Freedom Under Fire: Kashmiri Students Assaulted in Jodhpur; Talk Questioning India’s Secularism Cancelled

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

Kashmiri students allege assault in Jodhpur

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, a group of Kashmiri students was assaulted in Jodhpur’s Vyas Dental College on Thursday evening, allegedly a backlash against the police attack on ‘non-local’ students at NIT Srinagar.

According to allegations from the students, a mob of 30 people armed with knives, iron rods and sticks attacked the Kashmiri students at the annual cultural event of the private college as well as in their hostel rooms. “They barged into our hostel rooms, shouting anti-Pakistan slogans. They attacked us with iron rods, sticks and knives, and threatened to kill us, saying they will take revenge for what happened in NIT Srinagar,” a student said.

Former home secretary’s lecture questioning India’s secularism cancelled

Madhav Godbole

Madhav Godbole

A lecture to be delivered by former union home secretary Madhav Godbole in Mumbai was abruptly cancelled after a draft of the speech was sent to organisers, Times of India reported. The topic of the lecture was ‘Is India a secular nation?’ and included criticism of the ban on cow slaughter.

“The concept of secularism has lost all credibility,” the draft speech reads. “It is disconcerting that in recent times, serious questions are being raised about India’s secularism. It is for the first time since Independence that the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ ideology is being talked about so openly, defiantly and persistently.” The full draft of the speech can be found here.

Organisers claimed the speech had been cancelled because it coincided with the assembly budget session.

Delhi government team frees 45 bonded labourers from construction site

45 bonded labourers were freed from a DDA flats construction site in Narela on Friday, Indian Express reported. They were discovered after a tip from the Bandhua Mukti Morcha, an organisation that works on the rehabilitation of bonded labourers. The labourers, all from the Madiga community, will be taken back to Andhra Pradesh and admitted to rehabilitation facilities, officials said.

Seminar disrupted over calls to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’

According to an Indian Express report, a seminar at Deshbandhu College on ‘Ambedkar on Caste and Social Justice’ was disrupted on Friday when members of the ABVP (student wing of the BJP) insisted the organisers chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ if they wanted the event to continue.

“ … Even before the discussion began, ABVP members including Rajat Chaudhary started tearing pamphlets and posters of the seminar, and hurled abuses at the organisers. They told the organisers, say ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ or we will not let the event continue,” said Chirayu Goyal, one of the organisers. The organisers plan to report the incident to the police and the principal.

Why no human rights panel in Delhi, SC asks Centre

On Friday, the Supreme Court asked the Centre why a state human rights commission has not yet been set up in Delhi, despite the AAP government doing all the necessary groundwork and sending the recommendation to the lieutenant governor, Times of India reported.

The court had questioned why an SHRC had not been set up in Delhi in July last year, since the city witnessed the second largest number of rights violation cases, and set a six-month deadline.

After SC rap, government releases Rs 12,000 crore for MGNREGS

Under pressure from the Supreme Court, the government on Saturday announced the release of Rs 12,230 crore to take care of pending wages for 2015-16 under MGNREGS, Times of India reported. The Supreme Court had earlier told the government to take cure of pending dues and ensure adequate funds for the programme.

Delhi seeks more beneficiaries under Food Security Act

Since the city’s quota for food security cards (72.8 lakh beneficiaries) has been attained six months ago, the Delhi government has demanded that the Centre increase the number of beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act, The Hindu reported. They have asked that the city’s limit be extended to 80 lakh, saying that increasing the cap is necessary given the increasing population of the city.

The demand had been made once before, in December last year, but rejected by the union minister for food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan.

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

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  • NewHorizons

    I think the ABVP should be thankful to its victims that no cases were booked against them for disturbing public order in many places..