”The best of people of the country are in jail today”: Academics, activists raise concern

Campaign Against State Repression(CASR), a collective of over three dozen organisations, conducted a press conference on Friday at Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi on, Dangerous Brain: Saibaba and Others to scrutinise the Supreme Court judgement suspending Bombay High Court’s  acquittal order of Prof. GN Saibaba, Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Vijay Tirki and Mahesh Tikri. 

Advocate Colin Golsalves talked about two judgements on human rights defenders G N Saibaba and Umar Khalid, explaining how the Indian courts are giving judgements politically and not legally. Pointing out the SC verdict, he said that no court has the right to reject acquittal without quashing the order. On Umar Khalid’s case, the lawyer said that he has been boked for making provocative speech. But in Rangrajan case, it has been established that unless violence is being done, any speech even against government is not a crime. Umar Khalid was arrested for Delhi pogrom under UAPA, but the MP and MLA who instigated violence in Delhi pogroms are free.

In last Golsalves said that our friends who are in jail are new generation freedom fighters. “We are in a new emergency which is more dangerous than Indira Gandhi’s. The judgements of Supreme Court prove this. Today the biggest terrorist force in our country is the government itself,” he said.

Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand said that the Constitution orders that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the freedom of all citizens. But it is the first time that the SC Reversed order in a case where the accused has been acquitted. Citing the case of Jyoti Jagtap, he said that she has been denied bail because she criticized government through their songs,  means that there is no space in this democracy for criticism of the government.

“Same in Umar Khalid’s. All these cases must be seen in continuity. In Bhima Koregaon case too, the two Hindutva leaders accused were not arrested and instead activists were attacked. In CAA NRC case the duty of the police was to find out who were the writers and who planned the riots but instead the Delhi police arrested those who were involved in the anti CAA NRC protest,” said Apoorvanand.

He pointed out that on Friday, the Prime Minister said that we have to end all kinds of Naxalism, be it Naxalism of Gun or of pen. ”Today we need to realise that the urban Naxal conspiracy of the government is not only against these jailed people but against all the people of the nation for whom these people are raising their voice. It is our responsibility is to make this message reach to the masses.”

Muslim activist and student leader Sharjeel Usmani said that the best of people of the country are in jail today. “G N Saibaba is in jail because he stood against operation Green Hunt. Many press conferences have been held for him and most people try to awake emotions by talking about his health but the matter is not about is ill health or about the slogan “long live revolution” but this regime is actually against all those who speak,” said Usmani.

Usmani went on to say: ”Muslims are permanent minority in this country but apart from them there is another minority i.e., the people who are conscious and critical of the state’s actions. The rule of the majority by suppressing the minority is not democracy but hooliganism. We must keep on fighting.”

DU professor Saroj Giri talked about the arrestings of Hany Babu, Anand Teltumbde, Arun Ferreira, Siddiqui Kappan etc. He said that we must see it as a pattern this pattern is not dependent on what Supreme Court bench or who the CJI is but it depends on the state machinery including the security apparatus like NIA. Through the talking in detail about thecase of G N Saibaba, he explained how the state machinery works.

“It is not about any party or organisation, but the whole state character. Even if any other government wins the election, this crackdown will continue. We cannot understand the whole picture if we see the ruling BJP only,” he added.

DU Professor Manoranjan Mohanty was not able to attend the program physically, but he sent his message. He said “according to the SC judges, the Brain seems more dangerous to the rulers than actual actions. This judgement goes toencounter the basic practices and laws that have taken human civilization from the stage of oppression to that of better human conditions. In the past also, rulers have labelled such people as anti nationals, terrorists, rebels. Now it has become general scenario by the politicians, state agencies and even the Judiciary. He appealed to all democratic forces to join hands against this state repression.”

DU Professor Laxman Yadav started his speech by the slogan of Long live revolution. He qouted the last letter of Bhagat Singh in which he said that every drop of my blood shall being revolution. “But today, in the era of Amrit mahotsav, the word “revolution” is enough for someone to go to jail,” he said.

He said that it is difficult for those and their families who are in jail but more than their private loss, this is a bigger loss to the society and to the nation. “The professors lawyers, artists etc. are behind jail and those who must be in jail are ruling us, they are getting promotion so that they can give more hate speeches.” He said that it is not only about BJP but about the tendency which oppresses workers, farmers, dalit, minorities and adivasis. There is no use of good judges, good students or good people, in general, if they do not speak against injustice. He added that yesterday who were in jail are our leaders of today. “Those who are in jail today are fighting on behalf of all the people.”

Labour rights activist  Nodeep Kaur said that the activists are being labelled as Maoists or naxalites so we must talk about who Maoists are. 

“Maoists are people who started their struggle on some basic structural questions and rather than addressing such fundamental questions, the state is using “Maoist” tag to attack all who are critical of the state,” she said.

She added that there is no democracy left today. “All the four pillars of democracy have fallen. The state is waging a war against people.”

Sanjeev from CASR said that CASR was established to stand with those people who  victimised because they are fighting for the oppressed. 

“We all must raise our voices from our places, from our platforms. Like Dr. B R Ambedkar taught the oppressed to speak up against injustice. Likewise we must go among the masses and motivate them to speak up against all kinds of injustice,” he said.

Public meeting was concluded with a resolve to struggle for release of GN Saibaba, Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Mahesh Tirki and Vijay Tirki.

Navneet from CASR moderated the program and talked about the nature of increasing state repression by example of Saibaba’s case and the court argument in rejecting Umar Khalid’s bail plea.