Monday, March 1, 2010

Rights Activists Get Tagged as Maoists

Prashant Bhushan, The Hindu


"For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands more are created"

"Suppression of dissent is fascist and will escalate into civil war"


NEW DELHI: Human rights activists, journalists and fact-finding committees were being targeted to intimidate them so that there could be no dissenting voices against the State's alleged war on terror, which had degenerated into a war against the tribals, advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged here over the week-end.

He was speaking at a press conference held to protest against the alleged labelling of civil rights groups and peoples' movements as Maoist front organisations.

Charge-sheet against Ghandy

Reading from the charge-sheet filed against Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, Mr. Bhushan said: "Their other front organisations like Revolutionary Democratic Front, People's Democratic Front of India, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, Indian Association of People's Lawyers took up the issues of human rights violation, civil liberties, atrocities by the police... Other civil liberties and human rights organisations i.e. People's Union for Democratic Rights, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights also take up the issues of their outfit - CPI (Maoist). These organisations play a very important role to broaden the base of the outfit."

People, who expressed sympathy with human rights activists or exposed and criticised government actions, were accused of being front organisations of the Maoists, he added.

Tribals harassed

Mr. Bhushan said: "The government has done little for the tribals and now they are trying to snatch their land. When tribals agitate peacefully, the State security forces descend on them, harass them and burn their villages.

"About 700 villages have been burnt in the past two years in Chhattisgarh. People are bound to protest and take up arms. For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands are created through collateral damage."

The country was turning into a fascist State through suppression of dissent and this would lead to an escalating state of violence resulting in civil war, he added.

Talks favoured

Stressing that the State could not use illegal means to curb violence, retired Justice Rajinder Sachar said: "The State cannot be a terrorist. It is the ultimate repository of law and order.

"Talks should happen between the government and the Maoists in an open atmosphere where there is no fear. Both sides should cease hostilities for dialogue to take place. The Maoist representative should be granted immunity for the period of talks. In case the talks fail, both sides should be able to return to their respective areas." "PUCL will go to court to remove its name from the charge-sheet," he added.

Concurring that the government and Maoists should have talks amid a ceasefire, writer Arundhati Roy said: "Fight for civil liberties, prisoners' rights and mere thoughts are being criminalised. If those who support human rights activists in their struggle are considered front organisations of the Maoists, by the same argument the Home Ministry too should be considered the over ground representatives of big corporations."

(The Hindu, March 1, 2010)

No comments: