Open Letter To Swami Agnivesh: I Am A Meat Eater But Not A Rapist

935764_528075367233805_1797758194_n

 

To Swami Agnivesh,

Bandhua Mukti Morcha 7,

Jantar Mantar Road,

New Delhi-110001

Date- April 27, 2013

Namaste Swamiji,

Apologies for writing in English Swamiji. Since we are uneducated, urban, not-so-young people who eat meat and drink beer all the time; we prefer English as well. You might not remember me, though we have met quite a few times. I have even come to your office in Jantar Mantar. But that’s okay. I am one of those many meat eating, alcohol friendly youth whom you always dislike :)

I happened to read your statement in Times of India, “Rapes will come down if people shun meat, alcohol: Swami Agnivesh”. I won’t go into your reasons behind it as you know it much better than me. Your statement didn’t sound astonishing to me at all. Actually, you also followed the tradition of our dear politicians and some other swamiji’s who had taken the easy way out to blame women and other useless factors for the ongoing rape culture in this country. Let me give you some brief information about me and my Bengali culture. We are hardcore fish and mutton eaters. It’s like our religion. Bengalis can shun vegetables but they will never shun fish. My father is also one of them. But guess what Swami Jee, my father never indulged in any kind of violence against anyone, forget women. The work I am doing today is also because he inspired me in a way. He leads a righteous life and eats a lot of fish and meat. I his son, an organiser/activist, am also a hardcore non-veg consumer and a hardcore drinker in a way. I can drink beer like its water. Vodka and Gin are like amrit to me. But guess what? Till today I haven’t been involved in any kind of violent acts, forget about violence against women. I have drank and ate meat with my female friends but they have all been safe in my company. Actually, friends call me a ladies man since my quota of female friends is more than male friends. No one has ever complained that Shibayan is a misogynist or a violent man.

You have also quoted some report by a Japanese scientist. May I request you to make it public and put it forward for public debate? If nothing, but just for the sake of vindicating your stand. Will you please do it Swami Jee?

Let me quote my Kashmiri friend here to put everything in context: “Rape happens because rapists can get away with it. Everything else is just eyewash”

If time permits, I and a couple of friends are planning to organise an open air party in Jantar Mantar right outside your office. We plan to bring lot of meat and plenty of alcohol. We will send you a proper invitation to join us. Please do attend when it happens. Don’t worry, we will include some tasty vegetarian dishes too since we respect your choice.

With Love and Freedom,

Shibayan
Meat eater and Lover of Corona Beer

 

The Open Letter was also published by Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth

 

Advertisements

A Reply to Dhruv Arora

Taken into preventive custody for posing a National Security Threat, Le Meridian Hotel, New Delhi, April 17th, 2008, 4.50am.

Taken into preventive custody for posing a National
Security Threat, Le Meridian Hotel, New Delhi, April 17th, 2008, 4.50am.

Namaste Dhruv Jee,

You might not know me well though we have met quite a few times but I do hope that you will take some time out of your busy schedule to read my mail. I happened to read your post on Gotstared.at regarding your protest on 21st April –  21st April 2013: The Day I Realized I Am No Longer a Part of a Democratic Nation. It was profound and I hope your post inspires many others in this country to do what is needed today. Though I must say that I am in a way quite happy about how things are happening. Happy in the sense that young people like you and many others are realising that democracy in this country is more or less dead. But for me this democracy died long back. As the nation and its youth are seeing today how the political masters of this country behaves when their rule is questioned, we have witnessed this long back. For me and many of the refugees staying here, democracy is more or less non-existent.

Every time a Chinese leader visits India restrictions are placed on movements of Tibetans and supporters. The Tibetan colony in Delhi is sealed and RAF battalion is placed. No one is allowed to come out or go in. Our phone communications are monitored and so is our movements. For me democracy died that day when I was picked up in the middle of the night in April 2008 while I was addressing the press near Jantar Mantar. The ones who took me away were wearing civilian clothes and neither had any id with them. For 24 hrs or less I was in a cell in Parliament street which even lacked the basic amenities like proper drinking water and a functioning loo. We were not taken to any court but rather forced to sign a paper which was written in India. When asked the ACP told me that we have become a threat to national security and the government is sending us to 14 days preventive custody. We were sent to Tihar Jail, Ward no. 7. My democratic rights were taken away that day in full public glare. Indians young and old told me that day well you have to behave you know. The chinese are our guests and we believe in Athithi-Devo-Bhava. Democracy died again in jail (if there is anything called 2nd death), when I had a severe asthma attack and instead of a proper check up I was declared to be an acute TB patient and send to the Delhi TB hospital. Luckily for me the attending cop in the van decided to show me the papers and ask what exactly was wrong with me. I was saved but there were four inmates who were not lucky that year. Allegedly they died of wrong TB treatment. In jail I met a Tibetan who had nothing to do with protests. He was simple guy who was coming back from home along with his Nepali colleagues from Noida after work. The cops picked all of them but later let the Nepali folks go. The SHO told their boss that the Tibetan guy couldn’t be released since he has orders to put any Tibetan in jail for next many days. But no written copy of the order was shown. We heard similar stories from other Tibetans in Tihar and trust me there were close to 700 Tibetans in Tihar then.

Brother for us democracy died long back. I am in no way trying to put your efforts down. But rather I must say that I am happy about what you did and that you have inspired me.  As I say in my talks with young people that at least once in a lifetime you should be imprisoned for a good cause. These experiences teach us a lot of valuable things.

I am ready and can’t wait for the day when I will walk with you and many others to break laws, barricades that are unjust, be tear gassed, be water hosed and if needed to be shot at for defending and upholding our rights. Our rights to a non-violent protest, our rights to bring back our much cherished democracy

Here is a quote that defines me and many others – “There is a point when anybody can become an activist. I mean you see something happen that is so wrong, you have to act. Even if it means the end of you.” – Edge of Darknesss (2010)

With Love and Freedom,

Shibayan

P.S- Since I am a school dropout I have no sense of grammar or knowledge of punctuation. So there will be many errors and I request you to ignore them. Also if you feel there is a problem with what I have written please get back to me. Don’t file a defamation suit or an application under IT Act. I can’t afford to hire a lawyer now

This letter got published in Gotstared.at.

An Open Letter To President Elect Barack Obama

My open letter to President Elect Barack Obama which was published in Youth Ki Awaaz, India’s largest online and mobile, collaborative, award-winning platform for young people to express themselves on issues of importance. An Excerpt of this letter also appeared in Global Voices.

  • Posted on: November 7, 2012
  • Under: Specials

 

To,
President Elect Barack Obama,
White House,
Washington DC,
United States of America

Namaste Obama Jee,

A hearty congratulations on being re-elected as the President of United States. I do feel America and the rest of the world will be much better off with you at the helm of affairs. But unlike other Indian citizens I didn’t actually follow the Presidential race closely but was updated all the time, thanks to interpret Tweets from my Tibetan-American friends.

I am from India, a country touted as the next global leader. I seriously doubt it though but not because I don’t believe in my people but mostly that I don’t believe in the politicians running this country. As you gear up to take your seat in the White House I have these following suggestions which I think if accepted will raise USA’s status much higher in the developing world. Please read-

1. Put Tibet on top of your Foreign Policy Agenda-
You must be aware that the occupation of Tibet continues to this day. While you give your victory speech, China continues to suppress Tibetan’s basic demands for liberty and self-rule. Till date 63 Tibetans have self-immolated inside Tibet. Their demand was very simple- Return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet/ End of Chinese Rule in Tibet/ Freedom to practice their religion and preserve their culture. Instead of opening a dialogue the Chinese regime has turned Tibet into a prison with massive security presence and roadblocks all across the country. Free Tibet groups are calling for a multilateral action on Tibet and I urge you to lead this effort by putting Tibet on top of your Foreign Policy.

2. Stop the Drone Attacks-
I know what happened on 9/11 in USA. Lot of my friends and families were devastated by it too and you have every right to declare war on terrorism. But killing innocent people in the name of fighting terrorism doesn’t help at all. The drones that you send to Pakistan also kill innocent civilians which include children. Maybe you don’t get to see their pictures but we do and it brings tears to our eyes to see kids being bombed and annihilated for no offence. Therefore it’s an earnest request to stop the drone attacks and rather look at an alternative strategy regarding this issue.

3. Release Bradley Manning-
Remember Bradley Manning? I am sure you do. He is the US Soldier charged with espionage for allegedly leaking secret military files to whistleblowing website Wikileaks. He has undergone inhuman mental torture by means of solitary confinement, being stripped and shackled, denied visitation rights among some of many. His crime has not been proved yet but what he has undergone will remain with him as long as he lives. Release him until all charges are proved and let him live a normal life again.

4. Don’t let Israel Bomb Iran-
Tensions are rising again in the Gulf. This time over a possible military action against Iran for allegedly trying to build nuclear bombs. While I, as a non-violent activist vehemently opposed to weapons of mass destruction and any country building it, I do urge you to exercise restraint and use diplomacy over war. Israel supposedly has the largest stockpile of Nuclear weapons in the Middle East and morally doesn’t have any right to voice concern over this. Experts and credible reports suggest Iran is nowhere near to building a nuclear bomb and sending drones or Israeli aircrafts will further destabilise the region and bring untold miseries to the Iranian people.

5. Close Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility-
Your Excellency, if I remember well that you had made a election pledge last time that you will do everything possible to close down Guantanamo. Sigh that it is nowhere near to being closed or prisoners being transferred to normal prisons in USA. I am not blaming you since I do know your administration has been doing a lot to close the detention facility. But I do think a lot more has to be done so that more detainees don’t commit suicide after spending decades in inhuman conditions and for a crime they have no idea of.

I know that you have just got re-elected and probably throwing a champagne or two before you settle in at the white house. All the best again and I do hope that Indo-US friendship will also reach a new level which will be based on mutual understanding and trust. I do also hope that you get some time from your busy schedule to read this note and do the needful. I would absolutely love it if you also get the time to write me a reply. My email id is listed below.

Love and Freedom,

Shibayan Raha
Email- shibayanraha@gmail.com
About.me/shibayan
www.shibayanraha.com

Tibet’s Sacrifice: Exiled Lives

I am featured in this multimedia piece of comics journalism on Tibet. Cartoons by Dan Carino.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Today we publish “Tibet’s Sacrifice: Exiled Lives” by Dan Carino, a multimedia piece of comics journalism examining Tibetan activists living in India and their willingness to die for their cause through self-immolation.

Picture 7
In New Delhi, India, Carino interviewed activist Shibayan Raha, who was arrested in 2007 for attempting to self-immolate, and visited the refugee settlement Majnu Ka Tilla to see why so many Tibetans seem willing to die for their homeland.

“The fact is that self-immolation now transcends Tibet and protesting monks,” Carino says.  “Everyday exiled citizens in the diaspora feel so anguished and frustrated with the Chinese process that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause. Meanwhile, Tibetan settlements serve to truly support the welfare of Tibetans born in India and preserve their culture.”

Tibet’s Sacrifice” blends numerous multimedia aspects, including navigation, an audio/visual slideshow, and outside links to supplemental material. You can use the multimedia navigation with the latest Chrome, Safari or Firefox browser. Otherwise, you’ll be presented with the comic as a static page.

Survey shows thumbs down to government’s Lokpal bill

Fri Aug 12 2011 17:58:57 GMT+0530 (IST) by IANS

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) A majority of people surveyed by a campaigning organisation Awaz do not support the Lokpal bill tabled in parliament that excludes the prime minister, MPs, the judiciary and civil servants from the ambit of the Lokpal (ombudsman).

The survey, released Friday, was conducted in six cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. A total of 1,518 people over the age of 18 were interviewed.

A total of 75 percent respondents felt that the government’s bill will not effectively tackle corruption.

Seventy-six percent indicated that they would not vote for a party that did not support an effective anti-corruption draft law and said that tackling corruption will be a motivating issue at the polls.

“The government’s Lokpal bill can be renamed as Protection of Corrupt Public Servant Bill or Promotion of Corruption Bill and will not do any good in the current scenario where corruption has pervaded from top to bottom of governance,” said Prashant Bhushan, civil society member of the Lokpal bill joint drafting committee.

“Indian voters will take to the streets to get an anti-corruption bill with teeth. The government is forging ahead with their joke-pal bill. It is time for the government to listen to the people of the country,” said Shibayan Raha, a campaigner of Avaaz.

Forty-eight percent of the people surveyd were ready to protest on the streets if the government fails to pass a strong Lokpal bill.

“Active participation of people can now make the government change its mind,” Bhushan added.

Avaaz decries cabinet’s endorsement of a weak Lokpal Bill

Agencies Jul 28, 2011, 01.58pm IST

NEW DELHI: Avaaz, the global campaigning organisation, with nearly 700,000 members in India, slammed the decision of the Indian Cabinet to push through a weak and toothless Lokpal bill. They criticised the cabinet for ignoring hundreds of thousands of Indian’s who are demanding a strong bill that includes in it’s remit the PM, MPs, Judiciary and all levels of bureaucracy.

Shibayan Raha, Campaigner for Avaaz said: “Corruption is arsenic in the water of our democracy and the Cabinet have chosen to keep our politics polluted rather than clean up our country of this poison.

In just 24 hours, over ten thousand men and women from across the country have sent faxes directly to Cabinet members demanding a strong bill. But, Ministers are protecting the elite status quo and not bold enough to respond to the public clamour with measures that could truly tackle corruption. “We will continue fighting to ensure we get a law that rids India of the scourge of corruption,” Raha said.

For the past four months people have been campaigning for a Jan Lokpal through Avaaz. Over 685,000 people have taken action by signing a petition to PM, sending emails directly to the Lokpal Drafting Committee, calling minister’s offices, sending personal messages to Sonia Gandhi, and sticking up billboards and thousands of posters across the country.

This week over 10,000 faxes were sent to the cabinet urging them to listen to the voices of the people and bring a strong anti-corruption bill to root out corruption once and for all in this country.