People valiantly fight black laws in Punjab

January 21, 2011

PUNJAB GOVT ATTEMPTS TO CRUSH DISSENT & PEOPLE’S STRUGGLES THROUGH DRACONIAN LAWS

PEOPLE COME OUT IN STREETS TO OPPOSE

by Narinder Kumar Jeet

21 January, 2011

In the last Assembly session, Punjab Govt got passed four anti-people black-laws, to put shackles, on the struggling and rationally thinking people. The Punjab (Prevention of Damage to Public & Private Property) Act – 2010, puts a complete ban on the protest demonstrations, marches, rallies etc, as it ordains that nothing like that shall be permitted to be done without prior permission from the District Magistrate or Police Commissioner, which is most unlikely to come. Even where the permission is granted, the organizers shall have to give an undertaking to the concerned SHO, the route and slogans shall be approved by the police, lathis-even for carrying the flags shall be forbidden. The police will be authorized not only to get the rallies, demonstrations etc video-graphed, but will also have the power to get photographs, video-graphs etc from press-persons, which shall be used as un-rebuttable evidence against the protesters in the courts. Any one organizing protest activity without permission shall get two-year jail term plus fine. If the police complains of a damage to any public or private property by the protesters, in the course of such activity, the protesters shall get five year jail term plus Rs.20,000/- fine. If such a damage is alleged to have been caused by fire or explosive substance, the jail term shall be seven years plus a fine of Rs. 70000/-. An administrative office shall be appointed as a competent authority to assess the damage and the organizers of protest activity shall be liable to pay it. If they refuse to pay, the amount shall be recovered by auctioning their properties. All the offenses under this Act shall be non-bailable and cognizable by any Head Constable of the police. The onus to prove that they have not caused any damage to public or private property shall be upon the protesters, in view of the video-graphic evidence produced by the police.

Through the Punjab Special Protection Group Act-2010, the state is going to constitute an elite armed force, armed with ultra-modern weapons, gadgets and advanced training, for “combating anti-national forces” and for “providing proximate security to highly threatened persons and their families” to be so declared by the State Govt. The Act describes any person or organization which violates the law as “anti-national”. If one smokes in public or violates any traffic law, he is “anti-national” under this Act and the Special Protection Group shall have the power to proceed against him. Like the Armed Forces Special Power Act, the members of Special Protection Group have been given complete immunity from any civil, criminal or other legal proceedings for the acts done by them in the course of their duty. The State Govt, through a notification shall authorize the extent to which the Special Protection Group can use force in dealing with so called “anti-national” forces or persons. It can be shoot at sight also. As the “highly threatened person” requiring proximate security for himself and his family members is to be designated by the State Govt, it can provide such security to any person who is target of people’s ire or a mass agitation. Reading this Act in conjunction with the provisions of the Punjab (Prevention of Damage to Public & Private Property ) Act-2010, leaves no doubt that this Act is primarily aimed at crushing the people’s struggle through armed forces of the State, operating under complete immunity from any legal action.

Punjab Govt passed two more laws amending S.153-A & 295-A of the Indian Penal Code and some provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, through which the said offenses have been made non-bailable, triable by Sessions Court and the sentence has been enhanced from 3 years to 10 years. The Court has been bound to award a minimum of 3 years sentence in all cases of convictions under these sections. S.295-A deals with offenses against religion, or is a law against blasphemy. If any one complains that you have injured his religious feelings or insulted his religion, you shall be charged under S.295-A. No anticipatory bail is to be allowed. In Pakistan Penal Code, they have introduced S. 295-C, under which death sentence has been provided for insulting Prophet Mohamed. Akali-BJP Govt has increased the punishment for blasphemy from 2 years imprisonment to 10 years. Next time, they may enhance it to death sentence. The blasphemy law is usually used by the Akali-BJP Govt to black-mail its adversaries and rationalist intellectuals. A few months ago dramatist Kirti Kirpal and his entire team was booked under S.295 by Bathinda Police on a complaint by a VHP activist. Sh. Megh Raj Mittar, of Tarksheel Society is also facing a threat to be implicated under this law for having written a scientific article on Cow’s Urine. These laws are also used or misused by the political parties in power to secure their vote-banks.

It is highly shameful for the democratic values to which our politicians so fondly swear that such draconian laws were passed by the Punjab Legislative Assembly within a few minutes, without any discussion. The Congress made a verbal protest but walked out to facilitate passage of these bills. No political party worth the name launched any protest against these Acts.

However the Democratic Front Against Operation Green Hunt, Punjab, held conventions at various places, such as Amritsar, Moga, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Talwandi Salem, and Sirsa. Mass organizations at Barnala also held a convention against these black laws. I.D.P. and the Inqlabi Kender Punjab, brought out pamphlets against these laws, describing in detail their fatal implications for the struggling people.

34 mass organizations of Punjab, including various farmers and agricultural labor organizations, trade unions etc, came out against these black laws and gave a call of mass-dharnas at all District Headquarters in Punjab on 20.1.2011. As per initial reports, these dharnas elicited good response. At Ludhiana industrial workers came out in good numbers.

It is encouraging that a good beginning has been made to mobilize protest against these anti-people black laws. However more is required to be done. The mass-organizations in Punjab are capable of launching a mass movement to seek withdrawal of these laws.