Saturday, November 28, 2009

Protest at Cubbon Park, 30th Nov, 2009

From the Hasiru Usiru group


Hi all,

We all come together to protest in good faith, and secure in the hope that the State will not violate our Fundamental Rights. By and large this is the case.

Sometimes, however, certain vested interests collude with corrupt elements in the State and attack those who uphold the wider public interest.

It is important for us to be vigilant against such abuse of power.

Dinesh (HU moderator) and Vidhi were two peaceful protestors who were beaten up by pujaris of the Shankar Mutt in Bangalore as they were protesting the illegal felling of a tree in a park facing the Mutt.... along with many others. This incident happenned over five years ago, in broad daylight and in a very public way. I was elsewhere, was called, and rushed to the spot. By which time Dinesh and Vidhi had been rounded up by the Shankarpuram Police and taken to the police station.

Clearly they were victims of a terrible attack on their person and their human rights. The Sub Inspector then was more than keen to accuse them of all sorts of criminal actions, because of acute pressure from Mutt authorities. But decided not to proceed on filing this case because I argued that we would take this up in a very public way and to any forum to protect human rights of peaceful protestors against a wrongful act. Because the complaints were withdrawn, we left.

Couple of years later, Dinesh and Vidhi were rounded up by the police on the charge of attacking about ten pujaris of Shankar Mutt. Besides the fact this was impossible (unless they were some sort of Ninja warriors), it was clear that they were victims of gross abuse of power, corruption and collusion between Mutt authorities and the police. This case drags on... several years later.

Dinesh and Vidhi must have gone to the Criminal Court over five dozen times for hearings.... Now this has come for evidence. They are in Court today for the umpteenth time as I write this note.

Two requests:

1) Anyone who was present that day and witness to Dinesh and Vidhi being attacked by the pujaris could help them by stating so in Court.
2) And if you were not there, do send an email in support to Dinesh ( and Vidhi ( just to let them know we have not forgotten them in their brave fight.
and, if at all you are very motivated...
3) Do go and be with them when the case comes up in the criminal court... It helps to know you are not alone when dealing with the debris of protests.

All this I share so we get more energised in our public actions to protect our rights, as Ananth Kumar, Rajeev Chandrashekar, et al continue in their efforts to make Bangalore a gated, security zone and police district.

I am also hoping that many many of you will join the protest on Monday at 4 pm at Queens Statue, Cubbon Park against ongoing efforts to fence public spaces from the public (of course barring the elite who will be given ID cards).

In solidarity...

Leo Saldanha