PUCL Bulletin, August 2002

Delhi PUCL: Anti emergency day

PUCL-Delhi, like every year, organised the anti-emergency meeting on 26 June in Gandhi Peace Foundation. The meeting was jointly convened with active support of Jan Hastakshep. Before the meeting a demonstration was carried out against the Gujarat riots through the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg that concluded at the venue of the meeting.

The topic of the discussion was 'Gujarat Carnage: Emerging Fascism. Prof. Rajni Kothari chaired the meeting. Introducing the subject Pushkar Raj, General Secretary of PUCL-Delhi noted that a society that begins to negate the concept of plurality in its social, economic, and political sphere of life is in danger of sliding towards fascism and Gujarat serves a definite warning in this regard.

Sidhartha Vardhrajan of the Times of India said that human rights are the most ardent need of our time given their wide scope and larger acceptability presently. But what we witnessed in Gujarat is reverse of it as a hapless minority was singled out for the abominable atrocities accompanied by the misuse of the state apparatus that was supposed to protect the life and property of the people.

Well known journalist and Rajya Sabha member Kuldip Nayar was of view that the democracy cannot exist without secularism. He added that when the government's action are anti-specific community it amounts to sabotaging the spirit of democracy, as government does not exist for the majority community only but for all. 'As we witness attack on the freedom of press in the form of hounding the groups that exposed corruption in the government establishments or the journalists that wrote critical write up on political personalities, the indications are plain that we head for an intolerant and fascist establishment', he said.

Justice Rajindar Sachar was of the view that the political parties of the country have failed the people of the country. He opined that the leading political parties' representatives should have gone to Gujarat and intervened at the ground level at the time of communal violence and mayhem that continued for weeks in the state. Aditya Nigam from JNU, felt that there was no opposition at all to the fascist forces in the country. Had there been one, bloodshed in Gujarat would have been considerably less. Civil society organisation have proved highly ineffective and submerged in the hate wave agenda of fascist elements. It is a sad commentary on our polity, administration, and political system that in case of the Gujarat the Army, the Supreme Court, and even the President of India proved less than effective.

Maja Daruwala, Director of Commonwealth Initiative for Human Rights (CHRI) said that in the case of Gujarat one saw a virtual absence of state, as one knows it. She added that the state could have its own way, as there was no resistance to it from any quarter. Dwelling on the role of the police she said that in Gujarat the police force is highly communal and underrepresented of the minority community. The later constitute only one percent of the police force. She elaborated the fact by stating that in the recent 600 recruits in the police force there were only two Muslims.

Surendra Mohan, one of the founders of the PUCL, lamented the lack of counter - groups' in our polity and society to the emerging forces of the right in the country. He regretted the rise of fascist forces all over the country and attributed the rise of such forces to the lack of resistance on the part of rational, secular, political grouping. If they can rejuvenate themselves, they can possibly halt the march of these forces.

George Mathew, Director of Institute of Social Sciences, saw a well thought out design in Gujarat carnage to intimidate the minorities of the country. He wondered whether the forces that orchestrated the riots in Gujarat would not repeat their feat in Uttar Pradesh where their popularity is sagging and therefore where they have entrusted the affairs of the party to a well known hard-liner.

Medha Patkar regretted about the state being hijacked by the big industrial houses and global business forces, thereby eroding its utility and relevance for the common masses. At the one end people are deprived of their right to own natural resources and on the other vulnerable sections of the society become target of hate campaign patronised by the parties in power, she added.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Anup Saraya, Iqbal Ansari, and Dalip Swami. In the end N.D. Pancholi, vice president of PUCL-Delhi, thanked the speakers and the audience for their active cooperation for the successful conclusion of the meeting.

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