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Archives for : Religion

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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‘Attempt To Weaken Case Against Jalandhar Bishop”: Kerala Nuns On Transfer Orders

The nuns in Kerala had received transfer orders in March 2018, but they refused to report at the assigned location

Kerala | Written by Sneha Mary Koshy | 

After her complaint triggered protests, Franco Mulakkal was arrested in September.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: 

Four Kerala nuns, who campaigned against former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of sexually assaulting a nun in Kerala, have got reminder notices to “obey” their transfer orders issued by the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation.

The nuns in Kerala had received their transfer orders in March 2018, months after they had complained at several forums within the church against the bishop, but they refused to report at the assigned convents.

“Once again, let me make a decisive appeal to you to join the Chemiyari community without any further delay and take up your responsibility,” said the notice to one of the nuns.

The letters accessed by NDTV has been signed by Jalandhar-based Missionaries of Jesus Congregation Superior General.

“We feel this is an attempt to weaken the case against the bishop and pressurise the survivor nun. We will not go anywhere. If we all move away to different convents, it will be very difficult for her. We will stay here to support her,” one of the nuns told NDTV.

Besides the reminder of transfer, the letter also disapproves of the nuns going against the congregation.

“This communique is intended to remind you once again to recall my earlier appeals inviting your attention towards mending the current way of life and activities pursued by you… Even as you and a few other MJ members continue to feel no qualms in issuing malafied public statements and circulate baseless stories tarnishing the image of the MJ congregation and portraying the Mother General and other members as ‘enemies of those who are fighting for their justice’, I have been ensuring that the congregation continue supporting you,” it added.

In September last year, the nuns had protested near Kerala High Court demanding justice for the nun, who had alleged that the Jalandhar Bishop sexually abused her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to a convent in Kottayam district.

After her complaint triggered protests, the bishop was arrested in September. Franco Mulakkal is currently on bail.

A few days ago, another nun who published poems, bought a car and took part in a protest against Franco Mulakkal, was issued a notice by her superiors for indulging in anti-church activities and leading a life “against the principles of religious life”.

The notice asked the nun to offer an explanation at the Generalate of the Congregation on January 9, but she did not turn up, saying that she was busy.

“Through Facebook, channel discussions and articles, you belittled the Catholic leadership by making false accusations against it and tried to bring down the sacraments… you defamed the congregation and your performance through social media was culpable in causing grave scandal,” the notice read.

It also termed getting a driving licence, buying a car on loan, and publishing a book without the permission of her superiors as “grave violations”.

courtesy NDTV

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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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Jailed Dear Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Convicted In Murder Of Journalist

Journalist Murder Case: Gurmeet Ram Rahim, chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, is currently serving a 20-year prison term for raping two of his followers

Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been convicted in Ram Chander Chhatrapati journalist murder case.
NEW DELHI: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief is in jail for raping two of his followers
  2. Had been named as main conspirator in 2002 murder of journalist
  3. Journalist published account of Ram Rahim sexually exploiting women

Jailed self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim and three others have been convicted in the murder of a journalist by a special court in Haryana.

Ram Rahim, chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, was found guilty in the 2002 murder of journalist  Ram Chander Chhatrapati.

“All the four accused have been convicted,” HPS Verma, lawyer for the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI, told news agency PTI after judge Jagdeep Singh gave the verdict in Panchkula.

He will be sentenced on January 17.

Ram Rahim, 51, appeared before the court through video conferencing from Rohtak’s Sunaria jail.

ram chander chhatrapati potrait afp

Journalist Ramchandra Chhatrapati was murdered in 2002.

He is currently serving a 20-year prison term for raping two of his followers. His conviction in August 2017 had triggered riots in Panchkula, as his followers went berserk, that left 30 dead and property worth crores vandalised.

Ram Chander Chhatrapati was shot in October 2002 outside his house after his newspaper ”Poora Sach” published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

The case was registered in 2003 and handed over to the CBI in 2006.

Ram Rahim was named the main conspirator in the case.

The three others convicted are Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal, all close aides of Ram Rahim.

  • The driver who turned key witness

Khatta Singh was present in the court when special CBI delivered the judgment holding the Dera head and his three followers guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy. Khatta Singh’s statement proved crucial in nailing Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

Khatta Singh was a much relieved man on Friday. The former driver of rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was a prime CBI witness in the murder case of journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati. Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the Dera Sacha Sauda, was on Friday found guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy in the case.

 “I am satisfied with the court’s decision. All credit goes to the journalist’s son, Anshul Chhatarpati, and the probe officer, SP Satish Dagar, who did not succumb to any pressure while pursuing the case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim. I cannot explain how much my family and I have suffered over the years after I quit the Dera in 2007 and agreed to record my statement against the accused persons,” said Khatta Singh, 61.

Khatta Singh was present in the court when special CBI delivered the judgment holding the Dera head and his three followers guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy. Khatta Singh’s statement proved crucial in nailing Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

Khatta Singh’s testimony that Dera manager Krishan Lal had handed over his walkie-talkie set and his licensed pistol to the two other accused, Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh, in his (Khatta Singh’s) presence proved vital in proving the guilt of the four accused,” CBI counsel HPS Verma said.

Recalling the sequence of events Khatta Singh said, “On October 23, 2002, Gurmeet Ram Rahim returned after attending a gathering of his followers in Jalandhar when then Dera manager, Krishan Lal, showed him the newspaper ‘Poora Sach’. The paper, owned by Ram Chander Chhatarpati, carried a report accusing Gurmeet Ram Rahim of sexually exploiting women at the Dera. Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh were also with Krishan Lal. Gurmreet Ram Rahim lost his cool and ordered to ‘silence the voice of the man’ behind the newspaper. Next day, on October 24, 2002, I received a call from my house that the journalist had been shot at”.

Khatta Singh says he “received numerous blood-stained threat letters” from Dera followers during the course of the trial. He was provided security cover by the Punjab Police. Incidentally, Khatta Singh had in 2012 changed the statement he gave against the Dera chief in 2007. He later wanted to record a fresh statement but a CBI court in Panchkula declined his request. In 2017, he moved Punjab and Haryana high court through advocate Navkiran Singh. The high court allowed him to record his fresh statement in the trial court. Later, the defense counsel of the accused challenged the high court decision in apex court, which rejected the plea of defense.

Courtesy: NDTV and The Indian Express

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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.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/india-s-cow-crisis-part-4-the-stigma-of-mewat-62782

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Mahamandal president resigns over Sahgal’s invite withdrawal for 92nd Marathi Lit festival in Pune

The withdrawal of invitation to Sahgal resulted in fierce criticism from a number of writers, with calls from prominent writers and social activist such as Vidya Bal to boycott the event.

PUNE Updated: Jan 10, 2019 14:33 IST

Prachi Bari

Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune

Pune,Mahamandal,Marathi lit festival

Sahgal had been invited by the Mahamandal president to be the chief guest and the keynote speaker at the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, which she had accepted. The prestigious Marathi literary meet is scheduled to begin at Yavatmal on January 11.(HT PHOTO )

Shripad Joshi, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal resigned on Wednesday following sharp criticism over the withdrawal of invitation as keynote speaker to eminent writer Nayatara Sahgal.

“I have sent an email tendering my resignation to the organisers and I have been portrayed in a wrong manner. I plan to meet Nayantara Sahgal in Delhi and explain my situation,” Joshi said in a statement.

Sahgal had been invited by the Mahamandal president to be the chief guest and the keynote speaker at the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, which she had accepted. The prestigious Marathi literary meet is scheduled to begin at Yavatmal on January 11.

However, the invitation was withdrawn after protests from political groups including the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), for inviting a writer in English to a Marathi literary meet. MNS chief Raj Thackeray later apologised for the conduct of his party leaders.

In a media release on Sunday, Ramakant Kolte, member of the organising committee of the sammelan, said, “ We have sent her an apology letter and also a letter to state that in her state (old age) it would be inappropriate for her to travel so far and be disappointed if she won’t be able to attend, hence, we have requested her to accept our apology and have withdrawn the invitation.”

The withdrawal of invitation to Sahgal resulted in fierce criticism from a number of writers, with calls from prominent writers and social activist such as Vidya Bal to boycott the event.

Bal, who was to receive an award at the literary meet said she would boycott the sammelan to register her protest.

“This sammelan was of historic importance for two reasons; one being that Aruna Dhere is the first woman president of the Sammelan and second, that Nayantara had agreed to be part too despite her age and her health. The organisers have not just insulted Nayantara by withdrawing the invite, but also Aruna Dhere and the government of Maharashtra. Sahgal is not just a national figure, but known internationally and even the government has not taken cognisance of this great author. Is the Chief Minister not capable of controlling and protecting this sammelan from being disrupted?” Bal asked.Read moreCompact houses ruling the roost in Pune, finds survey by Knight Frank

president resigns over Nayantara Sahgal invite fiasco

On Tuesday, however, a number of writers from Pune opposed the call to boycott the literary meet and issued a signed statement. The statement said that while they strongly oppose the withdrawal of the invitation to Sahgal, they will not oppose the sammelan. They also appealed to other writers not to boycott the literary meet as it would be extremely disappointing to the thousands of lovers of literature who would be attending the event.

Vice-president of the sammelan, author Vidya Deodhar, said, “I will be reaching Yavatmal soon and tomorrow we have a meeting with all the organisers, where upon, as vice-president I will preside over the meeting. The decision on who the keynote speaker will be, will then be decided.”

The organisers of the sammelan are still trying to focus the event, which will begin on January 11 in Yavatmal, on 250 publishers and book sellers from across the state, who have already begun setting up their stalls.

Anil Kulkarni, publisher from Pune, said, “The conflict is between the mahamandal and the organisers. We are going there for the love of literature and to bring books, especially Marathi prose which is popular to the various book lovers. We have no interest in getting embroiled in this fight and we are backing the sammelan and the organisers. There are limited options to buy good prose and poetry in the areas of Yavatmal and this is a good opportunity for us to be part of a sammelan after 45 years in this area.”

Vishal Soni, publisher, Vishwakarma publications said, “This ongoing fight does not affect us in any way and those who love reading literature are travelling from across the state to be part of the sammelan. We are in Yavatmal for the love of literature and we represent the authors and the books they have written.”

https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/mahamandal-president-resigns-over-sahgal-s-invite-withdrawal-for-92nd-marathi-lit-festival-in-pune/story-QeJp5OhiNT4iZvWB2xsd0O.html

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Why Elgar Parishad spooked Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, the alleged architects anti-Dalit violence

Early on the morning on January 1, 2018, innocent Dalits who had gathered at Bhima Koregaon, a small village about 30 kilometres from Pune, to offer their salutation to the victory pillar, were attacked by people holding saffron flags. The saffron-flagbearers  attacked one and all, pelted stones, torched shops and vehicles. Many innocent Dalits got injured and one person succumbed to the injuries suffered due to stone-pelting. The news spread like wildfire and so did its videos and messages. Agitated Dalit and Bahujan activists took to streets, holding up traffic all across the State.

NIHAL SINGH RATHOD

[WATCH]  The Bhima Koregaon Case: What Really Happened

AS stated earlier, Justices P B Sawant and Kolse-Patil, and many other dignitaries from across Maharashtra gathered and conceptualised the programme which was to result in the arrest of at least ten activists on charges of sedition and terrorism, after over six months. In a democratic manner, design of the programme was drawn, speakers were decided, names were mooted, accepted or rejected, and finally they decided to hold the programme with Justice P B Sawant as its president and others like Jignesh Mewani, Umar Khalid, Soni Sori, Radhika Vemula, Prakash Ambedkar as speakers. Funds were to be raised by various organisations through direct collection from the people.

Various organisations were to shoulder various responsibilities. As many as 250 organisations came together under the banner of Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerana Abhiyan. Prominent amongst them were Savitribai Phule Seva Sanghatana, Akhil Maharashtra Karmachari Sanghatan, Lokshasan Andolan, Sambhaji Brigade, Bhartiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh, Kabir Kala Manch, Samata Sainik Dal among others, which various responsibilities. The venue of the programme amongst many other suggestions, was decided to be Shaniwar Wada, the remnant of Peshwa palace in Pune, as a first chapter of the campaign.

Here is a short timeline

September 24, 2017: At Mumbai’s Ambedkar Bhavan, a meeting was called, whereat many dignitaries, former police officers and judges gathered and held a discussion on the prevailing situation in Maharashtra. It was everyone’s opinion that some steps had to be taken to ease out the tension between communities and RSS had to be exposed. It was suggested in this programme that on bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon Battle, a public programme could be organised.

October 2, 2017: A meeting was called by Justices Sawant and Kolse-Patil at Rastra Seva Dal, Pune, wherein the then volatile situation in the State of Maharashtra was discussed. Some people suggested that a programme on occasion of Bhima-Koregaon bicentenary be organised, wherein people could be informed of the real meaning and reason for the battle. Names of various speakers including Ramdas Athawale, Jogendra Kawade, Prakash Ambedkar, Jignesh Mewani, among others were suggested. Justice Kolse-Patil took responsibility to approach these speakers and obtain their dates. In the meeting, unanimous decision was taken to make Justice P B Sawant as the president of the programme.

October 6, 2017: Another meeting was called at Panmala Buddhvihar, wherein Pune Coordination Committee came to be constituted. It was decided that funds shall not be taken from any political party. It shall be collected from 260 social organisations working in Pune, and each organisation should contribute ₹ 3000. Once again names of the speakers were debated, unanimously newly elected MLA from Vadgam, Gujarat – Jignesh Mewani, and the mother of Rohit Vemula – Radhika Vemula, were picked from several suggestions. Members of Kabir Kala Manch came to be inducted as part of the coordination committee two days after the meeting.

October 15, 2017: Justice Sawant called a meeting at his residence, wherein members from Kabir Kala Manch and other activists were present. In this meeting, it was decided to name the programme to be conducted on December 31, 2017 as “Elgar Parishad”. It was further decided to open a Facebook page by the name of Bhima Koregaon Shaourya Din Prerna Abhiyan. On the said day, responsibility of obtaining permission for programme was shouldered on Savitri Bai Vichar Manch, since it is a registered organisation. It was also decided to hold the programme at the Shaniwar Wada ground, which is considered as the capital of Peshwas, as a bitter-sweet gesture of historical irony.

November 9, 2017: The Shaniwar Wada ground was booked for the programme after paying the requisite fee by way of a demand draft.

From October 15, 2017 to December 30, 2017: Many preparatory meetings took place at various places, including Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, etc. However, on December 29, 2018, Justice Sawant had to be hospitalised due to ill-health, and therefore with his concurrence, one of the speaker from programme, lawyer and Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, was inducted as the president of the programme.Advocate Prakash Ambedkar (Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson) was the president of the Elgar Parishad. The Parishad suggested a programme be organised on the occasion of bicentenary of Bhima-Koregaon, wherein people could be informed of the real meaning and reason for the battle

Various organisations and individual activists eagerly participated in Elgar Parishad and did campaigning for the programme. Posters, banners, handbills were taken care of by the participating bodies. A booklet on the issue was prepared by the committee of two persons, including an ex IPS officer, who studied the history to great length and read out its version in a meeting at Nashik, whereat it came to be approved by the participants. This committee was constituted upon the suggestion of advocate Prakash Ambedkar, so that there remained no doubt about the version of history.

Opposition to Elgar Parishad

In Pune

While preparations of the programme were ongoing, one Brahmin caste organisation took objection to the programme; however, after speaking with the Elgar Parishad organisers, they withdrew their objection.Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote decided to treat January 01, 2018 as black day and ensure bandh  all across the area. The news of the bandh spread on the social media like wildfire. Pradip Kand, Anil Kand and Ganesh Kand threatened hotel owners to ensure that this bandh was observed

November 25, 2017: Milind Ekbote, of Samastha Hindu Aghadi, took a press conference and appealed to the Maharashtra government to cancel permission for the programme. He threatened by way of a written press note, that should the government let this programme happen, he would show his might.

A Hindutva outfit in Pune threatened to kill JNU scholar Umar Khalid and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani if they landed in Pune.

In the areas adjacent to Koregaon Bhima

On December 16, 2017, one person namely Kaustubh Kasture had posted on Facebook that there would be riot on January 01, 2018, this person is supporter of Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote

On December 30, 2017, Milind Ekbote took a meeting in Bhima Koregaon, whereat he decided to treat January 01, 2018 as black day and ensure bandh  all across the area.

On December 29, 2017, memorial of Govind Mahar, who has legend to his credit of having shown courage to cremate the dead of Sambhaji Maharaj son of Shivaji Maharaj, came to be defiled. This resulted into a riot like situation in Vadu Budruk and adjacent areas, however all the villagers acted with responsibility and sorted out the issue amongst themselves and peace was restored. By December 30, 2017, though the issue at the Vadu Budruk was resolved peacefully, it is said that Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, instigated the villagers.

On December 30, 2017, a message was circulated on social media that there is a meeting called by Sambhaji Bhide in Vadu Village on January 01, 2018 and the supporters should gather in large numbers.

On the night of December 31, 2017 Pradip Kand, Anil Kand and Ganesh Kand were threatening hotel owners to ensure bandhon January 01, 2018.

Women in the vicinity knew prior about the riot on January 01, 2018, President of Tanta Mukti (dispute resolution) Committee, namely Vaibhav Yadav, had stored sticks and swords in his shop a night before.

Suddenly on late night December 31, 2017, a letter was sent to police station, near Bhima Koregaon purportedly written by Bhima Koregoan Gram Panchayat, wherein police were informed about the bandh to be observed next day.

Who is Sambhaji Bhide?

A full timer of RSS at one point of time, Sambhaji Bhide, alias Manohar Vinayak Kulkarni alias Bhide Guruji, has established his own organisation, namely Shiv Prastisthan Hindustan, which claims to spread ideals of Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji Maharaj.  He has quite a fan following in some districts of western Maharashtra, and has been named as an accused in a number of riot cases. His followers are known for ransacking movie theatres when Jodha Akbar was released, also for many riots in the area. Current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, had attended his programme, and had stated in the speech: “I have not been invited here, but I have come as per the orders of Guruji.”

Allegedly an MSc in Physics, this Guruji had claimed that he possessed a kind of mango which if eaten could result couples without children birthing one.

Supporters of Sambhaji Bhide | Photo Credit: PTI

Sambhaji Brigade, a progressive organisation of followers of Sambhaji Maharaj, accuses Bhide Guruji of deceiving people and brainwashing them by presenting Sambhaji Maharaj as religious fanatic. They also allege that he has changed his name to conceal his caste and to resemble a Maratha.

Who is Milind Ekbote?

A resident of Pune, an ex-corporator, a BJP affiliate, the president of Dharmaveer Sambhaji Maharaj Pratishthan, Samasta Hindu Aghadi, a local politician, known for his inflammatory speeches — Milind Ekbote is all this and more. This champion of invoking communal hatred, was sought to be detained by Maharashtra police way back. In the reports that were sent to the then government, senior police officers had stated that Milind Ekbote was mischievous and has been spreading false information with respect to Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji Maharaj to invoke communal hatred against Muslims. He has been causing his followers to celebrate December 6 (the day of demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya) like a festival.

To his credit, there are many crimes registered, most of which pertain to causing destruction of public property or invoking hatred amongst communities.

The Elgar Parishad

The participants:

As stated earlier, the programme happened under the chairmanship of Advocate Prakash Ambedkar (the president of the Bhartiya Republican Party) along with (Retd) Justice B G Kolse Patil (Bombay High Court), Soni Sori (tribal activist and Front Line Defender award winner), Radhika Vemula (the mother of late Rohit Vemula, a Dalit scholar), Prashant Dontha (Dalit scholar) Jignesh Mewani (MLA Vadgam in Gujarat and Dalit rights activist), Umar Khalid (JNU scholar), Vinay Ratan Singh (national president Bhim Army), Ulka Mahajan (tribal rights activist), Maulana Abdul Hamid Azahari (secretary, Muslim Personal Law Board) — among others.

The programme was inaugurated by Radhika Vemula by breaking the four pots, which symbolised breaking the four-tiered caste system in India.

Who said what

Anchoring of the first session was done by singer Sagar Gorkhe and the prefatory talk for the same was delivered by Dr Sangram Maurya (Peoples Voice and chairman of Doctor of People). Anchoring of the second session was done by Vira Sathidar (lead actor of Oscar-nominated movie Court), while the opening speech was given by Sudhir Dhavale. A street play was performed by the artists of Kabir Kala Manch, titled “Peshwayi or Lokshahi?” (Lokshashi means democracy), which in substance was a challenge to the policies of the central government and jibes at achche din, Make in India, cow vigilantism, among other hut-button issues.All the participants took pledge at that they shall strive hard to protect the constitution, its values and ensure brotherhood amongst all people, further that they shall not fall prey to false propaganda spread by BJP, RSS and other fanatics no matter which religion they belong to. They also pledged to not vote for BJP ever again

The programme was a blend of cultural events and speeches by the above-named dignitaries, whereat government inactions, functioning and the growing influence of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, atrocities on Dalits, tribals, NT-DNTs, right to food, victory of Jignesh Mewani in Gujarat Assembly elections, situation of adivasis in Chhattisgarh, policies of the state government, etc. were addressed by the speakers.

The programme ended with all the participants taking pledge that they shall strive hard to protect the constitution, its values and ensure brotherhood amongst all people; further that they shall not fall prey to false propaganda spread by BJP, RSS and other communal, religious fanatics, no matter which religion they belonged to. Of all things, it is important to note that the speakers pledged to not vote for BJP ever again.

After the programme got over, some of the dignitaries went to Bhima-Koregaon Vijay Stambh that night itself and offered their homage.

Beginning of riots

Early on the morning on January 1, 2018, innocent Dalits who had gathered at Bhima Koregaon, a small village about 30 kilometres from Pune, to offer their salutation to the victory pillar, were attacked by people holding saffron flags. The saffron-flagbearers  attacked one and all, pelted stones, torched shops and vehicles. Many innocent Dalits got injured and one person succumbed to the injuries suffered due to stone-pelting. The news spread like wildfire and so did its videos and messages. Agitated Dalit and Bahujan activists took to streets, holding up traffic all across the State. The situation became so tense that at any minute, the entire State could have been up in flames. However, due to timely intervention of Advocate Prakash Ambedkar and declaring a peaceful bandh and protest on January 3, 2018, the situation was brought under relative control. He along with the others requested people to maintain calm and sought judicial inquiry of the entire episode. Still, tension continued on January 2, 2018.

Protest on January 3, solidarity for Elgar Parishad

True to the expectations of Justice Sawant and Justice Kolse-Patil, an unexpected exhibition of fraternity came to be seen in the whole State, wherein people from various walks of life, irrespective of their caste or religion, came together and peacefully protested against the attack on Dalits on January 1, demanding action against the perpetrators.

Dalit protesters on January 1, 2018 at Sanaswadi | Photo Credit: DNA India

However, as soon as the agitation ended, police started combing operation and attacking Dalit activists under the charges of violence dated January 1, 2018. Men, women and children were attacked similarly and assaulted. The Leader of Opposition of the Maharashtra Assembly, while elaborating on one such incidence of combing operations, stated the following in the Assembly: “…After the Bhima Koregaon incident, there was bandh in Maharashtra and after Maharashtra Bandh at a place like Aurangabad, police conducted combing operations in which inhuman atrocities were committed by police on women, pregnant women, CDs of the same have been given in the house. If more is required, then there are video CDs available…atrocities on women were committed by going in their colonies.  Even in those places with no relation to the Bhima Koregaon incident, no relation with the Bandh, combing operation was done and inhuman atrocities were committed.

Statement of the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the House, dated March 6, 2018, elaborating the whole sequence of events pertaining to the riot of January 1, 2018

“… Chairman Sir, we all know that since 200 years was completed since the battle of Bhima Koregaon this year, thus large number of people were to come to offer their salutations. Every year people come there. After Bharat Ratna Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar offered his salutation at that place in the year 1929, it became a custom there and accordingly large number of people go there. Thousands of people are there every year. However, it was expected that owing to the completion of 200 years people will remain present in large proportion. Therefore, that preparation which the government is required to do, was done much earlier. Specially, state government decided to remove encroachment around the victory pillar which was there since years. Few people went to court saying that the land is owned by them and there no such type of salutation should happen. For that we appointed special public prosecutor. Social justice Minister Sir gave personal attention to it. By removing the encroachment, for constructing a protective wall on the premises of 10 acres fund of 2 crore rupees has already been given. At the same time BARTI has prepared a proposal with regards to establishing military and police pre-training academy. Through BARTI with intent to protect, to maintain the pillar and to preserve its piousness, appointment of security guard and other issues has been on since approximately six months. For preparation of this program guardian minister of Pune, Social Justice state minister had gone there a day before. At night they took a review. On the second day, meaning on the day of incident Social Justice Minister and Social Justice State Minister were present there … One SP/ two additional SPs five DY SPs, 12 PI, 52 API, PSI, 537 police, 2 riot control squads, 2 bomb defection squads, 3 SRPF Company, 300 homeguards were there. An arrangement to this extent was made. At that place complete wireless machinery was activated.

Chairman Sir, if we take the information about this incident that has happened, a pole and iron frame was installed approximately in the evening at 1900 hours, in the square of Vadu gram panchayat. Thereafter at about 2200 hours a hoarding was fixed in that frame. On that, information with respect to how Govind Gopal Gaikwad performed the last rites of Second Chhatrapati of Swaraj Sambhaji Maharaj was put up. Some people took objection to some of the contents on it. In overall I do not see any trouble with the upper portion of the content. On that it was written, “Jai Shivraj Jai Bhim, Second Chhatrapati of Swaraj Sambhaji Maharaj was extremely brutally murdered on March 11, 1689 on the orders of Aurangzeb Badshah at Wadu Budruk. At that time very inhumanly his body was cut into pieces and thrown on the banks of Bhima river at Wadu. A fatwa was issued by Aurangzeb Badshah that whosoever will perform last rites of his body shall be beheaded. Because of that no commander or soldier mustered courage to perform last rites on the body of Sambaji Maharaj. At that time a brave youngster of village Wadu, Govind Gopal Mahar came forward and said I will not tolerate such mutilation of my king and thus he collected all the pieces and stitched the body of Sambhaji King. No villager was ready to offer place for last rites of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj out of fear. In that situation Govind Gopal did the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj in his own place at Maharwada. To honour this work of Govind Gopal, Chhatrpati Shahu Maharaj, first of Satara province gifted 45 bhigha of land to Govind Gopal. Govind Gopal spent his entire life serving the burial memorial, Vrindavan, of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. This memorial is of Govind Gopal.

A board was put up at the memorial of brave Govind Gopal, courtesy descendants of brave Govind Gopal Mahar Gaikwad, Wadu Budruk Taluka, Shirur District, Pune. Any person committing any damage or loss to the board shall be subject to legal proceedings. In this manner I have a picture of it. (Said picture is shown everywhere in the house.) Such a board was installed in front of gram panchayat at that place as well. Now at this (board) some of the villagers gathered and raised objection against it in regard to the contents of it which read, “no commander or soldier was mustering courage to perform last rites on the body of Sambaji Maharaj”. On that regard a dispute got created in large proportion. I am not going into any history. Government has nothing to say with regard to that history. However just so that the dispute in that village stops I am saying that, on one side it is the fact that Govind Gopal Gaikwad had performed last rites. This is the legend at that place and there are many citations about it. On the other side some of the villagers are of the opinion that Shiwale Deshmukh who was there is the one who performed the last rites and the dispute is of many years. Of that dispute this board got installed of such nature approximately at 2200 hours. People gathered after the board was installed and by morning the gathering had increased proportionally. Thereafter they broke that board. Not only the board but the umbrella that was there on the memorial of Govind Gopal Gaikwad, was also broken, lot of altercation followed. There became two groups in the village. Dalit community was on one side and upper caste community was on the other side. There was lot of quarrel and arguments exchanged between them. After the incident that took place approximately on December 29, 2017, police superintendent himself went there. He took information by going there after taking information, names of approximately 54 persons were given in police complaint. Of those people ascertained and who did the action likewise, people from both the sides sat together and decided that, action should not be taken against all such people. “Don’t invoke Atrocity Act against all. Those nine people who actually did it, their names will be given.” Accordingly, atrocity came to be filed against only nine people. Thereafter complaints from both the sides with regards to destruction came to be made. Other side put up such board, hurled abuses. All the complaints making such grievances were noted down by police. One of the important things to note of all this is that this board of Govind Gopal Gaikwad was not installed by people in the village. Police is investigating in depth in this regard. That board has been installed by some lawyer from outside. They are also activists, however what their intention was has not been understood by anyone. Because people of the village got upset, after the board was broken, however that board was not made by the people in the village. No such thing comes to the notice. If we take an overview, then after everything happened on December 30, 2017, a meeting took place. After the meeting both the sides finished their dispute at that place, decisions such as all this should be finished. With regards to that decision everything will get normal, was the understanding of the police.

Meeting of Peace Committee took place. In that also all communities came together. “Whatever happened has happened, now we don’t want to cause any mischief any further”. Police Superintendent again went to that place on the 31st himself. Thereafter the Superintendent of Police went to Victory Pillar situated at Perade bifurcation and reviewed everything. Approximately till 1800 hours, a rehearsal of entire arrangement was taken. After the rehearsal all the arrangements were properly kept, since morning on January 1, 2018 people were offering salutations. In the meantime on December 31, 2017 night, all this police were posted at Bhima Koregaon Gram Panchayat.  Only one police constable was in the police station, a letter on the behalf of Gram Panchayat Bhima Koregaon came to be given to this police constable, between 11 and 11:30 in the night. In it, it was stated that, “for maintaining law and order Bhima Koregaon would observe bandh on 1 January 2018 with respect to aforesaid subject. It is being requested that, owing to the incidents that took place on memorial place of Chhatrapati at Wadubudruk, no harm should be caused to law and order situation, and for that we Gram Panchayat and Gram Sabha have taken decision to observe bandh at Bhima Koregaon on 1/1/2018.” The truth is that no such Gram Sabha took place. A letter under the signature of Sarpanch and Clerk, came to be given on the night of December 31. When the salutation began on January 1, 2018, it went on properly. In that people in large number were coming since morning. No one had any inconvenience in that. Approximately at 11 O Clock, 1100 to 1200 people having saffron flags in their hand gathered near memorial place of Chatrapati Sambhaji in Wadu village and offered salutation there.  It is a daily practice to give salutation. However, people are not in such large numbers. There are 200 to 400 people or 25 to 30 people. Therefore, police were alert. After giving salutation, they were told to go back to their respective places. Of that most of the people left. 200 to 300 people said that “We are from Bhima Koregaon. We be given permission to go to our village.” These people had come on motorcycle.A letter under the signature of Sarpanch and Clerk was given to the police constable on the night of December 31 on the behalf of Gram Panchayat Bhima Koregaon. The letter stated, “Bhima Koregaon would observe bandh on 1 January 2018 for maintaining law and order”

Chairman Sir, many of us have seen map of that area. From the map you can see that village Wadu is in upper direction. Bhima Koregaon, memorial place is in lower direction and Sanaswadi is even above. Sanaswadi comes on Nagar road. From Bhima Koregaon downwards goes a road to Pune, Wadu village is situated on that road. People in large number were going from that road. Police gave crossing to these 200-300 people. Because they were from Bhima Koregaon. They were given permission to go to Bhima Koregaon. Pilgrims were pouring in. These people took a roundabout at Bhima Koregaon and again came back onto the road and made a circle and started sloganeering “Jai Bhawani, Jai Shivaji”. From other side large number of pilgrims had also come, because this sloganeering was going on they also started giving slogans. While sloganeering was going on from both sides, stone pelting happened. In the stone pelting, police were especially made targets. Police were in large numbers. After it came to their notice, they got in between and separated both. Stone pelting began in large proportions on the police. SP himself was present there, he also got hit with a stone. He immediately carried out lathi charge on the mob and dispersed the mob. This went on for approximately an hour. Peace was restored and those who were chased away, they ran and went towards Sanaswadi. While going towards Sanaswadi, intermittently they would throw stones and then run, such a situation came to be created.  In the meantime, parking that was created at 2-3 places. On that parking three – four policemen came. Other policemen were on road. No necessity was felt to put any guard there. Hence three-four policemen came. Finding that there was no police at either of the parking, people entered there and started vandalisation of vehicles. They did the work of setting vehicles on fire. Again police reached there and chased them away. They went towards Sanaswadi and again started attacking vehicles that were going and coming from that village. In the meantime, pilgrims were going. In that situation rumours started spreading. Rumours spread in large numbers. Arson happened, brawl happened, tremendous number of people got injured. Such type of rumours were spread in a large proportion.”

Gathering at Bhima Koregaon Vijay Stambha

Fact findings

Various fact-findings took place, the most prominent amongst them was one conducted at the behest of Rural IG, Vishwas Nagare Patil, wherein ex-mayor of Pune was part of the team which visited many places and submitted his report on January 20, 2018 wherein following major observations were made:

  1. On December 30, 2017, Milind Ekbote took meeting in Bhima Koregaon, whereat he decided to treat January 01, 2018 as black day and ensure bandh all across the area.
  2. On December 30, 2017, a message was circulated on social media that there is meeting called by Sambhaji Bhide in Vadu Village on January 01, 2018 and the supporters should gather in large numbers.
  3. On the night of December 31, 2017, Pradip Kand, Anil Kand and Ganesh Kand were threatening hotel owners to ensure bandh on January 1, 2018.
  4. Women in the vicinity knew prior about the riot on January 1; president of Tanta Mukti (dispute resolution) Committee namely Vaibhav Yadav, had stored sticks, swords in his shop a night before.
  5. On December 16, 2017, one person, namely Kaustubh Kasture, had posted on Facebook that there would be a riot on January 1; this person is a supporter of Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote
  6. On January 1, 2018, a group of people holding saffron flags in their hands, and shouting slogans were roaming around on bikes, they were stopping vehicles bearing blue flags. They were assaulting Ambedkarite people sitting in the vehicle inhumanly.
  7. A mob of Hindutva people had stopped at village before proceeding to victory pillar, where some of the leaders of the mob were heard saying “don’t be afraid, police is with us, later on they will do their duty”.

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India’s Cow Crisis : Brutal to kill India’s ancient Uber economy

Sunita Narain on cow-vigilantism, cattle trade and the collapse of the livestock economy of IndiaNEXT NEWS ❯

By Sunita Narain
Credit: Adithyan PC
Credit: Adithyan PC

 Credit: Adithyan PC

I would not advocate vegetarianism. When I reasoned this out in this column a few years ago, I received the usual insults. Environmentalists are expected to be vegetarian, or better vegan! But what many didn’t register was my emphasis: “I am saying this as an Indian environmentalist; not global or western environmentalist.”

My argument has been that Indian farmers practice an agro-silvo-pastoral system and that livestock is a crucial part of their economy. Taking away the meat would demonetise their assets. It would kill their income. I argued that it is the quantity of consumption and how we produce that matters the most to environment. Industrialised meat production is done at the cost of the environment—by clearing vast forests, feeding animals cereals, antibiotics and all the other junk that they should not be using. But Indian farmers still practice cow-buffalo-goat economy that is of small scale. In fact, this economy has been sustainable for the fact that it is in the hands of small farm owners. Animals are their insurance policy; their ways of managing bad times, made worse today because of climate change-induced variables and extreme weather.

We need to find ways to nurture this economy in which individual farmers benefit from the small-scale operation. This was the Anand experiment—made famous by the venerable man of India’s White Revolution, Verghese Kurien. I am not sure how many of us have seen the wonder of this movement, as young girls, women and men bring their milk to the local dairy, which gives them a receipt of the fat content and the money that is due to them. This local dairy farming is built on the concept of small, disaggregated animal owners, who are enjoined to the big dairy farm. This is the cooperative-producer model that is best suited for our people-heavy and employment-desperate country.

Ironic as it is, we celebrate the Uber and the Airbnb as disruptive models for growth. These models are what Kurien propagated—maximise the return from individual assets. Today, we call for a taxi, which is not owned by any taxi company; or book accommodation, which is not owned by any company. This is what Kurien did. He made dairy the big business of small producers. It was, and is, disruptive. We don’t recognise it because it is not in “our” world.

But it worked because there was a cow-buffalo economy in place, which included cost of feeding and maintaining the cattle for milk and then its sale for meat. Farmers do not have the means to keep unproductive cows. Let’s be brutally honest about this. Why am I writing this today? Because as my colleagues report from their travels, in the past few years, the strident and often violent call for cow protection has led to the total breakdown of this economy of the poor. Cattle are now abandoned. They have become a menace, marauding fields and destroying crops. Remember Indian farmers do not fence their fields; they cannot afford it and actually this is good for soil and water conservation. Now this is not going to work.

The only change I can see is that farmers will altogether give up keeping cows and will switch to buffalo economy. But this will also work only when the state cracks down on all cases of cow-related lynching mercilessly. Note that in most cases where the meat has been tested, post the lynching, it has been found to be that of a buffalo and not cow. This is because the state has often protected, not the poor cow, but her 
so-called worshippers who have taken law into their hands. This must stop.

I would also argue that we shouldn’t adopt the protein-obsessive western diet. This is also part of health and environmental problems. A recent article in the UK daily The Guardian says that this protein obsession is leading to vast over-consumption. Citizens of the US and Canada get roughly 90 grams of protein per day, which is twice the recommended average (based on an adult weight of 62 kgs); Europeans eat an average of 85 grams of protein per day. Indian averages really don’t count because of the vast numbers of protein-deprived and malnourished people, but our urban consuming class is picking up this bad habit as well.

Being (non)-vegetarian is a personal choice. We must fight for this. Even as we fight for growing meat in a way that is environmentally sound.

Courtesy down to earth

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Kauravas were test tube babies, Ravana had several airports in Lanka: Andhra University VC

He questioned how Gandhari, the mother of Kauravas, could give birth to 100 children.

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“Mahabharat says 100 eggs were fertilised and put into 100 earthen pots. Are they not test tube babies?” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • He claimed the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu predate Darwin’s theory of evolution
  • Stem cell research was in India thousand years ago, he said
  • Ravan had 24 types of aircraft of varying sizes and capacities, he claimed

Kauravas were born due to stem cell and test tube technologies and India also possessed knowledge about guided missiles thousands of years ago, claimed Andhra University vice chancellor G Nageshwar Rao at the Indian Science Congress on Friday.

He claimed the ‘Dashavtar’, ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, predate the Theory of Evolution given by English naturalist Charles Darwin.

At a presentation, Rao said Lord Rama used ‘astras’ and ‘shastras’ (weapons), while Lord Vishnu sent a Sudardhan Chakra to chase targets. After hitting them they would come back, he said.

This shows that the science of guided missiles is not new to India and it was present thousands of years ago, the vice chancellor said.

Rao also said the Ramayana states that Ravan didn’t just have the Pushpak Viman, but had 24 types of aircraft of varying sizes and capacities. He also had several airports in Lanka and he used these aircraft for different purposes.

Rao said that as Darwin stated life started from water the first avatar of Lord Vishnu was also a fish (Matysa).

For the second avatar, he took shape of a tortoise (Kurma), an amphibious animal, the third avatar was a boar’s head and a human body (Varaha), the fourth was the Narsimha avatar with the head of a lion and human body. He took on the human form of Vaman in the fifth avatar.

He questioned how Gandhari, the mother of Kauravas, could give birth to a 100 children.

“Everybody wonders and nobody believes, how come Gandhari gave birth to 100 children. How is it humanly possible? Can a woman give birth to 100 children in one lifetime,” he asked.

“But now we believe we have test tube babies. Again Mahabharat says, 100 eggs were fertilised and put into 100 earthen pots. Are they not test tube babies? Stem cell research in this country was present thousands of years ago. Today, we speak about stem cell research.

“We had hundreds of Kauravas from one mother because of stem cell research and test tube baby technology. It happened a few thousand years ago. This was science in this country,” he said.

In another presentation, one Dr Kannan Krishnan, who claimed to be an Indian-born Australian national, sought to debunk Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Aniket Sule, Reader at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, said stem cell research, test tube babies, guided missiles, aircraft were very advanced technologies and any civilisation which possessed them, must also possess many simpler technologies which are absolute must for these advanced ones.

“You need electricity, metallurgy, mechanics, propulsion etc. We don’t see any evidence of these,” he said.

Sule noted that in the last few years, there has been an increasing trend of some people reinterpreting some poetic verses in old texts to extract any random meaning they want.

“That is exactly opposite of real research,” Sule added

This was not the first time that the congress has witnessed such claims. In the Mumbai session in January 2015, Anand J Bodas, principal of a pilot training school in Kerala and Ameya Jadhav, lecturer at a Mumbai junior college, presented a paper within a symposium titled ‘Ancient Sciences Through Sanskrit’. Bodas and Jadhav claimed that ancient Indians had invented aircraft that could fly in multiple directions and had even reached other planets. They cited as reference a text known as the ‘Vaimanika Shastra’, which has descriptions and some diagrams of what have been claimed to be ancient aircraft. The text, claimed to have been written by the Vedic sage Bharadwaja is, however, dated to 1904 and scientists earlier had concluded that the designs in it were unrealistic and such aircraft could not have achieved flight. Prior to the congress, noted scientists had objected to the paper being presented because of its pseudo-scientific nature.

At the same symposium, other papers were presented on ‘Engineering applications of ancient Indian botany’, ‘Neuro-science of yoga’ and ‘Advances in surgery in Ancient India’, all of which claimed ancient Indians had made fantastic inventions predating ideas in the West in the Early Modern period. Addressing delegates at the session, Union science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan claimed that ancient Indian mathematicians had discovered the Pythagoras theorem “but very gracefully allowed the Greeks to take the credit”.

At the 105th Indian Science Congress at Imphal in March 2018, Vardhan had claimed that the late British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking had stated that the Vedas contained a “theory superior to that of Einstein’s e equals mc squared equation”.

Mainstream scientists have expressed displeasure over these claims. Regarding the latest lecture by the Andhra University VC, the Indian Science Congress Association has expressed shock. “I feel very sad about the type of things he presented before the children. I had told our team to keep a check and that nothing unscientific should be spoken about from the stage. It is shocking when a person of the stature of a state university VC speaks like this,” said ISCA general president Manoj Kumar Chakrabarti, a biologist.

ISCA general secretary Premendu P Mathur said, “Science is based on citation, logical explanation and experimentation. Had I been there, I would have questioned him about it. One should have asked him for evidence.”

However, on Saturday Rao stood by his claims. “Ramayana and Mahabharata are not mythology, but history. Because we don’t understand it today, we can’t say that it’s not science

agencies

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Bhima Koregaon violence: Sarpanch, who signed fraudulent letter, doesn’t rule out conspiracy behind 2018 clashes

IndiaParth MN 

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The sarpanch of Bhima Koregaon did not deny the conspiracy behind the violence on 1 January, 2018, which many believe was a pre-planned attack on Dalit pilgrims by upper caste mobs. Sangita Kamble, the sarpanch, was responding to the question about the fraudulent letter typed on the village letterhead for the taluka police station of Shikrapur ahead of the occasion. She claimed to have no experience then, having just taken over.

Every year, on 1 January, tens of thousands of Dalits across Maharashtra gather at the war memorial of Bhima Koregaon — 40 kilometres from Pune. It commemorates the historic victory of the British army, which had a significant Dalit contingent, over the Peshwas. 2018 was the 200th anniversary of the battle. Therefore, it was an even larger crowd, which was allegedly assaulted by right-wing groups.

On 30 December, 2017, the Bhima Koregaon Gram Panchayat, on its letterhead, submitted a letter to Shikrapur police station, which read, “To avoid law and order situation because of what happened at Sambhaji Maharaj’s memorial in Vadhu, the Gram Panchayat and the entire village has decided to observe a bandh on 1 January, 2018. We request you to take the appropriate decision and cooperate with us.”

The letter had signatures of Kamble and the clerk, Sagar Gawhane.

The Bhima Koregaon war memorial. Image Courtesy: Shrirang Swarge

The Bhima Koregaon war memorial. Image Courtesy: Shrirang Swarge

About four kilometres from Bhima Koregaon, the village of Vadhu had been gripped with caste tensions over a historical dispute in the last week of December last year. Vadhu has a memorial of Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji. Credible historical accounts suggest that he was cremated by a Dalit man called Govind Gaikwad after Aurangzeb killed him. On 29 December, Gaikwad’s statue, which stands right across Sambhaji’s memorial, was vandalised, triggering caste animosities. The Pune rural police had taken cognisance of the developments.

“The call to observe a bandh in Bhima Koregaon despite fears that law and order situation might deteriorate was odd, when Vadhu itself had not called for a bandh on 1 January,” said Rahul Dambale, activist with the Republican Morcha, based in Pune.

On 4 October, 2018, the tricky nature of the bandh in Bhima Koregaon came to light after Firstpost reported the testimony of the clerk to the inquiry commission appointed by the state to investigate the violence. He testified that the letter was backdated, and the village was not consulted as it claims.

In his affidavit, Gawhane, said he typed the letter because Ganesh Phadtare, an infamous Maratha leader and also a former deputy Sarpanch of Bhima Koregaon, asked him to do so. “On the morning of 31 December, Phadtare called and asked me to come to the Gram Panchayat office urgently,” the affidavit reads. “When I reached the office, Phadtare and his karyakartas were already there. He asked me to type a letter that called for the bandh in the village.”

A year later, Kamble did not deny the claims of the clerk when this reporter met her at the gram panchayat office in Bhima Koregaon. “I had just been elected as a Sarpanch on 19 December, 2017 to be accurate,” she apologetically said. “I had no experience. I am not even educated.”

Gawhane’s testimony even states that Phadtare called the Village Development Officer, Rajendra Satras, after he resisted typing up the misleading letter. Satras told Gawhane to do ‘what Phadtare said’. He typed the letter with Phadtare named as the initiator, and one Yogesh Gawhane as the endorser.

Yogesh, however, was not in the village at the time. When Gawhane pointed it out to Phadtare, he said, “It is none of your business.” Phadtare further asked him to mark the letter with the previous date because 31 December was a Sunday. “No such decision to shut the village was taken on 30 December by the Gram Panchayat or the villagers,” Gawhane’s afiidavit reads. “Gram Panchayat’s proceeding book also has no note of it.”

Kamble did not answer how she ended up signing the letter. “Please understand that my situation is vulnerable,” she said. “I sell vegetables to make my ends meet. My husband works as a driver. The village made me Sarpanch, and it is an honour for me to be given the chance to serve people.”

Bhima Koregaon gram panchayat is reserved for Schedule Caste. However, whispers on the ground say the sarpanch works under tremendous pressures from the influential upper caste men in the village, and it is highly likely that Kamble signed the letter in duress.

Shops and eateries in the village were shut on the day of the bandh because it would have caused inconvenience to the pilgrims who had travelled to mark the bicentenary on 1 January. Victims of the riots claim that was the precise idea of the bandh: cause inconvenience if Dalits obeyed, or more likely, wreck havoc if they resisted. Victims of the 2018 violence have consistently asked how did so many stones turn up in the area where the pilgrims had gathered.

Another resident of Bhima Koregaon, Mangal Kamble, in her affidavit, has said she had no clue about the bandh, corroborating Sagar’s claim of no unilateral decision or a meeting with villagers to keep the village shut due to frictions in Vadhu.

Mangal’s testimony to the inquiry commission explains how her eatery was burnt because she made arrangements of tea, snacks and lunch for those who had travelled to be part of the gathering. “On 31 December, 2017, my son Ram was decorating the premises in front of our shop. At 11.30 pm, member of Gram Sabha, Ganesh Phadtare arrived with two others,” she has written, “They said we have called for a bandh. Take down the decorations you have put up to welcome ‘your people’ and keep your shop closed tomorrow. My son declined to obey the orders and continued to work. Phadtare abused and threatened us that night. The next morning, when the visitors were having tea and snacks, a mob of 20 barged in and started beating us up, in which I was severely injured. My guests were forced to leave. The shop and the mandap we had installed were also destroyed. I was taken to a hospital in Hadapsar for primary treatment. On 2 January, when I came back to pay the person who had made decoration arrangements, a mob of 2,000 vandalised and burnt our house and shop at 11 am. We incurred losses of around Rs five lakh.”

Victims asked why the police have found it so difficult to find out on whose behest Phadtare had been conspiring. The Pune rural police have arrested over 100 people, acting on 23 FIRs, but because of the failure of the police to file the charge sheet even after a year, most of them are out on bail roaming around in the village. Including Phadtare, who, after being released was arrested again for half murder, and got bail for that too.

As preventive measure ahead of the procession on 1 January 2019, Phadtare had been asked to leave the village, and not come back until the rally concludes. He is currently in Goa, and is likely to return on January 5.

Lakhan Kamble, Mangal’s son, said the police have failed the victims, because they do not feel safe in Bhima Koregaon. “The police agreed to lodge our FIR in November, 11 months after the violence,” he said. “That too after activists pressured them. We have named Phadtare in our statements and affidavits, and he knows it. We could be in trouble once he gets back.”

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