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Khurshid’s friend, Ajay Patnaik remembers him on his first death anniversary

Dear Khurshid

Can’t believe a year has passed since you took that fateful and unfortunate decision. For a long time after that day, I felt angry with you for the decision you took rather than wait for another day to fight for your honour. I also remembered the sad and anguished look on your face when we met the day before. I felt the pain that you were going through since I trusted you and the values you upheld. You said you will fight, but a few fanatics on what some call the “Idiot Box” shook your resolve. That caused the anger I felt.

But gradually the anger gave way to many sweet memories of the days in JNU as students. Two days back I was cleaning my office and found a certificate which said Inter-School Cricket (Winner). I told my students, who were present there, how you as captain declared the innings believing that SIS can never exceed the score put on by the School of Languages. We were not as young as your guys, not fit and past our playing days. You were confident, but you lost. You complained that SIS increased the number of Overs on the score sheet and won. We may or may not have, but did celebrate our victory. You were criticized by your team for having declared, though the score was big.

In recent past, you used to suddenly invite me and Malakar for dinner along with Azhar. What fantastic meat you cooked and Malakar was all praise for it. I used to avoid it since it was cooked in plenty of oil. But the evenings were wonderful since we reminisced about our student activist days, election time, contests within the AISF for posts, and so on. Ila used to complain why me only, why she is not invited.Since all in my family members like your cooking of non-veg, they would have loved it. But we had our group which met time to time and had great fun.

Whenever anything is discussed about the Urdu department in JNU, I always say it is poorer because the Centre could not retain a scholar like you. I was really proud when you started writing again for newspapers. I have seen you rising like a phoenix after leaving a big organization and building you own. That takes a lot of courage and hard work. I wish you had shown the same qualities before you took that decision a year ago.

Ajay Patnaik


Your Words Will Never Die….

Friends, family and personalities from the world of art, literature and cinema gathered at Delhi’s India International Centre on the evening of October 15 to pay tribute to Khurshid Anwar’s fearless and indomitable spirit. The occasion was the launch of his books – Hum Waapas Ayenge (I Shall Return) and ‘Saampradayikta aur Aatankvaad’ (Communalism and Terrorism) which are compilations of his literary and political writings over the past few years.

Many of the pieces compiled originally appeared in the opinion pages of Jansatta, the pre-eminent newspaper in Hindi. Other writings are culled from various posts put up by Khurshid Anwar on FaceBook.

Om Thanvi, editor of Jansatta, writer and critic Purushottam Agrawal and historian Salil Mishra released the books and spoke about the invaluable contribution of Khurshid’s writings in the battle  for communal harmony, syncretic culture and democratic consciousness. The event was conducted by literary critic and activist Apoorvanand.

Utpala Shukla from Institute for Social Democracy, the organization started and led by Khurshid, began by talking about his role as a teacher and mentor. She reiterated that although we have lost him we will never lose his words and their import. Anshu Malviya, an associate of ISD, said that Khurshid’s books are against the culture of instant judgement and chronic impatience.

Om Thanvi spoke about how Khurshid’s fervent polemical attacks on communalism of all varieties are an inspiration for us to constantly fight all rigid interpretations of religion. Salil Mishra highlighted the unity of thought in the two books which due to the difference in their approaches might appear to be disparate.

‘Similar concerns and anxieties underlie both the books’, he remarked. Prof. Mishra said that Khurshid refused to reduce the issue of communal violence to a mere India- Pakistan conflict but saw it in relation to developments in the international sphere. He also spoke about Khurshid’s reflections on the shortcomings of secular movements in responding to such incidents.

Purushottam Agrawal began by expressing thanks to the ISD team for bringing out these books and to Khurshid for his work on critiquing fundamentalist interpretations of Islam, which he called of ‘civilizational importance’. He stressed Khurshid’s genuine love for literature as against seeing it as an object of utility through a comment Khurshid once made, “I won’t translate parts from Quran and Bible just because I translated the Gayatri Mantra because I think competitive secularism is as problematic as competitive communalism”.

The second half of the program witnessed readings of a few of Khurshid’s poems by Poonam and Anshu Malviya and a few excerpts of ‘yaadoon ka karwan’ (A Caravan of Memories) from ‘hum waapas ayenge’ by Darain Shahidi. Poonam remarked that his poems reflect his constant effort to make the world a better place.

The excerpts read out by Darain had the audience in splits, marvelling at Khurshid Anwar’s skilful use of humour and poignancy. Khurshid’s wit coupled with sharp political insight came through in the autobiographical accounts of his growing up years in Allahabad.

Khurshid’s reminisces about Mahabharta being enacted by a Muslim woman in his house, of trust, camaraderie and mutual respect between men and women of diverse faiths with no ‘wahabbis’ in the midst are heart-warming. Darain’s skilful rendition only added to the charm.

The readings brought forth the pertinence of his remarks on the dangerous influence of communalism of all varieties, particularly of Wahabbism on subcontinental Islam.

We congratulate the ISD team for this immense and worthy effort and thanks to all those who turned up in big numbers.








Jansatta reports on the book release event


Anusha Rizwi and Manisha Sethi present a nuanced analysis of the scenario post the Criminal Law Amendment Act

“Since both the cases under discussion (Tejpal and Khurshid Anwar) had a life in the media before any FIRs were filed, it is imperative that we examine the role of the media in the course of these two cases in particular and on gender violence in general.”

“We would be naïve to imagine that this newfound activism of the media is a reflection of its gender sensitivity….Activists should realize that media can be an uncertain ally, at best, prone to be used opportunistically by both sides. If we choose it to fight our causes, we should also be prepared for a backlash when the TRPs on a particular issue begin to decline.”

“Why didn’t the NCW or the police take cognizance of the Muzaffarnagar rape victims, as it did with the Tejpal and the Khurshid Anwar cases? Is it because the TRP-driven TV media will not be interested in it and hence the test case had to be the one that can generate top billing? It maybe good copy but is it a fair choice?”

“The questions about woman’s agency and law remain just as vexed in the Khurshid Anwar case.  The recorded video testimony circulated in the public domain for months. Is it not criminal to circulate videos of a complainant of rape without her permission? Is it not alarming then that a prominent feminist at a public meeting held at JNU, indulgently dismissed the act as “impatience of youth”? ”

“Increasingly, the possibility of a second version in rape cases is being projected as a legal impossibility, a patriarchal and racist offensive. This sense of definitiveness is disquieting. As is the confidence in bulky charge sheets, the weight of which is apparently directly proportional to the evidence it carries.”

“Too much focus on a single celebrity case will detract from examining the signs of a harsh punitive regime inherent in this law.”

Read the full HARDNEWS article here.

D K Rituraj of The Indian Express talks about how the new rape law is susceptible to blatant misuse

“In the wake of the outrage and protests that followed the 2012 gangrape in Delhi, the government appointed the Justice Verma Committee to make recommendations for a more stringent rape law. The committee submitted its report in January 2013 and exactly a year ago, Parliament passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013. The new law redefined rape to include non-penile penetration to any extent into any of the orifices of a woman’s body, and also brought acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism under its purview.”

“Women’s groups that had been seeking stringent laws against sexual offenders hailed the new legislation, even as voices seeking more debate on some of the provisions were drowned out.”

“In May 2013, Justice Kailash Gambhir of the Delhi High Court observed that rape laws were being used as “a weapon for vengeance and personal vendetta”.”

““In cases where the court comes to the conclusion that the accused had been implicated on totally false and baseless charges, the accused, in fact, is the victim,” Judge Bhat observed.”

Read the full article here.

Anusha Rizwi, director of Peepli Live, issues strong word of caution

Anusha Rizwi, the acclaimed director of Peepli Live, spoke on the occasion of the discussion on Justice, Human Rights and Media Trials. She began her talk by highlighting two main concerns in the Khurshid Anwar case. These concerns, she pointed out, relate to two recent developments- the new law passed in the wake of Damini rape case and the Tarun Tejpal case. She spoke on how in the Tejpal case we saw prime evidence being leaked to media which then took over the case. According to Rizwi, if the Tejpal case hadn’t happened, Anwar’s case would have taken a very different turn. She highlighted how in both the cases the complainant who was not un-educated, or powerless chose to go to the media instead of approaching the police or taking recourse to law.

In passively supporting such acts, as per Rizwi, we have not only undermined the law we ourselves wanted in the first place, but also indicated that the law will come to the rescue in only those cases where media is approached before the police and a sensation is built around the case. This pattern needs to be recognised and challenged according to Rizwi.

She served a reminder to the feminists about their central role of providing a nuanced reading of the laws and to abstain from looking for an absolutist law or an absolutist role of law. She stressed on the urgency of discussing the principled stance being taken by the feminists in the purview of the new law as they are the ones who are interpreting it for the layman. Their attitude, Rizwi cautioned, is giving way to a culture where justice has become a matter of mere policy. Pointing to the dangers involved in such a shift, Rizwi said, “justice fails to be justice when it’s not individualistic and when it fails to give due importance to the individual merits of the case.”

Rizwi demanded it of feminists and intellectuals that they rethink the kind of society they desire and their definition of a civilised society. She pointed out the worrying trend visible in both Tejpal’s and Anwar’s case; of people full of rage accusing them without any evidence and outside the legal system.

She brought out some highly important and telling facts about the reporting practices and media ethics of India TV, the channel which telecasted a highly slanted show on the night leading to Khurshid Anwar’s suicide. She revealed how the show about Anwar’s case was archived under Damini, even when the case clearly bore no relation to the horrific rape incident. Also, the shocking fact that the CD containing the complainant’s testimony was handed over to India TV long before Dec.17 which is the day the show was telecast. That the telecast was withheld in the hope of running it on the first anniversary of the rape incident, Rizwi asserted, was obviously not done either out of goodwill towards the complainant or any legal consideration. She also noted how India TV upended another regular practice by archiving the show in short clips rather than one full length clip. It must be recalled that the same TV channel cut out the portion with Khurshid Anwar’s side of the story during the final telecast of the show. Such biased reportage and complete disregard for the dignity of the parties involved, Rizwi stated, raises serious questions about the channel’s work ethics and integrity.

National Dailies cover Justice, Human Rights & Media Trials – The Death of Khurshid Anwar & Beyond

Campaign for Khurshid Anwar organized a public meeting on Justice, Human Rights & Media Trials – The Death of Khurshid Anwar & Beyond on 22nd February, 2014 at Press Club of India. Leading national dailies have covered the meeting extensively and focused on many important issues raised.

“It’s been two months since Khurshid Anwar, executive director at  Institute for Social Democracy, an NGO, allegedly committed suicide by jumping from his third-floor residence at Vasant Kunj after some news channels aired clips showing a woman accusing him of rape. The family alleges that police haven’t registered a counter-FIR till now, and there is no progress in a defamation complaint by  Khurshid Anwar on November 29.”

Read full article here – Anwar kin demand speedy probe – The Times of India

“Shohini Ghosh, professor at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, said with the social media gaining prominence, it was difficult to draw a line between the public and the media.” Read full article here – Lens on sensational reporting, ‘trial by media’ – Hindustan Times

“Speaking on the topic, “Justice, Human Rights and Media Trials — The Death of Khurshid Anwar and Beyond,” noted filmmaker Anusha Rizvi said, “Nowadays, if a person is a victim, he/she goes to the media and social networking websites and not to the police. In doing so, the law is undermined as it should have been reported to a government agency in the first place.”” Read full article here – Demand to probe activist’s death – The Asian Age

Saeed Naqvi, veteran journalist said that till the system remains the same, we will see many such Khurshid Anwars come about. We need to come together and demand a speedy probe into the matter. Read the full article here – Khurshid Anwar mamle ki ho vistrit jaanch – Jansatta


Remembering Anwar, a victim of media lynching – Prof. Purushottam Agrawal writes in The Asian Age.

Prof. Purushottam Agrawal has written in the Asian Age on the hurry to act and its dangerous consequences.

“Everybody, including intellectuals, seems to be in a hurry “to act” on their chosen causes. The idea that calm reflection must precede any action — individual or collective — seems to have become quite old-fashioned. Even in the response of institutional structures to serious issues, one can discern a mob mentality under the garb of political correctness. The growing reach and power of the electronic media is contributing greatly not only to the creation, but also to the institutionalisation of such a mentality and needs to be balanced with a sense of responsibility and ethics.”

“Such laws are not empowering individual victims but rather “representatives” of identities which have a stake not only in perpetuation of conservative power structures, but also in creating an even more oppressive state machinery. The presumption of innocence till proved otherwise has been replaced by the presumption of guilt; instead of the state proving the accused guilty, the accused has to prove his/her innocence under a regime of so-called “progressive” and “empowering” laws.”

Read the full article here.

Prof. Purushottam Agrawal is a visiting Senior Fellow at the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies. He was formerly member of UPSC. To know more about Prof. Purushottam Agrawal, visit his personal website.

Public Meeting on Justice, Human Rights and Media Trials – The Death of Khurshid Anwar and Beyond

Campaign for Khurshid Anwar invites you to a public meeting on Justice, Human Rights and Media Trials – The Death of Khurshid Anwar and Beyond on Saturday, 22nd February, 2014 at 3:30 PM at the Press Club of India, Raisina Road, Windsor Palace, New Delhi.


Arundhati Roy, writer

Saeed Naqvi, veteran journalist

Syeda Hameed, member of the Planning Commission

Seema Mustafa, veteran journalist and editor in chief of

Poornima Joshi, political editor of The Hindu Business Line

Shohini Ghosh, Professor at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre

Anusha Rizvi, film maker

Saheba Faruqui, All India Democratic Women’s Association

… And other academicians, activists and journalists.

It has now been two months since the shocking suicide of well-known activist Khurshid Anwar but the police have still not registered an FIR on the matter.

Following his death on the 18th of December, Dr Anwar’s family filed a formal complaint with the police on 23 December 2013. This complaint accuses several persons of propagating a false charge and causing irreparable harm to Dr Anwar’s reputation which ultimately drove him to suicide.

Dr Anwar’s family and friends have come together as the Campaign for Khurshid Anwar to press for a thorough investigation. This demand does not presuppose his innocence of the serious charges levelled against him.

Our Demands:

1. A thorough probe, without assuming the guilt of either the accused or the accuser. The probe must go into the entire chain of events unfolding on Facebook and the events pertaining to the distribution of the CD shot by Madhu Kishwar.

2. Action against those who vilified Dr Anwar on social media even before charges had been framed, ultimately pushing him to suicide.

3. The formulation of a transparent set of guidelines on crime reporting by TV news, to preserve the dignity of both the accusers and the accused, and to prevent cases of ‘trial by media’.

Strangely, our democratic and reasonable demands have been misrepresented, variously, as: harmful to ‘feminist causes’, an attack upon people from Northeastern states, an act of vengeance etc.

We are shocked to learn that a demand for a thorough probe, without assuming guilt on either side, can be reacted to in this manner. Particularly when a life has been cut short. Those asking us to ‘move on’ are suggesting they have no faith in the legal process.

Any complaint, whether ours or the one levelled against Dr Anwar, cannot be treated as the gospel truth and can only be substantiated in the light of an investigation and due legal proceedings.

Dr Anwar was denied a legal process in life. We appeal to self-anointed czars of various kinds of ‘isms’ to not deny the same to him in death, and to avoid trampling upon the rights of his family. 

Kiran Shaheen supports our demand for thorough probe into the case.

Khursheed was a dear friend and I always believed in his genuineness and still do.
I wish his name comes clean and we must make efforts .
– Kiran Shaheen