Dissent and Democracy
Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, gives all citizens the right to (a) to freedom of speech and expression; (b) to assemble peaceably and without arms; (c) to form associations or unions; (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India; (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; (g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
The Government is obligated to protect the fundamental rights of all citizens. Article 19 safeguards the rights of citizens who seek accountability from the government by asking questions and seeking information. All the citizens have liberty to express their thoughts and opinions and can speak for themselves. Our constitution gives us this right. Using laws against the citizens who ask for accountability from the government is unconstitutional.
Today, if any individual speaks against the government they are called a terrorist or anti-national by the government and arrested as in the case of Umar Khalid, Gulfisha Fatima, Natasha Narwal and many others. The government has used Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) as a weapon to stop activists.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)
This act mainly gives power to the government to deal with the activities which are against the integrity and sovereignty of the country. According to this law, the government can designate a group as terrorists but the latest changes in the act states that the government can designate any individual as a terrorist without any trial. This law also allows the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go to any state without taking permission from state police concerned for checking anti-terror activities.
Facts of UAPA
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) UAPA data during the year 2018 is explained in the following diagram.
Most of the arrests are of activists, Journalists, Poets who have been arrested for speaking up for Muslims and Dalits such as 84 year old Jesuit priest fighting for the rights of tribals.
Who all are behind the bars and who get bail?
Arnab Goswani, who is charged with abetment to suicide, on allegations that he owed money to Anvay Naik (an architech who designed his studio) which resulted in him committing suicide 2018. Mr. Goswami approached the Supreme Court after a High Court denied him bail. The Supreme Court heard his bail application instantly and granted him bail while denying the same treatment to journalist Siddique Kappan who was arrested for trying to report on the Hathras rape case. Many other activists remain in jail as their bail hearing is pending.
Justice Chandrachud says “If left to me I won’t watch the channel and you may differ in ideology but constitutional courts will have to protect such freedoms then we are walking on path of destruction”
It is good that Mr. Goswami got bail but why not others?
Misusing laws like UAPA will lead to the Death of Democracy. Dissent and disagreement is necessary for healthy democracy and we will be able to run this county in a better way. Repeal UAPA as it is Unconstitutional.
Mein Salma Ansari, parcham tanzeem se shuru se judi hoon. Parcham ki har sargarmi mein shamil rahi hoon. Mein BMS Graduate hoon. Urooj ne mujhe mauka diya hai ke mein apne khayalat ko tahreeri roop mein zahir kar sakoon.