Chhattisgarh has been at the forefront of many political struggles, and also a site of political and state repression to by highly feudalistic casteist power structure that has been facilitating corporate loot and the plunder of natural and mineral resources. Along with the struggle of farmers and adivasis to save their jal, jungle and zameen and a long historical workers struggle, present times are also witnessing a strong adivasi and dalit movement against cultural imperialism and for the protection of rights under the constitution.
All these struggles have also seen severe repression. Ranging from the cases of false encounters, sexual violence and arrests in Bastar under the garb of anti Naxal operations to the crackdowns on movements against land grab and slapping false cases on people demanding the implementation of PESA, and Forest Rights Act in north chattisgarh. The political and state attack on the Pathalgarhi movement, the continuing repression and arrest of leaders of farmers agitation and denying them their right to protest as well as the crackdown on protest of shiksha karmis, health workers,even police karmis and their families shows shrinking political spaces of protest. Police terror and arrests are being used to break the peoples growing resistance and attack any attempt to raise questions, submit memorandums or take out marches, or any other form of protest.
Many cases of advasi and dalit activist who have raised their voice against casteist practices, through face book post or in public meeting have had cases slapped against them and jailed for months before being granted bail. There has been a spate of arrest under cow slaughter and religious conversion and also a targeted attack on minority religions and institution by hindutva forces to which the state has been a mute spectator or at times even a facilitator.
The situation at present has worsened to the point where even the normal political activities of main stream opposition parties are being criminalised brutally targeted.
In the face of this both in Chhattisgarh, and in the country as a whole, there is a growing convergence of people’s movements. There are growing challenges to these anti people policies in the legal arena as well to defend the democratic rights of people and liberty of human rights defenders.
Several journalists and lawyers have played a key role by building public discourse and undertaking legal battles.
The Bhima Koregaon case marks a turning point in the use of state repression. An event to celebrate the valour of Dalits and OBCs is sought to be delegitimized by casting overtones of extraneous Maoist activity. Ten prominent human rights defenders, lawyers, professors, cultural, social and political activists, while homes of ten others have been raided. These arrests represent something more sinister – that the legal work of human rights defenders (trade union activists, anti-displacement activists, lawyers, poets and writers etc.) can be criminalized and deemed as terrorist activities that require the slapping of the draconian UAPA; and that all space for democratic dissent can be usurped by the State in the name of ‘Public and National Security’. Moreover, this political repression is justified by creating a false narrative in the media which converges with the right-wing ideology and prejudices fair trail of the so-called accused.
Recent events indicate that the State Government of Chhattisgarh leads the way in attempts to subvert the Constitution. This design has to be defeated by a powerful, broad and cohesive movement to defend the democratic rights of people and liberty of human right defenders.
We have to focus attention on the misuse of police power, in order to enable both society and Courts to recognize the unreasonableness of the laws being deployed to criminalize protest, dissent and legitimate activities of lawyers, human rights defenders trade union activists, and people’s movements.
We have to demand the repeal of all repressive laws, and in particular the UAPA , CSPSA and others(please add).
We have to come together to also create a united front and a common/ agenda/ manifesto for our united struggles in chattisgarh as well at the national level to build a consolidated movement .
We have to build a movement against this attack on all democratic movement and in the process consolidate the struggle to oppose political repression and to uphold the Right to Dissent, Defend and Organize!
We call upon all democratic and progressive forces to join the Convention
Uphold the Right to Dissent, Defend, Organize
On behalf of Organizing Comittee
Dr lakhan Singh., Rajendra Sail , Rinchin, Tuhin Dev, Sherya K, Dr Goldy George, Kaladas Deheriya, Ap Josey, Lakhan Subodh , Alok Shukla, Nand Kashyap , Akhilesh Edgar , and others
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 9516664520
Lakhan singh : Bhagatsingh788@gmail.com-7773060946