Category Archives: Gujarat Police

Kya aap White ribbon mein shraddha aur imaan rakhte hain?

Do you have faith in the White ribbon?

White Ribbon

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Feminist, blogger and activist Anasuya Sengupta, in an essay called ‘Fundamentalisms of the Progressive wrote,

‘One of our campaigns was to wear a white ribbon for peace (the White Ribbon Campaign for Peace, India) – we used it both as a symbol and as a talking point, to begin conversations about violence of all kinds, including what we call ‘communalism’ in India (the rousing of hatred against particular communities). Initially, some of our friends scoffed at us, and wondered what an insignificant white ribbon could do, to change attitudes and animosities.

But the interesting thing was that there were so many people – both young and not so young – who were unable to be political in the same way as they saw ‘activists’; they felt this meant standing at street corners with banners, or going on rallies, or shouting slogans against the government. They found this too ‘political’ (in their understanding of the term), and yet they were deeply disturbed at the kinds of violence being perpetrated in the name of religion.

So for these people, wearing a ribbon was the beginning of a series of conversations they had with others, which began other processes of change, at least in terms of breaking the silence around violence.

And because it was something everyone could do – and have conversations at whatever level of politics and ideology each was comfortable with – it wasn’t intimidating in any way, and yet gave a sense of belonging to a community against violence, and speaking up for peace.’

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Do you believe in pluralism and justice?

Are you Secular, liberal, free thinking?

Do you believe that all religion has in its essence ways of leading a soulful, integrated and fulfilled life?

Do you believe that religious extremism has done us no good?

Say No to religious bigotry.

White Ribbon

Wear a White Ribbon today.

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

A few days ago

 A few days ago a few friends and I saved a man’s life. Or so we think. He was lying near a vacant site in a housing colony called Arunoday Society in Alkapuri, with a big rotting wound on the back of his head. Initially when I passed him by I thought he was dead, and I actually went past him on my cycle, contemplating something. I went further up, although I had more than noticed him. How could I have not, because he was really dirty and ragged and lying quite prominently in the edge of an empty site, by a garbage dump.

After passing him by I realized that I had a choice of actually going back and helping him. I fought it, and then in my mind saw myself going back and helping. Coming back as I was from my Arabic class thought what my conservative Arabic teacher would think of it. He would totally not approve. He would think I’m crazy, I thought. I turned back because when I imagined myself doing it, I knew I would do it. And I am crazy. So I went up and saw him. And noticed first that he was breathing. He had urine on his pants. I hadn’t noticed the wound yet, and then a cow grazing in the nearby garbage dump came and licked his head, and then I saw his wound, rotting with maggots. I could see his skull.I tried to talk to him. I had to yell to overcome my revulsion. He saw me and started touching himself. I was disgusted.

I had decided to help him. I then called my friend, Leela Mayor and told her about him.That there was a man lying in Alkapuri who I saw on my way, and that I wanted to help him. She told me that she’d call her mother, Vinodini Mayer who runs an NGO or disabled people called V1 Society and get back. I saw the surroundings; people would cycle or go past, take a look at him and go away. When I stood at a distance from where he was lying, people would look at him, then me, and go away. I wondered how doing what I was doing would change anything in my life, and knew how thought and action were all jumbled up in my head, that I was too much thought and little action. I had to get momentum. Had to get someone to help. So after talking to Leela, I stopped someone on a two wheeler and told him that I was planning to take this man to the hospital(Leela had told me that I must take him to the SS General Hospital ), so could he get me an auto .He obliged after looking at the man, and then looking at me and realizing I was serious. And came back after a while, with an auto whose driver looked at the man lying on the street, and shook his head and went away.

Something about this man didn’t ignite mercy in the hearts of a lot of people. A rag- picker woman I spoke to said that he’s mad, that he drinks and takes what he wants to eat from people. Some other people who looked like they worked in houses nearby saw me trying to talk to him and went about their businesses. I didn’t bother to approach the more well-off looking people from the nearby building. I just didn’t have the energy o explain the task to them. And I knew I couldn’t take their disdain. He seemed to have somehow survived with a gaping wound that showed his skull. When I spoke to him, he wouldn’t answer, although he could he hear. He sighed when I said something kind so he wasn’t altogether mad. But what is mad? Should you not go out of your way to help someone who’s mad? What if he’s a sinner, a murderer? Who knows?

He was drawing from something that lay deep within. That I can tell. Good or bad I couldn’t discern. But he is a victim or beneficiary of the thing called mercy that we all possessed that day. Was it ‘mad’ of everyone involved that day to have gotten him out of the street to get medical help? He exuded to me the air of all the excesses in life. Drink, intoxication, and sex. Is that why he was left to die? Then the fact that we did something good for him must say something about the nature of the world.

I tried stopping another auto. I had to lie that I’m a social worker this time. Somehow, I was left feeling that one needs a certain validity to be able to get out of your way and do something. Not a normal concerned citizen, I was posing as a social worker. Because the normal citizen is as helpless as you and me? Obviously, this incident says that we’re not. But even as I write this I can feel the pressure of self-involvedness, mine and other peoples’ bearing down on me, forcing me to inaction. This auto-driver said “Arre yeh to randwa hai, isse municipality mein dedo” when I asked to take him to the hospital. So I asked him where the municipality office is and he said he could take me there. I was feeling like this was a no go situation so let me at least do something. Then Leela called with the first good news of the day. She was coming there, bringing their cook Jyotsna and the auto they sat in had, for a driver a man kinder than the ones I’d encountered. So I got off the auto and headed back to the site where the man lay. She asked me what society it was, so I asked someone, who gave me a look that left me feeling again, like I was out of place. I decided to fight any more of such feelings. I remember now, and again what Vandana Shiva had said in a lecture, that if you raise your head enough times against injustice then you’ve done your bit. Today I believe much more in the absolute necessity of constructive action, but I still feel helplessness, and I think that that is because of where I am, in life and in Gujarat. The last impelling force is that of mercy, that everyone deserves it. Anyways, Leela was coming, and I knew it would be easy from hereon. Leela, Jyotsna and the auto driver, as soon as they arrived, saw his wound first. And reading from the expressions on their faces I was relieved and knew I didn’t have to go into any explanation. “It could be any of us”, said Leela. In the auto driver’s eyes I saw, pity, revulsion, and compassion. Jyotsna was kind and she asked me how I happened to see him, looking at me with understanding. I was very relieved at seeing them and thankful that they felt the same way.

Leela called the police on 911 and was answered. While we waited, another couple drove past on a motor cycle and stopped to talk to us. I asked him to call 911 as well and when he did they said that they’d received the call about him and were on their way. Soon, there was a police van with four constables. A writer from the police department also joined us. The police suggested that we take him to the Mother Teresa Home in Makarpura, not SS hospital, because they are the only home in the city for the destitute of this degree. So the task at hand was to move this stinking wounded dirty man to the police van. By now we had about six or seven people there, Vinodini Mayor of V1 society who came, on Leela’s call, Leela, myself, Jyotsna and the six police men.And our victim or sufferor, sitting on his haunches by now and wondering about all this furore he had caused refused to budge. And when the pressure on him to move got too much, he calmly walked away from the whole scene and lay down the cemented outer space of an apartment. He clearly valued his freedom. After some reassurance that we were going to get him medicine which he needed and not put him in jail (the homeless have many reasons to fear the police, as Leela pointed out), he got up and went into the van. In the police van I had a conversation, the first I hope of many with the police constables about the role of the police in riots. I like every conscious Muslim in the country who knows of the 2002 massacre resent the police of Baroda and Ahmedabad for the role they played in it. Many times in the old city I’ve seen police officers behaving very rudely in even slight incidents of a communal flavour, by which I basically mean any incident related to Muslims. After some hesitation I asked one of them, Naresh what he thought. And like with everyone else who is Hindu in Baroda the prejudice I found is deep seated; like when you’re bred ideologically to exclude. The details of our conversation are the subject of another piece, in this case I was glad to have entered into a dialogue.

In the case of this incident the role that the police played is laudable and worthy of praise. The officer told me that in many situations, he has hung around in areas of conflict and protected members of the ‘other’ community. He told me that the police is bound by human rights laws and they can’t really do much in the case of a riot. But, knowing the details of what went on in Baroda in Muslim houses at the hands of police officers, I’m not willing to spare him the law enforcement institutions in this state so easily. Time and again I heard the word terrorism. I must confess it’s difficult to have a take on global terrorism, but about the local issues I can say that when people are hurt they tend to retaliate with violence. When they lose their land, life honour and voices, then it’s easy to indoctrinate them against an enemy. Violence breeds violence and the role of the state is to safeguard life. To restore life, be it a homeless person or a person you think is a potential terrorist. Here we were, six people getting a homeless wounded, probably ‘mad‘man to a Charity Home , and when a mob burned 40 people alive in Best Bakery, there was not a single law enforcer in this city doing his duty. We had come to Makarpura.At the Mother Teresa’s home, the man we brought was quickly taken for bath with a hose. And the police van dropped Leela and me. We said our good byes and left.And two days later there was a picture of him in the newspaper with is head shaven and walking around near another garbage dump.