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Archives for : Minority Rights

India- Manipur shows the way – new anti-lynching law

Harsh Mander

Its anti-lynching law breaks important ground in attempting to control hate crimes and ensure police action 

Six months have passed since the Supreme Court — anguished by what it described as ‘horrific acts of mobocracy’ — issued a slew of directions to the Union and State governments to protect India’s ‘pluralist social fabric’ from mob violence. The court felt compelled to act in the shadow of four years of surging hate violence targeting religious and caste minorities. It also urged Parliament to consider passing a law to combat mob hate crime.

The Union and most State governments have done little to comply with the directions of India’s highest court. But Manipur became the first to pass a remarkable law against lynching, late last year. It did this after a single horrific video-taped lynching of a Muslim youth with an MBA degree stirred the public conscience.

Comprehensive in definition

The Manipur law closely follows the Supreme Court’s prescriptions, creating a nodal officer to control such crimes in every State, special courts and enhanced punishments. But its weighty significance lies in that it breaks new ground in some critical matters concerning hate violence in India, and shows the way in which the Union and other governments need to move if they are serious about combating hate crimes.

Its definition of lynching is comprehensive, covering many forms of hate crimes. These are “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds .…”

The law, however, excludes from its provisions solitary hate crimes. For the law to apply instead it requires that these hate crimes are undertaken by mobs (defined as a group of two or more individuals, assembled with a common intention of lynching), thereby excluding from its provisions solitary hate crimes. When we look back at the last four years, the majority of hate crimes were indeed by mobs of attackers and onlookers, but we also saw solitary hate murders, such as of the Bengali migrant Mohammad Afrazul in Rajasthan. This restriction of numbers is arbitrary, since the essence of what distinguishes these kinds of crimes is not the numbers of attackers but the motivation of hate behind the crimes; therefore, provisions of this law should apply to all hate crimes, not just lynching, regardless of the numbers of persons who participate.

On the public official

The most substantial and worthy contribution of the law is that it is the first in the country dealing with the protection and rights of vulnerable populations which creates a new crime of dereliction of duty of public officials. It lays down that “any police officer directly in charge of maintaining law and order in an area, omits to exercise lawful authority vested in them under the law, without reasonable cause, and thereby fails to prevent lynching shall be guilty of dereliction of duty” and will be liable “to punishment of imprisonment of one year, which may extend to three years, and with fine that may extend to fifty thousand rupees”.

Equally pathbreaking is that it removes the protection that is otherwise extended to public officials charged with any offence committed while acting in their discharge of official duty. At present, no court can take cognisance of such an offence except with the previous sanction of the State government. The Manipur law means that now no prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials who fail in their duties to prevent hate crimes such as lynching.

In almost every incident of hate crime that the Karwan e Mohabbat, a campaign of solidarity for victims of such crimes, has investigated, the police acted brazenly in ways that would have been deemed crimes by public officials if a law such as the Manipur law had been in force. They arrived late deliberately, or watched even as the crimes were under way without restraining the mobs; they delayed taking those injured to hospital and on occasion even ill-treated them, ensuring their death; and after the hate crimes, they tended to register criminal cases against the victims and to defend the accused.

If police officers knew that they could be punished for these crimes (which would also put them at risk of losing their jobs), it is very unlikely that they would have acted in this way. They would have prevented, or stopped in their tracks, these hate crimes, and protected the victims.

I would also include in the crimes of dereliction of duty deliberately protecting criminals during investigation after the hate crime. I would also, most importantly, incorporate command responsibility, so that officials and also those who have directed them to betray their constitutional duties are criminally liable..

The second momentous contribution of the Manipur law is that it does away with the requirement of prior state sanction before acting on a hate crime. All hate crimes today should attract Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which is related to fostering enmity between people on the basis of religion, race, language and so on. But registering this crime requires prior permission of the State government, and most governments use this power to shield perpetrators of hate crimes who are politically and ideologically aligned to the ruling establishment. The Manipur law does away with this requirement, which would make acting against hate crimes far more effective and non-partisan.

The third substantial feature is that it clearly lays down the duty and responsibility of the State government to make arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses against any kind of intimidation, coercion, inducement, violence or threats of violence. It also prescribes the duty of State officials to prevent a hostile environment against people of the community who have been lynched, which includes economic and social boycott, and humiliation through excluding them from public services such as education, health and transport, threats and evictions.

Rehabilitation

The last substantial contribution of the law is requiring the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims, and death compensation. Again, in most cases of lynching, we have found that States have only criminalised the victims, never supported the survivors who live not just in loss and fear, but also in penury.

But the law needs to prescribe a much more expansive framework of mandatory gender-sensitive reparation on an atonement model, requiring the state to ensure that the victim of hate violence is assisted to achieve material conditions that are better than what they were before the violence, and that women, the elderly and children are supported regularly with monthly pensions over time.

Even with these caveats, the Manipur government has broken new ground, being the first government in the country to hold public officials criminally accountable if they fail to prevent hate crimes. If emulated by the Union and other State governments, such a sterling law could substantially prevent hate attacks, ensure public officials are faithful to their constitutional responsibilities and victims, and that their families and communities are assured of protection and justice.

This is the India we must claim — of safety, fairness and fraternity.

Harsh Mander, a human rights worker, writer and teacher, convenes the Karwan e Mohabbat

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/manipur-shows-the-way/article26007016.ece

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Bulandshahr Violence Main Accused Yogesh Raj Sends “Wishes” In Bajrang Dal Posters

Hindutva organisations Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad have put up posters in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district that carry a photograph of local Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj wishing the public on Makar Sankranti and Republic Day.

Bulandshahr

Bulandshahr: Yogesh Raj, the main accused in the December mob violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr in which a police officer was killed, was featured in Bajrang Dal posters across the region.

On these posters by Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Yogesh Raj “wishes” people on behalf of the two organisations on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and the upcoming Republic Day celebrations.

The wishes came on the behalf of Praveen Bhati and Yogesh Raj whose title is mentioned as District coordinator. Defending the move, Bajrang Dal’s Assistant Regional Convenor Praveen Bhati told News18.com, “There is nothing wrong in putting up such posters as Yogesh Raj is the local convenor, and just an accused. He is yet not guilty.” Bhati also features in the poster.

“From the day of the riots itself, we have openly admitted that Yogesh Raj is an able worker of the Bajrang Dal and we stand by him. There is a huge difference between someone who is accused and someone who is convicted. The posters display Yogesh’s patriotism which even an accused has a right to express. We completely endorse this”, said Balraj Dungar, State Convenor of Bajrang Dal.

The display also has names of Satish Lodi, Ashish Chauhan, Satendra Rajput and Vishal Tyagi- who have been accused of playing a role in the Bulandshahr violence that claimed the life of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh.

“The poster has been put up by Praveen, who is also a worker of the party. We see no wrong in this”, continued Balraj Dungar. The posters were allegedly taken down by the authorities within a day from areas including Nayabans village, of which Yogesh Raj is a resident of.

Yogesh Raj was arrested on January 3, exactly a month after Singh was killed in mob frenzy over cow slaughter allegations. The police say he raised the cow slaughter complaint after the discovery of carcasses at a forest and incited a mob that targeted policemen.

The Bajrang Dal has said its leader is innocent and will be cleared of the allegations.

While absconding, Yogesh and co-accused Shikhar Agarwal had released videos on social media alleging their innocence and changing their statements given to the police and on social media.

Yogesh Raj was able to avoid arrest and even put out videos from hiding, which led to allegations that the UP police was soft on him. The perception gained more traction when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at a security review meeting after the mob killing, was seen to be more concerned about taking action against cow slaughter, NDTV reported.

According to the police, Yogesh Raj’s cow slaughter complaint also had false names. The violence erupted when an argument between him and the police escalated. Officer Subodh Kumar Singh was chased, cornered in a field and shot dead by the mob of 400 which allegedly included activists of the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and a youth wing member of the ruling BJP.

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Mumbai 1992-93 Riots- The Last Man Standing

1992-93 riots

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Farooq Mapkar is the only victim of Hari Masjid firing who is fighting to put a cop on trial for shooting namazis

Jyoti Punwani
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When Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was convicted last month for his role in the 1984 pogrom against Sikhs, a bank peon in Mumbai felt a sense of vindication. Farooq Mapkar’s struggle of 26 years to bring a Mumbai policeman to trial suddenly didn’t seem so long.

Mapkar, 53, has become the face of the victims of the 1992-93 Bombay riots — the only man still fighting to right the wrong done to him on January10,1993.

Riots were raging across the city that Sunday, but Mapkar, like his neighbours in the small self-contained settlement behind Wadala’s Hari Masjid, didn’t think twice before going to the masjid for the one o’clock namaz. Even before the namaz began, six people had been shot dead, four of them inside the masjid. Mapkar, who was 27 then, was shot in the shoulder as he bent down to pray.

The Srikrishna Commission, which inquired into the causes of the 1992-93 riots, heard that sub-inspector Nikhil Kapse opened fire to control a crowd of Muslims attacking Hindu properties outside Hari Masjid. But the police could not provide any evidence of such rioting to the commission or the court. All 54 Muslims arrested from the spot on the charge of rioting, including Mapkar, were acquitted.

The Hari Masjid firing was one of the only two riot incidents where an officer of another force, the SRP, chided the Mumbai police for their excessive acts against unarmed Muslims. It’s also the only case where a victim has not given up the fight for justice.

Nothing has deterred Mapkar — neither the assault on him by Shiv Sainiks at KEM Hospital, where he was treated a gunshot wound, nor the separation of his rioting case from the other accused because the magistrate didn’t like his lawyer’s line of questioning.

In 1998, shortly after the commission’s report indicted Kapse for “unjustified firing and brutal and inhuman conduct”, the sub-inspector’s victims told this reporter they would do whatever it took to get him to trial. Some had lost breadwinners in the firing, others had suffered injuries which rendered them invalid for years.

Today, they look at Mapkar with awe and gratitude as he fights alone. Mapkar doesn’t blame them. “Their first concern was to clear their names from that rioting case,” he said. “After the commission concluded that the case was false, the Congress government should have withdrawn it.” Instead, the acquittal took13 years. “People get tired. They have to earn a living too. Then, there’s a fear of the police,” Mapkar said.

That’s something this bank peon has never felt. Immediately after he was released from custody, he filed an affidavit before the Indian People’s Human Rights Tribunal inquiring into the riots. The tribunal was headed by Justices SM Daud and H Suresh. In front of the Srikrishna Commission, he described how Kapse fired his weapon point-blank at an injured namazi. Mapkar didn’t hesitate when the magistrate hearing his rioting case challenged him to cross-examine two policemen in the absence of his lawyer.

Finally, tired of waiting for the government to act, he filed a private complaint against Kapse. Immediately, the police slapped a new case against Mapkar. (He was acquitted in 2009.) His complaint resulted in the Bombay High Court ordering a CBI inquiry into the Hari Masjid firing, which it said “affects the very soul of India”. After17 years, the victims got a chance to tell an official investigation agency how Kapse shot at unarmed namazis.

The CBI, however, chose to disbelieve them, saying they could not be “impartial” as they had been arrested and charged by Kapse. It filed a closure report in the case.

Lives in contrast

While Mapkar has faced odds at every step, Kapse has led a charmed life. The state government even went to the Supreme Court to seek a stay on the high court-ordered CBI probe. Mapkar can’t get over the sight of Kapse holding documents needed by the government counsel in the Supreme Court. “This was a man the CBI had charged with murder! He was not part of the government. The Congress promised in its manifesto to implement the Srikrishna Commission’s report; instead, it helped the policemen indicted by the judge,” Mapkar said. “These days we hear a lot about the lack of Muslim MLAs. But what use are they if they don’t help their community?”

Mapkar feels let down by his community. “Had Muslims showed the same involvement after the commission’s report came out as they did in its proceedings, Kapse would have faced trial by now,” he said. “But they prefer to felicitate Congress-NCP leaders. Sajjan Kumar was convicted after so many years because the complainant had her community’s backing all through. Muslims fight alone.”

The driving force

So what makes Mapkar persist even after two magistrates arbitrarily dismissed his appeal against the CBI’s closure report? The support of his employers, including a permanent job, has helped: he was introduced at one AGM as a role model. But what really drives him is the anger at the injustice meted out to him.

Mapkar’s father, a port trust employee, taught him never to break any laws, a rule Mapkar followed scrupulously. Yet, he was shot at, arrested, assaulted and charged with attempt to murder. Only because he was Muslim, he says.

“People tell me to give up. But can policemen get away with anything? I was there when 12 Muslims were shot dead at the anti-Salman Rushdie morcha in 1989. The same officer, as the Thane police commissioner, didn’t even order a lathi charge when Shiv Sainiks vandalised Singhania Hospital,” he said. “We were just praying in Hari Masjid, yet we were shot at. How can I not fight for justice? Whether I win or lose, it will be said that at least I fought. They call Muslims rioters, terrorists. By fighting in courts, I’m proving them wrong.”

His long and lonely struggle could have turned Mapkar into a fanatic. Instead, he participates in every programme organised by secular groups. “The small team of activists and lawyers that has stood by me has more Hindus than Muslims,” he said. Those who have fought for him without any fee include senior lawyers Vijay Pradhan, Yusuf Muchhala, Yug Chaudhry, Vijay Hiremath and Shakil Ahmed.

“Muslims are scared to get involved. But they are foolish if they think the fire that burnt their neighbour’s house will leave them untouched. The more we fight the police, the less are the chances of innocents dying at their hands,” Mapkar said.

A 26-YEAR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE: Farooq Mapkar was shot in the shoulder as he prepared to pray at Hari Masjid, Wadala, on January 10, 1993

courtesy- Mumbai Mirror

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Over 30 authors to boycott literary meet over cancellation of invite to Nayantara Sahgal

 

Marathi writers stand up for Sahgal

;Raj Thackeray apologises

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The rescinding of an invite to noted English language author Nayantara Sahgal to participate in the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan has triggered a strong backlash in the community of Marathi writers, poets and journalists in the state with over 30 of them deciding to boycott the event in Yavatmal.

The censure came on a day MNS chief Raj Thackeray apologised as some local leaders of his party had objected to Sahgal’s participation at the conclave starting from January 11 as she is an English author. The organisers of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan had withdrawn the invitation to Sahgal, who was in the forefront of the award wapsi campaign, after threats of disruption.

Sahgal was supposed to deliver the inaugural speech and had even prepared it. Condemning the organisers’ decision, leading Marathi writer Asaram Lomate said that he would not attend the programme. “This is being done under pressure from mob. The Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal should instead take a strong stand and cancel the conclave. I will boycott the programme,” said Lomate, a member of Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mamandal.

Another writer Balaji Sutar, who was supposed to participate in one of the talks at the conclave, has also decided to stay away. “It is an insult to all writers. The organisers should have known her views and writings. I feel it is an attempt to crush our voice. Also, bringing language politics in the literary meet is ridiculous. Earlier, Mahashweta Devi and Amitabh Bachhan have also attended the conclave,” he said.

Namdev Koli, who was going to read his poem, added: “This literary conclave is known for creating controversies. I am not participating in it this time. But instead of hosting such a big literary meet and create controversy, there should be small, meaningful events,” he said.

Noted writer and journalist Jayant Pawar and 27 others have issued a statement, protesting against the cancellation of Sahgal’s invitation. “Withdrawing the invitation to Nayantara Sahgal is beyond condemnation. A blame game is on as to who did it. But we are not interested. As Sahgal in not attending the event, the organisers should not have much problem. But we want her speech should be read in the event. Our second request is to the Chief Minister. The atmosphere is not so free for writers. A few are even given police protection. But the chief minister who is also the home minister should declare in the event from whom the writers, poets have the threat,” the statement said.

The strong reactions prompted Raj Thackeray to issue a clarification.

“We have no objection against Nayantara Sahgal. We wholeheartedly welcome her. The Marathi Sahitya Sammelan is our sammelan. It is the pride of the entire Marathi population. Any inconvenience and strain caused to the organisers of the sammelan is deeply regretted and being an admirer and supporter of the Marathi language, I express my sincere apology.”

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also could not steer clear of the controversy. “The government has no role in inviting anyone for the event. It is the organisers who decide. There is a deliberate attempt by the media to drag the government into the controversy,” said Fadnavis, who is set to attend the inaugural session.

Guardian minister of Yavatmal Madan Yerawar, who is hosting the event, said that he was not in the know of the invitations. “It is the organisers’ responsibility to extend invitations. I have nothing to do with it. I am the default host, being the guardian minister of the district,” he said.

The executive president of the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan Dr Ramakant Kolte and president of Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal Dr Shripad Joshi didn’t comment on the issue. The proposed president of the conclave, Aruna Dhere, also wasn’t available for comments.

Raj Thackeray’s party workers allegedly threatened to disrupt the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan as they were opposed to Nayantara Sahgal’s participation as she is an English author

‘Attempts to crush our voice’

Asaram Lomate (top) and Balaji Sutar (above) have decided to stay away from the event

Writer and journalist Jayant Pawar and 27 others want Sahgal’s speech to be read out

What we eat, whom we marry… All freedoms in danger: Sahgal

Inaugural Address To Lit Meet Referred To ‘Intolerance’

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Nagpur:

Nayantara Sahgal, who was to inaugurate the Marathi literary conference in Yavatmal district on January 11 in the presence of CM Devendra Fadnavis, claimed in her inaugural address that basic freedoms had been imperilled.

“All our freedoms are in danger… This has affected everything we do: What we eat, whom we marry, what we think, what we write, and how we pray. Anything that asserts diversity and goes against the thinking of the ruling establishment is under attack,” she stated. The Maharashtra government provides a grant for the literary meet.

Sahgal’s address said the Constituent Assembly, made up largely of Hindus, had decided India could only be a secular, democratic republic. However, “today a move to confine us into a single religious and cultural identity is threatening this diversity. It seeks to divest crores who are not Hindus of their constitutional rights and cast them as invaders, outsiders and enemies,” she alleged. “Bigots who roam free on streets are targeting minorities and anyone who does not support their vision of turning India into a Hindu rashtra,” she added.

In a reference to the arrest of alleged Naxalites by the government of Fadnavis who was to share the dais with her, Sahgal said five citizens had been arrested under charges of sedition and conspiracy. “These are citizens who have given their lives to securing justice for tribals, forest dwellers,” she said.

She alleged mobs were attacking and even killing Muslims by spreading rumours about cow slaughter. “Such attacks are going on in Uttar Pradesh and the government machinery is watching. In some cases, offences have been registered against victims while perpetrators have been felicitated,” she noted. She compared the current atmosphere in India to that in Russia under Stalin and said rationalists had been killed. She alleged there was an attempt to wipe out references to Mughals and to Nehru and scientific inquiry was being replaced by mythology. “The autonomy of institutions is being eroded. The Nehru Memorial Library and targeting of JNU are examples of this. I cannot accept this brand of Hindutva,” she said.

Courtesy- Mumbai Mirror and TOI

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Discrimination over menstruation a breach of human rights: Indian Biologists

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: December 31, 2018facebooktwitteremail

Biologists from eminent universities and education centres in Mohali, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Jodhpur and Coimbatore said that that discrimination against women on account of menstruation in any form and any place is a glaring breach of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the core principles of the Indian Constitution.

Menstruation

Biologists from across the country issued a statement on the prejudice against menstruation and said that the discrimination had nothing to do with science. Biologists from eminent universities and education centres in Mohali, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Jodhpur and Coimbatore said that that discrimination against women on account of menstruation in any form and any place is a glaring breach of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the core principles of the Indian Constitution.

“The notion of menstruation as pollution causes perpetual stress in women, and as they are now exposed to science and progressive values, this can cause retrogressive evolutionary change in the human females’ reproductive physiology to the detriment of the entire species,” they said in their statement.

“Only in seven of India’s 36 states and union territories did 90% or more women in the 15-24 age group use hygienic protection during menstruation, according to the latest national health data. Not even 50% of women used clean methods of dealing with menstrual hygiene in eight states and union territories. The mean for these eight states was 43.5%, with Bihar the worst at 31%, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS), released in 2015-16,’ a report said.

Only 55% of young girls in India consider it a natural and normal physical process, according to the study conducted jointly by Water Aid, PATH, Zariya, Development Solutions and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

“Only 48% girls were aware of menstruation before they attained puberty and no more than 23% knew that the uterus is the source of the bleeding, according to research conducted by the menstrual hygiene management study,” the report said.

Menstruation is still a taboo subject in India. Even now, women are considered “impure” during their period, subjected to social, religious and cultural restrictions, according to a study on menstrual health management.

Full text of the statement:

Biologists’ statement on the prejudice against menstruation

We the following biologists affirm that the prejudice against menstruation prevalent in several societies has absolutely no basis in science. The prejudice and the discrimination of women during the period of menstruation represent a gross denial of science. Menstrual blood is one of the several excretions from the human body that is central to the perpetuation of the human species. The notion of menstruation as pollution causes perpetual stress in women, and as they are now exposed to science and progressive values, this can cause retrogressive evolutionary change in the human females’ reproductive physiology to the detriment of the entire species.

This prejudice and discrimination against women on account of menstruation in any form and any place is a glaring breach of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and also the founding principles of the Indian Constitution. Because prejudice and discrimination are rather widespread, we underline the need to create legislation criminalising the prejudice and discrimination based on such unscientific beliefs. And because this malice is also prevalent in several societies in different parts of the world, the UN General Assembly should adopt a resolution against such prejudice and discrimination.

Signed by: 
Dr Manjari Jain, Asst Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab.
Dr PA Azeez, Former Director, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON)
Prof Shakuntala Sreedhara, Member of the Board of Management, University of Agricultural Science, Bangalore and Emeritus Scientist ICAR
Prof Neelkamal Rastogi, Dept of Zoology, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
Dr S Faizi, President, Ethological Society of India, Trivandrum.
Dr K Sreedevi, Senior Scientist, ICAR-NBAIR, Bangalore.
Dr VV Binoy, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
Dr Renu Kohli, Asst Professor, Associate Professor of Zoology, Pali Govt College, University of Jodhpur

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Gandhi Falls in Ghana as University Topples Statue Donated by India

 

Ghanaian professor: “This is part of a greater movement for black dignity and self-respect”

ACCRA, Ghana: Dec. 13, 2018 — Ghanaians made history this week when they tore down a statue of Indian icon Mohandas Gandhi.

Installed on the University of Ghana campus in June 2016 during a state visit by then Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, the statue immediately provoked outrage from students and faculty who protested that Gandhi was racist towards black Africans. Pointing to the 21 years that Gandhi spent working as an attorney in South Africa, they claimed he repeatedly made racist remarks, campaigned for racial segregation, and even volunteered to participate in a war against African freedom fighters. In the words of Dr. Obadele Kambon, a professor at the university’s Institute of African Studies, “The start of institutional apartheid there in South Africa was because of Gandhi.”

In October 2016, the government agreed to remove the statue. However, the Ghana Gandhi statue remained in place until December 12, 2018, when, according to sources at the university, it was toppled “somewhere after 9AM.” Pictures of the removal show workers tethering ropes to the statue to pull it down as the base cracks away from the pedestal on which it stood. News reports indicate that the statue was taken to the Republic of Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its final resting place remains unknown.

#gandhimustfall

University of Ghana Gandhi statue (left); Dr. Obadele Kambon stands triumphant on the empty pedestal (right)

“We hope this Gandhi statue will be relegated to the rubbish bin,” says Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “From this point in history, Gandhi’s visage should only ever be displayed to tell the story of the suffering of the African people, expose the villains, and commit ourselves to never again countenancing such criminal acts of prejudice as were perpetrated by this ardent racist. This is a truly historical moment. We will not stop pushing until the #GandhiMustFall movement goes global and we see Gandhi’s statues toppling on every continent.”

Commenting on the removal of the statue, Dr. Kambon remarks, “This is part of a greater movement for black dignity and self-respect throughout the world. The same as the National Anthem protest in the U.S., the same as #RhodesMustFall in South Africa and Oxford, the same as the protests of black students who are beaten and stabbed daily there in India by those who consider themselves upper-caste Indo-Aryans.”

With hope in his voice, Kambon adds, “Black self-respect is on the rise. In addition to that, what this means is that we have more people who care about black dignity and black self-respect than those who would like to trample on our dignity and self-respect.” However, he suggests the struggle continues as he references “our colleagues there in Malawi, who did a court injunction” against a proposed statue in the Malawian city of Blantyre.

The Malawi Gandhi statue, which has not yet been installed, has also provoked outrage. Soon after learning of the proposed statue, Malawians launched a petition opposing it and, in October, filed a lawsuit to block its installation. A high court in Malawi granted an injunction prohibiting construction from continuing until Judge Michael Tembo reaches a final decision. His decision is expected sometime this month.

In a statement issued by the #GandhiMustFall Movement in Malawi, activists opposing the statue said, “We want to congratulate the #GandhiMustFall Movement in Ghana for successfully removing the statue of Gandhi. In 2016, the government of Ghana through a petition agreed to remove the statue of Gandhi from the premises of Ghana University. Two years later, the statue of Gandhi was still standing until today — 12th December! We hope the Malawi government will also follow suit to banish the racist and irrelevant statue of Gandhi in Malawi.”

Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs, thinks there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the issue of Gandhi’s statues. “These statues have been used as propaganda tools by the Indian State for decades,” says Friedrich. “The combination of Gandhi’s self-promotional autobiography, glamorization of Gandhi by the Congress Party, and mythologizing of Gandhi by Hollywood created an ahistorical, saintly, and white-washed figure that the Indian government loves to use a mask to conceal its atrocious human rights record. People look at India, think of Gandhi, and then think of peace instead of looking at India and thinking of caste, torture, or pogroms against minorities. Deconstructing the mythical Gandhi is central to exposing the truth about human rights conditions in modern India.”

#gandhimustfall gandhi statue davis

Signs at October 2016 protest against Davis, California Gandhi statue reference Ghana Gandhi statue

Bhajan Singh, the founding director of OFMI, says the human rights advocacy group initiated some of the earliest protests against Gandhi after reading books by G. B. Singh, a former colonel in the U.S. Army. “It was Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity and Gandhi Under Cross-Examination, books by Col. Singh, which first ignited this crisis that has now developed into a global agitation,” says Singh. “Since 2010, OFMI has staged protests against Gandhi statues. We have stopped installation of several proposed statues, but the statue in Ghana is the first one ever to be removed.”

Singh was joined by a number of other demonstrators at a protest in San Francisco on October 2, 2010, which marked Gandhi’s 141st birthday. As reported by The San Francisco Chronicle:

A group billing itself as the Organization for Minorities of India plans to protest today to demand the removal of the bronze statue of Mohandas Gandhi that has sat in the plaza behind the Ferry Building since 1988.

Up until this point, about the only adversity the statue has faced has been people swiping the trademark circle-rimmed eyeglasses (at least four times) and the indignity of a roosting seagull or pigeon.

But the group – which says it was formed four years ago to publicize the oppression of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs and other Indian minorities considered to be on the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system – says Gandhi was a racist who harbored violent urges.

“The popular image of Gandhi as an egalitarian pacifist is a myth,” Bhajan Singh, one of the organizers, said in a statement. “We plan to challenge that myth by disseminating Gandhi’s own words to expose his racism and sham nonviolence.”

The group plans to present Ferry Building management with a demand to remove the statue and ask for it to be replaced with one of either Martin Luther King Jr. or low-caste Dalit leader B.R. Ambedkar.

In an interview with MyJoyOnline TV, Dr. Kambon offered extensive comments explaining Ghanaian opposition to Gandhi:

When the government said that they would take the statue away, it was clear that it was a move to make everything die down because people were very incensed and angry about this. Some even took [Gandhi’s] spectacles. When I looked a few weeks ago, someone had thrown mud at this statue. So in terms of the timing, we haven’t got any communication from the government or the university about why now. So I’m not equipped to answer that question.

But all I can say is that I’m very happy that this is taking place right now because what this means is a triumph of black dignity and self-respect over those who don’t care about any of those things.

Gandhi duped many great people, as a matter of fact, because it wasn’t until 1999 or thereabouts that all of his collected writings were available. So he was writing in Hindi, he was writing in his native Gujarati, in addition to what he wrote in English — the autobiography and things of that nature. So all of these people who say, “oh, wow, he is so great” — you have to put him in context of who was he in relation to black people and in relation to African people.

Who he was is that he was someone who fought against the Zulus. He was someone who fought for apartheid and the separation of the post office and the telegraph office there in Durban. He was someone who was called there in India as the worst enemy of the Dalits by Dr. Ambedkar — so the Dalits are the black Untouchables of India.

So this is someone who we have to understand that, even if he was great for his own people — meaning the upper-caste Hindus — that he was someone who was terrible to black people throughout his entire life. Both during his time in South Africa and then when he went to India he fought tooth and nail against the aspirations of the Dalits — the black Untouchables of India. Which is why to even this day, black people, African people, Nigerians, Ghanaians are there and they are beaten every day. There was a Congolese man who was beaten to death in broad daylight in India. Why? Because he gets the same treatment as the indigenous black Dalits of India.

So this is something that we have to understand. There’s a saying that, if a lie takes a thousand years to go on a journey, truth will catch up to that lie in a day. So all of these lies about Gandhi get proliferated just because people didn’t know. If you mention Mandela, if you mention Martin Luther King, if you mention Nkrumah Kwame — all these people didn’t have the opportunity to research and read his words about black people in his early life and his later life and the consistency of it. If they had that opportunity, they would have taken a different stance.

But myself, as a researcher, I am a research coordinator of African Studies, so I’m paid by the Ghanaian people to do research. I’m not guessing about Gandhi. I’m not guessing about what he stood for. I’ve read his works. I’ve read all of these different collected works of Gandhi, and books on him, and what Dr. Ambedkar said about him in What Gandhi and the Congress Have Done to the Untouchables. So me, I’m very well-informed. So anyone who has this information and comes to a different conclusion, it means that they don’t mean well for black people. But most people just are uninformed and they do not know.

He did good things, if you want to call them good, for his upper-caste. When he wrote to the British, he said that the Indo-Aryans come from a common stock and that they are partners in the colonization of black people. This is what he stood for. He stood for his caste, the Bania caste, which is those who are the traders, which is a sub-group of the Vaishyas.

So we have to again understand this. It’s not only what he said or what he wrote. He actually was a Sergeant-Major fighting against the Zulus in a war in which thousands and thousands of Zulu people were killed. He wanted to get guns. He agitated to get guns. It was only that the British didn’t consider him to be good enough to get the guns.

So we have to understand not only the words but his actions. Look at how he argued in order to separate the post office and the telegraph office there in Durban. How many people are aware that he did that? This is really, when we think about it, you can look at this as the start of institutional apartheid there in South Africa was because of Gandhi. He wanted a different entrance so he wouldn’t have to go through the same entrance as the Kaffir.

What he did, he did for his caste and he did for Indo-Aryan people.

http://www.minoritiesofindia.org/gandhi-falls-ghana-university-topples-statue-donated-india/

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India – 21 Opposition parties unite, aim to oust NDA government in 2019 elections

(from the left) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) leader Sharad Yadav, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and other party leaders during a press conference   –  PTI

Mamata, Naidu architects of meet; Mayawati, Akhilesh stay away

NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 10

A day ahead of the announcement of election results to five State assemblies, over a dozen Opposition parties met here on Monday to chart the future course. They resolved to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

While 21 Opposition parties attended the meeting, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) — allies in Uttar Pradesh — decided to stay away without citing any reason.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who usually keeps off such meetings, attended, giving a boost to the efforts of other Opposition parties. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu were the key architects of Monday’s meeting.

Addressing reporters after the meeting, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the combined goal is to defeat the BJP and protect India’s institutions. Opposition unity is a process, he added, hinting that more parties would join the bandwagon in the near future. Naidu said democratic compulsions have brought the parties together.

A senior leader who attended the meeting said there was a clamour among a section of political parties that Rahul be projected as the leader of the Opposition camp.

Steadfast resolve

A statement issued by the Opposition parties reaffirmed their “strong and steadfast resolve to confront and defeat the forces that are subverting our Constitution and making a mockery of our democracy.”

“India needs a government that cares for the working class, kisans and khet mazdoors and is always sensitive to the enormous pain that they and their families are going through. India needs a government that makes education accessible and affordable to all sections of the people and fulfils the aspirations of youth for decent and secure jobs that provide fair wages to the employed,” the resolution said.

“India needs a government that empowers the weaker sections of society — scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs, women and minorities — to lead a life of complete security and dignity,” it added.

The statement further said India needs a truthful government that does not propagate falsehoods and does not make bogus claims and that will banish the current all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

The parties said India needs a government that is committed to faster economic growth that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable and growth that does not sharpen inequalities among people and among states. “India needs a government that is not mired in rank corruption and loot of people’s resources, a government which does not attack the entire banking system through insurmountable NPAs benefiting crony capitalists. India needs a government that does not put a conspiratorial lid over multiple corruption scams like Rafale, nor becomes an abettor to the escape of bank defaulters,” the statement said.

Batting for enterprise

“We need a government where harassment of businessmen and industrialists would end and the spirit of enterprise must be allowed full freedom,” it said.

The statement urged all liberal, progressive and secular forces to join the Opposition in the battle to save the Constitution. “It is in the interests of safeguarding and strengthening our Constitutional Republic and people’s livelihood that this RSS/BJP government is ousted,” it said.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/21-opposition-parties-unite-aim-to-oust-nda-government-in-2019-elections/article25712327.ece?fbclid=IwAR0jxwYOd4sFCWqxAsASbXzLws5yvGvYaQjCdVUutqkVDerSHkw38YAn6I8

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 Yogi Adityanath, not demonetisation, is PM Modi’s biggest blunder

Even if it paid rich dividends in Uttar Pradesh elections soon after, Modi erred in gifting away that incredible success to Yogi Adityanath who no one had voted for. Demonetisation broke his government’s economic momentum. Yogi Adityanath may wreck his immediate political future.

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Yogi Adityanath,2019 elections,Narendra Modi
PM Modi and Yogi Adityanath as he was sworn-in as the Uttar Pradesh Chief minister(HT File Photo)

There is a wise Punjabi metaphor that applies universally: One who is a disaster in Lahore, will also be a disaster in Peshawar.

In our politics today, it fits Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He is going around giving speeches in other states as the BJP’s Grand National Polariser. He fires the imagination of the faithful and entertains them. But they are going to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) anyway. His inability to swing the vote in any place else is now evident.

So far, I’d maintained that Narendra Modi’s biggest blunder as prime minister was demonetisation. I have changed my mind.

Demonetisation continues to be a blunder. Even if it paid rich dividends in the Uttar Pradesh elections soon after, Modi erred in gifting away that incredible success to Adityanath, whom no one had voted for. Demonetisation broke his government’s economic momentum. Adityanath may wreck his immediate political future. Therefore, he pushes demonetisation to the number two spot.

The first issue with Adityanath isn’t that he is doing anything different from what he was handpicked for. It is just that he’s doing that job much too well. He was supposed to polarise not just Uttar Pradesh but also the rest of the country, especially the Hindi heartland. He is doing that with aplomb.

It’s just that he is defying two presumptions of two of his party bosses. One, that they will be able to control him. And two, that as he goes around the country as a communalising para commando, he will make sure that his state will be properly governed, and he will deliver the seats there. Now he looks incapable of either. He can’t deliver seats in Uttar Pradesh, and isn’t swinging elections elsewhere. That’s why, a disaster in Lahore and a disaster in Peshawar.

It was also said that if Modi could keep Gujarat in control while campaigning nationally, so could Adityanath. But Modi had already been entrenched in Gujarat for 12 years, and Adityanath isn’t Modi. Modi left Hindutva behind in Gujarat in 2013-14 and took a more inclusive idea of the growth-driven Gujarat model of governance to the rest of India. Adityanath is exporting his Gorakhpur-style gau-bhakt Hindutva, Uttar Pradesh’s completely broken governance model, and a divisive discourse. His rise is enabling a new lumpen class of semi-literate, unemployable saffron power to rise across the country. I’m not sure even he knows how to rein in the emotional and physical malevolence he is unleashing.

His Ali versus Bajrang Bali, Hanuman-is-a-Dalit, Owaisi-will-have-to-leave-India, Hyderabad-will-become-Bhagyanagar, who-killed-the-cow after his police inspector was murdered in a mere “accident” etc, may not have embarrassed his leaders. His brief, or KRAs (Key Result Areas, as HR people prefer to say), included saying what others would rather not. But he is going too far and too fast. And solo.

If his language doesn’t embarrass his leaders, why should they complain?

For two reasons. One, it is not translating into votes. Yet, it is just that he has now emerged as his party’s most sought-after campaigner. In recent travels through poll bound states, we found that he’s the campaigner BJP candidates wanted most of all. As India’s Greatest Polariser, he has begun to overshadow his bosses. You could call him the BJP’s Navjot Singh Sidhu, except that he has India’s largest state under his belt. And when it comes to his party’s basic ideology, he is even more a “native” than any Modi or Shah. He’s the inheritor of one of the biggest Hindu seats of power.

Narendra Modi had firmly put down Pravin Togadia when he was doing some of this. Adityanath isn’t so easy to tame. He isn’t just a shaven-headed, saffron-robed Togadia. He’s the reigning spiritual and temporal head of a huge Hindu temple sect. His following is rising among his party’s faithful. On his own ambition, he hasn’t said much yet. Just note that at the Dainik Jagran conclave, he did let slip a boast that, left to him, he would settle the temple issue in 24 hours.

He isn’t an immediate threat to Modi. But he’s becoming big trouble. Unlike when Modi ventured out of Gujarat, Adityanath’s own state is slipping out of his grasp. Unemployment and frustration have ruined the optimism Modi’s campaign generated, and remember, no one voted for Yogi except in Gorakhpur. His party will probably overlook cow-related violence. It suits them. It is his diminishing political control that would worry them. In the general elections due within six months now, how many seats does the BJP expect to win in Uttar Pradesh?

Modi and Shah have created Frankenstein’s monster in their front yard. He can divide, his own state and the rest of the country, but can’t deliver the seats anywhere. Yet, if the party fails to get sufficient numbers in 2019, he will become a key player. Given a free rein for another six months, he will damage social cohesion across the country. For a weakening Modi, therefore, Yogi is now a lose-lose-lose proposition: Bad optics, worse governance, and the worst politics.

Which is the reason we now elevate him, the third most powerful man in the BJP, above demonetisation, as Modi’s greatest blunder.

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“If BJP has Guts, Throw Me Out of the Alliance”

Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) is one of the two allies of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. The party with four MLAs has considerable influence among the Rajbhar community in eastern UP. Rajbhar, minister of backward class welfare and divyangjan empowerment in the Yogi Adityanath government, has often attacked the BJP and its leadership on several issues, including the Bulandshahr violence and Ram mandir. State BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey has called Rajbhar a “necessary evil”. At an interview in Delhi, Rajbhar spoke to Prerna Katiyar on the reasons for his dissent. Edited excerpts:

After becoming an ally of the BJP, why are you attacking it?

My fight is for the poor and the unprivileged. I want to make people realise how they are being enslaved.

What exactly are you fighting for?

There has to be equality in education and jobs. The interests of backward communities have been ignored. You will not find many nai (barber) or lohar (ironsmith) as inspectors. There are 66 such castes. Why should that be?

I have also demanded improvement in the level of primary education in the state. There was a time when everyone went to government schools; they went on to become officers and doctors. But right now the condition of primary education is pathetic. You will not find the son or daughter of a politician in these schools. Across 75 districts, there are almost 1,59,000 schools with 3,18,000 vacancies. If you can’t hire full-time teachers why can’t you hire them on a contract basis?

In villages, many deserving people do not have BPL cards. Such anomalies are debilitating the poor. Many of the beneficiaries of Ujjwala or Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana are not the poor.

Lastly, the BJP keeps saying the Congress did nothing. But they opened hundreds of factories in their regime. Can’t you reopen closed factories? Won’t this create jobs?

Why don’t you discuss your problems with the BJP?

I have done it several times. After the government was formed in Uttar Pradesh in March 2017, I kept quiet for three months. I was watching. After this, I met Yogi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Om Mathur and Sunil Bansal to put across my demands.

This went on till March-April 2018. They did nothing. I met Amit Shah on March 20 for more than an hour. I was given an assurance. Till date nothing has happened.

Was that the beginning of your dissent?

The first dhokha (betrayal) was that a non-OBC was made the CM. You got their votes. That category is angry and divided. They are not the rightful beneficiaries in jobs and education.

The BJP calls you a ‘necessary evil’.

Then, why are they towing me? If it has the guts, throw me out. I am not begging them to keep me as a minister or an ally.

Why aren’t you leaving the BJP if you are so unhappy?

I will make the right move at the right time. I have helped them win 125 seats. Let them break the alliance.

There are rumours that you are unhappy because you did not get enough tickets in 2017.

If you recall, in April-May 2016, the BSP was on the rise. Then we had talks with the BJP and after the alliance, voters who were unhappy with the BSP and the SP started looking at BJP as an option. We held rallies of 25,000-50,000 people without any support from the BJP. I had demanded 22 seats. They gave only eight.

But they made you a cabinet minister.

I worked for them and helped them win. They have not done me a favour by making me a cabinet minister.

What do you make of BJP’s demand for Ram mandir?

Ram Mandir may come up but pujaris ought to be from every caste. Why should temples be helmed mainly by Brahmins? There are 9 lakh mandirs in UP, according to a survey. If 5 lakh pujaris come from backward castes, won’t as many families benefit from it? Why should I fight for mandir? Will it help me get my ration card? Will my child get a job? Nothing will happen by merely praying in a temple. Why has Yogi come to Lucknow from Gorakhpur? Because there is more power in Lucknow Vidhan Sabha mandir than in Gorakhpur mutt. But they want us to fight for Ram mandir. Many people are not educated and they easily get diverted. Today I am educated; that’s why I am talking about what I want. I am not going to fight for Ram or Rahman but for the poor.

Yogi has said Hanuman is a Dalit. It is wrong to divide gods. Now the Dalit community demands to take over Hanuman temples. To get votes, he can do anything. He is saying Asaduddin Owaisi will be thrown out. He is defying the Constitution. Is there any law that allows this? Yogi says the Congress is a losing party. But he lost his own (Gorakhpur) seat.

Why did the BJP lose Gorakhpur?

Because of its shortcomings.

What are your views on the RSS?

Their focus is to enslave and befool the society. Every strategy comes from Nagpur, including the idea of ‘Hanuman being a Dalit’.

Will you be part of BJP in 2019?

Only if they fulfil my demands. I am not their slave that I will help them in getting votes. This is not my personal fight. Improve primary education, get us jobs, get us reservation and we will be with them.

How will the BJP fare in 2019?

They will lose deposit in most seats. They are not realising that the OBCs whom they openly wooed are angry. After they got votes by projecting Keshav Prasad Maurya as CM, he was sidelined. Be it Lucknow or Varanasi, they will not win seats. In Varanasi, only Gujaratis have got theka-patta (contractual work). After notebandi (demonetisation), from builder to loader, everyone is unhappy. A cop was shot in broad daylight (in Bulandshahr) but they care only for the holy cow. Human life has no value. Cow is priceless.

What do you think of the law & order situation in UP?

Lawlessness is at its peak. Go to any police station. Corruption is rampant. During the SP tenure, if they took ₹500 to file an FIR, now they take ₹10,000. I experienced this when I went disguised as a poor man and tried to register an FIR. What will happen when thakur is daroga (cop) and thakur is SI (sub-inspector).

 

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Mumbai- Rahman Abbas , author bags Sahitya Akademi Award for Urdu novel ‘Rohzin’

Mumbai:

City-based progressive Urdu author Rahman Abbas who had courted controversy and was even jailed for allegedly depicting obscenity in his first novel has won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his fourth Urdu Novel ‘Rohzin’. The Akademi awards were announced in Delhi on Wednesday and Abbas, along with other winners, will be awarded in January 2019. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1lakh and a citation.

Born in Chiplun (Konkan) and educated in Mumbai, the Mira Road-based Abbas’s novel ‘Rohzin’ (The Melancholy of the Soul) is set in the backdrop of the 2005 deluge in Mumbai and is a story of love, lust, belonging, rejection and identity spread across shades of the city. “I have lived in Mumbai since age four and my novel is set here. It talks about the city’s sociocultural life, its dark underbelly. The reader feels fragrance and smells as he meanders through localities like Mumba Devi and Mohammed Ali Road,” said Abbas, sipping tea at a popular Mira Road ‘adda’ on Thursday, amidst a flurry of congratulatory calls.

Abbas, 46, claims he is the youngest and first Maharashtrian Urdu novelist to have won a Sahitya Akademi Award. Part of the 2015 ‘Award Wapsi’ campaign (he had returned the award of the Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Akademi given to him for his 2011novel ‘Khuda Ke Saye Mein’), Abbas says he will not return the latest award. “That time it was a protest against attacks on liberal writers and rationalists. Sahitya Akademi is an autonomous body and chooses books for awards purely on merit. I will keep this award,” said Abbas.

The 2016 novel ‘Rohzin’ has been translated into English, Hindi and German. He was invited by the German publishers for the book’s launch in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier this year. It is a bestseller in Pakistan and has received rave reviews by eminent commentators, including Pakistani writer Mustansar Hussain Tarar and eminent Indian Urdu critics Gopichand Narang and Shafai Kidwai.

Abbas first hit the headlines in 2005 when his first novel ‘Nakhlistan Ki Talash’ (Search of an Oasis) landed him in trouble for allegedly depicting obscenity. Some conservative elements in the community filed a case against him and he was arrested and had to spend a few days at Arthur Road Jail too. He was subsequently acquitted by the high court in 2016.

“This is all part of a writer’s life. Right now, I am celebrating the award which I dedicate to Mumbai, the city which has made me,” said Abbas.

That time it was a protest against attacks on liberal writers and rationalists. Sahitya Akademi is an autonomous body and chooses books for awards purely on merit. I will keep this award.

Rahman Abbas | WHO WAS PART OF THE ‘AWARD WAPSI’CAMPAIGN IN 2015

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