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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 12, New Delhi, March 6, 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Mar 6, 2021

Friday 5 March 2021


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, March 6, 2021

What business does the Chief Justice of India have asking a rape accused in Court whether he would marry the victim? This is shocking, to say the least for people with a democratic & liberal mind-set, but they seem a minority in India today. Such views represent a base misogynist instinct of people in most backward societies. Who gave the Chief Justice the authority to speak like this? Was the consent of the victim sought?. There has been some furor over Chief Justice SA Bobde’s matter-of-fact remarks ‘Will you marry the Rapist?’ But, No question of any embarrassment over this, the big boys of the Bar Council of India have stood up in defence of the Supreme Court judges. This is only to be expected in a society where sexism prevails at all levels …. and the everyday subjugation of women is a non-issue for large numbers in India. A Hindu father beheaded his daughter in UP the other day, another strangulated his 18 year old daughter in Rajasthan despite protection from the court. Does anyone remember the Hathras rape incident in 2020 where the police and local administration repeatedly refused to treat this as a rape case and even burnt the body of the girl without the permission of the family? Misogynistic ideas are pretty common in India where the sex ratio continues to decline. Patriarchal values cause men to act with impunity because they believe they have a certain privilege. The Hindu Right shares the anti-women views prevalent within the Muslim Right. We could one day see India turn into a Hindu equivalent of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Turkey under Erdogan. Thanks to Islamist Erdogan, in Turkey they now have a ’Marry your Rapist Law’. As we approach the 8th of March the International Women’s Day, it is heartening to see that 4000 feminists, women’s rights groups, and progressive activists have expressed outrage and released an open letter to the chief justice of India (CJI) demanding that he retract his words, tender an apology to women, and step down from his post without delay.

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A retrograde cleric Abbas Siddiqui’s so-called Indian Secular Front is now part of the Left Congress Alliance in the West Bengal Assembly elections of 2021. The ISF is being given seats in the Congress strongholds in Malda, Murshidabad and North 24-Parganas. It is feared that this might end up helping the BJP in furthering its agenda of polarisation

Deputy leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma has slammed the party’s alliance negotiations with Indian Secular Front (ISF), a Muslim outfit headed by a firebrand cleric, in West Bengal, saying it went against the “Nehru-Gandhi secular tradition” which the Congress always upheld.

We welcome and celebrate the campaign by a section of left and democratic activists from West Bengal who have under a banner named ‘Bengal against Fascist RSS-BJP’, urged people of the state not to vote for the BJP in the upcoming assembly polls.

The Congress-CPM-ISF alliance held a public meeting at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkatta on February 28. Most of the participants at the rally belonged to the ISF and hailed its leader with rapturous applause. It was most striking that most of the leaders who spoke at the rally did not attack the BJP and instead concentrated their fire against the Tiranumul Congress ruling the state. Only the CPI leader D Raja spoke against the BJP at the Rally while CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the people of West Bengal can vote for the nominees of the CPIM-Congress-ISF alliance or for the Tiranumul Congress. Unfortunately, the speakers at the rally strengthened the opinion of the Tirunimul Congress that this combination was acting as the B team of the BJP. This impression needs to be dispelled at the earliest if the democratic forces in West Bengal are to build a solid phalanx against the BJP in the coming assembly polls.

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Ejaz Durrani or Ejaz, a Pakistani film actor, director from 1956 to 1984 passed away on March 1, 2021. He was once married to the celebrated actress and singer Noor Jehan.

Chris Barber, the bandleader, and trombonist died on March 2, 2021 at the age of 90. He was a a prominent figure from the New Orleans-inspired jazz revivalist movement that shaped British popular music between the late 1940s and mid-60s. Barber naturally also influenced some western orchestras in India, Egypt and elsewhere.

Comrade Dharampal Burmee, the independent left militant and long-standing trade unionist with the Loco Running Staff Association in the Indian Railways passed away in Lucknow on Match 4, 2021. Burmee, who migrated as a young man to India after a military takeover in Burma. He worked as an engine driver on Steam and Diesel locomotives and went on to became a very committed trade union organiser from the early 1970s. He was part of the group of LRSA activists who actively participated in the 1973 agitation of the railwaymen and in the 1974 railway strike. Burmee faced terrible repression and faced court cases along with his comrades. In 1973 he came in contact with young independent communist intellectuals from JNU who became his lifelong comrades and friends who ran a study circle in his railway quarter. Burmee was once a very close to the CPI-M but took distance from the party in the early 1980s. He retired from the railways in 2005/2006 and remained deeply committed to democratic causes in India. A short account of his life in railways is available here

We pay our tributes to the above people

March 6, 2021 – The Editors

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