Category Archives: violence

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.

Post Gujarat

Dear fellow human-beings and women,

In the past few days we have seen a brave intercession in the country’s political sphere. In what is becoming an increasingly stifling atmosphere for diversity and difference, it’s time to take a backseat and readjust our gaze.

To speak for all women in India one needs to stifle some aspect of one’s identity so that your voice comes through and is easily translatable. But to speak today, I’m going to stop trying to stifle the angst that is keeping me so narrowly focused, or else, I would just buckle-up and abandon the fight. So I speak as a woman and as a Muslim.

After Gujarat 2002 the psyche of the nation was shocked beyond belief that it was actually possible that the fabric of the country’s humanism had eroded. Had 60 years of being citizens of a secular republic not had any effect on us?

If what we saw in Gujarat is the success of a laboratory experiment in Fascism then it is important to analyse with great care its philosophy and hypotheses. To know how the symptoms were bred and where the zeal came from, to look at both perpetrator and victim and the real difference between them.

What effect the massacres of Gujarat have had upon the women in Gujarat will show itself in time. Because implicit in the understanding of sexual violation and rape as a means of extermination is a thinking that is at its root the gravest danger to feminine life.

Can we talk about this easily? No. Because we are suffering from it. There is no tenderness in the act of disclosure. No safe vantage point where our grief will find utterance. We’ve buried ourselves with and in it in order to exist so as to safeguard some other means of being. We will try to reach it, point fingers at it and leverage it on other indirect causes but our loss is as clear as the silence and rebuttal after an outrage. Nothing that can be said carries with it any meaningful articulation when it comes to this. Where there should be pain, agitation, aching and remorse there is grim intolerance set in sullen eyes, all too willing to look away.

What distance or gap could separate a woman from another’s pain? It could only be the vindictiveness that makes one want someone else also to suffer and feel what you have been through. This only means that the difference between pain is just of degree. When inhumanity is bred, that process is one of pain. In cold blood. Wanting to put someone else through the endless road to doom that you are already walking. Because you have been bred, not to immunity but to the vice. Because you can see better but you don’t want to because you didn’t have any better. When one woman is violated, all women are at shame. And all men are to blame. And this makes the massacres of Gujarat a telling systemic register for the sexual ethics in our ‘nation’.

Hope is still a better vision of the world because one has the imagination for change. The deepest precipices are written over but the outcry needs to be addressed first.

We all have been wronged.

More from the Feminist Front in Ultra-Violet.

And if you disagree with what I have said, because you can feel, then, lets come together.

 

 

The hopeless and the hopeful.OSSW’07 Day 5

day 5

The hopeful: But this is a good start. If we can have this every year or twice in a year, we can get some people thinking about the idea and maybe this will catch on, who knows.

So let us give it a try, eh? (Sounds good for me)

The hopeless: Borders have been drawn in blood. Mighty presumptuous or stupidly naive of us to ask for a ‘United India’. One should think of peaceful co-existence, rather than dominate and swallow the neighbour under the thinly veiled pretext of ‘Unity’.

The One State Solution Week was created in order so that voices from Bangladesh,India and Pakistan could share common concerns about a shared history of violence, religious intolerance and colonialisation, in the hope that strong peace keeping ties between the three ‘nations’ will make a stronger lobby for peace and security in the world at large.

The idea is to draw from a pool of writings and and create a platform where these voices can come together, in the form of a web-site or a wikipedia entry.The writings need to be about what you, with your locusts stand I feel about the idea.If you can draw from historical, political, literary or artistic discourses, or better still create your own artistic material, then it would be great.

For non-bloggers:Send your write-ups (original and not longer than 1500 words).Send them in at onestatesolution@gmail.com.

For bloggers: Blog your thoughts.Please keep them original, concise and crisp.Tag them OSSW’07 so that your post will be traceable.

How tight are your boundaries?

‘God is not a square .God is Cross.’, ‘Parmeshvar ke sirf chaar kone nahin hain’.

14th August 2007.

A performance as part of the workshop, ‘To draw a Line’, a marathon dedicated to Nasreen Mohammedi and Bhupen Khakkar at the Faculty of Fine Art, MS University, Baroda.

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It isn’t so hard to find inspiration in Baroda. The past few months have been tight with debate, dissent and its dissolution.

This was a performance that surfaced at Vivan Sundaram’s strategic reclamation of democratic art space at the eve of the 6oth year of Indian Independence.

A confluence of diverse notions of poesis , this performance, is for me an assertion of my body, as a Muslim woman with all its markedness, within the parameters of institution, nation and godhead.The effort is to shoulder the project of embracing, recasting and reclaiming all of them.

Enveloping my insider/outsider position within each fractal of this moment and space, between stretching and slouching, this work spans the betrayal and anger of God, woman, man (as exemplified by Christ) and democracy in today’s Gujarat.

This work comes from a self that is moving within a cube, one set by the trauma, gravity and despondency of the aftermath of genocide, both on one community and other communities. Emerging from the paradigm set by this workshop, the performance is a siege of the mundane normalcy of the university space to articulate voices far beyond its (current) scope: the shadow-lines of rape mapped on the tryst of exploited women’s bodies starting to realise ‘freedom’.

In terms of type-scape and struggle with form therefore, the self morphs itself into varying positions to grapple with movement. And the release is , in this case in breaking the cube, and ironically, in an act of prayer after.

The workshop was dedicated to Nasreen Mohammedi and Bhupen Khakkar , artists who enriched and nurtured this institution and Indian art, each with their own trajectories of identity.

And as art historian Santosh reiterated again, for each one of us, it’s about time someone drew a line.

So, says the macrocosm, God is not a Square. Stop being so linear.

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*Special Thanks to Vivan Sundaram.

*Photos and video are in the pipeline.

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

And Yet another (chap)ter.

A man tried to grab my …

Yesterday.

I was cycling home on a dark street after going to the market.

I screamed, I knew in an instant what was happening. I called him names. Chased him, but he was too fast. Stopped and shouted ‘idhar aa saale’.

Onlookers were silent. They knew what was happening. It was important to me to be seen here doing this. But it stopped at that. I should have followed him, thrown a stone or something.

I told my neighbour, then a friend.

Two attitudes, neighbor, slight smirk, we knew it would happen. Don’t go out in the night. But somehow after I spoke to her she was emboldened enough to unload her own experience, to get out of the house, go to the neighbour’s and speak to them quite audibly. Something I’ve rarely seen her do.

My much older educated woman friend, smirk, subtle contempt, what were you doing out? And don’t scream bloody rape, it was just…

Isn’t this bad enough? Isn’t it bad enough that someone considers it his birth right to look, touch me?

And if this is bad then how bad is rape? Isn’t it horrible that rape is a lived reality?

I had the comfort that he was just some bum who I hope never to see again (and I’ll show him if I do), but I could come home and heal. I could scream.

With sexual violence the agitation is instant. Because it’s your body that is the target. In a spark you realize that your body is being violated by an alien something. With sexual violence aggression is probably good. Again, with caution. But since it’s your body that is the target of the offender, you must guard it and protect it.

I’ve heard people say rapists should be castrated.

Then if that’s the judgment how can you stand the subtle sexualisation you go through everyday? How can you stand the overt sexualisation you go through sometimes?

I think that all women in our society are victims of sexual violence or every sort. How can we not be because in a male dominated society, sex is often just a power-play between man and woman?

We need mass healing rituals for women.

How can you stand it?

If there’s any reason I’m reason I’m blasé it’s because I’ve been too consumed. So consumed that I play into the internalized idea of objecthood. I see myself as an object.

That’s actually why I gave up wearing the hijaab when I first gave up wearing it. But this isn’t about what you wear.