Category: Politics

January 25, 2020 /

The students fraternity of the North Eastern Universities along with various other organisations gathered today at Bhupen Hazarika Kalabhumi, Tezpur to stage a massive protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.
The main objective of the meet was to create a common platform among the universities across Northeast who are actively protesting against Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The meeting highlighted the peculiarity of the north-eastern region in relation to the draconian Act. The narrative which has emerged in the region focuses on different ground of discrimination faced by the indigenous people in the eight states in the periphery. That the continuous influx of ‘illegal immigrants’ have rendered us hopeless had been addressed. Not only does the Act pose a threat to the indigenous cultures of the Northeast, it also seeks curb our right to actively dissent and express our fear. The student representatives came to an agreement that although they stand in solidarity with the protests going on in the mainland India they demand solidarity of the nation to understand the concern of the Northeast and the valid concerns of the many communities. They condemned the police atrocities on the students, both inside and outside the college and university campuses.

December 20, 2019 /

The abrogation of Article 370 has been accompanied by many colossal whoppers about its politics and history, and deliberate disinformation about the consequences for legal and constitutional rights and status. Yet in Kashmir, from where I write this, none of it matters. It is all of a piece with India’s long history of lawlessness and lies in the name of law. In the face of overwhelming ontological insecurity and terrifying state brutality, no one, not even the lawyering community (such of them as are not busy filing habeas corpus and bail petitions or themselves hiding from arrest), can be bothered to pore over the niceties of how exactly the deed was accomplished. With no Internet access many Kashmiri lawyers I speak to have not so far been able to read the full text of the two Constitutional Orders that altered their fate. What, after all, is a legal sleight of hand or an elaborately constructed constitutional lie when you have not spoken to a beloved daughter in two months? Who cares if Tulsi Gabbard (“who?”) or the late Arun Jaitley (“he died?”) misrepresent the nature of property rights that daughters enjoyed under your one-time, so-called semi-autonomous legal system? Many had not heard that this was even a thing. When I informed them, seething with indignation, they shrugged. “Yes” they said. “They lie.”

December 14, 2019 /

Despite massive protests against the CAB, the BJP formed government in Assam in 2016 with a vast majority. Our apprehension that Hindu nationalism has devoured Assamese nationalism has been proved true over and over again. We may have raised certain demands at the level of parliamentary politics which are against Hindu nationalism, but culturally we are gradually stepping inside the deep and dark tunnel of Hindu nationalism. Hegemony of neoliberal and Hindutva ideology has been gradually established in our society. We have witnessed many people becoming euphoric at the news of the four rape-accused being shot dead in an encounter by the Hyderabad Police, including people who are nationalists, who are known as progressive-democratic. How could Assamese people support encounters? The blood-soaked history of Assamese nationalism makes it impossible. But now it has also become easy in Assam. This change is easily recognisable if one looks at the reactions to the various incidents happening in Jammu and Kashmir, including the abrogation of Article 370. This is just one example. Does it mean that although we vocally oppose Indian national aggression, we are gradually embracing the ideology of Hindu nationalism? We will have to find out a rational answer to it from the protest movements happening at this moment. As of now, these protests are characteristically different from the earlier protests—firstly, these are much more aggressive than the earlier protests and inclusive of people from all sections of society; and secondly, the people of Assam have firsthand had a good taste of the BJP’s rule and their ideology during the period since the earlier protests. That is why we hope that these protests shall not be like the earlier protests—unlike earlier protests, these protests should not go back to the point of their origin where the protests need to be restarted from again. These protests must take us a step forward, engender a qualitative transformation in us.

December 13, 2019 /

The tenor of the anti-CAB mobilization in Assam has been somewhat different from elsewhere in the country—here, the CAB debate is inseparable from the debate on the National Register of Citizens (NRC). With an eye on how the terrain of the CAB-NRC debate has shifted in the last few months, it would be the right time to turn our attention to the second half of this notorious CAB-NRC combine. In fact, the way in which CAB has been pushed through reveals much about how the NRC process may be expected to play out, and how Hindutva fascism actually intends to deal with the demands and aspirations of the many nationalities that fall within the borders of its imagined Hindu empire.
There were many in Assam who were cautiously optimistic about the NRC process—they had hoped this would end, once and for all, the discrimination against Bengali-speaking Hindus and Muslims as Bangladeshis. But not anymore.

December 13, 2019 /

In the morning of December 12, 2019 most people around the Uzan Bazar, Ambari area of Guwahati had come out to see who had assembled at the Latasil field and hear some of the speakers they were sure would come: Zubeen, Samujjal and others who had been vocal in their opposition to to the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Before mobile internet services were shut down at 1900 hours on December 11, 2019, many citizens of Guwahati had updated their status to ask people to come to Latasil grounds at 1100 hours the following day. The messages had a ring of defiance to them. In an age that demands distraction via the world wide web, the status updates managed to help individuals focus on the event that they were coming out to participate in.

December 13, 2019 /

A big shot editor while explaining the CAB and situation in Assam and its neighboring states, puts the majority of Tribes of Assam under the Hindu religion. And when taking about the Tripura he accepts that tribes over there have been pushed to minority by immigrant Hindu Bengalis who rule the place now. And he calls it a democracy, the logic of numbers! And he also go on saying that how people from northeast are now working in main land India which is good sign and it should happen both ways.

December 12, 2019 /

Indian Liberals must understand that the CAB and the NRC are truly pernicious and evil, not simply because they are against Indian Muslims. By and large (outside Assam) they are not. So let’s stop pretending that this is the case. If you happen to be a non-Muslim Indian liberal, then you need to understand that stating that you will now ‘register’ yourself as a ‘Muslim’ because of the CAB and the NRC, is not something that will affect your citizenship status by even one jot. This is not and cannot be ‘civil disobedience’ because an Indian citizen registering as a Muslim ‘disobeys’ nothing and nobody insofar as citizenship is concerned. That is a matter under the ambit of the law pertaining to conversion, not citizenship. We need more than token gestures of this kind.

December 11, 2019 /

Why is it so hard for Indian Liberals to understand that CAB is both anti indigenous people, and anti secular? To label the protests in northeast as a call for “everyone kicked out” and xenophobic is simplistic and historically ignorant when there are ways to seek solutions without the need of inconveniencing, traumatising, and harassing people who do not belong to indigenous people.

December 7, 2019 /

It is a night that Kamla Kaka will perhaps never forget. A mitanin (health care provider) trainer she had returned to her village in Bastar, Chhatisgarh, after a visit to Bijapur, some 52 km away where she had gone for a delivery case. “I had eaten my meal and was listening to songs when the loud burst of firing startled me. Many of us rushed out from our homes. We wondered why the forces had entered our village and were firing continually. It went on and on and later there were flare bombs that illuminated the area. A vehicle arrived later and picked up our dead but many of the armed personnel stayed on,” she told me when I met her earlier this year.
Among the dead were three relatives and her nephew Rahul Kaka, the 15-year-old-son of her father’s brother (chacha). “A class nine student he was so special to me,” she added.

October 27, 2019 /

The final list of NRC published on 31st August, 2019 is a culmination of a long drawn process that can be traced back to the state politics of Assam in the pre independence period. The state’s history is marked by incidents which continue to shape the politics of the state. Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty’s book Assam: The Accord, the Discord tries to do exactly this – revisit the roots of the problems and understand when the seeds of discord were sown. 

In 1973 a Hindi film Yeh Gulistan Hamara came. Before the screening of the film we had read about the film in Filmfare. That magazine was very popular. After I read about the film, I realized it is politically motivated and I started campaigning against it. Dev Anand and Sharmila Tagore were the actors. Sharmila played a Naga girl and she was named Sekrenyi which is the name of a holy festival of the Angamis. The actor came with elephants to a Naga village. He brought sweets and biscuits to court the Naga girl and teach her writing and reading. And in the end the Indians conquered Naga country with the help of the forces. We said our country was never conquered by Hindustan. The Naga students protested and tried to get the Khasi students to join us because the film also depicted Khasis as backward. But Khasis did not understand. On top of that, the Meghalaya government relaxed the entertainment tax also.

August 19, 2018 /

The flash-point was reached when a team of women belonging to an NGO performing a play in Kochang, a remote part of the district where the rogue militia of PLFI – People’s Liberation Front of India – rules the roost, were allegedly raped. The general impression in the state is that PLFI is a creation of the state police, to counter the Maoists who are said to be on the decline in Jharkhand, if the claims of the government are to be believed. The government quickly blamed the Pathalgadi leaders for the alleged gangrape. Without producing any evidence, it chose to tar the entire movement by the tribal population fighting for its rights. In an instance of terrible chicanery and perfidy, the local media parroted the allegations without making any background checks of its own. 

August 14, 2018 /

If they believe that with attacks like this they are going to scare us into silence, then they are gravely mistaken. The ideas of Gauri Lankesh, the ideas Rohith have outlived them. They cannot browbeat us into silence, neither with their jails, nor with their bullets. We proved it yesterday itself.

August 5, 2018 /

Although the amendment Bill has been returned by the Governor, we have become betrayers: for simply asking for a re-consideration. We haven’t even taken a non-Khasi spouse yet. From personal attacks to violent threats… we don’t need to delve into the dark web to find a bunch of people abusing and threatening one of their own.

June 24, 2018 /

A day before Eid, a Twitter storm with the hashtag #InquireKashmirKillings erupted. Notwithstanding the pall of gloom caused by the killing of respected editor- in-chief of Rising Kashmir, Shujat Bukhari by unknown gunmen on the very day that the report by the UN on the situation in Kashmir vis-a-vis human rights was released, Kashmiris hurled themselves into battle.

May 18, 2018 /

Professor Kim is a well-respected progressive academic in one of the numerous Universities of Seoul (SungKongHoe University), where I have also spent several good years – for the first year as a scholar and later as a Research Professor. But I never had the opportunity to chat with Professor Kim about politics. He spoke only Korean and Russian; and I spoke only English and ‘unintelligible’ Korean. But Professor Kim, was, and still is well known among students as the ‘nutty professor’ who, as a PhD student, went to Moscow to study in the early 1990s. As the rumour goes, study was just an excuse for him- in reality, he wanted to (un)confirm his worst nightmare: whether the Soviet Union has truly collapsed or was yet another western capitalist propaganda.
To anyone today it would appear that he was ‘crazy’. After all, why do you need to go to Moscow to see for yourself whether the Soviet Union has collapsed or not?

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.

April 27, 2018 /

Kum ki nongtrei-nongbylla ngi shem ba ka don ka jingpynkhein ia ka Riti Synshar ka Ri, ka jingpynkhein ia ki ain ba dei kyrpang na ka bynta ki nongtrei nongbylla ne ki labour law da ka Sorkar Jylla Meghalaya,ka Sorkar Pdeng bad ruh da ki riew shimet bad ki Private Company. Kane ka jingpynkhein ia ki ain kiba iadei bad ki nongtrei-nongbylla ka la ktah shibun ia ka jingim ki nongbylla bad ka dei ka jingleh bein bad ka jingniew bein ia ki nongtrei-nongbylla kiba noh synniang shibun sha ka ioh ka kot bad ka roi ka par jong ka Ri.

April 22, 2018 /

what does the Indian left-liberal solidarity choose to do differently about a people who, one can argue, are doubly colonized? They choose to express their ‘desire’ for the “beautiful woman” by exporting a girl, who faces multiple hierarchies of oppression besides the double colonization of her community, to their mainland and call her “another Nirbhaya” or “India’s daughter”. They stress that Aasifa’s rape and murder is an ‘issue of humanity’. By deliberately trying to erase the specificity of the case, they are obfuscating their complicity in the crimes the Indian state has committed in Kashmir in their name for all these years.

February 14, 2018 /

Hynne ka sngi ka 14 tarik u Rymphang 2018, 13 tylli ki Seng jong Ki Nongtrei-NongBylla, Ka Seng Ki Nongdie Madan ryngkat bad ka TUR ki la pynlong ia ka “Bread and Roses Campaign” lane “Ka Pliang Ja kaba dap bad ki Syntiew Kulab” kaba dei ka tien phira jong ki Nongtrei-Nongbylla; kaba mut ba ki Nongtrei-Nongbylla ki dei ban skhem bad shngain ha ka kam ka jam, ka kamai kajih khnang ban im ban dap ka ja ka doh, ban ioh ka koit ka khiah bad ban biang ka pule dangle ki khun ki kti. Ym tang katta ki don ruh ka hok ban kmen ban risa bad ban pynjah thait da ki rong biria ia ka jingim kaba lwait Kumta ha kane ka campaign ne ka jingiawer paidbah la pyllait ruh ia ki mat jingdawa kaba mih na ki jingiatai jong ki nongtrei-nongbylla kaba la long ha ki bnai bad snem kiba la lah.

February 9, 2018 /

Cheerleading “economics” year after year, we have ended up creating an unequal country which has few parallels. About a third of the fruits of economic growth experienced since 1980 has gone to the richest 1% of the country. Hardly any other country has seen such yawning gap between the rich and the rest. The degree of inequality has been growing. In the beginning of this century the top 10% of the population cornered 40% of the income. By 2014 their share rose to 50%.

January 22, 2018 /

“Where are you going Bahdeng?” I asked a friend of mine who seemed excited and in a hurry. He said, “I got a new job, I’m in the business of collecting money”. Not sure and intrigued by the true nature of his new profession, I congratulated him and tried to get more details about it. He enthusiastically told me that I should join in, “It’s very profitable” he said, “Yesterday I told them my mother was sick, the other day I said my daughter was sick; you see, I’m in the business of collecting charity money from candidates contesting the upcoming elections and so far I’ve received Rs.10,000”.

December 18, 2017 /

This is an election where BJP was made to fight. This is not just about using political firepower but unlike other elections, channels like Times Now, Republic TV and ZEE had to become an extension of BJP without not even a shred of neutrality in their coverage. Local Gujarati media also became increasingly partisan as elections progressed. The Parliament session was delayed, all the resources were diverted towards Gujarat. EC even delayed Gujarat elections and their excuse for the delay was very flimsy. The delay helped BJP to partly tide over the GST anger by reducing tax slabs for certain items.

December 14, 2017 /

The news of a famous wedding has been hogging all the limelight in the media throughout this week. The excitement over Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli’s wedding to actress Anushka Sharma has been putting even the drama surrounding Harry Windsor’s Royal Wedding to shame. However, Virushka (their moniker, which wins my vote for the worst couple name. As a friend pointed out to me, why anyone would go with Virushka and not Korma is beyond me) is not the significant development in wedding related news to occur this week. The real story, which flew largely under the radar, was about Sankar and Kausalya, a Tamilian inter-caste couple that fell victim to a brutal murder.

December 11, 2017 /

The media is currently rife with the debate about the exorbitant billing made by a five-star hospital in Delhi to the father of a young girl who succumbed to her brief illness. But is it the right debate? Are those throwing stones at the hospital not the kind who go to private hospitals themselves? Is it okay if private care is affordable and not exorbitant? At an individual level, I do not and would not like to ever submit myself to private health care. It is because I believe that medical care must never be treated as a commodity and must be available to every human equally.

December 3, 2017 /

Just like the people in Amchang, the people in Sipajhar were also victims of river erosion. Their earlier generations moved from places like Jonia in Barpeta to escape poverty and river erosion. These people were further tricked into buying government land from the locals of Kuruwa. But there was no investigation on the multiple level of exploitation that these people faced. Merely accusing them of being illegal immigrants somehow provided impunity to those who torched their homes. Not a single person was brought to book for taking law in their own hands. One must ask if these are illegal immigrants, why weren’t they sent to detention camps for gradual deportation?

November 29, 2017 /

It is true that Bhupen Hazarika’s political views took a significant turn in his later life and in many ways he became the cynosure of conservative politicians of different hues. We should add to it our collective misfortune that there is no dearth of politicians in this country who can appropriate a cultural capital towards a political end and turn it to material/ military/ electoral gain

November 23, 2017 /

The opposition to Hadiya’s conversion and their marriage has not been created or sustained merely by the right-wing, but also by those who have either chosen to stay silent on the case or have actively aided and abetted the state in furthering their persecution, whether it is the LDF government, or the Women’s Commissions, national or at the state level. Many feminists have otherwise spoken about choice and agency, but who, facing the will of a 25 year old Muslim woman to question the established norms of the Hindu household and life-world, have fallen absolutely silent. When she and Shafin are being pushed into a dangerous web of state-backed and NIA-produced rumour mongering of indoctrination and larger patterns, what good is silence? What good is half-hearted conversations around her right to choose, when they are suffixed with a “but…”?

Assam has had a long and bloody history of ethnic violence arising from extremely complex reasons. Ethnic violence in Assam implicates cultural, political and economic aspects of relations between communities in ways that cannot be captured in a simple majority-minority, or a khilonjia-foreigner dynamic. Here, virtually every community has at one time or another been the victim as well as perpetrator of ethnic violence. And in the shadow of a militarized state, political antagonisms among various communities have often been shaped by the force of arms.

This interview by Amrapali Basumatary & Bonojit Hussain was taken in 2016 December, just two days after Akhil Gogoi was released from his 78 days of imprisonment by The Assam Government. For various reasons the interview couldn’t be published during that time. However, with the recent re-imprisonment of Akhil Gogoi under the National Security Act (NSA) in September 2017, we feel that it is important to bring this interview to public domain.

November 16, 2017 /

Unlike Meghalaya, in Japan cherry blossom culture is “natural”, it has been celebrated, in some form or the other, over hundreds of years. It didn’t grow out of a need to impress tourists or to be an “international” PR event. “International” is the new buzz word which hurts my ears! And then I have to ask, why cherry blossoms? Why not ‘sohphoh’ blossoms? (a member of the apple family found widely in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills) Those blossoms are quite beautiful as well. At least the hardy and indigenous ‘sohphoh’ gives you fruits as well. Many locals use it to make jams, preserves and ciders as well so I am for the ‘non-international sohphoh’.

November 9, 2017 /

An important legislation like THE MEGHALAYA COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND PUBLIC SERVICES SOCIAL AUDIT ACT, 2017 came into being without any element of Community Participation through Pre-Legislative consultation about its intent and content. Some of the remarks we make about the Act are due to this ‘failure’ on the part of the government to take the people and community into confidence about the law.

November 8, 2017 /

It is one thing to say that demonetisation has failed empirically, but quite another to assume that it will lead to BJP’s defeat. On the contrary, Mr. Modi has jumped from one policy to the other, and every time, the residue in public consciousness is the honourable intention. Meanwhile the opposition parties seem to be completely unaware of these dynamics.

November 7, 2017 /

It used to be said that Indians don’t queue. Clerks despaired of organizing the crowds that clamored for attention at service counters, and paying one’s electric bill in northern cities required a set of sharp elbows for jostling. In this context, postdemonetization bank and ATM queues were remarkable—not only for the very orderliness of their existence, but also for the intimacies they fostered and ways in which they rearticulated class and kinship.

November 7, 2017 /

No formal government program or agenda has been so socially malignant for India as the 2016 demonetization, both in the intent and manner in which the policy was deployed and in its impact on the working poor. While the forced sterilizations (nas bandi) of the mid-1970s were met with widespread subversion and eventually led to the fall of the Indira Gandhi government, the recent round of notebandi (literally, note ban) or demonetization was met by mass acquiescence.

November 5, 2017 /

The case was simple – based on the recommendations from the politicians – then Education Minister Ms. Ampareen Lyngdoh, instructed her officer Mr. J. D. Sangma to doctor the selection list. Mr. Sangma ably supported by Ms Lyngdoh’s supporters wantonly white inked successful candidates and marks and created a ‘tainted’ merit list. It took eight years of long and convoluted struggle, from the lowest to highest court, inside and outside the court system, before the division bench of Meghalaya High Court delivered its bombshell judgement on 2nd November 2017. 
Some of us in RAIOT Collective (and our mother ship Thma U Rangli-Juki) have been closely associated with the challenge to this mega corruption case and we thought that we should draw up a chronology of this long struggle, not merely for the sake of history but also to remind the citizens that justice can be won, if one persists with commitment.

October 26, 2017 /

Each instance of alleged sexual harassment needs to be examined and dealt with on its own merit – with due process available both to the accused and to the accuser. Sweeping, anonymously driven collective assertions of the culpability of a cluster of named and shamed persons violates the principles of the need for rigourous individual examination of each instance, with due attention to the testimonies of victims and the defences of the accused, without which justice and resolution can never be served.

October 26, 2017 /

Over the last two days, my facebook has gone on overdrive with feminists finding themselves in polarised positions against the list of perpetrators that Raya Sarkar, a Dalit lawyer in California circulated on facebook after compiling the names of some powerful men in the academic world and alleged sexual harassers. Some feminists as mouthpieces for the entire community wrote an apology of an article in kafila urging that the list be taken down for it violates ‘due process’ of law. Other feminists have come out in full support and some have taken the middle ground, allowing themselves to articulate their confusions, while many have remained mum for the more one thinks about it the more contradictory one seems to become.

October 22, 2017 /

Sadguru who has taken up to saving the rivers by spending millions of crores of rupees himself is accused of violation of many environmental laws in Tamil Nadu. Encroachment on the Kundakoi tributary of the river Noyal, construction of ashram with nearly one thousand buildings on the reserved forest, encroachment on the elephants corridors, are some of the acts he is involved in. There are many petitions filed before the court against him, which are in progress. In this regard, the government officials of Combatore district have confirmed these violations in affidavits and even given stop order, which has been violated by Sadhguru.
We need to also know that Jaggi Vasudev’s father-in-law has charged him with murder of his wife. The case is still pending. “Why are they not arresting me then?” this is what he said in response to a question by a journalist. We only want to remind people who are bowing down to him and colluding with him today, must remember the fate of Asaram Bapu or Ram-Rahim. One must support, or donate only after complete awareness and inquiry. We would like to give this warning on behalf of the Narmada Bachao Andolan to all. The journalists and newspaper correspondents must thoroughly research so that rivers can be saved and not sold in the name of “Rally for Rivers”.

October 16, 2017 /

In the context of the rise of Corbyn and Sanders and the rise of left-wing populist movements like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, this article asks, through an engagement with Chantal Mouffe’s writings on left-wing populism, whether there can be a left-wing populism in India that can counter the right-wing populism of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The article explores the conditions for a “populist situation” that exist in India at present.

October 13, 2017 /

On the third day of their ongoing peaceful agitation around 1200 longstanding regular casual workers of Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd had lunch time protest in various parts of Meghalaya, including Shillong, Umiam, Kyrdem Kulai, Jowai, Khlierihat, Tura, Phulbari, Ampati, Baghmara, Garobadha, Mendipathar, Nongstoin, Mairang & Mawkyrwat. They held placards with slogans outlining their various grievances.