Oppose CG government's plans to ban PUCL and Ekta Parishad sign now

RAIPUR 492001:

E-mail: [email protected]
Fax: 0771-231108
Phone: 0771-231101/4/6

SUBJECT: Chhattisgarh Governments Plan to Impose a Ban on PUCL and Ekta Parishad

Dear Mr Shekhar Dutt,

We are concerned at the news appearing in a section of the media that the Chhattisgarh Government was contemplating imposing a ban on the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) & Ekta Parishad under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005.

Any such an action by the Government will only provide further support to our contention that the CSPSA 2005 is an un-democratic law, promulgated in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India; that its sole purpose is to suppress dissent and true democracy, and it is primarily meant to be used against genuine human rights activists and social movements working for the right to life and livelihood of vulnerable sections of society like tribals, dalits, women, workers, child and bonded labourers etc. In fact, the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties Chhattisgarh Unit has challenged the constitutional validity of the CSPSA 2005 in the Chhattisgarh High Court at Bilaspur, and the Writ Petition No. WP(C) 2163/2009 titled Peoples Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India & Anr is pending in the High Court, which too has been unduly delayed.

We are convinced that the attempts by the Chhattisgarh Government to impose ban on PUCL & Ekta Parishad are politically motivated and are examples of state repression.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that PUCL was founded by Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narain, along with Mr. V M Tarkunde, Former Judge of Bombay High Court, during the Emergency Rule in India in 1975-76, to protect the Rights of the Citizens guaranteed under Constitution of India. Dr. Rajni Kothari, renowned social scientist, Mr. Arun Shourie, senior journalist, Mr. Rajendar Sachar, Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, and a number of legal luminaries, writers, journalists, social and political workers are associated with it.

We wish to reiterate that PUCL has never advocated violence, and that it believes in peaceful and democratic means to work for the preservation and promotion of civil liberties & democratic rights, as is clearly declared in the PUCL constitution. That PUCL has adhered to such principles and policies is evident from its various actions, which include the filing of a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court of India on the Right to Food, that resulted in the mid-day meal scheme to be implemented all over the country; its intervention through the Supreme Court resulting in a landmark order making it necessary for all electoral candidates to declare their financial assets and criminal records, etc.

Similarly, the Chhattisgarh Unit of PUCL (which was originally part of the Madhya Pradesh unit) has made significant contributions in promoting and preserving civil liberties & democratic rights in Chhattisgarh since the days of Emergency. It is responsible for the release of some 4000 bonded labourers in Raipur district, through the intervention of the Supreme Court of India in April 1988. It obtained a landmark judgment from the MP High Court at Jabalpur in the case of slum-dwellers in Raipur city, because of which even today thousands of slum-dwellers cannot be evicted and displaced, and their right to shelter and work are still protected. It has successfully fought the cases of arbitrary and preventive detentions under various draconian laws like the NSA & MISA, externment proceedings against trade union and political leaders; including those of the legendary labour leader Com. Shankar Guha Niyogi, peasant leader Kanker Munjare (who later was elected MLA in Balaghat district), Ram Ghulam Thakur (Baghbehra), Sahdeo Sahu of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Dalli-Rajhara). PUCL also carried out fact-finding missions and published reports on various police firings in CG such as the firing on mine-workers at Dalli-Rajhara on June 2-3, 1977, on mine workers at Bailladilla in 1978, on Industrial workers at Abhanpur on May 30, 1990, on workers at Bhilai on July 1, 1992, etc. In addition, PUCL has exposed crimes committed by the State, especially extra-judicial killings, starvation deaths, tribal deaths due to blood dysentery in Bastar, excesses committed by Salwa-Judum and security forces, displacement due to development, etc.

It is a matter of record that PUCL has meticulously and tirelessly carried on its campaign for protecting and promoting constitutional rights of all citizens, especially when they are violated by the powerful machinery of the State. It is also a matter of record that each political party in power has resorted to cheap tactics to discredit PUCL in the public eye. Since the State is the biggest violator of human rights, PUCLs expositions of its violations such as extra-judicial killings, fake encounters, custodial deaths, crimes committed by the Security Forces and Political Groups, violations of peoples rights such as on forest, land and water, labour laws, pollution etc. have earned it the wrath of every government. It also bears mentioning that many political leaders, cutting across political parties, have also been associated with the PUCL at one or the other time.

We also note that Ekta Parishad is a Gandhian organization, which believes in using non-violence as a tool of conflict resolution and amplifying the voice of the marginalized classes of the society, and has been working on land and forest rights at a national level. It has been built up over twenty years growing from the local, to the state, to the national and increasingly, to the international level.

The two main activities of Ekta Parishad are dialoguing with the government at the state and national level and mobilizing the villagers for struggle at the grassroots level, both of which are interlinked: people struggling at the bottom level and their struggle is supported by a formation of institutions giving them the tools to fight for their rights at the top level, through dialogue. Vice versa, supporters dialoguing at the top level give space for political action or struggle at the bottom level.

Founded in 1991, Ekta has revitalised Mahatma Gandhi's message of non-violent action to deal with the problem of the widening gap between the rich and poor in India today. By organising marches and peaceful protests Ekta Parishad brings marginalised groups together and supports India's rural communities' in their demands for justice. Eminent Gandhians, and social workers like Dr. S N Subba Rao, Shri Bal Vijay Ji, Shri Rajiv Vora, Shri Rajendra Singh, Shri Yogendra Parekh, Yathish Mehta and many more are associated closely with Ekta Parishad.

In Chhattisgarh today, corporate houses, including those of some newspapers, exercise tremendous influence over parliamentary institutions and media, which are being systematically deployed to repress democratic voices and movements, especially those opposing the usurpation of peoples resources. It is in this context that the Chhattisgarh Government is leading a vilification campaign against PUCL and Ekta Parishad, as evident from the recent defamatory and irresponsible statement of the Home Minister Sri Nanki Ram Kanwar that PUCL was supplying arms to naxalites.

Thus, we would like to APPEAL to your Constitutional Office:

1. To immediately intervene in taking steps to stop such an un-democratic and un-constitutional act of the Chhattisgarh Government in imposing a ban on the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) & Ekta Parishad under the Special Public Security Act 2005;

2. To take appropriate action in protecting the constitutional and democratic rights of organisations like PUCL & Ekta Parishad, and also other such NGOs and social and human rights workers who are facing repressive measures at the hands of the State Government and its various wings like the police;

3. To take adequate steps to stop the vilification campaign carried out by some of the ministers and officials of the Chhattisgarh Government against prestigious organisations and individuals who have been known for protecting and preserving the right to life and livelihood of the people;

4. To intervene to create a conducive climate for resolving some of the pressing problems through dialogue and reconciliation.

We are confident that you would definitely take concrete and immediate steps to stop the Chhattisgarh Government from taking such un-constitutional and un-democratic action.

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