People’s Convention Against Onslaught on Freedom of Expression and Association
INSAF vs FCRA: A Timeline
New Delhi, May 18, 2013: A people’s convention on the State’s Onslaught On Right to Freedom of Expression and Association organized here in the backdrop of suspension of INSAF’s FCRA and freezing of its bank account resolved to fight against the demonizing and draconian laws of Indian state in favor of dispossessed people and their basic rights.
Speaking on the occasion in the Constitution Club of India, NCP spokesperson Devi Prasad Tripathi informed the packed house that he has recently written a letter to the Home Minister of India Sushil Kumar Shinde to revoke its FCRA orders against INSAF unconditionally as this step may cause embarrassment to the government. The letter states, “…I apprehend that you actions against INSAF may appear to be motivated and may cause embarrassment to the government…INSAF and its allies are engaged in defending democratic rights of deprived communities and in strengthening secular spirit of the nation”. Tripathi said that the judicial and political system of this country needs to be transformed completely.
The convention started with paying homage to Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, the founder President of INSAF who passed away two days back. Delhi University Professor Achin Vinaik elaborated on the life and works of Dr. Engineer. After this, senior journalist Anand Swaroop Verma gave a detailed backgrounder of the corporate-security establishment nexus in India that started with a report of FICCI and ASSOCHAM and including the “wise” suggestion of the Prime Minister to “co-opt” the media in a meeting with home ministers of states way back in 2006. Manisha Sethi of Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association updated the same issue with new facts regarding defence deals and media-corporate nexus where Reliance group has a shareholding in 25 news channels.
Forward Block General Secretary Devbrat Biswas emphasized on continuing the struggles and people’s movements with people’s resources and leadership whether FCRA is continued or not. Educationist Anil Chowdhary categorically said that if the government vows not to take any foreign funding for development, then INSAF will be the first to surrender its FCRA and continue struggles without foreign funding. He said that since the government does not have the courage to do so, hence it may categorically state on its website whether which struggles are not applicable for foreign funding. Chowdhary satirically said that the government has a last and very easy resort to add a footnote in the constitution that all the rights apply to just 15 percent population of this country.
Other speakers including Kalyani Menon Sen, Ramesh Dixit, Anil Singh, Ashok Chowdhary, Ranjana Padhi and John Dayal expressed solidarity with the struggling pro-people forces and condemned the state’s onslaught on people’s basic rights. The convention concluded by passing a five point resolution condemning the recent arrests of anti-POSCO leader Abhay Sahoo, social activists Madhuri and PUCL activist Jaya Vindhyala.
- This house condoles the passing away of Dr. Asgar Ali engineer , an unparallel social reformer and a robust fighter against communalism.
- This house condemns the arrest and implication in a false case of Madhuri bhen from Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangattan and Comrade Abhay Sahoo and demands their immediate and unconditional release
- This house calls for immediate restoration of FCRA of INSAF and stands for INSAF’s legal and political fight.
- This house salutes the numerous troubles from POSCO to Niyamgiri and Kudankulam against large corporations for the land and livelihood and condemns the mass FIRs and cases of seditions filed against the struggling people
- This house resolves to continue and strengthen its struggle against repressive laws used by the State to crack down on Peoples’ movements and Right to expression and association.