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Exile, through the lens

By Kavita

Most of the films screened at the Tibetan Film Festival and the Dharamsala International Film Festival had a strong political theme, reflecting the trauma of a people fenced in and outnumbered at ‘home’, silenced in exile

Dharamsala International Film Festival

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The long shadow of dalit massacres

By Subhash Gatade

The Patna High Court’s acquittal of the 23 Ranvir Sena members accused of the massacre of dalits and Muslims in Bathani Tola in 1996 underscores the continuing atrocities against dalits and other oppressed communities. How much has changed since the Keezhvenmani massacre in 1969?

caste violence

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February 27, Ahmedabad: The remains of the day

Mari Marcel Thekaekara reports from Ahmedabad on the week-long commemoration of the Gujarat genocide, and the violence that will not go away

communal riots Gulberg Society Gujarat

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No reconciliation without remorse

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Ten years after the Gujarat genocide 15 cabinet ministers and 28 IAS\IPS officers have been chargesheeted and Narendra Modi has been summoned by the Special Investigation Team. But, activists say, communal harmony will not be restored until the government and Gujarati society express remorse

communal harmony

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The other September 11 tragedy

Crimes against scheduled castes have actually increased, according to the government's own figures. But a fact-finding team in Tamil Nadu, where on September 11, 2011 serious police atrocities against dalits were committed, found that the district administration had little awareness about laws and measures for combating crimes against scheduled castes and tribes, writes K S Subramanian

Violence against dalits

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The burden of being Muslim

After every terror strike India's Muslim youth are fearful -- of encounters, illegal detention and torture. How long must Muslims live under suspicion of being terrorists or supporting terrorism? The sense of insecurity has become part of our lives, says Mahtab Alam

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Anna Hazare is inspiring India's somnolent people: Irom Sharmila

2,500 km away from the Ramlila grounds where Anna Hazare’s fast has the government in jitters, Irom Sharmila in Manipur continues unheard into the 11th year of her fast protesting human rights abuses under the AFSPA. Thingnam Anjulika Samom asks this prisoner of conscience what makes her continue to uphold democratic ideals with her only weapon – her body

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Hashimpura, the massacre that everyone forgot

By Darshan Desai

A media frenzy next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the horrifying Gujarat riots. But few will remember that 2012 will also mark 25 years after the shocking Hashimpura massacre in which a reserve force of the UP police rounded up 42 people and allegedly shot at them with impunity. After 23 years of research and investigation, former SP Vibhuti Narain Rai’s forthcoming book will for the first time tell the complete story

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Kahani queer India ki

The queer movement has gained visibility and a measure of acceptance in metropolitan India. But the rainbow has only just begun to hover over the rest of India. In Bhadrak, Barasat and hundreds of other places, queer folk are waiting and watching, says Pawan Dhall

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Dalit student suicides: The death of merit

A dalit student group has exposed the extent of caste discrimination in India’s premier educational institutions in two amateur documentaries uploaded on YouTube. These films tell the stories of two final-year medical students, driven to suicide because of the taunts and harassment they faced as dalits

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We are all complicit in the exile of MF Husain

Our ‘patriots’ hounded MF Husain out of his country. Our ‘secularists’ didn’t have the guts to bring him home. All of us are guilty of giving in to intimidation in the name of pragmatic governance, says Dilip Simeon

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WSF: The view from Senegal

Africa was the focus of the World Social Forum 2011 held in Senegal in February. But oddly enough colonialism, which is responsible for depleting the continent’s resources and its present crisis, was simply not discussed, says Sachin Kumar Jain 

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KG Kannabiran: Warrior for civil liberties

Rajindar Sachar pays tribute to KG Kannabiran, one of India’s foremost human rights activists, who died in December 2010

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Malabar, 1811: The long road to freedom from slavery

By N P Chekkutty

Two hundred years ago the first battle against slavery in India was won when Magistrate Thomas Hervey Baber freed 123 slaves, including children, from private trader Murdoch Brown’s plantation in Malabar. This is a story of marauding imperialism, a cruel caste system, and a crusade for human rights which led to a ban on slavery in British India in 1843

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Caste matters: What web matrimonials say

By Ashok Gopal

They might be Web-savvy, well-educated, well-off and living in a big city, but almost all women looking for a partner on India’s popular matrimonial websites want to marry within their religion and within their caste as well

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'Caste no bar'? You've got to be joking

By Ashok Gopal

How much does caste matter to young urban Indians, as reflected in the preferences they post on the hugely popular matrimonial websites? For almost everybody who hopes to find a life partner via the web matrimonial route, revealing one’s jati identity is a prerequisite for getting enquiries. This is Part 1 of a 2-part article on caste in matrimonial portals

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No peace without justice

By Anosh Malekar

If they return to their villages they may not survive. If they stay on in their resettlement colony they will never have basic education, healthcare or livelihoods. Eight years after the Gujarat riots, this is the status of thousands of displaced Muslims in the state.

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Modern-day slaves in a globalised world

By Shamita Das Dasgupta

Blue-collar workers from developing countries often sell everything they own to get a job in the land of milk and honey. An increasing number of these ‘guest workers’ in the US are being exploited and forced to live in inhuman conditions, with the constant threat of deportation

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The veil as a political weapon

Force can never be used to achieve freedom, writes Azar Mahloujian, an opponent of the Islamic regime in Iran, who has been living in Sweden since 1982. Women cannot accept anyone else telling them that they must – or must not – wear the veil

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Life on the line

By Jayanta Kumar Bhattacharya

The new barbed wire fencing India has erected for security reasons along the India-Bangladesh border in Tripura has caused homes to be demolished, people’s movements and employment to be restricted, and compensation, as usual, has been inadequate or non-existent

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Watchdog for women's rights

By Rajashri Dasgupta

Thirty years after CEDAW, does the Convention really serve a useful purpose? Sunila Abeysekera, Sri Lankan human rights campaigner who heads International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, says the Convention is a good space for democratic countries to reaffirm that they respect women’s rights

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Tiger boundaries

A turned-away tiger complains to the Supreme Court. Ashish Kothari reports on this strange case from the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border

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The human rights mathematician

Bobby Kunhu pays tribute to the committed human rights activist and lawyer K Balagopal who passed away on October 8, 2009

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Violence in the jhoom fields

By Anup Sharma

One hospital for a population of 1.86 lakh, 136 villages electrified out of a total of 552, infant mortality at 4 per 10 infants, and per capita income at Rs 39 a day. Such underdevelopment is a fertile breeding ground for ethnic strife and militancy in Assam’s North Cachar Hills district

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Cracks in the citadel of peace

By Raheel Dhattiwala

Inaccessible education, unemployment and fear of displacement are threatening the peace in Ram-Rahimnagar, the settlement in Ahmedabad where Hindus and Muslims have kept the peace over four major communal riots. This is a disturbing picture of a settlement that is celebrated as a model of communal harmony

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A psychological look at 'honour killings'

It might be time to apply a psychoanalytical approach to honour killings and other social issues of our times, in order to devise ways to engage with pathologies at a community level, says Rakesh Shukla

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Mizoram's unwanted citizens

By Jayanta Kumar Bhattacharya

Thirty-seven thousand people violently displaced in ethnic clashes in Mizoram have been living in miserable conditions in six makeshift camps in neighbouring Tripura for over a decade. Despite having documents to prove their citizenship, the Mizoram government doesn’t seem to want them back

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'We lacked a civil society movement to halt the hatred in Gujarat'

By Melanie P Kumar

When minorities have no place in a state sworn to secularism, when freedom of speech and expression is curtailed, what vibrant Gujarat are we talking about, asks Father Cedric Prakash, human rights activist from Ahmedabad

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Binayak Sen's release: A victory for civil society

What kind of man inspires such a huge swell of civil society support wondered this correspondent as she marched with all the rest to Central Jail in Raipur, demanding the release of Binayak Sen just days before he was granted bail

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"We are fighting for democracy and dignity"

By Nilanjan Dutta

Angry at the brutality unleashed by the police in combing operations for Maoists, the tribals of remote and backward Lalgarh district in West Bengal refused to allow police to enter their villages this election and forced polling booths to be set up on the outskirts. They have drawn up a 10-point development charter as well

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'There is a huge gap between the voiceless and those who have a voice'

By Melanie P Kumar

Ilina Sen, wife of public health activist Dr Binayak Sen, who has been behind bars for the last two years for suspected links with extremists in Chhattisgarh, talks about Dr Sen’s work and the long and continuing struggle to secure his release

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'The poor pay the most for food - and also for health'

By Pamela Philipose

Isn’t there something wrong with the fact that there is one Indian doctor available for every 1,325 Americans in the US, but only one Indian doctor for every 2,200 Indians, asks Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and human rights activist

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Stony resistance

By Peerzada Arshad Hamid

A strange debate is going on in Kashmir these days. Newspapers and scholars are debating the legitimacy or otherwise of stone-pelting as a form of civil society resistance. Is it Islamic or un-Islamic? A seminar was also organised on the subject

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"Independence, even after I die"

By Dilnaz Boga

On the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising, 73-year-old Tibetan nun Anila recalls the torture and violence she experienced in 1959, when the Red Army overran Lhasa. It took her more than 20 years to make her way to India and be reunited with her husband

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'It is imperative that we come face-to-face with the demon within us'

By Deepa A

Human rights activist Teesta Setalvad plans to set up a Museum of Resistance in Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society, the site of a massacre during the Gujarat riots of 2002. In this interview, she explains why such a memorial is necessary

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Curfews and the women of Ima Keithel

By Chitra Ahanthem

The Market of Mothers in Imphal, Manipur, is the only marketplace that is run and controlled entirely by women. Over the generations, it has been an arena for women's uprisings and opinion-moulding. But curfews and general strikes are now affecting the women who trade here

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'Things have changed; 16 years ago coming to India was seen as treason'

By Aditi Bhaduri

Pakistani peace activist Karamat Ali discusses the many civil society initiatives to lay the groundwork for peace between India and Pakistan

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Similar yet different: What dalit activists think about Barack Obama

By Anuja Mirchandaney

As Barack Obama is sworn in as the first black President of America on January 20, 2009, dalits in India debate what this means for marginalised communities in both countries

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Songs of connectivity

By Deepti Priya Mehrotra

The deep roots of Islamic culture in India were explored in a week-long celebration of multiculturalism in Delhi recently

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Caste walls

By Anosh Malekar

Dalit Bhimnagar was separated from Maratha Dare by a 60-foot road when the villages were set up to rehabilitate Koyna dam oustees. Now, a new barrier in the form of a 155-m wall has caused simmering caste resentments to erupt in this western Maharashtra region. Our correspondent travelled to the divided villages to investigate how strong the caste divide really is in 21st century India

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Blue is the colour of peace

By Anita and Edwin

An international peace meet in Tumkur, Karnataka, explored the stages of transition for India's dalits: from a subjugated peace, in which dalits live with the dominant castes in subjugation and fear, to resurgence, conflict and finally, peace with dignity

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Rainbow Walk: Coming out, in pride

By Rajashri Dasgupta

In Kolkata, a city known to provide space to the marginalised, the LGBT community celebrated its sexuality and publicly declared its alternative sexual preferences

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Criminalising beggars instead of rehabilitating them

By Neeta Lal

A recent survey in Delhi revealed that many beggars are able-bodied and educated, forced into beggary by unemployment. The findings underscore the absence of a cohesive and humane national policy for beggars in India

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Brutal eviction

By Aparna Pallavi

In yet another conflict over land between tribals and the forest department, government authorities brutally evicted 1,500 families from a stretch of land in Ghateha village in Madhya Pradesh, claiming they were illegal settlers. The tribals are now in hiding, desperately trying to earn enough to get by

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The seeds of a new social movement

By N P Chekkutty

Trade liberalisation has had a severe impact on Kerala's fisherfolk. With no organised lobby to fight for their rights, the fisherfolk have been fighting among themselves, leaving the wealth of the sea to be plundered by middlemen and the global marine industry. But this August, traditional and mechanised fishermen across caste and communal divides, came together to fight the 62-day ban on monsoon trawling

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Fishing communities: the economics of impoverishment

By N P Chekkutty

Foreign trawlers are entering Indian fishing zones as part of global joint ventures, and Indian markets will soon be flooded with foreign fish products. This is yet another nail in the coffin of Kerala's traditional fishing communities, and a major contributor to violence and social conflict

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Tension grows as pressure on marine resources mounts

By N P Chekkutty

For centuries the Hindu, Muslim and Christian fisher communities co-existed peacefully in coastal Kerala. The forces of communalism only surfaced after the 1960s, when mechanised fishing and the pressures of economic liberalisation destroyed traditional knowledge systems and brought new pressures into the lives of fishing communities. This is the first in a series of articles exploring the socio-economic roots of communal strife in Kerala. The series was researched as part of the CCDS Research Fellowships 2006

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Ram-Rahim Nagar: An oasis of peace in Ahmedabad

By Shiv Kumar

A 21-member peace committee formed in 1969 has held the peace in this slum. Ironically, it is poverty and social stigma that binds these 'low-caste' Hindus and Muslims

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Waiting to go home

By Shiv Kumar

Ramesh Patel, sarpanch of Ognej village near Ahmedabad ominously says that Muslims are welcome to return home "at their own risk". Ognej is one of several villages in Gujarat where Muslims are not allowed to return to their native villages

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Commerce papers over the cracks between Hindus and Muslims

By Shiv Kumar

Mercantile relationships between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat are gradually being restored by exigencies of trade. But it's a tenuous relationship. Cheliya Muslims, who saw 147 of their restaurants burnt in the post-Godhra riots, are taking in Hindu partners in order to stay afloat

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Aliens in the House of Flowers

By Oishik Sircar and Maria Ahlqvist

Phoolbari in southwest Bengal is located in the 150-metre strip of no man's land between India's electric fences and the actual international border with Bangladesh. Entry into 'mainland' India is restricted to a few hours a day, and villagers must hurry back before curfew at 6 pm or be shut out of their own homes. This is a photo-feature on the lives of Phoolbari's borderland people

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Five pledges for dalit shakti

By Freny Manecksha

Martin Macwan's Dalit Shakti Kendra in Gujarat provides vocational training to dalit youth. More importantly, it gives them a sense of identity

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Zagor, the Goan festival of communal amity, under threat

By Shiv Kumar

Will the centuries-old zagor tradition, in which Hindus and Christians jointly celebrate the harvest, be destroyed by commercialisation and communal forces?

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The Haji Malang shrine: Whose God is it anyway?

By Shiv Kumar

The popular shrine of Haji Abdur Rehman Shah Malang near Mumbai, where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other communities have worshipped together for generations, is being contested by fundamentalist Hindus and Muslims

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Shirdi is losing its Sufi traditions

By Shiv Kumar

In the temple town of Shirdi, Moharrum is no longer celebrated alongside Ram Navami, a practice begun by the Sufi saint Sai Baba. The cracks in the town's legendary amity between Hindus and Muslims are beginning to show

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Consent cannot be manufactured by guns

By Vidhya Das

Protestors have gathered on the road to the Kalinganagar industrial area in Orissa. The bodies of four of those killed in police firing on January 2, are laid out here. This on-the-spot report records the seething anger against the industries that are usurping the lands, livelihoods and basic rights of adivasi farmers

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Penalising clients of sex workers: Pros and cons

By Nitin Jugran Bahuguna

Will the amendments to the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act proposed by the government protect sex workers from exploitation at the hand of clients and police, or will it end up making them more vulnerable?

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Barbers continue their fight for dignity in Orissa

By Rifat Mumtaz

On October 4, human rights activist Baghambar Patnaik was arrested by the Orissa government for leading over 300 lower caste Bariks (barbers) in a silent protest against inhuman treatment by the upper castes

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The mining mafia calls the shots

By Rashme Sehgal

In the stone quarries of Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh, women and children work for as little as Rs 2 and 2 kg of wheat a day. Here there are villages peopled only by the widows of men who have died of lung disorders or mining disasters. But the local administration denies that child labour, bonded labour or exploitative practices exist in its jurisdiction

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Detained for serving meals to 'militants'

By Rashme Sehgal

Hundreds of women are picked up by the police and imprisoned under the draconian Prevention Of Terrorism Act, often under frivolous charges

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Caste wars simmer as defiant barbers refuse to wash the feet of 'upper castes'

By Manipadma Jena

In Puri district of Orissa, the 'lower caste' Bariks (barbers) will no longer wash the feet of upper-caste families at social events. They will no longer perform other caste-driven occupations. The ' upper caste' farmer Khandayats refuse to accept this defiance of the social order and have retaliated with a social and economic boycott. Manipadma Jena travelled to the villages where the caste war has been simmering since 2001

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In the name of the Jarawa

By Pankaj Sekhsaria

While seminars, expert committees and recommendations deliberate the fate of the Jarawas, the 260 original inhabitants of the Andaman rainforests live vulnerable and threatened lives.

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What hope for the Jarawa?

By Pankaj Sekhsaria

The Jarawa, an ancient indigenous community living in the forests of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, have fought off efforts both to 'colonise' and to 'civilise' them. But are they fighting a losing battle?

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Cheap labour for sale in Cyberabad's overflowing addas

By Safia Sircar

At least 40 million Indians are unemployed, and 10 million new job-seekers enter the job market every year. This report zeroes in on Hyderabad's addas where migrant labourers from Andhra Pradesh's water-starved districts struggle to sell their labour for as little as Rs 40 a day

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Land warriors of the Konkan

By Huned Contractor

For over 25 years, land rights activist Surekha Dalvi has been championing the cause of tribal ownership of land in Maharashtra's picturesque Konkan region

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The Van Rawats of Pithoragarh: Victims of lopsided development

By R Uma Maheshwari

The nomadic, hunter-gatherer Van Rawats are being pushed out of their traditional forest lands in the name of `development'. But no one seems to be fighting for their rights, despite the fact that they are among the poorest, most vulnerable tribes in the country

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Saying no to globalisation at the Asian Social Forum?

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Dalits, adivasis, displaced people, the disabled, the landless, the evicted, were present as the Asian Social Forum opened in Hyderabad on January 3.

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Genocide garba: Beyond Gujarat

By Dilip Chitre

Gujarat, Godhra, genocide, garba and Gandhiji: these alliterative words pop up in the poet's mind in the two months since communal violence in Gujarat began. In this article Dilip Chitre reflects on the sub-texts and painful dissonances these words evoke

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Cry, the beloved country: Reflections on the Gujarat massacre

By Harsh Mander

In a candid first-person account of Gujarat after the recent communal riots, Harsh Mander talks of his horror at the brutality that took place in the state, and the shame he experiences at the abdication of duty of his peers in the civil and police administration

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Kerala's tribals fight for their lands

By Mukundan C Menon

In the last 100 years, over one million acres of land are believed to have been grabbed from Kerala's tribal population. Their long agitation to regain the forests and lands where their ancestors have lived for generations was intensified after the starvation deaths of 32 tribals last year. And the struggle is just about beginning to pay off

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