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Letters

'Benares' and 'Banaras'
"Cawnpore" and "Tuticorin" are examples of spellings made up by the British for Indian place names, presumably to make pronouncing them easy for themselves. The city called Vaaraanasee or Banaaras was turned into "Benares". In the late 1950s or early 1960s, many began to write "Banaras", seeing that as a better guide to pronunciation. Lately the spelling has been going both backwards and in circles: "Benaras" and "Banares" keep appearing even though neither makes sense. The film "Mulk", otherwise fairly well crafted, did this in its titles.
Mukul Dube, Delhi

Silencing Dissent
We the Indian Workers' Association, Great Britain, condemn the raids on homes of nine human and democratic rights activists across India, on 28th August 2018. Amongst the people on whom the raids were conducted include Anand Teltumbde, Stan Swamy, Kranti Teluka and Prof K Satyanarayana. These raids also include Arun Ferreria, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves, all five are now under house arrest charged, under one of the most draconian law the UAPA (Unlawful Activity Prevention Act). This is one of the most barbaric law, copied from the colonial law book, which allows an indefinite detention (arrest) of any citizen the Government suspects of having an intent to commit a crime against the State. There are many other such laws on the Indian statute, e.g. NSA under which Chandrashekar Azad Ravan, leader of the Bhim Army has been languishing in jail for over a year. These laws must be repealed; they have no place in a democracy.

These raids and arrests follow on from the arbitrary arrests, a few months back, of Sudhir Dhawale, Adv Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson. These five are lawyers, journalist, human rights activists who have been implicated in totally fabricated charges of organising the violence in Bhima Koregaon at the beginning of this year. The reality of that incident is being completely overlooked, by the law enforcement authorities, and no investigation is being conducted that leads to the trail of Hindutava instigated violence against the annual peaceful demonstration by the Dalits, marking the victory scored by Marathas against the Peshawas in 1818.

These most recent raids and arrests add to the continued relentless repression, by the Indian Government, on the democratic voice and aspirations of the Indians. This amounts to a very serious attack on the already crumbling state of democracy in India. This could lead to an irreversible phase of fascist rule for many years to come. We appeal to all democratic organisations across India to put aside their differences and unite in the most important endeavour, the need of the hour, that lies before them:
l    Condemn intimidation and arrests of human rights activists and intellectuals by the Indian State!
l    Defeat the Manuvadi Hindutva fascist rule of the BJP & RSS!
l    Build unity amongst Adivasis, Dalits and religious minorities and struggles for their rights!
Central Organising Committee
Indian Workers' Association,
Great Britain

[email protected]

Fascism in Action
The Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) condemns the raid and arrests of democratic rights activists in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ranchi and Goa by Maharashtra police on 28th of August under the pretext of investigation in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Following the arrests of five academics, lawyers and activists in June, the second wave of arrests have expanded to include writers and journalists as well as the lawyers of those fighting for the release of those arrested in June. The targeting of people who have stood steadfast in solidarity with those arrested in connection with Bhima Koregaon and the repetition of the earlier script of arrests under the draconian UAPA reveals the desperation of the current regime to isolate democratic-minded people in the run up to the 2019 elections. Arrest and detention of Gautam Navlakha, member of PUDR and long time democratic rights activist, Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, lawyer, trade union activist and faculty at NLU Delhi, writer and activist Vernon Gonsalves, writer and lawyer Arun Ferreira and poet Varavara Rao along with the raids at the homes of Father Stan Swamy in Ranchi, Anand Teltumbde in Goa, Anala, Kumarnath, Pavani, Kranti Tekula and others in Hyderabad starkly reminds us of the extent to which the current regime will go to terrorise and silence voices of democracy.

On the 28th of August, the police spread across all these states, coordinated an 'operation' to arrest several democratic rights activists, all of whom have had decades of work defending the rights of the people and exposing the structures of violence patronised and perpetrated by the state. It is important to note that these arrests and raids, coming in waves, under shockingly severe charges filed by the Maharashtra police is indicative of a concerted effort to harass people leading democratic movements all over the country, spread fear among the people fighting for their rights and reveals the bigotry and chauvinism of the ruling government. The current government, it appears, will stop at nothing to crackdown on all voices of dissent. The search warrant and order sent by the Swargate Police Station in Pune was entirely in Marathi. Each of those arrested were refused translations of the warrant and arrested without being informed of the charges on them. In Delhi the efforts of several lawyers to question the legality of the search warrant resulted in a stay on the transit remand for Gautam Navlakha. This was quickly followed by Punjab and Haryana High Court order filing a stay on Sudha Bharadwaj's transit remand. In a late night drama, with the police trying all efforts to abduct and take Sudha Bharadwaj away despite the HC order the vigilance of her lawyers resulted in her being produced before a Magistrate who ordered for house arrest. On the 29th of August, both the High Court and Supreme Court were pushed to intervene in this case. It is crucial to note that the Supreme Court passed an order to send all the arrested back home and retain them under house arrest while giving the prosecution one week to provide evidence for the legality and necessity for arrest. The Delhi High Court raised strong objections to the way in which the police was conducting such operations and the Supreme Court sent notices to the Maharashtra government asking for explanations on its actions.

The government of Maharashtra, it. is clear, is now working under the direct order of the BJP-RSS high command and the PMO wherein all criticism against the government is branded 'Urban Naxals'. This targeting and branding has two purposes, to silence dissenting voices and to absolve the government of all responsibility for the social, economic and political condition of the country. The up-coming elections, held under these conditions, with incarceration of democratic rights activists and silencing of dissent is bound to be a farce in the name of democracy. The use of draconian laws, routinely used against activists to incarcerate for long periods of time and not to uphold the rule of law, branding the activities of lawyers, academics, poets and journalists as 'terrorist and unlawful activities' directly undermines the principles of freedom and democracy. Fascism is visible in its complete form wherein speaking up and standing with dalits, adivasis, minority communities and all marginalised people is declared criminal and belonging to lynch mobs draws patronage and garlands.

CDRO strongly condemns the arrests and raids on all such democratic rights activists and firmly stands against these anti-people, anti-democratic, repressive actions of the Maharashtra police and the central government and demands the immediate release of all those arrested and detained in house arrest in the Bhima-Koregaon case.

CDRO stands united with all people and organisations targeted by the state and demands the freedom of all political prisoners.
On behalf of CDRO,
Asish Gupta, Coordinator

'Urban Naxals'
The people of the Hindu Right are productive and creative only when it comes to chuming out meaningless words and phrases which can then be flung, as abuse, at all who do not agree with them.

We have been hearing "pseudo secular" for a long while but so far no one has told us what it means. When people tired of that, "anti-national" was produced. That was exhausted through over-use, so now hear Urban Naxal being tossed around not just by the hectoring bully of Indian television but also by policemen in Pune.
Mukul Dube, New Delhi

Save River Ganga
Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand is an important figure in the field of environmental engineers in India. Formerly known as Professor G D Agarwal, he has been a faculty in the Indian Institue of Technology, Kanpur and Member-Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board.

He has played an important role in stalling 3 hydroelectric projects to ensure uninterrupted flow of Bhagirathi, which becomes Ganga after meeting Alaknanda, for the initial 175 km.

The Swamy now, 86, has undertaken another unto death at Haridwar since 22 June, 2018, demanding a law for conservation of river Ganga.

Close to Rs 500 crore was spent as part of the previous Ganga Action Plan and now Rs 7000 crore, out of Rs 20,000 crore, proposed budget for Namami Gange project under the current government, has been spent but most of industrial waste and sewage continues to flow untreated in Ganga similar to other rivers like Sabarmati in the country because, firstly, the installed capacity of Sewage Treatment Plants and Common Effluent Treatment Plants is woefully short of the total waste generated and, secondly, whatever capacity has been built remains non-functional for various reasons, including corruption.

The scientist turned Swami is unhappy with the state of affairs at the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). He is sure that the Clean Ganga-2020 mission will also fail as the previous mission Ganga Action Plan launched in 1986. In both these projects crore of rupees have been invested.

It is shocking that this government which projects itself as champion of Hindutva and changed the name of Water Resources Ministry to include Ganga Rejuvenation in its name is completely silent on Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand's fast and the media is colluding in this conspicuous conspiracy.
TCNN, Hyderabad

Frontier
Vol. 51, No.11, Sep 16 - 22, 2018