A Statement Issued by New Socialist Initiative (NSI) on the recent arrests of human rights defenders and public intellectuals
Democracy Under Siege !
With Ground Slipping Fast Beneath Its Feet, BJP government Resorting to Draconian Measures !
New Socialist Initiative strongly condemns the arbitrary and malicious manner in which the Pune Police, at the behest of its saffron masters, raided the houses of leading human rights activists, lawyers, professors and poets in different cities simultaneously and arrested five of them – Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao – under concocted charges.
[This is a statement of solidarity endorsed and signed by over 200 intellectuals, artists, academicians, lawyers, journalists, and students in support of the five arrested in connection with Bhima-Koregaon case. In the 43rd year after Emergency was declared in this country, this statement was issued on June 25th 2018 condemning the arrest of such voices of democracy and demanding their immediate and unconditional release.]
We condemn the arrest of five human rights activists, professors and lawyers in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon clashes early this year. The alarming arrest of Advocate and General Secretary of Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL) Surendra Gadling, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) Public Relations Secretary Rona Wilson, Head of English Department Professor Shoma Sen of Nagpur University and member of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), cultural activist and founder of Republican Panthers Jaatiya Antachi Chalwal Sudhir Dhawale and anti-displacement activist and Prime Ministers Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) Mahesh Raut is a clear manifestation of state terror to crush the voices of dissent in this country.
The intemperate use of sections of the IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on all five reveals legal over-reach and exposes the desperation to foist extraordinary and excessive charges on all five to ensure they remain in the clutches of the Fadnavis-Maharashtra government. All the arrested have consistently worked for the assertion of oppressed and marginalised communities against majoritarian forces, spoken out against Brahmanical patriarchy, upheld peoples’ rights to land, life and dignity, and have strived for the release of political prisoners.
A letter asking Canada’s Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough to intervene for the release of disabled social justice activist who has been convicted for life in India was submitted at her constituency office on Tuesday, March 28.
Signed by 100 people, the letter asks Canada, which claims to be a human rights leader in the world, to press upon the Government of India to free G.N. Saibaba, a wheelchair bound Delhi University professor who is 90 percent disabled below waist.
Saibaba was sentenced to life imprisonment early this month under draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for standing up for the rights of the oppressed communities, including Adivasis (Indigenous peoples) and religious minorities.
Saibaba was first arrested in 2014 and incarcerated under inhuman conditions sparking protests across the world. Demonstrations were also held in Greater Vancouver, including one outside the Indian Consulate. Though Saibaba got bail on medical grounds, he has now been convicted after being branded as Maoist supporter. His only fault is that he has been raising voice against repression of the Adivasis, who are being evicted from their traditional lands by the extraction industry in connivance with the state authorities. Often the security forces and the state sponsored vigilantes target Adivasis in the areas under the influence of Maoist insurgents in the name of war on terror. By punishing Saibaba the Indian state is clearly trying to suppress a voice of dissent.
The representatives of Radical Desi submitted a letter asking for Canada’s intervention into the case at the constituency office of the Honorable Carla Qualtrough in Delta.
Video by Media Collective, Article by Arun Ferreira and Vernon Fernandes
Fifty Years of Unreasonable Restrictions
Arun Ferreira & Vernon Gonsalves
Soon after its adoption, the Constitution of India was amended in 1951. At the time several progressive judgements[i] by the Judiciary held that laws which curb fundamental rights are essentially unconstitutional and fundamental freedoms could only be curbed in the most extreme of cases. The First Amendment, countered this by amending Article 19 to add the word ‘reasonable’ before restrictions and to add ‘public order’ as being one more ground for abridging Fundamental Rights.
Yesterday, the 9th of May, one day after the court granted what must be the fastest bail and suspension of sentence in the history of India to India’s favourite Dabangg, a diminutive woman stood under the blazing Delhi sun and spoke of her husband who had been in jail for the past one year. In May 2014, lecturer in English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University, G. N Saibaba was returning home after evaluating answer scripts when he was abducted by unknown men, who later identified themselves as Maharashtra Police.
Saibaba was not produced before a magistrate in Delhi but taken directly to Aheri, a small town in Maharashtra and then to Nagpur, to be put in solitary confinement in the famous anda cell of Nagpur jail. Let’s call this cell famous instead of the usual epithet “notorious” because all over the country, children are probably playing with each other right now saying to each other, “saale main tujhe anda cell mein daal doonga“, while their parents look on indulgently, congratulating themselves on the kid’s excellent G.K.
It seems ludicrous that in a civilised democratic society like India, a citizen may be practically abducted by police, charged with perfunctory offences and incarcerated without bail on mere suspicion for an indefinite period of time. But this is indeed the situation in present-day India, with duly passed legislation sanctioning the inhumane state of affairs.
The validity of unjust or immoral laws has long been debated, with two major schools of thought emerging- the positivist school and the naturalist school. The positivist school does not recognise any correlation between the legal system of a society and notions of what ought to be justice. The positivist framework mandates that the law is that ordained by the valid legislator, whereas the naturalist school of thought envisages some rights to be inherent by virtue of humanity of a person. Thus, an unjust law, as per the school of naturalist thought, would be no law at all; positivistic thought, on the other hand, would posit such law to be valid by virtue only of being ascribed to the law-making process. The Hart- Fuller debate devolved around the law made by Hitler; with Hart contending that laws passed using proper procedure would always be valid and Fuller maintaining that no unjust rule could ever be law. India allows “procedure established by law ” to deprive people of their Fundamental Rights; a state of affairs which reflects positivistic thought in the founders of India. India’s judiciary has slowly moved from this strictly positivist setting to a more naturalistic and liberal interpretation of the term. This shift has placed India closer to the guarantee of “due process of law” in the United States of America. Continue reading Reading Between the Lines – A Critique of the UAPA: Avani Chokshi→
REPEAL UAPA: JTSA REPORT IN PERSPECTIVE, AND BEYOND
The state fabricates terror. There is enough evidence to take it to court on that count. Yet, how does one construe ‘fabrication’- what is implied by it? First, that the state has orchestrated elaborate attacks- violence to terrorize its people for certain legal, electoral and political ends. Second, that it has, through the use of laws like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against specific segments of its population has consciously manufactured a state of terror- a collectively imagined perception of threat that the nation faces from a particular people. The ends, always remain the same.
Though there is evidence of the agencies of the state, or actors within them, expressly participating in orchestrating large scale terror attacks (think col. Purohit), it is the latter- where terror within specific communities is manufactured in the eyes of the law and the people- that I deal with here, today. ‘Guilt by Association’ – The JTSA (Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association) report on UAPA cases in Madhya Pradesh, is a crucial case in point.