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Stifling Dissent
By: - Omkar Dattatray9/4/2018 10:15:19 PM
Democracy is a superior form of government. It is government of the people, by the people and for the people in the words of Ibrahim Lincoln. All of us and the governments formed through the ballot and will of people should respect democracy in letter and spirit. Democracy though a superior form of government degenerates into autocracy and mobocracy if those at the helm of affairs stifle with the voices of people. Dissent, debate, discussion and respecting each other's view points are the hallmarks of a democracy. But when these are subverted it leads to deterioration in democratic functioning. Dissent is the soul of democratic functioning and it has been rightly said by the Apex Court of the land as the safety valve of democracy. So dissent and debate should be encouraged in a democracy and these should in no way be stifled with as it may undermine the much valued democracy. The recent arrest of the social activists, lawyers and intellectuals reminds one of the dark days of emergency of 1975 unleashed by former Prime Minister Indra Gandhi. It was the dark period of post Independent history when dissent was stifled and activists and political leaders in large numbers were put behind bars. It was rightly criticized by then right wing activists and politicians of earlier incarnation of BJP that is Jan Sangh. However, the same BJP which boasts itself of being democratic to core both in organizational respects and political spheres has resorted to silencing of dissent by recent arrests of social activists, advocates, Dalit supporters and other intellectuals. It is a very painful and disturbing development for our democracy. By this act the powers will not be able to sell their concocted accusation theory against the arrested activists. The arrest of the social activists, lawyers, human right activists and professors has been widely and rightly condemned by the responsible civil society and different NGO's doing social work. Even the ally of BJP, the Shiv sena has also said that governments are toppled by power of ballot by people and cannot be toppled by the Maoists and their over ground supporters and sympathizers' if there is some truth in the accusation of police. The arrest of poets, writers, lawyers, human right activists, professors and intellectuals is a sad commentary on the state of democracy in the country. The arrests according to BSP president Mayawati are aimed at intimidating these activists and stifling freedom of speech and expression enshrined under article-19 of the Indian constitution and thus such arrests and intimidation have no value and place in the largest democracy of the world. Thus for safeguarding the much valued right to speech and expression, it is necessary that no one should be put behind bars without any sound reason. The arrest of writer Varavarao, lawyer Suda Bharadwaj and human right activists Arun Feriera, Gautum Navalakha and Vernon Gonsalves are only acts to intimidate them and to terrorize the civil society which has no takers in Indian civil society. The accusations that they were Maoist supporters was a ploy to hoodwink the people and divert their attention from burning issues of the people and failure of the BJP government according to BSP Supremo Mayawati. She has equated it with the government sponsored terror and misuse of government machinery. The government of the day should take recourse to legal procedures against the people named in FIR regarding Bheema - Koregaon violence. The NDA government seems to be victimizing Dalit leaders whose lives were open books. The government is trying to arm twist and terrorize people running NGO's, social workers and in fact it is the height of misuse of government machinery. The Supreme Court has taken right decision and had ordered house arrest of these arrested activists. It is a matter of great satisfaction and it will give oxygen to our democratic set up. The searches and arrests were made in connection with the investigation into the clashes between Dalits and upper caste Marathas at Bheema-Koregaon pune on January 1st that were allegedly triggered by Algar Parishad. In fact the arrest of activists has put Modi government on a spot. The arrest or the release of the activists is the litmus test for Maharastra CM Devendra Fadnavis being in charge of state law and order. It may be noted that Pune police arrested five activists from different parts of the country for allegedly being Maoist supporters. Police contended that the arrested activists were involved in a plot to over through the central government. According to police there is deliberate involvement and major role in a larger conspiracy hatched by banned CPI (Maoists). The Maharashtra police is also of the opinion that CPIM is planning to buy weapons from Nepal and use them in India against politicians. They also hold the view that these activists are involved in radicalizing youth. All these angles, allegations and theories should be impartially probed. It should be fully probed if the arrested activists are really involved in fuelling anti-social and anti-national activities. But no social and human right activists should be booked on flimsy grounds and on concocted stories. The government of the day should not muzzle the public dissent. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act should rarely be applied and it should not be applied to reputed activists working for downtrodden classes. Thus police should dissent from using draconian UAPA against human right activists and public intellectuals for upholding much valued democracy. The arrest of poets, writers, lawyers, human right activists and prominent intellectuals has been criticized by 37 organizations of civil society. Therefore it is better that no one should be detained without any valid grounds and more so when the arrestees are prominent figures and human right activists but then for the security of the nation and for its sovereignty no compromise should be made and those who really work against the integrity and sovereignty of the country should be booked and prosecuted in accordance with the law of the land and at the same time prominent social and community activists should not be arrested and intimidated and no one should be allowed to stifle with right to dissent.
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