Demanding Action Against the Violent Attack on Prof. Shivji Panikkar and Acts of Vandalism and Hooliganism by BJP / Sangh Parivar at the Inauguration of the National Students Festival for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice in Ahmedabad on 6th July 2007 sign now

Petition demanding action against the violent attack on Prof. Shivji Panikkar and acts of vandalism and hooliganism by BJP / Sangh Parivar at the inauguration of the National Students Festival for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice in Ahmedabad on 6th July 2007


To,

The Commissioner of Police
Shahibaug,
Ahmedabad


Dear Sir,

We, the citizens of India, are shocked at the brazen display of zealotry, bigotry, muscle power, and above all, vulgarity that was witnessed on 6th July 2007 at the inauguration of a students festival for peace and communal harmony, near St. Xaviers Loyola Hall, Ahmedabad. Even more shocking is the fact that all this is happening in the name of national pride, democracy and preserving Indian culture. As the events recounted below will show, even the police have actively connived in this violent, anti-national, undemocratic and unconstitutional act.

We first recount below the actual events as they transpired on that day.

ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony & Democracy), an activist organisation, had organised a National Students Festival for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice between July 6 and 8, 2007, in Ahmedabad. The festival was to showcase selected entries from across India 60 paintings by school children, 80 design entries by media students and 45 student documentary films.

ANHAD had invited Prof. Shivji Panikkar to inaugurate the Exhibition (at Father Erviti Memorial Hall, St Xaviers Social Service Society), and Nafisa Ali to inaugurate the Student Video Documentary Film Festival (Diamond Jubilee Auditorium, Loyola Hall, St Xaviers High School Campus) at 10.30. a.m. and 11.30 a.m. respectively.

At around 10.40 a.m., when Prof. Pannikar reached the venue, his car was surrounded by a mob. They were shouting slogans like Panikkar go back, Bharat mata ki jai The mob threw stones at the car. One of them threw a large rusted iron drum on the bonnet of the car, twice, and which cracked the front car glass. Two of the attackers threw two bricks which then broke the front glass. One of the bricks hit the driver on the forehead. The mob was trying to drag Prof. Panikkar out of the car. When Shabnam Hashmi expressed her outrage at them the mobsters moved backwards, and she asked the driver to take the car away since she perceived a threat to Prof. Panikkars safety and security. When the mob realised that Prof. Panikkers car was trying to leave they tried to block the car from leaving and continued to throw stones at the car. Fortunately the driver speeded up and was able to move away. The mob then turned its anger on the festival hoardings displayed outside the gate and broke all of them. They forced their entry into the compound raising slogans Modi amar rahe, desh ke gaddaron wapas jao and bharat mata ki jai (all in Gujarati). Some women there were warding them from the festival site, and asking them to desist from violence. They threatened the women using highly abusive, sexist and filthy language. Their body language and gestures were highly aggressive and vulgar, calling the visitors to the exhibition gaddars (traitors). Then suddenly a signal from one of them (which later we realized was a policeman from local intelligence and who was part of the mob) that police was coming made all of them leave suddenly.

When the police arrived, the man in plain clothes was standing with them. The police was told that this man was part of the mob. They ignored this and said that it is not possible since he is from the police. Later in the police station Shabnam Hashmi again showed the man to Police Inspector Desai, but he also ignored it completely.

Prof. Panikkars FIR was lodged. However, Shabnam Hashmis FIR was not lodged. Later in the afternoon, ANHAD got its complaint prepared through a lawyer and also had the photographs of the incident developed. They again went to the police station around 5 p.m. with the lawyer and were there almost till 9 p.m. The police refused to file an FIR. Shabnam Hashmi spoke to the Police Commissioner over the phone but that did not help in registering the FIR either.

There are two offences committed here. One is the violent attack on Prof. Panikkars car, about which incident the FIR has been lodged. The second offence is with regard to trespassing, vandalism, and abuse of the exhibition organisers and the visitors gathered there for the inauguration. The complaint regarding the second incident has been filed, but the police is refusing to lodge an FIR into this. They maintain that the FIR by Prof. Panikkar covers both incidents, which it does not. It is clear that by lodging this second FIR from Shabnam Hashmi and ANHAD the police will be required to arrest the members of the mob since their photographs have been provided to them. They would also be required to take some action against the local intelligence man (whose involvement the Police Commissioner has already refuted). All details as to their involvement (who attacked the car, the man who threw the brick, the man who threw the rusted drum, the goons who formed part of the mob) have been provided at the back of the photographs to the police. Their faces are circled in the photographs.

If more proof of Gujarat being a fascist state is needed, it is here. Ordinary pursuits like holding exhibitions, film shows, and such like, which we take for granted under a democratic dispensation, are denied to us as citizens in Gujarat. Have peace and communal harmony become issues that compromise on national security or pose a law and order problem that they require police permission? That the establishment is threatened by such activities proves its complicity in disturbing peace and communal harmony.

We have evidence to believe that the attack was pre-planned and carried out by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar outfits jointly, with the active involvement of the police. Such behaviour from the police is ample proof of its willingness to bow to every directive from its political masters, and betrays its utter and continued failure to maintain law and order in the state.

We reiterate our outrage and lodge our strong condemnation and protest at such state repression and violation of civil liberties. We strongly demand that the police lodge the FIR by ANHAD and Shabnam Hashmi with regard to the incident. We demand that the culprits who attacked Prof. Panikkar and later the ANHAD activists and the audience be arrested immediately. We demand a thorough and impartial inquiry into the whole incident and demand that all legal actions be taken against those involved in this anti-national and criminal act.


C.C:

1. Governor, Gujarat
2. Chief Minister, Gujarat
3. Minister of State for Home, Government of Gujarat
4. Director General of Police, Gujarat

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Petition target:
Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

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