Author: Raiot Collective

We are many, we are one.

February 10, 2019 /

Section 124A on Indian Penal Code on Sedition was introduced by the British colonial government in 1870 when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence. It was one of the many draconian laws enacted to stifle any voices of dissent at that time. Mahatma Gandhi was prescient in recognising the fundamental threat it provided to democracy when he called it the ‘prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.’

February 9, 2019 /

On Sixth February 2019, Mr. Kiran Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs of India, quietly introduced The Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, 2019. This bill which seeks to amend Article 280 of  and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in order to increase the financial and executive powers of the ten autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the Northeast…
Raiot brings you the text of the amendment as well as a short 10 point cheat sheet on it including the sad case of Meghalaya which will lose substantial amount of funds meant for Rural Development.”

January 27, 2019 /

The idea that Indian Constitution would include various provisions like the Fifth and Sixth Schedule to protect the rights of the Tribal indigenous people was not palatable to many non tribal members of the Constituent Assembly. The debates on the question of Tribal rights and autonomy are therefore quite fascinating to read to understand the attitudes of racial and cultural superiority that the plains dwelling Indian harboured toward the tribal people. As Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri put it, “We want to assimilate the tribal people. We were not given that opportunity so far.” But these ‘racist’ comments were eloquently challenged and dismantled by Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy, a Khasi  and Mr. Jaipal Singh, a Munda. Their historic speeches to the Assembly need revisiting again because the attitudes they challenged and the questions they raised have not yet become history.

January 23, 2019 /

Much talked about, two volumes of “Curse of Unregulated Coal Mining in Meghalaya” were put together by a motley group of activists, researchers dismayed by the murderous attack on Kong Agnes Kharshiing & Amita Sangma by coal mine owners, traders and transporters of East Jaintia Hills. Agnes & Amita had been tracing the source of illegal coal mining in violation of National Green Tribunal orders imposing an interim ban on environmentally destructive, unscientific rat hole coal mining in Meghalaya. The first report was submitted to Mr. Colin Gonsalves, who had been appointed Amicus Curea by the Supreme Court in the various appeals challenging the interim ban on unscientific and unregulated ‘rat hole’ mining in Meghalaya imposed by the National Green Tribunal. This first report, subtitled as “How Unregulated & Illegal Coal Mining in Meghalaya is Destroying Environment and Dispossessing Tribal People of their Land and Livelihood” examines the claims about livelihood and tribal autonomy made by Coal Mine owners and Government of Meghalaya. The second report looks at how unregulated & illegal Coal Mining in Meghalaya continued even after the orders of National Green Tribunal & Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. 

December 21, 2018 /

Mr. Bashan J Laloo, SP(Traffic) of Shillong needs a better press agent. Rather than defend his ‘subduing’ action which resulted in fractured hand of Manavon Massar, Mr. Laloo should go back to his textbooks. Even some of those who want to balance the story of a ‘Musician with Broken Fingers’, need to know that no traffic offence or for that matter any offence allows the Police to inflict violence on any person. We will repeat for you balanced heads – no traffic offence or for that matter any offence allows the Police to inflict violence on any person. Even Manavon Massar agrees that he had violated traffic laws by overtaking and he should have been punished accordingly. But Mr. B J Laloo reads some other rule book where sticks do the work rather than fines. So to help Mr. BJL (and you loyal readers), we provide you with short guide to punishments and fines for traffic violations.

November 2, 2018 /

Initially, the media attributed this heinous act to the ULFA (I). However in a statement issued by the outfit it has claimed that it has no links to the said act of cold blooded killings.  As we are writing this statement fingers are shifting towards the peace-talk faction of the ULFA and the police has detained Jiten Dutta and Mrinal Hazarika on suspicion of instigating/enacting the killings, given the incendiary statements recently given by the said members threatening to target Bengali community if the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) was to be rammed in by the government. From the ground, the lone survivor of the killings in Tinsukia last evening, Sahadev Namasudra stated that the gunmen were in military fatigues and spoke in Hindi.

October 18, 2018 /

Manipur Research Forum (MRF) is organising a book event at the official residence of the Chief Minister of Manipur on the 18th of October 2018. This is to release an edited book; the editors of the book are members of the Forum and the articles are reprints from the Forum’s journal – Eastern Quarterly.
We, as contributors to the book and/or as Trustees of the Forum, would like to make this statement dissociating ourselves from the said event.

October 1, 2018 /

The tea plantation workers of Assam have historically, and continue to, contribute to the making of Assam, and yet continue to remain one the most super-exploited working class communities in the State. The current daily wage rate of tea workers in Assam is Rs.137, which is much lower than the min wage of other industrial workers in the State itself. Also, as the government calculation note itself notes, the wages of Tea workers of Kerala (290, in fact the revised wages in the Munnar plantations since 2016 is above Rs.300), Tamil Nadu (Rs.289.41), etc. are about 111% more than that of Assam. This needs to be seriously addressed by the government and people of Assam, as has been time and again demanded by the workers.

September 27, 2018 /

One of the reliefs sought by the petitioners in the Constitutional Challenge to the Aadhaar Scheme was an OPT-OUT option for both the new enrollments, as well as those who had enrolled and wanted to exit the scheme. Although the courts had always said that Aadhaar was voluntary but the way the government went about implementing the scheme, Aadhaar turned out to be a mandatory lifetime commitment because there is no opt out option in the Aadhaar Act, which made consent irrevocable and deprived individuals the ability to make decisions about their life.

September 25, 2018 /

RAIOT as a webzine loosely connected with a political organisation from Meghalaya, Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) sometimes has to pay its obeisance to its mother body. TUR has been a part of anti Aadhaar/UID movement right from its inception and thus RAIOT has published all kinds of essays, reports and even investigations on Aadhaar in English & Khasi. Today (26/09/18) when the second longest running case in the Supreme Court will be decided, it is a good time to let you sample RAIOT’s Aadhaar obsession.

September 17, 2018 /

Every year on 18th September, Khasi & Jaintia Hills gets a public holiday for Unitarian Day, a day when Hajom Kissor Singh Lyngdoh Nongbri led the first real Unitarian church service in his home in Jowai in 1887. Apart from the small and influential population of Khasi-Jaintia Unitarians for whom the day has historical and personal meaning others just enjoy the holiday without knowing the historical significance of the Day. For a small faith group worldwide as well as locally, Unitarians suffer from ignorance of society at large. Are Unitarians Christians? What do Unitarians believe in? What does Unitarian mean? So here it goes – a short guide to Unitarianism for you to read this 18th September.

September 5, 2018 /

We, a group of alumni of IIT Kanpur and others as students, researchers, faculty, staff and other community members affiliated with the same institute strongly condemn the arrest of IIT Kanpur alumna Sudha Bharadwaj (Integrated MSc., Mathematics, 1979-1984) and other activists namely, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao, and the raiding of houses of Anand Teltumbde, K. Satyanarayana and Stan Swamy among many others. These arrests seem to be a mere sequel in an ongoing attempt to intimidate and arrest activists, eminent writers, professors, journalists, and human rights defenders around the country.

September 2, 2018 /

Once the guests entered and we (the students of the North East) wanted to enter the Koyna Mess, were blocked right at the gate by ABVP representatives working alongside the security guards. Moreover, when we were about to enter, most of us heard the term “Naxalites” being thrown at us.
The ABVP screamed at us, that we were “security threats”. The representatives also pushed and pulled the students at the forefront of the gathering. We were manhandled. They did not allow us to enter, calling us “Naxalites”. It was in this moment when the students immediately and collectively decided to sit down outside the event and continued with our silent protest.
After a while, a few representatives of ABVP came outside to tell us that they will ‘allow’ us inside but without our posters which were our signs of resistance. It was then that we collectively demanded an apology from the ABVP for calling us “Naxalites” and “security threats”, which they outrightly denied.

August 31, 2018 /

An important historical record of a traumatic period in India’s recent political history, PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE by Anand Patwardhan focuses on the State of Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi from June 1975 to March 1977. During the Emergency the media was muzzled, over 100,000 people were arrested without charge and imprisoned without trial. But political prisoners existed before the Emergency, and they continue to exist even after it is over.

August 28, 2018 /

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) Condemns Arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao. WSS strongly condemns targeted attack on democratic rights activists, blatantly retributive actions of Maharashtra Police and demands immediate and unconditional release of all arrested activists, lawyers, writers and journalists. 

August 8, 2018 /

Though political schisms exist between tribal political subjectivity and forces representing Assamese ruling elites, yet both tribal and non-tribal people of Assam consider continued migration into Assam as a shared problem that must be adequately addressed.
There is no correct political position to be assumed on this issue, except the one which aims at addressing long standing historical demands without resulting in mass displacement and injury to anyone. More than anything, at this particular juncture, one has to be careful about the BJP and the communal forces it is willing to unleash.

July 30, 2018 /

The Proposed amendment clearly seeks to excommunicate and ostracise a Khasi woman who marries a non Khasi and her children, in contravention to our customary practices, Human Rights law and our Constitution. The bill is being justified on grounds of protecting the Khasis against economic exploitation and land alienation, but this was done without proper and diligent research and the proposed amendment will not in any way resolve what is sought to be projected as being the crisis in Khasi society. In fact legislations such as the land Transfer Act and The Benami Act already exist to protect and curb economic exploitation and land alienation. These need to be strictly implemented in letter and spirit. Further there is an urgent need to bring a Land Ceiling Act such that rampant land alienation leading to landlessness especially rural landlessness is immediately checked. Given the serious nature of the lapses and violations to the many constitutional provisions and our customary practices we sincerely urge you to withhold assent to this problematic amendment bill.

July 25, 2018 /

It must be put on record that the consensus on NRC makes no distinction on the basis of language, religion or ethnicity for people who could prove their credentials from before the cut-off date of 24th March 1971. To portray the process of NRC as against any particular linguistic or religious community is, therefore, to subvert the very basis of social harmony and established democratic values.”
A Statement on Fact-Finding Report by “United Against Hate” & “Avaaz” online campaign for intervention by UN by FORUM AGAINST AMENDMENT OF CITIZENSHIP ACT BILL

June 30, 2018 /

Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, artist and author of the autobiographical Finding My Way (2016), found himself at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London speaking on 21 June at a seminar on “Indigenous Media, Self-Determination and Cultural Activism”. This poem came to him then as he first typed out Hindi in Roman script on his phone and sent it to his friend and accomplice S. Anand, publisher at large at the small Navayana. Anand felt impelled to find the words in English just like he did when working with Venkat on his autobiography. Venkat’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including at Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, in 2013.

June 20, 2018 /

The convenor and the presenters of the panel ‘Feminist Reframings of India’s Northeast: Gendered Geographies and Genealogies’ have decided to withdraw our panel from the AAS-in-Asia, 2018 Conference. The panel has made this decision in the light of how the denial of visas to scholars from Pakistan was handled by AAS and Ashoka University. The Association has kept this news away from all other participants of the conference.

June 12, 2018 /

The complicity of the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) with the Indian government’s violation of academic freedom compels us to boycott the conference. We do so in solidarity with our Pakistani colleagues and to express our commitment to the unfettered exchange of ideas. Today, this government has decided to ban Pakistani scholars. Tomorrow, another might decide to deny Indian or Chinese or British scholars, or issue conference visas on the basis of religious identification or sexual preference. Would we still allow pragmatic reasons to dictate our participation? Boycotting is an obligation we owe not only to our Pakistani colleagues, but also to the values of open and inclusive intellectual exchange that we cherish.

June 11, 2018 /

Sukracharjya Rabha was born in 1977, in a remote village Rampur in Goalpara district of western Assam. He started working with local tribal people to promote theatre. Within short span of time he authored and directed number of drama and got recognition as a unique theatre activist in the part of the country. He was honoured with the Bismillah Khan Yuba Puraskar from Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2009 for direction and the Aditya Bokra Birla Kala Kira Puruskar in 2010. On June 8th 2018, at the age of just 41 years he succumbed to a massive cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife and two children. Maulee Senapati, filmmaker & Abdul Kalam Azad, an activist write pay their tributes.

May 26, 2018 /

The past four years provide a grim picture of neglect of public health by the government and further, a disdain towards policies that promote welfare. The period has seen several outbreaks of infectious diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, often reaching epidemic proportions in many parts of the country. The epidemics have laid bare the inability of the country’s health systems to protect people’s health. Yet successive budgets presented by the Central government have strengthened the perception that this government is ideologically committed to reducing public expenditure on welfare and public services. The period also saw examples of extreme failure to provide healthcare of acceptable quality both in the Public and Private sectors. The failure of public services was epitomised by the horrendous report of deaths of hundreds of children in a hospital in Gorakhpur, which lies in the constituency of the Chief Minister of UP. Yet we were informed from the ramparts of the Red Fort that the children who died in Gorakhpur’s hospital were victims of a ‘natural calamity’.

May 4, 2018 /

This collection of extracts from the works of Mikhail Bakunin are taken from his writings touching on his controversy with Marx over the nature of the state and its role in the liberation of the international working class. Written between 1867 and 1872, many of Bakunin’s predictions about the outcome of following the authoritarian communist road have been proven valid by the actions of Marxist Leninist authoritarians across the world.

May 4, 2018 /

Is Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism still relevant to the 21st century? Can we ever read him independently of the movements that violently seized state power in his name, claiming to represent the workers through the sole will of the Party? 3 animated films to guide you through the Marxist muck

May 2, 2018 /

“The Ken is considered to be one of India’s cleaner rivers. It is part of the Ganga basin and meets the Yamuna at Chilla Ghat in Banda District, Uttar Pradesh. To closely understand the  Ken, this walk along the Ken was organised by SANDRP – South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People from Delhi and Veditum India Foundation from Kolkata. The difficult terrain of the Ken River and the harsh weather required this journey to be undertaken in multiple parts (June 2017, October 2017 and April 2018) and took 33 days to complete this over 600 km journey on foot, where they discussed issues of the river, water, agriculture, the proposed Ken Betwa project and other socio-environmental topics with villagers in over 60 villages.”

April 24, 2018 /

“We the undersigned citizens of India are deeply anguished by the order passed by a three judge bench of the Supreme Court that there is no merit in the writ petitions seeking an Inquiry into the death of Justice Brijgopal Harkishan Loya on December 1, 2014 at Nagpur.” Sign the petition addressed to The Hon’ble Supreme Court to relook in Judge Loya case

March 30, 2018 /

On 28th of March during the Madhavpur Fair held at Porbandar, Gujarat, the Chief Minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren unabashedly accepted the distorted lies about Manipur, its people and its history which has been long propagated by the Indian colonial discourse of dissolving Manipur in the Caste-Hindu fold forcefully. In an act of repeating the signing off of Manipur in 1949, Nongthombam Biren gave the above statements on the said day conflating facts with fiction, myths with history and thereby paving the way for Manipur’s fall and the loss of its identity.

March 26, 2018 /

On October 17, 2017, Meghalaya government issued a curious press release. It said that, that, “good numbers of AADHAAR CARDs are lying undelivered at Shillong GPO due to incomplete address of the addressee, given in the cover containing Aadhaar Card. The statement of Sr. Supiritendent of Post Offices, Meghalaya also made another shocking admission that, “most of the Aadhaar Card received at Shillong GPO do not have the complete address and simply mentioned the name of the person and address given as Shillong, hence it is difficult for the postman to deliver the same to the public.