state.
The incident took place near the legislative assembly in the state capital, Dehradun, on Monday when the BJP was holding a protest against the Congress party-led state government.
An earlier surgery was believed to have saved the leg, but rapid infection necessitated the amputation, vets said.
The Uttarakhand state government has vowed to give Shaktiman the "best possible treatment".
The incident caused outrage in India with many taking to social media to express their anger.
On Twitter, the hashtag #IsHorseAntiNational - prompted by a tongue in cheek newspaper headline that read, "BJP MLA beats up a horse. No confirmation whether the horse was anti-national" - was trending for most of Tuesday.

Riaz Haq said...

A nationalism unique to #India. #Modi government demands oath of allegiance only from #Muslim #Urdu writers. http://tribune.com.pk/story/1069029/a-nationalism-unique-to-india/ …

The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language under Smriti Irani is asking Urdu writers to sign forms which have the following declaration: “I ___ son/daughter of ___ confirm that my book/magazine titled ___ which has been approved for bulk purchase by NCPUL’s monetary assistance scheme does not contain anything against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation, does not cause disharmony of any sort between different classes of the country, and is not monetarily supported by any government or non-government institution.”

A Muslim legislator has been suspended in Maharashtra for saying he prefers “Jai Hind” (victory to India) to “Bharat Mata ki jai” (victory to mother India). What the difference between these two declarations is, I am not really sure, but it is enough to merit punishment. On March 19 came a report that Urdu writers have been asked to guarantee they are not writing anti-India material.

In today’s India, on the other hand, our ‘nationalism’ is not against another nation. It is against other Indians. This is why it is different. Our great Indian nationalists are rousing passions against their own people, not against another nation. Our fraud nationalists go after their own citizens for their religion, or for their views. Their concern and passion is the enemy within. That is not love of nation. It is hatred and bitterness. Persecution of Indian Muslims and Indian dalits is not nationalism. This word we use so easily as an accusation, ‘anti-national’, is not really current in European languages. Only primitive peoples, like Indians, use it. It means opposition to the things a nation stands for. But who is to decide what positive nationalism is? Other than saying Bharat Mata ki jai, I do not really know what Indian nationalism is.

Jawaharlal Nehru University has been organising open lectures on nationalism. This is available on videos that is accessible to the lay person. This is a noble effort but I am afraid that it will be wasted on Indians. It does not matter how terribly you behave, as long as you loudly say Bharat Mata ki jai, you are a nationalist in India.

Yet, another story in the papers is about two Muslims, one of them a child of 15, tortured and lynched from a tree, just like African-Amercians in the United States. They were herding buffaloes so it is not clear what their crime was. But it is absolutely certain where the hatred was stirred up.Is this making the government pause? Not at all. The BJP national executive is meeting over this weekend and it is calling for yet more “nationalism”. Haven’t we had enough of that already?

Do the people in the BJP know what effect this has on India’s reputation as a civilised society? Pick up any foreign paper or magazine and most of the news about India is negative. Why? Because, as many of us have concluded, avoidable incidents of similar nature are coming with such regularity that it is not easy to escape the suspicion that these things are deliberate.

For those hate-filled, fraud nationalists here, achche din have arrived.

Riaz Haq said...

#India Held #Kashmir Commander: “Militarily, there's not much more to do than we already have done. We're losing" http://www.voanews.com/content/ap-kashmir-villagers-rise-up-foil-rebel-hunting-indian-troops/3360064.html

Indian military officials estimate there are some 200 militants in the region, staging attacks on Indian law enforcement and crossing back and forth over the de facto border with Pakistan. It's a steep drop from the 20,000 estimated to have waged the insurgency in the early 1990s, but military officials say their job is getting harder as the villages increasingly get involved.

“It's a big problem, a challenge for us to conduct anti-militant operations now,” said Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, India's senior military commander in the region. He noted that armed soldiers had little hope of competing with the militants for public sympathy.

Most citizens in the mostly Muslim region have long resented the Indian presence, and support rebel demands that Kashmir be independent or part of Pakistan.

“Frankly speaking, I'm not comfortable anymore conducting operations if large crowds are around,” Hooda said. “Militarily, there's not much more to do than we already have done. ... We're losing the battle for a narrative.”

Human rights activist Khurram Parvez said that, while the rebels are fewer in number, their influence has grown. Beyond their usual guns and grenades, rebels now carry smartphones to coordinate their movements with village supporters, and load photos and videos onto social media sites.

“It's a more like a symbolic militancy now which tries to rally the support for freedom, and glamorizes militants, resistance and defiance,” Parvez said. “But people listen to them and support them more openly and fiercely.”

Kashmiris in the countryside regularly defy the curfews imposed when the military plans an operation in their area. Some militants have even become household names.

“India's military might have crushed militancy to a large extent, but they've failed to change people's minds,” Parvez said. “Their support for militants and freedom (from India) is now increasingly manifesting in fierce ways.”

Indian forces admit the village defiance is forcing them to change their strategy.

“During an average counterinsurgency operation, general law and order has become more important to tackle than the actual operation itself. It's a matter of serious concern,” top paramilitary officer Nalin Prabhat said.

They're trying to reach out to Kashmir's youth, organizing school debates, sightseeing trips throughout India and visits to sporting events in hopes of persuading them to stay away from the insurgency and anti-India protests.

But the so-called “Operation Goodwill” campaign has so far had little impact among Kashmiris aged 18 to 35 - two-thirds of the region's 7 million people - who have grown up politically radicalized over decades of brutal armed conflict.

Kashmir continues to be one of the most militarized regions in the world. The countryside is crisscrossed by coils of barbed wire. Police and army checkpoints are a common sight, and emergency laws grant government forces sweeping powers to search homes, to make arrests without warrants and to shoot suspected rebels on sight without fear of prosecution.

“Earlier the sight of an army soldier would send us into hiding,” said Zahoor Ahmed Reshi, sitting amid the rubble of what was once his home in the southern village of Gudroo, near Lelhar. The modest wood house was destroyed by an army mortar fired at a rebel who took shelter there during a firefight.

When the village came under siege again in May, hundreds of men and women clashed with the soldiers to help three trapped militants escape.

“People have overcome their fear,” the 48-year-old villager said. “Everybody is now saying, it's do or die.”

Riaz Haq said...

#India-Occupied #Kashmir: Troops kill 7 Protesters. More #Indian troops being airlifted to #Srinagar as anger rises

SRINAGAR, India — Indian troops fired on protesters in Kashmir on Saturday, killing at least seven as tens of thousands of people defied a curfew and participated in the funeral of a top rebel commander a day after he was killed by Indian forces in the disputed Himalayan region, officials said.

Burhan Wani, chief of operations of Hizbul Mujahideen, Indian-controlled Kashmir's largest rebel group, was killed in fighting Friday after Indian troops, acting on a tip, cordoned a forested village in southern Kashmir's Kokernag area, said Police Director-General K. Rajendra.

As news of the killing spread on Saturday, widespread clashes erupted in several neighborhoods in southern Kashmir as thousands of residents hurled rocks at Indian troops, who responded by using live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas, two police officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy. They said at least 60 civilians were wounded in the clashes.

Local police intelligence chief Shiv M. Sahai said that seven men were killed in "retaliatory action" by government troops. Another man drowned as he tried to flee government troops.

Sahai said that protesters attacked several police and paramilitary posts in the region. Some 90 government troops were injured, he said.

Street clashes spread to Indian Kashmir's main city of Srinagar and at least a dozen places in central and northern Kashmir.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in entirety by both. On India's side, separatist politicians and rebels reject Indian rule over the region and have been fighting for independence or merger with Pakistan since 1989.

After separatist leaders asked people to march to southern Tral town for Wani's funeral on Saturday, police warned that only local residents would be allowed to participate. But tens of thousands of mourners joined the funeral procession in defiance of the restrictions, chanting "Go India! Go back!" and "We want freedom!"

Wani's body was buried in the late afternoon amid mass wailing and angry chants of anti-India slogans. Witnesses said at least two militants fired pistol rounds in the air to salute their fallen commander.

Earlier in the day, thousands of armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear fanned out across most towns and villages in the region and drove through neighborhoods, warning residents to stay indoors.

Two rebel comrades of Wani were also killed in Friday's gunbattle.

Wani, in his early 20s, had become the iconic face of militancy in Kashmir over the last five years. He was a household name and his video clips and pictures were widely circulated among young people in Kashmir.

Unlike the rebel leaders of the early 1990s, Wani did not cover his face in videos widely circulated on cellphones.

Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described his killing as the "biggest success against militants" in recent years.

Indian officials, fearing that the killing could lead to violent protests in the already troubled region, suspended an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a mountain cave which draws about half a million people each year.

Wani was a small-town boy and the son of a school principal. Handsome and media savvy, he was widely credited for reviving armed militancy in Indian Kashmir in recent years, using social media like Facebook to reach out to young Kashmiri men.

Riaz Haq said...

The legend of #India Occupied #Kashmir's Slain Hero #Burhan #Wani https://kashmirobserver.net/2016/opinions/legend-burhan-wani-8305 …

Five-year-olds in Bijbehara, a town in South Kashmir, like to play a game. One person pretends to be Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the most wanted commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen. Three or four others pretend to be soldiers of the Indian army. The game revolves around how Wani escapes from the clutches of the army.

Kashmiris who are now in their late-20s remember playing the same game in the 1990s, when thousands joined the militancy. Branches or pieces of wood did duty as rifles and the two sides engaged each other in fierce battle. Now these games seem to have returned to the Valley. Except the militant has a name.

Burhan Wani is a legend in these parts. He’s a local boy, after all, born in Tral, in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Six years ago, when he was 15, Wani left home to take up arms against the Indian state. Since then, the government has announced a Rs 10 lakh bounty on his head and taken out most of his close associates. But Wani survives, defying all expectations and leaving a trail of stories behind him.

Some say he visits his home dressed as a girl. Posts on social media claim Hindu girls from Kanpur want to marry him and write his name in their blood. If your name is Burhan, it’s best to stay off the streets at night – security forces might hear people calling out for you and mistake you for the Hizbul commander. Friends meeting up over chai trade stories about him.

One involves the time Wani went to the town of Anantnag. He called up Tahir Sheikh, a commander of the Territorial Army, to say he was in town and bathing in the Jhelum, using Lifebuoy soap. By the time Sheikh reached the river, there was no one to be seen. But there on the river bank lay a bar of Lifebuoy soap.

“What do I say?” said Burhan Wani’s father, Muzaffar Ahmed Wani, when asked about the legends surrounding the young Hizbul commander. “He is my son. I can only call him my son. Other people can call him a hero or something else.”

Celebrities and folk heroes

And so they do. “Burhan has become a narrative,” said a journalist in Bijbehara, who asked to remain unidentified. It is a narrative of heroism constructed around the new militancy that is said to have taken root in four districts of South Kashmir: Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian. Local boys, mostly educated, mostly from affluent families, are taking on the might of the Indian state and security forces.

Wani and his cohort signed up with the Hizbul Mujahideen, an indigenous, pro-Pakistan militant outfit. A number of others are joining the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba. Ask young men in Anantnag why they admire the new militants and they ask you why Bhagat Singh is considered a hero. Even police officers ruefully refer to the Robin Hood aura surrounding the new crop of militants. "We wish he comes out alive," said one senior police officer.

These are not the nameless multitudes who crossed over in the 1990s and came back as masked men. There was always a certain glamour attached to becoming a militant. But now, individual figures are thrown into sharp relief. Local memories and personal ties are hopped up on technology. This is the age of celebrity militants who are also folk heroes.

To begin with, their numbers are much lower than in the 1990s. Accordingto the ministry of external affairs, 14,356 “terrorists” and 2,358 “foreign militants” were killed in Jammu and Kashmir between 1990 and December 2001. According to data compiled by the criminal investigation department, 143 militants were active in the Valley this year. Of these 89 were local militants, 60 of them from South Kashmir.

Riaz Haq said...

Two centuries of oppression in #Kashmir. #India misrepresents protests as #Pakistan sponsored #terrorism @AJENews http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/07/centuries-oppression-kashmir-protests-india-pakistan-160719122312549.html

The furious protests that erupted in Indian-administered Kashmir on July 8 are a poignant reminder that popular sentiment cannot be ignored merely because it does not fit in with the nationalist narrative of an unrepresentative government.

That is especially true where popular sentiment is grounded in the cause of a unique identity.

In the absence of legitimate political forums, such sentiment foments unrest which builds until circumstances provide a martyr such as Burhan Wani, the young rebel whose killing by Indian security forces has ignited the protests in Kashmir.

Often, such protest movements are acts of desperation without a chance of success, so they ebb and flow in cycles linked with angry violence and inconclusive attempts at political engagement.

The outcome is more violence between armed occupiers and young activists who become increasingly militant over time.

Unsurprisingly, the emergent generation of stone-pelting young Kashmiris identify with their Palestinian counterparts and are calling the new wave of protests an "Intifada".

Another similarity is that the situation in Kashmir is a mess created by departing Western colonialists.

In drawing up the map for the division of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, the British viewed Kashmir entirely through the spectacles of recent history.

Riaz Haq said...

You need 700,000 #Indian soldiers to fight 150 militants in #Kashmir? Rights activist Khurram Parvez http://scroll.in/article/812010/do-you-need-700000-soldiers-to-fight-150-militants-kashmiri-rights-activist-khurram-parvez … via @scroll_in

Khurram Parvez, Kashmiri human rights activist in Srinagar, is programme coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

In this interview with Scroll.in before the current spell of tumult in Kashmir, Parvez speaks about human rights abuses in the Valley, how the people’s narrative contradicts that of the State, and why the Indian media focuses on the exodus and killing of Kashmiri Pandits, but not of other Hindus. Excerpts:

A few months ago, in a piece that Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu wrote for The Times of India, he quoted from a pamphlet distributed on February 9 in Jawaharlal Nehru University that said, “Caged in conduit wires and faced with blood stained bayonets from all sides, turned into the most militarised zone in the world, Kashmir remains: the country without a post office.” Are not these words an example of hyperbole?
Many of the young who have lived through 25 years of violence of the Indian state speak a very harsh language against it. For example, take the slogan of Bharat ki barbaadi. Leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Mirwaiz [Umar Farooq] and Yasin Malik have repeatedly said that they have nothing to do with India’s barbaadi and are concerned only about their azadi. Despite this, when the young realise that such slogans hurt the soldiers or the media, they shout these. It is not that they have the capacity to do anything to India.

What I meant was whether it is right to liken Kashmir to prison.
It is. In the JKCCS’s 2015 report, Structures of Violence, we have given the number of soldiers, the paramilitary and the police deployed in Kashmir. Our estimate is that anywhere between 6.5 lakh to 7.5 lakh [security personnel] are there in Jammu and Kashmir. It is not a small number. If you take the Army’s total strength, half of it is here. The ratio of police to people is the highest here among all States. You can’t have a prison-like reality in Kashmir and expect its people to be silent.

But Kashmir, unlike other states, is witnessing militancy.
According to government figures, there were only 150 militants in the state last year. Do you need 700,000 soldiers to fight 150 militants?

If 150 militants were killed, then that would mean…
No, no, no, 150 was the total number of militants present in the entire state. From 2008, the total number of militants has never been more than 250. If you compare the number of soldiers in the State to, say, Afghanistan, or other conflict zones such as Iraq, Kashmir still remains the highest militarised zone in the world.

India refuses to allow international intervention in Kashmir. It refuses to accept it is an armed or even non-armed conflict – these are technical terms. Instead, India claims it is an internal law and order problem. But the media calls it a Pakistan-sponsored proxy war.

It seems you don’t think it is Pakistan-sponsored.
Of course, it is not. According to government figures, the total number of militants killed in Kashmir since 1990 is 21,000. Of them, only 3,000 were foreign militants.

What is meant by Pakistan-sponsored is that Kashmiris are trained, armed and pushed across into Kashmir.
They say this for multiple reasons. One, India wants to reap the benefits of Islamophobia from which the world is suffering. Two, the Indian government has to reconcile its own people to body bags coming from Kashmir.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex-Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar to #Modi's #India: "Stop Blaming #Pakistan for #KashmirUnrest " https://shar.es/1ZmLU1 via @sharethis

Diplomat turned politician and senior Indian National Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar Friday advised India to stop blaming Pakistan for Kashmir unrest and start an unconditional parallel dialogue with both Pakistan and separatist leadership of Kashmir.
In an exclusive chat with Kashmir based news agency CNS, Aiyar said that it would not solve the problem for India instead it will get aggravated if India continues to keep on blaming Pakistan for Kashmir crisis. “There is an urgent need for parallel dialogue. India must start dialogue with Pakistan and at the same time it should engage ‘disgruntled’ separatist leadership of Kashmir. The fact is that whenever India engages Pakistan into dialogue, the tempers in Kashmir have cooled down,” he said.

Aiyar who was a cabinet minister in Manmohan Singh led Indian government admitted that there is so much dissatisfaction among people in Kashmir and it is high time we take measures to solve the Kashmir imbroglio. “We don’t have to re-invent the wheel but we have to only dust-off the past records that we had on Kashmir. So many groups and even interlocutors had come up with recommendations on Kashmir. We need to have a closer look over those Kashmir related files that have gathered dust and try to implement them. We need to show to the people of Kashmir that we are serious to settle the Kashmir issue,” he said and added that it is high time that Government of India implement the recommendations of the five Working Groups constituted by the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in 2006.
Responding to a question, Mani Shankar Aiyar said that it is unfortunate that the documents related to Round Table Meetings over Kashmir were buried by successive Governments at New Delhi. He said that even Pakistan and India had arrived at a consensus to demilitarize both parts of Kashmir and evolve to mechanism to sort out common problems.
Aiyar said that it is very unfortunate that Bhartiya Janata Party that has not won even a single seat from Kashmir. “It is the right time for PDP to distance itself from BJP and seek support from Congress, National Conference and other independent members. People in Kashmir are highly dissatisfied with BJP,” he said and condemned the use of brute force in Kashmir.

“What New Delhi is trying to prove by using brute force on the protesters in Kashmir Valley? People in Kashmir are facing oppression. Any attempt to force the people of Kashmir to accept any solution against their will is bound to fail. The cosmetic measures are not going to work now. We need a permanent solution to this problem,” Aiyar said adding that when Government of India can reach out to the gun totting people of Nagaland, why it feels shy to reach out to the people of Kashmir.

Riaz Haq said...

There Should be 'Plebiscite' in #Kashmir, Says #India Congress Leader Scindia. #Pakistan #KashmirUnrest


Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia today said in Lok Sabha that there should be "plebiscite" in Kashmir as the situation in the Valley has deteriorated and the PDP-BJP government has "insulted" the "crown" of India.

"In Kashmir today, there is a need for plebiscite," he said using Urdu word 'rai shumari' while initiating a discussion in the House on Kashmir situation.

"PDP-BJP government has shed all the principles. Administration is divided and the government, which should support people, is using weapons against them," Scindia said, adding "the wounds there can be healed only through humanity."

While attacking the Centre and state government, the Chief Whip of Congress said, "There is a need to create an environment of peace and tranquality; growth and development."

Describing Kashmir as "an important part of the heart of every Indian", he said, "but today that crown is being insulted. This I feel is irresponsible."

He said the UPA government had created an environment of peace and harmony by taking everybody along.

"The reality is that there is a marriage of convenience in Jammu and Kashmir," Scindia said referring to the alliance between PDP and BJP.

"The reality is that there is an identity crisis in the state government...Today it is ckear that there is a political upheavel and terrorism is flourishing in Jammu and Kashmir. 60 per cent population in the state is below 30 years of age. If we are not able to create opportunities for them, we would be pushing them towards militancy," the Congress leader said.

He said the central government has failed to prov

Riaz Haq said...

#India #Nehru Repeated Pledges to Free #Kashmir: Give Right of Self-Determination for the Kashmiri People. #Pakistan

“We have received urgent appeal for assistance from Kashmir Government. We would be disposed to give favorable consideration to such, request from any friendly State. Kashmir’s Northern frontiers, as you are aware, run in common with those of three countries, Afghanistan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China. Security of Kashmir, which must depend upon control of internal tranquility and existence of Stable Government, is vital to security of India especially since part of Southern boundary of Kashmir and India are common. Helping Kashmir, therefore, is an obligation of national interest to India. We are giving urgent consideration to question as to what assistance we can give to State to defend itself.


I should like to make it clear that question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view, it is quite clear. I have thought it desirable to inform you of situation because of its threat of international complications.”
(Excerpts of telegram dated 26 October 1947 from Jawaharlal Nehru to the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee)

“I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the state to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view.”
(Telegram 402 Primin-2227 dated 27th October, 1947 to PM of Pakistan repeating telegram addressed to PM of UK)

“Kashmir’s accession to India was accepted by us at the request of the Maharaja’s government and the most numerously representative popular organization in the state which is predominantly Muslim. Even then it was accepted on condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either Dominion then.”
(Telegram No. 255 dated 31 October, 1947, PM Nehru’s telegram to PM of Pakistan)

“…our assurance that we shall withdraw our troops from Kashmir as soon as peace and order is restored and leave the decision regarding the future of the State to the people of the State is not merely a promise to your Government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world.”
(Jawahar Lal Nehru, Telegram No. 25, October 31, 1947, to Liaqat Ali Khan, PM of Pakistan)

“We have decided to accept this accession and to send troops by air, but we made a condition that the accession would have to be considered by the people of Kashmir later when peace and order were established. We were anxious not to finalize anything in a moment of crisis, and without the fullest opportunity to be given to the people of Kashmir to have their say. It was for them ultimately to decide.

And here let me make clear that it has been our policy all along that where there is a dispute about the accession of a state to either dominion, the decision must be made by the people of the state. It was in accordance with this policy that we added a proviso to the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir.


Riaz Haq said...

#samjhautablastcase: With ‘anguish’, NIA judge says crucial evidence was “withheld” by prosecutors resulting in ‘dastardly act’ going unpunished for want of proof. #Modi #Hindutva #terrorism #Islamophobia #Pakistan | #India News, The Indian Express


The court has also rapped the investigating agencies in general for what it called a "malaise" to "coin various terms like Muslim terrorism, Hindu fundamentalism etc or brand an act of criminal(s) as act(s) of particular religion, caste or community".

Coming down heavily on the NIA, the Panchkula special court judge, who last week acquitted all four accused in the Samjhauta Express blasts case, said he was doing it “with deep pain and anguish” because a “dastardly act of violence” was going unpunished.

In a 160-page order which was released Thursday — the verdict was delivered on March 20 — special NIA court judge Jagdeep Singh said the “best evidence” was “withheld” by the prosecution and was not brought on record. He said some of the cited independent witnesses were never examined or sought to be declared hostile for cross-examination when they chose not to support the prosecution case.

Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma were acquitted by the court on March 20. Sixty-eight people including 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people were killed in the blasts which took place on the Attari-bound Samjhauta Express on February 18-19 night in 2007. Two explosions took place in two unreserved coaches between Diwana and Panipat in Haryana. Two bombs that did not go off were recovered later.

Three accused, Amit Chouhan (Ramesh Venkat Malhakar), Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, have been declared proclaimed offenders. Another accused, Sunil Joshi — the NIA called him the mastermind — was killed in December 2007 in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.

In his order, the judge said: “There are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved. Terrorism has no religion because no religion in the world preaches violence. A Court of Law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day and ultimately it has to appreciate the evidence on record and arrive at final conclusion on the basis of relevant statutory provisions and settled law applicable thereto.”

“In the present case, there is no evidence regarding any agreement to commit the crime amongst the accused persons. There is no evidence regarding any meeting of minds between the accused to commit the crime. No concrete oral, documentary or scientific evidence has been brought on record to connect the accused, facing the trial, with the crime in question. There is not an iota of evidence to make out any motive on the part of the accused to indulge in the crime,” he said.

Observing that a large number of witnesses turned hostile in the case, the judge underlined the need for a sound and workable witness protection scheme in the country. Of 299 witnesses in the case, 224 deposed before the court. Of these, 51 were said to have turned hostile, changing statements recorded earlier.

Riaz Haq said...

In Samjhauta Case Order, Judge Expresses Anguish Over Lack Of Evidence


"I have to conclude this judgment with deep pain and anguish as a dastardly act of violence remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence," read the order, which rapped the prosecution for leaving gaping holes in the evidence it submitted.

The people responsible for the blast in Samjhauta Express, in which 68 people died, remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence, Special judge Jagdeep Singh wrote in the 160-page order which was made public today. The four men accused in the case, including Aseemanand, a saffron-robed monk, were acquitted by the court on March 20.
The blast on February 18, 2007, had ripped apart two coaches as the Samjhauta Express, reached Panipat. The train was on way from Delhi to Pakistan's Lahore, and those who died were mostly Pakistan nationals.

Four years later, the National Investigation Agency had filed a case against eight people, including Aseemanand.

The agency said the accused were upset with the terror attacks on several temples - including the Gujarat's Akshardham, Jammu's Raghunath Mandir and Varanasi's Sankat Mochan Mandir - wanted to avenge them. Only four were brought to trial - one of the accused died and three others could not be arrested.

"I have to conclude this judgment with deep pain and anguish as a dastardly act of violence remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence," read the order, which rapped the prosecution for leaving gaping holes in the evidence it submitted.

The judge also criticised the investigating agencies for coining terms like "Muslim terror" or "Hindu fundamentalism".

"It is generally noticed that a malaise has set in the investigating agencies which coin various terms law Muslim terrorism, Hindu fundamentalism etc or brand an act of criminal(s) as act(s) of particular religion, caste or community," read the order.

The court said that criminals cannot be projected as representatives of the religion, caste or community they belong to. Such branding is totally unjustified, the court added.

Highlighting that many of the witnesses turned hostile during trial, the judge said in the order that a system should be developed to protect witnesses.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly expressed concerns about safety and protection of witnesses and "therefore it is again high time we put in place some sound and workable witness protection scheme at the earliest so that every criminal trial be taken to its logical conclusion," read the order.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian universities Like #JawaharlalNehru University (JNU) Have Been Forced To Move Apart From The Nation (#India). “Shut down jnu.” (Indian Express) ".. get rid of these pro #Kashmir leftists...” (NDTV). #Modi #Hindutva

The nation and its universities have moved farther apart from one another than ever before. In a developing country with an exploding youth population, there are few stories that are more tragic.

If you look up any recent news entry or Op-Ed article on the proposed JNU fee hike and the protests against it and scroll down to the “Comments” section, this is what you’ll see:

“Shut down jnu. Na rahegi baas na bajegi basuri” (Indian Express)

“First change the name to Sardar Patel university. Second get rid of these pro Kashmir leftists. The university will become fine after that.” (NDTV)

“Just rusticate these tukde tukde gang members, the goon, father of several child budha students, the nadedis. Enough freeloading these people enjoyed… Kanahiya, saila rashid Anirban umar khalid type people kept on flunking in exam stay there for free…” (Times of India)

To say that the English-language press is out of touch with the pulse of India is now commonplace. For English-language media in the West, especially liberal media, the iconic jolt has been the triumph of Donald Trump, wildly defying the predictions of the leading news outlets. The same is happening in the English-language print media in India.

But a “kind” of a pulse is tangible in the “Comments” section following articles, news and opinion alike. The situation is a bit like when the amateur sleuth Byomkesh Bakshi tells his friend Ajit: “Who cares about the news in newspapers? They are just fillers. The real news is in the advertisements. Ads are the only things I read.”

Like Byomkesh, many of us now head straight to the “Comments” sections of articles on sensitive subjects, right after browsing the headline. A bizarre kind of action unfolds there.

Surely this “pulse” includes those of paid trolls, bots or semi-bots or whatever AI machine-army hack and heckle up on the internet. But clearly not all of it can be dismissed.

This is the unavoidable and undeniable truth: Institutes of higher education in India, for decades nourished by a scaffolding of Nehruvian socialism, have, in the last decade or so, radically gone out of sync with the beliefs, desires and aspiration of the bulk of the nation, or at any rate, of its vocal middle-class.

As I write this, the top trending hashtag on this issue on Twitter is #ShutDownJNU. Sample:

“Public won’t mind funding college subsidies if it’s actual useful courses like medicine, engineering, pure science etc. that actually contribute value to society instead of useless crap like gender studies and African studies and lesbian dance theory.”

Sure, there are voices on the other side too, just as angry. A favourite: “Yes, #ShutDownJNU and open WhatsApp university…Then Fill the country with thousands of cow, sanghi, gutka khors…”

But in the grand scale, the voices on the other side make up an enfeebled minority, cloistered in certain circles. Much like the protesting JNU students behind walls of tear gas and water-canons, contained within walls with hatred frothing outside.

The Nehruvian socialist vision which shaped the landscape of higher education in post-independence India – the same vision which gave births to the IITs – reached a high goal in the establishment of JNU in 1969.

India’s newest Nobel Laureate, Abhijit Banerjee, tells a revealing story when he says that he had to arrive at JNU to experience class and caste diversity on a scale he had never known before, not in the Presidency College he left behind, far too deeply straddled with the old boys network from the Bengali upper castes.