The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, or HJS, was established on 7 October 2002
for the “Education of Dharma, Awakening of Dharma, Protection of Dharma, Protection of the Nation and Uniting Hindus.” The group is known to be associated with the Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha, which was founded by Jayant Athavale in 1999. The Sanstha’s website states
that it was established to “present Spirituality in a scientific language to those curious about Spirituality.” After the murders of the rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare—on 20 August 2013 and 16 February 2015, respectively—both these organisations and their rhetoric in support of Hindutva came under public scrutiny because of the alleged roles that their members had played
in the killings. On the day Dabholkar was murdered, after the news had broken, the HJS uploaded a photograph of the activist with a red “X” over his face onto its website—it later took down the image on the direction of the Pune police. In a statement that was published on the Sanstha’s website the next day, Athavale wrote that “such a death for Dabholkar is a blessing of the Almighty.”
A sheet of tin that served as the gate to a makeshift colony of domestic workers, daily-wage labourers, and other workers, in Sector 78 in Noida, was bent and broken in half. The colony is adjacent to Mahagun Moderne, a sprawling residential complex spread over 25 acres, around 50 kilometers from the national capital. It is one among several such workers’ settlements in the area. The houses inside the colony were single-room constructions, made of similar tin sheets. On 13 July, when I visited the colony, it appeared deserted—most of the houses were bolted from the outside. I approached a group of young women and men who were standing at one end of the quarters, huddled around a man speaking on the phone.
On 17 July, the election to the office of the president of India shall be held. A total of 4,896 representatives
—the elected members of parliament and legislative assemblies in India—will elect the person who, for the next five years, shall be under an oath to
“preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law.” On 20 July, we citizens will learn the name of the person who will be charged with this task. But what we will not know is the why: on what basis did the electors choose one candidate over the other?
Vehicles passed hurriedly, crushing the broken green glass that littered the part of a national highway leading to Anantnag town. The road is flanked by Batengoo village on one side, while the Jhelum river flows on the other. A crowd comprising paramilitary and military personnel, as well as media persons, had gathered on the side on which the village is located. Voices of journalists speaking into microphones could be heard, mixed with the sounds of the generators in the outside-broadcasting vans belonging to various news channels. On 10 July, at this spot, a group of armed militants opened fire on a police bunker and a passing bus that was transporting pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra. As a result of the firing, seven pilgrims were killed, and close to 30 people were injured. The spot, which is located on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, is nearly 50 kilometers from Srinagar city. Several residents of Batengoo witnessed the firing.
In 2005, Samuel Lalhruaizela, an 18-year-old resident of Aizawl, in Mizoram, secured admission to the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences at Sevagram village in the Wardha district of Maharashtra. At the time, he told me, he had neither heard of the medical college where he had been admitted, nor the area in which it was situated. Lalhruaizela recalled what the dean told his father and him when they visited the university: “You’ve come a very long way.” Indeed, they had. The state of Mizoram does not have a medical college—all aspiring medical practitioners from the state are compelled to travel outside their home state to study.
When The Division of Heaven and Earth: On Tibet’s Peaceful Revolution was first published in Tibet in 2010, the Chinese authorities arrested its author, Shokdung, and banned the book immediately. The writer was imprisoned for six months. Gradually, copies of the book began to circulate underground in Tibet.
In a piece
published in the Deccan Chronicle in February 2016, KN Bhat, the former additional solicitor general of India, writes: “In criminal cases when police resort to lie-detector tests it should be concluded that the investigation has reached a dead-end and other methods of discovering evidence or eliciting information, including procuring a confession, have failed.”
In the days that led up to the first death anniversary of Burhan Wani, a steady stream of visitors made their way to his parents’ home in Shareefabad, in south Kashmir’s Tral town. Most visitors, Burhan’s father Muzaffar Ahmed Wani told me, would stay for a while. The guests would offer their condolences to him and his wife, Maimoona. They would then pray at Burhan’s grave, located only a few minutes from the house. Some of the younger visitors, Muzaffar said, insisted on taking a photograph with him before they left. “He’s Burhan bhai’s father,” Muzaffar said he heard a group of eager-looking teenage boys whisper to each other, before asking for one.
On 8 July 2016, as the sun was about to set behind the mountains of Kashmir, a photograph sent the entire region into mourning. The photo showed the dead body of Burhan Wani, a 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander—he was lying on a stretcher with blood stains on his t-shirt and his face. Indian security forces had killed him that day during an encounter in Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
In May 2017, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government introduced regulations
preventing the sale of any cattle for slaughter at animal markets across the country. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules received criticism and open defiance from several governments of states with a beef-consuming populace. In the days following the notification, the governments of Kerala and Meghalaya passed resolutions
in their respective state assemblies opposing the centre’s notification, while those of Nagaland
and West Bengal
stated that the notification would not be implemented in their states. Among India’s beef-consuming states, however, the BJP-led Goa government, which appeared to be searching for a solution to the effect of the regulations on the state’s beef supply, was conspicuous for its relative silence.