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India: Statement condemning the Targeting and Vilification of Harsh Mander by Narendra Modi

12 June 2013

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N Delhi,

12th, June, 2013

With great pride we would like to put on record that the work of our colleague and friend Harsh Mander, for the last several years, both inside the Government as a civil servant, as well as outside the Government as a policy maker, researcher and activist has been, that of promoting in the most ethical way, non-violent ways of ensuring justice to survivors of violence due to their gender, class, caste, religious group, ethnicity or nationality. The most prominent violence which Harsh’s work has highlighted has been the one committed on the vulnerable by both the State and Society due to their invisibility, whether they be the homeless, the destitute, the old or street people.

It is shocking that the “aspirant PM” Narendra Modi has been targetting Harsh for the last week calling him a Maoist. Thus trying to belittle his work, raising doubts about him and villifying his name in public. This targetting of individuals and organisations and vilifying them is not new, earlier too he had spewed venom against Syeda Hammed, Teesta Setalvad and Shabnam Hashni amongst the several and now the new whipping boys are Harsh Mander and Dr. Binayak Sen.

The hiring of Padma, a single poor woman, estranged from her husband, as a care giver in one of the 45 Institutions for street and abandoned children run by Aman Biradari, is being twisted and used by Modi to prove that Harsh is a Maoist sympathiser. The latest spin that Harsh Mander is in any way involved with the Maoists and that he may have had anything to do at all with the abduction of Vineel Krishna, the then District Collector of Malkangiri is patently false, concocted and the figment of a very perverted imagination.

This absolutely absurd claim and false connection being made by Modi only exposes his brand of politics which is seeped, in his parent organisation the RSS from where Mr. Modi has learnt to distort facts and spread hate. His anger against Harsh also clearly goes back to the latter’s work in Gujarat struggling over ten years to ensure justice to those affected by the 2002 communal genocide. It maybe recalled that Harsh had left the prestigious civil services in 2002 and plunged himself in Gujarat and other parts of India in order to quell communal fire from spreading and working towards justice and rehabilitation of the survivors.

It goes without saying that this vilification of Harsh for partisan electoral politics be stopped. It is vital for all to understand that the perils of allowing such politics to take centre stage where democratic rights of people are attacked, impacting their right to work as they choose, amounts to an attack on the very basis of our country’s plural existence. We hope that such politics will not be promoted by political parties and the media so that people can continue to work freely for public good.

We are,

All names are in Alphabetical order

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Abhay Kumar, Right to Food Campaign Karnataka
Akhila Sivadas, Centre for Advocacy and Research, N Delhi
Ankita Agarwal, Researcher, N Delhi
Annie Raja, National Federation for Indian Women, N Delhi
Anuradha Talwar, New Trade Union Initiative, N Delhi
Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, NDelhi
Apoorvanand, Prof. University of Delhi
Arun Gupta and Radha Holla, Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India),
Arundhati Dhuru and Ulka Mahajan, National Alliance of People’s Movements,
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shanker Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan
Asha Mishra, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, N.Delhi
Ashok Bharti, National Conference of Dalit Organizations, N Delhi
Ashok Khandelwal, Rozi Roti Sandharbh Kendra, Rajasthan
Balram, Gurjeet Singh and James Herenj (Jharkhand)
Bhanwar Singh, Astha, Udaipur
Bidyut Mohanty, SPREAD, Orissa
Bindu Singh, Right to food Campaign, Uttar Pradesh,
Biraj Patnaik, Centre Equity Studies, NDelhi
Chingmak Chang, ECS, Nagaland
Clifton, Alternative law forum, Bangalore
Colin Gonsalves, Human Rights Law Network, Delhi
Dheeraj, Coordinator Right to Food Campaign, N Delhi
Dipa Sinha, Ph.D Scholar, JNU
Fr. Jothi SJ and Mr. Saradindu Biswas, Right to Food and work campaign, West Bengal
Gangabhai, Social Activist, Chhattisgarh
G V Ramanjaneyulu, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture,
Himanshu, Associate Professor, JNU
Jean Dreze, Economist, Allahabad University
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights activist, Mumbai
Kavitha Kurughanti, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture
Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan
M Kodandram, Academic, Central University, Hyderabad
Madhuresh, NAPM
Madhuri Krishnaswamy, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan
Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Badwani
Mira Shiva, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, N Delhi
Mukta Srivastava, Anna Adhikar Abhiyan, Maharashtra
Nishat Hussein, National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society, Jaipur
Paul Divakar and Asha Kowtal, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights,
Pushpa, Dharmender, Ramendra, Yogesh, Vimla and Sarita (Delhi),
Prof. Mohammed Hasan, Independent Scholar, Jaipur
Prem Krishan Sharma, PUCL, Rajasthan
Radha Kant Saxena, PUCL, Rajasthan
Raj Kishore Mishra, Rupantar, Orissa
Rama Melkote, Prof. Central University, Hyderabad
Reetika Khera, Economist, N Delhi
Rupesh, Koshish, Bihar,
Sachin Jain, Vikas Smawad, Madhya Pradesh,
Sameer Garg, Chaupal, Chhattisgarh
Saito Basumaatary, People’s Rights Forum, Guwahati
Sejal Dand and Sumitra Thakkar, Anna Adhikar Suraksha Abhiyan, Gujarat
Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
Swapan Ganguly, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti, WB
Subhash Bhatnagar, National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector workers
Sunil Kaul, The Ant, Assam,
Suresh Sawant, Rationing Kruti Samiti, Maharashtra,
Tarun Bharatiya, Film Maker, Meghalaya,
V Suresh, PUCL, Tamil Nadu,
Veena Shatrugna, Nutritionist expert, Hyderabad
60. Vidhya Das, Agragamee, Orissa
Vijay Lakshmi, RTI Manch, Rajasthan, Jaipur
Vinod Raina, Educationist, NDelhi
Vipul Mudgal, Senior Fellow, CSDS