Condolence Meeting- Young revolutionary and cultural organiser Shalini passes away #RIP



Announcements – 4 April 2013

Condolence meeting in memory of Shalini, president of Janchetna Books Society, 5 PM, Janchetna, D-68, Nirala Nagar, Lucknow. Organised by: Janchetna and Rahul Foundation. 

Delhi. Shalini, a young revolutionary and a strong piller of several
important projects of publication and distribution of progressive, left and
revolutionary literature, passed away yesterday here at late night. She was
admitted to Delhi’s Dharmshila hospital on the evening of 27 March where
she was being treated since last January. On the morning of 28 March, as
her blood pressure dipped very low, she was shifted to ICU where she
breathed her last on the 29 March at around 11:25 pm.

Apart from being an enthusiastic social organiser, Shalini was also the
president of the society of the ‘Janchetna’ Bookshop, member of the Board
of Trustees of ‘Anurag Trust’, executive member of ‘ Rahul Foundation’ and
director of Parikalpna publication. Shalini’s 18 years of revolutionary
life was an example of a life full of sacrifices, combativeness,
uncompromising and principled attitude.

Her comrade and famous poetess Katyayani said that like a true communist,
Shalini faced all the pain valiantly till her last breath and was committed
to her life goal and communist values till the end. She wanted to donate
her body for the medical reusearch but could not get opportunity to
complete the legal formalities for this. As per her wish, her body was
wrapped with the red flag and and in the presence of her fellow travellers
of struggle, she was cremated in the electric crematorium at Lodhi Road on
the evening of 30th March.

A Revolutionary Life

Comrade Shalini’s political life began in her teens. She devoted her life
for revolution since 1995. She was active on student, woman and cultual
front in this duration. She was a strong piller of several important
projects of publication and distribution of progressive, left and
revolutionary literature.

Apart from participating in the publication of Marxist literature and
other activities in Rahul Foundation, Shalini took up the responsibility of
being the incharge of the Janchetna centre in Gorakhpur and Allahabad.
Since 2004, she had been looking after the responsibilities of the central
office and book shop of Janchetna in Lucknow. Apart from this, she had also
been assisting in the publication activities of Parikalpana, Rahul
Foundation and Anurag Trust. She also looked after the activities at the
main offices of Anurag Trust (library, reading room, children’s workshops
etc.). Shalini also took up the responsibility of the management of the
central library of ‘Arvind Memorial Trust’.

Shalini was a hard-working, young communist organiser with a rich
experience of eighteen years of difficult and turbulent political life full
of ups and downs. With an unwavering faith in communism, she did political
work like a labourer. She never looked back or compromised once she decided
her goal in life. Even when her father degenerated due to his vested
interests and class arrogance and started a campaign of slandering and
character-assassination, Shalini completely broke her relations with him
without a second’s delay.

It was in the second week of January that she was diagnosed with cancer in
Lucknow after which her treatment began in Delhi’s Dharmshila Hospital
Delhi. During the last three months, despite unbearable pain,she never lost
her morale and till the end she was hopeful of rejoining her front of the
people’s emancipation after getting well. She was a foundation stone of the
attempts of the revolutionary social change in India in the true sense of
the term and her life will continue to be an eternal source of inspiration
for her fellow travellers.

(Katyayani)

Secretary, Janchetna

(Rambabu)

President,AnuragTrust Secretary,

(Satyam)

Rahul Foundation

 

#India- Girl gets ‘fate of #Delhigangrape’ threat- #WTFNEWS #Vaw


 #India- Chastity, Virginity, Marriageability, and Rape Sentencing #Vaw  #Justice #mustread
PTI
Allahabad, January 19, 2013

A student of the Allahabad University allegedly sent an e-mail to a classmate he was infatuated with, threatening her that she will meet “the same fate as the victim of the Delhi gang-rape” if she spurned his advances, a varsity official today said. Chairperson of the University’s Women’s

Advisory Board Ranjana Kakkar told reporters in Allahabad that a girl student approached her with a complaint about the offensive e-mail she had received a few days earlier. 

“Needless to say, we are all shocked at the depravity that seems to have permeated among those privileged to have good education,” Kakkar said, adding the identity of both students would not be revealed.

The girl in her complaint alleged that a classmate threatened her in the e-mail that she would “meet the same fate as the victim of the Delhi gang-rape” if she spurned his advances.

“We are mulling over meting out a punishment to the boy that sets an example and deters others from behaving with their female classmates in an improper manner,” she said, adding that the boy student would be given a chance to “redeem” himself.

 

#India- 15- year- old set on fire after failed rape attempt, is critical #Vaw #Wtfnews


CHILDRAPE

By IANS – LUCKNOW

07th January 2013

A 16-year-old in Uttar Pradesh‘s Allahabad town is battling for life with 70 percent burns after she was set on fire allegedly by her neighbour who attempted to rape her. When she fought off his attempts, he returned with his parents and doused her with kerosene, police said Monday.

The incident took place Saturday in Shankargarh locality in Allahabad, about 230 km from here, Saturday. Police swung into action late Sunday after women’s groups protested inaction.

Mohit Agarwal, senior superintendent of police in Allahabad, said teams were looking for the alleged attacker, 20-year-old Gyan Patel, and his parents.

The girl, who is battling death with more than 70 percent burns, has been admitted to a city medical facility, an official said.

Police have lodged a first information report (FIR) and are conducting raids to arrest the assailant and his parents, who allegedly connived in the crime. An official said the girl has three sisters and is a Class 10 student at a local inter college. Her father is a vegetable vendor.

Giving details of the crime, an official said the teenager was alone at home when Patel barged into the hutment and tried to force himself on her. The girl fought him back bravely and managed to foil the rape bid.

Patel then fled the scene, only to return with his father Santosh Patel and mother Geeta. They then doused the unsuspecting girl in kerosene and set her on fire, police said.

Her sisters, who had gone to bring water from a nearby well, saw smoke coming out from their house and rushed back to see their younger sister was burning. They managed to douse the flames but not before the girl was severely burnt.

Neighbours called in an ambulance, which rushed her to a hospital where her condition is stated to be serious. Senior police officials swung into action only after local social worker Manju Pathak intervened Sunday afternoon.

Superintendent of Police (Crime) Arun Pandey went to the hospital and recorded the statement of the girl who narrated the horrifying act of the neighbour.

She also said Patel warned her against going to the police, saying he would contest the case by selling off his agriculture land and tractor whereas she would lose the case.

 

INVITATION- Seema Azad and Vishwavijay – speak in JNU on 3rd September


The singer was singing
And they question him
Why do you sing?
He answers them
as they seize him
Because I sing
And they have searched him:
In his breast only his heart
In his heart only his people
In his voice only his sorrow
In his sorrow only his prison
And they have searched his prison
To find only themselves in chains
Mahmoud Darwish

Friends,
As it is well known Seema Azad and Vishwavijay, two civil rights activists,

editor of a well known magazines and literary persons were arrested in
2010, were arrested from Khuldabad, Allahabad. Their ‘crime’ was that
they possessed literature of Bhagat Singh. The state saw them as ‘potential
terrorists’ as threat to the country. They were sentenced for life on charges
of criminal conspiracy, waging war and under several provisions of the
draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
As the Organising Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in
Uttar Pradesh and editor of the  magazine Dastak Seema had
consistently reported and gave  voice to the growing dissent of the
people against the anti-people  policies of the government in the
form of Ganga Expressway which  brought forth the nexus of the
politicians, bureaucrats and the  land mafia. As we may recall the
Ganga Expressway can result in  the displacement of thousands of
peasantry. It was her initiative to  expose the increasing arbitrary
arrests, torture and incarceration  of Muslim youth in Azamgarh.

The magazine Dastak became a vehicle for expressing the voice of the
voiceless. And this is precisely what the government would want us to
believe as ‘waging war against the state’! And this is why the police officer
would find fault with both of them, for ‘waging war’ with the state, for
reading Bhagat Singh at a time when the state is flaunting a sham ‘growth
rate’, but the material condition of the people are deteriorating every day!
The verdict against Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay w against the grain of
fundamental rights of the people of the subcontinent as it goes a long way
in criminally profiling any political dissent or opinion or even spreading
that as ‘waging war’ against the state. The state would tell us how we
should think and express ourselves. We can be only part of the state in
‘managing’ the perception of the people.

Seema and Vishwavijay were finally granted bail by the Allahabad High
Court this August. Huge public pressure that was mounted on the court by
consistent campaign by civil rights and democratic activists finally forced
the court to grant them bail. Although this is indeed a huge victory for the
democratic movement, it is also a grim reminder that even now thousands
of activists including cultural activists are still being incarcerated after
being framed as ‘terrorists’ or ‘extremists’ just because they dare to raise
their voices against exploitation and oppression of the people. Sudhir
Dhawale, Jeetan Marandi, Deepak Dengle or Utpal Bashke are a few
among the thousands who are languishing in various jails of the country,
charged with the ‘crime’ of being fearless cultural and literary activists who
stood by people’s resistance for land, livelihood and dignity. The fight to
release all these political prisoners must go on. As a part of that effort, we
invite you to this convention, where along with Seema and Vishwavijay
many other well known poets and writers will raise their voice against the
war that has been declared on our
fundamental rights by the Indian state.

उठाने ही होंगे  अभिव्यभि केख़तरे दमन के भख़लाफ़ प्रभतरोध की सस्ं कृभत

Uthane hi honge abhivyakti ke khatre: daman ke khilaf pratirodh ki sanskriti”

Speakers:
Seema Azad
Vishwavijay
Anjani
Manager pandey
Pankaj Bisht
Mangalesh Dabral
Madan Kas

Ranjit Verma
Neelabh Ashq
Anuj Lugun
Kapilesh Bhoj
Prashant Rahi
Vidrohi

3rd of September in SSS Auditorium JNU at 2pm.

Seema Azad, Vishwavijay step out of Allahabad Jail


 

 

By Ajit Sahi8/7/12, Newzfirst

 

ALLAHABAD – Human rights activists and journalists Seema Azad and her husband, Vishwavijay, Tuesday stepped out of Allahabad‘s prison 30 months after they were arrested on February 6, 2010 on charges of being Maoist rebels.

“This was sudden and unexpected,” a beaming Azad told her parents, siblings and friends of the decision of the Allahabad High Court a day earlier to grant them bail.

The duo had been convicted on June 8 of the charges and sentenced to life in prison. But the high court judges, Dharnidhar Jha and Ashokpal Singh, wrote that “no evidence of waging war against state was available”, and granted them bail.

The family had waited for an hour outside the jail in the rain before Azad and Vishwavijay stepped out. She touched the feet of her parents who were both visibly quiet and smiling. As if on cue, the rain had stopped by then.

Azad and Vijay, wife and husband, were given life imprisonment each on June 8 by a sessions court here. The judge had found them guilty of being members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The couple denied the charge.

Police here had arrested the duo on February 6, 2010 as Azad returned from New Delhi where she was visiting An international book fair. Her husband, who had gone to fetch her from the railway station, too, was arrested.

They were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The prosecution claimed banned seditious literature had been found on the couple.

 

Allahabad HC grants bail to Seema Azad, Vishvijay convicted for #sedition #goodnews


, TNN | Aug 6, 2012, 01.45PM IST

LUCKNOW: The Allahabad High Court has granted bail to journalist and civil right activistSeema 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 BiharJharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

How are legitimate citizens converted into public enemies?


– By Ilina Sen
[ PUCL Bulletin, August 2012, www.pucl.org ]

On June 26, as we remembered the clamping down of the internal Emergency on the people of the sovereign democratic republic of India 38-years ago, why is that our thoughts turn, almost as if drawn by a magnet, to the history of jurisprudence in the city of Allahabad?

The dark history of the Emergency, a time when all civil and constitutional freedoms stood suspended, was triggered by a series of events in the corridors of the Allahabad judicial establishment – a time when the judiciary elected not to oblige the political establishment, and countermanded the irregular election of the politician laying claim to the highest office in the country. Although the entire country underwent a trial by fire after this, the Indian public institutions, especially the judiciary gained hugely in terms of its reputation for independence and fearlessness.

Today, it is another judgement coming out of the judicial corridors at Allahabad that has us mesmerised, and this time for different reasons. The conviction under sections of the IPC and UAPA of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay and the sentence of life  imprisonment given to them earlier this month has sent shock waves among Indian citizens not because these two were special people in any sense. Many of us did not know them, but their arrests, trial and conviction has once more highlighted the malevolent way in which the internal security laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) are used. More frighteningly, this has demonstrated the close nexus between the prosecuting agencies and the judicial system.  The independence of the judicial process on which we once prided ourselves is nowhere in evidence.

The lengthy judgement convicting and sentencing Seema and her husband on charges of waging war against the State rests on the evidence of 14 witnesses, 12 of whom are police personnel involved in their arrest and its documentation, and two others are officials belonging to the telephone department. There is not a  single public witness, and in a sense this is fair enough because there is nowhere any mention of anything to be witness to. No act of violence or criminality is alleged anywhere, in which they are  supposed to have been involved. The items seized from them and sealed after their arrest have been illegally opened in the police station ‘for inspection’, and they are assumed  to be responsible for certain literature that is critical of state policy only on the grounds that this was found in their house. Nowhere is there any specific act or deed that endangers the state even attributed to them, and their conviction on serious national security charges is entirely on the basis of generalities.  The court’s conclusion can only be explained by the fact that the court refused to assume the innocence of the accused.

The judgment pronounced by the sessions court at Allahabad in the case of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay is a perfect example of how, in the name of combating terrorism or Maoism, a large number of halftruths, inadmissible evidence, procedural violations and a paranoid piece of legislation can convert legitimate citizens into public enemies. The implied embargo on reading critical literature goes against the spirit of our Constitution.  If judicial pronouncements of this nature are allowed to pass into the realm of acceptability, we are really at the beginning of a second National Emergency, with our rights and spaces suspended. The Indian people will no doubt resist this attempt to curtail their constitutional rights; but this time round, do we have the judiciary with us in our struggle?

A Stick Called 124(A) The State finds a handy tool in a colonial law to quell dissent


Outlokk-National Magazine | Jul 02, 2012

 


Sentenced Seema and her husband Vijay being taken to jail
sedition law: misuse

Panini Anand, Debarshi Dasgupta

Wrong Arm Of The Law
Why ‘sedition’ rings hollow in India 2012

The law Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code, 1870; non-bailable offence

The definition Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India

The accusers Other than the State, even individuals are free to file charges

The punishment Imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

The misuse While the Supreme Court has specifically laid down that the provisions of section 124(A) are only made out where there is a tendency to public disorder by use of violence or incitement to violence, the clause has been grossly misused. While convictions are rare, the long and tortuous legal process is seen as a deterrent to others.

The victims The law is being used to punish fierce critics of the government, including political
dissenters, human rights activists and journalists

Global status

UK abolished sedition laws in 2010
New Zealand repealed it in 2008

Prakash Ram, a farmer from a village near Haldwani in Uttarakhand, had never heard of Mao Tse Tung. Ironically enough, his first lesson on Chairman Mao and his ideology came not from some gun-toting guerrilla but the Uttarakhand police. Accusing him of being a Maoist, they arrested him oncharges of sedition on August 30, 2004. It has taken eight years for the 28-year-old to be finally cleared of the taint, by the Rudrapur sessions court this month. “I spent two of the best years of my life behind bars (he was granted bail in 2006) and six more years in my legal battle for justice,” he says. “I may be free now but this arrest has spoilt my reputation and will make it difficult for me to get work. Who will pay for this? Will someone be held responsible?”

The dark days of Emergency, rung in 37 years ago this week, may have become a distant memory for some, but for many others, an Emergency-like situation is a recurring reality. Just as in 1975 and the year after, when the State suppressed dissent and abolished civil rights, the democratic republic of India continues to target disaffected voices and accuse of sedition anyone it sees as a threat.

Lost years Prakash Ram, a farmer from Haldwani, accused of being a Maoist. (Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari)

Rajinder Sachar, a retired chief justice of the Delhi High Court, thinks the situation today is actually worse. “In 1975,” he says, “the Emergency was more of a political game played by one political party but now everyone is restricted from speaking. One law after the other is passed, stopping one from speaking openly. A situation is being created where anybody can be declared anti-national. We are actually going through an undeclared Emergency.”

One of the latest victims of Section 124(A), a law that deals with sedition and which is a handy tool for the government to target trenchant critics, is Seema Azad and her husband Vishwa Vijay. A journalist couple from Allahabad, they had written fearlessly about corruption and illegal mining in Uttar Pradesh. Charged with sedition, the two were sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 70,000 by a sessions court in Allahabad on June 8.

Seema and Vijay were arrested in February 2010 at the Allahabad railway station on their return from New Delhi. They were accused of being members of the banned CPI (Maoist) group simply because the police deemed the literature recovered from them to be “anti-national”. Their advocate Ravi Kiran Jain argues that this verdict ignores the observations the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court made in 2011 while hearing the bail plea of Dr Binayak Sen, who too was charged with sedition. “If someone has the autobiography of Gandhi at his home, will he be called a Gandhian,” the apex court had famously asked the prosecution lawyer. “Even in this case,” says Jain, “Seema and her husband were simply in possession of some literature on Maoism. This does not make them Maoists.” The advocate now plans to file an appeal on behalf of the duo in the Allahabad High Court.

 

Mission aborted Salem’s Piyush Sethia

Other than Dr Sen and the Allahabad couple, there were at least six other high-profile cases involving sedition in 2010. They include Arundhati Roy, who was booked under Section 124(A) for making a speech supporting azadi in Kashmir, and Salem-based environmental activist Piyush Sethia, who was accused of sedition for disrupting a Republic Day ceremony in Salem in 2010 by attempting to distribute a controversial anti-mining leaflet. In fact, things took on a farcical turn when Srinagar-based lecturer Noor Mohammed Bhatt was slapped with the sedition charge in December the same year for including a question in an English paper asking if stone-pelters were the real heroes and asking students to translate from Urdu to English a passage that read, “Kashmiri blood is being spilled like water, Kashmiri children are being killed by police and Kashmiri women are being showered with bullets.”

There is no official record of the total number of cases involving sedition, but the sudden spurt in such cases has generated much concern. Civil rights groups have launched a nationwide campaign to have the law repealed. Says veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who was in jail during the Emergency, “The sedition law is a weapon in the hand of the State which evokes doubts, suspicion and hatred in the mind of the people against whom the charges are made. Such an undemocratic and anti-people law must be repealed immediately. In fact, it should have been done many years back.” Most of these cases (see Memories of Another Day) have targeted people who have fearlessly spoken up for the rights of the marginalised, especially the Dalits and tribals.

It was for this reason that Sudhir Dhawale, a Dalit rights activist from Mumbai, was picked up by the Maharashtra police from Wardha in January last year for being a “Naxal supporter”. Still lodged in a Nagpur jail, many speculate the real reason he was picked up was his writings and activities that helped mobilise Dalits for their rights. Like him, Gananath Patra, the 73-year-old convenor of Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangh in Narayanpatna in Orissa, too was charged with sedition and put behind bars in January 2010. He was released on bail earlier this month due to poor health but on the condition that he must not engage in any activism. He had earlier helped tribals in and around Narayanpatna take back around 10,000 acres of land that had been forcefully acquired from them.

Of course, it is activism in areas under the grip of left-wing extremism that the government is extremely sensitive about. Sethia, the Salem-based activist, found himself in the crosshairs precisely for this. Carrying pamphlets criticising Operation Green Hunt, he was set to spread his message cycling all the way to Sivaganga, the constituency Union home minister P. Chidambaram represents. However, the Tamil Nadu police arrested him in Salem itself, even before he could distribute the pamphlets at the R-Day ceremony there. Out on bail since February 2010, the sedition charges still hold. The real cause for his arrest though, Sethia believes, is his fight against illegal mining in the region. He was the main litigant in a case in the Madras High Court that resulted in the closure of a local mining unit that belonged to Vedanta. Funnily enough, there has not been a single hearing in Sethia’s case so far. “Either they should drop the charges, or they should go ahead with the case and finish it off. It is a sort of leash on my activities,” says Sethia, whose questioning gaze encompasses areas like the Forests Rights Act and water pollution and privatisation.

The nuclear flashpoint Koodankulam agitators are viewed with suspicion

Nuclear energy is another area that the government, including at the state level, has begun to get touchy about. The slightest whiff of opposition is promptly dismissed as anti-national. Little wonder then that as many as 3,500 protesters were charged with sedition in the aftermath of the Koodankulam protests in Tamil Nadu, where locals were agitating against the construction of a nuclear power plant. Says V. Suresh, an advocate at the Madras High Court and someone who has spent time with the locals, “While laws are meant to protect the people, in this case, the sedition law has been clearly misused by the government to further its interests.”

Anand Swaroop Verma, Delhi-based editor of monthly journal Samkaleen Teesri Duniya, expresses concern at a different level. This crackdown by the State, he says, has been met with only rare instances of media criticism and scrutiny. He attributes this to a media cooption strategy which ensures reporting of sedition cases is largely favourable towards the government. “Six years back, the PM, in a conference on internal security with CMs, had urged them to coopt the media and get them to play a more positive role in the fight against terrorism,” he adds. The media, of course, often colludes wilfully.

Even when filed on flimsy grounds, the legal hassles and harassment the sedition charge involves serve as a deterrent to others, forced as they are to think twice before taking on the might of the State. Ask E. Rati Rao, vice president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Karnataka. While she was booked under sedition for asking uncomfortable questions on encounter deaths in the Malanadu area in October 2007, the case against her was dismissed in September 2010 after the police failed to file a chargesheet. “All they wanted to do was just terrorise me, and by doing so, terrorise others,” she says. “This sedition law and democracy do not go together. It is leading the State towards fascism.”

For a Congress-led government that draws its inspiration and legacy from Jawaharlal Nehru, it would do well to act on what the country’s first prime minister had to say on the sedition clause in a parliamentary debate in 1951 on the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Now so far I am concerned that particular section (124-A) is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should have no place both for practical and historical reasons…the sooner we get rid of it the better.”

***

Memories Of Another Day

How a repressive 19th-century law is being indiscriminately unleashed on citizens fighting for the rights of their fellow citizens

  • Jogendra Chandra Bose The first case, in 1891, when the editor of Bangobasi was charged for criticising the British govt’s move to raise the age on consensual sex from 10 to 12, and for commenting on the negative economic impact of British colonialism
    Mahatma Gandhi Charged, along with Shankerlal Banker, the proprietor of Young India, for three articles in the weekly. Convicted in 1922.
    Balgangadhar Tilak The British govt alleges his speeches instigated the murder of two British officers. Convicted in 1897, 1905, 1916.
    Manoj Shinde Editor, Surat Saamna, charged in Aug ’06 for using “abusive words” against Narendra Modi in an editorial alleging administrative failure in tackling the Surat flood situation
    Kahturam Sunani Journalist, OTV, Charged in May 2007 in Sinapali, Orissa, for filing a report that Pahariya tribals were consuming ‘soft’ dolomite stones in Nuapada district due to acute hunger.
    Binayak Sen Doctor & Human Rights Activist. Charged in May 2007 in Raipur for allegedly helping courier messages to Maoist leaders. Sen had criticised the Chhattisgarh govt’s support to the vigilante group Salwa Judum.
    E. Rati Rao Resident Editor, Varthapatra, charged in Oct 2007 2010 in Mysore, Karnataka, for an article alleging encounter deaths in Karnataka.
    Prashant Rahi, Journalist, charged in Dec 2007 for allegedly possessing Naxal literature
    Bharat Desai Resident Editor, Times of India, Ahmedabad Gautam Mehta Photographer, Gujarat Samachar Charged in Jun 2008 for articles and photographs alleging links between the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner and the underworld
    Kirori Singh Bainsla Gujjar community leader Charged in Jun 2008 in Bayana, Rajasthan, for leading an agitation demanding ST status for Gujjars
    Lenin Kumar Editor, Nishan, Charged in Dec 2008 in Bhubaneshwar for publishing a booklet on the Kandhamal riots entitled ‘Dharmanare Kandhamalre Raktonadhi’ (Kandhamal’s rivers of blood)
    Laxman Choudhury Journalist, Sambadh, Charged in Sep 2009 in Gajapati district, Orissa, for allegedly possessing Maoist literature. Choudhury had been writing about the involvement of local police in illegal drug trafficking.
    V. Gopalaswamy (Vaiko) Politician, MDMK, Charged in Dec 2009 in Chennai for allegedly
    making remarks against India’s sovereignty at a book launch function
    Piyush Sethia Environmentalist and Organic Farmer, charged in Jan 2010 in Salem, Tamil Nadu, for trying to distribute pamphlets during protest against Chhattisgarh govt’s support to Salwa Judum
    Niranjan Mahapatra, Avinash Kulkarni, Bharat Pawar, others Trade union leaders and social activists Gujarat police allege links with CPI (Maoist).
    Arundhati Roy, S.A.R. Geelani, Varavara Rao, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, others Private complaint in Nov 2010 in Delhi alleging their speeches on Kashmir in a seminar are anti-India
    Noor Mohammed Bhatt Lecturer, Gandhi Memorial College, Srinagar, in Dec 2010 for
    setting a question paper for English literature students on whether ‘stone pelters were the real heroes’.
    Sudhir Dhawale Dalit rights activist and freelance journalist, Wardha. Maharashtra police allege links with CPI (Maoist) in 2011.

Source: Sedition Laws and the Death of Free Speech in India

Update on Seema Azad Case- Protest on June 26th- Emergency Day


 
Kavita Srivastava-
This is short note to give you a quick update in the Seema Azad case.
At a few hours notice a meeting was called on the 13th of June, 2012 at the Gandhi Peace Foundation against the conviction by a trial court sentencing  the Seema Azad and her husband Vishwa Vijay to life imprisonment. the meeting was called to share the travesty of justice in the flawed judgement condemning Ms Seema Azad and her husband Vishwa Vijay for life in prison on ridiculous grounds. Seema Azad the organising secretary of PUCL, Uttar Pradesh is a cultural and literary activist based in Allahabad. She was the editor of Dastak, a monthly magazine.

 

 The Delhi meeting was attended by more than 35 persons who  included Justice Rajinder Sachar, ex chief justice of the Delhi and Sikkim high Court, and former president of the PUCL,  Ravi Kiran Jain, Vice President PUCL and Senior Counsel Supreme Court & Allahabad High Court and was her lawyer for Seema; Shri Anand Swaroop Varma, Editor of Teesri Duniya and writer; Neelabh, poet and writer, Harish Dhawan of the PUDR, Chhittranjan Singh, Mahipal singh and Kavita Srivastava from the PUCL, Harsh Dhobal from HRLN, Madhuresh from NAPM, Roma and AShok Chowdhary from the National Forum for forest workers and forest people, journalist Bhasha Singh, Literary critic Ajay Singh, Adiyog from Lucknow, ND Pancholi from PUCL Delhi, Mahtab from the FPHRD along with several other activists, lawyers and literary persons.
The meeting began with Mr. Chittranjan Singh welcoming all and stating the two fold agenda of the meeting, which was mainly sharing of the critique of the judgement and planning the campaign activities.
Mr. Ravi Kiran jain presented the critique. the 70 page judgement, showed no evidence. According to Mr Jain the case at no stage went never went beyond the FIR. Infact the incriminating piece of evidence that the police had tried to show,  were mainly books and pamphlets and other “Maoist” literature that they were supposed to be carrying and had on their body at the time of their arrest on the 6th of February, 2012, Mr, Jain clarified that under no circumstance any of this could be counted as evidence, as the police had broken the seals of the packets without taking the magistrates permission and therefore tampering and planting of material could not be ruled out.
Secondly, the police had taken Seema’s remand illegally after the completion of ninety days, which is not permissible. During this two day remand they  had taken her to her house, where they showed the recovery of two mobiles and some more literature. Apart from the fact that the remand itself was illegal and had been challenged in the Allahabad High Court where a recall application was pending. The proper search was not carried out as according to CrPC rules and therefore planting of material was possible. .
Apart from this there was no other shred of evidence, although the prosecution tried to string together Seema’s case with one other case made out in Gorakhpur and 2 cases of Kanpur,  where according to the police they picked up several maoists, who were actively involved with the CPI (maoist) party. They tried to show how they had seized the same literature and there were some confessions of some other prisoners which showed that they were Maoists.  Which goes against the Indian jurisprudence where confession in front of police is not addmissable as evidence.
It was shocking to read that Seema had been convicted for sec 13 (punishment for indulging in unlawful), 18( punishment for conspiracy), 20 (being a member of a terrorist gang), 38 (membership of a terrorist gang), and 39 (providing support to a terrorist organisation ) of the UAPA amended 2004 and 2008, and u/s 120, 121 and 121(A) of the IPC.
 It also came as a rude shock to all that that Seema had been sentenced to 10 year rigorous imprisonment in most of the above sections along with fines of 5000 to 10 thousand rupees. except in 13 where is it was 5 years rigorous imprisonment. She was also sentenced to life u/s 121, waging war against state.
For those who are not aware rigorous imprisonment means working in either the factory of the jail or in the kitchen
Mr Ravi Kiran Jain shared with all that the criminal appeal would be filed in the Allahabad High Court very soon. although they have sixty days but they would not wait in this case.
Mr Anand Swaroop Varma and Neelabh Ashk shared the possible campaign that we could undertake.
 It was decided  that
  1. 15th June : Press conference exposing the travesty of justice condemning Seema to life, will be addressed by Justice Sachar, Ravi Kiran Jain, Anand Swaroop Varma and Neelabh Ashk will address, Ravi kiran jain will present the legal critique.
  2. 26th June: Emergency Day : PUCL Convention against the judgement in the Seema Azad case, all groups will be invited to participate . Along with condemning the judgement a campaign for the release of Seema Azad will also be planned. A poster will also be released for this purpose.  A critique of the judgement will be presented which will be prepared by Ravi Kiran Jain, Harish Dhawan, Neelabh Mishra and Anand Swaroop in English and Hindi and will not be longer than 5-6 pages.
  3. 25th June : Delhi activists to protest outside UP Bhawan.
  4. The entire judgement will be translated in english, which is being coordinated by Harish Dhawan.
  5. It was also planned that Allahabad and Lucknow must have protests, probably several groups are already planning this. Also a letter to Akhilesh Yadava against this conviction.

PUCL on conviction of Seema Azad and her husband by an Allahabad Court


PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

Founder: Jayaprakash Narayan

270-A Patparganj, Opposite Anandlok Apartments, Mayur Vihar- Phase I, Delhi 110091


12th  June, 2012
Press Release

          On the Conviction of Seema Azad and her husband by an Allahabad Court

The news of the sentencing of Seema Azad, along with her husband Vishwavijay Kamal, charged under Sections 121, 121A and 120B of IPC and also under the relevant provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for possessing objectionable literature, to life imprisonment by a court at Allahabad on 8 June 2012 has come as a shock to the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and thousands of human rights workers all over the country.

Seema Azad, a grassroots journalist and a well known civil liberties activist belonging to the UP State Branch of the PUCL, was returning after attending a book fair in New Delhi along with her husband when they were arrested by the Special Task Force on February 6, 2010 from the Allahabad station, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for their alleged links with Maoist organizations. The only evidence provided was a book carried by Seema Azad containing information on Maoist politics. From then on, they have been detained in custody, and have been refused bail.

It is clear to human rights activists that Seema Azad and her husband were charged under the draconian laws for political reasons. She has relentlessly raised her voice against local scams and injustices, denouncing the working condition of mining workers, exposing the practices of the local mafia and its nexus with the police force. She also edited a bi-monthly magazine – Dastak – and used it as a platform to publicize all the wrongs around her.

“On a number of occasions, she (Seema Azad) had taken up the cudgels on behalf of poor labourers and exposed the nexus between the police and the illegal contractors, who used to deploy labourers for unauthorised mining of stone or sand in various regions of Uttar Pradesh, particularly the Sonbhadra district,” PUCL UP Vice-President Ram Kumar said in a statement.

It has become a trend for the governments to book those, who criticize their anti-people policies and expose the misdeeds of politicians-police-bureaucrats and mafia nexus or give voice to the exploited, suffering, disinherited masses, under the most stringent laws, brand them as anti-national or Maoists and keep their voices muzzled by incarcerating them. What is even more miserable is that the judiciary, which is supposed to be the protector of the freedom and liberties of the people, also fails to do so. And the worst is that those who book innocent people on false and concocted charges always go unpunished even when higher courts reverse the judgment and set them free, of course, when they have already spent several years of their prime life in prisons. Seema Azad and her husband’s case has again brought these questions into focus and for all freedom loving people and human rights workers to take up the cause.

The PUCL plans to hold a convention shortly and also carry out a campaign for the release and justice of Seema Azad with other organisations.

Mahi Pal Singh

National Secretary, PUCL