Skip to main content

Repeal laws like NSA which give unlimited power to state authorities to detain Akhil Gogoi and Chandrasekhar without trial

Akhil Gogoi
By Battini Rao*
Akhil Gogoi, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti of Asom, and Chandrasekhar of the Bhim Sena in Western Uttar Pradesh, have been under detention for many months now. Akhil was arrested on 13 September under sedition charges by the BJP government of the state. On 25 September a total of 122 cases against him were clubbed together under the National Security Act, foreclosing any possibility of judicial redress. The NSA advisory panel of the state approved his detention on 19 November, thereby sealing his incarceration for 12 months at least.
Akhil Gogoi has been a vocal critic of the BJP government and was arrested for his address at a meeting against amendments to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 which aims to legalise preferential treatment of citizenship applicants on the basis of religion, and which many people in Asom believe is specifically designed to help Bengali speaking Hindus of the state to legally obtain citizenship, while denying it to Muslims.
Earlier he had opposed renaming of 21 colleges of the state after RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaay. He was arrested last year also for opposing the eviction of small farmers from areas around Kaziranga National Park. For more than a decade KMSS has been fighting for the rights of small farmers of the state and has led popular mobilisations against big dams, displacement and evictions.
Chandrasekhar of BhimSena was arrested in 8 June on charges of inciting violence and damage to public property during a Dalit public meeting in Saharanpur city. The meeting was called in protest against burning of Dalit houses of Shabbirpur village by a mob of caste Hindus. On Nov 2 the Allahabad High Court granted him bail, calling charges against him ‘politically motivated’. Instead of letting judicial process run its course the UP government of Yogi Adityanath slapped him with the NSA the very next day. Clearly, the UP government is determined to keep him incarcerated, rather than allowing him a fair trial.
The National Security Act was enacted in 1980. It allows preventive detention of any person by state administration, whom it believes to be a threat to national security, public order and maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community. 
Unlike other criminal laws which come into operation after a crime has been committed, this law permits local authorities to detain a person if they are ‘subjectively satisfied’ that a person will be a threat to conditions mentioned under its provisions, i.e. before any crime is committed. The detained person can be put behind bars without any charges and trial for up to one year. Her/his incarceration can be extended.
Clearly, the NSA runs counter to the fundamental rights of citizens. Its existence on statute books gives permanent emergency power to the ruling establishment. Like AFSPA, TADA, and the Unlawful Activities Act, the potential for its blatant misuse is built into its very architecture. 
Chandrashekhar
Application of this law in the past thirty seven years bears this out. It has been used againsttrade unionists leading strikes, student activists sitting on dharna, human rights activists, community organisers, or anyone proving to be a thorn in the side of the administration. In June this year the UP police chief gave directions to use this law for enforcing cow slaughter ban in the state.
State governments led by all political parties have used NSA for ulterior motives. Its misuse by the BJP governments of UP and Asom has taken this practice to a new low. It is also essential to understand the special context of the arrests of AkhilGogoi and Chandrasekhar from the point of view of the long term political and social designs of the Hindutva. Both these leaders have emerged from the ground, and are popular among definite sections of their society. Chandrasekhar is a symbol of the self-assertion of the current generation of Dalit youth in Western UP, who have decided to be not subservient in any way to caste Hindus, even if they have to bear economic costs, suffer violent reprisals, or face the brunt of the state administration.
The social mobilisations of Bhim Sena are a direct challenge to the RSS plans of projecting Hinduism as a great religion and uniting Hindus under a hatred driven, anti-minority programme. AkhilGogoi started as an anti-corruption crusader, and has gained respect and following among the poor and marginalized of Asom by consistently raising their concerns. The KMSS under his leadership has emerged as one of the largest mass organization in the state. It has successfully organized many protests and agitations.
Akhil Gogoi has also challenged the Hinduisation plans of the RSS for Asom by emphasising the ethnically diverse and unique character of Assamese society. He and Chandrasekhar may not pose an immediate political challenge to the BJP, however their political visions project democratic and progressive alternatives to Hindutva. That is why Hindutva can not succeed without crushing them and demoralizing their popular base. Their arrests are a consequence of the long term challenge they pose to Hindutva.
People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism demands that Akhil Gogoi and Chandrasekhar be released immediately. Laws like the NSA which give unlimited power to state authorities to detain anyone without trial should be repealed. Police officials and political leaders who conspired to detain them under NSA should be given sufficient punishment to act as a deterrent.
---
*Convener, People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.