Kanshi Ram: Fighter for an equal conversation

By Shivam Vij

First published in Tehelka issue dated 21 October 2006

Whether or not Ambedkar’s birthday should be a holiday is a decided issue today; in 1965 it was not. At the Department of Defence Production in Pune, where he worked as a scientific assistant on a reserved seat after completing his B.Sc, Kanshi Ram found himself in the middle of an agitation by Scheduled Caste employees to prevent the abolition of the April 14 holiday. Although born in a community of Punjabi Chamars converted to Sikhism, Kanshi Ram moved in an educated urban ethos where there was little discrimination against dalits. But this incident shook him: he read Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste thrice in one night.

Along with his friend DK Khaparde, Kanshi Ram began to think of an organisation that would work for dalit officers but also mobilise them to give back to the community. As the political mobiliser took shape, he lost interest in his government service and abandoned his engagement and decided to dedicate his life to a new Ambedkarite movement of his own making. Continue reading “Kanshi Ram: Fighter for an equal conversation”

A year later, why hasn’t the Tarun Tejpal trial begun? Who benefits from a delayed trial?

(First published in Scroll.in on 25 November 2014.)

It is unfair, some argue, that Tarun Jit Tejpal is being hounded like a criminal, and people are ganging up against him and not even letting him speak about literature on a stage. He is accused of rape, they point out, but not convicted of it, and is as such innocent until proven guilty. Continue reading “A year later, why hasn’t the Tarun Tejpal trial begun? Who benefits from a delayed trial?”

How Tarun Tejpal implicated himself in his own words

(First published in Kafila under the headline, ‘Let’s be fair to Tarun Tejpal. Let us listen to his side of the story’ on 2 April 2014.) 

A number of people are saying that Tarun Tejpal has been held guilty and convicted by a media trial. They are saying that the media and public have both chosen to not hear “the other side of the story”. Continue reading “How Tarun Tejpal implicated himself in his own words”

Tarun Tejpal wants a media trial because it’s the only one he can win

(First published in The Express Tribune on 21 February 2014 under the headline ‘The editor’s media trial’.)

t is a test of the fairness of a country’s criminal justice system if it applies the same standards of justice, mercy and efficiency to the rich and the poor. A criminal justice system that works better for the rich is not a just one. To the extent that the rich can always hire the best lawyers, we’re never going to have real equality before the law. But we must still try. Continue reading “Tarun Tejpal wants a media trial because it’s the only one he can win”

Tejpal deserves to get copy of CCTV footage, but we don’t

(First published in Scroll.in on 19 February 2014.)

Accused of rape, Tarun Tejpal on Tuesday criticised the Goa Police for not making available to him the CCTV footage that forms part of the evidence mentioned in their charge sheet against him. The former editor of ‘Tehelka’ magazine issued a press statement to the effect after receiving a copy of the charge sheet in Vasco jail, even as the Goa bench of the Mumbai High Court deferred his bail plea to March 4. Continue reading “Tejpal deserves to get copy of CCTV footage, but we don’t”

Tejpal’s Trial Hasn’t Even Begun: Has He Gamed The System?

(First published in Huffington Post India on 23 January 2014.)

Thank you, Mid-Day newspaper, you did a great service today. You published a stupid piece of opinion by Malavika Sangghvi, asking us to sympathise with a rape accused named Tarun Jit Tejpal. Twitter and TV alike had forgotten Mr Tejpal’s action, which your newspaper describes as a “grave error”. But thanks to you, people have been reminded of it. Continue reading “Tejpal’s Trial Hasn’t Even Begun: Has He Gamed The System?”

Tarun Tejpal’s spin doctors are trying to present him as victim rather than perpetrator

(First published in Kafila and Outlookindia.com on December 2013.)

Unlike Justice (Retd.) Ashok Kumar Ganguly, Tarun Tejpal’s defenders cannot cry innocence given that Tejpal has confessed to his crime, albeit disputing the degree of it. He has even confessed having told his colleague that suffering the sexual assault was the “easiest way of keeping your job”. Even his two decades old comrade Shoma Choudhury is unable to defend him beyond saying that he has two versions. Never mind Tejpal’s ludicrous retractions. Continue reading “Tarun Tejpal’s spin doctors are trying to present him as victim rather than perpetrator”