The draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has once again been invoked, this time in Tadwai, Telangana against an astonishing number of 152 activists and intellectuals, which includes retired Prof. G. Haragopal, Prof. Gaddam Laxman and Prof. Padmaja Shaw. What is more ridiculous and serious at the same time is that Late Justice H. Suresh also finds mention in the accused list. The FIR has come to light only after People’s Democratic Movement president Chandramouli applied for bail and FIRs filed against him were retrieved by the police where the names of the 152 activists mentioned above were also included. Brahmanical Hindutva fascism has consistently attacked all democratic and dissenting voices by labelling them as Maoist forces and this pattern of mass incarceration of political and civil activists and intellectuals continues, where these 152 individuals are once again made out to be Maoists. This attack on democratic forces must be seen as yet another example of framing people as “Urban Maoists”, something that is mongered by Prime Minister, Home Ministers, National Security Advisers and propagated by corporate media. One of the charged person, Prof. G. Haragopal, a retired Dean of School of Social Sciences at University of Hyderabad, has been an active participant in Telangana’s movement for separate statehood and has questioned the oppressive nature of the Indian state in various instances as an activist for civil liberties. He also played a key role as an interlocutor between the Indian state and Maoists in Odisha.
The ridiculousness of the state’s attempt at using draconian laws like UAPA and institutions for its fascist agenda are exposed by the loopholes in their version of events, as Prof. G. Haragopal points out. He elaborates that the FIR states that the police stumbled upon a meeting of supposed Maoists in 2022 and recovered diary from the meeting which contains the names of all the 152 accused. Among those charged, the name of Justice Hosbet Suresh is also mentioned, who passed away in 2020, two years prior to this event! He also pointed out that Prof. Padmaja Shaw, a professor of journalism at Osmania University, is a person who out of public life for a long time and her involvement in this situation is astonishing. The tactics of manufacturing content and planting false evidence have become a common practice by the police, as exposed in the Bhima Koregaon case with the reports by independent US-based cybersecurity firms SentinelOne and Arsenal Consulting.
All of this comes during a time wherein India is experiencing a general contraction of democratic rights and the muzzling of dissenting voices through the expansion of the scope of the UAPA law, with the Supreme Court upholding the undemocratic view that mere membership of a banned organization is an offence under UAPA. This is also accompanied with the 22nd Law Commission of India recommending the expansion of the scope and punishments for sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. These laws have aided the state in creating a myriad of political prisoners all over India who remain incarcerated for prolonged periods of time, which is enabled by provisions of bar on Statutory bail, specter of “National security”, and delay in trial, making the process itself a punishment. States like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh have particularly experienced rampant slapping of UAPA cases on activists, sometimes single activist having multiple UAPA cases filed against them.
While as of 17th June, 2023, charges against six of the accused, Prof. Haragopal, Padmaja Shah, V. Raghunath, Gaddam Laxman, Gunti Ravinder and Suresh Kumar have been dropped but 146 of the other accused, including the late Justice Suresh continue to have these cases filed against them. Without the complete rescinding of these charges, this is merely a weak attempt by the state government at pacifying the backlash against this case. This attempt in Telangana to incarcerate activists en masse is a brutal attack against civil liberties and democratic rights of citizens and furthers the fascist project of silencing all dissenters from exposing the oppression and exploitation meted out by the Indian state.
Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) strongly condemns telangana police attempt to continuously criminalise dissenting voices, demand lifting the name of other 146 activists in FIR and calls upon democratic progressive forces and individuals to build strong democratic movement for repealing of UAPA.
*Organizing team – CAMPAIGN AGAINST STATE REPRESSION (CASR)*
(Organising Team: AIRSO,AISA, AISF, APCR,BASF, BSM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, Fraternity ,IAPL, Karnataka Janashakti, LAA,Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad,Smajwadi lok manch, Satyashodak Sangh, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS,Y4S)