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A Consummate Hanging Bares Gaping Holes in Nation State’s Democratic Facade : Sanjay Kumar

September 1, 2015

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

At 7AM on 30 July, 2015, the Republic of India hanged a man named Yakub Memon. By all means, though without anyone’s planning, the hanging turned out to be the endpoint of a consummate exercise. Three judges of the highest court of the land sat through the night, right up to two hours before the execution to decide on the last petition of the condemned convict. The highest law official of the central government came to put forth arguments against the petition at two thirty in the morning, while some of the most respected and best legal minds of the country argued for it. Even before this post mid night hearing, the case of Mr Memon had been through more than one round of curative and review petitions in the Supreme Court, and mercy petitions with the President of the Republic. Much earlier, in fact more than twenty years ago, the Mumbai police had carried out perhaps the most painstaking, and detailed investigation of independent India into the 12 March, 1993 blasts; cracking the case within two days and filing a 10,000 page charge sheet within eight months. The trial involving 123 accused, 684 witnesses and voluminous material evidence ran for ten years. After Mr Memon’s guilt and conviction were established by the trial court, his appeals had gone on in the Supreme Court for nearly a decade. Two years ago the then Government of India had hanged Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri convicted in the Parliament attack case, without informing his family, and refused to hand his dead body to them. Nothing of that shameful behaviour was repeated this time. What more could the criminal justice system of the country have done in the case of Mr Memon! Yet, his execution has left behind more questions on the institutional biases, and ideological underpinnings of the Indian state, than perhaps any other execution. Read more…

On keeping Open the Door that was Opened by Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi

August 31, 2015

On Sunday morning, seventy seven year old scholar Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi opened his door in Dharwad town in Karnataka on Sunday morning to some people who asked for ‘sir’. They pumped bullets into ‘sir’ when he appeared in front of them. Throughout his life, Dr. Kalburgi had the habit of opening doors. His scholarship into Kannada literature opened many doors. Those who killed Kalburgi abused not just his hospitality, and his willingness to open his doors to strangers (he had asked that his security be ‘lifted’ despite threats to his life), they abused all the traditions in the world that promise kindness to strangers, and keep doors open.

Read more…

India Census 2011: Where are the Atheists?

August 30, 2015

The consternation witnessed around release of religious figures in Census 2011 has rather overshadowed an interesting fact which has emerged through this mammoth exercise. It tells us that India has 2.87 million people who have no faith in any religion, which is around 0.24 per cent of our population. Definitely it includes not only atheists, rationalists but all those people who do not believe in any faith but some ‘unknown’ force.

Definitely it is a welcome development that the state has finally acknowledged their existence and what Dravid Kazhagam leader K Veeramani said ‘recorded their voice for the first time in the census’. but a cursory glance at earlier surveys and studies makes it amply clear that the figures are on the lower end. Read more…

Saving ‘Development’ From Dangerous Women Activists: Kamal Nayan Choubey

August 30, 2015


The inclination of the Indian State to suppress any movement related to the just demands of marginalized sections has increased immensely in recent times. There is no question of dialogue. Coercive methods are generally employed to contain these movements. This is what has happened with the movement of tribal people are struggling against the Kanhar Dam in the Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. In this movement, women activists play a crucial role, and in order to contain it, the UP Police arrested two key women activists Roma and Sukalo, and six other women activists from the Robertsganj office of All India Union for Forest Working People (AIUFWP) on 30th June 2015.


Roma is the General Secretary of the AIUFWP.

The UP police has registered cases of inciting rioting against the women activists and it has also reopened old cases against them, particularly against Roma. Apart from them, another tribal woman activist Rajkumari was arrested on 21st April.



Read more…

The Murky Fourth Estate: Asifa Zunaidha

August 30, 2015

This is a guest post by ASIFA ZUNAIDHA.

[Some time ago, I wrote on Kafila about my experience of attending a televised interaction with HRD Minister Smriti Irani. The audience, packed with supporters of the particular party Irani belongs to, was set up in that debate as the neutral ‘public’, thereby killing two birds with one stone – boosting the popularity of the Minister on news media, and legitimising the news channel as a site of punchy political debate. We have below a similar case of manipulation of the powerful medium of electronic news media, this time by another channel.] 

What is the role of the news media in a society if not to disseminate information and opinions as an impartial media(tor)? ‘Half truth is no truth’ is a popular aphorism, but ‘selective’ truth is also a lie and certainly does not befit the content of a news channel. It seems that in an age of corporate media, one would be foolish to expect impartial truths, let alone ‘undiluted or uncensored’ opinion of diverse groups. A recent episode inside the JNU campus shows how ‘news’ presented by News Channels can be easily manipulated and the opinion of a ‘select few’ is showcased as the ‘unanimous opinion’ emerging from the premier higher educational institute of the country.

Read more…

जनगणना में अल्पसंख्यक : नकली डर पैदा करने की कोशिश

August 29, 2015

‘ लोकप्रिय स्तर पर लोगों के लिए इस हकीकत पर गौर करना या उसे जज्ब़ करना मुश्किल जान पड़ता है जब उन्हें बताया जाता है कि बहुसंख्यक मुस्लिम आबादी वाले इंडोनेशिया की प्रजननक्षमता (कुल प्रजनन क्षमता दर 2.6) की दर बहुसंख्यक हिन्दू आबादी वाले भारत की तुलना में (कुल प्रजनन क्षमता दर 3.2) कम है। दरअसल इंडोनेशिया में प्रजनन क्षमता में कमी को परिवार नियोजन पर कारगर अमल, जो मुल्क की स्वास्थ्यसेवाओं के साथ अभिन्न रूप से जुड़ी हैं, से जोड़ा जा सकता है। हाल के समयों में बांगलादेश में भी परिवार नियोजन के बढ़ते स्तर ने वहां की प्रजनन क्षमता को में काफी तेजी से कमी दिखाई दी।’’
/फेक्ट एण्ड फिक्शन आन हिन्दुत्व क्लेम्स, आर बी भगत, सितम्बर 25, 2004, इकोनोमिक एण्ड पोलिटिकल वीकली )

जनगणना के आंकड़े एक गतिशील समाज के तेजी से बदलते परिद्रश्य को उदघाटित करते रहते हैं। आंकड़ों का यह समुच्चय नीतिनिर्धारकों को ही नहीं समाजविज्ञानियों, राजनीतिक विश्लेषकों या सामाजिक-राजनीतिक कार्यकर्ताओं के लिए एक खजाने के तौर पर उपस्थित होता है, जिसका विश्लेषण करके वह अपनी समझदारी तय करते हैं या अपने हस्तक्षेप की रूपरेखा बनाते हैं। एक सौ बीस करोड़ से अधिक आबादी का भारतीय समाज – जहां दुनिया के लगभग सभी धर्मों के अनुयायी मिलते हैं – और जो अपने उपमहाद्वीपीय आकार के चलते ; भाषाई, सांस्क्रतिक तथा अन्य विविधताओं के चलते दुनिया भर के जनसंख्याविशारदों के लिए कुतूहल एवं अध्ययन का विषय बनता है, ऐसा ही नज़ारा उपस्थित करता है।

यह अलग बात है आज जबकि दक्षिण एशिया के इस हिस्से में बहुसंख्यकवाद अर्थात मेजोरिटेरियानिजम का बोलबाला बढ़ा है और भारत के इस हिस्से के धर्मनिरपेक्ष एवं समावेशी जनतंत्र के क्षरण की कोशिशें तेज हो चली हैं हम पा रहे हैं कि जनगणना के आंकड़ों के माध्यम से अपनी संकीर्ण राजनीति को ही हवा देने की कोशिशें तेज हो रही है, और उसके व्यापक निहितार्थों पर परदा डाले रखने के प्रयास चल रहे हैैं। यह महज इत्तेफाक नहीं कि बिहार विधानसभा चुनावों के ऐन मौकों पर जनगणना के धार्मिक आंकड़ों को जारी किया गया है ताकि उसके आंशिक निष्कर्षों को सामने लाकर अल्पसंख्यकों की ‘बढ़ती आबादी’ के नाम पर बहुसंख्यकों का ध्रुवीकरण किया जा सके और चूंकि 2001-2011 के दरमियान हिन्दुओं की आबादी की तुलना में मुसलमानों की आबादी अधिक बढ़ने के आंकड़े सामने आए हैं, लिहाजा उसी को लेकर एक नए ध्रुवीकरण के फिराक में वह दिखती है। विडम्बना है कि जनगणना के जाति सम्बन्धी आंकड़ों पर अभी भी चुप्पी है, जिसकी लम्बे समय से मांग हो रही है। Read more…

For a Better FB: WomeninCampaign’s Press Release

August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015

Digital rights advocates demand a revision of Facebook’s policies that perpetuate violence against women in non-English speaking communities.

On July 28th a social activist, Preetha G, was brutally slut-shamed, harassed and abused in Facebook through a page which was in a native Indian language, Malayalam. The hate pages instigated a huge degree of violence, hurled abuses at her dignity and womanhood. It contained her morphed pictures with sexually explicit abuses, targetting even her autistic son. Preetha hailing from the state of Kerala in India, has around 22K followers on Facebook and uses the platform to to express her political opinions, her ideas on gender and other minority rights.

Many users including Preetha reported the hate pages (a total of 5 pages in a span of 3 weeks) to Facebook and also to the cyber crime wing of Kerala Police. Facebook replied with a generic message stating “The post doesn’t violate community standards”. The hate pages continued to update its content with threats and abuses to the women who publicly supported Preetha. Amidst all this, profiles of several supporters, especially women were suspended by Facebook. All these, including that of Preetha was blocked stating “violation of Real Name Policy” possibly due to reporting by those cyber-criminals who started the hate pages.

As the story of violence aided by Facebook policies spread, stories emerged from other countries as well. A recent incident occurred in Peshwar, Pakistan where a similar hate campaign was unleashed towards several young women through Facebook. When this was reported by users, Facebook responded in a similar fashion with the generic message that “no community standards were violated”. These young women’s lives were put to extreme risk and their own families did not protect them.

The women in countries like India and Pakistan do not get family support and Facebook refuses to understand the cultural complexities. With respect to this context, different individuals and organizations had several conversations with Facebook, but Facebook failed to take any measures until now to rectify these.

From the generic response that Facebook provides while hate pages in non-English language is reported, it is evident that the language experts that Facebook claims to have in place, is a myth. The actions or rather the lack of actions from Facebook, make it easier for several majoritarian forces to unleash violence against women and other marginalized sections. Facebook’s flimsy community policies are putting women’s lives in danger and this platform is used as a tool to silence women and bring forth more oppression.

It is high time we collectively inform Facebook about renegotiating its policies what adhere to majoritarian forces, and initiate a global mass campaign against those policies.

We, Women In Campaign, demand the following to Facebook:

a) Right to Privacy: To get rid of the real name policy and its associated proceedings.

b) Right for protection against hate crimes: A systemized responsive system or a set of language experts for assessing hate pages in non-English languages and a timely response and follow up in such situations.

c) Right to cultural diversity: Facebook needs to understand the complexity of non-English cultures and cannot impose its American corporate colonization into other societies. It urgently needs to appoint linguistic experts who can verify hate pages and understand regional languages and it nuances.

On Tuesday Aug 18th 2015, an online meeting was held with representatives from Facebook (India and US), Maya Leela and Inji Pennu (Women In Campaign) and members of a few other organisations who stand for Facebook policy revisions. We are waiting for a post-meeting response from Facebook. Depending on their response, we will disclose our future strategies.

We stand in solidarity against the invasion of Facebook into our right to privacy and political choices.

A Facebook page is started for the campaign:

hashtag for solidarity: #forabetterfb 


Women In Campaign, India

[Aswathy Senan, Inji Pennu, Jaseela Cheriyavalappil, Jina Dcruz, Kunjila Mascillamani, Maya Leela, Najma Jose, Preetha GP]

Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan – Nighat Dad

Internet Democracy Project, India

Point of View, Bishakha – India

Phone Contact:Inji Pennu : (USA) +1-3212502484

Jaseela CV: (India) +91-9497550324

Email : 





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