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Academics, activists, lawyers condemn 'misuse' of anti-terror law against farmers

By Our Representative 

Gathered at the Press Club of India in Delhi, several senior academics, activists and lawyers, condemning the Government of India’s alleged attempt to criminalize and break a “legitimate” farmers’ protest, have regretted that following the violence on January 26, the government has “activated the criminal justice machinery to lodge FIRs” against farmer leaders under a range of criminal laws, including the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
In a statement following the Press Club meet on behalf of the participants, the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) said, “the familiar playbook of the ruling establishment”, last seen in the winter of 2019, has been revived, pointing out, at that time too “the equal citizenship movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-National Register of Citizens (NRC), and its young leadership, was similarly vilified, terrorized, charged under UAPA, and arrested.”
Demanding “unconditional withdrawal” of motivated FIRs against the leadership of the farmers’ movement and calling it “a brazen misuse of the police and the law to silence people’s legitimate democratic expression”, the statement said, “The fake state narrative of the farmers movement as a ‘violent conspiracy’ against India, is an exact copy-paste of the narrative we saw last year around the anti-CAA movement..”
The speakers at the meet drew attention to sections the media “pushing” government agenda, pointing out, the farmers’ protest rally on January 26 was “completely peaceful” , with thousands of tractors displaying “with pride the tricolour” on the Republic Day. They expressed alarm on the manner in which several senior journalists and public figures have been charged with sedition, apart from other criminal sections of IPC, one of them simply for a tweet, which was later “retracted”.
Those present at the meet included senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, Secretary of the Gandhi Peace Foundation Kumar Prashant, activist Shabnam Hashmi, economist Atul Sood, and scientist and co-convener of the Nation For Farmers Dinesh Abrol.

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