Sunday, December 23, 2012

Protests against sexist violence take over Delhi for a whole week

Thanks to Jhangora for noticing because I was oblivious, especially as the news blogs I used to follow for South Asia have been inactive for months now.

The New India shows the finger to the Old one (Hindustan Times)

As far as I could understand from several random media, the gang-rape of a young woman in a bus, whose driver did not stop nor did anything about it, and subsequent death near-death injuries caused by the attackers throwing the victim and her boyfriend off the bus while on the march, have caused six days of uninterrupted massive protests in Delhi, which have been violently repressed by authorities more concerned about tourism than about the safety of citizens, triggering in turn greater and more angry protests.

The Gate of India today (Hindustan Times)

India is a country shattered by many contradictions and widespread misogyny is one of them. However it can also be seen in the images that protesters are in many cases young men, as angry as their female peers about all this.

The huge crowds indicate generalized anger (Al Jazeera)

Update: according to K.G. Singh, the victim, 23, is in critical condition but not yet dead. He wonders if this rape-cum-murder is can be a "Tunisian moment" for revolutionary change in India. Hard to say but there are some parallels indeed.

Update (Dec 26): interesting report at Al Jazeera on the impunity of rape in India and the complicity of police → LINK.

Update (Dec 28): The government has fortified the Gate of India to impede protests from reaching the landmark (→ First Post). The victim remains in intensive care with severe brain injuries and surviving only barely (→ Reuters). H/t Jhangora (see comments).

In Nepal also (update Dec 28):

Kasama mentions that the Prime Minister of Nepal and arch-class-traitor Baburam Bhattarai has rejected to listen to women's claims, what is at least striking for someone who was a communist cadre, and still claims to be one.

The scandal, which may well cost him the post to which he clings rather desperately after most of the communist grassroots broke away with him and President Pachandra, arose after a Nepali girl was raped by police officers at the airport.

The officers have only been suspended for two months, instead of throwing them in jail for decades, castrating them or beheading them as would be justice. 

Protesters reached the Prime Minister's residence at Baluwatar this morning but were not allowed to enter.

Also another girl, raped and robbed in Punjab, was heavily pressed by police to retire the charges. Then she killed herself by poisoning (→ Russia Today).

Update (Dec 29): the unnamed victim of the brutal rape died at Singapore (→ BBC).


  1. To the best of my knowledge the drivers was a part of the group which committed the crime and the bus was not in commercial service --->

    A Delhi Police Constable injured during the protests has succumbed to his injuries --->

    There is a dispute going on between the Chief Minister of Delhi and the Police Chief over the crime --->

    and the Govt. has stripped the security cover of the Ex-Army Chief as he is taking part in various movements against corruption --->

    1. Something I read today at Al Jazeera is that part of the reason why these riots is because several security cameras recorded police agents dismissing the rape and justifying it, not one nor two but many in many different contexts.

      Essentially what this case has shown, I understand, is that police is accomplice with these heinous crimes and that the whole system conspires against the victims and we only need to read how most of the media treats the problem, as if it was a mere public order matter.

      There are indeed, I think, reasons to explode.

  2. So true. The British created the Police to oppress the natives and unfortunately even after more than 6 decades it continues to play that part. We can argue that India never got Independence in the true sense of the word. Merely the rulers were replaced. There was an interesting article I read today which placed the root cause of the demonstrations on the eroding material well being of the middle class in India. This is due to the global financial crisis plus bad governance in India. The article stated that the middle class comprises just 20% of the Indian population and for the remaining 80% existence is an issue of survival.

    The victim has been flown to Singapore for treatment.

  3. The son of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has apologised for making derogatory remarks about women participating in protests in Delhi against the gang-rape of a student.

    Abhijit Mukherjee, a member of the Indian parliament, said that the female protesters were "middle-aged and caked in make-up".

    1. What a jerk!

      Have riots subsumed, has police stopped attacking protests?

  4. One can't expect better Politicians when all of them are appointed by one Ruling Family. The son of the President is a member of the Parliament, the son of Delhi's Chief Minister is a Politician too. The son of Uttarakhand's Chief Minister contested a by-election for a seat of the lower house of the Indian Parliament recently but he was defeated. One big dynasty and several smaller ones.

    From news reports it seems the administration in Delhi is trying its best to not let the protesters congregate near the India Gate ---> Sonia Gandhi has said that she will not take part in New Year Celebrations. I saw a news report that stated the Delhi Transport Corporation (a semi-govt. entity I think) will run regular bus services during night time.

    The malaise runs deep. Till 20 years ago the DTC used to ply buses on all Delhi Routes. Then I think in the 90's the Govt. realized it was not profitable and opened Delhi Bus Routes to the private players. The whole thing has been a fiasco and lots of corruption involved. The Metro covers most of the Delhi routes now and is expanding to the suburbs as well. However, it is not sufficient to carry all the passengers.

    The rape victim has suffered brain injuries as well --->

    There have been some protests in my home town as well ---> ...

    1. Thanks for all the info, Jhangora. I've updated with some of your links.

      Do you think that the protests are spreading through the country? Could this play in the hands of the Naxalites?

    2. The victim is dead ---> ... Shifting her to Singapore might have been a Political move to cool down the public anger --->

      I hope you are aware that the Naxalite movement is mostly concentrated in the South-Eastern part of India. This is the richest land in India in terms of Mineral Wealth. Considering you have knowledge of Anthropology you'd know that this is also the place where Austro-Asiatic people still have a presence.

      No doubt this movement has spread a lot and I guess last year there were reports that even the Army is now involved in the operations.

      The protests against this Rape were most prominent in New Delhi. It certainly has a big student population from various parts of India and a large number of them, specially from the premier institutes are aligned with the left. However, I see them more of as Arm Chair Communists. I hope you understand what I mean - people who'd waste hours discussing the principles of Communism but their real aim is material comforts.

      But we don't know - maybe something drastic will happen.

      Regarding your comment on Rapes in Nepal and Punjab - the social setup and behavior is pretty much the same in South Asia despite the diversity of people.

      The crimes against women in the states of Punjab and Haryana may also be attributed to very low female to male ratios in these two states. They are also known as the bread basket of India and experienced the chemical fertilizer led Green Revolution a few decades back - experiencing the negative consequences of it now in the form of degraded soil. I have read many articles about men specially from Haryana marrying women from the Southern states because they cannot find spouses in their home state.

    3. Couple of informative links ~

      As the Indian Republic heads into its 64th year, we seem to be caught between an illiberal, insensitive government-political class and a rampaging mob demanding instant solutions, with only a thin line separating the two.

    4. Thanks for your information, Jhangora. The Wikipedia link is abundant in info on the rape-cum-murder case itself but not much on the protests and clashes, which is the center of my interest and what has the greatest political and social implications.

      "I have read many articles about men specially from Haryana marrying women from the Southern states because they cannot find spouses in their home state".

      Kill your girls in the womb, place brutal burdens on young women... and then go unmarried. It's not just totally unfair for women but also socially suicidal (women are more important than men for biological reproduction and society should give them some support not greater burdens).

      As for the Naxalites, what I see in this map (not sure how accurate) is that the reddest areas are not in Orissa, which is the state with most Austroasiatic tribal inhabitants by far. Wikipedia even emphasizes the "Orissa gap" however the data is from 2008 and may well now be obsolete.

      As mentioned, in Nepal a similar case is playing in the hands of the dissident CPN(M), the large grassroots split from the UCPN(M) of Prachandra, also known as Kiran faction. I understand that the Naxalite insurgence (against which military gang-rape has been used as "weapon") is a serious symptom of deep discontent in India in general with how the system works. Similarly these protests and riots, even if sparked by a particular incident, seem to stem from much rage boiling under the surface.

    5. It would be tough to provide an accurate picture of the Naxalite Movement in India. Maybe these 2 articles should help ---> ... ... I guess the districts affected in Orissa/Odisha are the Eastern ones.

      Sometime back the Govt. said that it would pay the inhabitants of the land a share in the revenue of ores extracted from their land. There have been some stories about some Maoist activists in the Eastern part of Uttarakhand.

      I rarely check news from Nepal but sometime back there was talk of two new states declared there

      The Delhi Chief Minister was prevented from taking part in a mourning ceremony today ~

      Dikshit reached Jantar Mantar where around 500 people gathered for mourning the death of the girl at around 2pm but had to beat a hasty retreat as enraged protesters circled and forced her to return.

      The chief minister and police tried to reason with the protesters and allow her to be part of the gathering but the demonstrators were in no mood to oblige.

    6. Thanks for the links again. So, depending who you read, it's not 1/3 of India but 1/6 or 1/8 what is controlled by the Naxalites. Fair enough.

      "I rarely check news from Nepal"...

      Surprises me a bit being your state bordering Nepal and a historical relative (it was part of the Gurkha Empire as well, right?) A lot has rained since that 2009 link you mention: when the King was put under house arrest (and later deposed - Nepal is now a republic), the Maoists won the elections, albeit without sufficient majority, and Prachandra, their leader back then was named President, while they have been holding also the office of Prime Minister in various coalitions.

      However the Prachandra faction (in power) has drifted towards bourgeois attitudes and even attempted to dissolve the Red Army. To this the grassroots of the UCPN-M reacted breaking apart and creating a new party CPN-M. That happened earlier this year and I did write about it back in the day:

      So you know what happens near your hometown... ;)

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. Garhwal was ruled by the Gurkhas between 1805 and 1812 IIRC. There was a big earthquake and a large part of the population died in it. The Gurkhas were pretty oppressive and there is a word for it "Gurkhyani" ... The King of Garhwal fled to the plains and asked the British for help. They drove out the Gurkhas and wanted Rs. 500,000 as the cost of the war. The King had no money and had to part with the Eastern Part of his Empire.

      Uttarakhand adjoining Nepal falls under the Kumaoun Division. There are many Gurkhas and Nepalis in my hometown. The reason why I don't check News from Neapl is because I have limited time and in the long run I don't think it would play a big part in how the future world will shape up.

      True there are problems in Nepal and many of them are similar to what the people are facing in Uttarakhand. But the Nepalese people are just being used by bigger powers - they don't have a voice of their own. Every years tens of thousands of Nepalese girls and women are smuggled in to India to become a part of the Flesh trade. If the Communists there were really serious about improving the lot of their people they would have put their foot down and ended this practice.

      I hope you remember that I informed you once through a PM on an Anthropology Forum that Prachanda is no Communist.

    9. That's why "his dwarves have grown up" as is said over here and declared themselves on state of rebellion against the Prachandra government, now desperately supported by the bourgeois and feudal oligarchs who wanted to get him out just months ago.

      I don't think however that you can just dismiss the Nepalese revolution, so intimately linked to what happens in India, with a claim that they are "pawns of great powers". That's not the case: people don't get up in arms just because some great power wants it, they do because they are really angry. It's the same in Syria and everywhere. Great powers may orchestrate a single protest or a coup but not a whole revolution: nobody is so divinely powerful, nobody but the living people as collective chaotic force.

    10. No doubt there are problems in Nepal. It is even more impoverished that Uttarakhand. However, the Geography is complicated. I guess it is more integrated economically with the Indian States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. My good wishes are with the people of Nepal. I'd like them to fight for themselves.

      Meanwhile the Rape Victim was cremated in secrecy today. The Govt. was afraid that large crowds may gather and cause further problems for the administration.

      The cremation plans were kept a secret till the last moment as police apprehended a large gathering may cause problems.

      Fearing law and order problems, authorities also wanted the last rites to be performed at 6.30am but their plans did not go through as Hindu traditions did not allow cremation before sunrise.

      Reminds me of stories I read about the British cremating Indian Freedom Fighters.

  5. Check the latest update: in Nepal protesters have marched on PM Bhattarai's residence after a girl was raped by policemen and these have gone almost without punishment. Also another girl from Punjab, raped and robbed at a festival, was repeatedly put off by police officers when she tried to denounce the crime. She eventually killed herself by poisoning.


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