Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj

​​We the undersigned wish to place on record our utter disgust, contempt and outrage at the latest in the series of machinations by Republic TV, working to its brief as a propagandist for the ongoing crusade against all those who take public stands in defence of democracy, secularism, human rights, Constitutional propriety and rule of law.

Republic TV’s latest target is Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, National Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Vice President of the Indian Association of Progressive Lawyers and Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi. She is widely-known for her three decades of work as a trade unionist, human rights defender, environmental lawyer and a respected advisor to several state institutions including the state legal aid bodies and the National Human Rights Commission.

According to Republic TV, this committed and dedicated lawyer and activist is an “urban Maoist” who is “plotting to break India” with separatist groups and armed guerrillas across the country. The basis for the long list of scurrilous allegations and malicious insinuations against Advocate Bharadwaj is a letter purported to be written by her that Republic TV claims it has accessed.

The provenance of this letter is not revealed and we are not told how it came into the possession of Republic TV. The language of the letter is crude and clumsy, with the supposed author self-identifying as “Comrade Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj” and mentioning the names of various known and unknown individuals who are meticulously addressed as “Comrades”. The contents – or rather, what Republic TV claims are the contents – are supposed to establish a “sensational” connection between the Kashmiri separatists, “urban Naxals”, students from JNU and TISS, and others who take public stands against the anti-people policies of the state. According to Republic TV, these are “incontrovertible and unquestionable facts” that cannot be questioned.

Based on the telecast, the alleged letter belongs to the shoddy archive of similar “documentary proofs” that are regularly leaked to the press by investigation agencies eager to pin various “crimes” onto activists, leaders of people’s movements, political opponents, human rights defenders, critics of government policies and other citizens who are exercising their legitimate rights to free speech, dissent and political action.

The frenzied propagation by Republic TV of these concocted allegations and invented charges against known critics of the ruling party is clearly aimed at blurring the lines between evidence and allegation, accusation and proof, coincidence and causality in the mind of viewers who do not have access to multiple sources of information.

Equally dangerous is the creation and demonisation of virulent labels like “urban naxals” and “tukde-tukde gang”, which gain currency solely by virtue of insistent repetition and circulation despite being legally, factually and politically untenable.

The lethal consenquences of this shameless manipulation of public opinio​n​​
are today visible in the form of the targeted lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and others identified as criminals based on malevolent WhatsApp messages and videos.

Ludicrous though this attack on Advocate Bharadwaj may seem, it is also a signal of the widening dragnet being used to establish absolute control over all institutions and spaces of governance. We call on all responsible people to condemn and expose this attack as the latest attempt by the Modi sarkar and its embedded propagandists in the media to bypass democratic institutions, undermine the rule of law, stifle all voices of dissent and crush all those who seek to question or challenge their autocratic rule.

We also call on media bodies, professional associations and senior journalists to come out and condemn practitioners of this form of toxic, unethical and malicious “journalism”.

Nancy Adajania, curator and writer
Prof Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth

Dr Shilpi Bhattacharya, OP Jindal Global University

Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court of india

Dr Neera Burra, writer and historian

Prof Uma Chakravarthy, feminist historian

Anil Chamadiya, journalist

Prof CP Chandrasekhar, JNU

Anil Chaudhary, PEACE

Dr Yug Mohit Chaudhary, Advocate, Bombay High Court

Dr Vanessa Chisti, OP Jindal Global University

Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor, Commonwealth Human Rights Network

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai, Bombay High Court

Saba Dewan, filmmaker

Deepa Dhanraj, Filmmaker

Professor Sabeena Gadihoke, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, filmmaker

Prof Jayati Ghosh, JNU

Professor Shohini Ghosh, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, filmmaker

Viji Ghosh, journalist

Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India

Dr Smita Gupta, JNU

Prof Zoya Hasan, JNU

Ranjit Hoskote, curator and poet

Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and former Additional Solicitor General of India

Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker

Prof Ayesha Kidwai, JNU

Ritu Menon, publisher and writer

Dr Kalyani Menon-Sen, researcher and writer

Ravi Nair, SAHRDC

Farah Naqvi, writer and activist

Aditya Nigam, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker

Pamela Philipose, journalist

Dr Imrana Qadeer, health activist

Annie Raja, General Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women

Vimala Ramachandran, Education Resource Unit

Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre

Rahul Roy, filmmaker

Prof Abhijit Sen, JNU

Ardhendu Sen, IAS (retired)

Dr Jhuma Sen, OP Jindal Global University

Dr Rohini Sen, OP Jindal Global University

Dr Mira Shiva, health activist

Abhishek Srivastava, journalist

Dr Pankaj Srivastava, journalist

Prof Nandini Sundar, Delhi School of Economics

Prashant Tandon, journalist

Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch Tamilnadu

Dr Achin Vanaik, writer and researcher

Dr Anish Vanaik, OP Jindal Global University

Anand Swaroop Varma, Editor Samkaleen Teesri Duniya

Prof Asghar Wajahat, writer, playwright and filmmaker

Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University

4 thoughts on “Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj

  1. lalitaramdas

    Please add both our names:

    Admiral L Ramdas Former naval Chief

    Lalita Ramdas

    On Sat 7 Jul, 2018, 9:30 AM KAFILA – 10 years of a common journey, wrote:

    > Nivedita Menon posted: “​​We the undersigned wish to place on record our > utter disgust, contempt and outrage at the latest in the series of > machinations by Republic TV, working to its brief as a propagandist for the > ongoing crusade against all those who take public stands in def” >

  2. ALAKA BASU

    Surely the saving grace is that not too many people watch this garbage. I am not at all a discerning viewer (can sit through almost any Bollywood film) but even then I had to switch off the television after 10 mins last week when I forced myself to watch Republic and Times Now channels. The stupid and loud waving of sheets of paper of supposedly incontrovertible evidence of supposed ‘urban Naxals’ and ‘Tukde Tukde gang members’ hatching conspiracies were juvenile and nasty at the same time and I cannot believe that more and more viewers don’t soon surf to other channels to watch a juvenile and patriarchal serial instead.
    And the apparently muscular, arms crossed anchors on these shows surely make most viewers cringe. If this is manliness, may the unmanly come back some day soon.

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