A number of activists and workers from different organisations on Saturday organised a ‘jan sabha’ (public meeting) at Jantar Mantar in the national capital, asking for the release of all political prisoners, including the social activists accused by the BJP government of inciting violence at Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.
The speakers at the meeting condemned the repression unleashed by the BJP governments at the state and central level and called for repealing a number draconian laws that are often used as a weapon by the government to suppress dissent.
Activists Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale and Surendra Gadling were arrested a year ago by the Maharashtra for allegedly inciting violence at Bhima Koregaon. The activists allege that the anti-Dalit violence was perpetrated by the Hindutva outfits and the police framed those who spoke against Hindutva and the BJP governments.
The speakers at the Saturday’s meeting – organised by Campaign Against State Repression – including G. Laxman of the Civil Liberties Committee Telangana, Ravi Kiran Jain of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, Kasim of Revolutionary Writers’ Association, Gautam Mody of the New Trade Union Initiative, Seema Azad of ‘Dastak’ magazine, JNU’s professor Chaman Lal, filmmaker Sanjay Kak, Parwez Ahmed of Popular Front of India and professor Manoranjan Mohanty of the Council of Social Development denounced the violence unleashed at the Dalits and minorities
Vasantha of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression and partner of professor G.N. Saibaba, stated that the true defenders of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas are those falsely placed in jail.
Parwez Ahmed said the PFI was banned for resisting attacks on Dalits and Muslims and reiterated the importance of a unified struggle and pleaded for a ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’. Upkar Bawra of Bhim Army told the gathering how the Bhim Army members were targeted under the National Security Act (NSA) after they participated in the April 2 Bharat Bandh.
Kanupriya of the Punjab University Student’s Union characterised the state as Hindu Brahmanical-Fascist and asked for a consolidation of forces to defeat it.
Ajit of the Belsonica Workers Union said that the thoughts and ideas of those incarcerated are weapons that the ruling classes fear. He also called for unity between intellectuals and workers to fight the capitalist class.
The assembly while hearing a host of speakers from anti-displacement movements, arts and academia, cultural organisations, democratic rights organisations, trade unions, student organisations, women’s organisations, writers’ organisations etc. was resplendent with cries and calls for the release of all political prisoners, repeal of all draconian laws and an end to all forms of state repression on peoples’ movements.
The event was attended by activists, farmers, students and workers from various parts of the country including Delhi-NCR, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand, Telengana and West Bengal.
A number of cultural organisations presented artistic performances. These included Chatra Ekta Manch, Jagrit Sanskritik Manch, Nishant Natya Manch, Praja Kala Mandali, Sangwari, Vihaan Sanskritik Toli, and performances by Shashi Bhushan and poetry reading by Nandita Narain.