All posts by Chinmoy Banerjee

Canada must sign the Ban Treaty

Vancouver Sun
Canada must change course on nuclear disarmament

On Sunday, Japanese-Canadian Setsuko Thurlow was recognized at the award ceremony for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. But rather than celebrating this momentous occasion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has dismissed the effort for which the prize is being awarded: the creation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the Ban Treaty. The treaty bans the development, production, possession, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons and was adopted by 122 countries at the United Nations this year.

The Nobel was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the group that advocated for the Ban Treaty. In turn, ICAN chose to have Thurlow, one of the last living survivors of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, receive the award along with its executive director. Thurlow immigrated to Canada as an adult and has tirelessly advocated for the abolition of nuclear weapons. She was made a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her work emphasizing the cataclysmic humanitarian consequences of war and the need for peace. Her speeches recounting the sheer horror of that fateful day in August 1945 when the people of Hiroshima were burnt, blasted, and irradiated by the bomb dropped by the U.S. helped propel the campaign for the Ban Treaty.

One of those moving speeches was delivered at the United Nations earlier this year when the Ban Treaty was being negotiated. But there was no Canadian delegation present to hear it. Canada’s absence was likely due to a note last year from the U.S. Mission to NATO with clear instructions: “The United States calls on all allies and partners to vote against negotiations on a nuclear weapons treaty ban, not to merely abstain. In addition, if negotiations do commence, we ask allies and partners to refrain from joining them.”

Canada’s government did refrain. When the Ban Treaty opened for signature at the United Nations in September of this year, Canada was not among the 53 nations that signed.

The Canadian government offers a rationale and an alternative. It claims that the Ban Treaty was “certain to be ineffective” because of lack of participation by nuclear weapon states. Trudeau went as far as to deem the treaty “sort of useless” in Parliament, even before negotiations concluded and the contours of the treaty finalized.

The government’s preferred alternative disarmament strategy involves what is sometimes called a step-by-step approach involving the negotiation and implementation of a series of arms control treaties. There are two problems with this approach. First, the two main treaties that have been talked about — a ban on nuclear weapons explosions and a ban on the production of fissile material to make nuclear weapons — have been stalled since 1996. Differing views among the nuclear weapon states have prevented even the commencement of negotiations on the latter treaty. The second problem with the step-by-step approach is that it allows the nuclear weapon states to establish the pace of disarmament.

The leading nuclear weapon states today are shifting farther away from even this glacial approach to disarmament. Earlier this year, Christopher Ford, a Trump administration official, stated: “The traditional post-cold war approach of seeking to demonstrate disarmament bona fides by showing steady numerical movement towards elimination…has largely run its course and is no longer tenable.”

This leaves Canada in a tight spot. In October of this year, after the announcement about Thurlow and the peace prize, Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters: “any time you’re going to talk about moving forward on a nuclear-free world, you have to focus on the countries that already have nuclear weapons and therefore look at reducing that amount.”

If this were indeed true, Canada should stop talking about a nuclear-free world, or it should start calling upon the United States—its ally—to reduce its arsenal. At a time when there is widespread concern that nuclear weapons might be used on the Korean peninsula, it is critical that we continue talking about the importance of a nuclear-free world. Abandoning the pursuit of nuclear disarmament would be an unfortunate choice. Encouraging the United States to move towards eliminating nuclear weapons would be timely, but perhaps not so palatable to the Trump administration as it embarks on upgrading its nuclear weapons at an estimated cost of $1.25 trillion.

If Prime Minister Trudeau does not find either of these options appealing, the international community now offers him an alternative: join the vast majority of countries in banning nuclear weapons.

M.V. Ramana is professor and Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs; Lauren J. Borja is a post-doctoral fellow at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs.

No country for Afrazul

No country for Afrazul

Today Rajsamand is no faraway place. And the Shambhulals know they can get away with murder

Written by Syeda Hameed | Updated: December 12, 2017 11:06 am

rajasthan hacking, afrazul khan, Rajasthan hate crime, Rajsamand, Shambhulal, Indian express columnsShambhulal Regar, and (inset) Mohammed Afrazul.

As a member of the (erstwhile) Planning Commission, I looked after Rajasthan for 10 years as one of my three allocated states. After wandering all over the country, I wrote a book recording my experiences. The book was titled ‘Beautiful Country: Stories from Another India’. The India I saw was truly beautiful but mostly unseen because it was off the beaten circuit of media and tourism. I wrote about one such spot, Rajsamand, which is best known for the splendid Kumbhalgarh Fort surrounded by the longest wall second only to the wall of China. I stood looking at the wildlife sanctuary surrounding the Fort. I drove around the lovely Rajsamand Lake. A nearby village, Khelwara, seemed to me ideal for village-tourism where visitors would experience the lifestyle of Mewar. My Rajasthan chapter began with hope because I saw this state soar, leaving behind its BIMARU tag.

Today Rajsamand has got a new tag. It will go down in the history of world horrors as the spot where a man was hacked to death and burnt for his grievous sin of being Muslim.

Afrazul Khan was a migrant labourer from Malda district of West Bengal who for three decades was engaged in seasonal work in Rajasthan. The man who hacked and burnt him was Shambhulal Regar, described by Anand Shrivastava, IG Udaipur range, as someone with a “fairly successful marble trading business”. The very first reports show no previous connection between the two. The video, which by now has been watched across the world, shows Shambhulal taking him behind his bike as if to show him the job to be done. Afrazul Islam was carrying his tools, one of which was an axe. This became, in a matter of minutes, a weapon with he was hacked to death before being set on fire.

This incident was captured on camera. Then came the words. In videos shot after the murder, the murderer shouted into the camera: Love jihad, Babri Masjid, Hindu girls, Padmavati. He screamed revenge against “these people” who have polluted his land. He, Shambhulal, will dispense justice by hacking and burning a 48 year-old migrant labourer a lesson for the entire “quom”. Afrazul will pay for the sins of his people. This heinous act, which many are scared to watch, is not only witnessed but filmed by Regar’s 14 year-old nephew and uploaded for the world.

In college I had read a poem of W.B. Yeats called ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. Its opening line has been haunting me since yesterday. “This is no country for old men”, Yeats wrote before sailing away to saner lands. I tell myself in the same vein, this is no country for Muslims. But while there are many Rajsamands, there is no Byzantium.

This is no country for Afrazul’s wife Gulbahar, for his daughters Joshanara, Rejina and Habiba. Indeed, this is no country for the 200 plus migrant labourers from Malda who work here. Messages hailing the killer are doing the rounds. One says “Love jihadiyon savdhaan, jaag utha hai Shambhulal Jai Shri Ram”.

On the day Afrazul’s killing was reported, the media was filled with reports of hate crimes against Muslims. The Vadodara corporator and BJP candidate for Dabhoi Assembly, Shailesh Mehta, is reported to have said that the “dadhi-topi” population of Dabhoi must be reduced because “there should be no population of Dubai” in Dabhoi. What is being suggested in this campaign speech? Shambhulals are getting the official nod to continue their mission of hacking Afrazuls. Hysterical families from Saiyadpur in Malda are phoning, urging their breadwinners to leave these killing fields of Rajsamand.

These hate-Muslims-kill-Muslims incidents are reported almost daily. Leaders express “sympathy” and dole out cash but give the goons open license to kill so long as it is dadhi-topi they target. The police generally responds to the powerful.

Women and men of courage stand up to agitate. In this case, the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch and 30 Rajasthan organisations have come forward to express their anguish. Activists from Delhi and other states are shouting ‘Muslim Lives Matter’.

This tragedy, too, will quickly fade from public memory in the cacophony of election results. Police will sink back into its habitual inertia, tick it off as another “dadhi-topi” case of “these people”. A few activists, journalists and lawyers will struggle to keep the issue alive. But the fabric of the nation, which began fraying with the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, has been torn to shreds after a quarter century. A complicit state has looked the other way and the incendiary rhetoric has become legitimised.

The question before the hate merchants is: What to do with us Muslims? This huge population of dadhi-topi? All of us cannot be hacked and burnt or be ethnic-cleansed. But we can be beaten into submission, therefore hate crimes are allowed free run. Shambhulals know they can get away. Those who announce prizes for severed heads of dissenters are valorised, jallads are garlanded, killers are given perpetual license to kill.

As I write this piece, I think of my visit to Rajsamand and my dream of making it part of a tourist circuit. I think of my animated talks with district officials in the evenings after walking tours across the wonder spots of Rajsamand.

For Rajasthan, I had written a hopeful epigraph in my book — in the words of Allama Iqbal: “Tu shaheen hai, parvaaz hai kaam tera/ Tere saamne aasmaan aur bhi hain (You are a falcon your mission is to soar/ There are many skies you must scale yet)”.

All that seems very far away in 2017 when the bones of Afrazul Khan have been placed in a kafan in Malda — a gift of hatred from Rajsamand.

Today, Muslims and all those who stand with them need to recall Faiz Ahmed Faiz. “Ya khauf se darguzrein ya jaan se guzar jaaein/ Marna hai ya jeena hai ek baat theher jaaye”. Either we banish fear or we die/ Decide once for all, will it be death or life.

The writer is a former member, Planning Commision


Need for high level judicial inquiry into death of Judge B. H. Loya

From: Concerned Citizens <>

December 2, 2017

Dear friends in the media,

Please find below an appeal to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to institute a “high level judicial enquiry” into the controversial circumstances surrounding the death of Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. The appeal cites the report on Admiral (Retd.) L.Ramdas’ request in this regard as also the opinions of Justice (Retd.) B.H.Marlapalle, formerly of the Bombay High Court and Justice (Retd.) A.P.Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court on the need for a probe or enquiry.

Amongst the 32  signatories listed in the appeal are at least 10 officers who retired either as Secretaries to the Government of India or from posts in that rank, 4 former Ambassadors from the Indian Foreign Service, a former Chief Information Commissioner of a State Government, 2 former Chief Secretaries of State Governments, at least 4 officers of the rank of Additional Chief Secretaries and several others who retired at the rank of Secretary to State Governments or above. Almost all these officers were also signatories to an open letter written on June 10 this year in which they asserted that they had no political affiliations as a group but were bound only to the credo of impartiality, neutrality and commitment to the Constitution of India.

We will be grateful if you cover our appeal in print, digital/ social media or visual media.

December 2, 2017

The Honourable Chief Justice of India

The Honourable Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court


Honourable Chief Justices,

Please find attached a report about the request made by Admiral (Retd.) L.Ramdas to yourselves that a high level judicial enquiry be initiated into the controversial circumstances of the death of Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. Justice (Retd.) B.H.Marlapalle, former judge of the Bombay High Court, and Justice (Retd.) A.P.Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, have also expressed the opinion that a probe or enquiry is needed.

We, the undersigned retired civil servants, would like to place on record our support for the request made by Admiral (Retd.) L.Ramdas to institute a “high level judicial inquiry” into this matter and urge you to take appropriate action for all the reasons mentioned in his representation. 

Yours faithfully,

1.    S.P. Ambrose, IAS (Retd.), former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping and Transport, GoI.

2.    Ishrat Aziz, IFS (Retd.), former Ambassador to Brazil

3.    G.Balagopal, IAS (Retd.), former Resident Representative, UNICEF, North Korea

4.    Sundar Burra, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

5.    Kalyani Chaudhuri, IAS (Retd.), former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

6.    Vibha Puri Das, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs,GoI

7.    Keshav Desiraju, IAS (Retd.), former Health Secretary, GoI

8.     M.G.Devasahayam, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary to Govt. of Haryana   

9.    Sushil Dubey, IFS (Retd.), former Ambassador to Sweden

10. K.P.Fabian, IFS (Retd.), former Ambassador to Italy

11. Meena Gupta, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, GoI

12. Deepa Hari, IRS (Resigned)

13. Dr. Sajjad Hassan, IAS (Retd.), former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur

14. K. John Koshy, IAS (Retd.), former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal

15. Ajai Kumar, Indian Forest Service (Resigned), former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI

16. Arun Kumar, IAS (Retd.), former Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority

17. Harsh Mander, IAS (Retd.), Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

18. Aditi Mehta, IAS (Retd.), former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan

19. Sunil Mitra, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI

20. Deb Mukharji, IFS (Retd.), former Ambassador to Nepal

21. Anup Mukerji, IAS (Retd.), former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Bihar

22. Alok Perti, IAS (Retd.) former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI

23. N.K. Raghupathy, IAS (Retd.), former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI

24. Aruna Roy, IAS (Resigned)

25. Manab Roy, IAS (Retd.), former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal 

26. Umrao Salodia, IAS (Retd.), former Chairman, Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, Govt. of Rajasthan

27. Deepak Sanan, IAS (Retd.), former Principal Adviser (AR) to the Chief Minister of the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh

28. E.A.S. Sarma, IAS, (Retd.), former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, GoI

29. Dr.N.C.Saxena, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI

30. Ardhendu Sen, IAS (Retd.), former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

31. Dr. Raju Sharma, IAS (Retd.), former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh

32. Jawhar Sircar, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, and CEO, Prasar Bharati

Report on Admir…s’ request pdf.pdf

Regarding Admiral (Retd.) L.Ramdas’ request

Former Navy Chief Admiral L. Ramdas has requested that a “high level judicial inquiry” into “mysterious circumstances” of the death of Brijgopal Harkishan Loya , the Special CBI Judge presiding over the trial of BJP President Amit Shah and several Gujarat Police Officers in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. In a letter addressed to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Admiral L. Ramdas has requested that a “hig h level judicial inquiry” be immediately initiated.

Former Bombay High Court Judge, Justice (Retd.) B.H. Marlapalle, also has sought an SIT probe into the Judge’s death.

Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice A.P. Shah had also recently spoken o ut about the allegations, opining that not enquiring into the allegations made by the family “would send a very wrong signal to the judiciary, particularly the lower cadre”. He had also expressed concerns over allegations of corruption, as Judge Loya was a llegedly offered a bribe of Rs. 100 crore.

Full text of Admiral L. Ramdas’s letter.

Dear Hon Chief Justice of India,


All Democracies exist and survive on three main pi llars – namely the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. Freedom from British rule, was won after a prolonged struggle and The Indian Constitution was evolved after nearly two and a half years of debate in the Constituent Assembly, and passed on 29 Nov ember 1949 and India became a Republic on 26 January 1950. Our Constitution became effective. This one and only holy book which matters, subscribes to the above concept of our Democracy, wherein all our citizens are considered to be equal in the eyes of th e law.

This is all the more important when a CBI judge, Justice Loya, specially appointed by the CJI of the Mumbai High Court to investigate the murder of Sohrabbudin , dies under mysterious circumstances while on a visit to Nagpur. The silence of the two judges who apparently persuaded the late Judge Loya to travel to Nagpur, and accompanied him, is disturbing to say the least. The inaction of the judiciary about this sequence of events thus far is indeed surprising. This is all the more puzzling in the co ntext of the recent revelations by family members of the late Justice Loya, who have raised certain questions, apprehending foul play in the circumstances leading to his sudden death.

A judicial probe at this point, at least to respond to the queries raise d by the family, and to uphold the image of the judiciary in the eyes of the people of India, is absolutely necessary. As a former Chief of the Indian Navy, I feel strongly that it is critically important to clear any doubts about this entire incident. The refore , in the larger interests of the nation and its people, and above all in upholding the Constitution of India and the image of our entire legal system, a high level judicial enquiry be initiated immediately . – ramdas – requests – judicial – enquiry – into – judge – loyas – mysterious – death/

Lalita Ramdas

We either win this war to save our land, or we will be exterminated, because we have nowhere to run to.Ken Saro Wiwa–

`LARA’ – Ramu Farm,
Village Bhaimala,
PO Kamarle,
Raigad Dist, Maharashtra, INDIA

Phone: +91-2141-248711
Fax:     +91-2141-248733
Mobile – +91-9422495315

From The Indian Express
We the people

Babri demolition, 1992, involves us all. It was an attack on idea and promise enshrined in India’s Constitution.

Babri Masjid demolition, Babri masjid case, Prakash karat,“I was part of the political leadership that could see that concerted attempts were being made to pose a challenge to the “secular consensus” by the BJP.”

From the vantage point of the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, I can only marvel at the gargantuan shift in the fundamentals of the nation. Beginning from somewhere in the middle 1980s, I have seen the striking change in political developments significantly altering the spirit and the structures on which Indian nationalism had been founded. The political conjuncture of the years, 1989-92, constitutes a moment of rupture in contemporary Indian history. At one end, it saw the complete collapse of the “consensus” which was considered to be enshrined in secularism, socialism and a plural democratic polity.

And on the other end, we saw the triumphant rise of a Hindu right which has culminated as the most dominant force in the political discourse of present-day India. Beginning in the late 1980s, Indian politics has seen the sudden rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ascendance of a Hindu nationalist ideology. Moving from two to 85 parliamentary seats between 1984 and 1989, the Hindu right-wing party was catapulted onto the national political map, where it remained as the ruling party at the national level until May 2004. In a majority since 2014, it has posed the most comprehensive challenge to the secular-socialist fabric in India’s post-Independence history.

I was part of the political leadership that could see that concerted attempts were being made to pose a challenge to the “secular consensus” by the BJP and its ideological affiliates from the Sangh Parivar. I distinctly remember that in the National Integration Council meeting held days before the unfortunate demolition, L.K. Advaniji had assured the members that nothing shall happen to the mosque. In view of the massive communal-sectarian mobilisation all over north and western India, some of us had no reason to believe his words. In fact, we urged the Central government to send the army to Ayodhya-Faizabad. However, the then Central government apparently went by the assurance of BJP veterans and thus a 400 year-old mosque was demolished 25 years ago in 1992.

This event also initiated a new phase of sectarian violence and the targeting of the minorities, especially Muslims, in several cities across India. As the then chief minister of Bihar, I knew my priorities, and the combined strength of the people, administration and political will made sure that no episode of violence was reported in the state. However, the demolition constituted the first event that unequivocally conveyed that it was not simply an onslaught on a mosque but on the very idea of the rule of law upheld by a republican constitution.

In order to have a comprehensive understanding of why the Sangh Parivar and its outfits decided to go for mass mobilisation in the name of the Ram temple at Ayodhya, we need to look at August 1990 as the watershed moment for the backward and vulnerable sections of Indian society. The implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990, providing for affirmative action for OBCs and the violent battles fought around the same, aimed at permanently altering the narrative of Indian politics. We could see the consolidation around this event, and a wide range of political parties articulating the concerns of Dalits and backward castes emerged as significant players in Indian politics. The assertion of backward classes rattled the Sangh Parivar which took inspiration from the exclusivist Manuvadi paradigm of M.S. Golwalkar conveyed through his book Bunch of Thoughts.

They knew at the core of their hearts that the subaltern consolidation across India in the wake of the Mandal commission’s implementation shall provide them with no space in the political arena. Thus, orchestrated campaigns like the shila pujan were a desperate attempt to counter the challenge posed by the awakening of the poor and the downtrodden. The mobilisation had nothing to do with Lord Ram, the Maryada Purushottam, but was meant to thwart the consolidation of the backward classes post-Mandal and stay relevant in politics by mixing faith with politics. They were partially successful when, following the destruction of the Babri mosque (1992), the Bombay riots (1993) and the establishment of a BJP-led coalition government (1998) soon followed.

However, India in 2017, after two decades and-a-half appears significantly changed from the India of 1992. During the ‘90s, we saw that the majoritarian mobilisation stood in strong contrast to the democratic churning of diverse, erstwhile marginalised groups on the political map. It was also observed that extremist forces, despite their capacity to wreck the social equilibrium on emotive issues, remained peripheral to India’s basic socio-political fabric firmly grounded on a well-entrenched pluralistic ethos. Though the 1992 Babri masjid demolition was illustrative of attempts to divide Indians on a singular identity, that is, religion, the political forces that spearheaded the campaign for Hindu consolidation remained peripheral in India, which was reflected in the loss of the BJP in the 2004 general elections and the subsequent victory of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2009.

What is most worrying about present-day India is that there is a marked shift in the political discourse, where there is not only greater acceptability of the idea of a “majoritarian homogenous cultural nationhood” but also the relegation of minorities and other vulnerable groups to the status of “non-citizens”. The brazen forms of majoritarian violence being unleashed on the people and communities on the margins through mob lynchings, cow vigilantism and religious assertions by the majority, are reflective of the transition India has undergone from the 1990s to the post-2014 political landscape.

This transition is also reflected in the political discourse. The entire discussion over the demolition of the Babri masjid has been repositioned as merely a dispute between two communities and a title suit over the land where the Babri masjid once stood. As somebody who has lived through these turbulent phases of history, I believe we must not hyphenate the Babri masjid demolition with Muslims alone. It was an attack on the very idea of “We the people”, the opening lines of our Preamble.

We are standing at a juncture in Indian democracy that might head towards the severe erosion of its pluralist character if we do not re-build a consensus all over again — that differences in opinion, faith, values, beliefs, and attitudes have to be accommodated and appreciated rather than suppressed. Twenty-five years later, the demolished medieval mosque seeks an answer from all of us: Will the India of Bapu’s dreams remain, or will it succumb to pressures from the ideology that assassinated him?

The writer is national president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and former chief minister of Bihar.