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Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 15

In the Midst of Gloom

Editorial

Saturday 29 March 2008, by SC

As Beijing continues to systematically crush the Tibetan people’s latest uprising coinciding with the 49th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan upsurge and the Chinese leadership persists in spouting venom at the Tibetan people’s spiritual head, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, using the term “Dalai clique” to denounce him, the Tibetan Government-in-exile has disclosed that an estimated 140 persons were killed in the unrest in Tibet as well as the neighbouring provinces of Gansu and Sichuan. Meanwhile there is growing solidarity worldwide for the Tibetan people’s struggle which, as had been underscored in these columns last week, is essentially aimed at restoring human rights denied to the Tibetan people for long years as well as ensuring the Tibetan identity smothered on account of massive Han Chinese influx into the region.

In the midst of the Tibetan crisis that has once again exposed the pusillanimous approach of the UPA dispensation, Bangladesh observed on March 26 its National Day, the day the East Pakistani people’s aspirations were sought to be drowned in blood by Yahya Khan’s military dictatorship 37 years ago. The attempt was to still the voice of the people of East Pakistan by military dictatorship. Today, after 37 years, the anniversary has coincided with the advent of democracy in Pakistan—the democratic election of the new Pakistan PM; and this head of government’s first act was to set free the country’s deposed Chief Justice detained as a consequences of President Musharraf’s vindictive policies. This shows how much democracy has recorded advance in our northwestern neighbouring state although Bangladesh in a different setting has yet to once again experience the onset of unfettered democracy. Moreover the socio-politico-cultural atmosphere in that eastern neighbour of India is far different from what it was at the end of 1971 when Bangladesh emerged through East Pakistan’s liberation on the crest of a popular upsurge, wholeheartedly backed by New Delhi, upholding the tenets of democracy and secularism, both of which are in substantial retreat in Dhaka today. Nonetheless, the people’s urge for democracy remain strong as ever and one can legitimately hope that better days would return to that country in the long, if not the short, term.

In India too democracy, despite all our failings, has registered one major triumph: the Supreme Court’s positive response, on March 25, to a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) petition and appointment of a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reopen investigations into 10 cases relating to the state-abetted anti-Muslim riots of Gujarat 2002; this has kindled fresh hopes in the minds of the victims of the post-Godhra massacre. The composition of the SIT is also bound to inspire the confidence of all those interested in getting justice for the victims.

This development has come as a blow to the cynical attitude of the Gujarat administration that has displayed least remorse for the way in which anti-human onslaughts were engineered in the State deliberately targeting the principal minority community. This SC verdict could go a long way towards restoring one’s faith in the rule of law and democracy provided it is accompanied by adequate follow-up action.

This assertion of democracy in the otherwise dark and dismal setting in the country and our neighbourhood is of extraordinary significance at the present juncture.

March 27 S.C.

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