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Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan

Guest Post by PREETI CHAUHAN

The recent arrest of activists and intellectuals, and raids on various others connected with rights activism across five states in India is a grim reminder of the shrunken space for protest, criticism and dissent in our democracy today. This tendency to muzzle opposing voices has been on brazen display over the past four years though earlier governments had also tried to brand civil rights activists as ‘Maoists’ and as anti-development and anti-progress in a sense. The case against Dr. Binayak Sen, an office bearer of People’s Union for Civil Liberties comes to mind who was also alleged to be a Maoist.

The entire episode raises many questions on the motives of the government for this kind of concerted clampdown on human rights defenders. As of now, the charges against the activists seem far-fetched and entirely fabricated. Most of the activists who are now in jail or under house arrest are long-time members of the civil liberties movement in our country in the post-emergency period. Civil and democratic rights organizations and their activists have faced the charge of being fronts of this and that organization earlier too, and some have been attacked and killed also as in Andhra Pradesh. But what is important to understand is the location of the civil and democratic rights movement vis a vis democracy in India. Continue reading Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan