Hail Samsung
I own a relatively inexpensive Samsung phone. It began to misbehave yesterday (August 8) and this morning. I spoke to the company's main help number. A polite young woman did what she could but then told me to take it to a service centre. At the nearest service centre, Care Point in Mayur Vihar 1, I sat for over half an hour while the idle staff chatted and in the manager's room someone spoke loudly. No one bothered about the grey senior citizen who carried a walking stick, so I quietly left. I had not been asked for my name, and it is possible that these people imagined a name for me based on what they saw : beard.
Mukul Dube, New Delhi

Silencing the Critics
Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee strongly condemns the arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and others. This committee has termed these arrests and raids as a grave attack on democracy and civil liberties. It's just like a return back of emergency days in India.

These arrests and raids across the country on the homes of activists and intellectuals is an attempt to silence critics. It is also a try to create a fear among the masses and terrorise the activists. The activists those who are targeted today are struggling for the justice and criticising anti-people attitude of the government of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It is a matter of fact that these arrests are politically motivated by keeping in view of upcoming parliamentary elections. It is an unjust act of government of India.
Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee,
Lateef Mohd Khan,
General Secretary

Victims of NRC in Assam
Over 40 lakh people in Assam found their names excluded from the "complete draft" of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) released in Guwahati on July 30, 2018.In the wake of release of the document, the State Coordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, stated: "Citizenship eligibility is individual. Each person must prove his or her own citizenship eligibility".

Whatever may be the opinion of State officials, the documentation done in the NRC has communal, class and gender dimensions. Most of the people excluded from the NRC belong to the Muslim community. Sanjib Baruah, the noted scholar on Assam, has reminded concerned people that the burden of exclusions might fall disproportionately on the poor people with limited literacy. He drew attention to the fact that for some people in an area "documents have scattered in the vicissitudes of displacement through floods and political disturbances, ethnic clashes, communal riots, violence". It was found that women were particularly vulnerable since "their names almost never appear on land records, or family trees, or school enrolment lists". Moreover, a woman with the birth-name Khatun may be Bibi after marriage.

It should be mentioned in this connection that even before the release of the "complete draft" of the NRC, "...the NRC update has generated increased anxiety and concerns among the Bengali Muslim minority in Assam, who have long been discriminated against due to their perceived status as foreigners...".
Arup Kumar Sen, Kolkata

Private Data
On 31 July 2018 I bought something from an on-line seller and paid with my debit card. What was unusual was that I did not provide the details of my card they appeared as if by magic (in IT jargon, the fields were "pre-populated'). I wrote to my bank and to the organisation which controls my debit card, which have some or all of the information. Both denied any connection with what had happened.

The seller answered my enquiry after several days of silence. He said that his firm will have used one of these "payment gateways"—Razorpay, PayU Money, Mobikwik—and that "they might store some of your information in the form of cookies".

It concerns me that three commercial outfits with which I have no direct connection should store information about me and that at least one of them should have been looking on as I placed an order with a seller. Is this kind of thing legally permissible? I also wish to know if the seller's statement about the "PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)" having been implemented is correct.
Mukul Dube, Delhi

Defending Rights Defenders
In yet another brazen act to stifle dissent, the Maharashtra Police have arrested Vernon Gonsalves, who is an Executive Member of the CRPP, and well known activists and lawyers Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, and Kranti Teluka. Raids were also conducted across Goa, Jharkhand, Delhi and Telengana in the houses of Anand Teltumbde, Father Stan Swamy, Anala, Kumaranth, Prof Satyanarayana and many others. Right at the time when the terror plots by the rightwing Sanatan Sanstha is emerging, the bogey of assassination plot on the Prime Minister is re-invoked and these arrests and raids are carried out. More importantly, the 90 day period of judicial custody for the five activists arrested in the month of June 2018 is just about to end and the charge sheet is yet to be filed. At this time, when the police narratives are falling apart, these arrests reveal the desperation of the Maharashtra police to shut down all criticism by arresting more activists.

The raid at the homes of Susan Abraham and Arun Ferreira and the eventual arrests of Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves patently reveals the effort to scuttle possibility of establishing a case for the release of the five arrested in connection with Bhima-Koregaon in June. Now, with the arrests of the lawyers fighting the case, the Maharashtra police are making all efforts to ensure that all those who stand with the spirit of democracy are denied all democratic rights. The efforts being made to scuttle the High Court stay on the transit remand of Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj is another instance where the upholders of law are willing to do anything to blatantly abuse and disregard the law. The efforts to illegally take Sudha Bharadwaj to Pune, despite the Punjab and Haryana High Court order putting a stay on the remand, clearly indicates the maliciousness of the police force. The gherao of an unprecedented number of police personnel during the arrest of Varavara Rao and the ransacking of his home is another such instance of police brutality. The search of Anand Teltumbde's residence during his absence is patently illegal and raising concerns about the extent to which the police will go to clamp down and spread fear among people. The extended interrogation of Father Stan Swamy in Ranchi, Jharkhand and Prof Satyanarayana in Hyderabad while keeping them confined to their residence since early morning and denying any legal assistance is another such instance of police highhandedness.

CRPP strongly condemns these raids and arrests and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case. Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) demands an end to all such operations by the Maharashtra police, stands in solidarity with all such voices of democracy and is determined to Fight this vicious assault on all those who dare to speak out against the violence of the state.
Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners,
Sar Geelani (President), Amit Bhattacharyya (Secretary General), Sujato Bhadra (Vice President), Sukhendu Bhattacharjee (Vice President), M N Ravunni (Vice President), P Koya (Vice President), Malem (Vice President), Hanybabu MT (Media Secretary)

"Food for Thought"
A disheartening fact was covered under Young Metro of the Telegraph on 8th August, 2018. The title of the coverage was 'Food for thought'. A renowned school (English Medium) for the children of elite, higher classes and so forth of Kolkata launches a programme (ATF) 'to feed underprivileged children in the locality'. The teachers and students collect excess/left over foods from food ATM of a restaurant. All of them involved with this venture are proud and feeling great to do this arrangement of relief to the hungry underprivileged.

It was more pathetic in this democratic society which tells and struggles for equal rights and justice for all, where a photograph of underprivileged hungry children demonstrated they were in queue for this left over food. And beneath this, it was noted, "At 2:45 pm every day, a serpentine queue of children from the nearby slums, aged between five and 15, forms in front of the school gate. They go inside in batches to collect their food".

What's fate, children go to school, for food, while privileged children are to best education.

Why this type of discrimination would be highlighted so much? Is it not a shame for the society? Because the people of higher level of BoP claim, they are liberal and they always welcome justice for all. Is it the rights of underprivileged hungry children? Is it a true initiative teaching equality to the children of higher classes? Or they would learn to separate themselves from these unfortunate children.

From this, a student may learn and orient that they are from the higher category and they born to live with an aristocracy. Their parents have money so that they could access best food, dresses and whatever they need. But their peer (underprivileged) has to beg for excess/left over food.

Will it not teach them the feeling of "We" and "They"? Will it not be enough to teach them to separate and to neglect? It may be taught them to be sympathetic and kind to these underprivileged. It never teaches them to be empathetic. Is it not violation of rights of the underprivileged children?

These privileged children would learn and orient to treat them as different. So, when they would be administrators, planners and so forth in future, they might take policy to provide relief to these underprivileged. They never think for their wholesome development with equity and justice.

Further, the teachers of this school never think that these underprivileged children gather in school gate long before schedule time. So, they perhaps do not go to school. Therefore, what would be their educational attainment? This effort makes them dependent and avaricious. If the school takes initiative for mainstreaming them through proper education and other support with the involvement of these privileged children, it would surely help to revive them from their adverse situation to be self reliant. Unfortunately, it teaches the students that the underprivileged always depends on the rich. It is the basic gap between rich and poor.

The students should teach to think about these underprivileged from humanitarian values and rights. It should not be from the sense of relief for easy publicity and praise.
Harasankar Adhikari,

Kandhamal Day
One decade of Kandhamal violence was over on August 25th. The National Solidarity Forum, a coalition of over 70 groups have been pursuing the call every year for observing Kandhamal Day on August 25. During the last one decade, more and more groups are getting aware on the persecution of the Christians in Kandhamal and have started solidarity actions.

During this brutal invasion on the Christian community, around 393 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were demolished, over 100 people were killed, over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation and several educational, social service and health institutions were bulldozed and looted. Over 12,000 children lost their education. More than 56,000 people were forced to flee from Kandhamal. Several cases of forced conversion to Hinduism by the Sangh Parivar have been reported. And those who had to flee from Kandhamal, are spread out in different parts of the country today. Many of them cannot come back to their villages since they were told that unless they become Hindus, they would not be allowed to survive in Kandhamal. Those who are displaced and working outside their home district, are not just 'migrant labour'. They are victims of communal genocide.

The communal violence in Kandha-mal also spread to different parts of Odisha and other states as well. It is too important to note that the original settlers in Kandhamal never expressed violence and the violence was conducted by the Hindutva forces. During these ten years of experiencing violence, the survivors of Kandhamal are still struggling for Peace, Justice and Harmony.

The compensation provided by the Government for the victims and survivors of Kandhamal has been minimal. There have been more than 3,000 complaints, but only 820 odd FIRs were registered. The rest of the complaints were not even registered. Among these complaints, only 518 cases were charge-sheeted. The remaining cases were treated as false reports. And out of these 518 cases, 247 cases were disposed off. The rest of the cases are pending before the sessions and magistrate courts. And amongst those disposed cases, many are already acquitted.
National Solidarity Forum

Vol. 51, No.10, Sep 9 - 15, 2018