Tuesday, 23 February 2016

JNU Row: Sudhanshu Trivedi defends Rajnath Singh’s remarks on varsity students, Hafiz Saeed

New Delhi, Feb 15 : With Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement about Hafiz Saeed “supporting” the JNU protest attracting criticism from a few quarters, BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi on Sunday sought to defend the senior party leader, saying people should protest this in unison rather than questioning it. ”As per a political viewpoint, the Home Minister had appealed to people from different areas of society to come and unitedly protest against anti-national powers. But sadly, rather than protesting, why are you becoming advocate for a terrorist who has made a statement,” Trivedi asked.

Singh on Sunday claimed that the JNU university event in Delhi in memory of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru had received “support” from terror outfit LeT’s founder Hafiz Saeed, a statement that sparked a political row with opposition parties asking him to provide evidence. Reacting to Singh’s claim, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said it is a “very serious charge” to level against the students and that the evidence must be shared with all. CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Home Minister has to come out and share the evidence he has with the country to back up his “serious allegation”. CPI leader D Raja also demanded that the evidence be made public.

Dismissing the opposition charges, Trivedi said “This could not be a subject of public discourse. The ways, timings and the medium that terrorist and anti-national activities use is a subject of consideration for intelligence and security agencies and cannot be a subject of public discourse.”  escribing the Opposition’s reaction as “unfortunate”, Trivedi said, “Despite this, to blame the government on a particular issue, without going into details is utterly wrong and unfortunate.”

Making a counter-attack on Congress, Trivedi said this is “very surprising in itself”. ”I would like to say that those who talk about blaming are the same people who had said Hafiz Saeed as Hafiz Sahab. These are the same people who had merged their voices, while sitting in India, with Hafiz Saeed who was the sole person to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan tour in December last year.”

Targeting former UPA Home Minister, he said, “All other people, whether in opposition or power had welcomed the Prime Minister. If ever, any Indian Home Minister has been patted at back by Hafiz Saeed, then it was in January 2013. The then Home Minister under UPA was appreciated by Saeed for the former’s subject on Hindu Terrorism.”

This New is Originally Posted on India

Friday, 19 February 2016

On Kanhaiya: It is Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

Make no mistake, this is one of those moments when your children and grandchildren are going to ask you where you stood when cynical politicians, mercenary police bosses, thuggish lawyers, callous university administrators and rotten, corrupt journalists ganged up to destroy the life of a young man, Kanhaiya Kumar.

If this scenario sounds familiar, I have two words for you: Rohith Vemula. The country failed that student, driven to suicide by the false cases foisted on him by the corrupt men and women in authority who oversaw his life. The national remorse we felt then has evaporated in the heat of our present hyper-nationalist grandstanding.

Not satisfied with tormenting a student by helping to pin a concocted case on him, or by inciting vigilante violence against him with their incendiary coverage, Zee TV, NewsX, Times Now and other channels like India News have gone a step further and broadcast a clearly doctored video clip purporting to show Kanhaiya shouting slogans in favour of Kashmir’s independence.

Most of us had never heard of Kanhaiya before the Delhi Police arrested him for sedition on February 12. He was charged with one of the most serious offences on the Indian statute books for an incident involving nothing more than the shouting of slogans on campus: An incident in which he played no direct role. An incident that a self-confident, democratic country should never have turned into a police matter.

Since then, Kanhaiya has been vilified by the Home Minister of India, by official spokespersons of the Bharatiya Janata Party, by the Delhi police and black-coated thugs who masquerade as lawyers – and by television anchors. He has been violently assaulted inside court premises. “We have all the evidence we need,” Delhi police chief B.S. Bassi declared, while Rajnath Singh went one step further and sought to connect Kanhaiya to Pakistan-based terror groups on the basis of a Tweet from a parody account.

A young man India can be proud of
Those of us who tried to look for evidence of these grave charges have, instead, discovered a vibrant young man who is anything but the “anti-national” of the Home Minister’s description.
I challenge you to watch video recordings of his speeches and not come away with the feeling that young Kanhaiya has better political sense and greater command over language than most of our national politicians and journalists. You don’t have to agree with his unabashedly left-wing politics and his pungent criticism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to recognise his passion and commitment to the people of India.

As a member of the All India Students Federation – the oldest extant student organisation in India, and an affiliate of the Communist Party of India, which has fought more general elections than any other party other than the Congress – he obviously could not support the demand for the “azadi”, or independence, of Kashmir. But he has the wisdom and political skill to know how to converse with advocates of that cause, and to seek to channel their demand for azadi into the wider struggles for dignity of the people of India. His azadi is the freedom for which all of India’s people yearn: azadi from hunger, azadi from feudalism, azadi from communalism.

Like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who put aside a narrow constitutionalism in order to talk to the advocates of azadi in the Hurriyat Conference when he was prime minister, Kanhaiya’s politics on campus embraces insaniyat (humanity) and insaf (justice). He is a patriot who knows his India is not so fragile that it will break into pieces because a handful of people on campus shout provocative slogans.

Listen carefully to Kanhaiya in this clip from a speech he made at JNU a day before the police arrested him:

What is he doing here? By anchoring the idea of freedom in rights that belong to all Indians equally, he is doing more to secure the future of the country – including its territorial boundaries – than those who treat every political challenge to the state as a military threat. Kanhaiya is challenging the superficial attraction that secessionism might have in Kashmir or elsewhere in a far more effective way than the state – which doesn’t seem capable of thinking beyond the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, sedition and other purely coercive methods.
I don’t know what is driving the Modi government’s insane persecution of this vibrant young man. Some argue that his arrest was, initially, the result of sheer incompetence. This theory is comforting, but the facts that have emerged since then make it harder and harder to believe.

Fabrication to forgery
Plainclothes ‘sleuths’ from the Delhi police were present at the February 9 meeting where Kanhaiya allegedly performed his seditious acts. Despite having been alerted by a complaint from the ABVP, the policemen noticed nothing untoward and took no action.
The next day, someone on campus provided cell phone footage of the slogan-shouting which had taken place to Zee TV, which went to town. The channel’s owner, Subhash Chandra, is very close to the RSS. Zee TV’s lead was quickly followed by Times Now and NewsX. For two days, the TV channels whipped up a frenzy; and on the morning of February 12, Rajnath Singh tweeted, “Whatever has happened in JNU is extremely unfortunate. I have instructed Delhi CP to take strong action against the anti-India elements.”

Later that day, Kanhaiya was arrested and charged with sedition. Since it had acted under political pressure and done no proper investigation of its own, the police then frantically went about trying to obtain footage of the incident from TV channels – hoping to find a clip on which they could hang their absurd allegation of sedition. They found nothing.

The blatant partisanship of Bassi became evident on February 15, when a BJP MLA, OP Sharma, was filmed viciously beating a CPI leader outside the Patiala House court, and a pro-BJP lawyer, Vikram Singh Chauhan, was also found attacking students. Instead of filing charges against them, Bassi claimed that the MLA had been attacked first. Sharma’s astonishing statement that he was even prepared to shoot dead someone accused of being “pro-Pakistan” has been endorsed by Sudhanshu Trivedi, the BJP’s national spokesman on live television. To date, no BJP leader has sought to distance the party from Sharma’s words and deeds, and no prosecution has been brought against Sharma for incitement to violence.

Two days later, despite clear instructions from the Supreme Court, the police allowed thugs to go on the rampage at the Patiala House court. Section 124A of the IPC defines sedition thus: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India,” commits sedition. The courts are a vital part of the Indian state and indulging in violence inside a court certainly “brings into … contempt” the government established by law. Yet it is Kanhaiya who faces sedition charges despite the absence of any evidence.

In order to salvage his tattered reputation, Bassi has been claiming that the police now have clinching evidence of Kanhaiya shouting anti-national slogans. Predictably, this ‘evidence’ soon found its way to TV channels like Zee, Times Now, NewsX and India News, whose anchors triumphantly rushed to broadcast it:

As ABP News pointed out on Thursday, this clip is an edited version of the original clip we saw at the beginning of this article. Kanhaiya’s call for azadi from bhukhmari, samantvad, sanghvad etc. has been cleverly converted into a call for Kashmir’s azadi – something he never said.

When Kanhaiya is eventually released from jail and the charges against him are dropped – as they surely must – the Supreme Court must set up a Special Investigation Team to root out the criminals who fabricated this “evidence” and put it into circulation. The politicians and policemen responsible for this false and malicious prosecution must be arraigned and brought to justice. No one, not even Bassi, must be spared, if it is found that they played a role in the fabrication or its dissemination. The lawyers and BJP leaders who attacked students and teachers and journalists and others inside and outside the Patiala House court must be prosecuted. The lawyers should be debarred for life.

There is no criminal law that readily applies to the journalists who engaged in the character-assassination of Kanhaiya Kumar, putting his very life in danger. Some of them have sons and daughters who are Kanhaiya’s age, and yet felt not a twinge of guilt in feeding a young man to rabid dogs. Let our contempt for them be their punishment. They are a disgrace to journalism—and to India.

This New is Originally Posted on THE WIRE

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

BJP Pro-Killing Of Anti-Nationalists, Says Spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi Live On CNN-IBN

Earlier in the day, journalists, students and many others were beaten up outside Patiala House in Delhi, while the police stood mute and watched. They didn't move, they didn't stop the perpetrators and they certainly never raised their voice. And these were journalists who were actually doing their jobs. OP Sharma, a BJP MLA, was one of the main perpetrators. When he was interviewed, he said that people who raise pro-Pakistani slogans will be beaten up and if necessary be killed too.

Whatever happened to Freedom of Speech!?

What happened next was even more shocking. A few hours ago, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, along with Mani Shankar Aiyar, Aseem Trivedi and many others were on the panel of the live segment on CNN-IBN's India at 9, with Zakka Jacob. 

When Zakka Jacob asked Sudhanshu Trivedi, BJP spokesperson, if what OP Sharma said was the official BJP statement, he fervently went on to say "Yes of course, why not?".

We are pretty sure that the BJP will soon retract this statement and go on to say that the spokesperson did not mean to say that. But before they do that, you should question the government who's ruling you, question the things they say and the things they do. Because your basic right is under threat now.  

For whatever reason that statement by him was not followed up by CNN-IBN. The tweet was also deleted from their Twitter account, but not before some people took a screen shot of it-


This New is Originally Posted on ScoopWhoop

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

‘Defending Bharat Mata’, With Kicks and Punches

New Delhi: The Patiala House court complex was the scene of chaos and violence Monday when a group of lawyers and BJP activists – including one party legislator – attacked and manhandled students and teachers from Jawaharlal Nehru University who had gathered to show solidarity with arrested student union president Kanhaiya Kumar. Even journalists were not spared, with at least five of them sustaining injuries after being set upon by right-wing activists.

The charge of being “anti-national” was flung inside and outside the courts at all those who had come from JNU. In the court room itself, a group of 40 lawyers accompanied by the police tried evicting 10 JNU teachers from the premises, badly beating one academic. Outside, the lead was taken by BJP MLA from Delhi OP Sharma. Captured on camera assaulting Ameeque Jamai, a leader of the Communist Party of India, he not only justified his action but said he was even prepared to murder someone if he thought they were pro-Pakistani : “If you ask me, there is nothing wrong in beating up or even killing someone shouting slogans in favour of Pakistan,” he said.

Asked by Zakka Jacob on CNN-IBN on the 9 pm news on Monday night whether he approved of Sharma saying it was alright to kill someone shouting pro-Pakistan slogans, Sudhanshu Trivedi, national spokesperson of the BJP said he did.

Inside the court, Kanhaiya Kumar, who is facing charges of sedition, had his judicial custody extended till February 17. Though Kumar, who is a member of the All India Student Federation – the student wing of the CPI – has flatly denied the police charges of sedition, Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi claimed there was “irrefutable proof” against him. So far, however, in all the video “evidence” circulating on television and social media, no footage of Kumar shouting “seditious” or “anti-national slogans” has emerged.

Legal experts say that the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the charge of sedition cannot apply to mere words and that an accused person has to have sought to instigate violence in order for his speech to be criminalised.

On Tuesday, the Delhi high court will hear a petition filed by a private individual urging that investigation of the JNU case be handed over to the National Investigation Agency – the specialized anti-terrorism arm of the government.

Drama in court
For the moment, however, the JNU teachers who were forcefully evicted from the Patiala House courtrooms spoke to the media about their ordeal.

“A group of these people in lawyers garb came into the court room shouting ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. They asked us to leave, and when we questioned this they caught hold of one of our male colleagues, Rohit, and slapped him”, Neera Kongari, professor of Japanese studies told The Wire. Ayesha Kidwai, professor of linguistics, added that several of the female professors present including her, Janaki Nair and Chitra Harshvardhan were molested and manhandled by these lawyers. All this time, police were present but did not take any action, and the professors had to specially request a police escort till the exit. The professors are exploring all legal options available to them.

But Kidwai’s main fear was what would happen to Kanhaiya once he entered the room, as all the exits were blocked by BJP lawyers. Since he was their prime target, she was afraid he would receive much harsher treatment.

Students and media persons also received the same violent treatment at the hands of the protesting lawyers. Varun Chauhan, a close friend of Kumar’s, said he and his friends were called “Pakistanis”, and when they did not respond they were hit and pushed out of the court room. The All India Students’ Federation (AISF) general secretary Biswajit was also badly beaten, and his clothes were torn. “Look at what they are doing”, he told The Wire. “And they can still call Kanhaiya a terrorist?”

Bystanders and journalists who were in the open areas within the court complex were also pushed around. Those who tried to record the on-goings with their cellphones were threatened, and some had phones snatched from their hand and thrown to the ground. While the police told the journalists to leave in order to avoid getting hurt, they did not do anything to stop the lawyers and BJP members.

Rahila, a JNU student and friend of Kanhaiya’s who had also been pushed out of the court room, expressed her outrage at what was happening. “I am ashamed that these are the people who are supposed to uphold our constitution. They behave like this, that too in a public court room, yet you call JNU students anti-national? And the police are only bystanders, not intervening on our behalf. The entire country should be ashamed”.

Growing anger

More than 40 universities from all over the country have now expressed their support and solidarity with JNUSU and JNUTA. Public universities in Karnataka, Osmania University in Hyderabad and Calcutta University have planning action including strikes and public meetings to show their support.

In spite of the widespread support they have received from political, cultural and academic groups, the persecution and branding of JNU students continues. A website has created profiles of JNU students who are “anti-national”, in order to “know them and expose them”. In addition to names, the website also has links to their Facebook profiles, exposing these students to online threats and harassment.

This New is Originally Posted on THE WIRE