Dissent is the Safety Valve of Democracy : NCHRO participated in Protest near Parliament, New Delhi.
5 September 2018
About 1,000 people protested near India’s Parliament demanding the immediate release of prominent rights activists who were arrested for alleged Maoist links in a countrywide crackdown this week.
The situation in the country today is that of Emergency. In fact, it may be worse. Anyone who criticize the government is branded as Naxal or Maoist, their homes are raided, they are booked by draconian laws and sent to jail with non-bailable charges. The violence in Bhima-Koregaon indeed spearheaded by Brahmanical forces. The arrests and raids in the name of Bhima-Koregaon have targeted human rights activists, academics, lawyers and journalists who had been raising questions about the deteriorating social and political situation. It is interesting to note that most of those who have been arrested and have had their homes raided have nothing to do with Bhima-Koregaon programme and its organising team the Elgaar Parishad. In fact, what really happened at Bhima-Koregaon this January? Commemorating 200 years after the defeat of the Brahmanical Peshwas of Maharashtra at the hands of the Mahar regiment, Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan was organised to remember the victory of the historically marginalised against upper-caste overlords. Over 250 Dalit, OBC, Maratha and Muslim organisations had come together to form the Elgaar Parishad which organised this commemorative programme on 31st December 2017 with a call to unite against Navi-Peshwayi. The programme was conducted under the leadership of former Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant and retired High Court judge Justice Kolse Patil. At the programme, the lakhs of congregated Dalit, Bahujan, Muslim and Maratha people resolved to unite and fight against the Brahmanical BJP-RSS regime was the real provocation behind these crackdown.
The speakers told People returning from this commemorative programme were attacked by right-wing Hindutva organisations lead by Shambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote. This was a planned attack as members of these right-wing organisations had hidden weapons in the shops near the site of the programme and were waiting for the people returning home. One person was killed in this violence and several hundreds were injured. This was revealed in the investigations done by the Pune police as well. Despite all evidence that include videos of the attacks, the Maharashtra police refuses to arrest the culprits of the violence. Instead of arresting the culprits who orchestrated this violence, the Maharashtra police under instructions of BJP-RSS, filed another FIR on the basis of which it is now arresting political opponents all over the country.The Indian ruling Governments and justice system has always failed to punish the right wing Hindutava leaders involved in inciting violence and killing innocents. Shambhaji Bhide epitomizes right wing politics. Violence and instigation. Nothing else.
Who are the people who have been arrested and detained? So far all of those arrested and detained are well known human rights activists, lawyers, professors, poets and journalists. But who are these people? What work do they do? All of these people have been raising issues faced by the vast majority of people of this country, They’ve spoken about the atrocities faced by the people, and found ways to deliver justice to those who affected, have given their lives to improving the lives of the most marginalised and disenfranchised in this country. Today, it is clear that anyone who works for uplifting the conditions of workers, farmers, women, dalit and all marginalised people through their words and actions is a target in the eyes of the fascist state.
Be it cultural activist Sudhir Dhawale or advocate Surendra Gadling, or Bhim Army’s Chandrasekhar Azad ‘Raavan’ or Professor Shoma Sen or human rights activists Gautam Navlakha or trade union activist and advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, professors Anand Teltumbde and K Satyanarayana, activists Vernon Gonsalves, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut, lawyer and writer Arun Ferreira, or Jesuit priest and adivasi activist Father Stan Swamy, or revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, journalist Kranti Tekula, or be it the hundreds of thousands of activists who took to the streets to protest against the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act on 2nd April 2018, or the thousands more who stood in solidarity with them; today, all of them are being targeted by this anti-Constitutional, undemocratic and anti-people government. All of these people are the ones who are willing to dedicate their lives for the liberation of the struggling people of this country. All of them uphold the principles of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar. These defenders of human rights are the true heroes of the common people of this country. And, we are proud of them.
The speakers told Today, the false promises of the BJP government are being exposed. The functioning of Hindutva terror organisations working under the patronage of this regime is slowly being exposed; their networks, operations, and cold-blooded murders are being revealed. Workers, farmers, students and youth are recognising the impact of policies that serve the interests of big corporations and turning to the streets to protest against such policies. Dalit and bahujan people are witnessing a new awakening in these times and organising themselves. People belonging to minority communities reeling under the injustice of violence perpetrated against them are uniting to demand their constitutional and fundamental rights. As these voices speak loudly and in unison, the government and the RSS is afraid; and, instead of recognising their mistakes and respecting constitutional rights, they is hell bent on crushing voices of dissent and destroying the fabric of democracy.
The BJP-RSS is trying to silence the people raising questions about the fundamental rights of common people, be it issue of unemployment, condition of impoverished farmers, atrocities committed on dalits, or the murder of people belonging to minority communities.This BJP-RSS regime is utilising the police to enforce its fascist rule over the people. This is the reason why today if a worker demands employment, if a farmer demands adequate wages, if a student demands affordable and quality education, if people demand hospitals and healthcare facilities, if women demand safety and security, if dalits demand laws to protect against atrocities, if adivasis demand their rights over land and forests, if a professor writes about people’s demands, if a poet articulates the pain of the people, if a journalist voices these concerns, if a lawyer brings these voices to the courtrooms – they are declared Naxals, they are sent to jail.
The speakers told Anti-people laws like UAPA, NSA and PSA are being used to snatch our fundamental rights. Criticism has become a crime and there is prohibition on writing, speaking, singing freely. Mere thought is criminalised. If this is not an assault on the consciousness of people, then what else is it? If Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar were alive today, they would be sent to jail, their voices and their thought declared criminal.
But, we are not afraid. We will protect the constitution and our rights. Today, we need to protect the principles of democracy on which our country stands and unite against the assault of fascism. This was the Elgaar Parishad’s appeal, and this is the appeal we make today – to not be afraid of a government that is scared of the people, we will unite and fight these false cases, these arrests and raids, and this Emergency that is upon us till our end. Marking one year since the brutal, cold-blooded murder of Gauri Lankesh by Hindutvawadis, let us join hands.
- The speakers demands in protest :-
Immediately arrest and punish the real culprits of Bhima-Koregaon violence, including Shambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, and members of Hindutva groups that lead the violence.
- Immediately release Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Shoma Sen, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Chandrasekhar Azad ‘Raavan’, GN Saibaba, Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Vijay Tirkey, Mahesh Tirkey, Pandu Narote and all such political prisoners.
- Immediately repeal all anti-people, draconian laws like UAPA, NSA and PSA.
This protest was organized by Campaign Against State Repression on Rights Activists. Many organizations such as AISA, BASO, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CDRO, CEM, CRPP, Disha, DISSC, DSU, IAPL, IMK, Karnataka Janashakti, KYS, LSI, Mazdoor Adhikar Sanghatan, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mahila Morcha, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, NCHRO, Nowruz, People’s Watch, RJSS, Samajwadi Janparishad, United Against Hate, WSS were also participated in the protest.