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

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Stifling Freedom of Expression and Opinion

While the threat of Maoist violence presents a legitimate concern, the government cannot treat mere expressions of support or neutral reporting as coextensive with violence carried out in the name of Maoism/Naxalism. In fact, it is essential to both address the problem of Maoist violence and create a more robust and just democracy so that all viewpoints are adequately expressed and debated. A critical analysis of the Ministry of Home Affairs' recent circular warning against "Support" for Maoism.

The Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) recent warning to civil society regarding “support” for the Maoists significantly infringes upon the fundamental right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Indian Constitution and international human rights law. In their press release of 6 May 2010, the ministry cautioned non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and intellectuals to avoid providing “support to the CPI (Maoist) ideology”, warning that:

under Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), any person who commits the offence of supporting such a terrorist organisation with inter alia intention to further the activities of such terrorist organisations would be liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or with fine or with both (MHA Circular 2010).

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