The first reaction to North-East Delhi riots, protesters gather at Jantar Mantar for a sit-in protest to demand peace.

Following the riots in the North-Eastern part of Delhi for the past three days, hundreds of protesters gathered on a short notice for a sit-in at Jantar Mantar on 26th February. A quiet crowd was observed comprising not just students but also professors, journalists and many others from different walks of life. People raised slogans such as “I am Ashamed” or “Kab tak mareinge ek dusre ko? Tham jao, bas karo! Iss nafrat ko khatam karo (How long are we going to fight among ourselves? Calm down! Let’s end this hatred)” under the banner of ‘Delhi Wants Peace’.

Multiple speakers addressed the crowd that had gathered there. Vrinda Grover, a lawyer and human rights activist, talked about the role of Delhi police in insuring impunity for the rioters. Navsharan, Karwan e Mohabbat member, addressed the efforts made to ensure availability of medical teams for the injured during the riots. Dipankar Bhattacharya, member of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), discussed how riots are an attempt to undo the Delhi election mandate. Many other speakers were also heard.

Kavita Krishnan, member of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIWPA), told DU Beat, “College and university students can play a very big role in mobilising for peace around your colleges and wherever you live. The first thing that you can easily do is go with some flowers or sweets and meet your neighbours. Especially where Muslim students and Kashmiri students are staying. Meet them, understand that they are vulnerable, offer them your friendship and solidarity. Even where there aren’t students, if you know of any locality close by, better to go door to door, whether Hindu or Muslim, distribute sweets and flowers and ask them to be a part of an initiative for peace. Tell them to stop their neighbours from being violent, and protect those in danger.”

Deepika Shergill, another protester, talked about hope in such trying times. “If you’re talking about hope, I actually feel very hopeless and helpless. I’m here as a very concerned Delhi person, a very concerned Indian. I’m trying to find a way how I can make myself relevant to bring this to a stop. When I see that your generation has taken to the street, I do feel that you guys are taking charge. But it’s going to be a long battle. But at least there is a battle; one is not sitting back. Everyone is out here because we all are concerned and I think I take my hope out of it.”

Shahbaz Ansar, a reporter at The Press, also shared his views from a journalist’s perspective. “Mere kayi aise friends hain jinke baare mei abhi tak report nahi hui hai; jinke personal accounts maine sune hain. Jaise meri ek friend hai Sushmita Sinha. Voh kal gayi Jafrabad aur fir tear gas ka usko samna karna pada aur even harassment ka usko samna karna pada. Bohot log yeh saari baatein likhte nahi hain kyunki unke parents pareshan ho jaayeinge. Toh mujhe lagta hai ki jo journalist bohot zyada mehnat kar rahe hain aur in sabh cheezon ko face kar rahe hain aur voh ground pe jakar dekh rahe hain, unse jab aap baat karoge toh voi sare aapko khul kar bataayeinge ki jo police hai voh mili hui hai rioters ke saath. Toh yeh bohot hi alag situation hai kyunki jab rioters ke sath police mil jaati hai toh samajh lo that you are being ruled by criminals. (I have many friends whose encounters haven’t been reported; who’s personal accounts I’ve heard. For instance, I have a friend Sushmita Sinha. Yesterday when she went to Jafrabad, she had to face tear gas and harassment. Many don’t write about these experiences as it might disturb their parents. So I think that the journalists who work hard, face everything and observe everything from the ground would openly claim that the police have joined the rioters. This is a very different situation because when police joins the rioters, then we may conclude that we are being ruled by criminals).”

Feature Image Credits: Aditi Gutgutia for DU Beat

Aditi Gutgutia

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India is slowly inching its way into making its mark on the global and anarchical realm of international politics. But in the hustle, bustle, and glamour, has the Republic of India lost touch with what makes it a Republic?

A Republic is typically defined as a nation wherein the people are the key stakeholders in the governance of the
country; a nation where the citizens are empowered to rule themselves by choosing their elected representatives,
legitimised by the Constitution. It was on the establishment of the longest written Constitution of the world, the
first Republic Day was celebrated on 26th January 1950.

Talking about how much context matters, the Constitution of India is ever growing and ever evolving, despite being one of the most rigid and absolute texts to have come into acceptance. The authors of this book entailed in its pages, modern concepts that are still relevant to this day. This statement, thus, begs the question: Even after 69 years of India being a Republic, has the current political scenario backtracked the sovereign, and reduced it to mere power politics?

Sovereign state boundaries exist for a reason. It is the demarcation and the geographic separation of land that makes a country a nation-state. But the true meaning of a nation-state, seems to have been lost on the citizens of this country, who have forgotten what their duties and responsibilities are. Its essence is adrift on our political leaders,
who are bound to be the representatives of the grassroots, but in status quo, are sadly only illustrative of the few who
dominate the wealth and the banks.

The protection of the sovereignty and dignity has been one of the top most priorities, coming out of shackles of colonialism. Yet there is still a Kashmir in India, supposedly housing the fantasy of a heaven on Earth, where the honourability of each citizen is questioned everyday due to political games and disputes. Yet, there is still a North-East in India, where voices seem to never be heard.

To say that the State has failed its citizens, is a convenient scapegoat that can be applied to any prevalent
government in power. To say that the citizens have not been wise in choosing their representatives, is also essentially
conveying the same sentiment of shrugging off the blame. Alas, what choice are the people left with, when None
Of The Above (NOTA) has no legitimate effect in the political structure. In our electoral system, NOTA has no electoral value. Even if the situation emerges where NOTA gets more votes than any candidate in the elections, the candidate who has secured the highest number of votes after NOTA will still hold office. This expression of rejection through casting your vote guarantees no accountability,since it does not constitute a re-election or change in candidacy. The very fact that NOTA is emblematic is the dreadful reason why it cannot be successful in an illiterate and puerile democracy like ours, where charisma and ascendancy are given more significance than one’s ability to introduce and implement affirmative policies.Is India, truly a Republic? A Republic where the voters are robbed of the right to express their dissent? Are the citizens then, really empowered to choose?
Our democracy is scattered, lacking structure and the focus that is vital to rebuild this great nation’s glory.
Maybe the need of the hour, is the introduction of a Machiavellian Prince in status quo, a strong individual who cannot be reckoned with, to get us back into track. To a time when we were not broken, were not colonised. To a time when there was supposed peace. I wonder when that time will come. I wonder, when sisterhood among differences will prevail. I wonder.

Bhavya Banerjee

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A group of Delhi University students under the name “Delhi University Students For Peace” are cycling from Kanyakumari to Islamabad in a bid to appeal for peaceful relations between India and Pakistan.

They approached the mission with the thought that – “In the absence of mutual trust and friendly relations, India and Pakistan spend huge amounts for defence purposes which could otherwise be used in the fight against poverty and hunger. If all or even a portion of that amount was spent on social welfare, would not the cause of development be served better? We could not after all substitute weapons for food or medicines or education.”

To give direction to their agenda 12 of them embarked their cycling journey from Kanyakumari. Their journey was formally inaugurated by VS Achuthanadam, former CM of Kerela. They have gathered support from many eminent and revered personalities as Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, former Supreme Court Justice and Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, various MPs and MLAs on their Facebook page.

The march is expected to take 90 days from Kanyakumari to reach Islamabad i.e. on 31st august 2013. You can even trace their progress on Google maps.  The collected signatures will be submitted to the Governments of India and Pakistan. They have already held interactions and mass signature campaigns at various universities, colleges and schools along the way, and collected the signatures of all concerned citizens who have expressed their support for our cause. The route of their journey can also be traced via Google Maps.

View Delhi University Students for Peace CYCLE MARCH FOR PEACE from KANYAKUMARI to ISLAMABAD in a larger map

After leaving Delhi recently, the group is proceeding via Baghpat to Chandigarh and from there to Amritsar and the Wagah border before crossing into Lahore on the way to Islamabad. They expect to reach Wagah border on the 14th of August to jointly celebrate the Independence day of India and Pakistan.

The group believes that friendly relations between India and Pakistan are just the first step for a lasting solution to the problems of our subcontinent. After this cycle march to Islamabad they also propose to go to Dhaka via Kathmandu during the winter with the same purpose.

The delicate ties between India and Pakistan have become strained yet again after two Indian soldiers were killed and mutilated during fresh clashes at the Kashmir border. It is believed that one of the soldiers was beheaded and his head was taken as a trophy by the Pakistani troops. This incident is one of the most serious violations of the September 2003 ceasefire signed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf, where both sides agreed to end the frequent artillery and machine gun duels along the 740 km Line of Control (LoC).  Post the incident of 8th January 2013, where an Indian soldier was beheaded, each side has bitterly accused the other of violating the de facto border in Kashmir, which both sides claim in its entirety. It is unfortunate that even now barbaric cross border head hunting raids are followed and have been Pakistan’s calling card for long.

The border doesn’t appear to be a peaceful place anytime soon as both sides are not willing to make dialogue. Such a situation makes most of us raise questions of why efforts directed towards building peace between the two nuclear states often go in vain. When will India and Pakistan culminate this never-ending political and cultural rift on a disputed state?

The conflicts between India and Pakistan have risen due to various reasons over the last few decades, starting with the partition, into the Kashmir dispute, followed by the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and the war of Kargil. It is important for us to understand that all these tensions are actually just symptoms of the conflict and the root cause lies much deeper within.

One of the major reasons is the difference in the theological and sociological aspects of the major religions in both the nations. This has been a major cause of global conflict since centuries and has become prominent between both the nations as well. Religious fanaticisms have been the foremost cause of global terrorism and have claimed hundreds of lives across the world, including the Subcontinent.

Another major reason of conflict could be due to Pakistan’s foundations being in sharp contrast to that of India. Pakistan became even more radicalized and islamicized, in many ways more extreme than the founder’s vision after the death of Jinnah. Hence the tragedy of 1971 was a huge blow to the people of Pakistan and their ideology. The same goes for the conflict of Kashmir as it disregards the ideology of both the nations; therefore, India has not been in favour of international intervention in the Kashmir issue, for it defies the sovereignty of the nation.

It is important for both nations to respect each other’s integrity and sovereignty, and not let the interest of few religiously and politically motivated groups to spoil the sincere efforts on part of both nations to establish peace and harmony.