Archives  >  2019  >  September  >  18th

Abdullah, Detained

1. What’s the story?

In a move that has surprised many, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, was booked by the Central Government under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Adullah had already been under house arrest since early August, when Article 370 was repealed by the Indian Government. (Quick recap: The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978, which, ironically enough, was initiated by Farooq Abdullah’s father, Sheikh Abdullah, gives the Government the power to act in the “interest of the security of the State and public order”. Under this Act, an individual can be detained for up to two years without trial.)
Tell me more.

Farooq’s detention under PSA came days after Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko “filed a writ of habeus corpus, questioning Abdullah’s detention and urging the Supreme Court to seek his production.” (Quick recap: “Habeus Corpus” is a legal necessity, requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.) Abdullah’s residence in Srinagar has been currently declared a “jail” according to Central Government’s orders.
Abdullah is the first mainstream Kashmiri leader to be detained under this Act. Earlier, politician Shah Faesal had been arrested under this Act when he was prevented from leaving the country, and turned away from the Delhi Airport.

Vaiko’s petition had actually questioned whether Abdullah was at liberty to leave his house.

“Senior advocate Ajmal Khan, appearing for Vaiko, told the bench that there were conflicting statements on Farooq. He said while Union Home Minister Amit Shah had stated that Abdullah was not under detention, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had said that he was under detention.”

At that time, Home Minister Amit Shah, had the following to say about Abdullah’s whereabouts:

 “I have made it clear thrice, Farooq Abdullahji is at his home, he is not under house arrest, he is not under detention. He is in good health, ‘mauj-masti mein hain, unko nahi aana hai toh gun kanpatti par rakh kar bahar nahi la sakte hum’ (he is happy and cheerful, if he doesn’t want to come then we cannot make him do so at gun-point).”

“I am saying it for the fourth time and I have the patience to say it for the tenth time, Farooq Abdullah has neither been detained nor arrested. If he isn’t well, doctors will take him to the hospital. House should not worry. If he was not well, he would not have come out…”

Things, however, seem to have changed since then.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, predictably enough, has strongly opposed this move. “Farooq Abdullah removed to create political vacuum in J&K,” he declared on Tuesday.

(The average Kashmiri, in the meantime, is tuning into radio shows to get news like this in the absence of access to any TV or Internet.)
So, what now?

According to sources, Abdullah is in no mood to relent, and is still opposing the Government’s unilateral decisions regarding Kashmir. Other popular Kashmiri leaders, including Farooq Abdullah’s son, Omar Abdullah, and former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti have been under house arrest since early August. They haven’t made any formal statement regarding the recent developments.

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), that’s where. Left representatives won all the seats in the recently concluded student elections there.

“The united front of Left student groups AISA, SFI, AISF, DSF won all the four central panel posts in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) polls, the election committee announced on Tuesday.”

Interestingly enough, the Delhi University elections, held just a few days ago, had had a completely different outcome.

“The RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has won three of the four key posts in the Delhi University students’ union elections, but the Congress-supported NSUI also claimed victory after winning just one seat. 

“What loss? We did win one seat,” Akshay Lakra, the NSUI Delhi president, said.”

3. What more?

The fraught relationship between the Indian state and Adivasis has been a topic of much debate. Here’s why “…Beyond access, educational institutes must be sensitive towards cultural differences”, and “prevent the positioning of tribals as inferiors”.

“That the class positioning of individuals decide whether or not they receive ‘quality’ education and that this class positioning is intricately linked with the caste hierarchy and tribes, is a foregone conclusion for India.

In many of the Adivasi-dominated areas in India, schools run, if at all they do, with a single teacher, who often has the additional burden of managing the mid-day meal scheme for students besides teaching students from Class 1 to 5. Institutes of higher education are beyond imagination for the inhabitants of such regions, given their financial constraints and the lack of secondary schools.”

4. Anything else?

Jini Dinshaw from Mumbai is 90 years old, runs the city’s oldest orchestra, and has no plans of slowing down any time soon. “Feted around the world…” she “…has trained generations of young musicians gratis, entirely for the love of Western classical music.”

“It is 1962. Jawaharlal Nehru is prime minister, the Sino-Indian war is waging, and a film called Bees Saal Baad is on its way to topping the year’s box office. In this milieu, a young woman called Jini Dinshaw founds the Bombay Chamber Orchestra. It will become Mumbai’s oldest and longest running orchestra.

Over the next 57 years, this delicately-built, soft-spoken music teacher will train young musicians gratis to play in the orchestra, entirely for the love of Western classical music. She will achieved this despite a lack of funds, daunting politics within the Indian classical music fraternity, taxation on performances and the buying of instruments. Perhaps her most significant challenge will be the question of relevance: why does Mumbai need the Bombay Chamber Orchestra.”

5. Is that all?

A Mumbai neighbourhood is so polluted that it has been declared unfit for human habitation. Residents, however, still persist. Here is that disturbing but essential story.

“Mahul was once a simple fishing village but today, this Mumbai neighbourhood is a dystopian nightmare. The area is home to a foul combination of heavy industries and sewage treatment plants, jammed cheek-by-jowl with residential apartments. And the single worst of these apartments, the ground zero within ground zero, is ironically known as the Eversmile Complex. It’s a sprawling compound of 72 concrete buildings that house an estimated 30,000 people in crumbling, garbage-strewn apartments that leak sewage from the top floors down.

The statistics are alarming. According to the latest Indian Institute of Technology report, about 204 residents suffer skin infections, 129 live with chronic fever and colds, and around 200 have reported loss of wages and jobs. Residents tell us that since July 29 this year itself, nine people have died of diseases. The total number of deaths till now is yet to be determined but reports last year quote activists citing over 100 deaths since 2017. As we walk around, some residents gather outside a vacant room of a young boy, who recently moved here, fell sick, and then ultimately killed himself.”

6. Before you leave…

Read about how the UK’s liberal democrats are betting almost their very existence in order to stop Brexit.

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