One More Martyr

India is a big prison house. Hundreds of thousands of innocent prisoners are languishing in jails for years without any trial. The intention of Modi’s fascist enterprise is to keep human rights defenders and dissenters in detention as long as possible. They are being terrorised day in and day out by denying them basic amenities and minimum Medi-care. In a sense these overcrowded jails are more like concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Human beings are treated as animals, all are condemned to hell. Literally dozens of concentration camps are being run by the government openly in Assam--a saffron laboratory to make lakhs of people stateless through a dubious process of minority cleansing. These hapless people have nowhere to go--they are born to suffer and face life-long brutalities inflicted by the state authorities. Prison is the only industry that is flourishing in the Modi regime!

Silencing voice of dissent is so pervasive in this ‘biggest showcase of democracy’ that a state of fear psychosis as it was the case during Indira Gandhi’s internal emergency, prevails throughout the country. Even regional parties, parliamentary parties, which oppose Modi’s  party find it increasingly difficult to rule their states though they have come to power through popular mandate. Custodial death has become a regular news in the Modi dispensation. The institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy, the respected face of liberation theology to the tribal people of Jharkhand, has raised international outcry against the barbarity of Modi’s security agencies. In the wake of Father Stan’s passing, human rights bodies across the country have issued fresh appeals for the release of remaining Bhima-Koregaon accused on interim bail. There are still 14 people behind bars after Fr Swamy passed away and Varavara Rao was released on medical grounds. The notorious UAPA---unlawful activities (prevention) act---is being frequently misused by the ruling authorities to make their rule opposition free. And, yet they call it democracy. It’s at worst an elected autocracy, armed with dozens of draconian laws of British vintage. This is a system of parliamentary democracy where democrats have no right to speak out. The Modis are trying to destroy whatever remains of democratic space.

Incidentally, speaking at the Stan memorial service Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren referred to the martyrdom of Birsa Munda and Father Swamy. Father Stan was likened to tribal icon Birsa and Jesus Christ for his untiring fight for the cause of the oppressed and eventual victimisation and death. Soren is now saluting Jharkhand’s martyr, ostensibly to draw public attention and cash in politically on Stan’s tremendous popularity among the marginalised people. Stan was the voice of voiceless in the tribal belt where live the economically and politically most backward people. Soren today is glorifying Stan as Jharkhand’s martyr, equating him with Birsa, but he never raised the issue of release of Stan, during his prolonged incarceration period despite his deteriorating health due to a number of ailments. Swamy’s name has now been added to the Martyrs Memorial Stone at Bagaicha--- Ranga Johar Stan!

One of the British made repressive laws that is being indiscriminately applied against citizens of independent India is Sedition Law. The Supreme Court recently expressed astonishment that the colonial sedition law had not been repealed yet and prodded the Union Government to scrap it immediately. No, the Modi government is not listening. In truth they do hardly bother about apex court’s verdicts--judiciary has long lost its independence. The British used the law to suppress freedom movement and oppress freedom fighters. And brown Sahibs are using it to suppress their own people. The Modi administration doesn’t want to hear the argument of other parties, its behaviour is dictatorial in nature. While opining on the Sedition Law chief justice of India N V Ramana appeared to endorse the allegation by human rights defenders and opposition leaders, that the Centre is hell-bent on misusing the Law to silence dissent. In the ultimate analysis this multi-party democracy is at worst a farcical exercise mocking at fundamental rights as guaranteed under the constitution. The issue of Fr Stan will be forgotten soon but the stony silence of the authorities is to be broken. Swamy’s custodial death has opened an occasion to mobilise people against continuous violation of basic rights.

There is hope against hope that trade unions, farmer unions, student unions and social organisations protesting against the murder of Fr Stan Swamy in judicial custody have come forward to form Shahid Father Stan Swamy Nayayik Sangarsh Morcha to organise masses against UAPA---the black law. The new outfit is likely to submit memoranda to governors of different states where UAPA is being utilised frequently. Concerned people are talking against Modi vociferously in the streets and they should not morally complicit in condoning acts of violence in every part of the country.

Back to Home Page

Vol. 54, No. 7, Aug 15 - 21, 2021