Maoist activists and sympathisers have always parasitically nurtured themselves under the favourable safeguards of the Bharatiya Constitution to annihilate it
- Prof Rajvir Sharma
Varavara Rao at Faraskhana police station after court proceedings
The protests by the opposition and the lawyer activists’ arguments in the court at the arrest of five Maoist activists by the police on the ground of being involved in activities aiming against the society and the country raises several questions. The question of whether freedom of speech and expression can be used by any person including the self-proclaimed or real ‘eminent’ as a shield for their unlawful and anti-national actions. Do the writings or speeches not have the potential for tearing apart the democratic fabric of our country?
The second question is for the judiciary to examine whether the right to freedom of speech and expression can be read and enforced in part and not in its totality. The judiciary should revisit the entire content and intent of Article 19 which places certain important limitations determining the ambit and the scope of the right to freedom. Among the grounds on which the fetters under Article 19 can be enforced by the state to restrict the right to freedom of speech and expression, sovereignty and integrity of Bharat, the security of the State, incitement to an offence, public order, decency or morality among others top the list.
Further, the court should not entertain the argument that all those arrested are the well known high profile activists and defenders of human rights of the poor as our constitution establishes equality before law implying that law shall treat everyone equally the status, position or power notwithstanding. So merely, if for a moment one agrees to the defence lawyer that they all are very eminent persons because they are recognised campaigners, the law should not take its course.
Legitimate or Illegitimate
It no denies that dissent and legitimate criticism of the policies of the Government is the safety valve of democracy, should it not be questioned if libellous or anti-state activities are carried out under cover of freedom or dissent. What will remain of democracy if the hate campaign against its institutions and constitutional authorities becomes a consistent feature of the critics/dissenters with the intention of destabilising the society and the Government?
It is these ‘eminent writers, authors, academics and social activists’ who provide over ground support to the terrorists and Naxals/Maoists engaged in the killings of innocent citizens and wreck the constitutional system of governance. It is an open secret that there is a concerted movement on the part of the so-called eminent academics/activist to identify, organise and mobilise a vulnerable tribal group to take to arms or violence in the name of fighting for their cause. Incite one caste against the other all in the name of Dalit cause or what is fashionably called a fight against injustice. This small group of tribals is instigated to join the ranks of the outlaws or the unlawful.
The falling popular support for the Naxals in different parts of the country is a matter of concern for the underground groups and the urban Naxals as well. So they either as researchers, human rights activists, eminent ideologues incite or muster support for the stone pelters, gun wielders, extortionists and those trying to create unrest and social chasms. We must realise that such subversive actions would destroy democratic structures and democratic values.
Law taking its Course
The Supreme Court, hearing the petition filed by Historian Romila Thapar and others against the arrests of five activists in relation to Bhima Koregaon violence, directed Pune police to keep them under house arrest till the its next hearing on September 6, 2018.
The Pune police said the activists are linked to Maoist groups and have shown "intolerance to present political system". There is "conclusive proof" that they have a nexus with other unlawful groups and deliberate involvement in larger conspiracy. The activists, the police said, were planning to recruit members from 35 colleges and launch attacks.
Defending its move to arrest five ‘Urban Naxals’ Pune police has said that it is in possession of ‘highly incriminating evidence’ against them. This evidence, the police says, establishes a link between the arrested activists and the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which was banned by the UPA and declared a terror outfit in 2009. According to the police, “there was an elaborate communication between the CPI (Maoist) leaders and the arrested activists through e-mails and letters.”
Architecture of Violence
Let us not ignore the fact that the architecture of violent overthrow of the State and the system of Government is prepared not in the fields but in the minds of such urban educated elites who are pulling the trigger of the revolution. No liberal worth the name shall ever protect anyone preaching, propagating or conducting or preparing to wage war against the state. The history of the communists is replete with any number of examples when they exploited the conditions of poverty or discrimination to overthrow the system to establish a Maoist regime. Bur history is also a witness that they use power after that not to remove poverty or discrimination from the society, but to entrench them into power. The CPM ruled West Bengal for about three decades. Did they remove poverty or provide any tangible relief to the poor to live better with his head held high at any time. The party in power in Kerala is doing nothing but spreading terror and fear among the poor and the Dalit in specific and the general public by state-sponsored, if one can say so, killings of their opponents belonging to the RSS and the BJP.
The opposition in its haste to grab power and in its blind hatred against the Prime Minister as a person is doing such harm to the cause of the nation and of the people that the posterity may not be able to forgive them. It is only their enemy like politics that is encouraging the anti-Bharat forces inside and outside the country to weaken India so that she may never claim the dignity and honour it is achieving among both her competitors and friends globally. Shall or should Bharat defend such conspiracies when these activists are even involved in instigating or hatching a plot to kill the Prime Minister?
(The writer is a Retd. Professor of Political Science at University of Delhi)