Skip to main content

Bihar's govt's legal armour for 'unbridled' powers to suppress dissent, rights activists

Counterview Desk 

India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), has demanded the Bihar government should immediately withdraw the “undemocratic” Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, calling it a draconian law, insisting it was “passed in a draconian manner.” It adds, the bill, passed on March 23, on the anniversary of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, “effectively turns Bihar into a Police Raj.”
In a statement, tens of NAPM’s top leaders, including Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Prafulla Samantara and Sandeep Pandey, referring to what it called “brutal police violence within the State Assembly at the behest of the ruling party” in order to pass the bill, said, “The process through which the Bill was passed, after humiliating and assaulting elected representatives, goes against all parliamentary traditions and constitutional precedents.”

Text:

National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements strongly condemns the high-handed and undemocratic passing of the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 by the Bihar Assembly, and the violence meted out to the opposing voices by the police on March 23. The process through which the Bill was passed, after humiliating and assaulting elected representatives, goes against all parliamentary traditions and constitutional precedents, while its content effectively turns Bihar into a Police Raj. 
This happened, ironically, on a day that holds great significance for the people of India. It is on March 23 that freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were martyred. This is also the day famous socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia was born.
The Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 introduced by the Nitish Kumar government, is an anti-democratic, ruthless, and draconian law through which the Bihar Armed Police has been given unconstitutional and sweeping powers to:
  1. Arrest any person on mere suspicion.
  2. Arrest without a warrant, in the event of ‘threat of attack, use of force or any other intimidation’ against the establishment to which the Special Armed Police is attached.
  3. Conduct searches and arrests without warrant.
The Bill grants the ‘Special Armed Police’ impunity. No court shall take cognizance of offenses committed by a special armed police officer. That means that even if a special armed police officer commits multiple offenses, the public cannot approach the court for justice.
This Bill gravely undermines the constitutional and legal protection each citizen is granted, and provides legal armour and justification for unbridled state and central powers to suppress any dissent or opposition from human rights activists, intellectuals, students, writers, artists, and any independent voices who oppose or criticize the policies of the government. Undoubtedly, the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 is a harmful, dangerous, and unjust manifestation of authoritarianism and arbitrariness.
The incident exposes Nitish Kumar as ‘socialist’. After assault on democracy, he declared a cultural evening and feast
The Bill was met with strong opposition, both within and outside the House, where a rally was taken out. The participants in the rally were subjected to police violence at the behest of the ruling alliance, which includes the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (United). Protesters within the Assembly faced similar violence as the police were called to remove them from the session.
Instead of addressing attacks on the Bihar Assembly, an important institution of democracy, the police targeted legislators, including women and older people. This incident is an insult to the votes of crores of people whose elected representative MLAs appear in recorded footage being kicked, dragged and beaten with shoes by the CM’s police. 
Following the incident, CM Nitish Kumar issued a statement ‘justifying’ the police action, clearly indicating that the Speaker allowed the police excesses, at the behest of the ruling party. All of this also proves that the state and Center are working together to advance draconian police action and legislation that enables police impunity in the state. The incident also exposes Nitish Kumar as a ‘socialist’ when, after such a shameful incident and assault on democracy, he declared a ‘cultural evening and feast’!
National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements demands that:
(i) the undemocratic Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 be withdrawn immediately.
(ii) the Chief Minister and Speaker issue an apology to the opposition legislators, the House and the people of Bihar for this shameful act in the Bihar Legislative Assembly and acknowledge that their actions have compromised the dignity of the House and democracy.
(iii) the Chief Minister ensures an inclusive, violence-free and appropriate debate in the House before any modifications to the powers given to the police are considered.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

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".