Friday, October 18, 2013

Calling to unite against danger of fascism, Binayak Sen says there is more freedom in Gujarat than Chhattisgarh

By Our Representative
Top human rights campaigner Binayak Sen, against whom the Chhattisgarh government filed a sedition case for fighting against state terror unleashed on the tribal people, has warned that the nation may be slipping into fascism, and something urgently needs to be done to evacuate the situation. Speaking at a meeting in Ahmedabad, Sen said, he was not alone to face the sedition case, and though he is now out on bail, “the draconian law is being misused and thousands of people have already become victims of the legislation.”
Noting that there is more freedom in Gujarat to speak for a human rights champion like him, he said, “This is not possible in Chhattisgarh, where people cannot gather like this, as you have here, to air your views. It is necessary to keep this atmosphere alive, as Gujarat will play a larger role in future than is the case today".
He said, "I am not the only one who was charged under the law”, he said, adding, “Today, in every state of the country thousands of people have been charged under the sedition law and many are facing jail term." Sen was delivering his convocation address at the Gujarat Vidyapeeth, founded by Mahatma Gandhi.
Sen said, the Government of India has come up with several laws which seek to provide basic rights to the underprivileged, including the right to food security, right to education, right to information, right to land to the tribals, and so on, “but this is not enough.” He insisted, “Today, we are facing a much bigger challenge. It is necessary to come together and fight against the new fascist challenge.”
"Three thousand people silently protesting against Kudankulam nuclear plant have been booked under the sedition law," Sen said, adding, "Chattisgarh court sentenced me to life imprisonment on sedition charges. I am standing before you today as the Supreme Court has given me bail. I only did what a human rights activist has to do. I helped in bringing out the reality of Salwa Judum. The Supreme Court later ordered disbanding the force," Sen, who is vice-president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, said.
Salwa Judum was a movement founded by established forces in Chattisgarh to “fight” the Naxalite terror by adopting tactics similar to those of the Naxalites. Jalwa Judum was a civilian militia mobilised and deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh. The militia consisting of local tribal youth received support and training from the Chhattisgarh government. On 5 July 2011, the Supreme Court declared the militia to be illegal and unconstitutional, and ordered its disbanding.
The court directed the Chhattisgarh government to recover all the firearms, ammunition and accessories. The use of Salwa Judum by the government for anti-Naxal operations was criticised for its violations of human rights, use of child soldiers and poorly trained uneducated youth for counter-insurgency roles. The tribals who opposed it became victims of terror and violence and were dubbed Naxals. It ordered the government to investigate all instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum.
"Salwa Judum actions raise a question like, why people in thousands are victims of government policies?” Sen asked. "The country is going through a crisis period right now. Every person must have the courage to ask the basic question. We cannot remain neutral in these circumstances we have to raise our voice for the marginalized," Sen, whose life imprisonment was opposed by human rights activists across the world, said.

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