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October 25, 2014

पीले फीते वाली मुस्कान

[दैनिक जागरण में अपने कॉलम 'परदेस से' में 25 अक्टूबर 2014 को प्रकाशित

हांगकांग मेट्रो में आपको देखकर कोई चीनी नागरिक मुस्कुराए यह हादसा रोज नहीं होता. पर इसके पीछे नस्लवाद नहीं बस इतना सा मसला है कि ज्यादा सम्भावना आपके कैंटोनीज़ और उसके अंग्रेजी न जानने की है. अब बिना भाषा संवाद हो कैसे? बाकी इस मुस्कराहट का सबब तलाशने में वक़्त न लगा, हम दोनों एक पीले फीते से बंधे जो थे.

पीला फीता माने लोकतंत्र और सार्वभौमिक मताधिकार के लिए और चीनी हस्तक्षेप के खिलाफ ओक्यूपाई सेंट्रल के शुरू किये और अब पूरे शहर में फ़ैल गये प्रतिरोध का प्रतीक. वह प्रतिरोध जिसने हांगकांग की सबसे व्यस्त सड़कों को छात्रों के आशियाने में बदल दिया है. वह जिसने हमेशा भागते शहर के कुछ हिस्सों की रफ़्तार थाम ली है.

‘आप आक्युपाई के साथ हैं”? उसने लड़खड़ाती अंग्रेजी में पूछा था. हाँ, अपने अपने कब्जे वाले कुल जमा चार पांच केंटोनीज़ शब्दों में से एक से जवाब दिया था और तुरंत जोड़ा था कि बस इतनी ही आती है. ‘कल हुए छात्र-प्रशासन संवाद के बारे में आप क्या मानते हैं,’ उसका अगला सवाल था. “चीन के मांगें स्वीकारने और गतिरोध ख़त्म होने की कोई उम्मीद नहीं है, पर छात्रों का प्रदर्शन शानदार था. बदलाव कर पायें या नहीं, वे बदलाव की आवाज तो हैं ही. सत्ता के सामने खड़ा होना इतना आसान नहीं है.’ उसे ये कहते हुए मेरी आँखों की चमक शायद दिख गयी थी और उसने हाथ बढ़ा दिया था. यह एक दिन में हुआ दूसरा हादसा था.

लड़कों का हाथ थाम के या गले में हाथ डालकर चलना सिर्फ अपने समाजों में सहज माना जाता है. शायद आप यह जान के चौंकेंगे कि विश्व बैंक से लेकर तमाम संगठन भारत में कोई कार्यक्रम आयोजित करने पर भागीदारों को जारी की जाने वाली ‘एडवाइजरी’ में साफ लिखते हैं कि लड़कों का ऐसे चलना यहाँ की संस्कृति का हिस्सा है, उसे समलैंगिकता का प्रतीक समझने की गलती न की जाय. खैर, भाषाई नदी के दो किनारों पर खड़े हम ने अपना कमजोर सा ही सही पुल बना लिया था.

मुलाकात का जिक्र प्रदर्शनकारी छात्रों और खुद सीईओ सीवाई लेउंग सहित हांगकांग प्रशासन के बीच टीवी पर सजीव प्रसारण के साथ हुई वार्ता का था. कमाल यह कि दोनों पक्ष रंग संयोजित थे, एक तरफ फ्रीडम नाऊ लिखी काली टीशर्टें पहने छात्र तो दूसरी तरफ नीले और बैंगनी शेड्स लिए काले सूट पहने अधिकारी. हो सकता है कि इस रंग संयोजन के राजनैतिक निहितार्थ न हों, पर फिर प्रदर्शनकारियों के पीले फीते के विरोधी चीन समर्थकों का प्रतिरोध प्रतीक नीला फीता है और उसी नीले की वहां मौजूदगी दर्ज तो की ही गयी.

खैर, रंग संयोजन के अलावा प्रशासन ने और भी बहुत कुछ गड़बड़ किया. जैसे कि दोस्ताना माहौल बनाने के सांविधानिक और मेनलैंड मामलों के मंत्री लिए रेमंड टैम ची-युन की कोशिश- “मैंने तीन बार चीफ एग्जीक्यूटिव चुनावों के लिए काम किया है पर मुझे भी वोट देने का अधिकार नहीं है. मुझे प्रगति की उम्मीद है कहने पर फेडरेशन ऑफ़ स्टूडेंट्स के नेता शुम ने तीखा जवाब दिया. मैं भी तीन बार वोंग चुक हैंग (सरकारी कार्यालय और वार्तास्थल) गया हूँ पर आजाद आदमी की तरह आज पहली बार. वह भी लोकतान्त्रिक व्यवस्था और मताधिकार की उस लड़ाई के लिए जिसका इन्तेजार हांगकांग के लोग ३० साल से कर रहे हैं. शुम दो बार अपनी गिरफ्तारी के बाद उसी जगह अस्थायी जेल में रखे जाने की तरफ इशारा कर रहे थे.

‘उन्होंने बहुत शानदार प्रदर्शन किया’ नए बने दोस्त ने ‘मुझे उम्मीद है’ कहते हुए फिर जोड़ा था. सच कहूँ तो मुझे तुरंत ऐसी कोई उम्मीद नहीं है हवाओं में उलटे ही इशारे हैं. आखिर सीईओ की सचिव ने वार्ता में ही साफ़ कर दिया था “कि उन्हें सच में समझ नहीं आ रहा कि चीन की नेशनल पीपुल्स कांग्रेस का प्रस्ताव छात्रों को प्रतिगामी क्यों लग रहा है”. प्रशासन में यह भी साफ़ कर दिया कि वह सिर्फ बीजिंग समर्थकों, वह भी केवल तीन को ही चुनाव लड़ने देने के फैसले से पीछे नहीं हटेगी. सार्वभौमिक मताधिकार को लेकर भी उसकी स्थिति वही है.

मेरा स्टेशन आ चला था सो दोस्त का नम्बर ले इस शनिवार प्रतिरोध स्थल पर मिलने के वादे के साथ मैं उतर गया था. हाँ, यह जरुर है इस आन्दोलन को लेकर विदेशी मीडिया में आ रही खबरें अतिरंजित हैं. हांगकांग किसी बड़े टकराव या दमन के मुहाने पर नहीं खड़ा है. न ही शेनजेन सीमा पर चीनी सेना हमले के लिए तैयार है. शहर भी मोटा मोटा वैसा ही है जैसे पहले था. बस राजनैतिक चेतना बढ़ गयी है और यह आश्वस्तकारी बात है.



October 21, 2014

Dalits snare trapped

[This is an AHRC Statement.]

The recent escalation in atrocities committed on Dalits is surprising even for Bihar, a province notorious for crimes against members of the community. The only things worse than the state’s failure to stop the crimes are the reasons the crimes are being committed.

Can one really burn alive a 15-year-old child for the “crime” of his goats straying into the paddy fields of a so-called upper caste man?

The gory incident in Rohtas is not a standalone one. It follows the gang-rape of six Dalit women on October 9 in Bhojpur and the incident involving more than 150 Dalits getting chased out of their village in Gaya after a member of the community was killed in September.

It is still too early to fear the return of caste-based massacres that once bedevilled Bihar. Yet, the situation is bleak for many reasons. The violence can be attributed, in part, to the changed political scenario. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), considered to be the party representative of the upper castes in the province, deserted the incumbent government led by the Janata Dal United (JD-U), which itself, largely, draws its support from the backward castes and Mahadalits, a term it coined for those worst off amongst the Dalits.

The uneasy, yet successful, alliance between the JD-U and BJP had brought together communities with centuries of animosity and had resulted in a temporary lull in violence against Dalits. That is, to state it differently, while there was no decline in everyday acts of individual atrocities committed on the members of the Dalit community, large-scale organised violence along caste lines had witnessed a decline. And, of course, there were exceptions to this general reality; the community did face occasional collective attacks, such as in the aftermath of killing of Brahmeshwar Singh, alias Mukhiya, the head of notorious upper caste militia, blamed for many Dalit massacres.

The alliance had compelled erstwhile warring communities to share space without reconciliation, without dealing with past animosities. The upper castes in the alliance saw it as a political necessity – to keep the other backward castes away from power, after having a government more representative of their interests On the other hand, the marginalised saw it as a way to maintain their claim on state resources. However, the then chief minister, and JD-U’s top leader, Nitish Kumar’s dogged refusal to accept Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate unravelled the alliance and exposed the fault lines of old animosities and atrocities.

It is in this context that the state is witnessing a renewed cycle of atrocities committed on the community, often on the flimsiest of the grounds, i.e. grounds that would have earlier been ignored by the same criminals. The fact that few of the perpetrators get caught and punished for such crimes emboldens them. If one go by the recent verdicts of the High Court of Bihar, it would, perhaps, be the only place in the world where pogroms and massacres have been found committed by no one. This is the refrain in case after case, be it Bathani Tola massacre case of 21 Dalits, which witnessed the acquittal of the 23 accused that were convicted by a lower court, or the Nagri massacre case involving the killing of 11 Dalits, or the Lakshmanpur Bathe massacre case of involving 26 deaths, or even the Mianpur massacre case which saw the killing of 9 Dalits. All the accused have been acquitted for lack of evidence.

The acquittals were bound to create tension and re-open wounds, and that they did. These acquittals also emboldened the upper castes to attempt a reclamation of their political control in the state from the other backward castes and Dalits.

Unfortunately, the response to the renewed wave of attacks from the political leadership has been inadequate. The state administration keeps failing to enforce the rule of law and punish the perpetrators of caste violence to deter others. The BJP, on its part, has kept quiet on the increasing attacks, to ensure that its core support base remains unoffended.

And, this is precisely what makes the threat of further escalation in violence loom large. The way forward is to ensure that those guilty of committing such heinous crimes do not get away scot-free and for political will to be mobilized to normalise relations.

October 17, 2014

Denial won’t wish away “Indian” racism against North Easterners

[This is an AHRC Article.]
[Republished in the Arunachal Pioneer on 18-10-2014]
Republished in The Sangai Express on 27-102014] 

They did not speak Kannada, the language of the state they live in. They, therefore, were “legitimate” targets of violence in a city that has benefitted the most from India’s shift from Nehruvian Socialism to free market economy. The fact that they contribute to the city, and the province’s income, meant nothing. That they pay taxes that keep the country afloat had no value. They were, after all, North Easterners stranded in mainland India.

Their nationality is non-negotiable at all times, other than when they are victim to racist attacks across Indian cities, be it Delhi or Bangalore. It is non-negotiable when they may choose to assert their otherness; not when otherness is inflicted on them.

It is especially so when an outside entity claims them as its own. Let China make claims of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part and out comes the Indian State with the mantras of sovereignty and patriotism that will never compromise on its territorial integrity. This is the time when the top functionaries of the Indian State, right up to the Prime Minister, make visits to the North East to dance with the “natives” and announce this or that package for this or that benefit of the 7 states collectively referred to as the North East.

Rest of the time they are just the ‘Mongolian fringe’ of the undeclared Aryan state, which has grudgingly accepted the erstwhile Dravidians as its own, but failed to do the same for the fringe. Failed, perhaps, is the wrong word for the State has never made a real attempt to assimilate the North East, while respecting the differences that define and shape the territory.

The failure is not always an in-your-face violence that the State, or its patriotic citizenry, inflicts on the North Easterners. There is a subtlety, at once tragic and perversely beautiful, that the Indian State deploys to achieve this failure. The State forgets, at times, to include Kiren Rijju, the Minister of State for Home and a Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, not only in the delegation for talks but also from state banquets hosted by the President for Chinese President Xi Jinping during his India visit, an omission never explained, not even to term it as coincidental. At other times, the State chooses Meghalaya as the place of punish posting for the Governors appointed under the previous government who refuse to resign as per the wish of the incumbent government.

The British colonials had always seen and treated the “Mongolian fringe” as an outpost, as a buffer from threats from South East Asia, to safeguard their Indian colony from the same. A total of 67 years after they packed their bags, independent India continues to do the same with all the repressive instruments deployed to keep the “natives” enslaved. In fact it has gone further by converting the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance, promulgated by the British in 1942 to suppress the Quit India Movement, into the Armed Forces Special Powers (Assam and Manipur) Act, 1958, and enforcing it all over the North East.

The Indian State keeps talking about humanising the draconian act that enables the security forces to maim, rape, and kill citizens with impunity. The State keeps talking of political solutions, as opposed to military ones. The State keeps on negotiating with this or that insurgent group. Yet, the same State treats every North Easterner as a perennial suspect, the other.

And so do the “Indian” citizens. This is the only thing worse than the violent and subtle racism North Easterners face from the Indian state. To invoke Lawrence Liang and Golan Naulak’s idea of two distinct forms of racism, the footnote vis-à-vis the front-page, the North Easterners are condemned to face both. They experience the footnote racism in everyday life, subtle, but as dehumanising as the explicit and violent front-page forms of the same. They feel it when denied rented accommodation for nothing other than being what they are. They feel it when their food habits are not merely questioned but beget violent attacks. They feel it when the Delhi police issues an advisory suggesting that North Eastern girls not wear revealing dresses to escape sexual harassment and assault. They feel it when it is suggested by the same advisory that they not cook their regional cuisine, especially, Akhuni and Bamboo shoots, as it could offend the sensibilities of the local people. They feel it the most when they realise there are no such advisories issued for any other ethnic, regional, or whatsoever kind of community defined by whatsoever yardstick.

This is not to say that front-page racism is less endemic than these subtle forms of labelling North Easterners as other. Nor does this mean that these two are discernably separate from each other. How can one separate racist abuses like “chinki”, which can get the abuser a sentence of 5 years (as most of the North Easterners are from Scheduled Tribes and therefore protected by the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Preventions of Atrocities) Act), from physical attacks that killed Nido Tania, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, in an “allegedly” racist attack?

One may do so, of course, by the liberal use of “allegedly” alongside acts of racism. What else but racism can explain the repeated attacks on the people from the North East across India? How many more murders does one need to call racism what it is? Was not the rumour mongering coupled with physical attacks on North East students in Bangalore, which lead to their mass exodus, enough to set the bell ringing? Should not the mysterious death of Richard Loitam, a student from Manipur, after an altercation with his seniors in Bangalore have made the State take special notice?

Perhaps it cannot till it remains in a permanent denial mode, i.e. until things turn violent and come under the media gaze. And, when this happens routinely, it rushes in to offer cosmetic solutions to the racist prejudices against the North East people that are institutionalised and engrained in the system. The futility of its lip service, however, gets exposed by the fact that no one has ever been convicted for even one year for racially abusing someone as ‘chinki’, forget the five year term that such an abuse can bring. Compare this with the convictions for casteist abuses covered under the provisions of the same Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Preventions of Atrocities) Act.

I wonder how many North East citizens would, in fact, dare to go lodge such a complaint with the police; they have to live in the same neighbourhoods in mainland India to make a livelihood, where they are most often a minority. They know what their predicament would be in the police stations, which have few, if any, officers from their community, as against the offenders who would share socio-cultural bonds with many of the officers.



This lack of redress to everyday racism is what sustains the discrimination against North Easterners, citizens of India lest one forgets, and paves way for the serious periodic attacks broadcast in the media. Till the State ensures that the community feels confident enough to report everyday violations, and perpetrators get prosecuted, the vicious cycle of violence will not stop. Racism is a serious crime, not something to wish away with denial. Hope for change will begin with justice to T. Michael Lamjathang Haokip and his friends attacked in Bangalore.

October 16, 2014

Court orders damages from and inquiry against officers who framed defendant

[This is an AHRC Statement]
In a landmark criminal judgment involving abuse of power by the police, a Special Additional Sessions Court in Calicut not only acquitted the accused framed by the errant cops in Sundari Amma murder case, but also ordered a department inquiry as well as compensation. The court found that there was significant reason to suspect that the investigating officers in the case had committed perjury and fabricated evidence.
Neither the practice of framing innocent people in order to solve cases nor the acquittal of such framed people are new in India. The police forces across Indian states are notorious for this type of conduct. What makes this case stand out is that the court is holding uniformed police officers responsible for their actions in pursuing cases, fixes command responsibility, and orders punitive measures. In doing so, the judgment is bound to act as a deterrent against errant cops.
The case itself began when 66-year-old Sundari Amma, who used to sell idlis (local snack)to hotels, was found murdered at her residence with 26 stab wounds in July 2012. After being first investigated by the local police, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch on The Crime Branch arrested an employee of one of the hotels refered to as “Jayesh” (also known as Jabbar, or Babu), on September 11, 2013. The police accused Jayesh of killing the woman with intent of stealing money for a pleasure trip with friends.
The court, however, found that the evidences produced by the prosecution did not establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Perhaps most importantly, the knife alleged to have been used was examined by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) which established that the weapon was not the one used in the crime as blood stains will remain on a knife even after one year and no such stains existed.
The court directed the state government to reinvestigate to apprehend the actual murderer. It also found evidence that E. P. Pruthviraj, the then deputy Superintendent of Police and investigating officer of the case, appeared to have committed perjury and fabricated evidence, serious crimes under Indian Penal Code, and consequently ordered an investigation based on those charges. The court also ordered compensation of 1 Lakh Rs. to be recovered from Mr. Pruthviraj now promoted as assistant commissioner and given to the acquitted.
The court also took notice of the fact that the former Kasaba circle inspector P. Pramod did not initiate action under Section 340 of the CrPC (perjury) as mandated by the law. Taking this as evidence of dereliction of duty, the court issued a show cause notice to him.
Further, the judgment is also welcome because of role of Mr. Anil Kumar, state brief counsel who represented Jayesh (he was too poor to get legal support). In a country where state brief counsels tend to help prosecution much more than the poor and vulnerable defendants they represent, such honest professionals certainly strengthen the public justice system.
The AHRC welcomes the judgment and order for investigation, it hopes courts of law across India follow suit and take action against dishonest officers while freeing those framed by them.

October 15, 2014

Raid of Forward Press office is attack on freedom of expression

The police raid on the Nehru Place office of Forward Press is a deplorable attack on freedom of expression. The Forward Press, a progressive magazine aimed at marginalised and underprivileged sections of India society, had focussed on Bahujan-Shraman (roughly meaning the majority that lives off its labour and not by exploiting others) traditions. The issue carried articles reinterpreting stories in Hindu scriptures including one that reimagined the story of the killing of Mahishasur (buffalo demon) by Goddess Durga as a struggle between the Aryans and non-Aryans. The article was opposed by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) unit of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for harming religious sentiments. On the evening of the 9 October, the protests had turned into a clash between ABVP members and other JNU students who were celebrating Mahishasur Martyrdom Day.
That same night, the Special Branch of the Delhi Police raided the office of Forward Press and detained four of its staffers. The police team also vandalized the office and confiscated all the copies of the October issue of Forward Press on the basis of a complaint filed in the Vasant Kunj Police Station. Evidently, the action was taken without any orders from a competent authority. Raiding the office of a reputed magazine and confiscating its latest issue without any court order reveals the increasing threats to the tolerant culture that allows intellectual debates. It shows that the government is planning to muzzle all dissent with force.
The raid also raises a pertinent question over the increasing use of the bogey of "hurt sentiments" as a weapon of silencing the dissenters. Deciding the veracity of such claims is strictly the job of the courts and not the police. The police, in fact, are duty bound to protect the dissenters from majoritarian bullying and protect their right to celebrate whatever they want (so long as it does not pose a genuine threat to public safety). Both the magazine and the students commemorating Mahishasur martyrdom day posed no such threat.
Additionally, India has a long tradition of engaging with religious symbolisms and myths and reinterpreting them for mobilising underprivileged communities. Further, Bahujan renditions of popular texts also have a long tradition, starting from Jotiba Phule and going up to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and Periyar E. V. Ramasamy. Periyar, in fact, had publicly burnt down the idols of Hindu gods and used very harsh language for Hindu deities. Would Delhi Police have arrested him if he was around today?  Hinduism itself has many sects whose religious beliefs are absolutely different from the mainstream version. There are communities who worship Ravana and not Lord Rama. There are communities which celebrate Bali Raja (king Bali) as their god and not Lord Vishnu. Can one banish such communities because they "hurt the sentiments" of some group or the other? Can one even think of banning polytheism on demand from minority communities as it might offend their monotheistic traditions? Does it sound absurd? It does and so do the police actions at the beck and call of ever ready to get hurt sentiments.
For its part, Forward Press has clarified that its October issue was a special number devoted to "Bahujan-Shraman tradition", has well researched articles from leading writers and professors of prestigious universities, and carries "absolutely nothing in the issue that can be described as objectionable under the Indian Constitution". It also argues that their objective was "not to humiliate or hurt the sentiments of any community or group" and they are merely trying "to identify and rejuvenate the symbols of Bahujan culture and civilization".
These claims may be challenged but the right place to do that is a court of law and the proper authority is a judicial magistrate, not the police. The AHRC strongly condemns the raid and vandalism, as well as the arrest of Forward Press staffers. It also is concerned for the security of the consulting editor and the editor-in-chief of the magazine. The two have gone into hiding fearing arrest and are demand that their rights be respected, not trampled upon.

October 11, 2014

लोकतंत्र की छतरी उर्फ़ हांगकांग का अम्ब्रेला रेवलूशन

[दैनिक जागरण में अपने कॉलम 'परदेस से' में 11 अक्टूबर 2014 को प्रकाशित]

इस बार हांगकांग हवाई अड्डे पर उतरते हुए मन को वही सुकून मिला था जो बस घर पँहुच के मिलता हैमन जाने कब अपने हो गए इस शहर के लिए परेशान जो था नेपाल में भटकते हुए हांगकांग से चीनी वर्चस्ववादी नीतियों के खिलाफ बड़े छात्र प्रतिरोध और दमन की खबरें डरा रही थीं. सेंट्रल, एडमिरलटी, वानचाई, कॉजवे बे- दुनिया की आर्थिक राजधानियों में से एक हांगकांग का अपना आर्थिक दिल छात्रों के कब्जे में था

हांगकांगर होने की वजह से मुझसे सवाल होने लाजमी थे. दमन, आंदोलन का भविष्य, मुद्दे- सवाल तमाम थे और अपने पास जवाब कम. कम क्योंकि अखबारों में रही खबरें अपने जिए हांगकांग से बहुत अलग थींसवाल तो खैर कम्युनिस्ट चीन की इस हरकत पर अपनी हुई चुप्पी पर भी थे. उन्हें क्या बताता कि संगठन का रुख साफ़ है यूँ भी चीन अपना आदर्श कभी नहीं रहापर पुलिसिया दमन- उस शहर में जिसमे राजनैतिक रैलियों की व्यवस्था के लिए भेजी जाने वाले पुलिस की रिवाल्वरें रखवा ली जाती हैं? उसमे जिसमे तियेनएनमेन नरसंहार का विरोध होता है, जिसमे चैटर पार्क में चीन में प्रतिबंधित धार्मिक समूह फालुन गोंग के सदस्यों का धरना चलता रहता है

मन कैसे मान लेता कि वहीँ ऐसा दमन संभव है. सो वापस पँहुचते ही शाम को प्रतिरोध स्थल पर पँहुच गयाप्रतिरोध ख़त्म करवाने की सरकार की तमाम कोशिशों को धता बता सेन्ट्रल गयी शाम भी छात्रों से भरा हुआ थाहजारों छात्र बीच सड़क पर पुलिस की रेलिंग्स को अपने बैरिकेड्स में तब्दील कर बैठे हुए छात्र पहली नजर में जमावड़ा प्रतिरोध नहीं कार्निवल सा लगा. गाते हुए, बारबेक्यू पर कुछ भूनते हुए, अपने आईपैड्स पर कुछ देखते हुए छात्र- ये दिखे कि जनता उस सड़क पर जमीं हुई है जिसपर कल तक गाड़ियाँ फर्राटे भरती थीं तो उत्सव ही लगे

बखैर, ये कोई उत्सव था  प्रतिरोध तात्कालिक. यह तो 1997 में हस्तांतरण के वक़्त एक देश दो व्यवस्थाओं के तहत हांगकांग को मिली तमाम आजादियों को दरकिनार कर चीन के लगातार बढ़ते हस्तक्षेप के खिलाफ कई साल से उमड़ रहे गुस्से का विस्फोट थाहाल में यह गुस्सा प्राथमिक शिक्षा में राष्ट्रवादी पाठ्यक्रम के बहाने चीन भक्ति सिखाने को लेकर भी उमड़ा था और फिर एडवर्ड स्नोडेन के शहर में शरण लेने के वक़्त उनको अमेरिकी सरकार को सौंप दिए जाने की संभावनाओं की अफवाहों के वक़्त भी. शिक्षा वाले संघर्ष में तो लगभग पूरा हांगकांग सड़कों पर आया था. एक लाख से ज्यादा लोगों की उस गोलबंदी का हिस्सा होना मुझे आज भी रोमांचित करता है जिसने सरकार को पीछे हटने पर मजबूर कर दिया था

इस बार की लड़ाई मगर जरा मुश्किल है. आंदोलनकारियों की मुख्यतः दो मांगें हैं. पहली हांगकांग के चीफ एग्जीक्यूटिव लंग चुन यिंग के तत्काल इस्तीफे की. दूसरी नेशनल पीपुल्स कांग्रेस की स्थायी समिति के अगस्त 31 को लिए उस निर्णय को वापस लेने की जो २०१७ में चीफ एग्जीक्यूटिव पद के लिए होने वाले चुनावों को केवल प्रत्याशियों तक सीमित करता है. हद यह कि इन तीन प्रत्याशियों को भी नामांकन समिति के आधे से अधिक सदस्यों का समर्थन प्राप्त होना चाहिए 

कहना होगा कि सार्वभौमिक मताधिकार का सपना देख रहे हांगकांग निवासियों को यह दोनों शर्तें नागवार गुजरनी थीं और सड़कों पर उतर पड़ना था. सो हुआ भी वही. पहली योजना के मुताबिक ऑक्युपाई सेन्ट्रल नाम के साझा संगठन के 10000 लोग सेन्ट्रल की कुछ खास जगहों पर कब्ज़ा कर सिविल नाफरमानी अभियान शुरू करेंगे कहानी में मोड़ तब आया जब उनकी गिरफ्तारी को लेकर आशंकित छात्र भी उनके साथ उतर पड़े और उन्होंने एडमिरलटी में हांगकांग सरकार के मुख्यालय पर कब्ज़ा कर लिया 

सरकार इतने बड़े आंदोलन से निपटने के लिए तैयार नहीं थी. सो जब उसने छात्रों को गिरफ्तार करने के लिए पुलिस भेजी तो बाकी लोगों का भी गुस्सा उमड़ पड़ा और सड़कें खचाखच भर गयीं फिर पुलिस ने आंसूगैस के गोले दागने शुरू किये और प्रतिरोधियों ने चूहे बिल्ली का खेल. गोले दगे तो जनता गायब और प्रभाव हटते ही वापस. कुछ तो मुखौटे वगैरह भी ले आये. जल्द ही हांगकांग की जीवन रेखा माने जाने वाले छह लेन हाईवे से लेकर बाकी सारे इलाके पर छात्रों का कब्ज़ा था. बदली बस एक चीज थी. आंसूगैस के गोले दाग रही पुलिस को अब छात्र बारिश होने पर अपनी छतरियों में जगह दे रहे थे, माने असली हांगकांग अपनी रौ में  लौट आया है


हालात अब भी वहीँ टिके हुए हैं. आंदोलन के बीच प्रेमप्रस्ताव देते स्वीकारते छात्र हैं, बारिशों में निकलती छतरियाँ हैं, उनके और पुलिसवालों दोनों के लिए खाना लाते स्वयंसेवक हैं और गतिरोध हैशुक्रवार को छात्रों से प्रस्तावित वार्ता स्थगित कर दिए जाने के बाद उसके ख़त्म होने की उम्मीद भी नहीं है. सलाम हांगकांग को, फिर से साबित करने के लिए कि जिन्दा क़ौमें लड़ती हैं फिर चाहे उनके सामने चीन जैसी अलोकतांत्रिक महाशक्ति ही क्यों हो