MAC: Mines and Communities

Under Saffron Jackboots

Published by MAC on 2018-08-31

London Calling cries out against against recent attacks on Indian activists

Many Indian commentators - including Arundhati Roy - have vociferously spoken out in condemnation of last week's crackdown on human rights defenders.

In the past week, a co-ordinated action by police has been mounted over several Indian states, with the clear intention of intimidating several prominent human rights defenders, and flagrantly denying their constitutional rights.

Such a brief description doesn't, however, reflect the magnitude nor insidious nature of what has been happening. This is, arguably, nothing less than a government inspired – at least, endorsed - campaign, aimed at those daring to challenge prime minister Narendra Modi's advocacy of Hindutva - conversion of citizens by one means or another to a Sankritized verion of national identity.

Modi's BJP (Bharitiya Janata Party translates literally as the Peoples' Party), has always been regarded a promoting Hinduism above other religions.

This intent may be dressed in various garbs - seeking to distinguish the BJPs credentials as secular under the Indian Constitution and giving a small proportion of jobs to minorities, such as Dalits and Adivasis. But its also it's wedded to militant, and frequently violent. groups like the RSS and Hindu Maha Saba.

India's Modification

Worse, Modi's political adventurism has spawned, and apparently legitimised. numerous actions by thugs and hangers-on against Muslims and Christians for “crimes” they've been accused (sometimes mistakenly) of committing against the holy cow, accepting foreign funding, “forcible” religious conversions, allowing nuns to sell babies inter alia.

Not only have such individuals suffered egregious assaults - some have been beaten to death, and even subjected to a recent wave of lynchings.

It's not surprising that the administration has condemned such events, and police have  (nominally at any rate) acted against perpetrators.

Nonetheless, since many of these deeds are carried in the name of the false “principles” on which the BJP is based, and continues to propound, the government's response has manifeslty been abjectly inadequate, if not palpably  counterfeit.

Above all - as reported regularly on this website over several years - the State has recruited thousands of military personnel, covered by terms such as Salwar Judum, or Green Hunt, to hunt down, torture and murder indigenous people falsely described as “Maoists”, members of Peoples War, or Naxalites– allegations now made against some of those who've been targeted by the police.

Nazi creep, or HUAC hacking?

It's in this context that last week's attacks, specifically levelled against prominent social activists, including a lawyer and a Catholic priest, represent a potential new dark phase in the history of what's usually dubbed the world's “biggest democracy”.

Parallels between what's happening and the rise of Nazism have, understandably, been drawn within India itself – though most of the reast of the world seems strangely lacking in cognisance of this prospect. Certainly,  the modus operandi of Germany's brown shirt, and the SS, during the 1930's and forties, bear some resemblance to Indian authorities current behaviour.

Rather, however, we might invoke comparison with the ruin of a goodly chunk of America's intellectual and cultural capacity, along with utter disregard for the rule of constitutional law, that was created by MacCarthyism in the 1950's.

Don't lets forget that the Senator's shoddy weapons in this case were wielded by a “House Unamerican Activities Committee”, which bore sinister resemblances to Modi's current aims and intentions (A quasi-national “UnIndian Activities Commisariat”?)

Nontheless, India's Supreme Court has ruled against the detainment of last week' victims (restricting them instead to house arrest); and much of the media has refused to be silenced in condemning what the police have just done.

Indeed, the assertion – particularly by Adivasi and Dalit organisations – that India's freedoms are firmly embedded in its constitution, and its future can only be secured by re-affirming the rights and resurrecting the livelihoods of millions of its poorest, most disadvantaged, persecuted communities, has turned from decades of fairly mute or isolated expression, into a veritable clamour.

What's all this to do with Mining?

You may well ask - wondering if MAC has re-framed itself, perhaps for tangential political motives.

Not so!

As already pointed out,  its website has featured a great deal of material. linking the Indian state, its army and para-militaries, to companies such as Tata, Jindal and Essar, which penetrate so-called Maoists areas that host mineral deposits considered strategically important.

More to the point is that, among those recently captured by police, are at least two persons with a lengthy and unblemished reputation for exposing not just such complicity between the state powers and corporates, but actively trying to break it down.

You're now invited to read relevant posts by Catholic priest, Stan Swamy in Jharkhand, who has critiqued companies, including Adani, and Central Coalfields, for flagrant violation of Adivasi and Dalit rights. [See:]

And by Sudha Bharawaj, trade unionist and lawyer who, among other commitments, has tirelessly worked against Vedanta for its unacceptable, and putatively illegal acts in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere. [See;]

[London Calling is published by Nostromo Research, and does not necessarily express any opinion held by any other party, including editors of this website. Reproduction is welcome and encouraged  under a Creative Commons Licence]

‘As close to a declaration of an Emergency as we will ever get’: Arundhati Roy reacts to raids

‘Why are raids taking place on the homes of lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals and not those who make up lynch mobs?’

29 August 2018

Writer and activist Arundhati Roy on Tuesday reacted to the news of police raids at the homes of human rights activists in multiple cities across the country. “It is as close to a declaration of an Emergency as we will ever get,” the Booker-prize winning author said.

On Tuesday morning, teams of the Pune Police raided the houses of activists in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi, Faridabad and Goa. Among those whose houses were searched are Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad and Stan Swamy in Ranchi. In Hyderabad, raids were reported from the homes of Varavara Rao and his family members, and two other activists, Kranti and Naseem. In Goa, Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde’s house was raided in his absence. Police reportedly took the keys from the security guard and walked in.

Some of these activists have been detained by police. The raids are said to be connected to investigations into a public meeting organised days before caste-related violence erupted at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.

Reacting to these raids and detentions, Roy said that anybody who speaks up for justice or against Hindu majoritarianism is being made into a criminal.

“That the raids are taking place on the homes of lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals – instead of on those who make up lynch mobs and murder people in broad daylight tells us very clearly where India is headed,” she added.

“What is happening is absolutely perilous,” she said. “It is in preparation for the coming elections. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to all come together. Otherwise we will lose every freedom that we cherish.”


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