It was a matter of time â€“ one by one, the most outspoken and critical voices in the media, in civil society and in standing up for human rights are being picked out and attempts being made to silence them.
Just confirming that Seema Mustafa â€“ good friend, outstanding journalist and a fearless activist for the Idea of India as laid out in our Constitution has also been included in thelist of those targeted by the ABVP FIR against Amnesty International for their hearings on Kashmir.
Seema has clearly been in their sights for a while and this provided a perfect excuse. Seema was among the better known faces invited to moderate one of the conversations with Kashmiris at the day long event held at the United Theological Institute at Bangalore on Aug 14 .
MartinÂ Niemollerâ€™s prophetic words constantly come to mind â€¦
First they came for the Communists, I did not speak out- because i was not a communist
Then they came for the socialists, the trade unionists, the Jews â€“
I did not speak out
Then they came for me â€“ and there was no one left to speak up for me â€¦â€¦.
And let us no longer blame only the present regime â€“
Uday Kumar and thousands in Tamil Nadu were charged with sedition in the period of Congress and UPA I with ample and ready support from the T Nadu administration. Their only crime â€“ the longest, non violent , peaceful, Gandhian protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant .
The tendency to clamp down on dissent â€“ and all those who differ with the policies of the state began many decades back. Let us not forget that draconian legislation like AFSPA was brought in 58 years ago by the Congress regime.
It has just become more blatant , the impunity is up in your face,and also now is immeasurably strengthened by the overt participation of the private sector and powerful interests whocollaborate to stifle dissent from all those affected by extractive industrial activity across the lands and forests of indigenous peoples.
The IB report naming many well known public figures associated with anti nuclear, anti mining, anti AFSPA campaigns, groups and issues, was also leaked in the dying days of UPA II. None of that has been retracted.
It is a time for unity of action, for solidarity and strategic thoughtful response. But is no longer a time for silence, or for sitting on the fence. Action like the PIL filed in the Supreme Court against the anti deluvian law of sedition by Prashant Bhushan and Uday Kumar â€“ is a fine example of legal action.
In solidarity with Seema Mustafa, with Aakar Patel and Amnesty, and those many many others â€“ unnamed yet targeted unfairly for sedition â€“ when they were protesting â€“ a right conferred on them by the Constitution of India.
Lalita Ramdas is former Chair of Green Peace International & Nominee for the 1000 Women for Nobel Peace Prize