‘Shaheen Bagh Inspired Kadru Bagh In Ranchi’

Khushboo Khan, 32, explains how she used her HR skills to recreate a Shaheen Bagh-like site in Ranchi’s Kadru area where women have been holding sit-in protests since January 19

Ranchi is a small city when compared to Delhi or Kolkata. Women here are also a little inhibited in coming out on street to protest. However, people have realised that this is a momentous time when one needs to show the courage to speak up. Ab nahi bolenge, to kab bolenge? (If not now, then when will we speak up?)

Therefore, inspired by the brave women from Shaheen Bagh, our committee, named Hum Bharat Ke Log (We, the people of India) started to come out and register our protest against Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizen. Our protest began on January 19, at a small ground near Haj House in Kadru area. As we are growing in strength, we have named it Kadru Bagh, so that people know our resolve is as strong as that of our sisters from Shaheen Bagh.

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We are protesting against CAA-NRC not only on the grounds that it is discriminatory, but also because we believe that our country isn’t equipped to take on any more people from outside and be able to give them job opportunities, health benefits etc. For, our own countrymen are not getting jobs, access to good health, transport facilities etc. We have slid down as a country on various indices, right from economic growth to women’s safety (a huge issue in Jharkhand), to food safety etc., but the government is busy trying to create a rift between communities to hide their failures.

I worked as a human resource professional for many years before I decided to quit and launch an NGO called ‘She’ that imparts vocational training to women. I must admit that my HR skills came handy in leading this protest against the divisive CAA-NRC. I have been coming here every day for 12 hours and with each passing day people are attending in huge numbers. We are braving 4-5 degree Celsius temperature and some of the protesters are having health issues too but we are ready to risk everything to be heard.

ALSO READ: With CAA, Modi Has Woken Up A Sleeping Tiger

Ever since this (BJP) government came to power, we as Muslims have been at the receiving end of communal taunts, snide remarks and insulting messages. We remained silent at many instances when our community was directly targeted: the Triple Talaq law, abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and the court verdict on Ayodhya. But we decided to break our silence when Citizenship Bill was passed because we saw this an attack on the Constitution and constitutional rights of the people.

It is heartening to see common people from all religions protesting against CAA-NRC, because frankly everyone can read between the lines when it comes to this government.  Human beings are losing precious lives and peace in this situation. This government knows only raj (to rule) and not neeti (policies). It must learn to engage with people sincerely. The media must also help the government in its engagement with the people. For now, Shaheen Bagh has shown us the way, and we are going to follow the path of truth sincerely and tirelessly.

ALSO READ: Mothers Are At Shaheen Bagh For Their Children

Resurrecting Menon And His Many Lives

Nearly six decades on, generations of Indians remain angry at the military debacle that China inflicted in 1962. It casts a long and deep shadow on bilateral and regional ties. India is compelled to strategize for a two-front war against China and Pakistan, the two “iron brothers”. Billions are spent on raising mountain divisions and airbases.

The border dispute that triggered it, however, remains unresolved. Mutual distrust persists in all spheres, and is unlikely to go, as China surges way ahead as a global player. India is unable to match.

ALSO READ: Nehru, Kashmir And The Lost Frontier

As present-day Indians seek to review, even rewrite, unpalatable past events, “sixty-two” rankles. A new book raises afresh an old question: How far Jawaharlal Nehru and his Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon, the two perennial villains, were responsible? 

“The truth is far more complex. Both made mistakes, but to blame them solely would be simplistic,” says Jairam Ramesh in ‘A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives Of VK Krishna Menon’.

He writes, “warts and all”, about their faulty political, diplomatic and military assessments, but also of tub-thumping politicians who opposed any compromise, even talks, on the British-drawn India-China border. They included Finance Minister Morarji Desai who rejected pleas for increased defence budget citing Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘ahimsa’.

They were also the ones who pilloried Nehru-Menon the most after the conflict. “If he doesn’t go, then you will have to go,” Mahavir Tyagi, senior lawmaker and fellow-freedom fighter, warned Nehru. Menon had to go.

Congressmen hated Menon’s proximity to and influence on Nehru. He had lived in British comforts and never went to jail like they did. This legion of Menon’s past critics agreed that he was acerbic, even arrogant, highly opinionated and disdainful of others’ views.

Even now, Kunwar Natwar Singh, diplomat-politician and one-time foreign minister, declares while reviewing this book: “Menon does not deserve a 700-page biography.”

Ramesh, a Congress lawmaker and former minister, is no apologist either of the duo and other actors of that era. He records Menon’s bad vibes with the military and his interfering in their working. His elevating a favourite, Lt. Gen. B M Kaul, to fight the Chinese was among the most glaring of his disastrous decisions.   

Although “not romantic”, the two were empathetic towards China. They would have liked a negotiated settlement of the border dispute. Menon, indeed, had a specific roadmap. But they were up against the conservatives. Also, they grossly miscalculated the Tibet factor after giving asylum to the Dalai Lama and Mao Zedong’s compulsions to use conflict with India for domestic political gains.

Resurrecting Menon 45 years after he died, utlizing heaps of archival material, Ramesh traces his role as the principal spokesman of India’s freedom movement in Britain and as a minister post 1952 after his controversial tenure as the high commissioner in Britain. Ramesh thinks Nehru’s mistake was to be his own foreign minister and have Menon as his defence minister. Both areas suffered. When Menon toured the world as his envoy and was busy defending India at the United Nations on the Kashmir issue (including his record-breaking nine-hour speech) files piled up in the defence ministry.

His focus is on Menon, but he also creates an equally mesmerizing image of Nehru. Both had a common guru in Professor Harold Laski. Both were democrats. Both held similar world-view. Both were deeply suspicious of the West, trusted the Soviet Union, but being Fabians, were not communists. Calling himself an archival biographer, Ramesh does not pre-judge events whose conclusions are already well-known, nor does he intrude by making moral affirmations.

As individuals with differing backgrounds, he says, the two enjoyed great mutual trust. Both were creatures of colonialism and products of British education. They spoke and wrote immaculate English — Menon, only English. But they fought colonialism and the British rule.

Their detractors accused them of being ‘Westernized’, while the West distrusted the two socialists. Menon was a bigger target, considered close to the British Communist Party, the only British group that espoused India’s independence.

Was Menon, then, Nehru’s alter ego? No, Ramesh insists. He was Nehru’s “shock-absorber.” This is as sympathetic as people have been decades after the two have gone, leaving behind a flawed legacy.

They are, however, viewed differently. Menon never recovered from 1962 – he never defended himself. Nehru died a broken man 18 months later, but partly thanks to his daughter and grandson ruling for long years, remains the most iconic figure of post-independence India. Today’s rulers, however, demonize him.

ALSO READ: Why BJP Seeks To Discredit Nehru

Post-independence, Menon’s persuasion of Nehru led to India joining the British Commonwealth and play a leading role in the forging of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Strangely, one was considered an anti-communist front of former British colonies while India’s NAM advocacy pushed it close to the Soviet-led Bloc. In this century, India pays only lip service to the NAM and is lukewarm to the Commonwealth.

Menon’s role was not all evil. In the 1950s, a newly-independent India “got a much higher profile than its might and punched well above its weight”, taking initiatives to resolve the crises in Korea, Cyprus, Vietnam, the Suez, Indonesia and West Asia. Menon conferred with some of the most prominent figures of the mid-20th century – Nasser, Tito, Fidel Castro, Chou En Lai and Ho Chi Minh. John Kennedy, however, didn’t like him. Time magazine that never had a kind word for him, called him “India’s tea-fed tiger.”

Ramesh records how Menon, a bachelor, charmed women of the British elite. While many admired him, Pamela Mountbatten found him “most cynical.”

Menon’s role in the domestic affairs was significant, Ramesh says, citing his little-known contribution to the merger of princely India along with V P Menon.

Menon had drafted the Preamble to the Constitution with terms ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’. But Nehru, heading an all-party government that had Syama Prasad Mookerjee of the Hindu Maha Sabha, saw no consensus on them. He asked Menon to “go easy”. Inserted only in 1976, in the 42nd amendment, they are part of the Preamble currently being recited across the country by those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. But a consensus eludes even today.

Post-Nehru, the Congress shunned Menon. Although Indira Gandhi regarded him, it declined him party nomination. Menon fought elections as an independent – lost twice, won once.

Times have drastically changed. Shiv Sena denigrated all South Indians in Mumbai as ‘outsiders’ during an aggressive election campaign that felled Menon in 1967. Till then, Menon, a Keralite, would address large crowds, in English, at Mumbai’s iconic Shivaji Park. The present-day Maharashtrian, with Sena in power, cannot even imagine this.

In his last days, Menon remained sought-after. The BBC correspondent assigned to report the 1971 India-Pakistan conflict in the Sindh-Rajasthan theatre began by interviewing Krishna Menon. “You cannot conceive of a war in South Asia without that,” he told me.

Little is known about Menon’s love for the young. Students in the 1960s heard him in awe, over endless cups of tea. As one among them, I found it was difficult to keep pace on either tea or talk. He was, as Ramesh records, a humanist.

The writer can be reached at mahendraved07@gmail.com

Man Opens Fire At Shaheen Bagh Protesters, One Hurt

A student of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University was injured after a man opened fire in Jamia area on Thursday, where protests were going on against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The man who brandished the gun and opened the fire, has been identified as Ram Bhagat Gopal Sharma. The 19-year-old hails from Greater Noida’s Jewar and has been detained and is being questioned by Delhi police.

The injured- Shadab Farooq, a student of the second semester of MA Mass Communication sustained injuries in his left hand. He has been referred to the AIIMS trauma centre.

“Student (Shadab Farooq) has sustained injuries in his left hand. He has been referred to the trauma centre. Doctors say he is out of danger. Apprehended person (Gopal) is being questioned,” South East District (Delhi) DCP Chinmoy Biswal told ANI when asked about the firing incident.

Earlier in the day, the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) had organised a march against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), from Jamia area to Raj Ghat.


High Alert As 1st Coronavirus Case Detected In Kerala

After the first positive case of novel Coronavirus reported in Kerala, Health Minister KK Shailaja on Thursday said that the state government has directed all hospitals to monitor patients with symptoms of the virus.

“20 samples had been sent for tests out of which one was found to be positive. The patient had returned from Wuhan (China) and is now kept in isolation at General Hospital in Thrissur. She is stable,” Shailaja told reporters here.

“We have directed all hospitals, including private hospitals, to monitor patients coming with similar symptoms (of coronavirus). The health department is all set to isolate patients and start treatment,” she said.

The minister has asked travellers returning from China to report to the health department.

“The department has directed home quarantine for those who are returning from China,” she said.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the patient, who has been found positive was a student at Wuhan University.

“One positive case of Novel Coronavirus patient, of a student studying in Wuhan University, has been reported in Kerala. The patient has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus and is in isolation in the hospital. The patient is stable and is being closely monitored,” the health ministry said in a release.

The Indian government had also issued a travel advisory, asking people to refrain from traveling to China.

In addition, the thermal screening facilities, as a precautionary measure, have been extended to 21 airports now, including Gaya, Guwahati, Vizag, Varanasi and Goa.

More than 170 people infected with the deadly virus have died in China.

The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been identified before. The exact source of infection of 2019 nCoV is not known yet.

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

The symptoms reported in patients with nCoV include acute onset of fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing. The infection results in severe complications and even death.


Sharjeel Imam Highly Radicalised, Claims Delhi Police

JNU student Sharjeel Imam, who was sent to five-day crime branch custody, is highly radicalized and believes that India should be an Islamic state, Delhi Police sources claimed on Thursday.

“Interrogation has revealed that Sharjeel Imam is highly radicalized and believes that India should be an Islamic state, he has also admitted that no tampering has been done with the videos of his different speeches,” sources claimed.

Delhi Police is probing Imam’s connection with the Islamic Youth Federation and Popular Front of India.

“Police are also examining Sharjeel Imam’s connections with Islamic Youth Federation and Popular Front of India. He has said he has no remorse over his arrest. All his videos are being sent to Forensic Science Lab and his social media accounts are being examined,” sources said.

A Delhi court on Wednesday sent Imam to five-day custody under Delhi Police Crime Branch.

Imam was brought to Delhi on transit remand after his arrest from Bihar’s Jehanabad on Tuesday.

The JNU student, who was booked for sedition for his provocative speeches had stoked controversy with his “cut off Assam from India” remark.

He has been slapped with charges of sedition and inciting enmity between communities under Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Separately, a case has been registered against the JNU student by the Uttar Pradesh Police for his controversial speech delivered during the students’ protest at Aligarh Muslim University on January 16 against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).


Coronavirus: Visitors From China Post-Jan 15 To Be Tested

The government on Thursday said that all those who have come from China after January 15 will be tested for novel coronavirus as there is an incubation period for the virus.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a meeting here on Thursday and reviewed the preparedness to deal with the threat of the spread of novel coronavirus. Officials from the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, External Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs, Civil Aviation, Information and Broadcasting, Labour and Employment and Shipping attended the meeting.

A video conference with the chief secretaries of states and UTs was also held.

A Health and Family Welfare Ministry release said that a number of new steps have been taken to deal with the threat of the virus.

“All those who have come from China after January 15, 2020 shall be tested as there in an incubation period for the virus,” it said.

The cabinet secretary stressed upon the need for 14-day home isolation for all those who have returned from China. People have been advised to avoid a trip to China.

As part of efforts to augment the lab facilities, six more labs will start functioning from Thursday – NIV Bengaluru Unit; Victoria Hospital Campus, KR Road, Fort, Bengaluru; AIIMS, New Delhi; NCDC Delhi; Kasturba Hospital for infectious diseases Mumbai and NIV Kerala Unit.

The release said six more labs will start function by January 31 – ICMR NICED, Kolkata; GMC Secunderabad; KGMU Lucknow; SMS Jaipur; IGGMC Nagpur and KIPMR Chennai.

It said that the discharge portal for patients has been prepared by DGHS which is being disseminated.

The meeting decided that check-posts in relevant tourist locations will be set up for better surveillance.

In villages bordering Nepal, gram panchayats are being organised to make people more aware regarding the symptoms, precautions and measures taken by the state governments regarding prevention and management for novel coronavirus.

States have also been advised to open control rooms, appoint a nodal officer and popularize the control room number.

The states have been asked to be prepare IEC material in local language.

The release said that a total of 7711 confirmed cases have been reported in China and 170 people have died due to the virus.


Paltu Kumar: The Flip-Flop Man of Indian Politics Strikes Again

JD(U) Expels Verma, Kishore For Anti-Party Activities

Janata Dal (U) leaders — Prashant Kishor and Pavan K Varma — were expelled from the party for allegedly indulging in ‘anti-party activities’ on Wednesday.

The decision comes close on the heels of Kishor and Varma repeatedly questioning Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led party’s stand on the newly enacted citizenship law — CAA.

Varma had also questioned the JDU’s alliance with the BJP in Delhi Assembly polls while Kishor has more than once made his differences with the party known on the issue of CAA and NRC.

Earlier, JDU supremo Kumar had said that they should go wherever they want.

(ANI): “Thank you Nitish Kumar,” said Prashant Kishor on Wednesday shortly after the JDU expelled him along with Pavan Varma for allegedly indulging in “anti-party” activities.

“Thank you Nitish Kumar. My best wishes to you to retain the chair of Chief Minister of Bihar. God bless you,” Kishor tweeted while taking a jibe at the JDU’s alliance with the BJP.

The expulsion of Kishor and Varma comes after both the leaders repeatedly questioned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led party’s stand on the newly enacted citizenship law — CAA.

Varma had also questioned the JDU’s alliance with the BJP in Delhi Assembly polls while Kishor has more than once made his differences with the party known on the issue of CAA and NRC.


EC Bars Thakur, Verma From Campaigning In Delhi

The Election Commission on Wednesday ordered the removal of Union Minister Anurag Thakur and BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma from the list of star campaigners for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the legislative assembly elections in Delhi with immediate effect.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi said in a report to the ECI on Tuesday that Thakur raised the slogan ‘Desh Ke Gaddaro Ko, Goli Maaro Saalo Ko’ (shoot the traitors) several times while addressing a public meeting here in Rithala on January 27. The Election Commission had issued a show-cause notice to Thakur and has sought a reply by 12 pm on January 30.

Verma had in a controversial statement said, “Lakhs of people gather there (Shaheen Bagh). People of Delhi will have to think and take a decision. They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them. There is time today, Modi Ji and Amit Shah won’t come to save you tomorrow…”

The statements of both the BJP leaders evoked sharp reactions from several quarters.

The voting for the Delhi Assembly is scheduled to take place on February 8. The counting will begin on February 11. (ANI)

BJP, Akali Dal Bury Hatchet Before Delhi Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Jagat Prakash Nadda on Wednesday reaffirmed the strength of his party’s alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), terming their togetherness as the oldest and strongest.”

“The alliance of BJP and SAD is the oldest and strongest. I am thankful to the SAD, which has decided to support the BJP in the ensuing assembly elections in Delhi,” Nadda told reporters in New Delhi.

Agreeing to Nadda, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said that his party has not broken the alliance.

“The SAD-BJP alliance is not just a political alliance. It is bound by emotions, for peace, the future, and interests of Punjab and the country. There were some misunderstandings that have been sorted out,” said Badal.

“We never broke the alliance. We just decided to contest the election separately. We’ve been supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from the beginning. We had also gone to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah for granting citizenship for Sikhs, who have been subjected to persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he added.

SAD, an old ally of the BJP, had earlier decided not to contest the election in Delhi, over their differences with the BJP regarding their stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act.


Naravane Chinese Army

Bodo Pact: Troops In Northeast To Be Reduced

Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Tuesday said that its forces deployed in the North East for counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and internal security would be reduced once the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections are over. He said that two battalions have already been taken off from such duties.

“Two battalions have already been taken out. Once Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections are over, we would reduce more troops. In the next two to two and a half years we would concentrate fully on conventional warfare in North-East rather on counter-insurgency operations,” said Naravane.

Speaking on the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, General Naravane said, “The situation has improved after the abrogation of article 370.”

The Central government on Monday signed a tripartite agreement with the representatives of all factions of the banned organization — National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

The peace accord was signed in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, which intends to fulfill key political and economic demands of the NDFB.

Home Minister Shah, while addressing media after signing the agreement said the new development will ensure “a golden future for Assam and for the Bodo people.”

He also stated that around 1550 of NDFB cadres will surrender on January 30.

“Around 1550 cadres along with 130 weapons will surrender on January 30. As the Home Minister, I want to assure all representatives that all promises will be fulfilled in a time-bound manner,” he said.

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, commenting on the development, said that “all stakeholders of Bodo society have signed the agreement, reaffirming territorial integrity of Assam.”

“BTAD will now become the Bodoland Territorial Region,” Sarma added.

This is the third Bodo accord which has been signed in the last 27 years since the movement for a separate Bodoland state commenced in Assam.

The BTC was formed under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution. The demand for a separate state for the Bodos has been going on in Assam for about five decades.