Call For Action: Occupy EWS Flats in Delhi

I read with alarm that our honourable Madam Sheila Dikshit and her government have failed to allocate 14,000 flats to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) people in Delhi. Reason? The incompetent government doesn’t know the definition of EWS or can’t make up its mind who it should award the flats to or which section will vote for her if they get the flats.

For the ones who don’t know who exactly can fall under EWS category, here is a note from the Government of India –  “The Minister of State in the Ministry of Urban Development Shri Saugata Roy has said that the Government has recently revised the income ceiling in respect of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) from the earlier limit of ‘upto Rs. 3300’ to ‘upto Rs. 5000’.” This was later revised to 6,000 a month.

Lets take a snapshot of EWS people and those who live in Delhi-

Our maids who cleans our houses, to the garbage collector, to the rickshaw puller who drives us to all the bylanes of Delhi, they all fall under this EWS category. So where do these people live? They live in the many unauthorised slums scattered around the city, they live next to the big garbage dump in Jahangirpuri and many other unknown places. In summers they face the scorching heat, in monsoon their little encampment gets flooded with rain water, in winters they shiver under the chilling Delhi cold. Now all these people would not have to face these difficulties for the last five years if the Delhi government was competent enough and distributed the EWS flats to the people who had duly filled up the forms. I am sure they had to make dozens of rounds of various departments and definitely some small bribe had to paid to get things done. But what do they get after all this? An endless wait because the government can’t decide who falls under EWS. Ask a primary school student and he/she will tell you who is poor.

Power to the people-

Its times like these that the people themselves have to take power in their own hands. If we look back we can see this happened during the Salt March, Civil Rights Movement, Chipko Movement and many more. More important people have waited long enough. 5 years is a long time. People who have registered to get these flats and people who fall under the EWS category should non-violently occupy these flats. They should be steadfast in the non-violent principles, even if they face violence from the authorities. People outside the EWS category (read: civil society, enlightened middle class, social media generation) should come out in support and form the outer layer of occupation.

Yes there will be repercussions from the government. A violent and of course a legal one. But are we afraid? No I am not and I hope neither is anyone. A time comes when silence is betrayal. Lets not betray our future generation, our ideals and surrender to this corrupt and incompetent system.

Shibayan Raha

About.me/shibayan

“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)

More information-

14,000 EWS flats lie vacant for 5 years in Delhi

http://www.firstpost.com/economy/14000-ews-flats-lie-vacant-for-5-years-in-delhi-745611.html

Govt can’t decide who is poor, so 14,000 new flats vacant for 5 years

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-can-t-decide-who-is-poor-so-14000-new-flats-vacant-for-5-years/1109974/

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

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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

 

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.

Tibet’s Sacrifice: Exiled Lives

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

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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.

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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.