Naxal revolution

Chhattisgarh activists face crackdown
May 29, 2007, 4:52 am
Filed under: Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh activists face crackdown

We are watched constantly, our every move is questioned.

– Mohammed Sahul Hamid, journalist, Dandakaranya Samachar

Chhattisgarh activists face crackdown

Another civil rights activist, Rajendra Sial, has been arrested by police in Chhattisgarh. In the battle against insurgency what has been destroyed is a middle ground between the police and the naxals.

A few days ago, social activist Dr Binayak Sen was taken to jail under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 for his alleged links with Naxalites.

The arrests perhaps indicate the beginning of things to come. Anyone who differs with the state is seen as a Maoist supporter, to say the least. Any opposition to the government’s point of view, it would seem, is unwelcome.

”I know Binayak Sen for the last 20 years. There is no room for debate or dissention and this is a very serious thing,” said Harsh Mandar, former IAS officer.

No middle gorund

The crunching of the middle ground between the state government and the Maoists began last year when the Public Security Act was passed.

The Act many argue has too many loopholes.

Although it prescribes a jail term up to seven years for committing an unlawful activity, the term ‘unlawful activity’ is not precisely defined.

Under the Act, a person is liable for punishment even if he were a member of an organisation, participated in its meetings or received contributions on its behalf before the organisation was declared unlawful.

”Last year a girl in 12th standard was arrested for being a Maoist along with her an electrician, a doctor whose prescription was found on a Maoist and Dr Sen,” said Rajendra Sial, State General Secretary, PUCL.

Sial is now behind the bars. He was arrested last week for contempt of court in a different case.

But the crackdown in Chhattisgarh is not limited against those who don’t agree with the government’s policy on Naxalites. Even many journalists are under the government’s scanner.

”We are watched constantly, our every move is questioned,” said Mohammed Sahul Hamid, journalist, Dandakaranya Samachar.

If the state-supported anti-Naxal movement called Salwa Judam has divided the Adivasi community along the middle, the crackdown to deal with growing Naxal influence completes the polarisation process.

”Those in uniform always seek stronger laws to crack down on people it is up to the state and its maturity to deal with such a thing,” said Sushil Kumar, Editor, Chattisgarh Daily.

Government stand

But the government defends itself and claims that such laws are not limited to Chhattisgarh.

”Other states too have such acts. This act is needed and those who are suspected to have links will be prosecuted under the law,” said Ram Vichar Netam, Home Minister, Chhattisgarh.

The state claims such laws are need to deal with Moaist but its use or more so its misuse, give a feeling that either it is the state’s way or just the high way.



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