Halt the Repression and End the Attack on Democratic Rights

Campaign for Survival and Dignity

The conviction of Dr. Binayak Sen and his co-accused, Narayan Sanyal and Piyush Guha, is yet another sign of how little democratic freedoms appear to matter to the government. On the basis of what appears to be non-existent evidence, a trial court has convicted all three of (among other charges) sedition, the “crime” that Gandhi once referred to as the “prince of all political sections designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.”

Meanwhile, literally tens of thousands of other people languish in prison, and many tens of thousands more face ongoing criminal charges, for equally ridiculous and flimsy reasons. Hundreds of adivasis are in prison in Dantewada and other areas of Operation Green Hunt without even being charged. Protesters who do nothing but demand respect for the law find themselves in jail; at this moment, around 2,000 members of the Satyashodhak Grameen Kashtakari Sabha (a member organisation of the Jangal Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti, affiliated to the Campaign) are in jail in Nandurbar District, Maharashtra, for demanding basic amenities like ration cards and respect for forest rights. Avinash Kulkarni, Bharat Powar and a number of other forest movement activists spent almost six months in jail in Gujarat, and still face charges of, inevitably, sedition and waging war against the state (see earlier press statement).

Even as democratic rights are thrown to the winds, we find the laws being violated and land and resources being grabbed on a massive scale across the country. The state machinery has turned itself into a mercenary cabal, sold to the highest bidder; on POSCO, fully two and a half months after the Enquiry Committee found gross violations of law, nothing has been done. Huge sums of money are being funneled into land-grabbing schemes across the country.

It is not seditious, apparently, to have brazen contempt for justice and people, or to engage in daylight robbery of the country’s money; but it is seditious to talk of rights and law. This is the farce enacted by a government that never tires of talking of the “rule of law.”

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