PUCL Bulletin, November 2002

Workshop on 'Challenge of Communalism' disrupted
Magsaysay Awardee and Former Vice- Chancellor arrested
UP-PUCL President condemns police action

-- By Neelofar Haram

Dr. Roop Rekha Verma, former Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University and former Vice-President of the National PUCL, was arrested alongwith Magsaysay award recipient Shri Sandeep Pandey, and 75 other prominent persons who had assembled in the Press Club at Ayodhya on October 2 to participate in a two-day workshop on the 'Challenge of Communalism'.

The Ayodhya Police maintained that the workshop was not allowed to take place as prohibitory orders under section 144 Cr.P.C. were in force.

It is reported that the arrested persons were kept in the police lines through out the day where they were not offered even a glass of water. In the evening they were all sent to jail It is also reported that when Ms. Arundhati Dhuru, wife of Shri Sandeep Pandey, and Ms. Tulika Srivastava, a lawyer from Lucknow, reached the Ayodhya Press Club to find out the whereabouts of the arrested persons, they were assaulted by the women police personal posted there.

Condemning the UP government, Shri Ravi Kiran Jain, President of UP PUCL and a National Organising Secretary of the PUCL, said that while the highly inflammable communal activities of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal were allowed, peaceful meetings were prohibited.

"UP government had in the recent past allowed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal to hold their highly inflammatory communal activities like arms training and Shila-Pujan at the prohibited area. The government was compelled to intervene only when the Supreme Court stepped in," UP PUCL president asserted.

He further added that disrupting a Work Shop on the 'Challenge of Communalism' should be condemned by one and all who believed in national harmony and civil liberty and human rights.

He said that holding meets like workshops, symposia, seminars, etc., was a fundamental right of every citizen under Article 19 of the Constitution. He called the action of the government a most despicable fascist act which surpassed even the black-deeds of the days of emergency.

"Section 144 of Cr.P.C. could impose a ban on an assembly of people only at a public place and not on a hall meeting," he said.

Shri Ravi Kiran Jain announced that the UP PUCL would raise the issue of the arrested persons before the Lucknow bench of the UP High Court since it was a case of serious and disgraceful violation of Human Rights. He pointed out that the UP Government's record in the area of Civil Liberties and Human Rights was bleak. It had shown utter disregard of the directives of the High Court for the establishment of a State Human Rights Commission as provided in the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 for about six years and only this month had set up the Commission.

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