ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Intimidating Opponents

The recent alert regarding use of Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), issued by the government in so-called “public interest”, has brought into the open what had so far been implicit in its anti-Maoist policy. The purpose of the circular is to intimidate voices of protests and dissent over government policies, particularly with regard to Operation Green Hunt. The statement criminalises dissent and makes a mockery of the spirit of critical inquiry, which is at the foundation of a strong democracy. As members of civil rights groups, we consider the statement as an attack on civil society and reminiscent of the Emergency era.

The content of the circular shows a complete disregard of the concerns expressed by the Supreme Court when it rebuked the Chhattisgarh government for labelling human rights activists and legitimate activities as “sympathetic” to “Naxals”, or the more recent concerns expressed by the chief justice over the government’s war against its own people. It is not surprising that the government has also chosen to ignore the “sympathetic” and undoubtedly saner voices in its own ranks, which have a different perspective on addressing the problem.

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