President's Rule
The Socialist Party believes that a sudden decision by the BJP to withdraw support to the Mehbooba Mufti government in Jammu and Kashmir, of which it was a part for the last three and a half years, is another example of opportunistic and irresponsible character of the BJP/RSS. It has become clear from the BJP and RSS sources itself that the BJP has decided to take this decision to take advantage in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This decision proves that the so-called nationalism of BJP/RSS is a hollow slogan. The BJP/RSS uses the name of the nation to grab power and then consumes power without accountability. In fact, by this decision the BJP/RSS has jeopardised the national interest and national security.

This opportunistic and irresponsible decision of the BJP can further worsen the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Consequently, the situation can affect India's image Internationally. Therefore, it is very important to have an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir in order to keep democratic processes and spirit alive.

After the withdrawal of the support by the BJP, the possibility of any other coalition government is not currently visible. Earlier experience shows that the governor's rule in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be effective for a long time.

The Socialist Party demands that assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir be held as soon as possible. The Socialist Party appeals to PDP, National Conference, Congress and other small parties to raise demand for early elections strongly.
Dr Abhijit Vaidya
National Spokesperson,
Socialist Party

Release Piyush
Piyush Manush Sethia of Salem Citizens Forum, Mansoor Ali Khan, an actor and Valarmathi, a student activist, and possibly others who have been engaged in opposing a range of socially and environmentally destructive projects were arrested by the Tamil Nadu police on June 18, 2018. Piyush is a widely respected social and environmental activist who has relentlessly worked to protect farms and forests, and also organised communities to revive tens of lakes and forest patches. Their arrests highlight once again the gross disregard the Tamil Nadu police in particular, and the administration in general, has for peoples' genuine interest, and for human rights and the environment.

Piyush's politics is to organise and fight all forms of oppression, be it by the State Caste based oppression, or by environmentally destructive corporate forces. He hass mobilised communities in claiming their foundation freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of India, and is widely acknowledged for his civil disobedience efforts in exposing corrupt forces. In so doing, Piyush has exploited to the hilt his fundamental freedoms, particularly his Freedom to Express. His efforts have gained popular support and hurt anti-democratic and corrupt forces fundamentally.

For engaging in such liberating politics. Piyush has been targeted time and again by vested interests and the police. In July 2016, the police picked him up for organising protests against the Muluvadi Gate over-bridge in Salem, illegally detained him, then held him in solitary confinement and tortured him for days. Had Piyush's wife Monica Sethia not managed to secure his release on bail, the police would have done their worst on him. Undeterred by such assaults on his fundamental freedoms and on his body, and on the security of his family. Piyush has returned to fight more vigorously against oppressive forces, against corruption, against environmental destruction and against social ostracisation of the Dalits.

Piyush's arrest now is the direct outcome of his participation in a very popular resistance by farming and other impacted communities to the expansion of Salem airport and the building of a 8 lane (900 feet wide) 275 km long Chennai-Salem expressway at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore. The expressway project would require 2800 hectares of prime farmland, will cut through eight reserve forests (fragmenting forests and wildlife corridors), directly displace 32 human settlements, and permanently fragment and destroy the culture and economies of tens of villages and towns.

There already are three roads connecting these two cities and they can be easily strengthened at a fraction of the cost of the proposed fourth road—the 8 lane expressway! This expressway cleared by Union Minister for Road Transports, Highways, Shipping and Water Resources Mr Nitin Gadkari in February 2018 as a fast track project, has been rushed through into tendering for construction, even when land acquisition processes has not even been initiated. This access controlled expressway offers no benefit whatsoever to the tens of directly impacted villages and towns. In fact, his massive road will slap a swathe of environmentally brutal concrete across some of the finest farms irrigated by the Cauvery river and will interfere directly with the flows of the river. While the need for this super-expensive project is in serious question, the Tamil Nadu and Union Governments have engaged in a high pitch media campaign to claim the massive displacement and devastation of farmers and pastoralists, and of riverine ecology and forests is in fact 'development'.
Coalition for Environmental Justice in India

Vol. 51, No.2, Jul 15 - 21, 2018