‘Action against Teltumbde is criminalising of dissent’
Activists urge people to speak out against government; intellectual intimidation higher now than Emergency, says Sainath
Activists, writers and academics on Tuesday urged people to speak out against the government, pointing out that cases against Professor Anand Teltumbde were a part of the State’s crackdown on dissenting voices.
The press conference was organised by Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy, a collective of 41 organisations fighting for civil rights. Journalists P. Sainath and Niranjan Takle and author Urmila Pawar condemned the State’s action against Mr. Teltumbde, a well known academic and faculty member at the Goa Institute of Management.
Mr. Sainath said that though criminalising dissent did not start with the current government, it has been taken to another level in the last five years. “I am not surprised with what is happening to Mr. Teltumbde or Sudha Bharadwaj because they are among the most articulate intellectuals in the country,” he said. Intellectual intimidation by the present government was higher than what was experienced during the Emergency, he said.
“The incident in Bhima-Koregaon was part of a conspiracy and instead of locking up those behind it, the authorities are arresting those who are protesting against it,” Ms. Pawar said. She focused on the plight of Dalits across the country, especially the youth, who continue to be harassed across universities. She said that Dalit youth and women will not keep quiet at institutional violence meted to them.
Mr. Takle said no letters had ever been found during the investigations into the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi or Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Mr. Teltumbde has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for allegedly being an ‘urban-Maoist’ and being part of a consipracy to assassinate the PM. “This is not a figment of the imagination. It is part of a design,” he said. The path that the present government is on is strikingly similar to the Nazi governmen. “We know the path the Nazis took, but the people need not take this path. Everyone needs to speak out. If we don’t then the next generation will be deprived of the freedom we have,” he said.
Mr. Sainath highlighted the manner in which false cases were slapped on those who spoke out against State policies. There needs to be laws to ensure accountability where cases are deliberately framed against certain individuals, he said. During the Bhima-Koregaon violence over 600 cases were registered, but Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis later said that only the serious ones would be pursued. “It is a wonderfully honest admission that most of the cases were not serious,” Mr. Sainath said.
Courtesy: The Hindu