Durbar and International Sex Workers Rights Day
The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee observes International Sex Workers Rights Day every year on March 3. This year too they marked it by organising mass meeting and a rally. This is the only organisation of its kind that fights for the rights and dignities of sex workers while doing everything possible to prevent women trafficking in this part of the globe. ‘Durbar also counsels the minors and unwilling women not to enter into the sex trade’, said Bishakha Laskar, secretary of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee. She was addressing a gathering on the occasion at Sonagachi, north Kolkata. Durbar started its journey three decades ago with the inspiration and guidance of late Dr Smarajit Jana. She also elaborated the rights sex workers are entitled to.

Sex Workers are equal before the law and no criminal case should be foisted ont any adult woman who voluntarily provides sex services. The police and media should take utmost care not to reveal the identities of the sex workers in public. Many dignitaries from different walks of life namely Dr Bhagwan Das Mahapatra and Dr Joydeep Shaw  from Safe Hands, Amitava Choudhary from the rights group were present at Durbar’s March 3 mass meeting. Dr Mahapatra said they would provide the medical support free of cost to the sex workers without hesitation.

After the meeting a march was organised from Sonagachi Sheetala Mandir to Barnaparichay (near College Street). The purpose of the rally was to visibly express their support for sex workers rights and draw attention of the public to the plight of sex workers. The rally displayed colourful banners and posters, placards to show the collective commitment of advocating sex workers rights. Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee is working relentlessly not only for the sex workers but it works also for the marginalised communities like Shabar, Mundas, and Nachnis.
Dipa Joardar, Kolkata

Few years back water was free, but fear has promoted packaged drinking water culture, resulting in more plastic waste. Like oil, now water is a scarce resource over which many wars may be fought. No doubt it is a universal solvent but the authorities have to resolve issues amicably before it reaches boiling point.
T S Karthik, Chennai 10

Waqeel Hasan’s House Bulldozed
Waqeel Hasan was a part of the team of 12 workers who rescued the 41 entrapped workers in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara Tunnel in November last year. He along with his associates worked tirelessly to save fellow workers who were trapped when the tunnel collapsed. After returning from the rescue operation he said that they took the risk for their fellow workers, it was a duty to the nation that they served.

After three months, the central government agency Delhi Development Authority (DDA) bulldozes the house of the Nation’s Hero in Delhi’s KhajuriKhas.

On 28th February, a team of DDA and Delhi police reached Waqeel Hasan’s house in the morning. At that time, only the children of the family were present. Despite that, the DDA and Delhi Police continued thrashing his door forcefully. It is to note that all officials forcing the children to open the door were male officials. When Waqeel and his wife returned home and clarified to DDA that they have bought the house and have been staying in the house for more than a decade, Delhi Police arrested Waqeel and his wife and kept them at Khajuri Khas police station. In the meantime, bulldozers ravaged Waqeel’s house to the ground.

A team of CPIML-AICCTU-AISA-AILAJ consisting of Sucheta De (CPIML CC Member), Ramabhilash (CPIML Delhi), Aditya, Vikash (AISA) and Amarjit (AILAJ) visited KhajuriKhas and met Waqeel and his family. We have extended all kinds of support including legal support.

The team got to know that Waqeel was not served any notice before the demolition. DDA and Delhi Police officials acted completely illegally and forcefully bulldozed his house.

The present BJP regime takes pride in its bulldozer governance. People know how BJP’s MCD Councillors were marking colonies to be bulldozed. Thousands of people living in Khori Village, Jahangirpuri, Tughlakabad, Gyaspur, Mehrauli, Dhobighat and Priyanka Gandhi Camp and several other areas in Delhi have been made homeless within one day. Their lifelong investment in the form of their houses were destroyed forcefully. The present law in Delhi prohibits any demolition without prior notice. The DDA almost never bothers to give notice before demolition. The government is mandated to provide rehabilitation. In the case of Waqeel Hasan, the entire demolition was a criminal act performed by DDA and Delhi Police.

It is a shame that be it Dr Kafeel Khan, the women wrestlers or the rescue miners, today’s government targets the nation’s glories.
Ravi Rai, State Secretary,
CPI-Ml Delhi-NCR

Ambedkar and Du Bois
The article "Ambedkar and Du Bois" published in Frontier’s February 18-24, 2024 [Vol .56, No. 34] issue is valuable.

There is a little misunderstanding about the Dalits and the 4-tier Varna hierarchy. The Dalit is not even at the bottom but located outside and below the four layers to be declared untouchable.
Sivanandam Sivasegaram

Ameen Sayani
Ameen Sayani was like a family member who visited your home every week with stories and songs. He was the voice of Radio Ceylon. Sayani was immensely popular with his Binaca Geetmala programme. The entire family gathering around radio, before television era was the happiest moment of radio listeners and best example of connecting people. For four decades, his voice united millions of Indians for an hour every Wednesday as he brought Hindi cinema’s greatest songs in an unparalleled radio broadcast. AmeenSayani passed away on February 20, 2024.
T S Karthik, Chennai

Aaron Bushnell Immolates Himself
On Sunday [February 26] afternoon, an active-duty US soldier immolated himself in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington to protest against the genocide in Palestine.

In a video posted on social media, 25-year-old soldier Aaron Bushnell is seen dousing himself with flammable liquid and setting himself on fire until engulfed in flames. While he performs this act that would lead to his death, the US soldier shouts "Free Palestine".

"I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonisers, it’s not extreme at all. Free Palestine!" he said in the video.

"Many of us like to ask ourselves, 'What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?" The answer is, "you’re doing it. Right now", Bushnell posted on X hours before immolating himself.

The Metropolitan Police of Washington responded immediately to the incident. The US Air Force confirmed that a member of its ranks had been involved in the incident but did not provide further details.
The fire department and emergency services indicated that Bushnell was rushed to the hospital with "critical" injuries. The US soldier died a few hours later.

In recent weeks, opposition to the Israeli offensive in Gaza has spread across the United States, where human rights activists demand an immediate ceasefire.

"This isn't the first incident of self immolation in the US over the ongoing Gaza war. In December, a protester set herself on fire outside Atlanta’s Israeli Consulate", the Industan Times recalled, referring to Rachel Corrie, a peace activist who also chose self-sacrifice as an extreme form of protest.

Many in the United States are angry over Biden administration's ‘insensitive stand’ with the nation vetoing a ceasefire resolution at United Nations Security Council.
Jose Cabañas Rodriguez

Harassment by BSF
There was a case of grave violation of the fundamental right to livelihood of Dalit fishermen in the village of Barnaberia, under Jhaudanga Gram Panchayat, Gaighata Block, North 24 Paraganas district, West Bengal–as perpetrated by BSF personnel of the 5th Battalion posted at Barnaberia Border Outpost on the river Ichhamati. The Indo-Bangladesh border in this region passes through the Ichhamati River–and part of the river is in India while part of it is in Bangladesh.

Said fishermen belong to the Rajbanshi community (Scheduled Caste) and reside on the banks of the river. They depend largely on their income from fishing, for survival, and also work as agricultural labour seasonally. They are all terribly poor.

They are registered as fishermen with the Department of Fisheries, Govt. of West Bengal, and have fished in the Indian part of the Ichhamati River for their entire lives; until about 4 months ago, when BSF imposed an ad hoc and abrupt restriction on their fishing. In fact, their Bangladeshi counterparts still continue to fish in the Bangladeshi part of the Ichhamati on the other side of the International border. According to the 73rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution, the matter of governing pisciculture in rural areas comes under the jurisdiction of the Gram Panchayat, as listed in the Eleventh Schedule, and BSF has no jurisdiction whatsoever in this matter. However, on 18th January, 2024, 28 affected fishermen went along with the Gram Panchayat member to appeal to the BSF to lift this unlawful restriction on fishing in the part of Ichhamati River in Indian Territory – but their requests were denied by the BSF Company Commander at Barnaberia BOP who had no jurisdiction to do so. Thereafter, they collectively complained about this persistent and illegal violation to the District Magistrate, North 24 Paragans, on 22nd January, 2024. No initiative has been taken yet to reinstate the fishermen to their rightful livelihood.
Kirity Roy, Secretary,
BanglarManabadhikarSuraksha Mancha (MASUM) &
National Convener, (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity

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Vol 56, No. 39, Mar 24 - 30, 2024