[sacw] SACW #2 | 7 June 01

Harsh Kapoor aiindex@mnet.fr
Thu, 7 Jun 2001 01:37:14 +0200

South Asia Citizens Wire | Dispatch #2
7 June 2001


#1. CPJ welcomes lifting of Censorship in Sri Lanka
#2. India: The 'Science' Of Star-Gazing - Astrology is no education



June 6, 2001

Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
President, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat
Sri Lanka

VIA FACSIMILE: 011-94-1-333-703

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes your decision to lift
censorship restrictions on the Sri Lankan media. We hope that your
administration will now work to lift other obstacles that prevent reporting
on the country's long-running civil war.

In addition to the various forms of censorship that were imposed over the
last three years, press coverage of the conflict between the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the military has been extremely limited,
due to your government's failure to grant journalists regular access to the
conflict areas. Journalists are required to apply for official permission t=
visit conflict areas, but such permission is almost never granted.

As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of
press freedom around the world, CPJ urges your administration to work with
Sri Lankan journalists to develop a system that allows journalists to repor=
first-hand on the course of the civil war. Allowing full and accurate
reporting is the only effective means to foster the public's understanding
of efforts to resolve the current crisis.

We thank you for your attention to these matters, and look forward to your


Ann Cooper
Executive Director

Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Information and Media
Batty Weerakoon, Minister of Justice
Ashley Wills, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka
Linda Duffield, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka
Ruth Archibald, Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka
The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka
Free Media Movement
South Asian Journalists Association
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Amnesty International
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Artikel 19 (The Netherlands)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Human Rights Watch
Index on Censorship
International Center for Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
International PEN
International Press Institute
The Newspaper Guild
The North American Broadcasters Association
Overseas Press Club
Reporters Sans Fronti=E8res
Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Society of Professional Journalists
World Association of Newspapers
World Press Freedom Committee



The Praful Bidwai Column
June 4, 2001

The 'Science' Of Star-Gazing

Astrology is no education

If for nothing else, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi will be remembered for a
bizarre form of alchemy in his otherwise poor but contentious ministerial
career: converting purely personal fancies into public policy. Hence his
compulsory "Saraswati Vandana" initiative; his repeated exhortations to
scientists to study Sanskrit in order to understand quantum mechanics and
modern patent laws; his sub-literate invocation of "value education"; and
his insistence on the teaching of Jyotirvigyan ("Vedic astrology") and
Hindu priestly rituals (karmakanda and paurohitya). In less than a month,
more than 25 universities will offer courses in these occult
"disciplines"--"sciences" for Mr Joshi.

There can be no baser way of insulting the basic principles of education,
or making India the world's laughing stock and cultural backwater. If the
function of the university is to promote reason, tolerance, discovery of
truth and the adventure of ideas, then it should not teach the chanting of
mantras, hymns or psalms. Whatever their "inner meaning", these are not
remotely connected with the fundamental purpose and function of education
which is to broaden the mind to new truths. The teaching of sacred rituals
and ceremonies is totally incompatible with secular education, which at
minimum must spurn religious instruction altogether. Teaching karmakanda
will expose the UGC to the demand that namaz and Creationism too should
form part of our "education" syllabi. One can only hope that all such
ludicrous ideas will be struck down.

However, there is some middle-class sympathy for the idea that "Vedic
astrology" should be taught at universities because it is in some sense a
"science", although there isn't a single reference to it in the Vedas. Many
people believe that astrology has some predictive value. It at least
illuminates some traits in human personalities and forces at work in social
life. This column argues that astrology comprehensively fails to meet any
scientific criteria. Its predictive value is unacceptably poor. It is not a
rigorous discipline worthy of university courses.

To start with, science is more than just a collection of rules, formulas or
correlations. It is a body of knowledge which is testable and falsifiable.
Its methods and conclusions are open to interrogation and refutation.
Astrology only predicates correlations between certain configurations of
stars, and certain material events. However, it fails to establish an
integral relationship between cause and effect. This is vital to any
science. Astrology's basic premises are neither falsifiable nor refutable.
It seeks to inter-connect configurations of heavenly bodies at a particular
point of time with natural or social phenomena without specifying the
mediating mechanism. It fails to answer the question, Precisely what
stellar combination influences A's personality, B's history or C's chances
of success? How?

It simply won't do to claim that the mediation is (or "must be") something
like gravity or electromagnetism. As physicists have conclusively shown,
the gravitational pull of the obstetricians or the dai (midwife), or for
that matter, the hospital building in which a child is born--is much
greater than the pull of any heavenly bodies. In the absence of a
verifiable mediating factor, one can accept astrology's claims on the basis
of pure faith: somehow, in some mystical way, it "reveals" the truth. This
is not science, but its diametrical opposite--on a par with cartomancy
(reading the future from cards), astral travel, necromancy (talking to the
dead), or witchcraft.

There is a fundamental difference between scientific forecasts and
astrological predictions. The forecasts of the physical sciences are based
upon laws and hypotheses founded on objective, repeatable, experiments and
rigorous attempts at refutation as well as revision. These forecasts are of
different kinds. For instance, solar eclipse predictions will be precise to
the second, but quantum mechanics forecasts of the position of an electron
at a given time will be probabilistic. Yet, both are equally rigorous and
refutable. By contrast, astrological predictions are banal when absolutely
certain, or vague, non-specific, and open to subjective interpretation when

Consider, for instance, the forecasts in the astrological journal Babaji
(December 14 last): "Within about one month from December 25, 2000 some
explosions, fires and violence may be feared. Some calamity like earthquake
cannot be ruled out." Sometimes, the forecasts can be contradictory. For
instance, Babaji says: "A strange tragedy is possible on January 26,
2001.... around 10-00 a.m..." In the same paragraph, it says: "It shall
take place around 9-25 a.m." Science is modest. It does not talk of
"cosmic" certainties or divine "revelations." Astrology knows no such
limits: "I hereby reveal that a cosmic writ has been issued that some
territory of India will be usurped or occupied by some other country or its
people or even refugees between March 25 and April 23." This is illogical
and unconvincing. It is also trivial: Indian territory can only "occupied"
by "some other country"--by definition.

At times, astrology plays on chance alone. In the last US presidential
elections, the victor could only have been Mr Gore or Mr Bush. Babaji
revealed "the cosmic writ that George Bush Junior will be elected on
November 7." This was evenly balanced by other astrologers' prediction that
Mr Gore would win. Indeed, a reading of any "standard" journal will show
that more than two-thirds of astrological predictions don't come true. As
for November 7, there is no mystery. That date is a standard component of
the US electoral calendar.

Many astrologers mislead people by hinting at mere possibilities--hedged by
the shrewd use of language. Take the phrase, the "period around the last
month of the 20th century" in which "earthquakes, explosions or fires are
feared." Or the prediction that "India may be involved in some sort of
misadventure in foreign affairs." (This is a weekly phenomenon, for which
you don't need an astrologer!) These aren't authentic forecasts.

Methodologically, astrology has failed over three thousand years to
standardise itself. Its numerous schools don't even agree on the relevant
"planets" or their number. For instance, Rahu and Ketu don't exist in
nature. Neither the Sun nor the Moon is a "planet." Astrology East and West
was developed before planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were discovered.
Astrologers agree on no standard reference: none of the three Vedanga
Jyotishas or the 18 Siddhaantas. Astronomical knowledge is individual
practitioner-specific and non-repeatable. Each astrologer follows a closed
system. No two systems interact.

Astrology, then, is a poor predictor. But is it any better as a "guide" to
personality traits? One of the strongest-ever refutations of astrology was
provided by a large number of scientists--and astrologers--participating in
a 1985 US experiment reported in the prestigious journal Nature. The
experiment involved 116 subjects with irrefutable records of their time of
birth. Twentyeight participating astrologers nominated by a representative
professional organisation prepared their horoscopes. They were asked to
pick out each subject's correct personality profile from a choice of three.
These were all based on 18 attributes profiled in the standard California
Personality Inventory Test. The astrologers' claims would be taken
seriously only if they correctly matched horoscopes with traits in a
statistical probability much higher than (the random) 33 percent. In the
experiment, they failed to rise above that level.

Astrology has few insights to offer even into social trends, "natural"
inclinations or proclivities. It is no science at all. That's why 186 top
world scientists thought fit in 1975 to warn that astrology is
unscientific, and its practices are harmful to society. They say: "In these
uncertain times, many long for the comfort of having guidance in making
decisions. They would like to believe in a destiny predetermined by astral
forces beyond their control. But the crutch of astrology is useless in

This applies with redoubled force to South Asia. For centuries, people here
have grown up without believing in their own agency, in their ability to
reshape the world, in the possibility of endeavour, experimentation and
change. Millions of them lapse into fatalism or karmic destiny to escape
the world and evade the struggle to become arbiters of their own fate. Some
even indulge in human sacrifice, as the latest story of Pochamma from
Karimnagar shows. Such fatalism is extremely dangerous because it
reinforces belief in a pre-determined destiny--precisely at a time when
democracy has made the world changeable, and economic, social and political
forces are altering it rapidly. This gives astrology a profoundly
retrograde social character.

The weird courses which Mr Joshi and UGC chairman Hari Gautam--a former
physician innocent of education--are imposing on us make nonsense of all
ideas relevant to rationality and to a betterment of the social world.
Hundreds of our scientists--who normally fight shy of taking a stand on
social issues--have spoken out against the UGC's decision. More than 300 of
them belong to prestigious universities such as Indian Institute of
Science, Bangalore, TIFR, Mumbai, Indian Institute of Astrophysics,
Bangalore, and a number of IITs. They say Dr Gautam has lost "all
credibility to function as chairman of UGC." Unless we want to retreat into
crass irrationality and blind faith, we must pay heed to them.--end--



I. K. Shukla

India is proving to be the chopping block of democracy : democracy torn and
twisted, democracy subverted and perverted, democracy derailed and
disgraced. In sum, democracy hobbled, hijacked and hacked. The distortions
and deformations it has been subjected to by the National Disaster
Alliance and Brutes' Jungle Party betray and highlight the beastly designs
this combine has been fervidly implementing from day one since its
installation. It has signally succeeded in its aim. That it threw to winds
the Constitutional injunctions and proprieties attests its resolve to induc=
a fascist-theocratic regime through state terror, civic coercion, and
communal mobilization. That with a minority of votes it dared do so
signifies the proneness of bourgeois democracy to bend to crime and
corruption obligingly easily.

Its 24% votes and those of its partners in the ruling cabal don't add up to
even 28% of the votes cast for the unprincipled combine. And yet, the
liberties it has taken with the parliamentary norms and Constitutional
caveats, are mind boggling. That a usurping minority is ruling the country
of a billion people is an anomaly too glaring to ignore. If we can live wit=
it, we can live with the Devil itself. This compromises our covenant with
the people who alone are declared sovereign in the Constitution. This makes
a damaged and deformed democracy a model to be emulated around. This sends
wrong signals to our neighbors and democracies abroad. This betrays us as a
people with no sense of and no respect for the principles and practices of
democracy. That is, a people still mired in the Dark Ages, light years
behind the 21st century in which the rest of the world is living. India thu=
will very directly be encouraging and promoting theo-terrorist states in th=
neighborhood, a scourge of the minorities, a source of perennial tension an=
tyranny, seeking legitimacy and enforcing longevity through blood and fire.

Since corruption, illegality, and savagery constitute their identity card,
the Hindu Taliban, encourage and accommodate their ilk even if they belong
to another political grouping similarly opportunistic and morally bankrupt.
The case in point is Jaylalita. The illegal and unconstitutional
installation of a "convicted criminal"as CM ( Rajiv Dhawan : Mainstream, Ma=
26), Vajpayee assured, won't be challenged. This would enable Jaylalita
escape the criminal cases against her by rigging the judiciary and subornin=
the judicial system. What New Delhi could not grant her as a constituent of
NDA then, she would now get on her own. This strategy ropes in a potential
ally and seemingly absolves NDA-BJP from any complicit wrong doing in
matters constitutional. This, in a perverse way, "honours" the autonomy of
the states vis-a-vis the Centre. Coevally, Advani, MM Joshi, U Bharati too
escaped conviction in the Babri Masjid demolition case by not letting the
case reach the court. Thus they rose above the law. And, those committing
the kind of crimes they committed will similarly escape. Bal Thackerays can
roam free. This is the Thieves' Concordat, pure and simple. But, double
standards being its functional norm, the NDA-BJP will also continue
sabotaging and subverting governments (in Bihar of an "enemy", in Manipur o=
an "ally").

Internally, since day one, NDA-BJP dispensation has meant a stream of blood
and fire (The Chariot of Blood Yatra) all over, whether it be tribal claims=
Dalit demands, minority rights, women's representation, or workers' and
peasants' clamor for justice. There is hardly a state in India that has
not witnessed a bloodbath, communal or otherwise, after the advent of the
NDA-BJP. The violence against Dalits, tribals, minorities, students,
workers, peasants, and women has continually grown all over India in a scar=
spiral. Delhi retains its proud title of being the crime capital of Bharat.
It has left other cities far behind in every category of crime and every
kind of corruption. The country had never before known so much anomie, so
much lawlessness, so much insecurity of life. If anything is constantly
swelling and spreading it is vice, violence, and HinduTaliban terrorism.

National Demolition Agenda is in full swing. The National Integration
Council established by Nehru after the Jabalpur riots in the early sixties
has remained dead for decades now. Not through any default, but through
deliberate determination to purge the nation of secularism associated with
Nehru and relegate the minorities and their concerns to the dust bin of
oblivion. The concerns of NDA-BJP are very different and totally debased. I=
the Christians can't become a HinTaliban vote bank through "homecoming",
i.e., re-conversion, they have an option : to disappear. A similar option i=
available to other so-called minorities. Thus democracy has been
ignominiously redefined as the rule of an intransigent and vicious minority
posturing to represent, falsely and fraudulently, the majority. This negate=
and impugns the democratic canon. It plunges India into the darkest
bestiality, unanchored to anything civilized or humane, unconcerned with
anything noble and lofty, unaware of history and heritage. This is the
Bharat of HinduTaliban dreams that the BJP is wedded to. A horrid nightmare=

All India Christian Council has demanded, however belatedly, that the
National Integration Council be revived to calm the fears and address the
concerns of the minorities who have borne the brunt of the saffron brigade'=
viciousness and violence. They, like other minorities - Dalits, Adivasis,
Muslims , are increasingly being terrorized by the hooligans and hoodlums o=
various Htaliban outfits. A Christian, Lazarusbhai Solanki, aged 74, dead
May 27 in Kapadvanj, district Khera, Gujarat, was not allowed by Hindutwa
goons to be buried in the local cemetery. "Hindu"
hoods are the law in Gujarat whether it be the looting of relief aid from
abroad or committing innumerable other infractions of law that impinge on
the lives of the oppressed minorities.

Earthquake's non-Hindu victims were penalized by denial of aid for being th=
lesser children of God, and for rejecting Htalibans in the panchayat
elections. This tangible immorality of Hindutwa hoods, as evinced in
Gujarat, is not aberrational, but normative, and centrally orchestrated. So=
per his wont, Vajpayee won't concede that a NIC is needed. He would rather
have a debate. He believes he is still a smart boy in a school and can prov=
his prowess in an elocution contest. But demagogy doesn't solve national
problems. It not only dodges them, but also aggravates them. So, there woul=
be no National Integration Council because the National Degradation Allianc=
is pledged to India's destruction, to elimination of the egalitarian ethics
posited in the Indian Constitution.

Let me take a concrete case. Indian Muslims were victims of history twice
over. Once, when they lost out to the Brits in 1857, and next in 1947, when
India was partitioned. But this historically oppressed community has been
metamorphosed into an oppressor in the Hindutwa version of doctored
history, and India's ills have been laid at its doors. But there is a vile
mix of envy and evasion in this communal construction. Innately the Hindutw=
ideology has suffered from a sense of inferiority and impotence vis-a-vis
the Muslim. The Mughal contribution to Indian society, polity, and culture
is enormous. There is nothing "Hindu", matching it or even close, to show.
To rectify this lapse Hindutwa took to bowdlerizing and conjuring history.

Bowdlerizing: Never admit that Babar was invited by the Rajput princes to
defeat Ibrahim Lodi. On their own they could not. So, Babar invaded a Musli=
ruler, on behalf of and as an ally of Rajputs (in the current lingo,
"Hindus"). But, instead of having to thank Babar for his help, Hindutwa
would demonize him. Similarly, never admit that the Vishwanath temple in
Kashi, desecrated with the rape of a Rajput princess by the Hindu pandas,
was ordered demolished by Aurangzeb in an act of "honor retrieval" to
assuage his courtier whose wife was victimized there. An emperor worth his
title could not do less. Conjuring: Fictional glories attaching to an
imaginary past. The most exaggerated honors go to the Gupta Age from which
flow some of our most decadent and reactionary nostrums plaguing the
society over several millennia.

Fear: Christians have rendered all over India yeoman's service in quality
education and medical aid. This amelioration and conscientization, a threat
to "Hindu" dominance and oppression, must be excised. Christians, all being
"missionaries", deserve no thanks but extermination. Dalits, anguished at
their oppression and enslavement, seeking to air grievances against
caste-based injustices and insults, are the enemy. How dare they question
Hindu hegemony? There is no such thing in Bharat, as there is no bride
burning or widow wretchedness extant. If there is no problem, those crying
for a solution are agents of a foreign power, paid and misled.

>From denial it is only a step to denigration and demonization. It serves t=
major purposes. One material and the other psychological. Those
"foreigners" (Mughals) who raised India materially (and also culturally)
notches above the rest of the then world, and left a rich and humane legacy
of unique achievements, must not be credited. Why? Because, as "foreigners"
they were just invaders and despoilers. Weird, that these "aliens" had no
land to which they aspired to return. Weird too, that these "aliens" gave
India a geographically consistent domain, an efficient and just
administrative system, a climate of peace conducive to trade and commerce
within and beyond, and an imperial shine that commanded wonder and respect
far and near. In a parasitic inversion, this material affluence must be
"Hindu", because it was locally generated. Psychologically it is an anodyne
against the inner rage at one's own inveterate incompetence and impotence=

HinTaliban, votaries of cultural desertification, are therefore engaged in =
mad rampage of destruction and desecration of not only artifacts. The lates=
victim of their "purge" is a young Muslim in Lucknow with whose girl friend
three policemen wanted to be fresh. And, this in a mosque. Lucknow, once
widely known for its finesse and elegance of manners in the Mughal period,
is now a stinking sewage both physically and metaphorically. Of this Luckno=
only scoundrels and skunks can be proud. Vajpayee's electoral borough, this

Hindutwa is a negation of culture and character, of civility and decency, o=
an ennobling ethos, all that sustains a society. It spells degradation,
deprivation, demolition, and disintegration. And, it poses a serious threat
not only to the so-called minorities, but the majorities that have cherishe=
diversity and freedom, tolerance and variety, changes and influences , and
have made their adaptations into imaginative creations which have proved to
be their paramount and enviable distinction. It is these majorities and
these impulses that Hundutwa loves to destroy.

The HinduTaliban would give a damn to the fact of our multiple identities
and composite beings. Its frenzied drive of one nation (religion), one
people ("Hindu"), one culture (language) will drench India in blood a la Sr=
Lanka on a far larger scale. All this, because it seeks to worship the
detritus of homogeneity and hegemony discarded long ago by modern societies=
Dominance of a feral minority, historically inimical to the interests of
million upon millions of people, cannot be allowed or tolerated any more. I=
has been too long a night of despair and destitution for the people in
majority. Obdurately unwilling to entertain pluralism and congenitally
leery of serving the people and solving the problems of their daily
survival, it wants to dope people to serve its interests in hogging the
national wealth by force and fraud. All, under the ugly camouflage and
unholy cover of "religion". There is no drinking water, no basic health
care, no education for millions, no jobs proportionate to their strength in
the national demographics, no infrastructure like roads, telephones,
schools, hospitals, post offices, no protection against police brutality,
and depredations of goon legislators. There is not one sector of life wher=
brazen corruption is not rampant in Bharat. All this passes muster as
patriotism and cultural nationalism.

These "patriots" are blind to the fact that Hindus share a high percentage
of traits with Muslims (97.7), Buddhists (91.9), Sikhs (88.99), and Jains
(77.46). This according to the Anthropological Survey of India =EBs People =
India Project detailing the cultural profile of all communities in India.
As Dr K. S. Singh , the ex-Director-General of ASI aptly remarked:
"Diversities and linkages, freedom and tolerance go together." In this
calculus, no one is "pure". Hindutwa casts itself outside the fold of human
society if it lays claim to be so. All it must do is purge itself of
irrationality, ignorance and impudence.

For all this, the NDA-BJP has a panacea. Build temples, destroy churches an=
mosques, loot minority properties, kill them, rape them, burn them, and
rewrite history, coerce people to forget the past. In short, turn India int=
an Afghanistan. Remember, Taliban, sworn as lackeys of the imperium were th=
prot=C8g=C8 of Washington. HinduTaliban count on nothing more.

6 June 2001



[6 June 2001]


Ever since the BJP-led Government came to power in UP, the State has the
distinction of witnessing the largest number of atrocities against the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. As far as dalit women are concerned=
UP accounts for more than half the number of rapes of dalit women that take
place in the country. In the last year, there were more than 400 such
rapes. And it must be remembered that most cases of such atrocities are no=
even registered by the police. It has been the experience of the State
unite of AIDWA that it has never been possible to register a case of
violence against a woman, particularly a dalit woman, without resorting to =
dharna or a gherao or, at the very least, without resorting to meeting high
police officials.

The last few months have seen a spate of anti-dalit attacks. In Azamgarh
and Malihabad, where the Left has a strong presence in large parts of the
district, there have been big protests around such attacks. In Thekma bloc=
of Azamgarh district a convention against atrocities against Dalits was
organised by the CPI(M). The immediate provocation for this was a shameful
incident that took place in the Sarai Mohan village of the block on 24.4.01=
The CDO, Mritunjay Kumar Narain, an IAS officer arrived in the primary
school of the village without any prior notice at about 1.30 in the
afternoon and summoned the Pradhan, Smt. Nirmala, a dalit woman who had bee=
elected with an overwhelming majority. The earlier Pradhan had been known
for his corruption and as being a yes-man of the landlords and his defeat
was considered a great moral victory by the villagers. When Nirmala
arrived, the CDO started shouting at her saying =93Who on earth made you a
Pradhan? You only fit to cut the grass in landlords=92 fields=94. He the=
sent for her husband=92s younger brother, Jeetendra, a post-graduate who is=
primary school teacher. He accused Jeetendra of corruption and taunted him
saying =93So you are an MA in English. So who was Shakespeare and what did=
write?=94 When a terrified Jeetendra stammered out some facts about
Shakespeare and the names of some of his plays, the CDO grew even more
furious and, after abusing him, made him stand in the sun, holding his ears
and bending up and down. When this had gone on for about 20 minutes in the
hot sun, Jeetendra began to feel faint and begged for water. The water wa=
thrown in his face. By that time a few villagers including Nirmala=92s
husband, Mahendra, returned from their fields and rushed to the scene. The
CDO forced Mahendra and Jeetendra into his jeep and took them to the Thana.
Here he tried to lodge a false case against them but the Station Officer
protested saying that he knew them and they were innocent people. The CDO
then made them stand outside the thana, holding their ears and bending up
and down. Soon a large crowd collected and insisted that the two men be
released. Many upper-caste people also remonstrated with the CDO and force=
him to let them go.

Com. Ramjag, CPI(M) MLA of the area, visited the village after two days and
heard the shocking report. He raised the matter in the UP Assembly and was
joined by members of several other parties who forced the Govt to order an
enquiry into the incident.

On 2nd June, Com. Ramjag and Subhashini Ali, President AIDWA, UP, visited
the village and held a meeting of all the villagers. Many women also
attended the meeting. Nirmala , her husand and brother-in-law narrated the
sequence of events and their trauma was only too visible. The villagers
were all seething with rage and humiliation and were determined to fight fo=
justice. They all took part in the convention that was held a short while
later. Hundreds of people from nearby village joined them.

The Convention was presided over by Smt Savitri, member Zila Panchayat and
Jiya Lal, Secy Agricultural Workers Assn conducted the proceedings.
Dinanath, Gen Secy UP Kisan Sabha, Veerendra, Secy CPI(M), Mhow, Ramjag and
Subhashini addressed the convention. In conclusion, a resolution was passe=
to intensify the movement against the CDO if the report proved innefectual
and also to take up the matter with the State SC/ST Commission.

On the 3rd June, a huge rally of poor men and women of the district was
organised by the CPI in Malihabad. Asha Misra, Secy NFIW, UP and Madhu Gar=
and Subhashini Ali of AIDWA also addressed the rally. The rally was unique
because it was held to protest against the rape of 2 dalits by upper-caste
feudal thugs. One of the girls is only 12 years old. She is Sonapati,
daughter of Ramjivan a Chamar . On May 10, Ramjivan booked a band and a
horse for the baraat of his elder daughter whose marriage was to take place
on the 25th. A young landlord, Shiv Kumar Singh, came and told him in no
uncertain terms that no baraat would be allowed to enter the village and
that Ramjivan would have to take his daughter to his future son-in-law=92s
home and solemnise the marriage there. When Ramjivan refused to accept thi=
humiliation, Shiv Kumar Singh promised to teach him a lesson. That same
afternoon, when Sonepati was looking after the few mango trees that her
father owned, Shiv Kumar and his relative, Sattu, raped her and left her
unconscious. A large crowd collected and took the unconscious girl to her
home and, after she had recovered, her father took her to the Mal police
station. The station officer, Prem Singh Raikwar who is well-known for his
atrocities in the area, kept them sitting in the thana for 48 hours and the=
after having abused them to his heart=92s content, registered a case of
=91attempt to rape=92 in Sec. 376/115. Ramjivan then took his daughter to =
NFIW leaders in Lucknow and, after the SSP intervened, her medical
examination took place only on the 14th May. After this, Shiv Kumar and
Sattu were arrested but the villagers and the NFIW activists insisted that =
case be registered against the SO. Demonstrations were held and on the 23r=
the district administration announced that the SO had been transferred and
that action was being taken against him. The same evening, some landlords
of the area took out a procession, waving swords and guns, demanding his
reinstatement in the same thana and the administration surrendered

Meanwhile, Satana, a young Pasi woman of village Ranipara (PS Mal) had als=
come to Lucknow along with other demonstrators on the 23rd. She met the
NFIW leaders and told them that she was married to Mahesh about 7 months
ago. Soon after her marriage, her husband took her to a house in Lucknow
where she was raped by Naurang Singh (Pradhan) and Balbir Singh (a notoriou=
landlord who belongs to the SP). After raping her, they paid her husband
500/- and told her that if she dared to tell anyone she and her family
members would all be killed. Balbir Singh told her that this was something
that he did regularly and that he had raped thousands of young girls like
her. Over the next few months, this incident was repeated thrice. After
the third incident, when Satana protested to her husband he beat her so
viciously that her 4 month-old foetus was aborted and her own condition
became so precarious that he was afraid she might die so he took her back t=
her parents=92 house. A few days after this she heard about the Sonepati
incident and decided to join the demonstrators and fight against the
injustice and physical abuse to which she had been subjected. In Lucknow,
she narrated her story and dared to name the culprits. They were notorious
in the area but till then no one had dared to speak out against them.
Satana=92s complaint was handed over to the Chairman of the SC/ST Commissio=
and to the district police. So far no action has been taken against the
criminals because of the political patronage that they enjoy and because of
their own money and muscle-power.

The re-instatement of the SO and the administration=92s inaction in Satana=
case enraged people all over the district and a protest rally was planned
for the 3rd June. The district administration did everything in its power
to stop the rally from taking place and the local landlords gave them a
much-needed trump card by inviting the Chief Minister to inaugurate a =93Ud=
Devi College=94 in the area on the same day. Uda Devi is the name of a Pas=
woman who is believed to have been very active in opposing the British
during the Siege of the Residency in l857. Sonepati belongs to the same
community. The staging of this function on the same day as the rally was a
shameless bid by the landlords and the Chief Minister who belongs to their
community to divide the dalits whom they terrorised and abused with such
impunity. The people, however, were having none of this and they announced
that not only would they go ahead with their rally but they would hold blac=
flag demonstrations against the Chief Minister if he went ahead with his
programme. Their determination was so apparent that, on the night of the
2nd, the CM=92s programme was cancelled and permission for the rally was

Thousands and thousands of angry men and women converged on the rally. The=
responded enthusiastically to the speeches made from the dias and repeatedl=
shouted slogans like =93Gaon ka gareeb jaaga hai, Rajnath Singh bhaaga hai=
(The village poor have awoken and Rajnath Singh has run away). The meeting
ended with a unanimous decision to fight for justice for Sonepati and
Satana =96 to the bitter end.



SACW is an informal, independent & non-profit citizens wire service run by
South Asia Citizens Web (http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex) since 1996. Dispatch
archive from 1998 can be accessed at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/act/messages/ . To subscribe send a blank
message to: <act-subscribe@yahoogroups.com> / To unsubscribe send a blank
message to: <act-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com>
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.=20=20=20=20=20=20=20=20=20

[ All interested and concerned by the dangers of Nuclearisation of South
Asia are invited to join South Asians Against Nukes Mailing List. =3D> send=
blank e-mail message to : <saan-subscribe@l...> ]