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Telangana turns into experimental theatre to misuse suppressive laws: CASR meet

By Our Representative 
Speakers at a media conference, organised by the civil rights network Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), even as discussing "suppression of democratic voices" using suppressive laws in the light of the Tadwai case, where 152 activists of Andhra-Telangana were named under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), have demanded repeal of the "draconian" law.
Citing cases against prominent civil rights activists, including Prof G Haragopal and even the late High Court judge H Suresh, based on an allege recovery of a diary, belonging to Maoists in a combing operation, speakers pointed towards how draconian laws are being used to suppress "democratic voices" across India.
Delhi University professor Nandita Narain said, those opposing the "corporate loot of peoples resources" such as GN Saibaba and Stan Swamy, who stood with the adivasis, faced suppression in jail. T"he unholy alliance of corporate-state is attacking the people and their activists. I stand with 152 activists named in the Tadwai case. I also demand release of Bhima Koregaon and Delhi riots conspiracy case prisoners", she added.
K Ravichander, co-convener, Forum Against Repression, Telangana, said, "The state is unleashing terror not only in Telangana but the whole country by using suppressive institutions and laws. We call it a mad government that is against Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and working people.”
He further said, situation in Telangana is very miserable because the KCR government is the B team of BJP. "The separate Telangana movement’s aspiration have been betrayed by suppressing democratic spaces. Telangana has became a experiment theatre for the state to use suppressive laws ever since the Telangana armed struggle", he added.
According to him Ajit Doval's statement of waging war against civil society is a modus operandi where they book 100 people in UAPA cases and use the same narrative of Maoists leaving some documents having the name of accused during police raids. This is nothing new, it has been happening since 2014, but what is new is that members of civil society are being named along with the high level leadership of Maoists, he added.
Prof. Haragopal could not make it to the conference but he sent a message which was presented before the attendees. The message said: “The journalist world should understand the fact that there is increasing use of a draconian law against any body or every body. This law was meant to be used against terrorists. It has been turned upside down."
"The civilized democracies go by presumption of innocence till guilt is proved. Under UAPA the accused is guilty and has to prove his innocence. Under this law the minute state slaps the law the punishment starts as one would be behind bars minimum six months", he added.
Pointing out that in a recent case the state slapped UAPA against 152 persons which includes Justice Suresh who died two years back, he asserted, "There are two other names who are no more. It is built so casually and callously that it sets the limit to misuse."
Delhi University professor Saroj Giri, while moderating the programme, asserted, "We should ask opposition parties about their position on UAPA and other draconian laws. We should not just focus on cases against some activists but the law itself.
Professor Laxman Gaddam said, while trying to eliminate Naxalite movement, they are using drones and deploying military. "They have conducted four drone strikes in the last three years. They are unleashing war on the Adivasi people and disrupting their livelihood in the name of eliminating the Maoist movement."
Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said, If you criticize PM and the government, then one can say they represent India, so you are promoting disaffection against the nation. Such bogus cases of conspiracy to kill PM have been slapped under UAPA in Bhima Koregaon case on some of the finest democratic rights activists, who are languishing for almost 5 year now. Here bail has became exception and jail has became the norm.' \
General secretary of the Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan Poonam Kaushik, speaking on behalf of her organization, said: “We have seen how activists, including women activists, were jailed in the Delhi riots case. Activists protested against the citizenship law."
She added, "We did a signature campaign with other women organizations and filed a petition before the Home Ministry, the National Human Rights Commission and Delhi CM. Unfortunately, NHRC failed to take congisance of the matter, saying it is not a human rights violation case."
Supreme Court lawyer and Counsel in Bhima-Koregaon case, Mihir Desai focusing on the "anti-people nature" of UAPA, said, “We should not say UAPA is misused. UAPA is perfectly used in the interest of the state. Its intention is to keep people in jail without giving proper opportunity to take bail. There is no need for conviction in UAPA because process itself is a punishment”.
Advocate Mahadevan, who practices in the Hyderabad High Court as well as the Supreme Court, and who is also the legal counsel in the Tadvai case and is one of the accused in it, said, “UAPA is a tool to suppress political dissent and for promotion of investigating officers."

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