The August 28 raids by the police on the homes of human rights activists in many cities accompanied by arrests of five prominent activists has aroused a storm of protests all across the country. All sections of the people have condemned the government for the raids and arrests and the disinformation campaign being carried out against the arrested activists. Reports of protest actions have come in from different regions of the country.
In Delhi, activists from political parties, workers’ organisations, trade unions, peasant organisations, women’s organisations, youth and student organisations came together at Jantar Mantar on the afternoon of August 30, in a massive show of protest under the banner of Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan. A large number of students from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia participated in this protest action.
Participants at the rally raised slogans “Down with the unjust arrests of the human rights activists!”, “Withdraw false charges against the human rights activists!”, “We demand immediate release of human rights activists!”, “Down with the barbaric attacks on the rights of people!”, “Down with the attack on our democratic rights!”, “We shall fight, we shall win!”, “An attack on one is an attack on all!”, “Long live our unity!”. “Inquilab Zindabad!” Placards and banners bearing these and other slogans could be seen all around.
Hannan Mollah, General Secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, who is also the Convenor of the Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan, conducted the proceedings. Accompanying him on the stage were Amarjeet Kaur, General Secretary of AITUC, Sucheta Dey, National Secretary of AISA, RS Dagar of UTUC and RK Sharma of All India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangathan. Apart from the above, the rally was addressed by Prakash Rao of Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Rajendra Pal, Minister of social welfare of the Delhi Government from the AAP, Dr. Sunilam of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and a representative of the Krantikari Yuva Sanganthan. Students of Sangwari Natya Manch sang a militant song which reiterated the resolve of the people to carry forward the struggle against exploitation and injustice no matter how much repression the state unleashes.
Speakers denounced the arrests of the five rights activists -- Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha and Arun Ferreira – on August 28, on completely fabricated charges. They pointed out that the present government has become increasingly exposed as anti-worker, anti-peasant, anti-woman and anti-youth. It has failed to deliver on any of its electoral promises to the people. On the contrary the exploitation of the working class has been greatly intensified, the peasantry is being devastated, the land, forests and mineral resources of our peasants and adivasis are being ruthlessly looted, youth and students are being deprived of the right to education and a secure livelihood, public services such as health, education, water, electricity, transport, etc. are being privatized -- all in the interests of maximizing the profits of the Indian and foreign monopoly capitalists. Several speakers pointed out that each successive government, including the present one, has been relentlessly implementing this program.
All the five arrested persons have been in the forefront of the struggle to defend the rights of the people against the onslaught of the monopoly capitalists and their government. They have been working to expose and oppose the efforts of the state, at the behest of the big capitalist monopolies, to systematically terrorize the adivasi communities in order to grab their land, forest and mineral resources and hand them over to the big corporate houses. The raids, arrests and the accompanying disinformation campaign by certain prominent media houses have the sinister aim of terrorizing the broad masses of people into giving up the struggle for their rights.
But the attacks on our activists have only strengthened our resolve to fight back. Thousands and lakhs more will come forward to thwart the diabolical plans of the rulers, they declared, to rousing cheers from the audience.
Prakash Rao of Mazdoor Ekta Committee pointed out that we are building the Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan as a common platform of struggle to unite the workers, peasants, women, youth, students, adivasis, and all other exploited and oppressed who are fighting for their rights. The five who have been arrested have been fighting all their lives in defence of the rights of the people. By arresting them, the state wants to terrorise all those who are fighting for the rights of the exploited and oppressed. However, no matter how much terror the state unleashes against the people, our people will never give up the struggle. This is what our history shows. He clarified that behind the aggressive assault on the lives, livelihood and rights of our people lies the brutal rule of the monopoly capitalist class headed by about 150 monopoly capitalist houses. The need of the hour is for us to strengthen our unity around the alternative program of establishing the rule of the workers, peasants and all the oppressed and exploited – so that the wealth we produce can be used to fulfil the growing needs of our people and not the greed of the Indian and foreign big monopoly capitalist houses. Our growing unity and resolve is our guarantee that we shall definitely put an end to the exploitative and oppressive rule of the big monopoly capitalists and usher in the rule of the workers, peasants and all the oppressed.
Activists of the CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), Communist Ghadar Party, SUCI (Communist), RSP, CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, UTUC, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, NFIW, AIDWA, AIYF, DYFI, SFI, AISF, KYS, Disha Chhatra Sangh, AIKS, AAP, CYSS, NAPM, and many other organisations participated enthusiastically in this rally.
The rally concluded with the Convenor of Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan, Hannan Mollah, calling on all the state units of the Andolan to organise similar protest actions.
Former Chief Justice of India, RS Lodha has condemned the government’s action in arresting rights activists as “an attempt to suppress the dissenting voice”. Former Judge of the Supreme Court and rights activist PB Sawant has denounced the government for these arrests. Many other prominent judges, lawyers and journalists have also condemned the government for its brazen attempt to silence all those fighting for the rights of the people.
A Press Conference was held on September 30 at New Delhi, where prominent activists in defence of the rights of the oppressed people denounced the "vicious and malafide attack" against human rights activists and called for an immediate end to "such political acts of vendetta". A joint statement was issued on this occasion, signed by author Arundhati Roy, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, ND Pancholi (PUCL), Aruna Roy, Bezwada Wilson, Jignesh Mevani (MLA from Gujarat), Kalyani Menon (WSS) and Harish Dhawan (PUDR) among others.