PUCL Bulletin, June 2003

National convention on POTA

A two-day convention was held at Hyderabad (AP) on 29th and 30th of March on the occasion of the first anniversary of POTA. Four rights organizations (APCLC, HRF, PUCL, OPDR) working in Andhra Pradesh came together and formed a "Committee against POTA, AP" with K.G. Kannabiran (President PUCL) as the convener. In the two days deliberations speakers and human rights organizations very emphatically stressed the need to launch a campaign to pressurize the Government of India to repeal the draconian act POTA. K.G. Kannabiran chaired the first day morning. Kannabiran detailed the history of special acts from the beginning of Independence and explained how the Governments have been enacting such laws, wherever there were agitations on social issues and conflicts. He opined that the rulers and Governments indifference and unprepared ness to solve the peoples issues; results in promulgation of such laws. He said that, we should build public opinion across the country to pressurize the Government to repeat this act.

Inaugurating the convention, Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty (Delhi University, New Delhi) complimented organizations in AP for raising debate on POTA. He said that AP has been always in the forefront of all social and democratic movements. He presented a Global view of the issues and said that in all developing countries and third world countries. Governments are just engaged in repression through repressive laws than attempting to resolve the problems politically. In the context of Globalization and World Bank policies the repression is on the increase and deprived sections are agitating for mere survival. He said that it is very apt that veteran civil libertarian like Kannabiran has launched the campaign to repeal POTA from AP State, which is known for social movements. He assured that his organization PUDR would pay its effective role in campaigning against POTA.

Mr. Jawhariulla, (President, Tamil Muslim Munnetra Kazagam, Chennai) explained the situation in Tamil Nadu. He explained with details the arrest of 'Vaigo' under POTA and how the CM Jayalalitha has been terrorizing political opponents making use of POTA. He dealt in detail about the irresponsible statements of VHP leaders Togadia and Ashok Singhal. He explained how their speeches are designed to destroy the fabric of secular Indian Society. He declared if there are terrorists in this country it is the hard core of the Hindu communal party who are a threat to peace and tranquility in this country. Prof. G. Haragopal chaired the afternoon session. He explained with details the undemocratic culture that is prevailing in the Government and institutions. He dealt at length, how the democratic institutions are reduced to ineffective bodies. In the back drop of war he said that US has become a dictator and tyrant making fun of UNO. He said that POTA should be understood in the context of the US war on Iraq. He said that only mighty public opinion could bring change in the policies and polity of Governments. Navkiran Singh (Secretary, Lawyers for Human Rights International, Chandigarh) explained, what happened in Punjab during the Khalistan Movement.

Though the present Government in Punjab has not used POTA he had given vivid examples of how TADA was misused in Punjab State. Mr. S.N. Banerjee (President APDR, Calcutta) spoke about misuse of POTA in the country. He also explained how the CPM ruled West Bengal Government is harassing the people and putting down the naxalite movement by fake encounters and arbitrary killings.

Next day morning session was chaired by Jaya Vindhyala (Secretary, PUCL-AP). Jaya explained the situation in AP and stressed the need for consolidation of democratic organizations to fight for the protection of the rights of the people. Prof. Seshaiah (Secretary, APCLC) felt that acts like POTA are democratic nature of Indian State. He said that whatever democratic provisions are ensured by the Indian constitution would be nullified by such acts. He also said that the act is against citizens right to life and right to livelihood.

M.V. Krishnaiah (State Committee member OPDR) dealt at length about the political situation in the country and explained how all the Governments in country are violating democratic rights of the people. He said that the new paradigm of development is against human development.

K. Balagopal (State Executive member-HRF) explained in detail the legal provisions of POTA. He described the situation in Andhra Pradesh, where ordinary people like workers, tailors, a doctor, and a creative writer became victims of POTA. He reiterated that all the rights organizations in the country should contemplate on building strong and effective campaign for repeal of POTA.

Antony Samy (Lok Shahi Hakk Sanghatana) explained about the situation in the country and specially in Maharashtra. He said that though the Congress I ruled Governments are not using POTA, the violation of human rights is continuing. He felt that we should think of collecting strong nation opinions across the nation on POTA and this task can be achieved only by civil and democratic organizations. S. Jeevan Kumar (Convener, HRF) proposed vote of thanks.

In the post lunch sessions, rights organizations present (APCLC, PUCL, HRF, OPDR-A.P., APDR-Calcutta, LSHS-Maharashtra) held a meeting to chalk out future programme. It is decided that a national committee against POTA, be formed involving as many rights organizations as possible. It is decided that committee against POTA, AP, would write to organizations in Bombay to take the responsibility of holding a National Convention where the possibility of exploring the formation of a National Committee be considered. It is also decided to hold conventions in Direct Head Quarters in Andhra Pradesh.

The Maharashtra based rights organizations, namely LSHS, CPDR and PUCL (Maharashtra) are requested to consider organizing convention against POTA in the third week of May to which all the functioning rights organizations of the country can be invited.

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