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India: Where would the citizens go in a situation where most doors are closed?.

Saturday 13 November 2021, by siawi3

Source: http://mainstreamweekly.net/article11765.html

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 48, New Delhi, November 13, 2021

Saturday 13 November 2021

by HK

Letter to the Readers,

Editorial
Mainstream

The bending of rules and misuse powers by police, enforcement, security agencies, state officials and by ruling politicians are not new but their repeated use is endangering our democracy. Our Government seems not swayed by any criticism local or international in the manner of bringing sweeping national policy measures without consultation, passing of laws without proper parliamentary debate, ‘managing’ of levers of power to protect or let off of wrong doers –communal elements charged with conspiracy over the Babri Mosque demolition or implicated in riot cases have been acquitted, people involved in inciting violence, cases against them are not filed or are withdrawn and agencies haul up critics of the govt and sit quiet on other matters; friends of the Government get rewarded even ones who show open disdain for national figures such as Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru or for our anti-colonial freedom movement. A ruling party run IT cell is constantly generating doing divisive propaganda using social media; Work of crafting a favourable public opinion is underway at all times by Government friendly media networks acting as PR agencies for Govt and pouring scorn on critics of the Govt. The Government has come to brazenly ignore social protest movements and refuses to accept their demands. The Modi government at the centre and several BJP run governments in the states has come to readily deploy the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Sedition law, the National Security Act to go after students or whoever from — those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act, or for taking up forest rights, trade union rights, recently celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in a cricket match. Most disturbing has been the recent move by the police in BJP ruled state of Tripura. A small team of lawyers from the Supreme Court of India had travelled to Tripura on a fact-finding mission after violence reportedly erupted against Muslims in the state in October 2021. Their report was released at the Press Club of India and streamed online and soon after the authors of the document that was seeking a judicial probe into communal violence in Tripura were booked under the UAPA. 102 individuals, including journalists who just tweeted or posted about the violence in Tripura and pointed at the report on social media, were identified and all charged under the UAPA. This has all the airs of a move to silence the voice of citizens, in face of the failure of the Tripura Government to control communal violence. One can find fault and critique the document but the right of citizens to produce such reports that document communal violence must exist. The Police in Tripura should be moving against those who triggered the communal violence and not be going after people highlighting the terrible implications of communal mayhem.

Where would the citizens go in a situation where most doors are closed?. Judiciary has been one such avenue for seeking justice and for course correction in a constitutional frame. Courts are not for the weak-hearted. You need staying power and financial support to engage in legal defence. But, the courts despite their all shortcomings, power equations, case backlogs, have occasionally stood up to call out wrongdoing by law enforcement agencies, the Government and powerful entities in society. Not long ago, the Supreme court ordered the appointment of an independent committee to investigate the probable Government use of Pegasus software for surveillance; it has shown displeasure at the way the Police is investigating the Lakhimpur Kheri case in UP. The Delhi High Court recently critiqued the tendency of state authorities to treat protest as terrorism and granted bail to activists charged under UAPA for protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act. Many people have written to the Supreme Court of India to outlaw the Sedition law and to also prevent blanket use of the UAPA. The court must intervene here.

November 13, 2021 – HK