Unconstitutional Detention of Anna Hazare and His Supporters by Central Government: PUDR, NAPM Statements

August 16, 2011

PEOPLES UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

Press Release16th August 2011

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) strongly condemns the unconstitutional and undemocratic act of the Central Government in detaining Anna Hazare and his supporters in the early hours of 16th August, who were scheduled to arrive at the site of peaceful demonstration. PUDR considers the conditions laid down by the government such as number of participants allowed, timing of the demonstrations etc. to be authoritarian. PUDR is concerned that this clampdown on democratic rights represents the shrinking democratic space in the country where S. 144 of CRPC is used to prevent citizens from lodging their disapproval of government policies and actions.

PUDR is of the opinion that irrespective of politics they espouse, individuals and organisations have the legitimate right to mobilise people and stage protest against the government policies which they dislike or oppose. In the specific instance of the Lokpal bill there maybe sharp disagreement over the various versions of the bill in the public domain from a variety of vantage points. We are mindful of the fact that two most talked about bills namely the government version and Anna Hazare’s team version have been subjected to public criticism for a variety of reasons. However, for the government to claim that once the matter is placed before the parliament there is no cause for public protest smacks of government being innocent of constitution they have sworn to protect. We wish to remind the central government that neither they nor the parliament can take away people’s inalienable rights under the spurious plea that once people elect their representatives right to protest by citizens gets curtailed.

PUDR is also concerned that it is the Central Government, which by taking recourse to undemocratic means, is further alienating people and compelling them, to either become mute witness to government-bureaucracy-corporations nexus in loot and plunder of the public funds, or to take recourse to violent means of protest.

PUDR, therefore, calls upon people to oppose the government stand on clamping down on legitimate protests and question government’s right to decide what is permissible and what is not, so long as protests are peaceful.

Paramjeet Singh and Harish Dhawan
(Secretaries PUDR)

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NAPM Statement

Anti-Corruption Campaign is a Struggle for Democracy

Thousands arrested: Countrywide support pours it: Struggle to intensify

August 16, New Delhi : It is a shame that the UPA Government chose to arrest Anna Hazare and thousands of satyagrahis for demanding an effective Lokpal and for betraying the people of the nation rather than allowing a peaceful protest fast to be held, just after the independence day. NAPM condemning the illegal arrest of activists, in numerous states and cities across the country held protest actions today, burnt the weak Govt. Lokpal, met District Collectors, held human chains, took out rallies and called upon the government to heed this national call, not just for a strong Lokpal Bill, but bringing in systemic change against the corrupt, corporatized, communal, consumerist governance and development model.

It is absolutely unwarranted and unjustifiable that the Government, instead of continuing to engage in a dialogue, with the serious issue of corruption being raised by various people’s groups has taken this regressive move to arrest activists and 5,000 campaigners and clamp Section 144 in the national capital and across cities. We express our total disdain of this approach by the Government. The Government by such undemocratic action has weakened itself.

NAPM has also already stated that this upsurge across the country must reach out to and involve the lakhs of dalits, adivasis, unorganized workers, urban and rural poor, women who actually face the brunt of corruption day in and day out. UPA or NDA, State or Centre; corruption has become an everyday menace at all levels and the people have reached a position of saturation and are not going to tolerate or take in and corruption anymore, whether by the State, society or private corporations.

NAPM also condemns the gunning down of Shehla Masood, RTI activist from Bhopal, who has been struggling to expose corruption in the city. The struggle, across India, is no more one for an effective Lokpal alone; it is a struggle to reclaim our democracy from the corrupt, fascist forces ruling and controlling our country, its resources and the people. We demand the immediate release of Anna and all the arrested activists, an unconditional apology to the nation from the Prime Minister and meaningful dialogue with all people’s struggles on the issue of strong anti-corruption legislation and systemic reforms.

NAPM National Convenor, Bhupender Singh Rawat courted arrest today along with many others. NAPM conveners are also gathering in Delhi in support and with resolve to take the movement forward for a larger change. People are continuing to throng the streets and demand justice, accountability and answers from a defensive Government. This is just a beginning of a new struggle, which the Govt. cannot escape from.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Maj Gen Sudhir Vombatkere, Suniti S R, Sister Celia, Gabriele D, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Suhas Kolhekar, Akhil Gogoi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Mukta Shrivastava, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar