Skip to main content

A top peace activist, Modi govt 'equated' Navlakha with terrorist Hafiz Sayeed

By Priyanka Preet, Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar*

Gautam Navlakha is a famed author, civil rights activists, human rights activist, journalist, an Editorial Consultant at the “Economic and Political Weekly”, probably the most internationally well known social sciences journal published out of India, the convenor of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and the Secretary of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights.
He has been a vocal critic of the Government through his left-wing activism while working in Kashmir and Maoist regions in Chhattisgarh. He has worked for the cause of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan through the forum Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy.
Imagine such a distinguished scholar activist being likened to somebody synonymous with terrorism, Hafiz Sayeed. During a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, which allows an individual to be labeled as a terrorist, former Congress home minister P Chidambaram criticized this as monumental error and asked the government not to compare Hafiz Sayeed with activist Gautam Navlakh. Gautam Navlakha himself criticized the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for being vague and opposed to Constitutional values.
In May 2011, Gautam Navlakha was refused entry at the Srinagar Airport and was compelled to return to Delhi by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir as they believed that his presence could cause a law-and-order problem in Kashmir. Later while addressing a press conference at Srinagar in December 2011 he stated that those in the government responsible for the disappeared persons in Jammu and Kashmir should be brought to book.
It should be a matter of shame for any government that there is an organization by the name of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in J&K formed in 1994. The number of disappeared persons since 1989 is put between 8,000 and 10,000.
In the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case, Gautam Navlakha was named an accused and his anticipatory bail pleas were rejected by the Supreme Court on 8 April 2020, under the UAPA. The Bhima Koregaon violence case was transferred by the Bharatiya Janata Party led union government from the Pune Police to the National Investigation Agency in January 2020.
The wisdom of this move has been questioned as this was done after the BJP lost election in Maharashtra and Shiv Sena led government came to power and there was a possibility that the new government would take a fresh look at the Bhima Koregaon case through a Special Investigation Team. On April 14, 2020, Gautam surrendered before the NIA after the Supreme Court refused to extend his plea in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NIA has accused Gautam Navlakha of having attended conferences in the United States organized by Pakistani Kashmiri separatist Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation and sentenced to a two year term in 2011. US Attorney Neil H MacBride had claimed in an affidavit that Gautam Navlakha was introduced by Fai to an Inter-Services Intelligence General for recruitment at the agency’s direction.
Whereas these allegations remain to be substantiated, meeting people and attending conferences can itself not be considered a crime. NIA has not produced any concrete evidence of Gautam Navlakha having been engaged in any anti-national activity or committed an act of crime. Since Gautam was the only one among the Bhima Koregaon violence accused who worked extensively on the issue of Kashmir, NIA found it convenient to make him a scapegoat in a desperate attempt to demonstrate a link between the terrorists and Maoists.
Gautam Navlakha has taken brave position on right to self-determination for people of J&K and has been made to pay a price for that
Gautam Navlakha has taken a brave position in support of right to self-determination for the people of J&K and has been made to pay a price for that. For a similar position taken by Advocate Prashant Bhushan during the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, he was thrashed by some right wing goons in his SC chamber.
NIA has alleged that Gautam Navlakha indulged in secret communications with banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) members and was assigned the task of mobilizing intellectuals against the government as well as to recruit cadres for guerrilla activities. According to NIA the violence at Bhima Koregaon was pre-planned.
The fact of the matter is that the First Information Report filed on the day after the violence occurred on January 1, 2018, was against two Hindutva activists Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote. It beats logic why should supporters of the Elgar Parishad, the banner under which the Bhima Koregaon event was organized by two distinguished retired Justices of Bombay High Court, BG Kolse-Patil and PB Sawant, disrupt their own event using violence?
This is a classic example of how the BJP governments make accused out of victims or their supporters. The same pattern was repeated in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register for Citizens protests and violence in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The perpetrators or provocateurs of violence were allowed to roam free and peaceful protestors or victims were made the accused in FIRs.
Gautam is an ageing prisoner whose spectacles, without which he is almost helpless, were stolen in the Taloja Prison in Mumbai on November 27 even as he continues to suffer from several ailments like colonic polyposis, chronic gastritis and high blood pressure. His partner Sahba Hussain sent him a fresh pair of glasses in a parcel which was rejected by the prison authorities on December 5.
The bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik of the Bombay High Court remarked that providing essential items like spectacles to prisoners were ‘humane considerations,’ and added that it is high time to conduct a workshop for even jail authorities. This one incident points to the blatant violations of basic rights of prisoners in Indian jails and also informs us of the inhuman conditions in which they are kept.
Before his surrender Gautam Navlakha wrote about the UAPA: 
“Such Acts turn the normal jurisprudence upside down. No longer is it the axiom that a person is innocent unless proven guilty, In fact under such Acts an accused is guilty unless proven innocent. Draconian provisions of the UAPA are not accompanied by stricter procedures regarding evidence, especially electronic, considering the stringent punishment provided for under the Act; the procedures, which otherwise provide tighter rules regarding evidence, are instead made elastic. Under this double whammy, jail becomes the norm and bail an exception. In this Kafkaesque domain, process itself becomes the punishment.”
---
*Priyanka Preet is a student of BA-LLB (Hons) at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow; Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay award winning social activist, is vice president of Socialist Party (India); and Kushagra Kumar is a student in Lucknow

Comments

Anonymous said…
What else one can say when a person instigates the people and support all the violent activities. He always make making a mountain out of mole hill. Police excess is true, can apprehend the terrorists' and Maoist with out using force. Has he ever condemned attack on Kashmiri Pandits and the violence that took place in left rules states. No doubt he is intellectual but uses the same against majority a biased man with hatred mindset.

TRENDING

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".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

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.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o