Statement against Home Ministry’s Press Note to silence intellectuals

May 10, 2010

Shilpi Sanskritik Kormi Buddhijibi Moncho (Forum of Artistes Cultural Activists and Intellectuals)
46, Sashi Bhusan De Street, Kolkata 700012

10.05.2010

We are stunned, to say the least, by a newspaper report about a Press Note issued by Govt. of India’s Home Ministry. It has been termed by the media as a ‘Public Warning`. It reminds us of US President Bush’s infamous warning sent across the nations during his invasion of Iraq: ‘those who are not with us are our enemies`. This is no democracy, Mr Chidambaram! If some of your insensitive officials or cops find or suspect that some artists or intellectuals are critical of Govt’s handling or mishandling of the problem, the dissenters do not necessarily become Maoists. Please leave it to one’s reasoning and judgement whether to fall in line with your way of thinking and assume that the Maoists are not a political outfit, fit only to be treated as terrorists, or they have a right to differ with you. Do you have any answer to our eminent lawyer Mr Prashanta Bhushan’s comments that issuing such a warning is “a highly unusual step that clearly shows the intention of the government to try and browbeat and terrorise human rights activists and other intellectuals who have been questioning the motives and actions of the government in dealing with tribals and dissidents in the guise of an anti-Maoist drive”? We cannot agree more with the media observation that such a public warning through a media note has probably never been made even against fundamental outfits. Mr Home Minister, please try sincerely to find out a democratic solution to the Maoist problem by opening a dialogue channel with them, following the footsteps of a former Prime Minister who opened dialogue with dissenters including those in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and others. Please leave aside your misplaced jingoism!