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Now Modi trains his guns on Harsh Mander

Harsh Mander

Narendra Modi’s accusations against noted human rights activist Harsh Mander condemned as being an attempt to distort facts and spread hate

By Team FI

Human rights activists and individuals issued a statement today condemning the verbal attack unleashed by controversial Hindu right wing politician Narendra Modi on social activist Harsh Mander.

The statement signed by eminent activists including Medha Patkar, Shabnam Hashmi and Kavita Srivastava accused the Gujarat Chief Minister for trying to “belittle Mander’s work, raising doubts about him and villifying his name in public.”

Harsh Mander, an ardent opponent of capital punishment, is a well known social activist and writer. He heads Aman Biradari which works for communal harmony and runs residential homes for some 4000 homeless children across India.

Modi, whose rule saw the 2002 Gujarat carnage which killed over 2500 people mostly belonging to the minority community, accused Mander of being a Maoist sympathizer last week. The verbal attack from one of Indian’s most divisive right wing politician began when a care giver at one of 45 institutions run by Aman Biradari – Padma – was arrested for having links with Maoists (banned members of radical left groups). Harsh Mander in his letter to the press last week had expressed his organisation’s innocence, stating that the organisation was not aware of the “true identity” of Padma and they chose to hire her as she was a dedicated worker and she hailed from a poor family. She was employed as a manager at one of their institutions in Hyderabad.

Activists allege that the news of the woman’s arrest is being twisted and used by Narendra Modi to brand Harsh Mander, who has consistently voiced his outrage against Gujarat violence, as a Maoist sympathizer.

Publishing here is the copy of the petition;

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

New 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 targeting 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 targeting of individuals and organisations and vilifying them is not new, earlier too he had spewed venom against Syeda Hammed, Teesta Setalvad and Shabnam Hashmi 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 sympathizer. 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 may be 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, and 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.