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Hindutva’s Cow Misadventure Can Likely Cost Rs 1.5 Lakh Crore

Image used for representational purposes.

Image used for representational purposes.(Photo: The Quint)


Domestic animals, also the key driver of income diversification for farm households in the country in recent years, used to fetch multiple values as provider of milk, meat and as dependable resource for ploughing farms. Since the introduction of tractors made the cattle redundant for farming, the preference for animals offering other values (milk and meat) saw a substantial jump in the last few years.

Data shows that the proportion of males (predominantly used in agriculture) in overall livestock population has been consistently falling.

According to the latest livestock census, while the population of male cattle fell by 13 percent between 2007-2012, that of female cattle rose by an impressive 29 percent in the same period. Farmers, therefore, have already done one round of adjustment by getting rid of male cattle.

Population of male cattle fell by 13 percent between 2007-2012
Population of male cattle fell by 13 percent between 2007-2012

Now that there is a well-orchestrated campaign, spearheaded by the guardians of aggressive Hindutva, to strip yet another value – as a source of meat – off the cattle, there is bound to be a massive value erosion, forcing farmers once again to go for painful adjustment. They are doing precisely that by abandoning cattle they cannot use for milk. Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring states are battling the menace of stray cattle as farmers can ill-afford to keep them, owing to the exorbitant cost involved in keeping unproductive animals.

How will it hit the rural economy and what is going to be the potential loss to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), let us understand the implications with the help of some numbers.

  • According to National Dairy Development Board, total cattle population stood at 190 million in 2012. According to a report by The Indian Express, nearly 30 million cattle (or 15 percent of the total cattle population) grow beyond their productive age and hence are rendered unproductive every year. If they cease to have any value as prices of cattle have crashed, farmers have been forced to let to go.
  • The cost of keeping 30 million cattle at the rate of Rs 80/per animal/per day comes to Rs 86,000 crore. That is, if governments across the country take the burden of building shelters and keep all the surplus cattle there.
Cost of keeping unproductive cattle
Cost of keeping unproductive cattle
  • A 2015 National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) paper says that the growth in livestock has outpaced the overall agriculture growth in the country since the 1980s. As a result, the share of livestock in the agriculture GDP, which stood at just 12 percent in the 1980s, has gone up to nearly 25 percent now. It shows that livestock has been one of the key drivers of rural growth. There is a risk of farmers abandoning the now unprofitable diversification.
Share of livestock in Agriculture GDP
Share of livestock in Agriculture GDP
  • National Dairy Development Board estimates that livestock’s contribution to the country’s GDP is nearly Rs 6 lakh crore per annum. The contribution of cattle alone is estimated at Rs 3 lakh crore. Assuming a value erosion of at least 20 percent, the hit to the rural economy will be to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore. This is happening at a time when farm income has stagnated.
The toll unproductive cattle takes on GDP
The toll unproductive cattle takes on GDP

Also Read : Stray Cattle Must Be In Cow Shelters By 10 Jan: Yogi Adityanath

  • Restrictive trade of cattle has impacted the hitherto flourishing sectors like leather and meat exports.
  • The estimated worth of leather industry is nearly Rs 91,000 crore a year. A 20 percent hit will mean a loss of Rs 18,000 crore every year. Incidentally, the industry has been one of the top 10 foreign exchange earners and is estimated to employ in excess of 2.5 million people. There has been a pledge to double the value of leather exports in the next five years. Reports, however, suggest the sector taking a massive hit in the face of cow vigilantism.
  • Meat exports touched Rs 26,000 crore in 2017-18. Since there have been attempts to target the industry, especially in leading meat trade hub of Uttar Pradesh, exports are bound to suffer. A conservative 20 percent hit will mean a loss of nearly Rs 5,000 crore.
Leather and meat industry have been badly hit 
Leather and meat industry have been badly hit 
  • According to reliable estimates, 70 percent of livestock is held by small and marginal farmers and landless labourers. Aggressive Hindutva’s cow obsession therefore has hit the most vulnerable groups the hardest. Is that the reason why the countryside is not very pleased with the ruling establishment?
  • UP’s surplus cattle population is estimated at 1 million per annum. This is over and above the already existing surplus cattle of 2 million. The state’s existing network of 514 shelter houses can accommodate not more than half a million cattle. The state therefore is battling stray cattle idling across farms, causing destruction of rabi crops like wheat, mustard and pulses. Farm output is bound to get impacted, further depressing the income of farmers.
  • The farm income is stagnating and the attempted diversification is facing a Hindutva roadblock. Is rural India headed for a long spell of burre din?

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Rwanda Just Banned Skin Lightening Creams. A Lesson For India?


East African country, Rwanda, has officially banned skin lightening and bleaching products. The Rwandan government is now sending officials across the country to enforce the ban. 

The country is leading a campaign against skin bleaching and substandard cosmetics, particularly products that include hydroquinone.

“It is being implemented by the Ministry of Health and the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority and the Rwanda Standards Board,” Simeon Kwizera, the public relations and communications officer for the board told CNN.

“Operations are being conducted by technical people,” he said. “The police is there to oversee only and make sure that all operations are being conducted in a safe way.”

An African Nation Just Banned Skin Lightening & Bleaching Creams. A Lesson For India?


Back in November 2018, President Paul Kagame spoke about the need to ban the sale of skin “whiteners”.

Kagame called the bleaching creams “unhealthy” on Twitter in a response tweet to woman user calling for a crackdown on skin bleaching.

According to media reports, Rwandan police said they have seized more than 5,000 banned bleaching products — including lotions, oils, soaps and sprays — from beauty shops across the country last month.

What India can learn?

With the number of skin lightening products available in the market and the billions spent on the advertisement of such products, there’s little doubt that India is obsessed with fair skin.

The Indian fairness cream industry is worth around $450 million. The BBC once reported that in South Asia more skin lightening creams are sold than bottles of Coca Cola. 

Having a whiter skin in India is an aspiration for many. Young boys and girls grow up with lower self-esteem and self-confidence, often impacting their personal and professional success.

Creams, pills and injections that promise to lighten skin colour are immensely popular among the youth of the country. 

Perhaps, with time Indians will not hold ‘fairness’ in such high regard and accept their race and the genes they are born with.

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Youth out to ‘kill Modi’ died in fake encounter: report

Krishnadas Rajagopal 

Narendra Modi. File

Narendra Modi. File  

Ex-judge Bedi rejects police account

In 2002, a young man, identified by his aged father as just a rickshaw puller, was shot dead in cold blood by a Gujarat police team.

The police version was that he had been sent by the Pakistan-based terror organistion, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), to assassinate the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, shortly after the Akshardham temple attack.

Now, 16 years after Sameer Khan was shot dead, a report submitted by a former Supreme Court judge, H.S. Bedi, concludes that he was killed in a fake encounter. However, there is no adverse finding against Mr. Modi, public servants or senior police officers.

Sameer Khan’s case is the last of the 17 suspected fake police encounters, which is part of Justice Bedi’s 229-page report submitted in the Supreme Court in late February 2018.

In public domain

After almost a year of being hidden in a sealed cover in one of the basement rooms of the court, a Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, recently decided to put the report in the public domain, against the protests of the Gujarat government. All 17 police shootings occurred between 2002 and 2006 when Mr. Modi was Chief Minister.

Youth out to ‘kill Modi’ died in fake encounter: report

Of the 17, Justice Bedi has sought further trial against police officers concerned in only three cases. He has ordered a compensation of ₹10 lakh to ₹14 lakh to the families of the victims.

Most of the other cases in which he has recommended no further action deal with violent robberies gone fatal, murders and the repeated plot of suspects trying to escape police custody but ending up dead in shootouts with the police trying to defend themselves.

Justice Bedi, in the introductory passages of his report, clarifies the great degree of caution he took before recommending action against the police officers involved. He said he recommended trial against police officers whose versions tended to be “deeply suspicious” or in the cases in which there was a “reasonable chance of conviction.”

Besides Sameer Khan’s, the other two cases in which Justice Bedi has sought trial against the police officers for murder are the killings of “smuggler” Haji Haji Ismail in 2005 and Kasam Jafar of Mumbai. Justice Bedi has recommended ₹14 lakh in compensation to Jafar’s family.

But Sameer Khan’s case stands out. Justice Bedi says in his report that there is something “drastically amiss in the death and investigation in Sameer Khan’s case.”

The police version is that Khan had killed a policeman in a chain-snatching incident in 1996 and fled to Pakistan using a forged passport obtained from Bhopal. There, he had undergone weapons-training from the JeM in places such as Karachi, Lahore and and re-entered India through Nepal with assistance from the Inter-Services Intelligence. He had subsequently established “hideouts” in Mumbai, Rajkot and Bhopal before being finally tasked to kill Mr. Modi. Justice Bedi, however, is not impressed with the police version. He concludes that there is evidence in the case which lends “further support for my conclusion that the killing of the deceased [Sameer Khan] was indeed the result of a fake encounter.” Justice Bedi concludes that it was a case of “custodial death.”

Finally, the retired judge details the “tortuous and agonising” journey of Sameer’s father, Sarfaraz Khan, who lost his 30-year job as a driver with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, when his son was declared an “absconder.” Justice Bedi recommends a compensation of ₹10 lakh to Sarfaraz Khan for the loss of his son.

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Mumbai- BMC is to blame for BEST’s woes


*AMAB calls on to democratic rights groups, civil society organizations, unions, housing and livelihood rights campaigns to stand in solidarity with striking workers.*

Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST (AMAB) is an independent forum of citizens for public transport. 

Since 8th January, the workers of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) have been on an indefinite strike over a range of issues, the main demand being the merger of the  of the BEST budget with the principal budget of the BMC. *While the hardships caused by the strike to commuters are real and regrettable, it is beyond doubt that the circumstances that have resulted in the strike are almost entirely of the administration’s own making.*

While the workers may be on strike at the moment, it is important to highlight the fact that the BMC and BEST Management have been on an _investment strike_ for several years now – by refusing to invest in the improvement and expansion of the city’s public bus service. Instead, they have been single-minded in their dedication to promote an energy guzzling, land intensive, polluting, and exclusive car-centric transport system. The administration has been lavish in doling out thousands of crores in public money to service car owners, but turns mean and miserly when asked about the bus system. 

The BMC has been focused on the Coastal Road _instead_ of bus priority lanes; private contractors _instead_ of commuters; BEST’s so-called ‘inefficiencies’ _instead_ of the city’s worsening pollution and congestion; convenience of private motorists _instead_ of safe, affordable and sustainable public transport.

Furthermore, from time to time, the BEST has rightly termed BEST an ‘essential service’ under the Essential Services Maintenance Act, but only when it wants to prevent or ban strikes. When it comes to reducing the fleet, manpower, and services, and to hand over operations to private contractors, the BEST management treats BEST as a _’non-essential’ service_ – primarily concerned with its so-called “losses” rather than with the scale, scope and quality of service.

We, AMAB have outlined a workable, inexpensive, and efficient approach for the revival of the BEST’s bus services. We have showed how BEST can (1) Increase bus ridership, (2) Improve BEST’s service quality and reliability, (3) Improve its coverage and access. For almost two years now, we have been asking for an appointment with the Municipal Commissioner Mr. Ajoy Mehta to explain our plan – that includes means of financing operations, subsidies, introduction of bus priority lanes, integration between different transport modes, planned expansion of fleet, etc. However, our repeated requests and proposals have been ignored. 

It is clear that the BMC and the government do not want to hear or consider any sensible means to address the problems of city’s affordable public transport service. They continue to remain dogmatic, autocratic and tightfisted – pushing through their privatization plans, refusing to subsidize and finance its operations, cutting down routes, increasing bus fares, and denying workers their dues.

We therefore urge and request all democratic rights organizations, civil society groups, housing and livelihood rights campaigns, and all Mumbaikars – who have been affected as commuters of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to extend their support and stand in solidarity with striking workers. *The key demands of the BEST workers are in the interest of commuters of BEST, and ought to be supported by all who care about sustainable public transport in Mumbai.*

*Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST*

Vidyadhar Date, Convenor

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Life with Simon Britto: Seena, wife of late CPI(M) leader, speaks of their great love

Seena Bhaskar, wife of CPI(M) leader Simon Britto, speaks to TNM after her husband’s death. Britto was paralysed after he was stabbed in 1983, and the couple married 10 years later.

Love stories do not end when life is cut short. People who die continue to live on in the memories of those they have left behind. CPI (M) leader Simon Britto passed away on December 31, a day before the dawn of the New Year. Seena Bhaskar, his wife and journalist, is still grappling with the loss – of a man she met when she was just 19.  Theirs is a remarkable story, of love, passion and struggle.

Seena was not yet 20 when she met 37-year-old Britto in the year 1992. At the time, they called each other ‘comrade’, as is the practice among fellow workers in the communist party. They fell in love with each other, the wide age gap notwithstanding. Such was the intensity of their passion that by 1993, when Seena and Britto got married, he had written her a whopping 600 letters. 

In a day, Seena would receive two or even three letters at her home in Pirppancode in Thiruvananthapuram. 

“In order not to be caught by my parents, I would wait for the postman so he could hand the letters over to me directly.  In all the letters, he would address me as ‘dear comrade’ and sign off ‘with love Simon Britto’. In the letters, he would discuss politics with me. But in one of the letters, Britto opened up about his love for me. He wrote that he loves books the most, followed by food…and then he added that there’s something else which he loves and doesn’t want to lose but that he was afraid he was going to miss out. He would later tell me that falling in love was not alien or strange for a communist. I was only 19 at the time and I immediately thought of my parents and sister. I knew that I’d have to leave my family if I chose a life with Britto. But I did just that. We got married at a sub registrar office in 1993, October. Exactly 10 years after Britto was stabbed,” she says.

The stabbing incident

Simon Britto died at the age of 64. He lived a life that few could envision, and Seena made a choice that few would make. They embraced life fiercely, ignoring the nay-sayers who often asked Seena vulgar, inquisitive questions about being married to a paralysed man. 

“In all these years, we truly lived, we did not pretend to live. Britto’s love for me was intense. We would fight whenever we had differences in opinion. Our life together was as much about differences as it was about unity in thoughts. That’s how it should be. I left my home, signed the application for my marriage with him, and started living with him. People were curious to know how a person, who was paralysed below the waist, could urinate, defecate…Britto, who had lived a vibrant life, did not like others seeing him in a wheelchair. But I was able to manage all that. I was patient in nursing him, and over the years, our bond became stronger and stronger.”

Simon Britto was stabbed by political rivals in the year 1983, nearly a decade before he met Seena. At the time, Britto was a volatile student leader of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI). He was the district president of the organisation. The men who knifed him at the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam – a stronghold of the SFI then and now – would leave him paralysed forever.

How love bloomed

“It was the SFI which brought us together,” Seena remembers fondly. “We met during the SFI convention in 1992 – the year Babri Masjid was demolished. After meeting for the first time at the convention, Britto recognised me later near the poomaram (flowering tree) on the Maharaja’s campus. You know, Britto never studied in Maharaja’s, but people mostly identify him with the campus.”

It was not easy for the pair to convince those around them. Their families turned their backs to them – the two belonged to different religions, Seena a Hindu and Britto an Anglo Indian. Worse was the curiosity with which people studied them.

“People were keen to know not how much we loved each other but if we had had physical relations. If it was possible for Britto. Some used to comment saying women fail to resist sexual temptations even when living with a healthy man, and how was I controlling myself when I lived with someone who was paralysed. Even now, I am being cursed for not converting to Christianity. After we got married, we used to live with Britto’s parents till we built a separate house in 2000. But, our life was mostly outside the house – with our friends across the state, at the place where Britto was taken for treatment, and at the places where he was invited to speak,” she says.

It took 22 years for Seena’s family to accept her after the wedding.

Britto was a fighter who refused to relent. So is Seena. “He used to live in hospitals for months. In 1997, he was able to stand without crutches and he was able to walk without a walker… but that progress didn’t last for long. But even that didn’t affect him, he was as vibrant as one can be, with a smile on his face. I used to worry about his health, the condition of which was never stable. But all his energy was stored above his shoulders, and he never gave up,” she says. 

He was a man who never stopped relishing what the world had on offer. Their house was designed by him such that there are long verandahs on all four sides; this is so Britto could move around in his wheelchair and watch the rain, experience nature.

The struggle

While Seena worked as a journalist for the party mouthpiece Deshabhimani and later for a private television channel, Britto wrote books.  An avid reader, philosophical books were his favourite. He was the Anglo-Indian representative in the Kerala Assembly from 2006 to 2011. The MLA pension of Rs 10,000 that he used to get was spent in paying Arjun Das, Britto’s attendant from Patna, whom they appointed a few years ago. The rest of the expenses were met by Seena’s salary, and from selling the books Britto had written, five in all.  However, Seena lost her job two years ago and the couple’s finances were hit badly. 

After Britto’s death, Seena donated his body for medical research as per his wishes, a move for which she was criticised. 

“He had told me that his body shouldn’t be taken to the church for any prayers. The church had denied permission for shooting a documentary about Britto on the premises of the school run by it. He was an alumnus of the school,” she says. 

The church took this hostile stance because they did not approve of his politics. 

“The church never approved of his politics. He graduated from St Albert’s College, which is under the church, but since the college didn’t support his politics, his activities were mostly based at the Maharaja’s College campus. For him, the party was everything and he lived a comrade’s life till his last breath. It was the party which handed over his body, not me,” she says.

Britto always worried when he heard about attacks on student leaders. And when 22-year-old SFI leader Abhimanyu was killed at the Maharaja’s College campus in 2018, he was deeply saddened.

Abhimanyu used to visit the couple often and Britto was keen that the young man, who came from a humble home, was given a good meal whenever he stopped by. 


In 2006, the couple decided to have a child – yet another decision which was not easy. Their baby was born through in vitro fertilisation, and the couple named her Kai Nila. They call her Nilavu, meaning moonlight. 

“Life has always been a struggle for us, and it was the same when it came to raising our daughter. When Nila was very young, I would keep her in a coir basket when I went to take a bath, so she’d be safe and not fall. Or I would keep her in an umbrella-shaped mosquito net when I’d wash clothes. I would rush home from office every time I got a call that Britto had fallen. Many days, I’ve had to drop work and hurry home. But after Nilavu turned three, she surprisingly began to take care of Britto. She would give him water for washing his hands, she’d bring food to the table, she would take the plates to the kitchen. Britto would tell me, Seena – we started calling each other by name after we got married – this is all I wanted, a sound to break the silence at home after you leave for work.”

For Nilavu, Britto was a friend even though she called him ‘Abba’. Actually, most times, they would call each other ‘edo’ and ‘thaan’, as friends do. Britto would regale his daughter with many stories, always wanting to take her along in his journeys. Towards the end of his life, Britto would tell Nilavu that he would die within 10 years. But Nilavu remained hopeful.

“She would say that she would study well, get a well-paid job, and take Abba for treatment abroad. She would ask him, where will you go without taking me… Britto would even sleep on the road while travelling, and so would Nilavu. She is fond of eating outside and sleeping on the road. I used to be worried about how Britto would take care of her while travelling when he himself needs someone to help. But Britto would say, send her with me, Seena, I will take care of my daughter. Two weeks before his death, the two of them went to Mankulam in Idukki. Travelling with Nilavu was a celebration for Britto. He would take her to the places where he was invited as a speaker.” 

His last speech was on November 25, for the commemoration day of the Koothuparamba firing which killed five DYFI workers, injuring a man named Pushpan , who has been bedridden since.

 “Britto and Nilavu went to Broadway in the city a couple of days before his death. They bought five shirts for Britto from street vendors. Britto was keeping them to wear for their next trip to Mankulam…” Seena says, tears shining in her eyes.

 And how is Nilavu is coping with the loss of her Abba, her friend?

 “She is stronger than I am. Whenever my eyes turn wet, she comes and consoles me saying Abba wouldn’t like seeing me looking down. But for me,  I have lost the strong wall in my life; the one who took care of me like a mountain nurtures its flora and fauna. There were days when we were not together physically, but he was there at the other end of the phone. He would call me to share even a joke, he was never able to hide anything from me. But our discussions were mostly about politics and society. The personal came the last,” she says.

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Protest against citizenship Bill: Assam academic Gohain, two others booked for sedition

Commissioner of police, Guwahati, Deepak Kumar, told The Indian Express, “Certain statements were made in that meeting on January 8 which we thought needed to be investigated.”

by Abhishek Saha |Guwahati |Updated: January 11, 2019 7:15:50 am

citizenship bill, citizenship bill 2016, citizenship amendment bill, protests against citizenship bill, akhil gogoi, hiren gohain, manjit mahanta, sedition, assam news
A case of sedition was registered against prominent Assam intellectual and academic Hiren Gohain on Thursday. (File)

Prominent Assam academic Hiren Gohain (80), activist Akhil Gogoi (42) and journalist Manjit Mahanta (50) have been booked on charges of sedition for their comments during a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in Guwahati Monday.

Guwahati Police Commissioner Deepak Kumar told The Indian Express, “Yes, we have registered a case. Certain statements were made in that meeting on January 7 which we thought needed to be investigated. We will investigate it.”

The complaint was registered by officer-in-charge of Latasil police station Upen Kalita. The complaint, accessed by The Indian Express, states that Gogoi criticised the Bill and talked about “initiating a struggle for a sovereign Assam, independent of India”. It added, “Although a democratic congregation, the meeting witnessed anti-India statements by all speakers, so I request action be initiated against them.”

The FIR was filed on Wednesday at Latasil police station, charging the trio under Sections 120(B), 121, 123 and 124(A) of the IPC.

The January 7 meeting was organised by the “Save Assam” forum at the heart of Guwahati and attended by eminent citizens, including former Assam DGP Harekrishna Deka, former CMs Prafulla Mahanta and Tarun Gogoi, and several activists.

Kalita told The Indian Express, “We have primary evidence in the form of video footage of the public meeting and the case has been registered based on that.”

The video footage shows Gohain saying, “If the question of Independence arises, if no one listens to us, the government, the state and political parties, then it’s a different thing, then we will definitely be compelled to raise the demand for independent Assam. But let’s not get carried away by temporary emotions, as citizens of India, we will fight as long as we can. If that fight is not successful, then the demand for Independence will come up.”

Reacting to the FIR, Gohain told The Indian Express, “I have allegedly made statements amounting to sedition. In truth, some young elements at the rally at their indignation at the attitude of the government mentioned relevance of ‘freedom’ of Assam. I intervened that such a demand can have relevance if and when all democratic resources have been exhausted and if the state and all democratic parties and organisations reject the legitimate demands of people of Assam.”

Akhil Gogoi told The Indian Express, “This government is a fascist government. It’s an Emergency-like situation in this country right now. They are trying to stop this movement and hence this case. I have not said anything seditious and I have all the courage to face this case.”

Gogoi said he never mentioned “secession” or “armed struggle”. He said, “I had mentioned that people will ‘think’ of a recourse if they do not get required powers within India’s existing federal structure. And I stand by that statement.

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India’s Cow Crisis : The stigma of Mewat

How this backward district in Haryana has borne the brunt of stringent cow-related lawsNEXT NEWS ❯

By Jitendra

“How do you fit a veterinary doctor, fodder and a water tank inside a pickup van?” asks Nooruddin, sitting at a tea shop. The 50-year-old former goat keeper now marks buffaloes with colour at the animal market in Firozpur Jhirka for Rs 200, twice a week. Supplementary earnings working at a butcher shop take his monthly income to nearly Rs 3,000. That’s a fifth of what he used to earn a year ago.

“If the government has a problem with cows, calves and oxen, why is it strangulating our jobs?” says an angry Nooruddin, who has to commute 35 kilometres to reach the market from his village, Rehan Tappar in Haryana’s Nuh district.

Stringent legislations in states after states have left the livestock economy in a lurch; they have criminalised the livelihood of cattle traders and cattle keepers. This Mewat area has been one of the worst-hit.

Fifteen of the 20 incidents of killing over cow vigilantism in the last two years were related to movements of cattle. While perpetrators of murders are yet to be brought to justice, at least 53 cases regarding transport / movement of cattle have been lodged in Haryana in the same time, according to People’s Union for Democratic Rights.

Damp trade

At the weekly market, spread over two hectares, about 1,500 cattle and buffaloes changed hands every week. The local civic body made more than Rs 2 crore, issuing contracts for the market.

But the number of buffaloes and goats coming to the market has drastically reduced as more and more traders keep away due to increased attacks on vehicles transporting cattle.

No wonder, district agriculture officials, meanwhile, do not want to share data on animal trading. Off the record, an official said cattle trade has slumped by 80 per cent.

Animal husbandry is a state subject. While some allow cow slaughter, some have conditions attached:

  • Cow (mostly including calves, bulls and bullocks) slaughter is allowed in Kerala, West Bengal, Sikkim, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura
  • Assam allows slaughter under fit-for-slaughter certificates
  • Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka allow slaughter of all bovines except cows under fit-for-slaughter certificates
  • Buffalo slaughter is permitted in all states except Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh

Vigilantes use these gaps to attack cattle traders, leaving contractors a worried lot. “There are hardly 300 buffaloes being traded this week,” says contractor Noor Shah. Such has been the situation for a couple of years now; even villages hardly have any cattle, he adds.

Reports from other north Indian states point to a similar situation. While the iconic animal fair in Pushkar has seen dwindling footfall, at the Nakkhas animal market in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri, recently only 12 buffaloes and 15 goats were sold. All oxen remain unsold and no cow reached the market.

Existential crisis

Haryana’s indigenous cattle have dropped 18 per cent, according to the 19th Livestock Census. Mewat district has bucked the trend of moving onto exotic species, which means it still depends on an indigenous cattle population of about 33,000. But they can be hardly seen.

Trading, earlier, was a part of the circular economy—farmers would sell less productive cows for more productive ones. Cattle would typically pass four-five households in its life cycle. This also helped improve cattle breed.

The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, which prohibits cow slaughter, consumption, sale and storage of beef, has made cows pariah among villagers who earlier traded cattle or took to the dairy business.

An imprisonment clause of up to 10 years and fines up to Rs 1 lakh mean farmers are forced to keep unproductive cattle, which costs around Rs 72,000 according to Down To Earth’s calculations.

Already, indigenous cows contribute only 6 per cent to Haryana’s milk production. More stringent laws may land them in an existential crisis.

Take the example of Ahmedbash village. Wary villagers there decided to abandon their cattle last year before a government surveyor was to visit for an official counting. “As the news spread, many from surrounding villages did the same,” says Khalid, an Ahmedbash resident.

Meanwhile, at the Pherozepur Jhirka market, a voice in unison says: “No cow trading takes place here. We have traditionally been trading in buffaloes and goats.” A loan voice chips in: “Even if we trade cow, it is only for milk.”

Most vulnerable

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The laws and the violence have not disrupted the trading of bovines alone. “The police have even blocked our goat business,” Nooruddin says. Those associated with such business were anyway, trapped by poverty.

Nuh, where such trading was prevalent, featured among the lowest rung in the 2011 socio-economic caste census: About 70 per cent households reported a monthly income of less than Rs 5,000 and half the households took to casual labour. This district had the lowest representation in jobs—public and private.

Those like Nooruddin, who earned about Rs 25,000 a month, have also fallen on hard times. His anger is palpable when he narrated how he had to exit his former profession:

“It was the day before Eid, last year. I was taking 30 goats on a small pickup van towards Gurgaon. On Sohna road the police seized all 30 goats on grounds of cruelty against animals. They asked me to carry only 17 goats, keep a doctor, fodder and water in the van.”

It took him 15 days to free his goats, 19 of which died in the process, Several ran away and he was left with only six goats and a debt of Rs 2 lakh. The trade runs on high-interest, short-term loans.

A similar story is told by 19-year-old Imran Qureshi from Rehanganj village in the same district. The Delhi Police seized 39 goats from him and his father-in-law Md Iqbal last February on the same charge.

“In the last two months, 20 of our goats died due to lack of care. Can you help us get them back? We are in huge debt, we did nothing wrong,” Iqbal’s father-in-law said over the phone, hoping an intervention by the media would help him.

They had to cough up Rs 15,000 for bail at the Tees Hazari police station. Imran adds that they left the goats there as the police demanded Rs 250 per day to keep them. The police station denied any such incident and claimed the goats were already released.

Raw wounds

Buffaloe traders at the market have suffered even more: Taufiq Qureshi of Rawli village narrates how he was attacked in Mathura in 2016 when he was trucking 19 buffaloes:

“At Khair, vigilantes caught five trucks carrying buffaloes and demanded Rs 50,000. When we refused to pay, the police seized the trucks. Six buffaloes died without water and food for a day. We eventually had to pay Rs 1 lakh for release.”

Jameel Qureshi still carries scars on his forehead from the 36 stitches he had to undergo when the UP Police beat him up in April 2016. The 21-year old, a labourer who would load and unload goats, was in a van carrying 36 goats.

“At Sector 62, Ghaziabad, the police beat us up, snatched Rs 5,000 and took all 36 goats. We have never been to Gaziabad again,” Jameel says.

Such attack on livelihoods often pushes them towards bribing vigilantes and the police. “At Hodal in Haryana and Kosi Kalan in UP, we pay Rs 5,000 per month to cow vigilantes and Rs 500 per animal to the police,” alleges Roushan khan, a truck driver, who was once beaten up by policemen in Mathura.   

A community disgraced

Eliciting such response is not easy: fear is visible on the face of people at the market. Forget taking names, they don’t even want to tell which police station they were detained at.

Gradually a pattern emerges: Of how the entire district, and especially the Muslims and Dalits living there, have been painted tainted. Even small quantities of beef or meat alleged to be beef, often for personal consumption, has led to attacks.

At Doua, a village near Ferozepur Jhirka famous for its Biryani, villagers allege harassment for “selling beef” though they insist the meat is of buffalo and goat. In August 2016, samples of biryani were taken from Mundaka village and seven were booked.

Haroon, who bought a pickup van three years ago says he struggles to pay his instalments as business has been soft. Yet he avoids venturing outside the district, fearing persecution. The same is the case with labourers from the area.

When Md Umar of Dhadhula ki Khurd village went to Faridabad in search of work, he was mobbed on rumours that he was looking for cows. “I prefer to work within Mewat; outside we are branded as cow smugglers,” Ishtiyaq, another youth.

This branding of Mewat’s Muslims as cow slaughterers and smugglers has become a trend, says a senior government official who doesn’t wish to be named. “We are either looked down upon or discriminated,” says the official, underscoring the extent of the problem.

Related posts

One year of Bhima-Koregaon case: One FIR, many arrests and politics of a State at war with the people

All the activists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case are left-leaning lawyers, academics and organic intellectuals who are extremely popular among the Dalit-Bahujan communities in Maharashtra and also in other states, because of the stellar work they have been doing over the years. The two sets of arrests — on June 6, 2018 and on August 28, 2018 — were based on one FIR filed on January 8, 2018. Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson as well as Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Vara Vara Rao, were arrested, while attempts to arrest Anand Teltumbde didn’t succeed, and Gautam Navlakha was granted relief by Delhi High Court. While a 5000-page chargesheet has been filed, the glaring inconsistencies in the document will go down as a huge a blot on Indian democracy.


[WATCH]  The Bhima Koregaon Case: What Really Happened

Owing to violence as many as 628 crimes under Indian Penal Code (IPC), general laws and 17 under Atrocities Act came to be registered.

However, with regards to the incidents, one FIR by an activist victim, Anita Salawe, had named Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide as perpetrators. In pursuance of this FIR, the State had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court of India, opposing the anticipatory bail of Milind Ekbote. In the said affidavit, it was clearly stated that after investigation and recording of statements of the witnesses and based on call data — it was clear that Milind Ekbote was the mastermind behind the riots.

Two FIRs came to be registered against Elgar Parishad speakers. One was registered against Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mewani alleging inflammatory speeches. Another one by Tushar Damgude, on January 8, 2018, accusing that Elgar Parishad was organised by Maoists, too was registered. Though this FIR came to be registered with the Vishrambag Police Station, however its investigation, very interestingly, was handed over to the ACP of Swargate jurisdiction, whereas there is an ACP for the Vishrambag itself.

Though initially there was no enquiry on this FIR, suddenly on March 6, 2018, Section 120B came to be added and names of two suspects — namely Surendra Gadling and Rona Wilson — too were added.

On March 8, 2018, ACP Swargate sought search warrant against Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Harshali Potdar, Rona Wilson, Sagar Gorkhe, Dhawala Dhengle, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Rupali Jadhav. However, the Judicial Magistrate of First Class (JMFC) rejected the same.

On March 19, 2018 again an attempt was made to obtain search warrant against above named persons: this time as well the court rejected the same.

On April 17, 2018, much after the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Assembly had stated on two occasions that the perpetrators of the violence were Hindutva forces and had given detailed chronology of events, raids were conducted at the houses of above-named persons, without any search warrant.

Surendra Gadling

Gadling is a decorated criminal lawyer, who has dedicated his whole life in fighting cases having social significance. Raised by extremely poor Dalit parents, he worked part time and simultaneously studied law when he was still in his teens. Agitated at the plight of tribals who were arbitrarily and without any rehabilitation evacuated from Pench forest which was being converted into a tiger reserve, Gadling started assisting Advocate Harane, who was a human rights lawyer working for the tribals of Pench. Gadling took the baton from ailing Harane and assisted unaccountable number of people in their legal troubles. Even after rising to the stature of getting appointed as the special public prosecutor, he preferred to represent a popper over an opulent man.

In 25 years of his career, he has handled many cases under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). There have been efforts, time and again, to dislodge his activism by threatening him of evil consequences. Police even attempted to book him in a sedition case 20 years back; however, no action was taken against the same. In that case as well, he had represented the accused who happened to be a resident of his locality and managed to get bail immediately. Police rearrested his client from prison gates and slapped more cases at Chandrapur and stated to media that Advocate Gadling was also a wanted accused in the matter. He had to obtain anticipatory bail. However, in the past he was not even called for recording his statement.

Advocate Gadling is known in Nagpur and across Maharashtra as a champion of Dalit and tribal rights and has anchored various fact-finding committees, and petitioned courts seeking justice for voiceless. Of the prominent activists he has represented, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Prof G N Saibaba, journalist Prashant Rahi and Maruti Kurwatkar are some of the names. He is representing Dalit activists who were booked under serious offences during Khairlanji Massacre agitations.  He had collected  contributions from various lawyers and retired judicial officers, by issuing them receipts for the same. Those receipts too have been seized by Pune Police during the raid at his residence.

Sudhir Dhawale

Another Dalit rights activist, poet, singer, artist, has been tirelessly working for the rights of Dalits since his young age. He was booked under UAPA. After a prolonged trial, the Gondia Court acquitted him, famously holding that “he was carrying books and not bombs”. Prosecution could not prove any allegation against him, resulting in his honourable acquittal.

A staunch Ambedkarite, Dhawale has authored a number of booklets, writing extensively against casteist repression. He has anchored many fact findings pertaining to Dalit atrocities and assisted lawyers in such cases with his intellectual inputs. He is a member of the board of editors of a bimonthly Vidrohi, along with other Ambedkarite intellectuals, including Vira Sathidar, Gautam Sapkale, Sharad Gaikwad, Sumedh Jadhav and Harshali Potdar. After his release, he resumed his work as a State Convener for Republican Panther, Jati Antachi Chalwal (movement for annihilation of caste).

Sudhir Dhawale was instrumental in organising various agitations after the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the destruction of Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai, the Una flogging of Dalits and the mob lynching of Pehlu Khan in Alwar. He was one of the members of the State Committee constituted for the Bhima-Koregaon Elgar Parishad, which was chaired by Retd Justice P B Sawant of the Supreme Court of India, and supervised by Retd Justice B G Kolse Patil of the Bombay High Court and Advocate Prakash Ambedkar, national president of the Bharatiya Republican Party.

Rona Wilson

An alumnus from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and originally from Kerala, Rona since his college days, has been actively participating in the civil rights movement, particularly in Delhi. Later on, he took up work with the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, along with many prominent personalities and activists based out of Delhi and other major cities. He helped hapless victims of state repression by engaging lawyers for them and helping coordinate between lawyers and the family members of the prisoner.

It must be noted that Ronal Wilson had no role to play in Elgar Parishad in any manner. Neither had he attended the programme, nor did he made any contribution towards the programme. He stated that he came to know about the programme after reading about the riots that took place in Maharashtra on January 1 and 2, 2018.

Kabir Kala Manch

Kabir Kala Manch is a staunch Ambedkarite cultural troupe, which was formed in aftermath of Gujarat riots in 2002. Its founders — Prof Yogendra Mane and Union leader Amarnath Chandaliya — were of the opinion that the rift that has been created out of the riots among various religions needs to be bridged by inculcating truth and the spirit of brotherhood through cultural performances. Starting out with only two people, this troupe eventually expanded and many young singers and poets joined in. Inspired by the ideals of Chatrapati Shahu, Mahatma Phule, Savitri Bai, Shivaji Maharaj and Babasaheb Ambedkar, the troupe made it a single-line agenda to annihilate caste.

Of the many artists, activists and volunteers, it has Sagar Gorkhe, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor, Rupali Jadhav and Dipak Dhengale, who look after the ideological and cultural functioning of the troupe. While they perform on the special occasions on invitations, for livelihood they work in different sector. Dipak Dhengale a tribal person works as fitter with garbage collection vehicles of Pune Municipal Corporation. Sagar Gorkhe is graduate in arts and worked as a clerk with Pune Majdur Sabha. Ramesh Gaichor is a postgraduate and worked as a professor at Gnyanba Moje College, Pune.

Songs written by this group started to become so popular that even Bollywood started approaching them for rights of some of their songs. However, determined not to commercialise their art and not to let capitalists exploit Ambedkarite art that belonged to the people, they refused to let any song be used in cinemas or for any commercial purpose.

However, in the year 2011, alleging that some of the members of this group have Naxal links, few of its artists were arrested and eventually granted bail by the Bombay High Court. Later in 2013, other artists appeared before the then home minister R R Patil, along with Advocate Prakash (Balasaheb) Ambedkar and submitted themselves to law. After spending 44 months of incarceration in jail, the Supreme Court granted them bail in 2017. In the past eight years, only one witness has been examined. These artists must weekly give their attendance at police station between 10AM to 2PM and are restricted from travelling out of the State, except with permission of the court.In 2011, alleging that some of the members of Kabir Kala Manch have Naxal links, few of its artists were arrested and eventually granted bail. In 2013, these artists submitted themselves to law and went ahead to spend 44 months of incarceration in jail before being granted bail by Supreme Court in 2017

This troupe is a sensation in the Ambedkarite movement in Maharashtra and is often invited on the occasions of Phule or Shahu or Ambedkar or Shivaji Maharaj anniversary programmes and have received honorarium for the same. They voluntarily perform at the agitations, protests and collect contribution for their work. From the money obtained, they support their unemployed members and maintain instruments for their performance.

Kabir Kala Manch had the responsibility for the cultural programmes of Elgar Parishad and was tasked to mobilise and encourage people to come for the programme by performing street plays. The troupe had been receiving work and guidance from  (Retd) Justices Sawant and Kolse-Patil as well as Advocate Prakash Ambedkar, from time to time.

Very importantly, Sagar Gorkhe and Rupali Jadhav had argument with some of the police officers who were operating their laptops and connecting their pen-drives to them. Though police claim to have videographed everything, it has refused to file footage of the same on records. Activists believe that it was mere intimidation tactic and was meant to divert the attention of masses, continued with their work unbothered. True to their expectation, nothing happened for quite some time.

April 24, 2018: Encounters in Gadchiroli

Little later in the same month, on April 22, 2018, a big operation was undertaken by police in which the authorities claimed to have gunned down 40 Naxals. Various organisations then decided to conduct fact-finding over the issue and the same was being anchored by Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut, apart from other activists. They visited the villages in Gadchiroli district, where, true to their anticipation, it was revealed to be a cold-blooded massacre of several innocent people.

This fake encounter had taken place under the supervision and command of IG Naxal Shivaji Bodkhe, who now stands transferred to Pune, where he has taken over the supervision of investigation in the case against activists.

Fact-finding team hence released a press note summarising their findings. It would be important to note that there was a two-year-old kid who was killed in the operation; at the same time there was a huge Maoist cash seizure and the amount was siphoned off, according to the fact-finding team.

Even after their press conference, nothing concrete had happened. Therefore Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut had decided to complete a fact-finding report, and approach the court. In the opinion of Gadling and Sen, Mahesh Raut was the ideal petitioner to knock the court’s door in public interest. However, Mahesh Raut was of firm opinion that instead of any individual, gram sabhas from Gadchiroli district should petition the court. Thus, in consultation with all, he had approached many gram sabhas who had expressed their readiness and willingness to approach the court of law, seeking independent investigation and action against the cops.In the first set of arrests on June 6, 2018, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Shoma Sen were picked up by the Pune police. The police claimed to have found a letter plotting the alleged “assassination of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi” written by these five individuals. In addition, the police said that the arrested people were the sponsors of the Elgar Parishad programme at “the behest of Maoists”

In the meantime, media exposed that personnel involved in the operation were given a special treat by the State government and as a reward, they were sent on foreign tour for holiday.

Thus, the three, along with other juniors of Gadling, decided to assemble on June 7, 2018, in Nagpur and take a final call on the legal strategy. Mahesh who was staying at his sister’s place, had relevant evidence and documents which he had brought along with him.

June 6, 2018: First round of arrests

Morning hours of June 6, 2018 left many phone buzzing with the news that activists across India have been picked up by the Pune Police. Among the arrested were Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, as well as, surprisingly enough, Mahesh Raut and Shoma Sen.

Shoma Sen

A senior citizen who recently turned 60, Shoma Sen holds a doctorate in English Literature, and was working as the head of the English Department at Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj University, Nagpur since 2011. Prior to that, she had taught in PWS College, Nagpur from 1987 to 2011. She was an elected member of the Academic Council of the university. Sen is frequently invited by prestigious foreign universities to deliver lectures on English Literature, feminism and other subjects. She has written many articles for Indian and foreign publications, on current politics and feminism. She was a regular contributor to the Economic and Political Weekly.

Sen is a reputed person from Nagpur who has made tremendous contribution to various peoples’ movements throughout her life. Be it incidences of atrocities on Dalits or tribals or any other political social issue, Sen has been among the first to channelise various public spirited and social organisations to come together and agitate demanding justice. In her long academic career she has mentored many students who at present hold significant positions in academia.

Sen was arrested just a fortnight before her retirement from service. Shoma Sen was neither a speaker in the program, nor did she actively participate in the programme. She happened to be in Pune regarding some personal work and thus paid a visit to programme. Apart from this visit for a couple of hours, she had no role to play in the Elgar Parishad event dated December 31, 2017.

Mahesh Raut

This 32-year-old Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai alumnus was in the first batch of the prestigious Prime Minister Rural Development fellowship. The fellowship was a central government initiative to encourage young people to go and work in the rural/conflict areas and liaison between the state machinery and people. Mahesh Raut thus took on the work of implementation of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and the Forest Rights Act, and with the help of the local administration was successful in bridging the gap between people and government.

However, after the completion of the fellowship, Raut decided to continue this line of work. He thus started strengthening the gram sabhas and advising them on using the law for upholding their right over forests. In course, he came across instances of illegal mining in the area, and thus following the wish of people, started a movement opposing Surjagad Mining.

It would be important to note here that in the hardcore Naxal area, where elections are boycotted, Mahesh Raut convinced people to participate in elections, and as a result, two tribals from the area came to be elected to the Zila Parishad.

Mahesh is networked with people working for the rights of tribals, and has published many booklets in simple language to explain forest rights act and PESA. As mentioned earlier, he was assisting Advocate Gadling in fact-finding pertaining to the Gadchiroli massacre, along with many others, and was about to petition in the high court on the issue. He had also convinced certain gram sabhas to come in the support of the petition and be petitioners in the matter. This information had clearly reached the police, since they have their informers planted all over the district.

Mahesh Raut had no role to play in the Elgar Parishad event. He did not even participate in the programme, nor was at Pune on December 31, 2017.

Media trial

First press conference by Pune Police: ‘Letters’ disclosed

The Joint Commissioner of the Pune Police Ravindra Kadam, took a press conference on June 8, 2018 after the arrest of the first five. He claimed that they had found the “assassination plot letter”, and further, that the arrested people were the sponsors of the programme at the behest of Maoists.

Upon uproar from the masses and the organisers replying to these ridiculous allegations by citing the receipts of the contribution, and disclosing the accounts, the police took another press conference.

Second press conference by Pune Police: ‘Letters’ released to media

In the second press conference again headed by the then Joint Commissioner of Pune Police, Ravindra Kadam, the cop changed his version a little and stated that they were the masterminds behind the riots and the Elgar Parishad event.

Third press conference 

Ravindra Kadam, upon his transfer to Nagpur out of his own choice owing to his nearing the retirement age, held a third discussion with the media. In this, he made an about turn, completely changing the allegations against the arrestees. He stated to the media that Elgar Parishad and Bhima Koregaon riots have no connection. Further, that they had not found any concrete proofs of funding by Maoists to the Elgar Parishad and probe in the same was going on.

In all, 13 letters were released to the media, wherein serious and extremely doubtful contents were attributed to many activists. Some of the names revealed were of Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Jignesh Mewani, Umar Khalid, Nihalsing Rathod, Monica Sakhrani, Mahrukh Adenwala, Degree Prasad Chauhan, Amarnath Pande, Vara Vara Rao, et al.

Of those named, noted lawyer and trade unionist Sudha Bhardwaj issued a defamation notice to Republic TV.

August 28, 2018: Second round of arrests

In the morning hours of August 28, 2018, Pune Police conducted raids at various places across the nation and arrested Vara Vara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha from their residences. Attempt to arrest Anand Teltumbde failed since he was not his residence at the relevant time.

Gautam Navlakha

A human rights activist and journalist based in New Delhi, Navlakha was the President of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights and has been long associated with the Economic and Political Weekly. He is a known commentator on current affairs. The State relied upon him to negotiate the safe return of persons abducted by left-wing extremists in Chhattisgarh. Navlakha was arrested from New Delhi.In the second set of arrests of August 28, 2018, Vara Vara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha were picked up by Pune police. Attempt to arrest Anand Teltumbde failed since he was not his residence at the relevant time

Sudha Bharadwaj

Bharadwaj is a prominent cause lawyer of the Bilaspur High Court who has represented workers, poor and marginal farmers and others in Chhattisgarh, currently residing in Faridabad. She is the national general secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and since 2017 has been teaching at the National Law University, Delhi.  As a member of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj was vocal against the arrest of lawyers like Surendra Gadling in recent times. Bharadwaj has been a member of committees and provided legal aid and is a recognised human rights defender.

Bharadwaj was arrested from her Faridabad residence, where she was living with her daughter. After her house arrest period got over, she has been in jail like the others in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Vara Vara Rao

Political worker, commentator and renowned poet, Vara Vara Rao needs no introduction. He was a professor of English and Telegu literature. In past as well, there have been many attempts to jail him. Every time, he was booked under one or other serious offence and then State would eventually withdraw the case.  This 79-year-old poet is named in some of the 13 letters released by the police to media. Rao was arrested from his Hyderabad residence in the presence of his daughter and son-in-law, and other family members.

Arun Ferreira

Practising as a lawyer since 2015 and a renowned human rights activist, well known for his book on his experience of prison life — Colours of Cage — which is translated in most of the Indian languages, Arun Ferreira was similarly arrested in the past and had spent considerable time in jail, under the accusation which were as ridiculous as the current one. He came to be acquitted in all the cases. However, the moment he stepped out of the prison, he was again arrested by police and booked under more cases. Eventually, he could obtain his acquittal by proving his innocence once again.

After his release, Ferreira completed his law, and had started practising in Mumbai. He was also appearing for Advocate Surendra Gadling in this case. Ironically, Advocate Surendra Gadling was the one who defended Arun Ferreira in most of his cases. Ferreira was arrested from his Mumbai residence.

Vernon Gonsalves

Gold medalist from Bombay University in Commerce, accounts officer at Siemens, then lecturer of accounts in Maharastra College, writer and columnist, Vernon Gonsalves is credited with his translation of Annabhau Sathe’s Gold from the Grave from Marathi to English, published in David Davidar’s A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces.

Like Ferreira, Gonsalves was also persecuted in past and was kept in jail for long. He was also defended by Surendra Gadling in his cases. Gonsalves was acquitted in most of his cases, and convicted in one. Appeal against the same is pending before the Bombay High Court.

Anand Teltumbde

Though Anand Teltumbde is yet to be arrested, Pune Police is not leaving any stone unturned to capture this widely respected academic, well known for his original insights into many a contemporary issue in activist and academic circles world over. He has written extensively in all leading newspapers, magazines, organisational pamphlets, and booklets as an aid to struggling masses, and has lectured widely in India and abroad. He has authored 22 books which are popularly translated into most Indian languages. He had pioneered a theoretical critique of neoliberal globalisation vis-à-vis Dalits and other oppressed masses. He is a regular contributor to India’s most respected social science journal, the Economic and Political Weekly, wherein he writes a monthly column “Margin Speak”. He also regularly contributes to other progressive journals like Mainstream, Frontier, Seminar, etc. as well as most English newspapers.

Born in a family of landless labourers in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Teltumbde was active in student politics and held several elected offices. He was concurrently involved in/associated with various people’s struggles — significantly, the struggles of construction workers and casual labour in West Bengal in late 1970s and thereafter in Mumbai with the struggles of textile workers, slum dwellers and contract labourers in 1980s.

He has obtained his Bachelors in Engineering from VNIT Nagpur, MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and Doctorate in Management focusing on a pioneering area of cybernetic modelling for public systems. In his illustrious career so far, Teltumbde has been ranked among the top 20 people who contributed to India’s IT, consecutively for three years by Data Quest during the 1990s. With consistent uncompromising stand on issues which made him one of the fiercest critics of the establishment in the country, it may be a veritable wonder that he still reached the zenith of corporate world as the Executive Director of Bharat Petroleum and the Managing Director & CEO of Petronet India Limited. After his corporate stint, he was invited by IIT, Kharagpur to be a Professor in their Vinod Gupta School of Management. He has recently shifted to Goa Institute of Management as Senior Professor, Business Analytics.

Romila Thapar’s PIL in Supreme Court

On August 28, 2018, while the Pune Police tried to whisk away all five activists, concerned lawyers approached various forums. On behalf of Gautam Navlakha a petition came to be filed, wherein on directions of the high court he was shifted to house arrest until final disposal of the case.

Similar approach was taken for Sudha Bharadwaj, wherein she was also prevented from being taken away.

While this was ongoing, the Pune Police had already arrested and brought Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Vara Vara Rao to Pune from Mumbai and Hyderabad.

In the meantime, five eminent members of the civil society led by public intellectual and historian Romila Thapar approached the Supreme Court and apprised it of the matter. Acting promptly, Supreme Court directed to place all five activists under house arrest until further order and therefore Vara Vara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves were kept in house arrest.

The State of Maharashtra opposed the petition vociferously and sought dismissal of the petition on many counts. It showed case diary to the court, and finally on September 28, 2018 Supreme Court through a split verdict dismissed the petition, giving time of four weeks to the arrested activists to work out their remedies before appropriate forums.

The Delhi High Court, struck down the order of transit remand granted against Gautam Navlakha thereby setting him free. Thereafter he approached, Bombay High Court challenging proceedings against him.

Punjab and Haryana High Court, was reluctant to hear the case of Sudha Bharadwaj, thus it was withdrawn and bail application was filed before the trial court. Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves also filed their respective bail applications before the trial court.

Vara Vara Rao, approached Hyderabad High Court and obtained interim stay on his arrest.

On the last day of the house arrest period, when four weeks from the order of the Supreme Court was to end, i.e. October 26, , the sessions court rejected all the bail applications. Acting upon the same, the Pune Police arrested three activists from their residences, including Sudha Bharadwaj.After the arrests of August 28, 2018, activists, lawyers approached various forums protesting the arrest of these individuals. Multiple petitions were filed in courts across the country in demand of grant of bail to them. All the bail applications were rejected by the Sessions Court and the activists were put under house arrest

Vara Vara Rao’s petition in the Hyderabad High Court also came to be dismissed without giving him any time to challenge it before the Supreme Court. Thus, he too came to be arrested.

In the meantime, Pune Police sought extension of 90 days from court to file chargesheet against the first set of arrestees, which came to be mechanically granted. A challenge to same in the High Court succeeded and the High Court was pleased to set aside the order of the trial court, granting extension.

While this had made way to bail clear to first set of arrests, the State promptly approached the Supreme Court and obtained stay on the judgment of the Bombay High Court.

On November 12, 2018, Maharashtra Police obtained production warrant against Surendra Gadling in an old case, just to frustrate his bail possibility.

On November 15, 2018, a day before matter was fixed for decision in the Supreme Court, State filed 5000 odd pages of the chargesheet.

On November 16, 2018, the State of Maharashtra sought time to file rejoinder to the replies filed by the first set of arrestees to the challenge petition.

On December 3, 2018, the State insisted that the Court should look at the charge sheet before releasing the first set of arrests on mere hypertechinicallity. Accepting the prayer, the Court directed state to file charge sheet before the Supreme Court.

On December 09, 2018, state files 12000 pages of charge sheet before the Supreme Court including original and translated versions. The Court deferred the hearing till January 10, 2019.

A glimpse at the chargesheet

The charge sheet claims that Elgar Parishad was organised by Maoists through its frontal organisation namely Kabira Kala Manch. CPI(Maoist) supplied funds for the programme. Arrested accused person wanted to overthrow the government by organising such events. Due to the speeches given at Elgar Parishad, riots broke out at Bhima Koregaon.

Though the chargesheet is based on electronic evidence, forensic reports are awaited. The chargesheet makes allegations which are contrary to records. There are certain statements in the chargesheet which people claim are not as per their say. Very importantly justice Sawant’s statement is part of the chargesheet, which he publicly denied to have given to police at all.

What to expect in the coming times

More arrests, may be third and fourth rounds and many more till all the dissenters are declared “Urban Naxals”, and subjected to  long-term incarceration.


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Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver


Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, “The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record” by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

According to Poruthiyil, “Though the ostensible reason for the censure order is his environmental activism, an underlying subtext of this censure is his campaign for social diversity among the faculty of the IIMs. Deepak’s research exposed that of the 512 faculty members in all IIMs combined; only two belong to the Scheduled Caste category. He has also been campaigning for the desegregation of the vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections of the canteens in the IIM-B.”

Continues Poruthiyil, “Deepak’s relentless campaign, which inevitably led to his ostracism from the majority of the IIM faculty network, has been successful to a degree — IIM-B has recently started a scholarship program for doctoral candidates belonging to underprivileged castes.”
Following Poruthiyil plea, the Human Rights and Business Network of India (HRBN-I) has created a petition in support of Dr Malghan, to be sent to the IIM-B board. HRBN-I, which is a civil society network working on issues related to business and human rights in India, has called Dr Malghan a “recognized scholar”.

Pointing out Dr Malghan, who is assistant professor at the IIM-B, received a censure order from IIM-B for sending a mail to the Placement Committee, saying they should “disinvite” Unilever during campus placement. Hindustan Unilever, adds HRBN-I, has been “in the midst of a controversy related to its decision in 2001 to carelessly dump mercury, a hazardous chemical, when closing down a plant located at Kodaikanal.”

HRBN-I adds, “This issue is disheartening because it exposes once again the narrowing of spaces for critical research in Indian academia, and more specifically the usurpation of business education by corporate interests.” HRBN-I has asked concerned citizens to endorse the petition and send suggestions for further suggestion by emailing at till Friday, January 11, 2019.

Text of the draft petition:

The Human Rights and Business Network is a coalition of academics, civil society activists, journalists, and indigenous groups created to defend the human rights of precarious communities in India. Due to the nature of its work, the HRBN is acutely aware of the rapidly decreasing spaces to discuss and debate development trajectories premised on the denial of human rights of the weaker and voiceless sections in India. 

Given the already bleak context, we are alarmed at the recent actions taken by the administration of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) to censure Deepak Malghan, an assistant professor in the institute. 
The trigger for IIMB’s actions is ostensibly Dr Malghan’s suggestion in an email that students hold Hindustan Unilever to account for the irreversible damages caused by its factory to the ecology of Kodaikanal and the denial of the rights of communities to a healthy life. For its part, IIM-B justifies these actions as a defense of the interests of its “stakeholders”, that presumably includes Hindustan Unilever. 

Even a student would know evoking stakeholder interests cannot ignore the weaker entities affected by an organization’s actions. In a stunning display of partisanship, IIMB has chosen to prioritize the interests of its most privileged stakeholders while reprimanding Dr. Malghan for seeking to defend the interests of the communities that, being a public-funded institution, IIM-B has a duty to defend. 

It is expected of corporations to curtail voices of individuals and groups who consistently expose corporate hypocrisies. Tactics for suppressing critiques from within the academia may include threatening administrations with withdrawal of funding of professorial chairs, with exiting from recruitment, or with denial of lucrative management development programs; each of some of these methods may have been deployed in this case. 

An administration with moral and intellectual spine would have withstood such pressures and reaffirmed the importance of the free exchange of ideas for research and teaching. Instead, IIM-B’s decision to censure Dr Malghan is a shocking display of submission to corporate bullying.

This meekness is a symptom of an affliction by a malaise known to infect business schools in general – the substitution of “higher aims”, in this case academic freedom and defending the weak, with an eagerness to become “hired hands” groveling in the service of corporate greed.

We request the Board of Governors at IIM-B to reverse the decision to censure Dr Malghan, and thereby reiterate the protections of academic freedom at IIMB. If schools at the forefront of education like IIM-B can be bullied into submission, our entire higher education system risks losing its spine to ever stand up to forces inimical to social justice. The reversal will also be a message of reassurance for the academic community in India.We affirm our support to Dr Malghan in his efforts to secure environmental justice. We thank Dr Malghan for reminding faculty members and academic leaderships across the country that basic principles of an academic life involve courage in speaking truth to power and a commitment to transforming students into critical citizens and empathetic human beings.

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Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an “accident” to the people of India

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher’s film ‘Accidental Prime Minister’ has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.

Manmohan Singh’s government gave this country Right to Information, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee, National Food Security, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights), Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Criminal Law (Amendment) also known as Nirbhaya, Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending), Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Acts, some benefits of the earlier mentioned ones of which have reached people while the latter ones are still to yield any results. 

However, the Narendra Modi government has hardly done anything benefits of which have touched the lives of common people. His Jan Dhan Yojna and Ujjwala schemes have come a cropper. While during Manmohan Singh’s government you could hear people talking spiritedly about RTI, MNREGA, Forest Rights Act, etc., in Narendra Modi’s government one doesn’t hear anybody talking about Jan Dhan or Ujjwala with same enthusiasm, except for in government sponsored advertisements. 
Demonitisation, which was really ‘remonitisation‘ as the government brought back bigger denomination notes, betraying the reason that it was meant to be an action against ending black money, and implementation of Goods and Services Tax have made a dent in economy from which it is still recovering. A common perception now is that Narendra Modi-Arun Jaitley have little understanding of the economy and the government has been manipulating data to show better results. The duo was unable to retain competent experts like Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel with the government.

The Narendra Modi government’s biggest failure has been on the law and order front. Hardline elements of Hindutva brigade appear to have had a free hand in perpetrating criminal actions which have terrorised the society at large. While Member of Parliament of Bhartiya Janata Party Raghav Lakhanpal Sharma attacked the residence of Senior Superintendent of Police of Saharanpur in April 2017, various fringe elements attacked Muslim citizens on the suspicion of having consumed beef or simply when they were carrying cattle, some of these perpetrators were garlanded by central minister Jayant Sinha in Jharkhand.

Yogi Adityanath government has indulged in encounter killing of more than fifty people and if police is not killing citizens, then mob is killing policemen in Uttar Pradesh. Legislators threaten people who feel insecure under the present dispensation with bombing, something for which a person associated with left wing ideology could be labeled as urban-naxal and put behind bars.

Narendra Modi has probably travelled abroad more frequently and widely than any other PM. However, his foreign sojourns did not do any good to India’s relationship with most countries, especially, its neighbours. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has shown rare goodwill gesture by opening the corridor to Kartarpur for visit of Sikh pilgrims from India to Darbar Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan without the requirement of passport-visa. 

Narendra Modi appears to be caught in the politics of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan that his party is traditionally used to. He is not able to grow out of his 56 inch chest size syndome, declared publicly during last elections, to respond to the friendly overture from neighbour. On the other hand, it is unclear what the most bravado action of surgical strike achieved for India, for cross border terrorist incidents continue unabated. Relationship with Pakistan during Manmohan Singh’s regime had improved relatively. In spite of the terrorist attack on Mumbai that government did not take an intransigent position of not engaging with Pakistan.

Narendra Modi is constrained to use icons of freedom movement led by Indian National Congress like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose to counter the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of Congress, as he knows that ideologues of his parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh like Hedgewar, Savarkar and Golwalkar will not go down well with masses as they were not faithful to the freedom movement of this country. Having formed the government with just 31% of the votes, incidentally the lowest vote share of any party to have won majority of Lok Sabha seats, Narendra Modi has also deserted some of the RSS agenda like anti-reservation in any attempt to gain wider acceptability.

As the next Lok Sabha election is approaching, the Ram temple issue has started dominating the political narrative as if this is an important demand of all Hindus. Without having solved any of the major problems facing the country like farmers’ suicides or child malnourishment, unemployment or sub-standard education and health care system, Narendra Modi government is clearly fanning this issue.

People in Kashmir and Assam are more disenchanted with the government after BJP came to power. BJP projects itself to be a champion of women’s rights when arguing for banning the practice of triple talaq among Muslims but is against the right of Hindu women of menstruating age to enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Narendra Modi’s estranged wife Jasodaben has been denied a passport lest she will cause embarrassment for him abroad.

As if India didn’t have enough problems to cope with, BJP government has added a totally unexpected problem to this list because of its love for cow. Stray cattle, which were once domestic but now have no buyers, are roaming around freely destroying standing crops in field. This one issue alone may be enough to decisively turn the tide against BJP in the next elections.

All the above-mentioned things point to the fact that Narendra Modi has mismanaged governance compared to the Manmohan Singh government. Narendra Modi consolidated his position after the 2002 Gujarat communal violence by polarising Hindu votes first in Gujarat and then in the whole country. He used false promises to lure some other sections of society. Ambani and Adani provided him the definite financial advantage over other parties and leaders within BJP. He sailed through in the 2014 elections based on these factors but now it appears to be an accident to the people of the country. 

Never before the people have ridiculed any PM with epithets for his false promises like being used for Narendra Modi nor has any PM lowered the dignity of office with action such as putting on an expensive coat with his name inscribed on it in the form of strips.

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