Saturday 14 July 2007

STATEMENT OF FACTS BY SHABNAM HASHMI (ANHAD) ON THE AATACK BY THE SANGH PARIVAR ON JULY 6, 2007 AT ST XAVIER'S SOCIAL SERVICE SOCIAL SERVICE SOCIETY

Find herewith a detailed report by Shabnam Hashmi of
ANHAD, the organizer of the event. Shivaji K Panikkar

Anhad is organizing the National Student's Festival
for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice (July 6-8,
2007) in Ahmedabad. The festival is showcasing the
selected entries from across India -60 paintings by
school children, 80 design entries by media students
and 45 student documentary films.

Anhad invited Prof. Shivji Panikkar to inaugurate the
Exhibition (at Father Erviti Memorial hall, St
Xavier's Social Service Society), and Nafisa Ali to
inaugurate the Student Video Documentary Film Festival
(Diamond Jubilee Auditorium, Loyola Hall, St Xavier's
High School Campus). The inauguration of the
exhibition was at 10.30. The exhibition of the Student
Film Festival was at 11.30pm.

I was waiting for Panikkar to come. Around 10.40, I
called him and he said he is about to reach. Nafisa
Ali had already arrived. After speaking to Nafisa for
a few minutes I walked towards the gate to receive
Panikkar. As I reached the gate of the Xavier's campus
I was shocked to see Panikkar's car surrounded by a
Mob. They were shouting slogans Panikkar go back.
Bharat mata ki jai …

I pushed myself inside the crowd and reached
Panikkar's car, the mob was throwing stones, one of
them threw a large rusted iron drum on the bonnet of
the car , the same drum was thrown again on the car ,
the drum cracked the front car glass . Sahir who had
by now reached and was just behind me, managed to take
away the drum from a goon's hand, and take it away, in
the process injuring himself. Two of the attackers
threw two bricks which broke the front glass, one of
the bricks hit the driver on the forehead.

All this happened at a very fast speed and it took me
sometime to come to senses. I stood near the door so
that mob could not drag out Panikkar which they were
trying to do and then I started shouting at the top of
my voice at the mob. For a few moments everything
stopped and they moved backwards. I told Panikkar and
the driver to take away the car at full speed as I as
an organizer was unable to guarantee any security. I
told them to rush to the nearest Police station. By
now the mob realised that they were trying to leave
and they tried to block the car from leaving and
continued to throw stones. Fortunately the driver
speeded up and was able to move away.

Gagan Sethi and Gauhar Raza, who were at the venue
immediately rushed to the Police station, Navrangpura
and told we informed Panikkar on the phone to go to
the same police station.

Mob had already broken all our festival hoardings
which were outside the gate. Now they forced their
entry into the compound raising slogans Modi amar
rahe, desh ke gaddaron wapas jao and bharat mata ki
jai ( all in Gujarat) and started breaking and
vandalising the display in the compound (outside the
exhibition hall) mobbed and threatened Sarup Ben,
Zakia Jowher, Bina ben (from aman samudaya) and me.
They used highly abusive, sexist and filthy language.
Their body language and gestures were highly
aggressive and vulgar. The attack on Bina , Zakia and
Sarup ben was of being 'gaddars' (traitors). The
attack on me was of insulting gujarati asmita being an
outsider and entering Gujarat. This continued for
about 20 minutes. Then suddenly a signal from one of
them( which later I realized was a police man from
local intelligence- who was part of the mob) that
police was coming, made all of them leave suddenly.

After the police arrived, the man in plain clothes was
standing with them and I went and told the police that
this man was part of the mob, which they ignored and
said he is from the police. Later in the police
station I again showed the man to the Police Inspector
Desai, but he also ignored it completely.

It was very clear that the attack was master minded by
the police and the BJP and the Sangh combine.

After the commotion was over around 12.30 we announced
that we will defer the opening of the exhibition.
Nafisa Ali inaugurated the Film Festival.

We went to the police station around 1 pm by now
Panikkar's FIR was being lodged. I spoke to Desai the
PI ( Police Inspector) and said I need to lodge an FIR
too, which he refused. We decided to return later with
the lawyer.

After all the formalities of Panikkar's FIR were over,
we took Panikkar to the exhibition under police
protection and inaugurated the exhibition around
2.30pm.

Then we called the lawyer, prepared the complaint and
meanwhile developed the photographs which were taken
of the mob.

We went to the police station around 5pm with the
lawyer and we were there almost till 9pm. The police
refused to file an FIR. I spoke to the Police
Commissioner on the phone I was told both by the PI
and the commissioner that we should have taken
permission from the police to holds the programme as
we were using loud speakers! We informed both of them
that the programme was inside the premises of an
institution, inside halls and not in a public place.
The PI said you can not show films. These are student
video documentaries, and for film lovers and students
by invitation.

It is very clear that by lodging the FIR from me on
Anhad's behalf, Police will have to arrest the members
of the mob as we have provided their photographs and
also they will also have to take some action against
the local intelligence man(whose involvement the
Police Commisioner has already refuted). I have given
all details at the back of the photographs to the
police of the people who attacked the car, the man who
threw the brick, the man who threw the rusted drum,
the goons who mobbed us. Their faces are circled in
the photographs that are being circulated with this
note.

When the attack took place on Panikkar's there were at
least three video camera's and a number of
photographers. The footage seems to have vanished.

Anhad is organising a meeting of activists and
academicians today at 4 at Ahmedabad.

Shabnam Hashmi

Ahmedabad

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