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PUCL, 16 August 2011

Silencing dissenting

PUCL statement on the arrest of Anna Hazare and other activists

PUCL strongly condemns the arrest of Anna Hazare and other activists before their proposed fast for an effective Lokpal legislation. In a democracy every citizen has a right to articulate his set of demands in a peaceful manner. Besides, the constitution of India provides every citizen of the country a fundamental right to protest against the government policies. It is unconstitutional for the administration to proscribe the method of protest when it is absolutely peaceful and put severe conditions which make the said right meaningless. In other words by arresting the mentioned activists, the government of the day is guilty of violating the constitution of India.

PUCL views it with grave concern that the police could not present any legal basis to arrest the civil society activists except that they had orders from above. This shows that rule of law has fully been undermined by the Delhi police, which is a condemnable act. PUCL also notes with concern that the dimension of suppression of civil rights by all the governments in the country - states and the central - has enormously widened - now even peaceful fasting protests are being criminalised and crushed. This is a worrying trend for the Indian democracy as right to register peaceful protest is the ultimate weapon in the hands of millions of ordinary citizens to register their dissent against the anti-people policies. PUCL demands immediate release of the activists from administrative custody.

PUCL calls upon all the human rights organisations, movements and democracy loving citizens to come together and chalk out a strategy to fight this menace of highhandedness by the state that is bent on silencing all the dissenting voices and severely cripples our constitutionally guaranteed rights.

-- By Prabhakar Sinha, President; Pushkar Raj, General Secretary; Kavita Srivastava, Secretary, PUCL National


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