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On UAPA And Right To Dissent: “Democracy Is A Dictatorship In The Absence Of Criticism”

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The state has remained as the greatest power since the founding of the idea of ​​nationalism until the present time. The radical nationalist policies of the pre-World War period served to increase the importance of the state. People began to place the interest of the state above their overall interest, which resulted in leaders like Hitler and Mussolini. In the period after World War, many colonised nations gained independence and adopted a system of democratic governance where the public was represented by their representatives.

With the freedom to choose, some fundamental rights came into practice. The Indian constitution has as much discussion of rights, perhaps not in any other constitution. But these things have been discussed too many times and yet why is it being repeated today? If democracy loses its momentum and ignores the acceptance of change, the sovereignty of the country is the first to be hurt in such a situation. Recently, Professor G.D. N. Saibaba, researcher Rona Wilson, tribal activist Sudha Bhardwaj and several people have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities Restriction Act, 1967.

The purpose of enacting the Unlawful Activities Restraint Act, 1967 was to stop such activities taking place in the country which would hamper the sovereignty and integrity of the country. The National Integrity Council constituted a committee to ensure the integrity of the country, presenting its recommendation in 1963 and advocating for a reasonable ban to protect integrity and sovereignty. The 16th Constitutional Amendment was adopted and approved by Parliament to recognize the recommendation of this committee.

But there are some provisions in this law which fundamentally ruin human dignity,  but also freedom of expression, and overcoming democratic values. Terrorism has been very unfairly defined under this law, which also includes protecting it.

Under Article 19 (1) (a), (b) of the Indian Constitution, all citizens have the right to express their resistance in a peaceful manner. The Supreme Court in its decision has made it clear that the Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity cannot be used to curb fundamental rights. Under this doctrine, it is believed that the state cannot legally do anything wrong. The Supreme Court excluded Section 66 (a) of the IT Act, 2000 in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, 2015, outlawing Article 19 (1) (b) of the Constitution as an attack on free thought in cyberspace.

The coming of the people is an essential element for the development of democracy and it is the people who have the weapons on the basis of which they criticize the misdeeds of governance.

Democracy is a dictatorship in the absence of criticism.

Sudha Bhardwaj was arrested under the UAPA Act.

It can be converted into a terrorist organization under the charge of violating the law. But ironically, if a person is also a member of an organization, then he should be criminalized in this law on this basis. It allows a person to engage or investigate an event without investigating it.

It is like being accused or unlawful. In Gadling’s case, police arrested him on the basis of documents recovered and documents from his house. Can it be illegal to read any collection? It is a direct attack by the government on human consciousness and its attainment of knowledge. The Kerala High Court in its decision has made it clear that it is a different thing to raise the flag against the country and to accept the views of a band organization.

In addition, under this law, a person can be held in jail without a charge sheet under preventive detention for 180 days and can be forced to remain in police custody for 30 days. There are also cases of harassment and impractical behaviour by the police during this period.

If there is no transparency in the formulation and implementation of the law and it is not communicated among the people, it is a deep injury to the identity of democracy. Something similar is seen under the law where the provision of the special court has been made. It will be a court of this type where the use of the camera can be stopped and secret witnesses can be presented. Therefore, nothing goes in the hands of the criminal being proven. This is a mockery of equality before the law.

Two major amendments have been made in this law in 2008 and 2012. In 2008, a provision was brought that if a person was found to possess a weapon, he would be deemed a criminal under this law and the 2012 amendment also put those persons who are in contact with a convicted person. The possession of the weapon does not imply that the person is involved in any illegal act. If this is the case, the government should have banned arms.

But in this case, the sentence of arrest by the police by keeping the weapon there continuously has come to light. This exposes the grossly repressive character of the India Mapulis administration. It is also an injury against the value in which public interest is placed under the highest responsibility of an administrator. In such a situation, it is bound to think that the security system of our country is protecting it.

The supreme power of India lies in the people and in democracy, the country is for the people, the existence of the country belongs to the people and not the existence of the people for the country. Many thinkers have been of the opinion that humans should be considered as the ultimate goal and not as a means. Seriously, these values ​​have been crushed under this law.

Simply casting a vote does not ensure democracy, apart from this, keeping your ideas open, clarifying new ideas without fear, trying for them etc. is embedded in it.

uapa against students
UAPA against students

And in any democracy, you have to say that you have the right to hold ideas, you have to raise your voice for this right, then it becomes necessary to accept that this system only claims to be from democracy because it The cycle of repression has been erased.

According to the last available data from the National Crime Records Bureau, 67% or more of the cases under the UAPA could not be convicted. Apart from this, hearing of about 75% of cases till 2016 is long overdue. That is to say; these cases prove that people were arrested without special investigation in such cases and the hearing of the pending case has been slowed down. It will be necessary to draw attention to the fact that people arrested under it are those of the enlightened class who keep a different type of evolutionary thinking, changes.

And this also raises the question of whether the government’s intention on this common attack is to stop or suppress the change?

Is governance the only authority to define the stream of change? Then this is the time of Metternich, who used to proclaim a claim to be anti-change in the open tone continuously and said that if or if the change is continuous then our system will be in danger. This law wants to keep society alive without questions.

If a representative does so by asking questions in a democracy or snatches away the fundamental right to ask questions, then on what basis can the law of law be considered helpful in the development of society?

The highest selfishness of the law is considered to be vested in the interests of the public only. Any rule can be regarded as capable of doing justice only if it frees from every kind of prior concept and gives its decision. If we look at the social background of the imposition of this law, then it is clear that most of the workers, peasants, tribals and progressive, enlightened classes have been targeted under it. That is, it should not be concerned with the voice of Bahujan representing the holding method.

Therefore, it not only negates the process of complete inclusion but also empowers centralisation of power in special hands. Based on the understanding of history, this approach is fundamental that within a particular system, its antagonistic or progressive ideology prevails, which keeps its tone strong and is continuously suppressed by the reactionary society. Such parallel ideology is also always working in Indian society, which is quite vocal about the progressiveness of its ideas, which has acted to find answers on its level by refusing to listen to a particular type of question.

The 2012 amendment, which holds those who have had contact with people who have been illegally held guilty, has tried to make such behaviour contagious which can only be spread by mere contact (during light-of-speech ). This is an attempt to denote humanity and human interaction which is necessary for public awareness? Is this not a way to flee from the investigation of truth, or is it a common attack on people who hold a particular ideology?

On the one hand, the country claims to make it free from contagious diseases where new stories are heard every day. Still, on the other hand, the process of declaring human interaction as contagious fully exposes the state’s grossly repressive policy. If we look at the economic aspects, then this law seems to be downright detrimental. While the marginalised sections are trapped in this law, they lack adequate resources to protect themselves. But in this case, his entire family suffers from the financial crisis in the path of their evolutionary stream and has to face mental illnesses. This makes a jumla meaningful that everyone’s position is sold in the court office.

That is a person standing in a corner; the possibility of justice is also ruled out. Such exploitative legislation is not only personally fatal, but it is a massive attack on human capital.

Representational image.

In general, when we talk of such laws, then one crucial aspect is missed: what are the requirements of these imperialist forces for which it becomes mandatory to bring such laws? At present, India is continuously looking for foreign capital for investment from where the development of infrastructure can be materialised by bringing in funds.

Therefore, such laws become more critical when investments are to be made more accessible and foreign or corporate capital has to be given an available exemption. This can be seen in the SEZ Act 2005 where the government displacing people from their land is not only providing land to foreign capital at a nominal cost but also making tax exemption, providing traffic resources and raw material at low price—still working. In such a situation, the possibilities of local opposition prevail were resources.

You are being robbed.

Therefore, the imperative of such laws becomes even more relevant in such a way that the voice of the residents should be suppressed for the development of some people. The recent amendment of the Forest Rights Act, 1927 has re-exposed this barbarity. Also, if we look at the trend of recent amendments, it becomes more clear how work has been done for the achievement of private or corporate interests.

The SEZ Act was passed in 2005, followed by the Land Acquisition Ordinance in 2015, which ended up mandating support for 80% of the people. Apart from this, the possibility of workers going on strike for their demands by bringing in Gujarat Factory Rules Amendment (Fourth) 2017 was almost repealed, and after that, the Forest Rights Act Amendment, 2019 has given the bureaucrats the right to shoot the forest dwellers on suspicion while exceeding the extent of inhumanity.

In such a situation, the imagination of justice will also be very undemocratic, where people are continually being denied fundamental rights. Recently, the Forest Rights Amendment Bill, 2019 has strengthened the bureaucratic pressure on the tribals, while in conjunction with the UAPA it has been ordered to shoot the forest dwellers on suspicion. The fundamental rights of water, forest and land, which are essential elements for the life of tribals are abolished, and commercialisation is being emphasised in this.

It is clear from this entire structure that the nature of these methods is also anti-people. Therefore, all such laws should be abolished too and immediately, and consultation with whom it is to be enacted should be made a mandatory condition before making the law. This is a way in which not only people will be able to clarify their participation in the system but will also be able to evaluate it correctly.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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