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Ghettoisation and communal segregation in housing is a blot on Indian society

This article appeared in the Times of India on April 23, 2009

by Ather Farouqui

Ghettoisation is a grave and complex part of the communalism problem plaguing this country. The ghettoisation of Muslims has a decisive bearing on communalism but, unfortunately, it remains a theme ignored in public discourse. It is common knowledge that during the last two decades, Muslim families have faced enormous difficulties in renting houses in Hindu-majority areas in India, as Hindu landlords tend to shun Muslim tenants even if they belong to the same social class and enjoy an equal or better footing in society.

In Mumbai, for instance, some housing societies refuse membership to Muslims openly. In other cities too it is difficult for a Muslim to get an apartment in a housing society. In cities like Delhi, housing societies generally do not say no to Muslims openly but adopt various subterfuges.

SAHMAT Communique regarding Tendentious Reporting in Media

April 14, 2009

Press Statement on Tendentious Reporting in Media

We are deeply disturbed by the tendentious reports in the media of the Supreme Court proceedings on April 13 dealing with the S I T report on the Gujarat carnage of 2002.

This unhealthy trend in the media reporting is going to seriously compromise the credibility of the media and undermine “ freedom of expression” enjoyed by the media which we all cherish.

An impression being created in a section of the media that the former CBI director R K Raghvan who led the S I T has “told” the court that Teesta Setalvad “ cooked up macabre tales of wanton killing” is mischievious. Only the Supreme Court, the amicus curiae and the Gujarat government have access to the report. The S I T has not filed any other document in court to which the media has access nor was Mr. Raghvan in the Court. It is therefore obvious that the media is only uncritically reporting what the Gujarat government’s lawyer said in the note liberally distributed to the press outside the Court.
CJP’s Rebuttal on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Proceedings

Statement by Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai, April 14, 2009, Mumbai

The report in sections of the national media dated April 14, 2009, alleging that NGOs, Teesta etc misled the apex court and exaggerated the violence in Gujarat in 2002 are clear example of irresponsible reportage. Intentionally or otherwise, the distorted report damages the reputation of a citizens’ group that has been recognized nationally and internationally for working assiduously to ensure justice to the victims of mass violence whether in case of the Gujarat carnage (2002), or the bomb blasts in Mumbai (2006 and 2008) or the communal carnage in Kandhamal district, Orissa (2008), irrespective of the caste or creed of the victims or the perpetrators.

The fact is that neither Sri Raghavan, nor any other SIT member was present at the apex court to “tell” it anything. These reports could only be referring to a contention made in a four page note circulated by Ms Hemantika Wahi for the Gujarat Government.. It was not a note prepared by SIT.

The detailed report of SIT submitted to the Supreme Court on March 6, 2007 has not been available for study either to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the petitioners in this case, or the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) who have intervened in this critical matter or to any in the media. Any reference to it is hence hearsay and it may amount to contempt of court to write about a report which the Court has specifically not made public.

Arundhati Roy issues a press statement on Binayak Sen

Dr Binayak Sen has been in prison for 22 months, arrested under one of India's most draconian laws, the Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act. This Act has such a vague, diffused definition of 'Unlawful Activity' that it renders every person guilty unless he or she can prove their innocence. Dr Sen's bail application was dismissed twice, both times at the very outset, by the High Court of Chattisgarh and by the Supreme Court of India. On neither occasion was there a discussion on the merits of the case. On the 2nd of December 2008 the High Court of Chattisgarh once again turned down his bail application, without a discussion on the merits of the case, saying that there had been no change in circumstances.

But there has been a change in circumstances. To begin with, the charge-sheet has been filed. 64 witnesses have been examined by the prosecution. Not one of them has provided legally admissible evidence to support the accusations in the charge-sheet. Even the jail officials, the Superintendent and the Jailer, who were called as witnesses by the Prosecution, have ruled out the possibility of Dr Sen being a carrier of letters given to him by Narayan Sanyal (said to be a senior Maoist leader) who is a high security prisoner in Raipur Jail. (It should be mentioned here that Narayan Sanyal has a medical condition which requires surgical intervention from time to time, which is why the jail authorities permitted Dr Sen to visit him regularly.)

Here, There, Everywhere

by Salil Tripathi

So many myths came crashing down in Lahore. That Pakistan is an ordinary country with extraordinary problems. That Pakistan’s security forces are hand-in-glove with terrorists. That extremists would never attack cricketers.

In the end, the horror near the Gaddafi Stadium showed how the bizarre becomes the ordinary: Witness the number of people who said: “I told you so,” as cricket boards congratulated themselves for having avoided touring Pakistan. Recall, too, that all the dead are Pakistanis —all but one of them brave security guards who laid down their lives to protect the cricketers, nailing the myth that all Pakistanis are complicit with terrorism. And then the third myth—when Imran Khan said, the week before the Mumbai attacks, that cricket is safe from terror. How could one be so sure in a country where so many rules of war have been broken?


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