Monthly Archives: July 2007

Is my honour your responsibility to protect?

Whose honour ?

11 July 2007. Shraswasti, Uttar Pradesh.

A Hindu girl from one village elopes with a Muslim boy from another.

Next day, scores of Muslim women from the boy’s village are raped, made to parade naked…

Get the message?

If I choose to marry someone out of my own free will, as the girl who is a major did,

then the men from my community will be offended.So much so that they will go out of their houses and brutally rape (even minors).

Because their , not my , honour is at stake.And after brutally raping women from the ‘other’ community, their honour will not be harmed.

The disgust that prompted them to get offended does not come into picture when they will rape another human being.

Whose disgrace are we trying to safegaurd? All authorities and police remained silent in UP.The police, in fact are chasing the poor couple who are in hiding.

And in order to safegaurd another version of the same honour, the incidents will get hushed, and justice will never be done.

Whose honour is honour?

What about the pain that you inflict on someone else in trying to avenge some notion of morality?

Shame.Shame on us. On our silence. Shame on the media.On the police. On UP.On our State.

This event surprisingly does’nt find coverage in the news, because the journalists are too busy blaring accounts of terrorrism. None of this surprisingly qualifies as terrorism.

Or terror. I’m terrified.

Details about this case at Dhaiakhar, from the Hindi Blogosphere, here. The English blogosphere remains silent as of now.

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Police kiske saat hai? Call for the need for Immediate Police Reform in Gujarat.

In her fact report on the attack on Shivji Panikkar while going to Anhad’s exhibition on July 6th 2007, Shabnam Hashmi reveals the faithful link between the Gujarat police and the ruling political party’s unruly enforcers of morality.This incident is just another instance that shows the workings of law and order in Gujarat.

Here is the report: 

STATEMENT OF FACTS BY SHABNAM HASHMI (ANHAD) ON THE ATTACK BY THE SANGH PARIVAR ON JULY 6, 2007 AT ST XAVIER’S SOCIAL SERVICE SOCIETY

 

Anhad is organizing the National Student’s Festival for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice (July 6-8, 2007) in Ahmedabad. The festival is showcasing the selected entries from across India -60 paintings by school children, 80 design entries by media students and 45 student documentary films.

 

Anhad invited Prof. Shivji Panikkar to inaugurate the Exhibition (at Father Erviti Memorial hall, St Xavier’s Social Service Society), and Nafisa Ali to inaugurate the Student Video Documentary Film Festival (Diamond Jubilee Auditorium, Loyola Hall, St Xavier’s High School Campus). The inauguration of the exhibition was at 10.30. The exhibition of the Student Film Festival was at 11.30pm.

 

I was waiting for Panikkar to come. Around 10.40, I called him and he said he is about to reach. Nafisa Ali had already arrived. After speaking to Nafisa for a few minutes I walked towards the gate to receive Panikkar. As I reached the gate of the Xavier’s campus I was shocked to see Panikkar’s car surrounded by a Mob. They were shouting slogans Panikkar go back. Bharat mata ki jai …

 

I pushed myself inside the crowd and reached Panikkar’s car, the mob was throwing stones, one of them threw a large rusted iron drum on the bonnet of the car , the same drum was thrown again on the car , the drum cracked the front car glass . Sahir who had by now reached and was just behind me, managed to take away the drum from a goon’s hand, and take it away, in the process injuring himself. Two of the attackers threw two bricks which broke the front glass, one of the bricks hit the driver on the forehead.

 

All this happened at a very fast speed and it took me sometime to come to senses. I stood near the door so that mob could not drag out Panikkar which they were trying to do and then I started shouting at the top of my voice at the mob. For a few moments everything stopped and they moved backwards. I told Panikkar and the driver to take away the car at full speed as I as an organizer was unable to guarantee any security. I told them to rush to the nearest Police station. By now the mob realised that they were trying to leave and they tried to block the car from leaving and continued to throw stones. Fortunately the driver speeded up and was able to move away.

 

Gagan Sethi and Gauhar Raza, who were at the venue immediately rushed to the Police station, Navrangpura and told we informed Panikkar on the phone to go to the same police station.

 

Mob had already broken all our festival hoardings which were outside the gate. Now they forced their entry into the compound raising slogans Modi amar rahe, desh ke gaddaron wapas jao and bharat mata ki jai ( all in Gujarati)  and started breaking and vandalising the display in the compound (outside the exhibition hall) mobbed and threatened Sarup Ben, Zakia Jowher, Bina ben (from aman samudaya) and me. They used highly abusive, sexist and filthy language. Their body language and gestures were highly aggressive and vulgar. The attack on Bina , Zakia and Sarup ben was of being ‘gaddars’ (traitors). The attack on me was of insulting gujarati asmita being an outsider and entering Gujarat. This continued for about 20 minutes. Then suddenly a signal from one of them( which later I realized was a police man from local intelligence- who was part of the mob) that police was coming, made all of them leave suddenly.

 

After the police arrived, the man in plain clothes was standing with them and I went and told the police that this man was part of the mob, which they ignored and said he is from the police. Later in the police station I again showed the man to the Police Inspector Desai, but he also ignored it completely.

 

It was very clear that the attack was master minded by the police and the BJP and the Sangh combined.

 

After the commotion was over around 12.30 we announced that we will defer the opening of the exhibition. Nafisa Ali inaugurated the Film Festival.

 

We went to the police station around 1 pm by now Panikkar’s FIR was being lodged. I spoke to Desai the PI ( Police Inspector) and said I need to lodge an FIR too, which he refused. We decided to return later with the lawyer.

 

After all the formalities of Panikkar’s FIR were over, we took Panikkar to the exhibition under police protection and inaugurated the exhibition around 2.30pm.

 

Then we called the lawyer, prepared the complaint and meanwhile developed the photographs which were taken of the mob.

 

We went to the police station around 5pm with the lawyer and we were there almost till 9pm. The police refused to file an FIR. I spoke to the Police Commissioner on the phone I was told both by the PI and the commissioner that we should have taken permission from the police to holds the programme as we were using loud speakers! We informed both of them that the programme was inside the premises of an institution, inside halls and not in a public place. The PI said you can not show films. These are student video documentaries, and for film lovers and students by invitation. –> 

It is very clear that by lodging the FIR from me on Anhad’s behalf, Police will have to arrest the members of the mob as we have provided their photographs and also they will also have to take some action against the local intelligence man(whose involvement the Police Commisioner has already refuted). I have given all details at the back of the photographs to the police of the people who attacked the car, the man who threw the brick, the man who threw the rusted drum, the goons who mobbed us. Their faces are circled in the photographs that are being circulated with this note.

 

When the attack took place on Panikkar’s there were at least three video camera’s and a number of photographers. The footage seems to have vanished.

Anhad is organising a meeting of activists and academicians today at 4 at Ahmedabad.

 

Shabnam Hashmi

Ahmedabad

From killing Muslims in the name of fake encounters to assisting goons in accomplishing their rampages, the police in Gujarat are a party to the injustice and communal hatred fuelled by the ideology of the Sangh Parivaar.

We need special inquiries and interventions with the police in Gujarat in order to make them answerable to the country at large. The enforcement of constitutional law and order is highly important for the functioning of a democratic state.


In a state where the machinery of law and order acts upon the orders of the ruling party, can there be any accountability and justice?
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Can anybody hold this government responsible for the acts of the people? If the enforcers of justice have taken sides then exactly what kind of State are we looking at here?Is anyone listening?

*Report recieved via Raj Kumar Hans, Department Of History, MS University, at  aside_msu@yahoogroups.com Also see Nasiruddin of Dhai Akhar’s coup and more reports on the Communalism Watch Blog.Link of picture also from DhaiAkhar.

Post Script: Jan Sangharsh Manch, an Ahmedabad based NGO has evidence to support claims that the Police of Gujarat was an ally to the State led pogrom of 2002.It is no secret.Any Ahmadabadi will tell you how the police all over Gujarat sided with the mobs.Here, however is cell-phone evidence.Finally the legal battle has begun.
http://www.ibnlive.com/news/cops-let-gujarat-burn-in-2002-ngo-has-proof/45399-3.html

Freedom of Expression

From among the opinions that were not given audience.

This was a response I wrote to the following conversation between Arnab Chaterjee and Inder Salim, about a post by Arnab Chaterjee about the public, the personal and the private on the Sarai Reader List. It was rejected because the mail ‘had a suspicious header’.

Arnab,

I don’t know if you will excuse my saying so in public, but I think that your work is brutally brutally(brutally, brutally) insensitive and inert.

It takes a lot of indifference to make a comment like this. But I hope you will think about it.

And the reasons why I refrain from being polite are

It does’nt take a fascist to change the world. It takes a realist. In adopting a stern ideological position you want to be heard. I have things to say. And I cannot wait until fortune(whatever that is) drops my way. It means that from where you are, you want, desperately to articulate what you feel.

It only takes an extremely masculine, privileged position to be as insensitive and culturally sterile as your research is.

While for some the personal, public, and private may be constructs that the likes of Habermas figured out, for some it’s a loss. Of an entire history.

While for some all that is going on needs to be looked at through the eyes of (who, why?) theorists, for some people like me (and this is personal), it’s a complete lacoona of understanding about how to participate. So when the debates are played out on some abstract notion of Freedom of Expression (what?), for some other people it’s the freedom to breathe that is at stake. The freedom to be.To imagine.

And terrorism.

Tell you what I think terrorism is, terrorism is not being allowed to behave how you want to.

Not being allowed to articulate your view point. I think terrorism is when you’re expected to conform to everyone’s ideas.

Terrorism is stifling difference. Terrorism is when you want to scream but are stifled because you are’nt allowed to stand out in everyone’s confused pot pourri of consumption. That’s what terrorism is.

Terrorism is expecting everyone to listen when you talk, when you dole out judgments.

Being excluded.

Terrorism is expecting someone to subscribe to what your idea of radical or modern or noteworthy.

I refuse to participate.

I refuse to comment.

I don’t want to have anything to do with your public sphere.

Go on, ask me why I’m so despondent.

Post Script 2: And what I think is a response, one that will take me a while(or a practice) to counter is here. I have always thought Kushwant Singh to be a deplorably bad joker on matters concerning women.Try reading ‘The Company of Women’. No further comments.