My morning alarm rang at 6 am as usual. While I was getting ready for the gym, I suddenly found a tweet which said that the Maharashtra police had arrested five activists for alleged “Maoist links” and for the violence in Bhima-Koregaon in early January this year.
The Indian Express report observed, “The Pune city police have arrested suspected members of the banned Communist Party of India (CPI-Maoist) in connection with the Elgaar Parishad held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31. The event, police said, allegedly led to the violence on January 1, during the 200th year celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. The arrests were made in Mumbai, Nagpur, and Delhi.”
ANI reported that they have been accused of distributing controversial pamphlets and delivering hate speech that led to violence in Bhima-Koregaon in January this year.
Against all these activists, the police have used the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). This is a law which has been misused by the state to suppress the voices of the people.
These arrests will hardly be treated as breaking news by the national media or get space on the front page of the newspapers. Even if it does, no one will be talking about it a day or two later.
You will never see a panel discussion on using the UAPA to suppress the voice of activists across India.
In every state, the ruling parties use such laws to curb dissent. For instance, according to the Telegraph report, Aleek Chakrabarty, the leader of CPI(ML) Red Star spearheading the movement against a power project in Bhangar, was arrested from Bhubaneswar on the last week, a police officer said. Chakrabarty has been booked under several IPC sections, including murder, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the police said.
The state machinery using such draconian laws to suppress dissent is nothing new. If you analyse such arrests, you will understand that the name of the party who is ruling is not important but the “rule” is all that matters.
I was born and brought up in West Bengal under communist rule. You should not be surprised to know that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) led Left-Front government harassed poor Adivasis in the name of stopping “Maoist” violence.
However, the so-called links with the banned armed organization have hardly been proved. A respected doctor and human right activist, Dr Binayak Sen, was arrested was also arrested under such pretences. But the man is still fighting the number of cases against him. He was forced to leave Chattisgarh and his whole life got disrupted.
The point should be to understand that every voice that comes from the people is important. There will always be those who support injustice blindly and those who will raise their voice for justice. But using the state machinery to curb dissent needs to stop. Such cases are increasing under the BJP government which seems desperate to suppress all dissent. The arrest of these five activists clearly demonstrates that.