Very recently India celebrated 70 years of 'freedom' from British colonial rule. Our journey of freedom created new types of un-freedom. In the first fifty years of independence, projects of 'development' uprooted an estimated 60 million people, most of them tribals and dalits, from their land. In the state of Juarkhand, according to a study, about 3.6 million tribals / adivasis had been displaced by the end of 2004, and many more are going to be forcibly displaced due to mining and industrial projects. The tragedy of the commoners has become more pronounced in recent years. The people belonging to the Muslim religious community as well as many tribes living in a state like Chhattisgarh are not only facing problems of earning their livelihoods, but threats to their basic right of living with dignity, on a daily basis.

Some people are fighting for a different notion of freedom and justice. The social activist, Aruna Roy, in her recent interview, shared with us the development of her own idea of freedom. She reminded us in this connection that the naxalite movement raised fundamental questions about the prevailing notion of Indian democracy and changed our notion of politics and democracy. She argued that the naxalite movement was born out of failure of our democracy to address the needs of the poor people. Roy raised the issue that the violent methods used by the Indian State against the naxalites should be taken into account in assessing our democracy.

We feel that 70 years of India/s freedom and 50 years of Naxalbari uprising should constitute an integrated discourse in rethinking our 'freedom' and its other, 'un-freedom'.
Arup Kumar Sen, Kolkata

Republic TV Episode
I have been informed that Republic TV aired a programme on 4 July 2018, presented by anchor and MD Arnab Goswami as "Super Exclusive Breaking News".

The programme, which is being repeatedly shown, contains a long list of ridiculous, scurrilous, false and completely unsubstantiated allegations against me. Goswami has claimed that I have written a letter (identifying myself as "Comrade Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj") to a Maoist—one "Comrade Prakash"—stating that a "Kashmir like situation" has to be created. I am also accused of having received money from Maoists. I am also said to have confirmed that various advocates, some of whom I know as excellent human rights lawyers and others whom I do not know at all, had some sort of Maoist link.

I firmly and categorically deny that the letter referred to by Goswami—if at all such a document exists—has ever been written by me. I firmly refute all the allegations that the Republic TV has made against me, defaming me, causing me professional and personal injury. In its programme, the Republic TV has not revealed the source of such a letter. I find it curious that a document purporting to contain evidence of such serious crimes should first surface in the studio of Arnab Goswami. I have been a dedicated trade unionist since the past 30 years, working in the organisation of the late legendary Shankar Guha Niyogi, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, in the working class shanties of Dalli Rajhara and Bhilai, and hundreds of workers are witness to the fact. As a part of my work as a trade unionist I became a lawyer in the year 2000 since when I have fought scores of cases of workers, farmers, adivasis and poor people in the fields of labour, land acquisition, forest rights and environmental rights. Since the year 2007 I am practising in the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur and was nominated by the High Court to be a member of the Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority. In the last year I have been teaching at the National Law University, Delhi in the capacity of a Visiting Professor, where I offered a seminar course on tribal rights and land acquisition; and a part of the regular course on law and poverty. As a part of the programme of the Delhi Judicial Academy, I addressed the presiding officers of labour courts from Sri Lanka.

My pro-people positions and work as a human rights lawyer are a matter of public record. I am perfectly aware that they stand in direct opposition to the views so loudly and frequently expressed by Arnab Goswami and Republic TV.

In my opinion the present malicious, motivated and fabricated attack on me is because I recently addressed a press conference in Delhi to condemn the arrest on 6 June of Advocate Surendra Gadling. The Indian Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL), an organisation of lawyers has also strongly taken up the issue of other lawyers such as Advocate Chandrashekhar of Bhim Army and Advocate Vachinathan arrested after the Sterlite firing. It is clear that in targeting such lawyers, the state is trying to silence those who stand for the democratic rights of citizens. The state strategy is to create a chilling effect and deny equitable access to the legal system. Also very recently the IAPL had organised a fact finding into the difficulties faced by lawyers in Kashmir.

As a human rights lawyer I have appeared in cases of habeas corpus and fake encounters of adivasis in the High Court of Chhattisgarh and also made representations to the National Human Rights Commission in the defence of many human rights defenders. Recently the NHRC had sought my assistance in investigating a case in Village Kondasawali (Sukma, Chhattisgarh). In all these cases I have acted with the professional integrity and courage expected of a human rights lawyer. This indeed appears to be "my crime" which has earned me the super exclusive attentions of Arnab Goswami.

I have asked my lawyer to send a legal notice to Arnab Goswami and Republic TV for their false, malicious and defamatory allegations against me.
Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj,
New Delhi, 4th July

Hitler and Indira Gandhi
Hitler perhaps was the most barbaric ruler in the history of mankind. Besides destroying all the democratic institutions of Germany, which had a glorious history of democracy. He targeted one particular community (Jews) and wanted their total physical annihilation. But Indira did not target any particular community. In India there are leaders who orchestrated the genocide of people belonging to a particular community in Gujarat. Hitler's cruelty did not have any limits. Because of his brutal attitude even great scientist like Albert Einstein had to leave his motherland. But during the emergency there is no record that anybody left India because of the atrocities committed by Indira Gandhi's dictatorial regime. On the contrary stalwarts like Jayaprakash Narayan were allowed the access to highest possible medical help. Similarly J B Kripalani, a great freedom fighter and Gandhi's chosen disciple was not arrested despite the fact he continued to lead public stir against emergency. In fact Kriplani complained that he had been left out while all his friends were given the privilege of imprisonment.

Hitler not only destroyed democracy but destroyed Germany itself. But Jaitely must appreciate the fact that Indira restored democracy, ordered elections fully knowing that total annihilation awaits her. Perhaps, she was aware that the voters are going to punish her severely for her decision to impose emergency. If the emergency was so bad why the then Chief of the RSS congratulated Indira Gandhi when the Supreme Court gave judgment in her favour.

At present the BJP and the RSS claim that they were the main opponents of the emergency and it was largely due to their struggle that the emergency was lifted. But the fact is that the RSS assured Mrs Gandhi that the Sangh keeps itself aloof from the power politics.

Shri Jaitely claims that Indira Gandhi was like Hitler, why the Sangh, of which he was part in1975 and even now, top boss accepted Indira Gandhi as his leader. It may be mentioned here that Vinod Dua in his popular programme "Jan Gan Man Ki Baat" has termed Deoras's letters as piece of apology.

During emergency a slogan was very popular. The slogan was "Emergency ke teen dalal, Vidya, Sanjay, Bansilal". At that time Vidya Charan Shukla was the Information & Broadcasting Minister, Bansilal was the Defence Minister and Sanjay Gandhi was the most confident person of Indira Gandhi (Sanjay was the younger son of Indira Gandhi). All these three were the main executioners of the emergency. Later BJP co-opted both V C Shukla and Bansilal. V C Shukla contested Lok Sabha Election on BJP ticket, BJP became part of the Haryana state ministry headed by Bansilal. Sanjay died in an air crash in 1980 but BJP admitted his wife Maneka Gandhi in the party and made her Central Minster and she continues to be so. Well, Maneka Gandhi did not condemn the emergency so far. If Indira was like Hitler then VC, Bansilal and Sanjay Gandhi were her main commanders. Shah Commission, which the Janata Government constituted to enquire into atrocities during emergency found them guilty of doing several acts to enforce provisions of emergency. It was V C Shukla who monitored the censorship on media. What happened that the BJP rewarded Shukla? This was the volte face of the BJP which is political wing of the RSS.

In the end it may be mentioned that RSS has admiration for Hitler. This admiration was reflected in some school textbooks of Gujarat. There was hue and cry against the act of the Gujarat government and then laudable references to Hitler were removed.
L S Herdenia, Bhopal

An 'Urban Maoist'
We the undersigned wish to place on record our utter disgust, contempt and outrage at the latest in the series of machinations by Republic TV, working to its brief as a propagandist for the ongoing crusade against all those who take public stands in defence of democracy, secularism, human rights, Constitutional propriety and rule of law.

Republic TV's latest target is Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, National Secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, Vice President of the Indian Association of Progressive Lawyers and Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi. She is widely-known for her three decades of work as a trade unionist, human rights defender, environmental lawyer and a respected advisor to several state institutions including the state legal aid bodies and the National Human Rights Commission.

According to Republic TV, this committed and dedicated lawyer and activist is an "urban Maoist" who is "plotting to break India" with separatist groups and armed guerrillas across the country. The basis for the long list of scurrilous allegations and malicious insinuations against Advocate Bharadwaj is a letter purported to be written by her that Republic TV claims it has accessed.

The provenance of this letter is not revealed and we are not told how it came into the possession of Republic TV. The language of the letter is crude and clumsy, with the supposed author self-identifying as "Comrade Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj" and mentioning the names of various known and unknown individuals who are meticulously addressed as "Comrades". The contents—or rather, what Republic TV claims are the contents—are supposed to establish a "sensational" connection between the Kashmiri separatists, "urban Naxals", students from JNU and TISS, and others who take public stands against the anti-people policies of the state. According to Republic TV, these are "incontrovertible and unquestionable facts" that cannot be questioned.

Based on the telecast, the alleged letter belongs to the shoddy archive of similar "documentary proofs" that are regularly leaked to the press by investigation agencies eager to pin various "crimes" onto activists, leaders of people's movements, political opponents, human rights defenders, critics of government policies and other citizens who are exercising their legitimate rights to free speech, dissent and political action.

The frenzied propagation by Republic TV of these concocted allegations and invented charges against known critics of the ruling party is clearly aimed at blurring the lines between evidence and allegation, accusation and proof, coincidence and causality in the mind of viewers who do not have access to multiple sources of information.

Equally dangerous is the creation and demonisation of virulent labels like "urban naxals" and "tukde-tukde gang", which gain currency solely by virtue of insistent repetition and circulation despite being legally, factually and politically untenable.
Nancy Adajania, curator and writer, Prof Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth, Dr Shilpi Bhattacharya, OP Jindal Global University, Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Dr Neera Burra, writer and historian and others.

Vol. 51, No.3, Jul 22 - 28, 2018