A group of people protesting the nationwide crackdown on human rights activists were picked up and arrested at Liberty chowrasta near the Ambedkar statue in Hyderabad around 11am on August 29. The protesters were not even allowed to stand near the Ambedkar statue and were arrested and detained by Hyderabad police. Some bystanders were also picked up and nearly 5 vans full of people have been dragged and taken away. Nearly 250 police personnel have been deployed in the vicinity. Protesters, however, continue to gather around the area.
The protests were organised in connection with the August 28 raids against on human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, teachers and cultural activists and trade unionists. Pune police conducted raids on the houses of Varavara Rao, poet and renowned activist, Sudha Bharadwaj a well known civil rights activist and lawyer who has been working and organising labourers in Chhattisgarh, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, Mumbai based activists who have repeatedly expressed dissent against the State and Gautam Navlakha, also a civil rights activist and journalist who has extensively written about the Human Rights violations in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. They were arrested for allegedly having ‘Maoist’ links and being connected with the Elgaar Parishad. Right-wing Twitter trolls have been quick to brand them ‘Urban Maoists’.
The arrested have been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and 3 of the 5 arrested are expected to be presented in court today.
Apart from this Father Stan Swamy, who has been organising Adivasis in Khunti, Jharkhand has also had to experience the wrath of the Pune Police who presented him with a warrant written in Marathi. Interestingly, Swamy had nothing to do with the Elgaar Parishad!
It is clear that the State is hell-bent on stifling voices of dissent that threaten their electoral power. This witch-hunt is a clear threat to a Democracy and the Constitutional Principles of Freedom to dissent.
Human rights defenders and activists have expressed their solidarity and concerns over the State's unprecedented attack on these activists. Protests meetings and conferences have been organised in various parts of the country.
Not only have massive killings of dalits not bothered the political establishment, foot soldiers of the ruling #BJP have been on a quest to discredit Cobrapost. Replying to some of their biggest objections instead of individual and repeated replies.
This is problematic on several levels. The evidence they bring speaks for itself.This objection has not been raised about say.... the likes of #Subramanian Swamy, who targets the Congress specifically. Even if it were true, as long as the allegations are correct, they should be investigated, whether it is a BJP puppet or Congress puppet bringing them up. This is consistent with the stand I had taken on AVAM - which targeted #AAP and was supported by BJP in doing so. If their allegations were correct, they should be acted on. AVAM only targeting AAP is no excuse to ignore, just like Cobrapost "only targeting BJP" is no excuse to ignore.
However, Cobrapost, as a matter of fact does not only target the BJP. The expose immediately before the Operation Black Rain was about the UPA stealing the thunder of "Golden Quadrilateral"work done by NDA under Vajpayee and "expanding" it at massive cost with bent rules and hasty clearances. Previous exposes too have targeted Congress. BJP supporters attempting to silence exposes of their wrongs with ad hominem accusations remains a logical fallacy.
Cobrapost is attempting to sabotage BJP before Bihar #elections.
Only true if BJP insists on backing the candidates tainted in the expose. BJP could also choose the way of honesty and justice and reopen investigations and solidly nail Nitish Kumar, who was the CM who scuttled the Justice Amir Das Commission of Inquiry that had nailed the culprits on coming to power. If BJP chose, it could use this to destroy Nitish Kumar. Laloo, messiah of the poor too has done precious little to get justice for this and could be confronted. It could even be projected as the transformation of BJP under their new and improved leader, #Modi. What BJP supporters are not saying is that they do not WANT justice for the dalits killed by their allies, which is why the expose is a problem. Cobrapost cannot be expected to cater to political desires for cover ups. It has provided the BJP the means to do a very high profile clean up of criminal elements in their party as well as nail their opponents. It cannot be considered Cobrapost's fault if BJP does not WISH to clean up their act and nail their opponent in the process.
The timing of Cobrapost's Operation Black Rain release is suspect.
I don't know why Cobrapost chooses their dates, but personally, I think before the elections is an excellent time to expose crimes and criminals so that people may choose who to vote for with eyes wide open.
BJP benefits from riots and Cobrapost exposes before elections help BJP consolidate vote #banks
This may be true, because a Yale study does show BJP males electoral gains with every riot. However, it is unclear whether exposes of a riot from the past would result in electoral gains as well. Regardless, even if people choose brutal killers because of riots, that is their choice in the future they want for themselves. Concealing information to prevent an electoral outcome does not educate the voter - even if we don't agree with their choices.
India stands at a crossroads. Much depends on how citizens assert themselves. The rise of the right wing in India, apart from bringing about the much hyped Modi sarkar has also emboldened aggressive entities aiming to establish religious dominance with scant regard for law, religion or history. The success of BJP in the elections has validated the methods it used that went unchallenged. The normalization of riots in particular is a matter of concern due to peril to lives and livelihoods of citizens.
The murder of the IT professional, Shaikh Mohsin Sajid in Pune is an example. Objectionable images shared on Facebook led to a rapid mobilization of right wing activists and within a few hours of them being shared, Pune descended in chaos. While media has maintained its sterile coverage, undeniable reports from the ground indicate that Muslim properties were targeted specifically. The murder of the Shaikh Mohsin Sajid by a Hindu Rashtra Sena mob appears to be a well planned act that got celebrated with the message "pahili wicket padli" circulated by activists of Hindu Rashtra Sena. "pahili wicket padli" is Marathi for the "first wicket fell".
While BJP supporters on one hand deny any affiliation with the Hindu Rashtra Sena, the protests in Pune had been called by BJP, Shiv Sena and Hindu Rashtra Sena. BJP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and other right wing leaders have held places of respect in official Hindu Rashtra Sena events and so far, no one has condemned the Hindu Rashtra Sena outright, while BJP's social media teams have been mobilized to deny affiliation with Hindu Rashtra Sena on one hand, while anonymous accounts bully anyone who condemns the attack on the other hand. And Shiv Sena with the petrol bombs are an NDA ally in the Parliament.
With the Assembly elections approaching in Maharashtra, and BJP's now predictable strategy of inciting communal hostility and leveraging criminals for political profit, how this situation evolves is anyone's guess. Twocircles.net reports:
It was only a week before that the Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan was informed by the IB that there were strong chances of eruption of riots in certain cities of Maharashtra owing to the upcoming assembly elections in the state due to which the state government had issued strict orders to the police department to keep vigilance on anti social activities in the state.
According to BBC Hindi, at least 193 Buses in Pune City and around 200 Buses in Kolhapur have been damaged by the angry Shiv Sainiks while protesting against Photo shopped photos of Shivaji uploaded on Facebook.
There are reports that Shiv Sainiks threw petrol bombs along with stones in nearly 11 mosques situated in Pune and nearby areas due to which people in the Mosque were injured. One imam of the mosque was manhandled brutally due to which he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital where as many students of one of the Madarsa were injured due to throwing of petrol bomb on the Madarsa by Shiv Sainiks. These students have also been admitted to city hospital. Another imam of Mosque in Kandari was beaten up badly by Shiv Sainiks, who is also undergoing treatment in the city hospital.
The areas of Pune which came under the protest of Shiv Sainiks are Landewadi, Bhosari, Nool Mohalla, Panjarpur, Fatema Nagar, Kalewadi, Dande Chauk,Pimpri Gaon, Chinchwad Gaon, Ranjewadi, Kondwa and Vagoli.
Speaking to TwoCircles.net, Maulana Aziz Siddiqui of the Madrassa Darl Uloom Ashrafiya said, “Three students have suffered leg injuries who were briefly admitted to the hospital, but most students have now gone home. But the madrassa has been severely damaged.” He added that situation in Pune is now calm but tense as no one is certain what may happen next. The popular dargah of Hazrat Peer Shah Jalaluddin Shah Qadri which was situated in the same area was also vandalized. Nearly 500 Hindu radicals entered Noor Mohalla of Bhosari area with swords and petrol bombs in their hands and broke doors and windows of Muslim houses.
The prayer hall, ablution area, water tank and around 10 graves in Shahi Qabrastan Trust, Bhosari were vandalized. Five mosques in Hinjewadi area were also damaged. The imam of Aisha Mosque was beaten up brutally who is now recuperating in Inamdar Hospital. Masjid-e-Zainab and Madrassa-e-Shabnam Garib Nawaz were also damaged badly. Three other mosques in the adjacent areas were also desecrated by the rampaging mob.
One of the petrol pumps belonging to a Muslim businessman was totally destroyed. A mosque situated in Talode basti was also damaged. Muslim houses, shops and around 20 bakeries were targeted in Karve road area, Thergaon and Wakad. A group belonging to various Muslim organizations made an emergency visit to the affected areas to assess the overall damages suffered by the community.
The damaged bakeries included Ismail bakery (Karve Nagar),Citizen Bakery (Sinhgarh road), Heena Bakery, Shabnam Bakery, Moti Bakery, Shad Bakery (Dattawadi), Sun Rise Bakery, Indian Bakery (Warje), Welcome Bakery, Sahara Bakery, Patel Bakery (Hadapsar), Supreme Bakery (Malewadi) and Unicon Bakery ( Phirsangi). The visiting group of Muslims estimated the loss of damaged bakeries alone to be more than one crore (ten million) rupees.
While the murder of the "techie" is being painted as outrage of Hindus disturbed by the images, the fact remains that the techie was a victim of a hate crime completely unrelated with the images. He got assaulted mostly for wearing a skull cap and growing a beard. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or the lack of it. It is nothing to do with objectionable content and political actors making careers out of violence. It has everything to do with a deliberate, political dismissal of the fundamental right to life enshrined in the Constitution of India on the basis of identity. It is hardly an isolated sentiment. We have an MP who openly declared that critics of Modi would have to go to Pakistan without any apology or condemnation by the party in the peak of election campaigning. It is a party that runs by its own rules and has no regard for the Constitution and citizenship of India.
There is no evidence so far that a Muslim had created or circulated those images. This is not my imagination, but the police. The images were put up in a community frequented by Hindus. The images have been uploaded to Facebook from IPs outside India, while inflammatory messages circulated that further incited mobs had been sent from Mumbai. Even as the BJP claims to not be involved in the violence, the wave of fake accounts targeting those who color outside BJP lines has been engaged once more with the clear agenda to divert the issue by comparing it with any and every wrong done by Muslims or perceived to be done by Muslims using its age old formula that Hindu violence will always be legitimate because the past cannot be erased.
It would hardly be the first time the right wingers created outrages for Hindus to fuel communal anger. Be it the Kar Sevaks killed in firing to raise fervor for the Babari Masjid demolition or other dead passengers in the Godhra train tragedy claimed as Kar Sevaks to magnify the "deliberate crime". Given that the publicity of the images happened so rapidly among the Hindutva ranks while leaving others mostly untouched, the possibility that this was a strategy to create riots must also be explored and whoever is guilty regardless of religion be brought to book.
Those seeing insult in obscene images of figures respected by Hindus see nothing wrong with murderous mobs naming themselves as the warriors of the Hindu Rashtra. Apparently, insulting images are worse than murderers when it comes to insult of Hindus. The name of Shivaji is happily being tossed around. I challenge any fan of Shivaji to stand up and tell us when Shivaji assaulted unarmed civilians. Unlike the criminals viliying his name in the name of protecting it, he was not a sadak chaap murderer. I challenge any of the jokers who proudly "avenge" Hindu pride to stand before their parents and say they are following Shivaji when they kill unarmed people. Is this not an insult to Shivaji who struggled against heavy odds to fight mighty armies, yet gave clothes to a young and beautiful MUSLIM widow and saw to her safety? Apparently pointing this out makes the speaker "anti-Hindu" because the new definition of "Hindu" by zealots is "tolerant" people who murder. Anyone remember the Muslim protests in the wake of the Danish cartoon controversy - "Kill those who say Islam is intolerant"? Yes. That. Zealot fascists resemble each other across religions more than those of their own religion.
There are several serious questions that need to be asked about the riots, vandalism and murder in Pune.
How did riots spread so rapidly from images on a community to the streets, including non-standard equipment like petrol bombs? It is hardly likely that members of the community from Pune or those of them who spread the images could result in these numbers. The numbers are a result of a well oiled machinery moving to plan rapidly on receiving a trigger. This, to me indicates an organized spreading of the images so that they reached enough people who would react with anger on the streets.
Several people active on social networks deny seeing the images "spreading" at all. The first they heard of the images was the violence "triggered" by them. Subsequent attempts to see them led to the discovery that they had already been taken offline within hours. How is it that three organizations responded with calls to protest the images within hours of the images being posted and were ready in numbers on the streets well before those active on social networks noticed them - unless this was a coordinated plan?
What was the role of political organizations? How likely is it that three organizations have the exact same reaction to images posted on some obscure community, that almost a week later are still not seen by most people? Again, Twitter is not that trigger happy to block. Where are the images? When is the last time you saw the police blocking something this efficiently? Communications of role holders and local offices of the organizations o the supposed "protests" - BJP, Shiv Sena and Hindu Rashtra Sena - must be investigated for mobilization for organized crime.
The supposed "spread" of the images must be investigated to find out how they exclusively spread among the right wing community th witout being seen by active users of the one place news going viral is instantly noticed - Twitter. Most active profiles on Twitter have not seen the images at all. I fail to understand how this is possible if images spread widely. Clearly, there were specific channels by which it spread as opposed to going viral organically. These channels are unlikely to be Muslim communities, as that wouldn't result in a massive right wing Hindu build up within hours, even if they were inclined to spread them for entertainment - of which there is little evidence in the public space at least. It was organized circulation that led to the propagation of the images among those they would infuriate and regardless of the origin of the images, such propagation is malicious as well.
The organized outrage. The question arises why "protesters" not only got outraged, but got violent, damaged property and arrived to protest "armed" with hockey sticks and petrol bombs instead of placards. To me, this indicates a right wing agenda to create unrest in Maharashtra, specifically, and the organizers of the protests as well as key leaders must be investigated to ascertain the agenda. These are political statements of supremacy and domination and them being made in places not ruled by BJP and heading for elections also indicates a motive to discredit the governments.
It is up to us as a country to decide whether we are willing for our safety to be slaughtered on the altar of deliberate violence, counter violence and more to make communal and political statements to profit fascists at the cost of bystanders.
There seems to be a perception of a massive change for the better with Modi getting elected. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds, because all I am seeing is that a political puppet that got exposed and thus rendered useless got discarded for its alternative. Or perhaps more accurately, one out of two political puppets got exposed and rendered useless and got discarded, leaving the full weight of the masters behind one.
I had brought this up when the scam exposes started, triggering the UPA2 spiral into the abyss. It was the government getting exposed and rightly so, but the absence of scrutiny on the other side of who was profiting from the government corruption was a telling indicator that long back. The absence of scrutiny from the opposition was easily covered up with big dramas to media and outrages in Parliament, but rarely over anything that did not get exposed in other ways already, and almost never with legal action and accountability (they have since *acquired* Subramanian Swamy for a fig leaf on that).
It is no coincidence that media buried the paid news report either. It is a larger part of the corporate media puzzle, where the free speech of media hasn't been muzzled, but prostrated. You are not supposed to see the non-audience facing side of the set.
While there were two corporate puppets, with the traditional "rulers" leading, the stakes weren't as high. It was important that the puppet win, but it was okay if the other one got chosen as well. When that ended, the stakes grew higher in making the remaining puppet win.
The India that imagines that Gujarat is actually some kind of Shangri-la that will spread India wide is in for a rude awakening. People from Gujarat still end up in Maharashtra for work. The promises and methods of the BJP offer nothing that would give a different result from the UPA2.
All that we have got is a fresh face with its make up in tact, unlike the UPA2 with its running mascara and ugly scars showing. For a while, the facade will last, then the stories will seep through, because neither in Gujarat, nor in its manifesto is anything that will actually prevent the government from misusing its power, which is already happening in Gujarat.
All that we will have is a government better able to fool the people into trusting it, and you'd damn well expect so, given the kind of money being poured into convincing the people of the promised land!
At the end of the day, it is business as always as far as India is concerned, only with the side effect of the other risks that come with this puppet.
There is no end to dynastic politics. The Modi wave has swept UP carefully around the rulers. Both the Gandhis, supposedly much hated by BJP made it without any particular visible intent by BJP to rout them other than a token Modi rally in Amethi after Kumar Vishvas started making a visible challenge and dividing the anti-Congress vote became important. Where Aam Aadmi Party didn't have the resources to mount a big challenge, in Rae Bareily, Sonia Gandhi breezed through without any particular challenge from the BJP either. "Mullah" Mulayam Singh Yadav, much reviled by BJP, won from both seats he contested in a state where the Modi tsunami was on, Dharmendra Yadav and Dimple Yadav won too. What is stunning is the win of Akshay Yadav - entering politics for the first time, pitted against a BJP MP who was earlier in the SP and with a massive Modi wave backing him. The Modi wave did not harm him either, even as it decimated both Congress and SP otherwise.
Its job of electing the next emperor done, media is emerging from its Modi haze to now raise questions about him. Possibly because alarmed journalists too are realizing that this isn't an NDA government, or even merely a BJP government, but a BJP government without even a proper opposition. And journalists who toed working briefs now have to look at what they have wrought and are not so sure this is what they had set out to achieve.
It does not matter. If questioning couldn't stop the UPA, which at least had the sense to deny or apologize for wrongs in public, it is not going to matter at all to the BJP which has long made a virtue of public claims of innocence and victimization while deploying other tracks of communication to actually defend its actions and show them as in the interests of India. The media has been rendered mostly irrelevant in a system carefully crafted to maintain impunity for the powerful. By the time the media will be needed again, there will be a nice lull to erase memories and anyone with too many neurons will be shuttled away to where they can't be heard.
For the rest of the country, it is going to be life as usual, interspersed with some nice goodies to keep them aware of how their lives are transformed, while the very country gets eroded from under their feet in invisible ways. Do contact me if living actually becomes easier for you by next year because ab ki baar Modi.
This letter is tough to write for me. Less because I was wrong and more because I really don't like the Lok Sabha Election result and many of the methods that led to it either.
That said, I was wrong. Completely. I thought at best it would be an NDA government. I had not imagined a BJP majority and a BJP majority without even a leader of the opposition was not even considered. Clearly I was wrong.
I still don't believe BJP has the capacity to handle diversity, which is vital for a country like India. I do believe there is an inherent cruel streak among BJP supporters against those they consider "other" and a tendency to get rid of them. Whether asking that they commit suicide or that they go to Pakistan and such on social media, or leaders speeches or the organized efforts put into hate campaigning. I don't think this enriches India - even a BJP controlled India.
However, this moment of satisfaction is due, and I have no hesitations admitting it that I was wrong and I am completely saddened by this result. What is even more disgusting is the foot soldiers of a ruling party telling people to leave the country or commit suicide or use Burnol and more. Clearly, the intention of Modi for the well being of all citizens of India is not shared by his band of merry men. And we all know how Modi was innocent but Gujarat happened anyway. This may not be Gujarat, but I know the script. Modi intends to take all along. He can't be considered responsible for those going around bullying people who are empowered by this win.
Perhaps I need to make a "Modi is not responsible" generator before even he takes oath. No matter what happens, he is the man of progress and he is not responsible. And this is the cost of progress. Very well. We must live with it. Not like we have any choice.
Because the problem isn't Modi. The problem is you lot whom he counts on for votes and is unable to control. You, who claim to worship the ground he walks on, except where he says anything that may get you to not bully people. Modi's ability to lead you is clearly seen when he calls for respecting women and you trend a tag insulting Sonia. It is seen when he speaks of inclusion and you are talking deportations. If Modi was all he said, it isn't so much of a problem. The problem is that Modi says what he wants, while his machine is on another track. The worship mainly seems to be for being able to be bullies without restriction, since either Modi is supremely ignorant or he knows about both Giriraj Singh as well as the paid bullying campaigns running a counterpoint to his speeches of inclusion and his fine with his two track messages - one proper for making news, the other bullying to control.
Do I accept this result as fair? Do I think this is what India deserved? No. I think this government is the Congress's parting gift to India. An extreme state of fed up that recoiled so bad, it toppled over the other side. Or that classic film scene where a victim of one horror flees it blindly only to be run over by a car.
Is there a Modi wave? It seems so. Is this behavior we see from you what India wants its society to be? Extremely unlikely. Unfortunately, extremely unavoidable.
That said, in case you want better screen shots to troll me with, here are some quotes. You are right, and you may repeat it as often as you like.
I had thought Modi will not be Prime Minister. I was wrong.
I had thought BJP will not get majority, I was wrong.
I believe that BJP cannot handle diveristy - I hope you are able to prove me wrong. It will be better than me being proved right.
Moving forward, here is some heartening news for you. Few countries recover from right wing infestations easily. There is no threat to your control in a hurry. There are five years left yet. If, beyond Modi and BJP, there exists an India, it would be nice if you could dial down the hate for Indians you don't like for a while or at least trying to delegitimize their Indian citizenship. You purchased a campaign that gave your messiah five years governing the country, not the country itself.