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

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

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. 

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer

Report suggests Indian democracy 'hasn't achieved' equitable economic decentralization

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram  The news that the current economic inequality in the country is worse than during British rule is unsettling. This suggests the harsh reality that our democracy has not achieved equitable economic decentralization. A recent report by Thomas Piketty and three other economists reveals shocking findings: in 2023-24, the top 1% of the wealthiest people in India hold 40% of the nation's wealth, with a 22.6% share in income.