Much ado about a toolkit


What is happening in this country today is shocking. An international climate activist, Greta Thunberg lends her support to the ongoing farmers’ movement. The Modi government is rattled and smells an international conspiracy. The next thing is that Thunberg’s associates in India, Disha Ravi, lawyer Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk. Why is the sedition law suddenly being used against all those that criticise the Modi government and its policies, more particularly the Farmers’ Bills that were pushed through without a debate. The farmers have the right to oppose; so too every citizen in this country. This is a constitutional right of and no government can take away this right from us. But since 2014 we have been seeing the oppressive side of the BJP. The government seems to spend more time in arresting people than in implementing the long list of schemes declared by Modi.

This government’s economic policies are tuned towards empowering those already high up in the corporate ladder like the Adanis and the Ambanis. The BJP is not what it shows itself to be. Before the 2014 elections, Modi attacked the Congress-led UPA Government and vowed to cleanse up the system. But nothing like that happened. In fact, even senior persons and activists have been arrested by this Government for sedition. They are spending time in jail at great cost to their mental and physical health. It’s unbelievable that a government can use the police to file a string of cases even against those protesting against the CAA which is a discriminatory piece of legislation. Muslims in this country feel a deep sense of insecurity because of the CAA. Yet they can do nothing. Journalists are being arrested for reporting the Hathras rape case and other untoward incidents happening in this country.

We in Meghalaya don’t seem to realise this but we too are losing our freedoms along with the rest of the country. The only difference here is that we don’t have people speaking up against the current regime. Everyone is focussed on the ILP and expecting the NDA government to grant it. I, for one don’t foresee that the Modi government granting ILP to Meghalaya because it has been pointed out earlier that this state already has the Sixth Schedule.

Now Disha Ravi is in jail because of a ‘toolkit.’ How can a toolkit be such a potent instrument when all it does is to brief a climate activist on how to carry out their activism. We need a break from this claustrophobia, this sense of being hemmed in by a state that will not tolerate dissent. But who will lead the way?

Yours etc.,

Saralin Thangkhiew,

Via email

 Myanmar’s woes


The  recent  army  coup  in  Myanmar  has  impacted  India and  Bangladesh  in  entirely  different  ways.  As  for  India, it  is  a  wait – and – watch  situation.  There  has  been  a  close  cooperation  between  the  Indian  and  Myanmar  armies  on  insurgency –related  issues  troubling  the  two  countries.  Hence,  the  relations  between  the  two  countries  are    likely  to  be  normal. The  impact  of  the  coup  on  Bangladesh   is  profound  compared  with  that  on    India.  Myanmar  authorities  had  agreed  to  rehabilitate  over  40,000  refugees  removed    out  of  a  list  of  800,000  people  by  Bangladesh.

When  the    newly  elected  NLD(National  League  for  Democracy)  government  headed  by  Aung  San Suu Kyi displaced,  it  had  aroused    hopes  that  the  40,000  people  could  be  repatriated  to  the  Rakhine  province  in  a  short  while.   Now  around  11,00,000  Rohingyas  are  sheltered  in  different  parts  of  Bangladesh. Now  that  the  military  is  in  complete  control  of  Myanmar  after  the  coup,  Rohingya  refugees  are  even  more  afraid.  The  coup  could  make  it  more  challenging  for  the  Rohingyas  to  return  home.  The  coup  has  taken  place  at  a  time  when  the  two  countries  agreed  to  start  the  repatriation.  The  new  military  regime  is  unlikely  to  prioritise  return  of  Rohingya  communities.

As  per the  new  citizenship  law  announced  by  Myanmar  authorities,  Rohingya  Muslims  are  “resident  foreigners”   and  not  citizens.  Over  the  years,    many  ethnic  cleansing  raids  have  been    carried  out  to  drive  out  the  community. According  to  the  Burmese  law,  while  the  Rohingyas  can  stay  on in the Rakhine region,  their children  are  not  supposed  to  study  beyond  the  primary  level.  They  won’t   get  official jobs  or  medical  help  either.  The  government also  has  the  right  to  seize    Rohingya  property.

A  great  deal  was  expected  from Aung San Suu Kyi.  However,   she  took    a   tough stand  on the issue.  The  world  was  shocked  at  how  she   treated  the  hapless Rohingyas.  She  approved  the  decision   to  marginalise  the  community  and  defended  the  army  raids.  There  have been  reports  of  genocide  of the  Rohingyas.

Yours  etc.,

Venu G S,


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