September 30, 2016

India: Press Statement on the prejudiced NHRC report on Kairana

September 29, 2016

NHRC Report on Kairana – Prejudiced and Partisan



The findings of NHRC’s investigation into the so-called ‘exodus’ of families from Kairana town, Shamli District (UP) because of increasing crime, was made public in a Press Release of Sept 21, 2016. We are deeply dismayed and shocked, as this report is based on dubious facts and makes prejudiced and communally charged assumptions, blaming the very riot-victims it should seek to protect.

We therefore call upon the NHRC to provide evidence for these ‘findings’ and, failing to do so, to apologize and withdraw this prejudicial report, which amounts to labeling and stigmatizing of an entire community.

Findings of NHRC’s investigation as contained in its Press Release,
in Point 12 states–

“At least 24 witnesses stated that the youths of the specific majority community (Muslims) in Kairana town pass lewd/taunting remarks against the females of the specific minority community in Kairana town. Due to this, females of the specific minority community (Hindus) in Kairana town avoid going outside frequently. However, they could not gather courage to report the matter to the police for the legal action.

Point 18, states:

“In 2013, the post-rehabilitation scenario resulting in resettlement of about 25/30 thousand members of Muslims Community in Kairana Town from district Muzaffarnagar, UP, the demography of Kairana town has changed in favour of the Muslim Community becoming the more dominating and majority community. Most of the witnesses examined and victims feel that the rehabilitation in 2013 has permanently changed the social situation in Kairana town and has led to further deterioration of law and order situation.”

1.      Blaming desperate riot victims for criminality without citing any credible and independent evidence is unworthy of the NHRC. First, we demand factual evidence of NHRC’s figure of 25-30,000 Muslim victims having settled in Kairana town. The communal onslaught in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, had initially displaced over 75,000 Indian citizens. A 2016 report -Living Apart: Communal Violence and Forced Displacement in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli– based on detailed ground research, found an estimated 50,000 still scattered all over Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, and other districts, of which nearly 30,000 victims were in IDP (internally displaced people) colonies, never able to return home, dealing with traumas from loss of lives, homes, histories, schools, friends, livelihoods and neighbors. Of these, 270 families (approximately 2000 people) settled in Kairana Town. As citizens of India, they have every right to do so, and they deserve the empathy and support of the state, their fellow citizens and of human rights bodies like the NHRC towards full and comprehensive rehabilitation. Displacement from the villages and towns of their birth due to hate violence is extremely painful, and rather than assist them, what the NHRC report has in effect done is double victimization by labeling them ‘criminals’ or as people whose presence “has led to further deterioration of law and order situation.” Kairana Town already had a Muslim majority, and the addition of mere 2000 riot-victims has not made them “more dominating.”

2.      Declining law and order or criminality in any area may cause people to migrate, and if so, it is the state government’s job to act. But criminality does not have a religion or a community. It is disgraceful for the NHRC to communalize this alleged law and order problem in Kairana town by casually pointing the finger of blame at those who are themselves victims displaced by the Muzaffarnagar violence of 2013.  It is a matter of grave concern that our premier human rights body in a public document should speak so loosely and irresponsibly, based only on what unnamed witnesses said they “feel”, and libel and stigmatize an entire community of Indian citizens as criminals. What is the evidence for such shocking statements?

3.      We also seek justification for an NHRC investigation into a discredited issue. Why has it chosen to closely study a list of 346 families supplied by a political party with a clear stake in communalizing the atmosphere ahead of the UP polls? The list was falsified after investigation by credible newspapers. The Hindu report (June 17, 2016) said, “Out of the 346 families listed by Mr. [Hukum] Singh [BJP MP from Kairana], the Shamli administration has probed 119 of which it found 68 had left Kairana 10-15 years ago for employment, business, education of children, health and other services. Four persons on the list are dead, while 13 families were found still living in Kairana.” The Indian Express report (June 16, 2016) says, “BJP list of ‘Hindus’ forced out includes those who died, migrated for better job.” Yet, this bogus issue was considered worthy of investigation by a 4-member NHRC team.

4.      We are dismayed at the double standards for citizens that the NHRC clearly applies. The large-scale displacement because of communal violence of over 75,000 persons from the villages of their birth because of the communal attacks, killings, rape and arson in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 has not resulted in any investigation or actions by the NHRC. Yet, among its recommendations on the so-called “exodus” of less than 350 people is:

“A high-level committee of the Govt. of UP may be constituted to meet each of the displaced families from Kairana Town now living in districts Dehradun, Panipat, Muzaffarnagar, Roorki, Karnal, etc. of Uttarakhand and Haryana in order to redress their grievances and facilitate their return to Kairana, if so desired”.

We ask what the NHRC did to monitor the rehabilitation of over 75,000 citizens after their violent exodus from Muzaffarnagar in 2013, and if the NHRC ever proposed a similar high-level committee “to meet each of the displaced families “to redress their grievances and facilitate their return?

5.      We ask why the NHRC is legitimizing the worst kind of communal stereotyping and rumour-mongering about eve-teasing byyoung men of one community, directly feedingfalse notions of ‘Hindu community honour’being under threat, which has been used as the pretext for numerousprevious incidents of communal violence, including most recently in Bijnor.  If indeed the NHRC thought this a fit subject for commentary by an apex statutory institution for human rights, the least it needs to do is base its conclusive statements on actual crime records, steering clear of communally charged assumptions.

We demand from the NHRC:

1.      A withdrawal of this libelous and false‘investigative’ report.
2.      An apology to victims of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal violence, who settled in dire circumstances where they could, including some in Kairana Town, for this vilification from India’s apex human rights body.
3.      Monitoring of their safety and security in kairana.

Press Statement issued by:
Muzaffarnagar Riot-Victims living in Kairana, with
Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari (Delhi); Akram Chaudhury, Afkar India (Shamli);
MadhaviKuckreja and Mamta Verma, Sadbhavana Trust (Lucknow); and
Farah Naqvi, independent writer and activist (Delhi)

September 29, 2016

India: Hindutva Icon Deendayal Upadhyaya Being Resurrected by Modi's Govt

http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/09/29/resurrecting-pandit-deendayal-upadhyay-who-died-a-mysterious-death-for-shudhi-of-indian-muslims/S. Islam

India: Justice for Akhlaq . . .(Editorial, The Times of India, 29 Sept 2016)

The Times of India - 29 September 2016


Justice for Akhlaq will demonstrate India can tackle communal crimes

The first anniversary of Mohammad Akhlaq’s brutal lynching, which shocked the conscience of the nation, has brought little cheer to his family. This is a test case of whether India can punish communally motivated crimes or not. Akhlaq was killed over rumours of his family having consumed beef by his neighbours in Bisada village of Dadri, just 50 km from the national capital. Progress has been very slow in the case filed against 18 accused. There have been eight adjournments out of a total of 18 hearings. Charges are yet to be framed even as some of the arrested suspects have moved Allahabad high court for bail.
The UP government must fast track this case to ensure the guilty are punished at the earliest. This is imperative to send a strong message of the state’s, and the country’s, ability to counter the growing menace of communalism. Rather than working to convict the guilty, UP police has been wasting time chasing red herrings. It has been investigating – and has finally cleared – Akhlaq’s family of a charge of cow slaughter.
This investigation has been mired in controversy from the start as the meat purportedly from Akhlaq’s house was found 500 metres away at a tri-junction. First the meat sample was declared to be mutton, later it was termed ‘cow progeny’ (sic). The police report claims to have seized 2kg of meat while the report prepared by the state veterinary hospital states it received about 5kg of meat sample – which, apparently, mysteriously grew in mass in the interim. All these antics appear designed to protect the guilty. Politics has complicated matters further. BJP leaders had jumped into the fray immediately after the murder, defending the accused and demanding action against Akhlaq’s family for allegedly storing beef.
But what’s astonishing is that even the ‘secular’ SP government has been dithering over the case and its police look like Keystone Cops.
The reason communal riots break out with such frequency in India is that the state is often unable to punish them. Politics intervenes before the law can take its course. But governments – both Centre and state – must decide whether they want to privilege religious sentiments or the rule of law. Else India will be going Pakistan’s way, with consequences similar to those already unfolding in Pakistan.

Announced new film Kairan, Surkkhiyon ke Baad...' (Kairana, After the Headlines...)

new film, 'Kairan, Surkkhiyon ke Baad...' (Kairana, After the Headlines...).

A lot of you must have read about the recent controversies surrounding Kairana (a small Western UP town).
The film is 27 minutes long and is an attempt to look at Kairna beyond the binaries of Hindu versus Muslim. (Detailed synopsis below). 
o o o


Kairana, a small town in western Uttar Pradesh's Shamli district has recently been in the headlines. In June 2016, Kairana's MP, Hukum Singh, who is from the Bharatiya Janata Party, claimed that there was an exodus of Hindus from Muslim-majority Kairana because of harassment by Muslims. To substantiate his allegation, he released a list of 346 Hindu families who had supposedly migrated from the town. It didn't take long, but the list was soon discredited. Many in the list were still living in Kairana, some had moved out over a decade ago for economic reasons, and while some did claim that deteriorating law and order was a serious concern, no one attributed their migration from Kairana to a Hindu-Muslim conflict.
'Kairana, Surkhiyon ke Baad...' (Kairana, After the Headlines...) – produced by Chalchitra Abhiyan and The Wire – attempts to look at the town and its politics, and the issues that affect it, beyond the binaries of Hindu versus Muslim. The film speaks to a range of voices from Kairana – from Muslim youth, to Hindus and Jains, the workers who have to travel far from the town for their daily wages, Dalits and women. The town, like many others in UP (and perhaps India) is today confronted with the grim reality of its real issues being glossed over under the shrill rhetoric of religious polarisation imposed on residents by influential politicians.
Even as the recent National Human Rights Commission report on Kairana gives credence to Hindu right wing claims that Kairana's Muslim men selectively molest Hindu women, my film tries to scratch beneath the surface of such claims to reveal the larger patriarchal assault on women of both religions, by men of both religions. The Dalits of Kairana speak of how they're at the receiving end of caste hierarchies upheld by dominant caste men of both religions. Muslim youth and workers speak of stark issues of unemployment in the town and the lack of any basic amenities – factors that are leading to growing criminalisation of the youth. A criminalisation that both Hindus and Muslims are victim to. The Hindus and the Jains of Kairana speak of how they've never felt vulnerable in a Muslim majority town.
In the midst of this despair, the film tries to look at the daily resistance of the people of Kairana and their struggles to bring back to the fore the real issues that afflict them.

India: NHRC Report on Kairana Prejudiced and Partisan (Press conference announced: 29 Sept 2016, New Delhi)



NHRC Report on Kairana Prejudiced and Partisan

WHAT: Press Conference to share the truth about Kairana, demand apology and withdrawal of NHRC Report

September 29, 2016 at 4pm

WHERE: Indian Women Press Corp, Ashoka Road

The findings of NHRC’s investigation into the so-called ‘exodus’ of families from Kairana, Shamli District (UP) because of increasing crime, was made public in a Press Release of Sept 21, 2016. We are deeply dismayed and shocked, as this report is based on dubious facts and makes prejudiced and communally charged assumptions, blaming the very riot-victims it should seek to protect.

We therefore call upon the NHRC to provide evidence for these ‘findings’ and, failing to do so, to apologize and withdraw this prejudicial report, which amounts to labeling and stigmatizing of an entire community.

Muzaffarnagar Riot Victims living in Kairana,
Harsh Mander (Aman Biradari),
Farah Naqvi (Independent Writer and Activist),
Akram Chaudhury (Afkar India),
Madhavi Kuckreja (Sadbhavana Trust) and others

For more information please contact Zafar- 8826621950

September 28, 2016

'unfortunate that the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, decided to invoke the idea of purification in a speech' - Editorial, The Telegraph (28 Sept 2016)


Breach of faith

The word, 'purification', has many rather unpleasant resonances. It suggests, straightaway, the notion of impurity. It is unfortunate that the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, decided to invoke the idea of purification in a speech delivered to the national council of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He did this by way of the writings and beliefs of Deendayal Upadhyaya, one of the principal ideologues of the BJP and the entire sangh parivar. Upadhyaya, and Mr Modi quoted him with approval and aplomb, believed that Muslims in India were in need of cleansing and purification. They were unclean because, even though they were originally Indians, they had been polluted by Islam. The Muslims in whose veins ran, according to K.S. Sudarshan, another ideologue, the blood of Ram and Krishna, had to be cleansed so that they could reclaim their Hindu origin. The obvious, and dangerous, implication of such beliefs is that it sees a very large section of the Indian population as being 'impure', and further sees the faith to which they subscribe to be a polluting agent. It is ironic that Mr Modi was using Upadhyaya's arguments with the purpose of showing that the BJP and the sangh parivar do not treat minorities as inferior entities. Upadhyaya's views, in fact, have the opposite effect. They reinforce the idea that the sangh parivar and the BJP have a deep-seated prejudice against the Muslim community.
Mr Modi's reiteration of the beliefs of Upadhyaya does not come as a surprise. All his life, he has been a loyal and devout member of the sangh parivar. A prejudiced view of the Muslim community is an integral part of the mindset of all sanghis. Many would argue that it is part of their DNA. It should also be remembered that Mr Modi was speaking at the BJP national council, and so to the converted he said what the converted wanted to hear. What he overlooked, willingly or otherwise, is that since he is the elected prime minister of India, his identity as a loyal member of the sangh parivar has become secondary.
Mr Modi's primary, and most important, identity is that he is the prime minister of India and, therefore, he represents all Indians, irrespective of creed. By speaking about the minorities through the words and ideology of Upadhyaya, Mr Modi no doubt won applause and support from his party members - it was, indeed, music to their ears. But to a wider audience, his words were appalling. As the prime minister of India, Mr Modi cannot view Indians through the filter of purity and impurity. India has no such filter.

September 27, 2016

India: Protest Call Against Communally Motivated Proposed Amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955 - [29 Sept, New Delhi]

The proposed amendment to India’s Citizenship Act, 1955 has raised grave concern among democratic circles in Assam and in other parts of the country. The proposed amendment reads that “persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946  [. . .]