South Asia Theater

India: high court rejects probe of Adivasi killings

The Supreme Court of India on Juy 14 dismissed a petition seeking an independent investigation into extra-judicial killings of Adivasis, or tribal people, in villages in Chhattisgarh state. The petition charges that state security forces, including the Chhattisgarh Police and affiliated paramilitary groups, were responsible for the deaths of villagers during anti-Naxalite operations that took place in September and October 2009. The petition was filed by Gandhian social activist Himanshu Kumar and 12 relatives of the slain villagers.

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's newly appointed acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe unleashed police and army troops against remnant protesters at an encampment site in the capital, Colombo, in the early hours of July 22. More than 50 were injured in the raid and some 10 arrested. Military personnel also reportedly detained a small group of protesters for several hours and severely beat them before they were released. Just hours before the raid, protest leaders had announced that they would disband the encampment the following day, in response to a court order. The site had been occupied by protesters since March, when an uprising began in response to near-total economic collapse in the country.

India: court dismisses 'conspiracy' in Gujarat pogrom

The Supreme Court of India on June 24 dismissed an appeal alleging a "larger conspiracy" by then-chief minister of Gujarat state (now Indian prime minister) Narendra Modi and 62 other senior state officials in connection with anti-Muslim riots in 2002. The case was brought by Zakia Jafri, the widow of Ehsan Jafri, a Congress Party MP who was killed in the riots.

Protests in Baltistan amid Pak political crisis

Pakistan has seen mass mobilizations both in protest and celebration since parliament on April 10 voted to remove Imran Khan as prime minister. The vote took place three days after the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that an order by Khan to dissolve the parliament was unconstitutional. Parliament's lower house appointed the leader of the opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, as the new prime minister. Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, staged a walkout from the Assembly ahead of the vote.

India: hijab at issue in Karnataka unrest

Protests for and against the right of young women to wear the hijab in classrooms have swept across the Indian state of Karnataka, with incidents of stone-pelting and "lathicharge" (police baton-charge). The dispute began Jan. 1, when hijab-wearing Muslim students were denied entry at PU College in Udupi. Protests erupted this week at Udupi's Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College, where students organized by the right-wing Hindu Jagarana Vedike (youth arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS) demanded that school authorities either allow them to wear saffron shawls or call upon Muslim students remove their headscarves. The college acceded to the latter demand. In other schools, students wearing the hijab were made to sit in separate classrooms.

Podcast: solidarity with Nagaland

In Episode 109 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the under-reported conflict in India's northeastern state of Nagaland, which has seen a multi-generational pro-independence insurgency. Popular protest is rising there since an army massacre of coal-miners in December. The armed conflict began in 1956, when the Naga National Council declared independence from India in the face of Delhi's intransigence on recognizing local autonomy, and adopted a constitution emphasizing village self-rule. The traditional Naga territory is divided by the border with Burma, which has complicated their self-determination struggle. With Burma now going over the edge into civil war, there are growing fears that India's conflicted Northeast could be further enflamed. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Nagaland: cross-country march against 'special powers'

Hundreds in India's conflicted eastern state of Nagaland began a two-day cross-country march Jan. 10 to protest the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the military broad power to use deadly force in areas where it is declared to be in effect. Some 200 set out from Dimapur, the state's largest city, and the march had swelled to over a thousand by the time it reached state capital Kohima, 75 kilometers away. The action was called in response to last month's massacre of 14 residents in the village of Oting, where army troops fired on what proved to be truck filled with coal-miners on their way home after work—not separatist guerillas, as had apparently been suspected. The march was organized by the Global Naga Forum and the Naga Mothers' Association, whose spokesperson Rosemary Dzüvichü accused the Indian government of viewing the Naga people as "the other." She lamented: "We still have this colonial attitude being shown to us." (Nagaland Post)

War on Christmas (yes, really) in Modi strongholds

Hindu militant groups disrupted Christmas celebrations and vandalized decorations in parts of India this season, local media report. The most serious incident was in Silchar, in the northeastern state of Assam, where apparent followers of the Bajrang Dal "manhandled" Hindu youth who attempted to join observances at a Presbyterian Church on Christmas Day. In a video posted on social media, one follower said: "We have nothing against the Christians who have every right to celebrate Christmas. Our issue is with the Hindus who went against their dharma to sing Merry Christmas instead of observing Tulsi Divas." Dec. 25 is recognized by some Hindus as Tulsi Divas, dedicated to the spiritual significance of the basil plant—although it appears to be a recent invention, aimed at helping Hindus resist the lure of Christmas. Bajrang Dal is the youth arm of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing organization allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The VHP has been named as one of the groups involved in the 2002 Gujarat genocide.

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