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Brutality of the state exposed on Fabricated Cases

New Delhi: ‘It has been established beyond doubt that the Indian police and investigative agencies have for years run a systematic campaign to brutalize citizens by way of punishing them for defending their homeland, farms and communities, or for simply belonging to a certain community that is labeled as being involved in terrorism’ said the interim jury recommendations at a two day peoples hearing on fabricated cases at the Constitution Club. Jury members included JusticeRajinder Sachar Dr. Ram Puniyani, Dr. Binayak Sen and journalists Saba Naqvi and Ajit Shahi.

The depositions from across the country thoroughly exposed the role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India.

The Jury also noted that ‘the Indian judiciary has for the large part been complicit in giving the police a free pass in this evil endeavor. This has only extended the ambit of misery that has incarcerated innocents for years, devastating lives and families’.

Saba Naqvi emphasized that the civil society groups, activists, and solidarity groups that work with the victims of fabricated cases and their families begin documenting in detail each such case around the country so that a single resource base is created to aid concerted action as well as to spread awareness.

Dr. Binayak Sen recommended that the campaigns explore the establishment of a legal support mechanism for the victims of fabricated cases so that they are supported throughout the life of their cases in pursuing a legal defense. He also added that the campaigns need to explore the possibility of bringing class actions suits and criminal law suits before the higher courts to plug the loopholes in the criminal jurisprudence system that lead to the fabrications.

Civil society groups at the meeting will ensure that National Human Rights Commissionand the state human rights commissions be pressured to create special cells devoted exclusively to dealing with fabricated cases on sedition and terrorism.

The public hearing also recommended that the government be pressured to bring action against police officers who are established to have forged evidences and fabricated such cases of terrorism and sedition against innocent citizens.

It is also recommended that the campaigns work towards taking the issue of fabricated cases of sedition and terrorism to international civil rights forums, and evaluate the application of the various international protocols that relate to the practice of war.

On the second day of the peoples hearing depositions were made on behalf of Kerala politician Abdul Nasser Maudany by former MP Sebastian Paul and Omar Mukhtar, the eldest son of Maudany. Suresh Velamanoor from the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM) spoke about how the Kerala police branded his organization as a terrorist outfit.

Anjum Habib from the Muslim Khwateen Markaz ( Muslim Womens Organisation) in Kashmir spoke about how she was falsely implicated under POTA and spent five years inTihar Jail. Neena Ningombam and Babloo Loitongbam from Manipur spoke about tragic cases of more than 1500 young people who were killed in extra judicial encounters. Ningombam spoke about the loss of her husband in a fake encounter and her continuing struggle for justice not just for herself but hundreds of young widows in Manipur.

The final jury recommendations and report of the meeting will soon be released by the organizers.

For more information contact:

Wilfred D Costa- 011-26517814. Email:
P T George – 011-26560133. Email:
Sajeed K. –08891163485 Email:

Sedition law is against spirit of democracy

From The Times of India:

Dr. Binayak Sen

I was convicted of sedition (section 124 of the IPC) on December 24 (Christmas eve), 2009, and awarded life imprisonment by the additional sessions judge, Raipur. I had already spent two years in jail as an undertrial before the Supreme Court granted me bail. Following my conviction, another four months was spent in a solitary cell before the Supreme Court suspended the sentence and granted bail, remarking in the process that there did not seem to be any evidence against me. A hearing of my appeal in the Chhattisgarh High Court is now awaited.

Afew days ago, human rights organizations gathered in Delhi to welcome back from jail Seema Azaad, the general secretary of the UP PUCL. She had also been convicted of sedition and awarded life sentence on the basis of some innocuous documents found in her possession , and then was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court after having spent two-and-a-half years in jail.

I was reminded of all these events when i joined the Mumbai Press Club to greet the young cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi, following his release from jail on September 12. He had spent four days in jail after being charged with sedition , allegedly because of the content of some of his cartoons . These charges were deemed to be so patently absurd that Aseem’s incarceration aroused a storm of protest, resulting in his prompt release.

Sedition is said to have occurred when any attempt is made to bring the government of the day into disaffection . Mohandas Gandhi was convicted of sedition by the British Imperial government in 1922. Arguing his own case, Gandhi told the judge that he had no affection for the British government and, moreover, he felt it was his duty to inform his fellow citizens as to why he had no affection for it. While convicting Gandhi, the British judge felt it necessary to apologize to Gandhi for his act, to which he was bound by his duty as a judge.

Such stories are part of the folklore of sedition, and create the impression that sedition is about well-known or relatively resourceful people standing up to a bumbling state power. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important lesson i learnt in jail was that there are vast numbers of people accused of sedition and incarcerated for this reason. To take just one example, several hundred very ordinary men and women participating in the peaceful anti-nuclear agitation in Kudankulam have been charged with sedition.

The state today stands guarantor, under the doctrine of eminent domain, to a country-wide process of expropriation of common property resources — land, water, forest, minerals and traditional knowledge such as knowledge of biodiversity. Communities, whose survival is dependent on their access to common property resources, find their survival threatened by this process of expropriation. Resisting this process becomes key to the survival of these communities , and the law of sedition is one of the important resources deployed by the state in order to suppress this entirely legitimate resistance. Communities cannot be expected to acquiesce in their own extinction, but the state seems perfectly prepared to deploy its resources, both juridical and military, in order to ensure that its writ should run.

The application of sedition is also contrary to the spirit of a democratic polity. After all, the process of building up political alternatives has to be based on holding — and advocating — views that are contrary to those held by the current holders of power. Sedition serves the power holder very well, because any heterodox opinion can promptly be limited by being safely put away. Human rights workers and their organizations across the country have come together to press for repeal of the sedition law and other similar laws. They are jointly engaged in a signature campaign, and a series of public meetings, to petition Parliament for the prompt repeal of these archaic and antidemocratic legal formulations, which constitute a real danger to the development of a genuinely democratic polity.

The writer is an academician, pediatrician and a human rights activist

Campaigning with Aseem Trivedi against Sedition Laws

Fellow sedition accused Binayak Sen shared the dais with Aseem Trivedi after the latter’s release from jail, where he made it clear that he was there only to support the cause against the outdated law

“I haven’t seen the cartoons but I have come to support Aseem Trivedi as he is fighting against sedition, the same charges that have been levied against me.” These words were spoken by Dr Binayak Sen, activist and paediatrician who has been accused of sedition by the government of India, and has now committed himself to fighting against sedition laws in the country.

Solidarity: Binayak Sen was present at the support meet for Trivedi, after the cartoonist was finally released from jail. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Sen was present at the support meet for Trivedi, after the cartoonist was finally released from jail. Trivedi had been charged with sedition and put behind the bars on Saturday.

The 24-year-old was released from the Arthur Road jail yesterday afternoon. While he wasn’t ready to accept the bail granted to him on Tuesday, he subsequently changed his mind.

Immediately after his release, Trivedi headed towards the Mumbai Press Club, where he and Sen addressed the media. While Trivedi appeared to be trying to establish his closeness to Sen and his crusade, the latter appeared somewhat uncomfortable.

Trivedi said, “We will fight against the sedition charges together. This is an archaic law that has put even freedom fighters like Gandhi and Tilak behind bars. I am fighting against this law now, and in the future I am sure everyone else would join the fight – the whole of India would fight against this law.”

Trivedi claimed that his cartoons hold up a mirror to society and represent what is happening in the nation. He announced that he would draw cartoons of the Mumbai police, and his cartoons would continue to provide sharp criticism of wrongdoings.

Trivedi, along with his friends, plans to leave for Delhi today. “We have a small group in Delhi that has been fighting to raise the voice of the common man,” said Alok Dixit, Trivedi’s friend.

While Binayak shared the same dais as Trivedi, he reiterated that his presence was only due to the fact that he too is fighting against the sedition laws in the country, and wants them to be abolished completely. However, Sen wasn’t ready to make any comment on Trivedi’s cartoons.

“I am here to support the cause that sedition laws should be abolished, I have initiated a signature campaign against this law and expect lakhs to sign it,” said Sen.

Asked if Sen would enlist himself as part of Anna’s campaign, he was prompt in replying, “I have nothing to do with Anna currently, I am here to talk on a different issue.”

Sen, who was arrested for keeping banned literature, was asked if he still has ‘those’ kinds of books with him. He said, “Being an academician, I have too much literature, and I don’t know what ‘those’ or ‘these’ kind of books are.”

Allahabad HC grants bail to Seema Azad, Vishvijay

From The Times of India:

LUCKNOW: The Allahabad High Court has granted bail to journalist and civil right activist Seema Azad and her husband Vishvijay. The couple were convicted by a lower court on June 8, 2012, on charges of sedition. They were accused of having links with banned Maoist outfit and were held guilty for ‘waging war against the nation’.

The bail was granted by a division bench comprising Justice Dharnidhar Jha and Justice Akhok Pal Singh. Counsel for the couple Ravi Kiran Jain argued before the court that there was no concrete evidence with the police which can prove that the couple were engaged in naxal activity. He also said that having Naxal literature to study for the purpose of journalist does not amount to any connection with Naxals. Jain also said that Azad and her husband had exposed illegal mining being carried out in Allahabad and adjoining areas by the mafia in connivance with the government officers and police. The couple was implicated in a false case for writing about illegal mining.

Seema Azad’s case is similar to that of Dr Vinayak Sen, who was also implicated by the Chhatisgarh police, for alleged naxal connections. The Uttar Pradesh (UP) chapters of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have welcomed the court’s decision.

“We had full confidence in the judician system,” said Vandana Mishra, secretary PUCL, UP. At the time of arrest Seema was also state secretary of the PUCL and publishing a magazine ‘Dastak’ in which she had written several articles on illegal mining. The couple were also involved in sensitising people on violation of their rights and raised human rights issues.

The Special Task Force (STF) of UP had arrested the couple in February 2010 and had claimed to have recover Maoist literature and large amount of cash from their possession. They were charged with having association with a banned organization, the Communist Party of India (Maoist). After arrest, the STF handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of UP making it a case involving ‘terrorist activity’. In its charge sheet submitted in the court, the ATS claimed that the couple were involved in inciting people through CD, laptops and books. The court held the couple guilty and awarded them life term.

After detaining the couple, the police had then said that two activists were arrested at the Allahabad railway station. However, in the FIR lodged later at the Khuldabad police station, police showed that the couple were arrested by the STF from Khuldabad in Allahabad.

The police had then also claimed that it found incriminating material which included a detailed programme of Krantikari Jan Committee, pamphlets carrying message of CPI (Maoist), a pamphlet related to the arrest of Kobad Gandhi, a pamphlet on arrest of Naxal and Maoist functionaries and members in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

Happy Birthday, Seema Azad!

Seema Azad’s bail petition is scheduled to come up for hearing in the Allahabad High Court tomorrow, Monday, August 6th. Everyone is hopeful that she will be granted bail. In the meanwhile, today was a day to celebrate Seema’s birthday and demand her release. The event at Jantar Mantar in Delhi organized by PUCL, Jan Hastakshep, PUDR and several other organizations, was lively. Resounding slogans were raised in support of Seema and her husband Vishwavijay as well as in support of Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi, Kartam Joga, Jiten Marandi and others. Among those joining the occasion were Seema’s co-accused Anu (a.ka. Kanchan), who is currently out on bail, Dr. Binayak Sen, Kavita Srivastava, Himanshu Kumar, Ajay TG, Prashant Rahi, Ravi Kumar Jain (Seema’s wonderful lawyer), Bezwada Wilson, Mahtab Alam, Panini Anand, Prabhakar Sinh and many others. It was particularly heartrending how many of these are people who have themselves been wronged by the justice system and are out on bail only due to the tireless work of their families, lawyers, activists and other supporters. The highlight of the evening was a captivating play written and performed by Anu and friends. Touching on a gamut of topics dealing with the depredations in the name of development, the nexus between the politicians, “industrialists” and the police and, most of all, the resistance to it, it kept the audience spellbound. In fact the policemen posted for the occasion at the venue by the Delhi administration seemed drawn in by the performance. We suspect at least some of them would have broken out in applause but for their own fear of their superiors.