Activists' arrest across India is an "attempt" to create prejudice against those working for the poor

Counterview Desk
Former National Advisory Council member under the UPA government, Aruna Roy (ex-IAS), and senior activists Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), have said that the activists arrested across India, following raids, should be immediately released, calling the BJP rulers' move as nothing but “motivated hounding of human rights defenders”.

Text of the statement:

The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS, Rajasthan) condemns the mala fide allegations and the coercive use of state power, in the arrest/raids of Sudha Bharadwaj (a civil rights and labour lawyer from Chhattisgarh; presently teaching at the National Law University, Delhi); Gautam Navlakha(former President of Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights and a journalist); Anand Teltumbde (human rights activist and management professional, writer, civil rights activist and political analyst); Father Stan Swamy (80-years-old human rights activist based in Ranchi); Varavara Rao (77-years-old poet and prominent activist) and senior activists Arun Ferreira and Susan Abraham.
The Pune police in a series of raids and arrests on August 2018, 27 and 28, deliberately pinned serious allegations on these activists for the Bhima Koregaon incident, ignoring the main role of the Hindutva leader Sambhaji Rao Bhide and his associates in initiating violence.
A few months earlier,Surendra Gadling (a Maharashtra civil rights and trade union lawyer), Rona Wilson (an academic and activist involved in the Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners), Prof. Shoma Sen (Nagpur University), Sudhir Dhawale (activist and publisher) and Mahesh Raut (activist and former Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow) were also arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon incident.
Nikhil Dey, Aruna Roy, Sanjay Singh
So far all the arrests have been made citing baseless allegations and reflect a prejudiced targeting of people who have had the courage and the intellectual rigour to question the miscarriage of law and the violation of constitutional rights. They are well-known academics and human rights defenders, who have defied all odds and the possible pall of violence imposed by unlawful majoritarian fundamentalist forces. Given the absence of any credible evidence, these arrests are clearly a part of the political conspiracy to silence any dissent and critique of the party in power.
We also strongly condemn the attempt to mislead people through the deliberate use of the term ‘Urban Naxals’ both by BJP politicians and those in the media, who are acting in tandem with the government to create a media trial. This is an attempt to construct a hostile citizenry prejudiced against those working for the poor and marginalised with a carefully-choreographed media trial.
We are in fact proud of the academic and intellectual history of India from the time of the independence movement, and laud those who have expressed their views without hesitation. They have been a crucial support for those impacted by violence and discrimination, even at a cost to themselves.
They have used non-violent means and avenues available through law and the Constitution to defend the rights of the poor and marginalised. This harassment is a blatant attempt to prevent the intelligentsia from raising their voices against injustice, oppression and exploitation. It is a prelude to making sure that the space for dissent and democratic expression is closed, and even the threats to the Constitution go unchallenged. The people of India must realise who is really trying to undermine the Indian Constitution and its values.
It is the duty of all citizens to voice their support for those who work to amplify the voices of the voiceless. We demand that the BJP governments both in Maharashtra and at the Centre stop targeting human rights workers for narrow political gains. The (mis)use of such repressive legal instruments, makes a mockery of the rule of law, and will have very grave consequences for the Indian polity.

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