“Criminalizing Political Beliefs: Black Laws & Political Prisoners ” Gathering for Human Rights.

New Delhi: The gathering was hosted by the Democratic student Discussion forum at Delhi University, under the theme of “Criminalizing Political Beliefs: Black Laws & Political Prisoners ”.

We should at least realize that the issue of political prisoners raises questions of immense ethical and social significance in front of the nation. How can a democratic state imprison thousands of its citizens solely on the basis of their political beliefs and actions, or for just trying to live in dignity and peace? Recently we saw the conviction of SIMI cases in Dhaar Madhya Pardesh, Prof. G.N. Saibaba and four others by Gadchiroli court for their political beliefs .

Gautam Navlakha of People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) pointed out that the Saibaba judgement reveals how the UAPA is a weapon that allows the government to enter into a conspiracy against those who dissent or have political opinions against it. we try to understand what need to make this type of black laws by government. The banning of organisations, proscribing their literature, punishing the membership of banned organisations ensures that information about the war the state is waging against its own people in different parts of India – in Kashmir, Manipur or Chhattisgarh – is suppressed under the guise of penalising “terrorist acts” and “terrorist organisations”, he stated. Navlakha also showed how the vast swathe of offences named in the UAPA, and the modus operandi prescribed by it, fell afoul of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Malem from CRPP said, we demand immediate release of all political prisoners, most of whom from the marginalized sections of the society like religious minorities, Dalits , Adivasis who are branded as ‘Maoists’, ‘terrorists’, ‘jihadis’, ‘anti-nationals’ etc.
From journalist K.K. Shahina to student Jyoti Babasaheb, From activist Arun Ferreira to teacher Wahid Sheikh, the list of people who have been tortured under UAPA is a long one.

Ansar Indori from NCHRO told Prof. Saibaba, who has taught in Delhi University and is 90% paralyzed, has been a vocal supporter of Adivasi rights and has opposed the corporate loot and plunder, displacement of Adivasis, land grab and heavy militarization by the state in mineral-rich Adivasi areas. The UAPA, by expanding the frontiers of what an “offence” means, actually criminalise people for their political conscience and beliefs, and not because they have committed any violent crimes. The annals of the UAPA’s use showed up a long history of politically motivated trials where successive governments in power had persecuted individuals and organisations.

We demand immediate repeal of all such draconian laws that have been used to persecute the poor, activists, journalists, students, juveniles, Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis and other oppressed class. Only way for a proper democracy to function, and the rule of law to be followed in both letter and spirit, was to repeal the draconian UAPA Act..The gathering was concluded with the vote of thanks delivered by Parbal Saran Agarwal.

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