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Samyukta Kisan Morcha Condemns UAPA Sanction by Delhi L-G on Esteemed Author Arundhati Roy and Academic Sheikh Showkat Hussain

DALJEET KAUR | June 20, 2024 11:14 PM

Modi-led NDA Government Once Again Attacking Freedom of Expression
SKM Demands Scrapping of Draconian UAPA
NEW DELHI: The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) finds it abhorrent that the BJP-led NDA government with PM Modi and Amit Shah at the helm have already begun the illegal prosecution of dissenting voices in the country. This time, the hammer of authoritarianism has fallen on noted author Arundhati Roy and former professor of law Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain. The draconian UAPA has been slapped on both individuals after a gap of 14 years, with Delhi L-G Vinay Kumar Saxena sanctioning the Delhi Police on June 14 to act on an FIR filed in 2010.

While Roy is being charged of making a ‘separatist speech’ regarding Kashmir, no such statement is available for Hussain. Further, in the last 14 years, there has been no incident of violence that can be traced to the alleged speech. A careful examination of the speech given by Roy shows that she had shown the lack of democracy existing in different parts of India, including Kashmir, Northeast and Central India. In her talk, she urged people to be on the side of justice, justice for even the weakest sections of society. Thus, it was more of a call for establishing a true democracy where people need not live under threat.

The slapping of UAPA reflects that the present government, although cut down to size in recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, nonetheless wishes to continue with its older line of clamping down on any dissent and branding it as ‘anti-national’. Thus, we have seen that the National Investigation Agency sent to jail 16 leading intellectuals and activists with false charges in the Bhima-Koregaon case. Student activists like Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and others too are behind bars for many years. We may also remember that last year, NewsClick Founder-Editor, Prabir Purakayastha was arrested under UAPA

Prof. G N Saibaba, famous Indian Scholar and former Assistant Professor of Delhi University was acquited by the judiciary after he spent 10 years in jail under UAPA. No compensation given to him and there was no punitive action against the officials responsible for such illegality.

What is interesting is that the parent organization of the BJP, the RSS has publicly asked the ruling party to respect the country’s Opposition. Speaking at an event in Nagpur three days before the UAPA sanction on Roy and Hussain, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat said that the Opposition should not be considered as an adversary in a democracy and their views should also come to light. Such high phrases are praiseworthy but only if they hold any real meaning. The truth remains that RSS holds no respect for either dissenters or the Opposition at large. Their silence as the police moves to arrest Roy and Hussain is proof of this.

The UAPA is single-handedly the most draconian law at the behest of this government to attack the Opposition. It is also patently unconstitutional and strikes at the very roots of Indian democracy. For these reasons, the law must be thrown into the dustbin of history. The SKM demands that all political prisoners in jail under the UAPA be released immediately, and that the UAPA is itself scrapped.

The SKM stands in complete solidarity with Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain.

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