OVER 600 ACADEMICS, ADVOCATES, ACTIVISTS, CIVIL SERVANTS, WRITERS, FILM MAKERS, JOURNALISTS, MUSICIANS, ARTISTS and OTHERS. CONDEMN THE RAIDS ON THE OFFICES AND PRIVATE HOME OF ONE OF INDIA’S LEADING HUMAN RIGHTS & PEACE ACTIVISTS, HARSH MANDER
Harsh Mander is widely known in India and internationally as a leading peace and social harmony activist of India who was earlier also as a senior administrator known for several innovative social initiatives as well as firm actions to check corruption and divisive activities. He was also involved in training of young administrators where he won great respect from probationers. Several of them now hold senior adminstrative posts. They as well as the many colleagues who worked with Harsh Mander in senior administration posts would testify to his many-sided human qualities, his deep commitment to professional responsibilities and certain very basic values he holds to be non-negotiable.
Seeking earlier retirement from administrative services, Harsh Mander went on to render invaluable services in the voluntary and academic sector, again initiatng important social initiatives, while at the same time accepting senior responsibilities given be the government. He also emerged as a widely read and admired author of many books and newspaper columns. His initiatives in the areas of helping homeless persons and children as well as in spreading inter-faith harmony have been widely appreciated.
He was involved very closly involved in preparing drafts of very important pioneering reform legslations by the UPA government such as the right to inform legislation, land and forest laws which brought great credit to the government. He was appointed to the National Advisory Council and played a very active and leading role in very important social matters. Such a person of outstanding abilities, firm commitments and unquestioned integrity would be of great help to any government seriously engaged in the task of building a great democracy.
Unfortunately he and organizations associated with him have faced extreme harassment in more recent times, the latest being a raid on his office and residence on September 16 which has been condemned very widely. As the statement endorsed by 600 academics, advocates, former civil servants including very senior officials, , writers, journalists, artists , activists and others released on September 16 has stated– This morning, September 16, 2021, officers of various government authorites raided the office of Centre of Equity Studies (CES) Delhi, headed by Harsh Mander. They also raided his private home in Vasant Kunj. Other authorities simultaneously raided one of the children’s shelter homes run by an allied institution – Ummeed Aman Ghar in Mehrauli. More details are awaited, as these raids are on-going.” Harsh Mander is currently in Berlin, Germany at the invitation of the Robert Bosch Academy to join them for the prestigious Richard Von Weizsacker Fellowship.
This statement says, “We condemn these raids to harass and intimidate a leading human rights and peace activist who has done nothing but work for peace and harmony, consistently upholding the highest moral standards of honesty and probity. Over the past year, Harsh Mander and the CES have been subjected to continued harassment by multiple state agencies.” The statement adds that several false and malicious allegations were definitively countered by the Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), a statutory body, which has filed a strong affidavit in the Delhi High Court, putting an end to the false allegations against CES. The statement says that past raids have not proved any violation of the law. It adds that the current raids are to be viewed in this context, as part of a continuing chain of misuse of authorities to threaten, intimidate and try to silence every critics.
The statement endorsed by several hundred eminent persons adds very properly – We stand with Harsh Mander and with the Centre for Equity Studies. The Constitution of India and the law of the land shall prevail, exposing these intimidatory tactics exactly for what they are – an abuse of state institutions to try and curtail all our rights.
This harassment of a very senior activist , scholar, writer and former administrator has once again focused attention on the immense national harm beng caused and the very tragic damage being inflicted on the potentally great democracy of India by the repeated harassment in recent times of very noble and distinguished persons who have contributed much and have only been trying to contribute more to important aspects of national development and democracy. In the process if they oppose the present regime, isn’t this an essential part of democracy?
Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author who has written for 49 years on peace, enviroment protection and justice. His latest books include Protecting Earth For Children and Man Over Machine ( Gandhian Ideas For Our Times).