News Wrap


Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, who have fought a long and heroic battle to advance the cause of justice for Gujarat's 2002 pogrom, face possible prosecution on charges of financial misappropriation. It's a clear case of the politics of vendetta launched with explicit intent to whitewash and efface from public memory the misdeeds of those who today wield political power in the state and centre.

The Gujarat police's alacrity in turning up at the doorstep of Teesta and Javed's Mumbai residence within minutes after the High Court in Gandhinagar pronounced, that it would not entertain their plea for anticipatory bail, suggests an intent to bully and intimidate. The ostensible reason, that Teesta and Javed are required for "custodial interrogation" is an unwitting, but nonetheless chilling confession of the Gujarat police's real intent.

Disha Student organisation organised a protest demonstration at the Delhi Secretariat on February 18, 2015 to raise the demands of the students of School of Open Learning (SOL), Delhi University. The demonstration was held to highlight their plight and the discrimination they face at the hands of callous university administration and apathetic governments. The students of SOL are deprived of basic amenities like proper classes, access to libraries etc. The number of classes officially earmarked for completing the syllabus are too few. The number of study centres over Delhi are also not sufficient to cater to 4.5 lakh students enrolled in SOL.

Now that the AAP government has come into power in Delhi, the SOL students are hoping that their demands will be heard and they will get what is their due.

Missing Mexican Students
On 26 September 2014, in the Southern Mexican city of Iguala, 43 trainee student teachers were set upon by police, allegedly acting on the orders of the local mayor and then handed over to the Guerrerros Unidos, a local drug gang. The disappearance of the students, apparently at the hands of corrupt local police in league with a criminal gang, has triggered a wave of popular protest over violence and criminality, enabled by Mexico’s deep-rooted political corruption. The UNHCR has observed that the parents and protesters calling for justice, needed protection amid a campaign to denigrate the trainee teachers, who vanished. Some have started to vilify and insult the disappeared students, and demonise their parents and their demands. Jeers and insults are directed at the students on social networks. The teacher training college at Ayotzinapa town has a radical reputation, where two of Mexico’s most famous guerrillas from the 1970s studied. The curriculum includes classes on social struggles, as well as teaching methods. The students had gone to Iguala to commandeer buses for use in a later protest.

In Spain, at Cordoba’s Mosque–Cathedral inscriptions from the Koran share space with a baroque altar piece. Everyone’s Heritage Platform for the Mosque–Cathedral of Cordoba began a campaign in 2013, to wrest the site from the catholic church’s control, and into public management. In recent years the word mosque has been removed from the monument’s website, leaflets and tickets. The mosque was built on the site of a Visigothic church in the 8th century in Cordoba, one of the great cities in the world at the time. When the Christians reconquered it in the 13th century, they built a cathedral in the centre of the mosque. Under the regional government of Andalusia, the site is now under the control of the diocese of Cordoba, which has began referring to the site as the cathedral, rather than the city council approved name of the Mosque–Cathedral of Cordoba. In 2006, making use of a law dating back to the dictatorship of General Franco, the diocese of Cordoba registered the world renowned site to its name for 30 Euro. As a place of worship for muslims and christians, the site has a history. It is the second most popular tourist site for Andalus after the Alhambra.

Brazil under Rouseff
President Dilma Rousseff and her PT Workers’ Party won the elections of October 2014 in Brazil, by only about 3% points, defeating Aecio Neves’ pro business PSDB. Abstentions were high at 21% of votes. Brazil is divided between the less well off in the peripheries of the nation’s cities and the poor north-eastern states, pitted against the representatives of the rich who would do away with social welfare benefits and jobs. Others are excluding militant friends from Instagram or leaving groups on social media. The ruling coalition is accused of taking kickbacks for contracts with state oil group Petrobas. The past four years have delivered the lowest rates of growth since the early 1990s, coupled with persistent inflation. Brazil’s growing current account deficit weakens its currency. The fiscal deficit widens, and inflation threatens to go beyond the control of the central bank.

Vol. 47, No. 38, Mar 29 - Apr 4, 2015