Government has blurred the line between poor people and terrorists: Jignesh Mevani and Arundhati Roy
While today intellectuals are being put in prison, thousands of adivasis continue to languish in prisons without any legal recourse, or even the money to go to court.
Jignesh Mevani (Gujarat MLA and Dalit activist)
Doesn’t the Pune police know what the Supreme Court is? It is, after all, the highest authority of law. And it had clearly forbidden the arrest of Dalit activist Anand Teltumbde before February 11. They, surely, don’t have a problem understanding dates. February 2 is not February 11.
Why is the government then so restless to arrest him?
Let me tell you about Anand Teltumbde. He is an intellectual who writes and takes out protests against this government. Does that make him an anti-national?
Babasaheb Ambedkar had said if there is any anti-national force in the country, it is caste. Without annihilating caste, a “new India” is not possible. And it cannot happen without people like Teltumbde.
For now, he has been given relief by the court. His arrest was ruled illegal, thus null and void. If this country’s laws are used correctly, then the Pune police who worked to deny Teltumbde his freedom should be on trial themselves.
I don’t understand what is happening in this country.
We have seen in Gujarat too, whenever Narendra Modi was on a weak wicket, and the communal card was not working, suddenly people like Ishrat Jahan, Sadiq Jamaal, Sameer Khan Pathan, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati would surface, and they would be branded as consipirators in elaborate plots.
Now, some people are accusing intellectuals and activists of plotting against Modi. But, this is actually a conspiracy by the Modi government to silence those who speak against it.
Against those people who fight and write against the ideology of BJP and RSS. This plot has been designed by Modi himself. This is not a plot by Teltumbde and the people arrested in Bhima-Koregoan.
I don’t know where the historical site of Bhima-Koregoan is. Yet I, too, have a case against me. An FIR was filed against me, for giving the most progressive speech of my life.
I have told news channels several times that there should be a probe, either by an expert or a retired judge. Check the entire speech I gave that day. If there is even a single word that is inflammatory, I will resign from public life.
Modi is getting unnecessary sympathy from this. People fighting for what they believe are being targeted right now. Under UAPA, anybody can be thrown in jail for months, years. I am against such laws.
Arundhati Roy (writer and activist)
I agree with Jignesh.
Dalits, adivasis and the poor of this country are being portrayed as terrorists. Adivasis were tagged as Maoists 10 to 15 years ago.
While today intellectuals are being put in prison, thousands of adivasis continue to languish in prisons without any legal recourse, or even the money to go to court. They don’t know why they have been arrested.
In states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, adivasi communities have been supressed at a frightening scale.
Now it’s the turn of Dalits. They are branded “naxals” whenever they raise their voice. In reality, the government doesn’t distinguish them as either Dalit or adivasis anymore. They just brand them as “terrorists”. They have removed the line differentiating the poor with terrorists in this country.
The government is silencing those people who raise their voice before elections. Those whose question them, make them uncomfortable.
Like Anand Teltumbde, if you arrest someone like activist Surendra Gadling, won’t other people get scared? This is just like the earlier attempt to scare people by arresting Binayak Sen some years ago.
There is a dangerous attempt being made to turn these sections of society into criminals and terrorists.
Now, this law to bring 10 per cent reservation for EWS is causing problems for Bahujan sections of society.
The “urban naxal” theory is not new. The files in the home ministry say these people are dangerous. They are more dangerous than the ones with guns in jungles.
This rhetoric is not new, but the volume has been cranked up. The number of arrests have gone up. Anand Teltumbde’s arrest is a big provocation. As soon as the news of his arrest came, there were protests. Despite this, they tried to prosecute him.
(The article is translated and adapted from a Asiaville Hindi video.)