Skip to main content

Detention of civil rights activists in Vishakhapattanam "a threat to constitutionalism, rule of law": PUCL

By Our Representative
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has strongly condemned “arbitrary and illegal” detention of civil liberties activists and human rights defenders in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, on October 9, 2014 when they were trying to hold a press conference at the Civil Library, Vishakhapatnam, to announce a meeting on October 12 to protest against Operation Green Hunt. “The hostile and intimidatory action of the police was supported at the highest level in the state government”, said PUCL, adding, this was clear “when the Vizag police arrested five other human rights activists who had gone to the Camp Office of DIG, Vishakhapatnam Range, to bring to his notice the illegal arrests of their colleagues.”
Signed by Prof Prabhakar Sinha, national president, PUCL, and Dr V Suresh, national general secretary, PUCL, the statement by the influential civil rights group said, “The fact that the Andhra Pradesh police released the activists subsequently does not mitigate from the fact that the government and police’s action constitute a serious threat to constitutionalism, rule of law and fundamental right to free speech and expression, assembly and dissent.”
Those detained, and subsequently released, are Vishakhapatnam District Civil Liberties Committee chief T Sriram Murthy, Anti-privatisation Committee member PV Ramana, fishermen’ community leader and advocate KS Chalam, Stree Shakti activist B Lalitha, Indian Atheists’ Association members S Ramaraju and Nooka Raju, state secretary of the Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR) C BhaskaraRao, civil liberties activists N Srimannarayana, Gudimell Raghuram and SurlaVenkataramana, and advocate Palleti Appa Rao.
“What is equally deplorable is that the police did not permit the media to meet the detained activists at the Civil Library. This constitutes a serious curtailment of freedom of the press to freely and independently function and is violative of the Indian Constitution”, the statement said.
Calling the police action “violent and draconian”, and saying that the action of “detaining and arresting human rights activists” was nothing but “abuse of power”, the statement said, “It amounts to suppression of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. It is an attempt to stifle critical discussion of undemocratic state policies and is calculated to intimidate, threaten and silence members of civil society from questioning the unacceptable police action.”
“The activists arrested were well within their constitutional and legal rights to hold press meeting as also to announce arrangements for a public discussion. The Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed that dissent and oppositional views are essential part of democratic process and the government has to learn to respect all views and not use its brute powers to stifle dissent”, the PUCL claimed.
Operation Green Hunt is being carried out in Central India over the last few years, supposedly as a counterinsurgency operation against Maoists. It has come under criticism from civil liberties and human rights organisations owing to repeated incidents of civilian casualties in encounters, complaints of widespread arbitrary and capricious arrests of ordinary adivasis who are languishing in jail for long years, and complaints of motivated implications in false criminal cases of political opponents.
Saying that the arrest of human rights defenders is “a draconian measure sought to be taken by the Andhra Pradesh government to prevent a public debate on these issues which are vital to the constitutional rights to life and liberty, particularly of the indigenous populations of Central India, are thus doubly reprehensible”, the statement said, “The actions of the Andhra Pradesh government also reflect the short sighted and undemocratic attitude of labeling all dissent/ criticism as illegal or extremist, and even peaceful association, expression or protest as ‘support to banned organisations.”
Saying that tThis attitude was severely castigated by the Hon’ble Apex Court in the 5th July 2013 Judgment in the Nandini Sundar case, the PUCL demanded that “the Government of Andhra Pradesh should respect the fundamental rights of citizens to free speech and expression, assembly and human rights and immediately stops the undemocratic and unconstitutional abuse / misuse of its police powers to stifle free speech and dissent.”

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”