Behind criminal acts motivated by religion, bigotry, misogyny, lies fear of change

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Gauri Lankesh, Sabeen Mahmud.

My piece for The Wire on the assassination of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, that reminded me of the target-killing of my friend, activist Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi. I traced the patterns and similarity behind these murders.

A spoke in the wheel of this “intellecticide” is the ‘anti-intellectual’ nature of the vote for Donald Trump who shares a host of similarities with Modi in India despite differences. The rise of white supremacy in a nation of migrants built after virtually annihilating indigenous populations is a continuation of ongoing racism in the US.

The pendulum swings of history ushers in periods of the rise of the ‘Right’ or the ‘Left’. We are witnessing the rise of the militant Right at this moment with its ensuing bloodshed in India, Pakistan, the US and elsewhere.

But what will continue to rise inexorably, despite bloodshed along the way, are human aspirations to basic rights, equality and justice. There is no going back, no matter how fiercely the chaddis, topis or kluxies fight it.

Read more: In Life, and in Death, Gauri Lankesh and Sabeen Mahmud Battled Powers Fearful of Change

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Protest at Harvard Square: Commemorating Gauri Lankesh’s murder and ongoing Rohingya massacre. Photo: Beena Sarwar

 

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Coming up to 70 years… Sing (and sign) for peace

What an incredible outpouring of love and respect for each other as Independence Day comes up for Pakistanis and Indians. What’s remarkable about these efforts is the altruism of those involved, lack of commercial motivation, using their own resources.

One of the most moving expressions of these aspirations for peace between the two countries, is the Indian acapella group Voxchord’s courageous gesture of singing Pakistan’s national anthem uploaded to Youtube by Ram Subramaniam in Mumbai (Voice of Ram, @VORdotcom) on Aug 11 that quickly went viral on social media.

On August 12, Voice of Ram shared another spine-chillingly beautiful Peace Anthem, a video of the united national anthems of India and Pakistan sung by artists of both nations that is also being shared widely – see below.  Continue reading

India/Pakistan upcoming peace events August 3-9, 2017

Haroon Khalid, author of Walking with Nanak, will participate in a live Youtube discussion on Monday, 7 August.

As Pakistan and India commemorate 70 years of their existence as independent nation states, what is striking is the people’s desire for peace and how those who govern them continue to thwart these aspirations. As media highlight the tensions what goes largely unreported is people on the ground continuing their efforts to push for peace. Below: a few on-the-ground upcoming happenings I compiled that seek to further understanding between the two nations. At the very least, they are all expressions of the desire for normal relations. Continue reading

Want peace between India and Pakistan? Will you push for it?

I wrote this piece last week for The Wire about the ongoing campaign for peace between India and Pakistan. I argued that while the move is unlikely to lead to any great policy change, it is time the citizens of both countries came together to encourage the resolution of all bilateral issues through dialogue. A request to readers who agree to please sign and share the online campaign if you haven’t already done so. Thank you. Also see this powerful call for both countries to talk, from Abdul Basit, the outgoing Pakistan Ambassador to India: Pakistan and India must return to the negotiating table, without further ado and preconditions

Peace Now-Hyderabad

Hyderabad launch on July 1 – Magsaysay awardees Admiral L. Ramdas and Jayaprakash Narayan at the launch. Courtesy: Mazher Hussain, COVA

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The fisherman’s tragedy

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Arrested Indian fishermen in Pakistan lockup. File photo. Getty images

Something I wrote in anguish yesterday, published in The Citizen, The Wire and Aman Ki Asha…  Not only are fishermen punished harshly for crossing a border they cannot see, once detained they are treated like prisoners of war by the other country.

The India-Pakistan Fisherman’s Story: Caught, Jailed, Dies, Body Wrapped in Red Tape

Imagine you are a fisherman. Born into poverty. Born in a small coastal village in India. Or Pakistan. (Hardly a matter of choice). You lead a tough life, following the profession of your father and grandfather. You are barely literate. You spend your life eking out a bare existence for yourself and your family, chasing the depleting shoals of fish that the wind and tide drive further out to sea.

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#NotInMyName and expanding ‘islands of sanity’

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Residents say they keep a 24-hour vigil during disturbances to prevent any mischief by ‘outsiders’

Talking about the #NotInMyName campaign in India against lynch mobs that forced PM Modi to break his near-silence on the vigilante violence, my friend Jaspal Singh in an email also discusses the model of citizens’ “defence committees” against communal violence, as seen in Canada and in India. He gives the example of Ram Rahim Nagar (population over 20,000), Ahmedabad, cared for by a welfare society formed by two security guards in 1974. “It is to their great honour that to this day not a single communal incident has taken place there, even when Gujarat was burning,” added Jaspal when I probed him further about it. An earlier piece, Islands of Sanity (PUCL, Feb 2006), examines  more such examples. Do these examples still hold true? Have more islands of sanity emerged? How do we expand such islands of sanity? Another journalist friend, Shivam Vij, argues for shifting the focus from “Keyword Beef (which only furthers Hindutva) to Keywords Farmer, OBC, unemployment, demonetisation, economic slowdown” in his piece taking a critical look at the Not in My Name protests. Jaspal Singh’s ‘Reflections’ below. Continue reading

Why #NotInMyName protests against vigilante violence, mob lynchings in India resonate elsewhere too

My piece published in The Wire today. Also posted below.

Not in my name-Orijit Sen

Image by graphic artist Orijit Sen.

Catalysed by the mob murder of a teenager in India on June 24, followed by a Facebook post on June 24 by filmmaker Saba Dewan, a #NotInMyName campaign is taking off across India with simultaneous protests in several cities on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, against the ongoing mob lynchings and vigilante violence targeting Muslims and Dalits. Continue reading

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