Two Judgements
Justice Fazanuddin, former Supreme Court Judge, Dr Ram Puniyani, Retired professor, IIT Mumbai, L S Herdenia, Convener, All India Secular Forum, Rajendra Kothari, Chandrakant Naiu, Journalist and Dr Ranjeet, Bangalore based human rights activist and well known writer have hailed the judgments pronounced by Pakistan's Supreme court and Delhi High Court.
In a statement they have stated that October 31, 2018 will be remembered as a red letter day in the history of Indo-Pak judiciary.

It may be mentioned here that Pakistan Supreme Court has acquitted a 47-year-old Christian woman from the punishment given to her under the blasphemy law of Pakistan. She was in the prison for almost a decade. Pronouncing the judgment the Pakistan Supreme Court said that Islam is the most tolerant religion.

On 31 October itself, Delhi High Court sentenced 16 UP Policemen to life imprisonment holding them guilty for the massacre of 38 Muslims who were shot dead on May 22, 1987 and their bodies were thrown in a Canal. The most interesting aspect of this case was that V N Rai, then SP of the district himself filed an FIR against the guilty Policemen. Rai is also a famous writer who later became DG of UP Police.
L S Herdenia, AISF

Protests across Punjab
In a press release, Prof A K Maleri and Prof Jagmohan Singh, respectively State president and General secretary of Association for Democratic Rights Punjab reported that in solidarity with the All India call against the arrests of five rights activists from across India, joint protests were held at Ludhiana, Barnala, Sangrur, Bathinda, Patiala, Mansa, Jalandhar, Nawanshar, Faridkot district headquarters and Guru Harsahai sub division of Firozepur. On the call of AFDR, Punjab, many organisations of workers, peasants, youth, students, women, rationalists and various democratic and cultural activists participated in large numbers. The protesters demanded immediate release of Prof Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves who were arrested recently for their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence and for a concocted story of Maoist plot to kill PM Modi. These activists, who have been fighting for the rights of the oppressed for decades are being called 'Urban Naxals' by the ruling Sangh Parivar. The protesters also sought release of Prof Shoma Sen, Advocate Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawle, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Azaad and Prof G N Saibaba, who is ninety percent disabled and is in a critical condition in jail. It was emphasised that the chain of police raids, searches and arrests under the garb of combating 'Urban Maoists' is a planned crackdown by the ruling party to stifle the voice of dissent and this should be stopped immediately. Instead, the main Hindutva culprits Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote should be arrested and punished because they are the mastermind behind Bhima-Koregaon violence and all the false cases registered against the Dalits should be scrapped.

The protesters condemned the amendments 295AA for sacrilege cases passed by the Punjab government and termed it a draconian law which will be used against the rationalists and other progressive people by the ruling class to send them behind bar for life. They demanded scrapping of these barbaric amendments.

In the protests it was unanimously emphasised that only a broader democratic consciousness among the people can protect the democratic rights and put a stop to suppressive crackdown on people's assertion for their genuine rights.
Buta Singh, Press Secretary,
AFDR, Punjab

Optical Fibre
My MTNL broadband connection was changed to optical fibre on 12 October 2018. Around 10 on the morning of 28 October the connection to the Internet broke. Calls to the new complaints number, 22221507, were not answered.

On Monday morning I was told that the optical fibre cable had been cut. It was set right only at 5 p m. It turned out that, while MTNL Delhi has opted to use optical fibre, it has no staff trained to repair it.
Mukul Dube, Delhi

Speaking Truth to Power
Edward Said delivered prestigious Reith Lectures in the BBC in 1993 with the broad title Representations of an Intellectual. The sub-title of his Fifth Lecture was Speaking Truth to Power. This lecture should be the manifesto of our time. The following excerpts from the Lecture represent the expected moral position of an intellectual in our troubled times:
'Uncompromising freedom of opinion and expression is the secular intellectual's main bastion. To abandon its defence or to tolerate tamperings with any of its foundations are in effect to betray the intellectual's calling—one of the main intellectual activities of our century has been the questioning, not to say undermining, of authority... I believe there is a special duty to address the constituted and authorised powers of one's own society, which are accountable to its citizenry, particularly when those powers are exercised in a manifestly disproportionate and immoral war, or in deliberate programmes of discrimination, repression and collective cruelty… Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate… Speaking the truth to power is no Panglossian idealism: it is carefully weighing the alternatives, picking the right one, and then intelligently representing it where it can do the most good and cause the right change'.
Arup Kumar Sen

Voice of Dissent
Those who express their opinions against governments have to face harassment and they are being put into the police custody or jail. Rabindranath Tagore was right about future of opponent opinion in democracy. His last interview to the Izvestia on 30th September, 1930 (last day of visit to Russia) which was restricted to publish is self-explanatory. He was dubiously warned,
"If you dwell too much upon the evil elements in your opponents and assume that they are inherent in human nature meriting eternal damnation, you inspire an attitude of mind which with its content of hatred and revengefulness may some day react against your own ideal and destroy it, you are working in a great cause. Therefore, you must be great in your mind, great in your mercy, your understanding and your patience. I feel profound admiration for the greatness of the things you are trying to do, therefore I cannot help expecting for it a motive force of love and an environment where minds are allowed to be free. It would not only be an uninteresting but a sterile world of mechanical regularity if all of our opinions were forcibly nude alike. If you have a mission which includes all humanity, you must, for the sake of that living humanity, acknowledge the existence of differences of opinion. Opinions are constantly changed and re-changed only through the free circulation of intellectual forces and moral persuasion. Violence begets violence and blind stupidity. Freedom of mind is needed for the reception of truth; terror hopelessly kills it. The brute terror cannot subdue the brute. It is only the man who can do it… Therefore, for the sake of humanity. I hope that you may never create a vicious force of violence which will go on weaving an interminable chain of violence and cruelty. Already you have inherited much of this legacy from the Tsarist regime. It is the worst legacy you possibly could have. You have tried to destroy many of the other evils of that regime. Why not try to destroy this one also?"

Today, we see it is really in a vicious cycle irrespective the political party(ies) ruling both central and state government in federal system of India's democracy. No one has right to raise voice against government. Specially if the person is an intellectual. When political parties and their leaders would rectify them and how they would be capable to digest their criticism, these are the questions in relation to the future of democracy. Last of all, making laws are for the sake of the makers, not for the sake of them for whom these are made.
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

Behind Bars
I'm wrongfully convicted for robbery and serving a life sentence for robbery and 30 years for armed "criminal action" which I am not good for. I don't have an attorney that will fight for me. I have no family or friends. I'm by myself inside this belly of the beast so I know exactly how it is and what it feels like to be alone, by myself, in an everyday struggle trying to remain sane and fighting for not only my freedom but my sanity in this corrupt environment, a pit full of snakes, lost souls and misguided, miserable, lonely, diabolical, evil-hearted, racist, struggling, emotional, gay, misunderstood, depressed, sad, confused individuals. I deal with racist/prejudiced or biased people on a daily basis. I've been assaulted and abused by staff and lied to as well as retaliated against by them. Both my children have been taken from me and it's just a bunch of wrongful injustice towards me and several others here as well. Some of my friends have even been deported. I appreciate you all and all the donors.
A Prisoner, Jefferson City, Mo, USA

Nowhere to Go
I'm 55 years old. I've been locked up since 1993. I will max out my sentence next June. They took my life for a non-violent crime of theft of $365. They're just going to kick me out with nothing and nowhere to go. Luckily it will be summer time.
A Prisoner, Huntingdon, Penn, USA

Vol. 51, No.21, Nov 24 - Dec 1, 2018