Democracy Under Siege!
New Socialist Initiative strongly condemns the arbitrary and malicious manner in which the Pune Police, at the behest of its saffron masters raided the houses of leading human rights activists, lawyers, professors and poets in different cities simultaneously and arrested five of them—Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao under concoeted charges.

Demanding immediate release of all these persons unconditionally and withdrawal of fabricated charges filed against them under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), it also said that appropriate action should be taken against the guilty policemen as well involved in this act.

Reports of these raids reveal that the police had no qualms in treating these persons—who are highly educated and have devoted larger part of their lives fighting for the marginalised and exploited upholding constitutional methods—as dreaded terrorists and also insulting their near and dear ones.

The case of Prof Satyanarayan, Head of the Department of Cultural Studies and Dean of inter-disciplinary studies at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU)—a highly respected academic and scholar in his field and author of many books—reveals, how his house was also raided just because he happens to be son-in-law of Varavara Roa, well-known Telugu poet and activist. Police had the gall to question his wife why (despite being Brahmin) she has opted for intercaste marriage (with a Dalit) and why does not she puts sindoor on her forehead.

The fast changing developments reveal this ill-conceived move has completely backfired and has led to tremendous outrage and uproar all over the country, with marches and rallies organised in different cities and towns joined by hundreds of people. Declaring that the unfolding situation in the country as worse than emergency, with a 'republic of Hope' turning into 'republic of fear' people have underlined that the present government has resorted to this move basically to deflect attention of the wider populace over its all round failure in managing economy or addressing the issue of growing ruptures in social fabric or reining in vigilante gangs who have made a mockery of rule of law.

It needs to be noted that even the mainstream print media has also questioned the government for this ill-thought move and charged that it is BJP's McCarthy moment reminding the people of which-hunt by the US regime in late forties and early fifties against writers, scholars and activists alleging left leanings.

The unprecedented intervention by the highest courts of the country in this issue has played a key role in putting the government on the defensive. The Supreme Court created history of sorts when it allowed a third party intervention in this case responding to a petition filed by leading intellectuals and constituting a three member bench to issue a notice to the Maharashtra Police. Terming that 'Dissent is safety valve of Democracy', it has reminded the government that democracy would not be safe if the government quells dissent.

The powers that be had also presumed that nationwide arrests—followed by a pliant media—would also help cover up their blatant failures on the economic front. In fact it is for everyone to see that the way in which the BJP dispensation led by Modi has bungled the economy has also become more and more apparent.
New Socialist Initiative (NSI)

Chicago Violence
'Chicago South Asians for Justice' is a coalition resisting the rise of global fascism in the United States, India and worldwide. On September 10, we staged a peaceful demostration before the venue of the World Hindu Congress (WHC), an event that celebrated speakers like Mohan Bhagwat, the chair of the Indian right-wing, militant group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), now ascendant in Indian politics. We were viciously attacked by conference attendees. They choked, kicked, and spat on us. Photos and videos do not capture the ferocity of violence we experienced. The crowd's reaction tore the mask off the fascism underlying the Congress and the Hindutva ideology.

The WHC is an international body that aims to promote Hindu supremacy in India and across the globe. WHC masks itself as a non-violent moderate organisation, simply interested in promoting Hindu values. WHC intentionally obscures its militant, religious fundamentalist principles and ties online, but during the conference, WHC speakers reiterated their disturbing political philosophy, which includes militarist and eugenist overtones and messages of intolerance. More than anything, their brutal actions in response to our peaceful dissent demonstrate how dangerous they truly are.

The ruling party in India, the Bharatiya Janata Paaty (BJP), is the political wing of the RSS. There are clear linkages between the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and the tyranny of Hindu fascists. BJP politicians, including Prime Minister Modi, have given license to mobs and vigilantes to terrorise religious and social minorities at their whim.
Chicago South Asians for Justice, Chicago

Starvation Deaths
Chunni Bai, a resident of Panton Ki Anti in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, allegedly died of hunger on September 27 this year. She and her husband Uday Singh—both above 75—had nothing to eat for five days. They had not received their ration and old-age pension (Rs 750 per month) for the past two months. Every time they went to ration shop, they went sent back empty handed by the dealer as their bio-metrics were not working.

The death took place a day after the Supreme Court upheld constitutionlity of most of the Aadhaar Act, "Authentication under Section 7 would be requird as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service".

At least 56 hunger deaths have been reported in India in the last four years, 42 of these in 2017 and 2018, according to a report compiled by IIT-Ahmedabad economist Reetika Khera and her organisation, Rise Up, Reports of hunger deaths are particularly frequent from two states : Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, which have reported 16 cases each.

Most of the victims belonged to disadvantaged groups such as the Dalits, Adivasis (tribals) and Muslims, Khera's research shows, adding that the Musahars, who live mostly in UP and neighbouring Bihar, have been the worst hit.
A Reader, New Delhi

Vol. 51, No.18, Nov 4 - 10, 2018