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Archives for : December2018

India – 1984 Pogrom was a Genocide, Says Delhi High Court

While convicting and sentencing 89 accused persons in a carnage in Delhi’s Trilokpuri to life imprisonment, the court lamented about the nearing doomsday of criminal justice.
1984 Sikh Riots
Image Courtesy: Indian Express

Terming the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom as a “genocide”, the Delhi High Court on November 28 convicted 89 arsonists and rioters who took part in a carnage in Delhi’s Trilokpuri, 34 years after the incident and 22 years after the trial court verdict.

In his 79 page judgement, Justice Gauba said that the protracted process for securing justice and closure was a “sordid experiment in the name of criminal process”, and wondered aloud if the judicial process is equipped enough to deal with crimes of such magnitude, and termed the final determination of guilt a mere academic exercise.

Besides hauling up the police and prosecution for multiple determined attempts at tardy progress of trial and obfuscation of facts and obstruction of justice, Justice Gauba also suggested a slew of measures which should be taken to deal with incidents of communal violence such as this, in which more than a 100 people had been affected and for which a total of 107 persons were booked for serious offences. The judge took into account the victims’ allegations that not only was the police a mute spectator, but they also provided direct and indirect assistance to the accused in order to ensure they were not brought to book, even if brought to trial.

Police, Prosecution Complicity

The 120 witnesses who went to the police reported looting, arson and killing of people by setting them ablaze. However, the police did not register charges of murder, registering offences only under sections 147, 148, 149, 436, 429, 304 (Culpable homicide) and 323 of the Indian Penal Code.

The SHO (Station House Officer) of Kalyanpuri police station, under whose jurisdiction Trilokpuri falls, even filed two chargesheets for the same incident, and this was deprecated by the high court- stating that the very filing of two initial chargesheets in December 1985 “shows the questionable quality of legal assistance availed by the State”.

Although, the chargesheets made out a case for murder under Section 302 of the IPC, they were so weak and unconvincing that the court dropped the charge. The high court noted that “there is no clarity in the trial court proceedings as to why the charges for murder or attempt to murder were not taken on board.”

Out of the total of 120, eventually the prosecution examined only eleven witnesses and thus, a large part of the evidence was kept out, the high court regrettably noted in the judgement.

Moreover, many of the accused failed to appear, and it was an uphill task to secure the attendance of those obdurate persons, especially with the police displaying its laxity and the prosecution not being forceful enough, thus dragging on the trial for many years.

Genocide and Rules of Evidence

There has been a consistent and forceful debate about whether to use the term “genocide” for the 1984 pogrom, as has been said about what happened in Gujarat in 2002, and it is a contested domain, a fractured and rugged terrain. However, in paragraph 101 of his ruling, Justice Gauba unhesitatingly used the term genocide to describe the spate of violence and killings, and said that in adjudicating such a case, the “ordinary rules of appreciation of evidence cannot serve the cause of justice, especially in view of the extraordinary circumstances that prevailed,” relying on the Supreme Court’s 2011 decision in the case of Prithipal Singh v State of Punjab.

Therefore, even with the scant and patchy evidence on record, he had to convict the accused, because of the overwhelming political powers they used to cover up their crimes.

Suggestions for Legislators

At paragraph 122, Justice Gauba noted – “the case at hand may be treated as a paradigm which ought not to be followed in cases of such nature.” The response of the law has been tardy, ineffective and highly unsatisfactory, he noted, and mooted the idea that the task of collecting and preserving evidence could be entrusted to human rights commissions because of the statutory and non-partisan status that they enjoy, so that they are free from being influenced by vested interests bent upon defeating the rule of law.

“The general criminal law is provenly ill-equipped to deal with the challenge of such crimes of mammoth proportion, particularly when they are invariably perceived to be engineered by those holding control over certain central powers”, Justice Gauba stated in his judgement, and gave some suggestions for the Parliament, based on his experience in the present case.

They are:

– Suitable amendments be brought to the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, to entrust the responsibility of taking note of the cognisable offences committed in communal riots and their investigation through SITs (Special Investigation Team) and Special Public Prosecutor(s).

– Such Commissions would have their own investigative machinery to probe in an effective manner. Such Commissions might avail the assistance of Legal Service Authority and the judicial magistracy to make the effort more comprehensive and effective.

– This neutral agency would ensure that no charge-sheet is brought to the criminal court for taking of cognisance, or trial, unless it has been properly vetted dispassionately by those well-trained in criminal law such that it is free from any defect, inadvertent or otherwise.

– Special Courts dedicated to the subject of communal riots be established with suitable amendments to the general criminal law procedure as indeed the rules of evidence.

– Press reports, supported by photographic material or video footages put in public domain, be considered as evidence in trials of criminal cases arising out of communal riots.

– An exception be carved out to permit the absence of accused from the court hearings to tackle one of the major causes for delay in the judicial process. Such rule of procedure in cases of trial in communal cases involving a large number of accused would have a salutary effect.

Justice Gauba ended his ruling with this dire warning about the case being forgotten:

“The manner of prosecution of the case at hand would undoubtedly go-down in judicial history of this country as an example of criminal law process that must never be emulated. From this perspective, and in the expectation that those at the helm draw lessons from here, one hopes that this case is never forgotten

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Cases against Politicians never end – BSY Faces Life Term in 10 Cases, Chargesheeted in 0

Sample of How Cases Against Netas Never End

A report collated on the orders of a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on pendency of cases against the legislators presents a gloomy picture.

BSY Faces Life Term in 10 Cases, Chargesheeted in 0: Sample of How Cases Against Netas Never End
File photo of BS Yeddyurappa.
New Delhi: In 2014, the Supreme Court ordered that criminal trials of all MPs and MLAs must conclude within a year. But a report prepared by amicus curiae Vinay Hansaria and Sneha Kalita has brought to fore the impunity with which the judgment has been observed by courts at all levels.

The report was collated on the orders of a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which wished to examine the impact of the court’s verdict on the pending criminal trials against sitting and former lawmakers.

And the report has thrown up a grim picture.

Out of a total of 4122 criminal cases, 2324 cases linger in courts against siting MPs and MLAs.

The report showed glaring delays in deciding cases as some of them remained pending for over three decades.

Out of the aforesaid 4122 number of cases, in 1991 cases even charges have not been framed. Many cases are pending due to stay granted by the higher courts – there are at least 264 such matters.

Consider this:

– Trial of Kerala MLA MM Mani in a murder case lodged in 1982 is yet to begin.

– Former Karnataka chief minister and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa has 18 cases against him. This includes 10 cases where the punishment may go up to life term, but the chargesheet is yet to be filed in any of them.

– Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has a corruption case against him since 2007 but the charges are yet to be framed.

– Not one out of 22 criminal cases, including 10 for murder, against former MP Ateeq Ahmed has been wrapped up in last the 16 years.

– Charges have not been framed in three TADA cases against sitting NCP MLA from Gujarat, Kandhalbhai Sarmanbhai Jadeja.

– Four sitting and former MLAs in Odisha have more than 100 criminal cases pending against them

“Pendency of cases against the legislators presents a gloomy picture in almost all the states, in as much as, many cases are for offences punishable with imprisonment for life are pending for decades. In large number of cases even charges have not been framed,” regretted senior lawyer Hansaria in his report.

Finding favour with the apex court’s previous order on setting up special courts for expediting trials of sitting and former legislators, the report added that the high court concerned should be made accountable for taking stock of the situation and resolve all procedural problems to ensure speedy disposal. It further said that high courts should be asked to furnish progress reports in the top court periodically.

The Supreme Court will take up the report by the amicus on Tuesday.

The bench is hearing a PIL by Supreme Court lawyer and activist Ashwini Upadhyay, who has sought a life-time ban of convicted legislators.

While issuing direction for setting up special courts, the top court had then asked the government to collect data about number of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs, and the status of the trials.

Subsequently, the ministry wrote to all high courts for supplying statistics, based on which the report has been readied.

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There Is No Evidence Of A Temple Under The Babri Masjid, Just Older Mosques, Says Archeologist

Supriya Varma, one of the archeologists who has challenged the ASI’s 2003 findings, explains why the ASI is wrong.

Hindu youths clamour atop the 16th century Babri Mosque on 6 December 1992.

Hindu youths clamour atop the 16th century Babri Mosque on 6 December 1992.

NEW DELHI—In August 2003, following a six-month-long excavation, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) informed the Allahabad High Court that it had found evidence of there being a temple under the Babri Masjid, the 16-century mosque demolished by kar sevaks on 6 December 1992.

Two archeologists, Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon, accused the ASI of having preconceived notions ahead of the dig, and violating ethical codes and procedures during the excavation. Varma, professor of archeology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Menon, who heads the history department at Shiv Nadar University, told the court that the excavation did not find anything that supported ASI’s conclusion. In 2010, they published a paper in the Economic and Political Weekly, challenging the methods used in collecting evidence and its interpretation.


The archeologists, who were observers during the excavation on behalf of the Sunni Waqf Board, a party to the tile suit in the Ayodhya dispute, say the ASI, then under the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP-led) National Democratic Alliance government, was under pressure to reinforce the Hindu right-wing narrative that Mughal emperor Babur’s general Mir Baqi knocked down a temple to build a mosque on the spot where Hindu god Ram was born.

Ahead of the 26th anniversary of the Babri Masjid’s demolition, Varma spoke to HuffPost India about the three key pieces of evidence found in 2003, why she thinks the ASI felt compelled to fabricate its conclusion, and procedural lapses during the excavation led by B.R. Mani, who was later replaced on an order by the Allahabad High Court. In 2016, the Modi government appointed Mani as the Director General of the National Museum.

Is there any archeological evidence that the Babri Masjid was built over a temple devoted to Ram?

No, there is nothing. Even today, there is no archeological evidence that there was a temple under the Babri Masjid.

The excavated western wall.

What is the evidence on the basis of which the ASI is saying there was a temple?

There are three things. What the ASI has excavated is not evidence there was a temple underneath the mosque. One is this western wall, the second are these 50 pillar bases and third are architectural fragments. The western wall is a feature of a mosque. It is a wall in front of which you say namaaz. It is not the feature of a temple. Temple has a very different plan. Underneath the Babri Masjid, there are actually older mosques.

Now, as far as these pillar bases are concerned, these are completely fabricated and we filed many complaints to the court about it. Our argument is that if you look at what they are claiming to be pillar bases, these are pieces of broken bricks and they have mud inside them. There is no way a pillar can even stand on it, it is so unstable. It’s a completely political issue. They wanted that report to say there are pillar bases and it said there are pillar bases.

Underneath the Babri Masjid, there are actually older mosques.

What about the architectural fragments?

The third piece of evidence is these architectural fragments. They say there are some 400-500 fragments, which are pieces of architectural buildings. Of these, they say 12 are the most important. Of these 12, none of these were found during the excavation. These were recovered from the debris lying above the lime floor of the masjid. There is this one particular sculpture, which is closest to some kind of image, which they called a ‘divine couple.’ But even that is just one man and a woman and is half-broken. There is nothing else. A temple, a stone temple—supposedly this is a stone temple—has much more sculptured material than what they have found.

There is no archeological evidence that there was a temple under the Babri Masjid.

Can this sculpture not be dated?

The stone cannot be dated. What you date in archeology is the deposit, the layer in which the particular artefact has been found. In that also, you can date organic material. So, for example, a bone or a shell or charcoal. The ASI have got some dates. But this sculptured piece has not even come from a stratified deposit.

It could have come from anywhere?

It could have come from anywhere. There is no way of dating it. In other words, there is no evidence for a temple.


Can you date the pillar bases?

You can date those floor levels. They clearly belong, in my opinion, to the period from the 12th to the 15th century at different levels.

Does the ASI date the temple it claims was under the mosque?

No. They don’t say that. They just say there was a temple underneath. That’s all. They give it no precise date.

Doesn’t the report say the temple is from the 10th century?

On the one hand, they are claiming a massive temple with more than 50 pillar bases, but they are also saying that there is a circular shrine under these pillar bases, which is much smaller in size, about three to four meters in diameter, which they claim belong to the 10 century. But I have examined walls next to the circular structure, and the information mentioned in the site notebook of that particular trench, which mentions these walls belong to the Gupta period. And that is why this circular structure would also belong to the Gupta period around 4th-6th century AD.

How many excavations have there been in Ayodhya?

There is Alexander Cunningham who is the first Director General of the ASI, who, in 1861-62, does some kind of survey around Ayodhya region, and he mentions three mounds. And of these three mounds, two have some kind of Buddhist Stupa and one of them has a Vihara. He also said that there are oral traditions that say that three temples were destroyed, but in his account, there is no mention of a temple being destroyed on the site of the Babri Masjid.

That is the first time that archeologically some kind of survey had been carried out. Now, in terms of excavations, the story begins in 1969-70. The first excavation is carried out by the Department of Archaeology, Banaras Hindu University. They did not really conduct the excavations close to the Babri Masjid, but in the near vicinity. The only report that we have is in what we call IARs, which is the Indian Archeology Review published by the ASI, every year. It is not a very detailed report. There is a one-page description of what they found. They say it looks like it was inhabited in what we call the early historic period, which is about 6th century BC to 6th century AD. And they say that there is some medieval occupation, but they don’t really get into the details. That’s the end. Then, what happens is from about 1975 to about 1980, there is a project by B.B. Lal.

Who is B.B. Lal?

BB Lal was also the director general of ASI and he took early retirement in 1972 and joined the Archeology Department of the Jiwaji University in Gwalior. And from there he went as a fellow to the Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla. And he came up with this project on the archeology of Ramayana. He also had a project on the archeology of Mahabharata. As part of the archeology of Ramayana, he excavated Ayodhya and a couple of other sites, which have been mentioned in Ramayana. He carried out excavations for a period of five years but a report is only available for two years in the IAR. He pretty much substantiates what is mentioned by the BHU. That there are occupations in the early historic period and there is some sign of desertion and you also find some floors from the medieval period. That’s all there is.

Then it is only in 1988, by which time the VHP has picked up this whole issue of temples having been demolished at three sites—Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi—and in 1988, B.B. Lal takes a photograph of pillar bases, which he says was taken and excavated at Ayodhya between 1975 and 1978, and publishes it in Manthan, which is the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) journal. He also presented the photograph at the World Archeological Congress in Croatia, saying that if excavations are to be carried then they will find evidence of a temple.

Pillar bases excavated by B.B. Lal (1970s).

What does the photograph show?

The photographs are what he calls pillar bases, which are pieces of bricks put together in a half-squarish, half rectangular, half circular forms. There are three pillar bases that he marks out in that photograph.

Where does he find the pillar bases?

This excavation was carried out near the wall of the Babri Masjid.

What happened after Lal’s photo?

Then, the BJP picks up the Ayodhya movement and it becomes a political movement. In 1992, the mosque is demolished and they have paved the way for excavations. The title suit, that case of who owns the land, is carrying on in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court. Once NDA comes to power, which is in 1999, the court orders that now possibly we should excavate. In 2002, they would order the ASI, the government body, to carry out a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey. Certain signals are sent through a machine and if there are structures underneath the mound then it bounces back. On the basis of that report, the court ordered excavation be carried out. In March 2003, the excavations began and they ended in August. Then, they submitted the report.


How did you get involved?

Once the excavations began, there were a lot of apprehensions because the ASI comes directly under the Ministry of Culture. And also, because archeology as a discipline is fairly technical. At that point, the Sunni Waqf Board people thought that they should have an archaeologist who would be present and point out in case there are any procedures that are not followed the way it should be in terms of methods and recording. They contacted Irfan Habib, who is a professor of medieval history at Aligarh Muslim University, and he contacted us.

I, and I think I can speak for my colleague Jaya Menon, we were both quite keen. We both wanted to know what exists under the mosque. It is not as though we had any kind of bias either way. We went with an open mind. For us, it was an academic issue. We knew that we probably would never be able to get the chance unless we go there ourselves. It was at the cost of our professional careers as well. As an archaeologist, if I have to excavate any site, I have to get permission from ASI. So, if you antagonise the ASI, chances are that you are not going to get a permit, and that is why very few archaeologists were willing to even go.

You went as observers because the Sunni Waqf Board were petitioners in the title suit?

Just to note whether correct procedures were being followed or not. The NDA was in power. There was fear that the data would be manipulated. There was even fear that outside material would be planted over there. In fact, some of us also thought they would try and do it if they don’t find evidence for a temple. They might bring material from outside, some idol, some image, and put it there.

There was fear that the data would be manipulated. There was even fear that outside material would be planted over there.

Did you face any kind of backlash?

We were lucky that they lost the elections, and we went on to excavate two sites (not connected to the Ayodhya dispute). Today, if I apply, I’m not certain whether I will get permission.

Pillar base excavated by ASI in 2003.

What does the ASI say in the report?

If you read the entire report, there is no mention of any temple. It is a standard report. You have a chapter on the trenches, you have a chapter of chronology, you have a chapter on different structures, you have a chapter on pottery. What is missing is a chapter on bones and human skeletal remains. That is what they also found but they never published it.

What you will also find is that the names of the people who wrote those chapters is mentioned. But in the conclusion, there is no name mentioned. And in the conclusion, in the last paragraph of the report, they say that given the evidence of this western wall, and pillar bases, and some architectural fragments, there was a temple underneath the Babri Masjid. It is literally written in three lines. Otherwise, nowhere in the discussion, is there any talk of a temple being found. With the same evidence, we have interpreted that there were actually two or three phases of smaller mosques underneath the Babri Masjid.

With the same evidence, we have interpreted that there were actually two or three phases of smaller mosques underneath the Babri Masjid.

In your expert opinion, as of today, there was no temple under the Babri Masjid? What was under it?

There was no temple under the Babri Masjid. What there was, if you go beyond the 12th century and you come down to the levels of the 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, there seems to be a Buddhist stupa. So, there was Buddhist occupation here, and that is something even Alexander Cunningham has said. Outside the Babri Masjid, there are several other archeological mounds which seem to be sites of Buddhist stupas as well as monasteries. There was clearly a Buddhist community here, in the period, roughly from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD. To us, it looks like this was then abandoned and reoccupied sometime around the 11th-12th century and possibly because there was a Muslim settlement that came up. And they had a small mosque, which was expanded as the community increased, in size and finally a much larger mosque was built by Babar in 1528.

So, there is no evidence of this narrative that Babar’s general Mir Baqi knocked down a temple to build a mosque?

There is no evidence but there is oral tradition that starts coming up in the late 19th century and it is recorded in a colonial period gazetteer. Even when Alexander Cunningham, he goes in 1861-62, he is traveling around and he does record oral traditions. He does not mention a temple being underneath the Babri Masjid. He talks about three temples, there is oral tradition of three temples being destroyed, but these are not underneath the Babri Masjid. They are some other temples in Ayodhya.


What impact did the report have on the title suit?

The bench comprised of three judges, two Hindus and one Muslim. The Muslim judge, S.U. Khan, clearly did not go into the archeological evidence. There was a strong viewpoint that this is a title suit and it does not matter who lived here before the present occupants. It is immaterial. And many of us also felt that they should have never dragged in history and archeology into a title suit. They should have just gone by what was the status when the first suit was filed in 1950. But the other two judges, D.V. Sharma and Sudhir Agarwal, much more Sudhir Agarwal, he did say that the ASI is saying a temple was there under the mosque and therefore we have to accept what the ASI is saying because they are the experts.

A generic temple?

Yes. Some generic temple. They don’t get into whether it was a Ram Temple and they don’t date it.

In the EPW report, you write about being concerned about certain procedures?

Yes. They are claiming that this is the site of Ram Temple, which is a Vaishnav temple, where generally, you would not expect to find any bones because of this vegetarianism etcetera, but when they started excavating, they started finding a lot of bones, animal bones. How do you explain finding animal bones in a Vaishnav temple? They clearly did not want that recorded. So, we noticed that the labour they had hired were just throwing the bones away. The other thing they were also doing, there is a certain pottery, ceramic type, which is known as glazed ware, which is generally associated with Muslim communities. They were finding a lot of this glazed ware. Those again were being thrown. So, we made a complaint, and they had to be recorded. You would not expect glazed ware in a Vaishnav temple. Procedurally, there was violation of an ethical code.

Procedurally, there was violation of an ethical code.

Did the ASI date the bones?

No, they did not.

Would it help to have a foreign team of archaeologists excavate the site?

As far as foreign archeologists are concerned, they know it is a political issue and they would not want to get entangled in it. If they wish to do any other archeological work in India, they would not want that to be jeopardised. And it is a political issue, it is clear to everyone.

Isn’t six months very short for this kind of excavation?

As far as the ASI, and the archeologists of the ASI are concerned, they really are now no longer considered to have any kind of expertise. They haven’t kept up to date with the latest methods, the recent theoretical developments, and they really just see it as more as an administrative job than as an academic discipline.

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“Amit Shah Lied About Manifesto”: Congress Approaches Poll Body

The Congress manifesto has promised free electricity supply not only to mosques and churches but also to temples and other places of worship.

'Amit Shah Lied About Manifesto': Congress Approaches Poll Body

Amit Shah accused the Congress of “minority appeasement” at a rally in Telangana (File)

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday approached the Election Commission seeking action against BJP president Amit Shah for allegedly “stoking communal tensions” in Telangana by twisting the Congress manifesto and spreading misinformation.

Campaigning at Amangal in Ranga Reddy district on December 2, Mr Shah accused the Congress of “minority appeasement”, claiming that the Congress in its manifesto promised free electricity only to mosques and churches in the state while leaving out the temples.

Contrary to Mr Shah’s claims, the Congress manifesto has promised free electricity supply not only to mosques and churches but also to temples and other places of worship.

Taking strong exception to Mr Shah’s statement, a Congress delegation led by former ministers Kapil Sibal and Kamal Nath submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission seeking action against the BJP chief.

“Shah by lying about the Congress manifesto tried to vitiate the environment and create communal tension. We have asked the EC to take cognisance of Shah’s speech and send him a notice. The EC must take strong action to ensure elections are free and fair,” Mr Sibal told the media.

The Congress delegation also raised objection over the pre-dawn preventive detention of its state unit’s working president Revanth Reddy, ahead of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s election rally in Vikarabad district.

“The way Reddy was arrested at 3 a.m. without giving any reason indicates the government’s intention of hurting the Congress by all means. We have urged the Election Commission to take notice of that and ensure that no such arrests are made during the polls,” said Mr Sibal.

Elections to the 119-member Telangana Assembly are scheduled for December 7.


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India – Despite #MeToo wave , women in low-wage jobs still suffer widespread harassment

Despite #MeToo wave in India, women in low-wage jobs still suffer widespread harassment
A worker adjusts an embroidery machine at a garment fair in New Delhi. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP/Getty Images)

Six months into a stitching job at a big garment factory outside New Delhi, B. Devi says, her supervisor caressed her shoulder. The 36-year-old married mother of four didn’t respond. But she wondered at the time, she now recalls, whether her long cotton kurta top was too revealing.

The next day she wound a scarf more carefully around her head and chest. But a few days later, she says, her supervisor touched her again, more forcefully, and propositioned her.

“Madam,” she says he told her, “if you want to work here, you have to come out with me.”

Devi had heard from other women what that meant — if she provided him with sexual favors, he would ensure her timely payment and easier tasks at the factory in Gurgaon, which supplies merchandise to major American retailers.

She refused, but his advances continued until July, when she snapped at him after he touched her, she says. She was immediately dismissed from work and lost her pay for that month, about $110.

Despite laws aimed at enabling workers to report cases of workplace harassment, Devi did not file a complaint against her boss. She shared her account on condition that her full name and her former employer’s not be published, because she feared it would prevent her from getting another job and because she hadn’t shared details of the case with family members.

Ripples of the #MeToo movement have reached India’s shores as droves of white-collar women speak out against rampant sexual harassment and abuse, primarily in the media and entertainment industries.

Top actors and directors, comedians, authors and high-profile journalists have been accused of unwanted advances and sexual misconduct. The government’s junior minister for external affairs resigned after allegations from more than a dozen women who worked for him during his previous career as a newspaper editor.

But in the low-wage sectors that employ most Indian women who work in the formal economy, sexual harassment remains shrouded in silence.

After agriculture, the garment industry is the second-largest employer in India, supplying to global clothing giants. Women make up approximately 60% of the industry’s workforce, most coming from poor or rural backgrounds that make them more vulnerable to exploitation.

In 2016, Sisters for Change, a British advocacy group, found that 1 in 7 female workers in the Indian industrial hub of Bangalore said they experienced sexual violence in the workplace. Three out of four reported that there was no functioning procedure to file complaints in such cases.

India adopted its first workplace sexual harassment guidelines in 1997 — following the alleged gang rape of an anti-child-marriage activist — and in 2013 issued more stringent guidelines for companies to deal with unwanted physical contact, advances, requests for sexual favors and suggestive remarks reported by employees.

According to the 2013 law, if an allegation is found to be true, the employer can demand an apology to the victim, fire the offender or impose financial or other penalties.

But fear of losing jobs and the stigma of sexual harassment continue to result in many incidents going unreported. According to figures from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, 533 cases were filed under the act as of July.

San Francisco-based Gap Inc. is one of the few major multinational apparel companies to furnish details concerning their global vendors. After the company’s internal assessments found sexual harassment was “particularly acute” at its suppliers in India — which employ more than 100,000 workers — Gap in 2016 began conducting sensitization programs in factories and worked to strengthen their compliance with Indian legal requirements, company spokeswoman Laura Wilkinson said.

But in a report in May, a group of international labor rights organizations documented rampant gender-based violence in Gap supply chains in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia, and declared that female workers were “subjected to routinized sexual harassment.” The group found similar problems in Asian factories that supply H&M and Walmart.

Wilkinson said Gap was “deeply troubled” by the allegations and had redoubled its efforts to ensure its vendors train all their employees on legal workplace behavior.

The factory where Devi worked says it supplies retailers including Gap, Macy’s and Ann Taylor. Wilkinson said Gap was not familiar with Devi’s specific case, which Devi did not report.

Ann Taylor’s parent company said in a statement that it took allegations of sexual harassment “very seriously” and conducted regular audits of its suppliers to ensure the factories complied with company regulations and local laws.

Macy’s did not respond to requests for comment.

Devi said that her boss asked her to go out with him at least five times. Once, she said, he called her to his office, held her palm and rubbed it while she shifted on her feet, staring at the floor.

“You have to work according to my demands if you want to keep your job,” she said he told her.

“Sir, I am married with four children,” she replied. “I have to feed them, pay their school fees. I can’t afford to lose this job.”

He leered at her. “Why do you have to be so virtuous if you need the money?” he said.

After she lost her job, Devi decided against complaining to the factory but approached the office of a union representing women workers in Gurgaon in the hope of recovering her dues.

Labor activist Anita Yadav is pictured in her office.
Labor activist Anita Yadav is pictured in her office. (Niha Masih / For The Times)

At the union’s tiny office, sitting next to a whiteboard with a list of behavior and speech that constitutes sexual harassment, 25-year-old activist Anita Yadav said most women remained unaware of what qualified as an offense under Indian law.

“We hold regular meetings to encourage them to share stories of harassment and the process of redressal if they want,” Yadav said.

For most Indian women, such behavior isn’t restricted to the factory floor, Yadav said. Rape, molestation, catcalling on streets and domestic violence are deeply entrenched in India’s largely patriarchal society.

“A lot of them have faced such behavior in everyday life, on roads or in their neighborhoods, so they consider it routine,” Yadav said. “The older women are used to it and don’t have much hope. We focus on the younger women so they don’t take it lying down and resist the system.”

Sexual harassment and conservative views about gender roles are among the reasons why more Indian women are dropping out of the workforce, according to an investigation last year by IndiaSpend, a news website. Only about 27% of Indian women hold jobs, lagging far behind not only industrialized nations but also neighbors including Nepal and Bangladesh.

For Devi, waging a legal battle is out of the question because she fears the stigma and being labeled a problem worker in the close-knit industry. She hasn’t even told her husband or teenage children about the harassment, saying only that she was fired over a dispute. She worried that her husband might blame her for inviting the advances.

Her other worry was finding another job.

“If I complain, the word will go around and I will be blacklisted by other factories,” she said.

Devi does not own a smartphone and hadn’t heard of the #MeToo movement making waves on another level of Indian society. When told of it, she nodded in agreement, saying it was a good thing for women to speak out publicly and name their abusers — even if she wasn’t ready to do so herself.

Masih is a special correspondent.


Masih is a special correspondent.Courtesy LA times 

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Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Cost

No more dinners with female colleagues. Don’t sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings.

In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is “an unknown risk.” What if she took something he said the wrong way?

Across Wall Street, men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era and, in the process, making life even harder for women.

Call it the Pence Effect, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he avoids dining alone with any woman other than his wife. In finance, the overarching impact can be, in essence, gender segregation.

Interviews with more than 30 senior executives suggest many are spooked by #MeToo and struggling to cope. “It’s creating a sense of walking on eggshells,” said David Bahnsen, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley who’s now an independent adviser overseeing more than $1.5 billion.

This is hardly a single-industry phenomenon, as men across the country check their behavior at work, to protect themselves in the face of what they consider unreasonable political correctness — or to simply do the right thing. The upshot is forceful on Wall Street, where women are scarce in the upper ranks. The industry has also long nurtured a culture that keeps harassment complaints out of the courts and public eye, and has so far avoided a mega-scandal like the one that has engulfed Harvey Weinstein.

‘Real Loss’

Now, more than a year into the #MeToo movement — with its devastating revelations of harassment and abuse in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond — Wall Street risks becoming more of a boy’s club, rather than less of one.

“Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers,” said Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s a real loss.”

There’s a danger, too, for companies that fail to squash the isolating backlash and don’t take steps to have top managers be open about the issue and make it safe for everyone to discuss it, said Stephen Zweig, an employment attorney with FordHarrison.

“If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” he said, “those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”

Channeling Pence

While the new personal codes for dealing with #MeToo have only just begun to ripple, the shift is already palpable, according to the people interviewed, who declined to be named. They work for hedge funds, law firms, banks, private equity firms and investment-management firms.

For obvious reasons, few will talk openly about the issue. Privately, though, many of the men interviewed acknowledged they’re channeling Pence, saying how uneasy they are about being alone with female colleagues, particularly youthful or attractive ones, fearful of the rumor mill or of, as one put it, the potential liability.

A manager in infrastructure investing said he won’t meet with female employees in rooms without windows anymore; he also keeps his distance in elevators. A late-40-something in private equity said he has a new rule, established on the advice of his wife, an attorney: no business dinner with a woman 35 or younger.

The changes can be subtle but insidious, with a woman, say, excluded from casual after-work drinks, leaving male colleagues to bond, or having what should be a private meeting with a boss with the door left wide open.

‘Not That Hard’

On Wall Street as elsewhere, reactions to #MeToo can smack of paranoia, particularly given the industry’s history of protecting its biggest revenue generators.

“Some men have voiced concerns to me that a false accusation is what they fear,” said Zweig, the lawyer. “These men fear what they cannot control.”

There are as many or more men who are responding in quite different ways. One, an investment adviser who manages about 100 employees, said he briefly reconsidered having one-on-one meetings with junior women. He thought about leaving his office door open, or inviting a third person into the room.

Finally, he landed on the solution: “Just try not to be an asshole.”

That’s pretty much the bottom line, said Ron Biscardi, chief executive officer of Context Capital Partners. “It’s really not that hard.”

In January, as #MeToo was gathering momentum, Biscardi did away with the late-night, open-bar gathering he’d hosted for years in his penthouse suite during Context Capital’s annual conference at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. “Given the fact that women are in the minority at our events, we want to make sure that the environment is always welcoming and comfortable. We felt that eliminating the after-party was necessary to remain consistent with that goal.”

In this charged environment, the question is how the response to #MeToo might actually end up hurting women’s progress. Given the male dominance in Wall Street’s top jobs, one of the most pressing consequences for women is the loss of male mentors who can help them climb the ladder.

“There aren’t enough women in senior positions to bring along the next generation all by themselves,” said Lisa Kaufman, chief executive officer of LaSalle Securities. “Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard for a relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person.”

Men have to step up, she said, and “not let fear be a barrier.”

— With assistance by Max Abelson, and Sonali Basak

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It’s 2018 & These Villagers Drained n A Lake After HIV+ Women Drowned in it #WTFnews

The authorities tried to convince villagers that when an HIV-infected person dies the virus dies with them and the virus dies in water within seconds

The stigma around HIV refuses to die down even after three decades since the virus was first discovered in India. Despite several awareness campaign launched by govt and NGO,s the misconception about HIV/AIDS remain deep-rooted in our country.

In a classic case of fear prevailing over facts, residents of a village in Karnataka’s Dharwad have forced authorities to drained out 36 acre lake after an HIV positive woman committed suicide by jumping into it. The villagers noticed the body of the 36-year-old woman floating in the lake on November 29.The flesh had been partly eaten by fish, which made them fear infection and decide to empty the lake. Rumour mills got to work as the word spread that the water has been contaminated creating panic among villagers.

The authorities tried to convince villagers that when an HIV-infected person dies the virus dies with them, the virus could not survive in water and dies in a couple of seconds. They even offered to conduct test to prove that the water is not infected but the villagers would have none of it.


“This is unfortunate. We have been telling people not to panic as HIV does not spread through water. But the people are not convinced and they have started draining out the lake,” Dharwad district health officer Dr Rajendra Doddamani told Times of India.

The waterbody, which is roughly the size of 25 football fields, was the only source of drinking water for villagers and cattle but now they are prefer to walk 2-3 km to fetch water from Malaprabhha canal.

Last year, a boy had drowned in the same lake but no hue and cry was made over use of the water at that time, Ravi Kagadal, former panchayat member, told The New Indian Express. “Due to the fear of infection, the villagers don’t want to use the water, and are releasing it,” he added.

As many as 20 water pumpsets have been installed to pump out water into nearby fields and drains in the village, The Hindu reported.

Chief Executive Officer of Dharwad Zilla Panchayat B.C. Satish told The Hinduthat repeated attempts to convince villagers have not yeilded any results.

“They have hired heavy-duty pumpsets to pump out the water. This is despite the fact that water supply through Malaprabha canal is going to stop on December 6. They are firm on their decision and have told the officials that they are ready to face any water crisis, but will not touch the water from the tank,” he said.

“We managed to drain out lakhs of litres, and discharged the water in a nearby stream. We still have to drain water in a nearby stream. We still have to drain water from 60% of the lake and need at least five days to empty it,” a gram panchayat member told TOI adding that they are pumping the water out for last four days.

According to the villagers, the lake became dirty after the dead body was found and since then nobody is ready to consume the water.

“All of us together in the village are emptying the lake for safe drinking water. For now, we are taking water from the canal,” said Channappa, a villager.

Another villager named Savakka Madiwalara told CNN-News18, “That woman had a disease. What if we all get the disease? We saw the decomposed body. How can we drink that water after seeing it with our own eyes? It is because she had a disease. If not why would we be afraid tell me?”

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Bulandshahr Violence-Policemen Beat up Women During Late-Night Raids, Vandalise Homes of Suspects

Every house that News18 visited said that there were no female constables during the exercise. None of the senior police officials News18 reached out to commented on the late-night raids.

Policemen Beat up Women During Late-Night Raids, Vandalise Homes of Suspects in Bulandshahr Violence
Women outside the house of main accused Yogesh Raj in Bulandshahr on Wednesday. (Photo: News18)
Bulandshahr: Almost 30 policemen looking for the men named in the Bulandshahr mob violence FIR reached the homes of the accused in the early hours of Tuesday and allegedly thrashed their wives and sisters and vandalised property.

Most of the accused were not found at home when the police raided their place.

“I received a call early in the morning by my neighbours. They said policemen had beaten up my daughter-in-law and had destroyed everything in my house. I rushed back to find her left hand almost fractured and her left leg seriously bruised. We had to shift her to Meerut in a hurry. They were looking for my son,” said Ratan Kaur, mother of Jitendra Malik.

Malik, 24, had recently enrolled in the Army and was posted in Srinagar, his mother said. He is a resident of Mahaw village in Bulandshahr and has been named in the FIR for mob violence that also has charges for murder and attempt to murder.

“They broke the TV, washing machine, smashed window panes, destroyed the fridge and pulled down everything in the kitchen,” added Kaur. News18 visited the house to find it completely vandalised.

The policemen allegedly vandalised the homes of the accused after not finding them inside. (Photo: News18)

A violent clash between the police and villagers of Mahaw on Monday after a mob turned violent in an alleged case of illegal slaughtering of cattle, resulted in the death of station house officer (SHO) Subodh Kumar Singh, 47, and a youngster.

The autopsy report of the SHO revealed that he was shot in the head. The FIR prepared by Bulandshahr police named 28 and included 60 unidentified individuals in the list. Eight of the accused belong to right-wing outfits like the Bajrang Dal, VHP and the BJP youth wing.

The story of roughing up and vandalising continued in every house that the police visited.

“It was at around 1 am when I heard loud banging on our door. It was just me and my younger son in the house as my husband, Rajkumar, has been missing ever since the flare up happened. I opened the door to find several policemen,” said Geeta Chaudhary.

The 33-year-old woman sustained injuries on her ankle and arm that she claims were caused after policemen struck her with wooden sticks. “They interrogated me about my husband’s whereabouts, when I told them I didn’t know they hit me and left,” said Geeta. Her son has been scared ever since seeing the chaos around.

Every house that News18 visited said that there were no female constables during the exercise. None of the senior police officials News18 reached out to commented on the late-night raids.

The situation was the worst at the house of Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj’s house.

Four women with bruises on their arms, necks and legs sat outside the house fearing police would arrive again and cause further damage, both physically and in terms of property.

Raj’s grandmother, 86, claimed she was kicked out of the way by policemen when they entered the house at midnight. His mother, aunt and sister sustained bruises as well.

Along with Raj, the police were also on the lookout for Devendra and Chaman in the same house. While Raj was missing, the police found the remaining two sleeping inside.

“I was sleeping with my cousin when suddenly I heard loud noises. I woke up in a hurry to find that almost a couple of dozen police officials with thick wooden sticks in their hands were shouting my brother’s name,” said Raj’s sister.

“One man caught me by the collar and pushed me away,” she added.

The Uttar Pradesh police has so far arrested four accused in the case from among 27 named and 60 unidentified people in the FIR.

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Why the Ram temple is more important for the RSS than farmers and their pain

The Sangh Parivar only bothers about the voice of the upper caste sadhus and sanyasis, not farmers and labourers.


On November 25, the Sangh Parivar organised simultaneous Dharm Sansads in Ayodhya and Nagpur which marked the presence of several sadhus and sanyasis in order to chalk out a programme to build fresh momentum to push for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

The Dharma Sansad, as the meeting was named, did not see the presence of a single farmer, labourer or industrial worker. The only people who attended the meeting were sadhus, sanyasis and Sangh Parivar members.

dharma-690_120318044647.jpgRSS chief Mohan Bhagwat with sadhus and sanyasis at the Dharma Sansad in Nagpur. (Source: Twitter)

The farmers and labourers stayed back not because they do not worship Lord Ram, but because they have no faith in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliated organisations as the latter has never organised any rally or meeting on the issues concerning farmers and labourers. These organisations have never fought for the nation’s food producers, increase in wages of labourers or a casteless and egalitarian society.

Ever since it was founded in 1925, the RSS has organised hundreds of meetings of sadhus and sanyasis.

Interestingly, the sadhus and sanyasis consist only of the Brahmins and upper castes, who generally treat agrarian workers as shudras/chandals and treat their work as unworthy of respect.

It is for this reason that any movement to build a Ram temple fails to enthuse the marginalised communities.

The priests eat the food produced by the lower caste people — and still condemn them as unclean and untouchable. The spirituality of the marginalised is thus not considered valid in the Hindu fold.

The sadhus do not find it important to deal with the issues concerning farmers and labourers.

No system has been built in Hinduism that involves a gathering of all people of a given geographical area to share their social or spiritual experiences and beliefs. The Sangh Parivar has never worked towards the creation of such a system.

Arguably, they treat labouring masses as worse than mud.

This is in reality a very anti-national spiritual approach because it fails to see all people of this country as equals. This approach also flies in the face of the Constitution, which seeks to end caste-based discrimination.

World over, religions respect the food producers. God created all human beings as equals who are supposed to work and live, not to be exploited and treated as untouchables. The creation of untouchability is not God’s work, but the devil’s deed.

The RSS does not seem to think that farmers, workers and women are Indians. Hence it never raises the issues that concern the nation builders — tillers of the land, the grazers of cattle, the fishing folk, the artisans and umpteen others.

It repeatedly raises the issues that concern sadhus and sanyasis. It treats women between the age of 10 and 50 years as untouchables, a fact it has proven through the stand taken in the case of Sabarimala.

They are even defying the Supreme Court judgment in the Sabarimala case.

Around the time the Sangh was trying to build momentum around the Ram temple, a farmers rally was held in Delhi.

farmers-690_120318045030.jpgFarmers march towards the Parliament house during a rally to protest rising farm operating costs and plunging prices of their produce, on November 30. (Reuters)

The saffron BJP government at the Centre treated the meet with disdain.

Not a single sadhu or sanyasi walked with the farmers in support of their protest. They think that the national wealth should not be spent on the farmers but building temples across Indian. This is exactly what Talibani mullahs think in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Islamic countries.

God for these forces resides only in temples and mosques, but not in the productive fields.

The RSS does not believe in intellectual reasoning. It believes in faith as the key to nation-building.

In this sphere, the organisation is competing with Pakistan. They do not want to compete with China, which is again a neighbouring country.

India defeated Pakistan in two wars — 1965 and 1971 — but lost the 1962 war with China.

The Mohan Bhagwat-led RSS army thinks that if the country was to fight a war with China even now, it will win the battle by going to the Himalayan border with vegetarian food stocks and ‘Jai Sriram’ placards in the hands.

They think that they will do several hours of Yoga on the borders and then be able to defeat the Chinese. Perhaps Baba Ramdev, an exceptional OBC Yadav yogi, and Sri Sri Ravishankar, a pure Brahmin yogi, are expected to be the vegetarian Yoga commanders, who can easily defeat the Chinese army.

ram-dev-690_120318045241.jpgRSS expects the power of Yoga will help defeat the Chinese army if a war was to be faught between New Delhi and Beijing. (Source: India Today)

It is with this view that the RSS/BJP combination is installing sanyasis and semi-sanyasis as chief ministers of states.

If Yogi Adityanath is full, Narendra Modi himself is a semi-sanyasi, and so is Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Probably the army protecting the Himalayan borders that eats both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is not nationalist enough in RSS’ view.

We must understand that the RSS/BJP are vegetarian organisations with a view that the whole nation gradually should go completely vegetarian. They believe that once the Ram mandir is built in Ayodhya, India does not need agrarian cultivation.

Their concept of Ramrajya operates outside the framework of crop production.

The RSS seems to think that when the Arab nations can prosper without any real dependence on agrarian production, India too can do it.

They apparently think that since the Arabs could live without putting in much physical labour just because they built Mecca, they too could do so by building a Ram temple.

Arvind Panagariya of Columbia University and Arvind Subramanian of Oxford, Raghuram Rajan of Chicago University hardly understood the RSS’ economic theory before they worked with them.

To my mind, the central economic theory of the RSS is that agrarian production is anti-national. Hence the agricultural sector must be starved to death.

However, this is part of their sanyasi economics heritage. This heritage treated production as pollution and only vegetarian consumption as pure.

Even the great Hindu sociologist, MN Srinivas, certified this theory. Quite tragically, he too was from Oxford.

If RSS’ dream was to be realised, India would turn into an Arab desert and the oil wells would shift here.

There would be no food, however, to feed us. Not even the vegetarian food, whose consumption the RSS propagates.

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मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे #Poem

मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे।  

रोजी रोटी का सवाल बाद में उठाएंगे

रूखी-सूखी खाएंगे

चाहे भुख से ही मर जाएंगे

पर मंदिर वहीं बनाएंगे।

लल्ला, मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे ।।1।।

शिक्षा और स्वास्थ्य का मुद्दा 

बेदख़ल कर जाएंगे

धर्मयुद्ध का परचम लहराने में

बेकारो का झुंड लगाएंगे

लव जिहाद, गो माता के लिए

कतरा-ए-खून बहाएंगे

पर मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे

लल्ला, मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे ।।2।।

बेटी पढ़ाओ,बेटी बचाओ  

नारा जोर-शोर से लगाएंगे

बहू-बेटी पर होते जुल्म पर 

आवाज कभी ना उठाएंगे

गोधरा फिर से दोहराएंगे

आसिफा की चीख़ को चाहे 

अनसुना कर जाएंगे

पर मंदिर वहीं बनाएंगे

लल्ला, मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे ।।3।।

किसान आत्महत्या, विद्यार्थी आत्महत्या,

मोर्चा, आंदोलन, जल, जंगल, जमीन

आदिवासियों की बात 

सब-सब भूलकर

देश को खतरा,अर्बन नक्सल

यही एक रट लगाएंगे

देश की आवाम को जमकर चूना लगाएंगे

पर मंदिर वहीं बनाएंगे

लल्ला, मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे ।।4।।

आरक्षण का मुद्दा, नोटबंदी,

राफेल पर गौर नहीं फरमाएंगे

पंद्रह लाख खाते में आने की 

राह ताकते जाएंगे

कुछ भी हो पर जुमलेबाजी पर

दृढ़ विश्वास जताएंगे

अबकी बार मोदी सरकार,

विकास की माला जपते जाएंगे

चाहे चोर ही चौकीदार क्यूं ना हो,

पर मंदिर वहीं बनाएंगे।

लल्ला, मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे ।।5।।

दलित, बहुजन, अल्पसंख्यकों को भगाएंगे

सर्वश्रेष्ठ जनेऊ से ही नेतृत्व कराएंगे

बाकी प्रजा को वानर सेना बनाएंगे।

धार्मिकता पर क्षत्रिय, वैश्य, शूद्र 

सारे-सारे हिन्दू रक्षक कहलायेंगे

बाद में चाहे सब अपनी-अपनी 

जाति में मदमस्त ही क्यूं ना हो जाएंगे

पर मंदिर वहीं बनाएंगे।

लल्ला, मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे ।।6।।

गर्व से कहो हम हिंदू है 

यह नारा घर घर पहुंचाएँगे

हिन्दू खतरे में है कहकर

हिन्द का भगवा लहरायेंगे

हिंदुत्व में राष्ट्रवाद और राष्ट्रप्रेम जताएंगे

देश की धर्मनिरपेक्षता को चाहे धूल चटाएँगे

पर मंदिर वहीं बनाएंगे।

लल्ला, मन्दिर वहीं बनाएंगे ।।7।।

चार साल तक मन की बात 

मन में ही दबाएंगे

सियासत खत्म होते-होते 

राम को बीच में लाएंगे

चाणक्य नीति अपनाएंगे

तारीख कभी ना बताएंगे


अबकी बार मन की बात बताई ही दियो 

लल्ला, की मंदिर कब बनाएंगे? 

मन्दिर कब बनाएंगे? ।।8।।


                             रुपाली जाधव

                      ( कबीर कला मंच, पुणे ) 



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