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'Vilification' campaign against arrested rights defenders: Week-long protests begin

By Our Representative 
Several well-known civil rights organizations, endorsing a call initiated by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) to conduct protest actions from August 28 to September 5, against “deterioration” in civil liberties in the recent past, have regretted that the 12 “renowned” lawyers, professors, academics, writers and activists remain imprisoned under “fabricated charges” for the violence at Bhima Koregaon, while the actual perpetrators “walk freely.” 
In a joint statement, they said, the protest call, given to mark August 28 as the day when two years ago, five human rights activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferriera and Vernon Gonsalves – were arrested in the Bhima Koregaon Conspiracy Case – would end on September 5, which is the third anniversary of the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, the “fearless journalist”, in Bangaluru.
In their call, the organizations noted that two dozen anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-National Register of Citizens (NRC) protestors were also “falsely” arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Protection) Act (UAPA) in Delhi and Assam “for conspiracy and several others under stringent sections of IPC and other special laws.”
In UP, they said in the statement, anti-CAA-NRC protestors are being “subjected to illegal processes of auctioning of their personal properties to pay for the damages to public property caused during protests”, adding, this apart, “scores of intellectuals, activists, trade unionists and others are continually being summoned, examined in the Delhi riots case and the Bhima Koregaon case and then subjected to vilification campaign.”
The organizations further said, they “support of Prashant Bhushan”, top Supreme Court lawyer, who has been convicted under the Contempt of Court Act, as also “numerous journalists, who are facing charges or have been arrested, for pointing out problems with government policies and their implementation.”

'End politics of religious majoritarianism': JMM

Meanwhile, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM), in a separate statement, said, it endorses the PUCL call, pointing out, one of those who are being harassed is Stan Swamy, who has been struggling for adivasi rights for decades in Jharkhand, even as the Hindutva “perpetrators” of the Bhima-Koregaon remain at large.
“The Central government, contrary to the constitutional values of secularism and equality, is taking the country towards religious majoritarianism and is coming down heavily on anyone who questions its communal agenda and anti-people policies”, JMM said.
Even as calling for “immediate release” of activists arrested in the Bhima-Koregaon case and withdrawal of cases, JMM demanded repeal of “anti-people” laws such as UAPA and National Security Act (NSA) and IPC sections such as 124A (sedition), asking the Central government to immediately end its politics of religious majoritarianism.
It announced its plans to submit memorandum to the President and Chief Justice of India for the immediate release of human right activists “falsely implicated” in the Bhima-Koregaon case, hold protest marches at state and district headquarters, do social media campaign, and hold joint meeting with all non-BJP political parties.

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