Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

March 26, 2015

Press Release

The largest incident of custodial killing, where officers of the notorious Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) shot dead 42 persons from the Muslim community and sought to destroy the evidence has resulted in acquittal because of the deliberately lackadaisical and shoddy investigation says Vibhuti Narain Rai, retired officer of the Indian Police Force (IPS) in an exclusive interview to Communalism Combat-Newsclick and Hillele.org. . Worse still, successive governments since 1987, over 20 years, belonging to different political parties, were never interested in punishing the guilty. .

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“The sight that met my eyes the night of May 22, 1987 is something forever embedded in my psyche,” says Rai, adding, that “language is a very poor substitute for thought. Bodies lying half dead, fully dead, on the banks, flowing in the canal...every step I took I was scared I would step on someone’s head or limb. One lone survivor, Babuddin recounted the horror to us in an eye-witness account.”

Rai who’s seminal work on the Communal Bias in the Police machinery was first publicly written about in Communalism Combat (February 1995) later published the subject matter of his research in a book when the government that had granted him permission while in service to conduct it, disowned the work. He is the first officer to have squarely confronted the existence of this communal bias. Shahr Mein Curfew, (1988) his experiences of heading the police in Allahabad has also sold many copies.

In this exclusive interview conducted in collaboration between Communalism Combat, News click and Hillele TV, we discuss the Hashimpura massacre with the policeman who filed the first FIR in the case, retired IPS officer VN Rai. Given that 42 people did not just fall down and die, how can this judgment be explained?  Mr. Rai. tells us about what he saw on the night of 22nd May 1987 and the prevailing communal bias in police services. He explains how he believes that CID failed to adequately investigate and prosecute the matter. Mr Rai also addresses the issue of how steps can be taken to prevent any further incidents of this nature.

Hashimpura was the largest incident of custodial killing, where the senior leadership of the PAC and also the political leadership needed to be investigated but this ghastly massacre has never been acknowledged or treated as such by the state apparatus be it the National Police Academy, Hyderabad or State Police Academies. Representation of different sections of Indians, Minorities, Dalits, Adivasis and Women within the law and Order machinery is a policy measure that needs to be implemented to ensure a forces that reflects India’s diversity.

From the start, the Crime Investigation department (CID) ensured that the masterminds were not investigated and punished, says Rai in this interview. The decision to abduct and kill in cold blood 42 young Muslims has had to have been taken at the highest level and yet no attempt was ever made to investigate who gave the instructions for this horrific custodial killing. Massacres of this kind are a huge challenge before the Indian state and we have simply not faced up to the challenge.

Rai had not only recorded his statement before the CID but also deposed before the Court. His forthcoming book on the massacre he says is a repayment of a debt that has weighed heavily on his conscience since the dark night of May 22, 1987.

A 28 year battle for justice has ended at least for now, in abject failure, with a UP session’s court acquitting all the 16 accused in the infamous Hashimpura massacre case. Despite firsthand accounts from survivors of the incident, in which about 42 people of the Muslim community were allegedly picked up and brutally murdered by armed constabulary, the Sessions court held that the prosecution has failed to establish its its case beyond reasonable doubt, leading to serious questions about the investigating authorities competence and will to deal effectively with the case. The judgment raises critical and serious questions about the efficacy of our state institutions in dealing with cases involving minorities. 


'Reclaiming Australia' from Islam is really about reclaiming whiteness - By Yassir Morsi - The Guardian, UK


the guardian UK

'Reclaiming Australia' from Islam is really about reclaiming whiteness

Reclaim Australia’s rallies weren’t a reaction to a real ‘threat’ from Islam. On the contrary, Islamism gives racists a convenient vocabulary for their grievances
‘Muslims, as 2% of the population, possess little by way of political power, have no significant representation, and own no capacity to impose their will.’ ‘Muslims, as 2% of the population, possess little by way of political power, have no significant representation, and own no capacity to impose their will.’ Photograph: Richard Ashen/Demotix/Corbis
There are no Islamic courts, no practice of its jurisprudence, no laws from the Quran, and yet on Saturday we saw Reclaim Australia rally violently, their placards demanding the country say “No to Sharia!”
Seeing barricades, lines of mounted officers, rivals groups brawling over the truth of the “Islamification” of Australia, is a little overblown when we consider that Muslims, as 2% of the population, possess little by way of political power, have no significant representation, and own no capacity to impose their will.
The Muslim-Australian is hardly a political threat to the nation, and Muslims themselves continue to struggle with the scrutiny applied to them as part of the continued war on terror.
So while we could dismiss the Reclaim movement as paranoid and ignorant, I refuse to see racism as a natural response, like an immune system, to presence of a “real” threat. We need to recognise the powerful feeling of “owning the nation” that comes with white Australia saying “no” to foreigners.
Reclaim’s sentiments come from a social imaginary of Australia under attack, which is inundated with images of a violent Islam. But it’s not that racism is the result of the “presence” of Islamism. It is that Islamism gives racism its convenient vocabulary.
Ordinary people can imagine the erosion of their social surroundings in everyday terms of stories and images that are fed to them in an exaggerated form, of an existential fight between us and them over who owns even the minutiae of life: where we live, the languages we speak and, in the case of the halal certification “debate”, what we eat.
The beleaguered “community” increasingly becomes formed by these fantasies, fears, symbols, caricatures, stereotypes and nightmares. Racism then defaults to a kind of commonsense language, a no-bullshit bypass of political correctness. The community is provoked by a threatening Muslim, a foreigner whose presence is drenched in images of the inhuman violence we see circulated every day, and who is presumed to have an Asiatic capacity for cruelty and violation.
The Muslim as society’s folk devil is no mere illusion or fantasy. It represents deep-seated anxieties about control, displaced on to an Islam that has come to represent symbolically a sense of traditional loss and struggle in a changing global and multicultural world.
Any contest over what is “obvious” about Islam or “real” about Islamism, or whether Muslims need “fixing”, however, misses the point. The Reclaim Australia rallies were never about Islam in the first place, but were a clash of different ideas about being Australian.
Racism is rarely about the reality of the other. 
Racism is rarely about the reality of the other; the Reclaim protestors, without irony or self-reflection, were able to appropriate the Indigenous flag in their cry to reclaim Australia.
With the presence of swastika tattoos, and the general demography of the rally’s participants, it is obvious that race still remains central to our political culture in a constitutive sense; being “white” continues to play a formative role in how we construct what it means to be authentically Aussie.
For some, Aussie still simply means “white”, a sentiment that itself obscures the mostly forgotten English bigotry against the Irish, Australia’s first other.
These days the un-Australian is commonly a figure of colour, who is easily transmittable from one ethnic identity to another. The foreigner as a “form” always remains a thing to respond to, even as we openly acknowledge that, in Australia’s history, its content has always been interchangeable: Asian, African, Arab, Muslim – and yet, always Indigenous.
The foreigner is a piƱata doll, the thing you beat so you can still feel you own a stick. It’s a thing to say “no” to, a thing whose integration is to be always measured against “our” standard and in doing so making that standard feel more real than it is.
In these cacophonies of “no” to foreignness, the foreigner is contradictory, fragmentary by its nature. Its truth is secondary to its function as a crude shorthand for the negating of difference and change.

No sensible adult could think Australia is becoming Islamic, and Reclaim Australia has little to do with halal, sharia, jihad or terrorism. These words are like traumas, a backdrop against which the repressed frustration of losing privilege plays out.
Yet despite official denunciation and celebration of diversity, racism as a concept in this country endures, adapting and readapting, chameleon-like to the changing social and political times. It does so because its aim, in part, is to address the sensitive needs of the dominant white nation’s sense of self.