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नव-देशभक्तों के नाम एक जेएनयू वाले का खुला ख़त

जेएनयू की एक बहुत पुरानी शाम से उतने भी प्यारे नहीं देशभक्तों, भारत माता के वीरों (मुँह खुलते ही स्त्रियों को गालियाँ देने वालों को सप...

March 30, 2016

Dear Sectarian Left- It’s Time To Fight Fascists In Power, Not Kanhaiya Kumar

1984 Sikh riots are fundamentally different from 2002 Gujarat Pogrom, reportedly said Kanhaiya Kumar, president of JNUSU as per ever suspect Indian media. He also asserted that Emergency is different from Fascism. Lo and behold, self-designated champions of Sectarian Left were out baying for his blood, as if waiting in the wings for that only.

But is Kanhaiya wrong, even if he did say so? That is based on the facts, not inventing them as real Left, unlike Fascists, can only interpret facts at best, not invent them. (No quoting Marx’ 11th Theses On Feuerbach here, please. I know that too well- the context here is altogether different.)

Lets face the facts one by one. Did Kanhaiya condone or defend 1984 Sikh massacre? The answer is a resounding NO. Lets come back to it later, though.

Is he factually wrong in differentiating between Fascism from Emergency? He is NOT is again the resounding answer. For the uninitiated- all dictatorships are not, and cannot be, fascist. Fascism is a specific ideology that operates through several core notions- aggressive and violent national chauvinism, claiming supremacy of a particular race, identifying or even inventing an ‘other’, an enemy as a unifying cause, calling for an attempting to ethnically cleanse such enemy, unleashing lynch mobs/storm troopers to savagely attack all who dare to protest its agenda and so on.

Does Emergency qualify to be fascist on any of these counts? Or any other anyone can come up with? It was not even a prototype that could mutate into Fascism, it was, and remained a feeble attempt at turning the republic into a dictatorship and failed at that!

Pause here for a moment and consider the current regime- would it qualify as a fascist one or not? With all the beef lynchings, killings of rationalists, minorities, dissenters, concerted attacks on universities, dubbing anyone and everyone opposing them as anti-national and seeking their ‘deportation’ to Pakistan and so on. And all this while forcing an idea of India, of Bharat Mata, that is intrinsically against the idea of secular, socialist and democratic republic that the freedom fighters envisaged and put in place, in howsoever inadequate form. The answer, my friends, is "Blowin' in the Wind".

Now, before cutting back to 1984, let’s pause for a moment to consider the history of Indian National Congress (INC) on secularism. No one in his or her senses would INC’s ever-opportunistic positions on the question. INC betrayed secularism both ways, of course with a tilt in favour of majority religion- right from giving in to Hindutva clan’s pressure on Hindu Code Bill to caving in Islamic fanatics on Shahbano to opening the gates of Babri mosque to allowing Shilanyas of Ram Janmbhoomi. The list is endless. Does that make it the same as BJP, though? Is majoritarianism its core ideology and ethnic cleansing of minorities its programme to build a strong nation? 1984 was not the only time it failed the minorities. 1984 was preceded by Nellie massacre in 1983 with an official toll of 2,191 while unofficial figures estimating the numbers at more than 10,000. What was the Congress government’s response to that massacre? It responded by never making the report of Tiwari Commission public and finally, dropping all the charge sheeted cases for Assam Accord with the All Assam Students Union. It is just that none seems to remember Nellie, not even those righteously hurt now. One may ask why, but then that is yet another debate for another day.

Many other massacres of varying scales happened under Congress’ watch including, just to mention a few, Gujarat riots (1969) with an official toll of 660, Moradabad riots (1980) with a toll of 130, Gujarat again (1985) with an estimated toll of 275, Bhagalpur (1989) with an official toll of 1070 and finally Bombay (later Mumbai) riots of 1992-93 with an estimated toll of more than 900. None can, thus, not even a foolhardy, absolve Congress of its crime of failing the minorities and stabbing the body politic of the republic. It is, in fact, these failures- ranging from being complicit in massacres to not enforcing rule of law to contain them that paved the way for murderous regime in the power now.

Does that make Congress same as BJP, though? Or 1984 massacre same as 2002 pogrom?

Let’s have a closer look. It was essentially Congress that set in a motion a chain of events that culminated in Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the 1984 massacre of Sikhs thereafter? Did it do it willfully, that is with a criminal intent? Assuming that would require another assumption- that it planned the assassination of Indira Gandhi as well, an assumption as preposterous and absurd as it can get. 1984 massacre was result of a political ploy- of pitting militant Sikhs against Akali Dal, a religio-political party gone horribly wrong, not an execution of a well thought out attempt of ethnic cleansing of a minority group.

Let’s dig deeper. What did Congress do after 1984? Did it try hounding Sikhs (or any other minority community for that reason) the way BJP is doing right from RSS and Jan Sangh instigated Gujarat massacre in 1969 at least? Did it target other minorities like BJP did- Christians in 1997 in Gujarat and in 2008 in Odisha?

The answers to these questions are obvious. Congress is no custodian of secularism. It is not a religiously fanatic group with fascistic tendencies either. And that is despite the fact that BJP is trying to legitimize all its nefarious decisions by insinuating that it is no different from Congress. It is high time to call that lie out, that too aloud.

Finally, does saying that amount to betraying the victims of 1984? Does it amount to forcing them to accept some sort of closure, like accepting the atrocities committed on them and stop seeking justice because their perpetrators did not do that ideologically?

Let me answer this by an analogy. Not all dictatorships are fascist in nature. Do acknowledging ones that were not fascist but mere dictatorships lessen their crime and the quest for redress and justice? Forget even that. And let us put it even more clearly- India has never been a fascist state, till last election at least. Does acknowledging, and stating, that condones the concerted violence it has inflicted on its people in the name of containing insurgencies- be that in Bastar, Telangana, Kashmir, North East and so on? And that is talking only of armed action of the state, not the countless millions it starves through its policies. There we are.

Or else, we can fight over the semantics, something Sectarian Left has always done and fight with comrades, not the fascists in power.

March 27, 2016

Stop Police Brutality On Hyderabad University Students, Now!

[This is an AHRC Statement.]

Cutting off electricity, water, and Internet facilities, closing down messes, chasing all the media persons out, and then calling in the Paramilitary to swoopdown on students in the campus sounds like routine work in a dictatorship, not a democracy. Yet, this is exactly what the University of Hyderabad administration, which works under the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development, has subjected the students to yesterday.

The students were protesting against the return and resumption of duties by the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile,who is the main accused in the case of abetment of suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, whose death shook the nation.

Allowing a person, who is under investigation for such a serious offence, to return and resume charges defies rudimentary understanding of the rule of law, not logic alone. Whoever atop the Indian government is behind the decision would have known well that it would enrage students and invite protests. One may therefore ask if the decision was made to unleashthis violence on students, who have not backed off their protest, seeking justice, for months now.

The conspicuous way in which the VC returned to campus hints at the same. So does a letter by the Registrar of the varsity to local police seeking their intervention. Worse, the resultant crack down, after chasing the media out, seems to confirm the plan behind the action.

Together with charging at the students, the police and paramilitary persons raided specific rooms in hostels across the campus, as if they had a pre-determined list of those they wanted to apprehend. And this they did: the police picked up 36 students, all of them leading activists of the Joint Action Committee, the umbrella group that is coordinating the nation-wide campaign for justice for Rohith, as well as 3 faculty members. The detainees were held overnight in unspecified locations, and allegations of torture, have already arisen.

Leading women organisations of the country have also narrated the way police and paramilitary personnel attacked the girl students, molesting them and threatening them with rape in the process. Many of them have suffered grievous injuries. The police action has also caused critical injuries to Uday Bhanu, a research scholar. He remains admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital, and is struggling for life. More details including video testimonies can be found here.

The attempt, clearly, was breaking the backbone of the movement for justice to Rohith, which has taken the country by storm, and is causing serious trouble, both perceptually and actually, to the ruling establishment. This trouble to its sense of power and control, however, does not allow the government to defy laws, and act as if an emergency has been imposed. The country has dealt with one emergency in living memory, which had grievous consequences. Another such attempt, whether declared or undeclared,will only destroy the soul of the body politic.

The Asian Human Rights Commission unequivocally condemns the barbarities that have been committed on the students, and urges the government of India to back off from the campus now. Furthermore, Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao should not be permitted to resume charge until the completion of a fair and impartial investigation.The Commission also asks that the government fix command responsibility for yesterday’s action, and prosecute and punishe those responsible.

March 23, 2016

झेलम चाट सम्मेलन- जेएनयू के नाना प्रकार के चाटों पर विचार

Photo Credit 
फिर यक्ष ने पूछा- हे युधिष्ठिर, अब आप जेएनयू देश के झेलम प्रांत में कुख्यात चाटों के नाना प्रकार का विषद वर्णन करें। 

यह सुनकर युधिष्ठिर ने कहा कि हे तात, यह तारा जैसे बच्चे अपने ही अनुज हैं, जो बता रहे हैं हम बड़े और कड़े बुजुर्गों से ही सीखा है. फिर भी आप का आदेश हैं तो मैं इसे आपको आसान भाषा में चाट कर बताता हूँ- हे तात- जैसे भारत नाना भाषाओँ में एक सी लम्पटई कर सकने वाली विविधिता में एकता वाला देश है, उसी प्रकार जेएनयू नाना प्रकार के चाटों से भरा एक सम्प्रभु समाज है. वैसे तो जेएनयू के सभी प्रकार के चाटों की गणना कर सकना उसी तरह असंभव है जैसे मनुष्य के सर के बाल गिनना, बशर्ते वह मनुष्य अनुपम खेर न हो, परन्तु मैं फिर भी आपको कुछ प्रमुख किस्म के चाटों के बारे में आपको बताता हूँ- 

हे तात, चाटों की सबसे निकृष्ट कोटि है शकलन चाटों की- इस प्रजाति के चाटों का दर्शन मात्र मनुष्य को चाट कर रख देता है. आप कुछ भी कहें, बात कोई भी हो रही हो, यह चाट ऐसी आतुर और कातर निगाहों से शून्य में देखते रहते हैं कि आप इनके मुंह खोले बिना चट कर सफ़ेद हो जाते हैं. इन्हे विजुअल चाट के नाम से भी जाना जाता है. 

अकलन चाट निम्न कोटि के मगर इनसे थोड़ा बेहतर चाट होते हैं. आप इनसे कोई भी बात करें ये उसमें अपनी अक्ल लगा कर आपको खखोर के खाली कर देने में माहिर होते हैं. इनकी प्रमुख विशेषता होती है इनकी अक्ल का ग्रामोफ़ोन की अटकी हुई सूई की तरह होना। मान लीजिये इनका गीत बनारस पर रुक गया है. अब आप इनसे जलवायु परिवर्तन की बात करें तो यह उत्तर ऐसे देंगे- जलवायु परिवर्तन बड़ी समस्या है. इससे समुद्र का जलस्तर बढ़ेगा और तमाम समस्यायें खड़ी होंगी। जलस्तर से याद आया कि गंगा के जलस्तर में कमी भी आई है. खासतौर पर बनारस में- और बस- वहाँ से सीधे- और जब मैं बनारस में था-- इनके यहाँ पहुँच जाने के बाद इनका शिकार आमतौर पर स्ट्रेचर पर ही जाता है. इन्हें ऑडियो चाट के रूप में भी जाना जाता है. 

चाटों की तीसरी श्रेणी, हे तात, खयालन चाटों की है. यह निहायत दुर्दांत और भयानक किस्म के घुटे हुए चाट होते हैं. इनकी दुर्दांतता के किस्से सुनकर ही मनुष्य इतना भयाक्रांत रहता है कि मन में इनका ख़याल भी आ जाय तो लहरा कर गिर पड़ता है. इन्हें हौन्टिंग (haunting) चाट भी कहा जाता है. 

पर इन सबसे भयानक होते हैं सर्वोच्च श्रेणी के चाट- पर-खयालन चाट. यह चाटत्व की चरमावस्था है-इस अवस्था को प्राप्त हो गए चाटों से जीवित ही नहीं निर्जीव वस्तुयें भी भयभीत रहती हैं. मैं सत्य कहूँ तात, तो तमाम लोग बताते हैं कि इनके मेस में पहुँचने पर मेजों को जरा खिसक जाते हुए ही नहीं, ढाबे पर उन पत्थरों के भी अपनी जगह से खिसक जाते देखा गया है जिन्हें विद्रोही दादा तक दो दशक में न हिला पाये थे. इनको पर-खयालन इसलिए कहा गया क्योंकि इनके बारे में बगल के हॉस्टल में भी कोई सोच ले तो आपका दिमाग फेंचकुर फेंक देता है. इनको किसी और भाषा में परिभाषित करने वाला शब्द बना ही नहीं तात. मगर मैं आपको इनके आगे- अरे तात, क्या हुआ? 

दौड़ो से, एम्बुलेंस मँगवाओ- यक्ष चट के भूलुंठित हो गए हैं! बच गए तो आगे भी बताएंगे। 

March 21, 2016

From Banana Republic to Beef Lynching: Does Bharat Mata approve of that?

[This is an AHRC article.
Also published in Counter Currents.]
“A mob is the scum that rises upmost when the nation boils.”-- John Dryden, English Poet
The picture showing two Muslims – one of them a teenaged boy – hanging by a tree in Latehar, Jharkhand is going to haunt the Republic for a long time. Nothing indicts the failure of a criminal justice system like a lynch mob. Whether they may seem to reflect righteous anger or not, whether they operate by design or default, lynch mobs prove that the State has lost sole control over coercive power, the cornerstone of maintaining law and order.

And, in this case, the lynching was by design. But first, lets look at some facts of the case. The victims were cattle traders. Self-designated vigilante groups, moonlighting to protect cows, which sacred to Hindus, the majority religion of India, apparently killed the two traders. One of the five arrested suspects, Mithilesh Prasad Sahu, is, in fact, a member of a cow protection committee, something disclosed by the Latehar Police Chief Anoop Birtharay. These vigilantes are nothing new to the countryside, it must be noted. It is just that they were never this murderous before the incumbent regime came to power.

And it is here that the design enters the frame. The Latehar lynching is not the first one. The murders started in Dadri, a village in Uttar Pradesh, thousands of kilometers away, in the outskirts of Delhi, the national capital. A lynch mob was organized there following open calls on a public address system of a temple against a family’s alleged consumption of beef.

Cow slaughter is illegal in many Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh, but not in all Indian states. While, consumption of beef is perfectly legal in Uttar Pradesh, and, in fact, consumption of buffalo meat is legal in all Indian states. But, this meant nothing to the mob. It attacked the family and lynched its head, 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq.

And, despite the media controversy that followed in its wake, the lynching was not going to be the last beef murder either. The scene of action soon shifted to Himachal Pradesh, where a Muslim man was killed by ‘villagers’ over the suspicion of cow smuggling.

And, the next murder was reported from Haryana where armed vigilantes attacked a group of migrant workers based on the suspicion of the workers having smuggled cows. It is just that this time the mob arrived along with the police, as admitted Mr. Hanif Qureshi, Inspector General of Police, Karnal. The Officer went on to admit that it is normal practice in Haryana for cow protection volunteers, working in coordination with police authorities, to nab cattle smugglers. Such close cooperation between police and beef vigilantes is not surprising, in a state ruled by the Bhartiya Janta Party, the right wing Hindutva outfit currently in power of the Union government as well.

And this is only recounting the cases wherein the mobs could kill, not instances where the Muslims were “merely” beaten up or even arrested, like this one in Rajasthan last week.

The killings do not augur well for the Republic, already beleaguered by increasing violence from right wing Hindutva forces. Worse, it does not augur well for the Republic’s criminal justice system, which had somehow successfully maintained the facade of being a functional system, despite its institutional failures making it so similar to those of Banana Republics. It had largely failed to deliver justice till now. And now, it has begun failing to curb injustices like beef murders being committed by murderous mobs despite, often, being well informed about them.

The mobs have not come out of a vacuum. Conditions have been ripe for long; hardly ever in India has anyone been punished for their role in mob crimes – be it mobs killing people over some emotive issue in countless riots or violent mobs taking a whole state to ransom and killing and maiming people for some socio-political demand. Unlike the new-age Hindutva vigilantes, however, most of these mobs did not have specific and long-term plans.

Also, seldom did these mobs erupt and indulge in violence across the country, in actions that range from synchronised lynch mob attacks to lone wolf attacks. They did not erupt in this manner because they were not always this sure of the political protection they have now.

Once the lynch mob takes over, it does not leave anyone, not even those instrumental in unleashing the mob. Today it is beef, tomorrow it may be chicken. Remember Uma Bharati, now Union Minister, doing exactly that as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh? Yes, she indeed had declared three cities as “holy” and banned sale of liquor and meat there.

Herein lies another sad comment on the civil society’s failure to comprehend the urgent need for legal and criminal justice institution re-engineering in India. Rather than embrace and espouse this need, the civil society often jumps from outrage to outrage on issues, to the extent of legitimising this outrage as a source of law-making, as evidenced by the recent passage of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015. Ultimately this is what the righteous outrage over the infamous 16 December gang rape and murder of a young student in Delhi brought about, a decision to punish children as adults.

And, if outrage is the way for the civil society to handle all issues, rather than constructive institutional rebuilding, what say now that this same method is employed for the right wing fanatics too, who only take their sense of outrage up a notch, and murder those they oppose.

It is the absence of a fair and functioning justice system that creates such a sense of outrage, and allows for lynch mobs to run rampant, and for a government to support such mobs.

The writing is on the wall. The beef murders are just the beginning of a long and arduous process, wherein the final pretence of our justice institutions will collapse.

The only way out is to transform our outmoded institutions.

March 20, 2016

राजनीति, राजनय और क्रिकेट

[राज एक्सप्रेस में 19 मार्च 2016 को प्रकाशित]

भारत पाकिस्तान राजनैतिक सम्बन्ध और दोनों के बीच क्रिकेट दुनिया में सबसे अनिश्चित चीजों में से  माने जा सकते हैं. सिर्फ राजनैतिक सम्बन्ध और क्रिकेट इसलिए क्योंकि बाकी तमाम कुछ तो बदस्तूर चलता रहता है, फिर चाहे वह व्यापार हो या हॉकी जैसे बाकी खेल. इन लगातार जारी रहने वाली चीजों पर अक्सर दोनों तरफ के ‘राष्ट्रवादियों’ की नजर तक नहीं पहुँचती. 

वजह भी साफ़ है. न राजनीति और राजनय एक होते हैं न सत्ता और विपक्ष में होना एक जैसा. खासतौर पर तब जब आप आक्रामक विपक्ष की भूमिका निभाने की कोशिश में उन चीजों पर भी हमला करना शुरू कर दें जिनकी राजनय  में बहुत जरुरत पड़ती है- वे जिन्हें ट्रैक टू कूटनीति कहा जाता है, जिनमें आधिकारिक संवाद से इतर जनता का जनता से संवाद होता है, युद्ध की जगह दोनों पक्षों में खेल होते हैं, सांस्कृतिक आदान प्रदान होता है. 

भारत में अभी मौजूदा सरकार की एक बड़ी दिक्कत है. यह कि सीधे  राजनयिक संबंधों को छोड़े हीं, विपक्ष में रहते हुए ट्रैक टू संबंधों पर भी उसका रवैया इतना उग्र रहा है कि अब उनमें जरा सी भी ढिलाई उसके समर्थकों तक के गले नहीं उतरती. याद करिए कि भाजपा के युवा सांसद और भारतीय क्रिकेट के प्रशासकों में से एक अनुराग ठाकुर जमाने तक आतंक और क्रिकेट एक साथ कैसे हो सकते हैं पूछते रहे थे. फिर सत्ता में आने के बाद बाकी सम्बन्ध सुधारने के लिए क्रिकेट शुरू करने का हवाला देने पर भाजपा समर्थक ही उन पर किस तरह टूट पड़े थे और उन्हें दो दिन में बयान बदलने पर मजबूर कर दिया था. 

अभी टी-20 विश्वकप में पहले पाकिस्तान के शामिल होने और फिर किसी तरह वह मसला निपट जाने पर पाकिस्तानी अधिकारियों के आने न आने पर चल रहे विवाद की गुत्थियाँ दरअसल इसी जगह खुलती हैं. विपक्ष में रहते हुए आपने क्रिकेट को युद्ध के उल्टे ध्रुव की जगह खड़ा कर दिया, जबकि पता आपको भी था कि सत्ता में आकर युध्द करना आसान नहीं है. विपक्ष में आप पूछते रहे कि धमाकों के शोर के बीच बातचीत कैसे हो सकती है, स्टेडियमों में बजती तालियाँ तो छोड़ ही दें. फिर सत्ता में आने पर उसकी प्रतिध्वनि वापस आनी ही है. 

वह आई भी- पहले हिमाचल में कांग्रेस सरकार द्वारा धर्मशाला में मैच का विरोध करने वाले राष्ट्रभक्तों  बल प्रयोग करने से इनकार के रूप में, फिर पाकिस्तान के सुरक्षा चिंताओं के चलते न आने की घोषणा कर देने से. पहली ने पुराने राष्ट्रवादियों का पाखण्ड उजागर किया तो दूसरी ने वैश्विक राजनीति में भारत में आतंरिक सुरक्षा की स्थिति की छवि खराब की. सोचिये कि जहाँ रोज बम फटते हों उस पाकिस्तान का प्रतिनिधिमंडल भारत में उनकी टीम के आने पर सुरक्षा स्थिति का जायजा लेने आया हो यह कैसी शर्मिन्दा करने वाली बात है. 

खैर, ख़ुशी की बात यह है कि इन सारे संकटों के बीच, और उसके बाद पाकिस्तान के कुछ उच्चाधिकारियों को वीजा न देने के बाद खड़े हुए एक और राजनयिक संकट के बावजूद सही, टीम आई और खेल रही है. उससे भी ख़ुशी की बात यह होगी कि इस बार के अनुभव से सभी पक्ष सबक लें और समझें कि अंततः युद्ध युद्ध होता है और खेल खेल. क्रिकेट में सियाचिन में दोनों देशों के सैनिकों की शहादत घुसा देने से शहादतें रुक नहीं सकतीं, संबंधों को और असामान्य कर बढ़ा भले ही दें. 

बात साफ़ है. आप दम कितना भी भरें कि आतंक और बातचीत साथ नहीं चल सकती- आप अंततः संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ सम्मेलन में मिलने से शुरू कर सार्क सम्मेलन में नेपाल के पोखरा में बात करने को मजबूर होते ही हैं. यह मजबूरी कोई बुरी बात भी नहीं क्योंकि आतंक रोकने के लिए भी बातचीत करनी ही पड़ती है. बेहतर होगा कि अब, इस सरकार के समय भी भारत पाकिस्तान मैच होता देखकर सभी पक्ष कुछ सीखें और आगे से अंतर्राष्ट्रीय राजनय और देश की चुनावी राजनीति को अलग रखें. युद्ध किसी का भला नहीं करता, उल्टा सबसे ज्यादा नुकसान उन सैनिकों का करता है जिनके नाम पर क्रिकेट खेलने से मना किया जाता है. क्रिकेट किसी का नुकसान नहीं करता- हाँ शायद संबंधों में थोड़ी ऊष्मा लाकर सैनिकों को जरा देर की सही राहत जरुर दे सकता है.

March 19, 2016

Bail To Umar Khalid And Anirban Welcome, But Questions On Justice Remain

[This is an AHRC Article.
Republished in Counter Currents.]

The bail finally granted to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya is welcome. Despite the media gaze, it took almost a month for the students, who are accused of sedition on flimsy grounds, to be released. This showcases the nature of Indian Magistracy, and yet the repeated rejection of their bail plea would not shock anyone for whom the Indian judicial system is old hat.

Curtailing arbitrary use and abuse of police detention powers may be the raison d'être of magistracy in a rule of law jurisdiction, but the Indian Magistracy does not bother about such trifles, operating as it does within a parallel universe, where the rule of law is an empty mantra.

Bail, not jail, until absolutely necessary, to stop the accused from committing another offence, or tampering with evidence, or intimidating witnesses in the ongoing case, is a concept that may find favour and unanimity in an accountable and mature justice system.

In India, where status is quo, the Magistracy is far more united in preserving impunity and non-transparency. Jail is the default factory setting, and the privilege of bail is granted to ensure some remain more equal than others.
But, how could this be so? Lets track back.

In common law, which the Indian judicial system descends from, the idea of magistracy emerged entwined with the idea of citizenship and the rule of law. The magistracy grew to fill the need for an institution to stop arbitrarily curtailment of citizen freedoms via detention.

The celebrated Magna Carta recognised a free man’s right to justice and fair trial as early as in 1215:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”
The phrase “Except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land” deserves special attention. Whatever legal trickery the prosecution may employ, condemning someone to serve time in jail as an undertrial cannot qualify as “a lawful judgment”, can it?

And, yet here rests India, and its majestic Magistracy, ensuring that 68% of all its inmates lodged in jails are under-trials,as per the latest data released by the Republic’s official crime records keeper, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Before we turn to consider the horrendous implications of this statistics, lets dwell on the related raw numbers some more. The total inmates in Indian jails, as on 31 December 2014, were 4,18,536. Of these, only 1,31,517 (31.4%) were convicts. The remaining 2,82,879 (67.6% of total jail inmates) were under-trials. And of these under-trials,over 40% are jailed for more than six months and 65% for more than three months before being granted bail.

And, this disturbing reality has been trending! Records show the percentage of under-trial prisoners languishing in jail for over three months has risen from 62.1% in 2013 to 65.2% in 2014. In 2014, around 34.8% of under-trials were detained for up to 3 months, while 3,540 of them (1.3 %) were made to rot in jails for more than 5 years.

But that’s not all. A total of 13,95,121 under-trials were released in 2014, i.e. after being acquitted or after having already served, as under-trials, the sentence awarded to them. In other words, a huge number of under-trials serve the maximum sentence possible for their alleged crimes, irrespective of being found guilt or not guilty by the court’s final judgment.

So, the gargantuan backlog and its implications is not the only farcical nightmare in statistics inhabited by the Indian Magistracy. The rank injustice meted to citizens in this under-trial injustice system rubbishes the most basic rights of all people who reside in the Republic. Justice delayed is justice denied may be an active rule of law maxim in the rest of the world; in the world’s largest democracy,it is not even a hollow mantra; it is the darkest of humour.

And while splashing in this well of black humor, let us peer out and consider the words of eminent Jurists and legal theorists A.V. Dicey and William Blackstone.
Dicey termed all arrests illegal until proven otherwise and placed the burden of proving its legality with the arresting authority. He said:

"The right to personal liberty as understood in England means in substance a person's right not to be subjected to imprisonment, arrest, or other physical coercion in any manner that does not admit of legal justification. That anybody should suffer physical restraint is in England prima facie illegal and can be justified (speaking in very general terms) on two grounds only, that is to say, either because the prisoner or person suffering restraint is accused of some offence and must be brought before the courts to stand his trial, or because he has been duly convicted of some offence and must suffer punishment for it".

While Blackstone offered his wisdom in the following words:

“All presumptive evidence of felony should be admitted cautiously; for the law holds it better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent party suffer”.

Emotions aside, what do these words evoke? They offer a clear understanding that our Magistrates, who trace their legal lineage from the common law heritage of Dicey and Blackstone, are jailing citizens by rote without even assessing the legality or illegality of the arrest. They are overseeing tremendous injustice by not fulfilling the most basic responsibility, the responsibility for which their gowns and tie-wigs are respected. Like automatons they keep jailing those devoid of political and economic power as ours jails get more and more overcrowded with more and more and under-trials sent on judicial remand, and with these under-trials then often being housed along with hardened criminals, punished and condemned without their guilt ascertained or the legality of their arrest questioned.

But, leave aside wise white men in England, our Magistracy just loves ignoring the Guidelines and Judgments of our own Supreme Court as well. In its Guidelines, our apex Court encourages bail, not jail, for all but the most hardened criminals.
The Indian Supreme Court offers adjudication on bail pleas in two broad categories: first, in alleged crimes carrying a maximum sentence of 7 years or less, where it has mostly encouraged bail over detention; second, in alleged crimes carrying a sentence of over 7 years and extendable up to life imprisonment and death sentence, where it has again allowed for bail, save for two clearly conditions, stated in Section 437 in The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The Section 437 denies bail in two circumstances:

a) if there appear reasonable grounds for believing that the accused are guilty of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and
b) if such offence is a cognizable offence and the accused have been previously convicted of an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for seven years or more, or they have been previously convicted on two or more occasions of a non-bailable and cognizable offence.

But what Dicey, Blackstone, Supreme Court Guidelines, or Criminal Procedure Code ever came in the way of an Indian Magistrate who is expert and deciding on bail or jail on the basis of the power of the person standing before the court.
Now, consider the case of the JNU students accused of sedition, a crime in the second category, i.e. one punishable with over seven years in prison. Even a cursory look at the case demonstrates they cannot be denied bail under Section 437.

First and foremost, the investigations so far have shown up no evidence to prove the police allegations that the students shouted anti-India slogans, and this is corroborated by the University’s own enquiry.

Secondly, even if they did shout anti-India slogans, the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly held that shouting anti-India slogans does not amount to sedition by itself. It can only be considered seditious if it is accompanied by incitement to violence or with engagement in violence.

The most notable of these decisions arrived in Balwant Singh and Anr vs. State of Punjab (Criminal Appeal 266 of 1985). A charge of sedition was slapped on the accused in that case for a similar offence, i.e. of shouting slogans against India and shouting Khalistan Zindabaad(Long live Khalistan) and Raj Karega Khalsa (Khalsa will rule now onwards).

The Court dismissed the charges arguing the following:

“It appears to us that the raising some slogan only a couple of times by the two lonesome appellants, which neither evoked any response nor any reaction from anyone in the public can neither attract the provisions of Section 124A or Section 153A IPC. Some more overt act was required to bring home the charge to the two appellants, who are Government servants. The police officials exhibited lack of maturity and more of sensitivity in arresting the appellants for raising the slogans - which arrest – and act the casual raising of one or two slogans – could have created a law and order situation, keeping in view the tense situation prevailing on the date of the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi. In situations like that, over sensitiveness sometimes is counterproductive and can result is inviting trouble. Raising of some lonesome slogans, a couple of times by two individuals, without anything more, did not constitute any threat to the Government of India as by law established not could the same give rise to feelings of enmity or hatred among different communities or religious or other groups.”

In this context, clearly, the alleged JNU student sloganeering was not coupled with incitement or violence, and was therefore not seditious.

Thirdly, the Delhi Police is yet to find the actual persons who shouted the slogans, and they have interrogated the two students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya already.

Finally, and bizarrely, in denying bail to the students for this long, till today, the learned judges seem to have failed to take notice of the Delhi High Court granting bail to Kanhaiya Kumar, their co-accused who is the President of the JNU Students Union.

If this is the state of affairs in a case under sustained public scrutiny, one can surmise the fate of citizens enmeshed in other cases, especially the poor and marginalised, who often struggle to even get representation, forget about media attention.

The only temporary respite from the injustice by rote practised by the Indian magistracy if is the Supreme Court were to take notice and action, hauling up magistrates, who have become inclined to sending citizens to both police and judicial remand without any deliberation.

Devising guidelines to record the reasons for denial of bail in detail could be a start. The Court could do this in the way it disallowed blind arrests in alleged crimes carrying a sentence of seven years or less in Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar &Anr on (Criminal appeal no. 1277 of 2014). The Order prohibited arrest of the accused in such cases without the arresting authority going through a nine-point checklist, and even then only after a magistrate is satisfied with the investigation officer’s justification for the detention.

The Order also instructed the magistrate, in turn, to put on record reasons for the same, and held that failing to do so will invite departmental action and amount to contempt of court for the investigating officer. The Supreme Court of India may do justice a service if it were to issue such a guideline to stop magistrates from denying bail and sending the accused to jail, even after the police remand is over.
If this doesn’t work, it is only a radical re-engineering of India’s entire criminal justice system that can change India from a “no bail, jail” republic for the majority, to a jurisdiction that ensures a common citizen justice and freedom by default. And, we can’t leave such an important task to anyone else. We have to rebuild the system we wish to inhabit. Until we do so, we are but doomed so suffer what we have inherited in all its hair-brained whimsy.

March 16, 2016

Frivolity Indian Judiciary’s real crisis, not backlog

[This is an AHRC Article.
Republished in Counter Currents.]

The Indian Judiciary is facing a crisis of credibility, which is a challenge from within. These are the words of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, delivered on March 13 at an event marking the 150th anniversary of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. In his speech, the Chief Justice went on to blame this crisis on the backlog of cases in Indian courts.

No doubt, the numbers are a horror story.

As many as 59,468 cases are pending before the Supreme Court, as of 19 February 2016, as per the Court’s own data. Of these, 1,216 date back over 10 years. The high courts have a collective pendency of 4,153,957 cases, with 777,630 of them pending for more than a decade. And, the lower judiciary, comprising district and subordinate courts, has 26,488,405 cases pending, with 2,043,737 of them pending for over a decade. In other words, around 2% of total cases pending with the Supreme Court are a decade old, with the corresponding percentage for high courts being 5.34% and district and subordinate courts being 7.71%.

Despite these numbers, is pendency the cause of a “crisis of credibility” in the Judiciary?A closer analysis would show that thinking so would be akin to missing the forest for the trees. Certainly, having such a vast backlog can by itself create a sense of lethargy or futility in some. However, the pendency is a symptom, not the cause of the malaise that plagues Indian judicial institutions. The learned judge is mistaken.

Behind the bloated statistics of backlog is the story of both willful criminal mismanagement and of rank inequality in society. The numbers are testament to sheer impunity and delays allowed for the rich and powerful, false or frivolous cases to enmesh the marginalised, unfortunate, or political opposition, and the sheer waste of human life in order to maintain status quo. Such a gargantuan backlog persists because the judicial system allows itself to be abused by those with the means of doing so, and shuts its doors to the poor and marginalised seeking redress.

This was the nature of the judicial system introduced under the East India Company to serve its growing financial transactions, and it remains so unto this day. Dependence or independence, poor judgements or quality jurisprudence, makes no difference. The fundamental core of the institution has remained the same: vested interests with the means have been allowed to keep Indian judicial institutions as a cruel joke. And, they have kept these institutions ticking-over with their pranks, while ensuring denial of justice to the needy.

Examples from any time period in the last 200 years would showcase this.

Let’s consider some recent ones.

Last month, Janardhan Goud, a lawyer, got a Metropolitan magistrate in Hyderabad to instruct the police to file a sedition case against 9 people and to place the matter for hearing in less than a fortnight. His argument was simple. According to Mr. Goud, these nine men had taken part in seditious activity because they had visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Campus in New Delhi – a place that is thousands of kilometres from Hyderabad –despite being aware that the Delhi Police had registered a case against the University’sStudents Union President on the charge of sedition. They had “knowingly” supported him and hence it “amounted to sedition” by association.

The 9 people include Indian National Congress’ Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Communist Party of India leader and Member of Parliament D. Raja, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and Member of Parliament Sitaram Yechury, and the JNU Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar.

That the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly held that even shouting anti-India slogans does not amount to sedition until it is accompanied by incitement to violence or violence, means nothing to this court. How could a metropolitan magistrate let such distant legalities come in the way of his quest to deliver justice to an aggrieved Mr. Goud? How could the learned judge also let the vast number of cases likely pending in the judge’s court, come in the way of delaying justice in such an important and urgent issue when political opposition is roaming free, meeting students? After all, justice delayed is justice denied.

Such cases, based on 5 minutes of fame petitions, are not aberrations. They are routine. Just to get an idea of the nature and scale of this routine madness, consider that, another court, this time in Allahabad, 700 kilometres away from JNU, accepted another similar petition seeking the trial of Rahul Gandhi. Again, Mr. Gandhi was argued to be “guilty of treason” by virtue of extending support to jailed JNU students, and thus liable to be tried under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. Undeterred by whatever pendency he might have in his court, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sushil Kumar admitted the petition and ordered quick recording of statements under Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Alas, it is not only alleged “anti-national” acts that cause the tender sentiments of Indians to be hurt and have them rushing to the nearest court across the country to find remedy. In 2005, Tamil actress Khushboo found herself facing 22 criminal cases in various courts of Tamil Nadu, and in one as far as Indore, Madhya Pradesh. And, what was her alleged offence? In an interview, speaking about premarital sex, she had advised safety and precaution.

The cases were ultimately all scrapped by the Supreme Court in a historic judgement asserting that one of the paramount duties of the Judiciary is to ensure that no innocent person should be subject to prosecution and humiliation on the basis of false and wholly untenable complaints. But, what Supreme Court verdict could deter learned judges across the land?

Painting the entire judiciary with one brush would be a mistake, however. There are notable exceptions. A Chief Judicial Magistrate in Sitamarhi, Bihar, clearly decided to follow the Supreme Court Order to save innocent persons with religious zeal. He saw it in fact as a go ahead to even accept cases against non-persons, deities. Recently, the Magistrate duly accepted a petition against Lord Rama for “ill-treating” Goddess Sita, by banishing her to live in exile in a forest with no suitable justification for doing so! Whether the Magistrate’s Court is bursting at the seam with a backlog or not, at least he does have the will to address past injustices.

In all seriousness, is this not closer to the cause of the malaise that plagues Indian justice institutions on a daily basis? That those with the means to fool around with the courts are being allowed to do so with no check is the bane of the Judiciary, and thereby the nation. There is a flip side of this same coin as well. And, this is about how the same courts shut their doors to poor people seeking redress and justice.

There is no dearth in examples of cases involving disputes of small parcels of land running on for decades through episodic and piecemeal trials. These cases can make the person wronged spend much more on the court case than even the price of the land. What is not as well known is how the Indian justice system treats those who do not even have the means to survive.

The withdrawal of over one-lakh cases slapped on tribal people by the government of Jharkhand in 2009 is a telling example. The withdrawal was ostensibly to win the confidence of the tribal people lest they join the Maoists. Not many batted an eyelid at this withdrawal, even those well aware of the backlog problem in the Indian Judiciary. If these over one-lakh cases were so unimportant that they could be so easily withdrawn in a government order, why were they even filed against tribal people in the first case?

A majority of these withdrawn cases fall into two categories: “stealing wood” and other minor forest produce and “encroaching” on forest land. Yes, the tribal populations were booked for stealing what is legitimately theirs for generations and for encroaching on forest lands, on which they have lived for millennia, with the help of colonial laws that are still in the books, once promulgated so the colonialists could harvest India’s forests. In such cases, poor tribals have languished in jails following arrest, unable to afford a lawyer or pay the meager bail amounts, or even communicate with the outside world once in jail.

India’s jails are packed with such unfortunate under-trials. Poor people arrested on the smallest misdemeanour who do not have the political connections or money who can languish for years, for longer than the longest possible sentences for their alleged crimes; for the fortunate, on the other hand, there are innumerable ways out of jail, even post conviction.

Each of the criminal justice institutionsthe police, prosecutions, judiciary, and prisons – have been kept Janus faced, and allows for the entire judicial apparatus to be used and abused depending on the power of the persons involved.

It is this maintenance of the status quo, i.e. maintenance of rank inequality that the Judiciary does expertly, with total impunity. There is no check on frivolous petitions that get converted into cases, by those close to the Court or judge in question or by departments of the State, or by those seeking to please the Executive by harassing the opposition.

There is a “crisis of credibility” for sure. But, the crisis is not in the numbers. It is in what the numbers represent about the past, and about what continues in routine today. The Chief Justice would do well to stop frivolous cases from accumulating now. However, nothing short of a radical re-engineering of India’s justice institutions will solve the crisis, to create a system where the Judiciary itself stops violating the rights and dignity of the people, and equality before law can be enforced and followed.

March 12, 2016

Fleeing Mallya Rakes Up The Deep Rot In Indian Democracy

[This is an AHRC Statement
Republished in Counter Currents.]
An ominous open tweet threatening to expose “media bosses” would perhaps be the last thing to expect from member of Indian Parliament and media honcho, even if this is someone who is under investigation for “defrauding” publicly owned IDBI bank of INR Rupees 900 Crore.

This is all the more surprising given that this corporate grandstander is Vijay Mallya, the ‘liquor baron’, who has apparently been allowed to flee the country despite being under major investigation and despite a lookout notice in case he tried to escape.

Earlier, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had requested a consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) to declare their loans worth around 10,000 crore from taxpayer’s money to Mallya as fraud.

However, the same CBI, it appears (as suggested in media reports like this one),changed the nature of the look out notice against Mallya within one month of issuing the same. In October 2015 the CBI had asked the Bureau of Immigration (BoI) to detain Mallya if he were to try and leave. A month later, the agency changed the notice, asking BoI to merely inform them about his departure and travel plans.

It is no surprise that the high-flying Liquor Baron has still some support from the powers that be, even when his “King of good times” Airlines has come crashing down.

Mallya reportedly left the country the day the banks moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in Bangalore, seeking to impound Mallya's passport, getting him arrested, securing the lenders' first right on the pay out from Diageo (the British liquor major Diageo has confirmed paying Vijay Mallya $40 mn as part of a severance deal in which Mallya resigned as the chairman of its Indian subsidiary United Spirits Ltd and promised not to compete with it in spirits business for 5 years). The banks have also demanded a full disclosure of Mallya’s assets in the country and abroad.

Yet, there is still some curiosity to know who helped tip-off Mallya and who made the CBI change the nature of the lookout notice. Incidentally, the CBI works directly under the Prime Minister’s Office, through the Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. And, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has retained the latter portfolio. This fact may or may not reduce Mr. Modi’s no tolerance to corruption posturing, something for which he keeps congratulating himself.

The situation also calls for some comparisons and contrasts. Consider the way the government of India and its agencies have handled such brazen loot of taxpayers’ money by the tycoon, and consider how they have been dealing with the paltry loans taken by the farmers fighting to eke out survival, amidst an upsurge of farmer suicides.

There is no dearth of reports documenting high-handed recovery methods, including the employment of goons to beat up ‘defaulting’ farmers and insult them while recovering loans ranging from Rupees 10,000 for crops to a few lakhs for equipment like tractors. Such recoveries also figure repeatedly as immediate causes in ever increasing farmers’ suicides in the Indian countryside.

Does the Indian constitution give guarantee to life with dignity only to corporate tycoons, not farmers? There is in fact a ready example to suggest that perhaps it does. Consider the question of the wife of a Tamil Nadu farmer who got beaten up by the police for defaulting on his loan!

However, of all the real and surreal that has been exposed by Mr. Mallya’s flight, the gravest is the message in the tweet of Mr. Vijay Mallya.

He tweeted the following today:

“Let media bosses not forget help, favours, accommodation that I have provided over several years which are documented. Now lies to gain TRP?” [sic]

It is this tweet that makes the rot in the body politic of the country so obvious. The corruption plaguing the political class and corporations of the country has been notorious for long. The only doubts possible in this regard were if there was not even one single honest person/entity among them.

The onus of fighting corruption in these circumstances of sheer absence of a redress mechanism in the form of public institutions has been with the free media. Media, for its part, had largely stood true to its role of being a watchdog, by courageously taking on scams that somehow slipped out of murky files maintained by corporate bosses, politicians, and their minnows. 

And then, the rot reached there as well. The corporatisation of media, in the form of big money pumped into the sector by corporations, started the process. It soon led to the stage where big corporations started buying out media houses themselves and thus doing away with whatever little possibility there was left to reporting their shady deals.

The rot is epitomised by the infamous Niira Radia tapes, conversations of the corporate lobbyist with powerful editors, reporters, industrialists, and politicians recorded by the Income Tax department for its investigations. The tapes laid bare the connections that existed among the worlds of politics, business, and journalism. They exposed how corporations went to the extent of arm-twisting the government of India and Parliament by using journalists and put their people in the crucial ministries. The revelations shook the country and exposed the underbelly of its media. The Supreme Court had then taken note of the development and ordered the CBI to investigate "criminality" in 14 issues that were identified by the investigating agency after it went through the transcripts of the Radia tapes.

Then the trail went cold, with CBI finding "no criminality" in any matter by mid-2015. The agency went on to close the case by arguing that “no favour was extended to any company by any official as suggested in the conversations” and terming the claims made by Radia as mere boasts. Yet, it was only the case that got closed. The reputation of the India media as a whole had been served its most serious blow, quite unlike other earlier lesser improprieties by this or that media house.

Now Vijay Mallya’s threat of exposing the favours, irrespective of the truth, arrives in this wake, and is significant. Radia tapes and the paid news controversy have already compromised the credibility of the Indian media. The onslaught of corporations favouring a particular political group, damaged it even more, and continues to damage it given many of them having become the voice of the incumbent regime. Proof of them having been taking favours from such a controversial business tycoon may well become the proverbial last nail.
The demise of a free and honest media in a country marred with criminally corrupt public institutions does not augur well for its future. Lack of redress mechanism have rusted its foundations enough, a media unable to at least point this out can only bring a collapse.

March 11, 2016

अर्नब गोस्वामी, सुधीर चौधरी लें कन्हैया पर हमले की जिम्मेदारी, हमलावर को दें इनाम

बिलकुल भी प्यारे नहीं सुधीर चौधरी और अर्नब गोस्वामी,  
खुश तो बहुत होंगे आज आप दोनों। बढ़िया वजह जो है आपके पास. अब राष्ट्रवाद के आपके वाले अतिहिंसक और दकियानूसी विकृत स्वरूप के स्वयंभू झंडाबरदार रोज रोज तो आपके आह्वान पर लोगों को मारने काटने निकल नहीं पड़ते। न न, मैं जानता हूँ कि आप दोनों ने कभी जेएनयू छात्रसंघ अध्यक्ष कन्हैया कुमार पर शारीरिक हमले का आह्वान नहीं किया। आप तो हमेशा उससे जरा कम पर ही रुक गए. करते भी कैसे, आप दोनों शातिर लोग ठहरे (तारीफ़ ही समझियेगा), आपको ज्यादातर पता रहता है कि भीड़ को गैरकानूनी हिंसा के लिए, असहमतों की हत्या तक कर देने के लिए भड़काते हुए भी खुद कैसे कानून के दायरे में रहा जाय! ज्यादातर इसलिए कहा क्योंकि सुधीर चौधरी कई बार चूक जाते हैं, खुद वसूली के चक्कर में तिहाड़ तक रह आये हैं. 

आप दोनों बहुत खुश होंगे कि आपकी बात अब और दूर पहुँचने लगी है, इस सेना उस सेना, इस दल उस दल में संगठित गुंडों तक सिमटी नहीं है. आप खुश होंगे कि अब आपकी बात तन्हा हिंसक भी सुनने लगे हैं. ऐसा न होता तो कोई विजय चौधरी गाजियाबाद से चल कर 'देशद्रोही' कन्हैया को सबक सिखाने जेएनयू तक क्यों चला आता. अब आपको इससे क्या मतलब कि कन्हैया 'देशद्रोही' नहीं है; काफी सांसद और विधायकों वाली, संविधान में आस्था रखने वाली कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी ऑफ़ इंडिया का सदस्य होते हुए हो भी नहीं सकता। आपको इससे भी क्या ही मतलब कि उसे अदालत से 'देशद्रोह' जैसे संगीन मामले में इसलिए जमानत मिली है क्योंकि दिल्ली पुलिस के पास उसके खिलाफ भारतविरोधी नारेबाजी करने का कोई सबूत नहीं था. और जब आपको इससे मतलब नहीं है तो इससे क्या होगा कि सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने कई बार कहा कि देशविरोधी नारे लगाना भी देशद्रोह नहीं है अगर उसके साथ हिंसा करने या भड़काने का मामला न जुड़ा हो! 

जी, आपसे यह जानने की उम्मीद भी बेमानी होगी पर हम ठहरे आदतन भले आदमी तो बताये देते हैं. सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने दसियों मामलों में यही फैसला सुनाया है- कुछ के नाम गिन लीजिये जिनमें सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने बार बार आईपीसी 124 ए के मामलों में यही अवस्थिति ली है तो प्रमुख होंगे- केदारनाथ सिंह विरुद्ध बिहार मामले में 20 जनवरी 1962 का निर्णय (1962 AIR 955), बलवंत सिंह विरुद्ध पंजाब मामले में 1 मार्च 1995 (Appeal (crl.) 266 of 1985) का निर्णय, अरूप भुइंया विरुद्ध आसाम में 3 फ़रवरी 2011 का निर्णय (CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(s). 889 OF 2007) और श्री इंद्रा दास विरुद्ध आसाम में 10 फ़रवरी 2011 का निर्णय ((Criminal Appeal NO.1383 OF 2007). 

इनमें से बलवंत सिंह विरुद्ध पंजाब मामला इसलिए बहुत महत्वपूर्ण बन जाता है क्योंकि उसमें भी दो लोगों पर भारत के खिलाफ खालिस्तान समर्थक नारेबाजी करने का आरोप था. उस मामले में सर्वोच्च न्यायालय का निर्णय देखें- (अनुवाद मेरा) 

“हमें लगता है कि दो लोगों द्वारा नारे लगाना जिनका जनता पर न कोई असर पड़ा न प्रतिक्रिया हुई न सेक्शन 124 ए का आरोप आमंत्रित करता है न सेक्शन 153 के तहत. इन अभियोगों को लागू करने के लिए सरकारी कर्मचारी वादियों द्वारा और स्पष्ट हरकतों की मांग करता है. वादियों को गिरफ्तार करने में पुलिस अधिकारियों ने अपरिपक्वता दिखाई है और उनकी यह कार्यवाही कानून और व्यवस्था को बिगाड़ सकती थी, खासतौर पर इसलिए कि श्रीमती इंदिरा गाँधी की हत्या वाले उस दिन माहौल पहले से ही बेहद तनावपूर्ण था. ऐसी परिस्थितियों में अति संवेदनशीलता दिखाना प्रतिकूल प्रभाव पैदा करना और संकट को आमंत्रित करना है. दो अकेले लोगों द्वारा कुछ नारे लगाना, बिना उससे ज्यादा कुछ किये हुए, भारत सरकार को कोई खतरा नहीं पैदा करता क्योंकि स्थापित विधि में यह अलग समुदायों, धर्मों या अन्य समूहों के बीच शत्रुता या घृणा की भावनाएं नहीं पैदा कर सकता.” 

मैं जानता हूँ, अर्नब गोस्वामी और सुधीर चौधरी, कि खतरे में पड़ने के आदती राष्ट्रवाद के आप जैसे स्वयंभू ठेकेदारों को इससे कोई फ़र्क़ नहीं पड़ेगा। आप तो पुलिस, अभियोजन और न्यायाधीश तीनों का साकार रूप ठहरे। और आपने फर्जी वीडियो, दमदार फेफड़े और बेवकूफ भक्तों के सहारे कन्हैया को दोषसिद्ध करार दिया तो करार दिया! अब दोषी करार दिया तो सजा भी देनी थी, सो हिंसक, हत्यारी उन्मादित भीड़ भी छोड़ दी, कन्हैया के पीछे, और साथियों के पीछे। 

कायदे से अब आपको आजके हमले के जिम्मेदारी लेते हुए हमलावर को ईनाम भी देना चाहिए, आपका राष्ट्रवाद संतुष्ट होगा। आपको उस हमलावर को अपने न्यूज़ऑवर (चाहे जितने घंटे का ऑवर होता हो आपका) में मुख्य अतिथि के बतौर बुलाना भी चाहिए। और हाँ, आपको अब तक इस्लामिस्ट आतंकियों के पश्चिमी देशों में सिमटे रहे अकेले भेड़िये हमलों को हिन्दू फासीवादी हत्यारों के रूप में हिन्दुस्तान ले आने के लिए खुद को बधाई भी देनी चाहिए। ऐसी बड़ी उपलब्धि हासिल करना हंसी खेल थोड़े है! 

लगे हाथ आपको अपनी प्यारे मोदी सरकार से पुलिस, अभियोजन और न्यायपालिका को भंग करके उनके अधिकार आपके द्वारा उन्मादित किये गए स्वयंभू राष्ट्रवादियों को दे देने की मांग भी करनी चाहिए। वैसे उसमें खतरा है, वे केवल आपसे असहमतों पर नहीं टिके रहेंगे, वे आपके लिए भी लौटेंगे और बहुत जल्द लौटेंगे। क्या है कि जिनकी भावनाओं को आहत होने की आदत पड़ जाय वे वजहें खोज लेते हैं. और हम असहमतों को पाकिस्तान भेज देने के बाद उन्हें आहत करने के लिए आप ही बचेंगे न. फिर वजहें तो आप भी बहुत देते हैं, यौनिक अल्पसंख्यकों- माने समलैंगिकता से लेकर बीफ तक पर अपने स्टैंड से. अभी बस उनका ध्यान हम पर है, तब तक मजा ले लीजिये फिर तो वे आपकी भी फ्रिज में क्या है ये तफ्तीश करने आएंगे ही. मेरी शुभकामना है कि तब आप खुद को उनसे बचा सकें। 

यह होने तक आजके हमले पर खुश होने के साथ उसके असफल हो जाने पर थोड़ा दुखी भी हो लीजिये वैसे, और अगले, बेहतर हमले की तैयारी करिये। मुझे लगता है आपको मुश्किल नहीं होगी। जेएनयू वालों के आदतन जवाब- हिंसक हमलावर को पीट पीट के लुगदी बना देने की जगह उसे प्यार से बैठाकर पानी पिलाने से और हमलावरों की हिम्मत भी बढ़ी होगी। आह्वान करके तो देखिये। हाँ आज वाले को प्राइम टाइम में बुलाकर इनाम देना न भूलियेगा, आपकी टीआरपी बढ़ेगी। 

आपका बिलकुल भी नहीं संघद्रोही 
अविनाश पाण्डेय समर 

Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary must claim responsibility for attack on Kanhaiya Kumar, reward the attacker.

Not so dear Sudhir Chaudhary and Arnab Goswami, I am sure that both of you would be very happy today. You have a big reason for the happiness, after all. It is not everyday that self-designated champions of a very violent and bigoted mutant of nationalism find someone responding to their call. Yes, I know that both of you did not really call for an attack, a physical one I mean, on Kanhaiya Kumar, president of Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union (JNUSU). You are sharp people; you know how to stop short of that, just short of that I mean. You know how to remain mostly on the right side of law, even while unleashing outlaw crowds to kill the dissenters; with the notable exceptions from Sudhir Chaudhary with stints in Tihar jail to boast about.

You must be happy for your increased reach, it is not only lumpens organized in this or that Senas or Dals who carry out your orders. You must be happy for your message is spreading to loners, as it appears for now, and finding Vijay Chaudhary, a Ghaziabad resident travelling all the way to JNU to teach ‘traitor’ Kanhaiya a lesson. Never mind the fact that Kanhaiya is not a traitor. Never mind, also, the fact that as a member of Communist Party of India, a political party that has often been in power and has MPs in parliament, he cannot ever be. Never mind the fact that a court of law has released him on bail as Delhi Police could not offer any evidence of Kanhaiya shouting anti-India slogans, irrespective of the fact that Supreme Court of India has repeatedly held that even shouting them would not attract sedition charges unless followed by indulgence in or incitement to violence.

Yes, Supreme Court has held that repeatedly, in Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar (1962 AIR 955), Balwant Singh and Anr vs. State of Punjab (Criminal Appeal 266 of 1985), Arup Bhuyan vs. State of Assam (Criminal Appeal no(s). 889 of 2007) and Sri Indra Das vs. State Of Assam (Criminal Appeal 1383 of 2007) cases for instance. One of these cases involved a case exactly similar to one on JNU comrades- of shouting anti-India and pro Khalistan slogans that too on the day the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed. The court had observed the following in that case-

It appears to us that the raising some slogan only a couple of times by the two lonesome appellants, which neither evoked any response nor any reaction from anyone in the public can neither attract the provisions of Section 124A or Section 153A IPC. Some more overt act was required to bring home the charge to the two appellants, who are Government servants. The police officials exhibited lack of maturity and more of sensitivity in arresting the appellants for raising the slogans - which arrest – and act the casual raising of one or two slogans – could have created a law and order situation, keeping in view the tense situation prevailing on the date of the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi. In situations like that, over sensitiveness sometimes is counterproductive and can result is inviting trouble. Raising of some lonesome slogans, a couple of times by two individuals, without anything more, did not constitute any threat to the Government of India as by law established nor could the same give rise to feelings of enmity or hatred among different communities or religious or other groups.”

I am certain that you, Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary, would have none of it as you are self-designated custodians of the nation and its increasingly vulnerable feelings. You are the police, prosecution and judge all rolled into one.  And you had declared Kanhaiya guilty on the basis of doctored videos, insinuations and what not. You had unleashed the lynch mob and set it after him, others.

You may now claim the responsibility for the attack and reward the attacker as well. You should make him mascot of your prime time shows, news hour (howsoever long that hour could be) and DNA. You may also think about congratulating yourselves for bringing lone wolf attacks, largely confined to self-radicalised Islamists in the West, to India now.

You should call upon the government of India to disband its police, prosecution and judicial institutions and delegate their powers to radicalized by you self-styled custodians of nationalism. It is just that they would come back to get you too, and not before long. Their sentiments are much more vulnerable than yours’ after all, and can get hurt by your positions too- like that on sexual minorities. I wish you the best to survive then.

Till then, you should be a little sad for the failure of attack and organize a better one. It would not be difficult, I guess as the very typical JNU response- of not beating the attacker to pulp, must have emboldened many other lone wolfs nationalised by you.