Arrest warrants against rights activists: Jharkhand, Maharashtra govts ‘collaborate’
Condemning the arrest warrant issued against Stan Swamy, Aloka Kujur, Vinod Kumar, Rakesh Roshan Kiro and Babita Kashyap on June 19, 2019, in relation to FIR filed on July 26, 2018 for “waging war” against the state, sedition, conspiracy, and Sections 66 and 66A IT Act “based simply on their Facebook posts”, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) has said it is “part of the continued wave of repressive measures” unleashed by government authorities.
PUDR said, this has been happening against the backdrop of the Jharkhand government FIR 124/2018 at Khunti PS against 20 writers, intellectuals and activists against the Pathalgarhi movement in the state over June-July 2018, wherein more than 300 villagers have also been slapped with sedition cases without their knowledge, and there has been deployment of security forces, raids and constant surveillance over the past one year.
“The arrest warrant has been issued close to one year after the FIR was filed, with no follow-up investigation, even though the Supreme Court has struck down S.66A as unconstitutional as far back as 2015, and has held repeatedly that sedition cannot be invoked to target speech, unless there is direct incitement to violence”, PUDR said.
“Yet, the Jharkhand government continues its fear tactics against writers and activists working or writing on issues of land rights and the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) for adivasis in the state. Without taking lawful action on FIR, those named in the FIR have been subject to raids and continued surveillance, even as a petition for quashing the FIR remains pending before the Ranchi High Court since last year without a hearing”, it added.
Referring to the recent “attack” on Stan Swamy, who is 80 plus, PUDR said, “He was one of the six activists whose houses were raided on the morning of August 28, 2018 as part of the Maharashtra government’s conspiracy related to Bhima Koregaon, and his premises have been raided again on June 12, 2019. As he continues to be threatened as part of that conspiracy, the Jharkhand government, on the encouragement of the CID, is attempting to further target him through the present FIR.”