Here is a very short, utterly incomplete, hastily compiled list of people charged under Section 124 A in the last two years alone.
Our very own Shuddhabrata Sengupta figures in this roll of honour.
(Incidentally, KK Shahina, who has guest posted with us, faces charges from the Karnataka Police under IPC 506 for intimidating witnesses. Her expose in Tehelka showed how the police case against Abdul Nasar Madani, head of the People’s Democratic Front (PDP), accused in 2008 Bengaluru blasts, was fragile and based on non-existent and false testimonies.)
There would be hundreds more, not named here, charged with sedition for “criticizing” the government, for exposing corruption and police nexus with mafias, or for expressing views that run counter to official wisdom on the “integrity” of India.
As if “integrity” is something pre-existing and eternal rather than something that has to be produced at every point. The existence of a nation is a daily plebiscite, said even historian Ernst Renan, a staunch supporter of the nation form. Not so Rabindranath Tagore, who was highly suspicious of the “fetish of nationalism”. He called the Nation nothing but the “the organization of politics and commerce” and warned that when this Nation “becomes all-powerful at the cost of the harmony of the higher social life, then it is an evil day for humanity.” (In his lectures on nationalism, published by Rupa and Co. 1994)
Said Gandhi to a Naga delegation that met him in 1947: “I believe that you all belong to one country, to India. But if you say you won’t, no-one can force you…I will go to Naga hills and say that you will shoot me before you shoot a single Naga.”
Good for the Indian Nation that they did shoot him.
I have said it before and I will say it again – the charge of sedition has no place in a democracy, it is anti-constitutional, anti-democratic and must be repealed as soon as possible.
Look at this list and the reasons for which they have been charged with sedition! If it wasn’t enraging me so much, I would find it hilarious.
Dr E Rati Rao a senior scientist, long-standing activist of the women’s rights movement, Vice-President of PUCL-Karnataka and Vice President of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) has recently been charged with sedition by the police of Karnataka.
The FIR against Dr. Rati Rao accuses her of publishing a PUCL bulletin that is “favoring naxals and Muslims and is propagating that the police are killing innocent people in the name of encounter”; that “calls upon dalits, women, minorities, farmers and adivasis to build organizations in order to fight for their rights”; that “accuses the Sangh Parivar in Karavali (coastal Karnataka) of indulging in false propaganda and fueling communal disharmony” and “calls upon the secular forces to raise their voice against such spread of communal hate”; and “by raising such issues incite and spread intolerance, disbelief, discontent amongst the public”; that “in the name of doing good to the dalits, women, minorities, & adivasis the said bulletin is spreading false information against the casteist & communal Government…It is propagating intolerance, disbelief, and discontent amongst the Government officials.”
Laxman Choudhury, a stringer for the daily Sambad when the local police said they found Maoist leaflets in his possession, this year. He was in jail for ten weeks.
Other journalists in Orissa charged with sedition:
OTV reporters Khusiram Sunani and Kirti Chandra Sahu
Samaj correspondent Jagannath Bastia
Aarombh reporters Sriharsha Mishra and Kiran Mishra
Piyush Sethia was charged for sedition, and arrested in Salem, Tamil Nadu. He is an activist, who was trying to circulate a pamphlet, in his capacity as a representative of a much-wider Campaign for Justice and Peace at a Republic Day function in Salem this year.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Sheikh Showkat Hussain
Sujato Bhadra (I just learnt he is included in this list)
For supporting the Azadi demand of the Kashmiri people at a meeting in Delhi
Gujjar community leader Kirori Singh Bainsla charged with sedition and conspiring against the state by the Rajasthan government for leading an agitation demanding ST status for Gujjars.
(Can there be anything more non-seditious than demanding recognition in a schedule of the constitution?!)
Surinder Singh Barnala
Bheem Singh Saddowala
Kuldeep Singh Namol
Sukhmandeep Singh Toor
Banjara Kulwant Singh Dhandiwal
For distributing pamphlets containing a text version of one of Bhindranwale’s speeches. All speeches, interviews and many letters of Sant Bhindranwale are already published in a combined volume, titled “Singh Garaj” complied by S. Narain Singh, Editor of Awaz-e-Khalsa, and are published by Gurmat Pustak Bhandar, Amritsar. These speeches are even translated and published in English too. Many editions of these books have been published so far.
MDMK General Secretary V. Gopalasawmy (Vaiko) was charged by the Chennai City police, who registered a sedition case against him for his speech warning that India would not remain one country, if the war against the LTTE in Sri Lanka was not stopped.
Lenin Kumar, editor of the quarterly magazine Nishan, after a special booklet on the Kandhamal riots entitled ‘Dharmanare Khandamalre Raktonadhi’ (The rivers of blood in Kandhamal) was published in the magazine.
Times of India resident editor Bharat Desai
Reporter Prashant Dayal
Photojournalist Gautam Mehta
for articles that criticised the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner.
Dr Binayak Sen, medical doctor and social activist working among the poorest of the poor in Chhatishgarh, detained on charges of sedition and in jail for two years.
Manoj Shinde, the editor of a Gujarati eveninger is facing sedition charges for using “abusive words” against CM Narendra Modi in an editorial on Monday while alleging administrative failure in tackling the flood situation in Surat.