PUCL Bulletin, January 2002

Use of POTO against PWG and MCC condemned

By Y. P. Chhibbar, General Secretary, Dec.6, 2001

"The government of India invoked the POTO yesterday and banned the PWG (People's War Group) and the MCC (Maoist Communist Centre). This step of the government has put the two organisations in the company of organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Toiba, etc. This raises some serious questions.

"PWG, etc, are organisations that are fighting for the rights of the poor and also agitating for the implementation of laws that have been made at different levels for securing the landless, the workers, etc, their rights. There are any number of organisations all over the country that have adopted violent methods for their fight for the rights of the poor. A large number of Human Rights and Civil Liberties organisations, including the PUCL, have, from time to time, urged the government to implement the laws on the statute book, on the one hand, and have invited such organisations to enter into dialogue and to give up the use of violent methods or the other. The President of the PUCL has been personally involved in these efforts in A.P. and the Bihar PUCL and Shri Prabhakar Sinha, a National Vice President of the PUCL, have been doing the same in Bihar. The PUCL is also involved in the ongoing efforts to end violence in parts of Northeast.

"The gist of the matter is that these are political issues that need political solutions. In the Northeast the government itself is involved in dialogue with one such organisation, NSCN (I-M) and, perhaps, that is the reason that this organisation has not been brought under POTO ban. In A.P. some prominent citizens have formed a forum, Committee of Concerned Citizens, to try to bring about a dialogue between the State government and the PWG. There is probably only one instance where the problem of such violence has been solved. The case in point is Mizoram. In Mizoram the problem was not solved by precursors of POTO but by dialogue.

"This step of the government opens one more path to the misuse of POTO. The government has laid bare its attitude that the arduous path of dialogue and political initiative can be replaced by the use of 'Law and Order' approach. Is this an indication that in future all political dissent and protest against misrule will be suppressed by the use of the 'Bush terminology' (that if you are not with us, you are a terrorist and want to destroy the country)?"

Home | Index