Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj
We the undersigned wish to place on record our utter disgust, contempt and
outrage at the latest in the series of machinations by Republic TV, working to its
brief as a propagandist for the ongoing crusade against all those who take public
stands in defence of democracy, secularism, human rights, Constitutional
propriety and rule of law.
Republic TV’s latest target is Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, National Secretary of
the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Vice President of the Indian Association of
Progressive Lawyers and Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi.
She is widely-known for her three decades of work as a trade unionist, human
rights defender, environmental lawyer and a respected advisor to several state
institutions including the state legal aid bodies and the National Human Rights
Commission.
According to Republic TV, this committed and dedicated lawyer and activist is an
“urban Maoist” who is “plotting to break India” with separatist groups and armed
guerrillas across the country. The basis for the long list of scurrilous allegations
and malicious insinuations against Advocate Bharadwaj is a letter purported to
be written by her that Republic TV claims it has accessed.
The provenance of this letter is not revealed and we are not told how it came into
the possession of Republic TV. The language of the letter is crude and clumsy,
with the supposed author self-identifying as “Comrade Advocate Sudha
Bharadwaj” and mentioning the names of various known and unknown
individuals who are meticulously addressed as “Comrades”. The contents – or
rather, what Republic TV claims are the contents – are supposed to establish a
“sensational” connection between the Kashmiri separatists, “urban Naxals”,
students from JNU and TISS, and others who take public stands against the anti-
people policies of the state. According to Republic TV, these are “incontrovertible
and unquestionable facts” that cannot be questioned.
Based on the telecast, the alleged letter belongs to the shoddy archive of similar
“documentary proofs” that are regularly leaked to the press by investigation
agencies eager to pin various “crimes” onto activists, leaders of people’s
movements, political opponents, human rights defenders, critics of government
policies and other citizens who are exercising their legitimate rights to free
speech, dissent and political action.
The frenzied propagation by Republic TV of these concocted allegations and
invented charges against known critics of the ruling party is clearly aimed at
blurring the lines between evidence and allegation, accusation and proof,
coincidence and causality in the mind of viewers who do not have access to
multiple sources of information. Equally dangerous is the creation and
demonisation of virulent labels like “urban naxals” and “tukde-tukde gang”,
1which gain currency solely by virtue of insistent repetition and circulation,
despite being legally, factually and politically untenable.
The lethal consenquences of this shameless manipulation of public opinion are
today visible in the form of the targeted lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and others
identified as criminals based on malevolent WhatsApp messages and videos.
Ludicrous though this attack on Advocate Bharadwaj may seem, it is also a signal
of the widening dragnet being used to establish absolute control over all
institutions and spaces of governance. We call on all responsible people to
condemn and expose this attack as the latest attempt by the Modi sarkar and its
embedded propagandists in the media to bypass democratic institutions,
undermine the rule of law, stifle all voices of dissent and crush all those who
seek to question or challenge their autocratic rule.
We also call on media bodies, professional associations and senior journalists to
come out and condemn practitioners of this form of toxic, unethical and
malicious “journalism”.

(Signed)
1. Nancy Adajania, curator and writer
2. Prof Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth
3. Dr Shilpi Bhattacharya, OP Jindal Global University
4. Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court of india
5. Dr Neera Burra, writer and historian
6. Prof Uma Chakravarthy, feminist historian
7. Anil Chamadiya, journalist
8. Prof CP Chandrasekhar, JNU
9. Anil Chaudhary, PEACE
10. Dr Yug Mohit Chaudhary, Advocate, Bombay High Court
11. Dr Vanessa Chisti, OP Jindal Global University
12. Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor, Commonwealth Human Rights Network
13. Senior Advocate Mihir Desai, Bombay High Court
14. Saba Dewan, filmmaker
15. Deepa Dhanraj, Filmmaker
16. Professor Sabeena Gadihoke, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, filmmaker
17. Prof Jayati Ghosh, JNU
18. Professor Shohini Ghosh, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, filmmaker
19. Viji Ghosh, journalist
20. Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
21. Dr Smita Gupta, JNU
22. Prof Zoya Hasan, JNU
23. Ranjit Hoskote, curator and poet
24. Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and former Additional
Solicitor General of India
25. Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker
26. Prof Ayesha Kidwai, JNU
27. Ritu Menon, publisher and writer
28. Dr Kalyani Menon-Sen, researcher and writer
29. Ravi Nair, SAHRDC
30. Farah Naqvi, writer and activist
31. Aditya Nigam, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
32. Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker
33. Pamela Philipose, journalist
34. Dr Imrana Qadeer, health activist
35. Annie Raja, General Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women
36. Vimala Ramachandran, Education Resource Unit
37. Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
38. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre
39. Rahul Roy, filmmaker
40. Prof Abhijit Sen, JNU
41. Ardhendu Sen, IAS (retired)
42. Dr Jhuma Sen, OP Jindal Global University
43. Dr Rohini Sen, OP Jindal Global University
44. Dr Mira Shiva, health activist
45. Bhasha Singh, journalist
46. Abhishek Srivastava, journalist
47. Dr Pankaj Srivastava, journalist
48. Prof Nandini Sundar, Delhi School of Economics
49. Prashant Tandon, journalist
50. Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch Tamilnadu
51. Dr Achin Vanaik, writer and researcher
52. Dr Anish Vanaik, OP Jindal Global University
53. Anand Swaroop Varma, Editor Samkaleen Teesri Duniya
54. Prof Asghar Wajahat, writer, playwright and filmmaker
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