Protest against the fascist onslaught on democratic rights activists and curbing of democracy

On 14th April,2020, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha surrendered and were arrested by the NIA, pursuant to order of the Supreme Court rejecting interim protection. This order paved the way for the arrest of two more scholars under the draconian laws for their exercise of the right to free speech and dissent. We believe the arrest of these two intellectuals not only infringes their constitutionally protected rights but is a larger reflection of the fast ceding of the political, social and public space in the country.

The first five-year rule of the NDA witnessed non-state actors propelling the divisive agenda qua violent means with impunity. The tacit governmental support was visible by the absence of any legal action, let alone public condemnation.  On the contrary, the second term of the government has witnessed a more direct attack on the democratic aspirations of the people. Emboldened by a massive electoral victory, the BJP-led government has orchestrated draconian crackdowns on citizens, minorities, students, lawyers, intellectuals and activists.

The coercive and malicious prosecutorial power exercised by the present regime becomes clear on a perusal of the Bhima-Koregaon case, which led to the filing of a bail petition by Teltumbde and Navlakha. Nine democratic rights activists and public intellectuals, besides Teltumbde and Navlakha, who were vocal about and against any attempt to subvert democratic rights by the governments in power have been falsely implicated and linked with Maoists in the case where a group of Hindutvaadis clashed with the Dalits. The bails and appeals of all nine activists, lawyers and intellectuals, namely Arun Ferreira, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bhardwaj, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao and Vernon Gonsalves, have been continuously rejected based on secret evidence offered to courts in sealed envelopes to which the accused have no access. The leaders who orchestrated the said riot, Milind Ekbote, and Manohar Bhide, still roam around scot-free while these intellectuals have been arrested on flimsy charges based on files present in the computer seized from one of the activists and co-accused in the case, Rona Wilson. It is now established that the computer had a malicious program which allows the control of the system from outside. The anti-democratic measures of the state reached a new low when the government was caught red-handed using Israeli spyware (Pegasus) against its citizens, who happened to be all human and democratic rights activists and lawyers. This selective targeting by the government was yet another attempt to silence those who continue to speak for the poor and the marginalized.Further, the untimely and sudden transfer of the case from state police to National Investigation Agency (NIA) when the Government of Maharashtra was considering withdrawal of the false cases against the activists reeks of bad faith and abuse of power.

This is a testing time for the country. Since its inception, the Coordination of the Democratic Rights Organisation (CDRO), has been committed to uphold and strengthen the democratic values and fight against undemocratic laws. In continuing our resolve, we, unequivocally condemn this witch hunt, suppression of democratic rights of the activists and illegal acts of snooping and surveillance.  We urge all citizens who are committed to rule of law and democratic rights to be aware of the concerted and systemic efforts undertaken by the government against human and civil rights defenders. We stand against the arrest of Teltumbde and Navlakha, demand the release of all eleven lawyers, scholars and activists falsely implicated in the Bhima Koregaon violence, and the release of all political prisoners.

COORDNATION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ORGANISATION(CDRO)

V.Raghunath (CLC,Telangana),Kranti Chaitanya (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Prit Pal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) Coordinators of CDRO.

Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR TamilNadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); ManabAdhikarSangramSamiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep (Delhi)


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One Comment

  1. This is not simply a blot on democracy it is a grave omen for India’s future. As Anand said….they will come for you too. So act now or abdicate….