Express Editorial: Weaponising an advocacy document to arrest an activist signals paranoia, not democratic power.

Evidence in the in the public domain points to Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old environmental activist, being just that - young and an activist. In an online interview, eight months ago, she talks, in sentences that end with a rising intonation, as if her sentences are questions, about causes ranging from climate change to feminism. Evidence in the public domain also suggests Delhi Police - which arrested Ravi in a case filed against unnamed persons for sedition and conspiracy over a “toolkit” tweeted by climate campaigner Greta Thunberg on the farmers’ protest on February 3 - has weaponised what is a typical advocacy document. 

Bharat Bhushan: No one critical of the government seems to be innocent any longer / Delhi Police arrests 22-year-old environmental activist, calls her key to foreign hand

Naxalites should lay down their arms and challenge the ruling class to abide by the Constitution

And that the Centre, to whom Delhi Police answers, is ratcheting up rhetoric of a shadowy international conspiracy even as it insists, after 11 formal rounds of talks with farm union leaders, that it is willing to continue talking. Now, Delhi Police has secured Ravi’s custody on grounds that it needs to probe a link to a pro-Khalistan group, and to recover a deleted WhatsApp group with “vital information”. Of course, only an impartial probe, which accords Ravi all due protections of law, can determine innocence or establish guilt. But given the context of the indiscriminate sweep of FIRs in the January 26 aftermath and the bizarre over-reading of what is a common advocacy tool, the arrest of the 22-year-old activist raises grave worries.

Ever since the farm protests began, the government has sought to demonise the protesters or to undermine their agency by looking over their shoulder - in the case of farmers from Punjab, the Khalistan spectre comes in handy. The fact is that the state’s tryst with terror in the decade of the 1980s has left a bitter residue in the form of a hardliner fringe, more NRI than not. It may also be, as happens in large movements, that this fringe is riding the ongoing mobilisation. But the impression is inescapable that the government is giving it undue attention. In the name of unravelling a grand foreign plot, it seems to be harnessing all its formidable power and energies to go after, and to be seen to go after activists, instead of addressing the central issue - the protesters’ fears and anxieties about the laws in question. In the process, it is sending out a chilling message, especially to the country’s young - you can speak out and talk back to your government at your own peril.

Surely India’s democracy cannot be so thin-skinned about international interface, so paranoid, ’70s-style, about the “foreign hand”. In an open democracy, the power of a government lies not in creating an obedient and pliant citizenry by criminalising the protester, but in extending and enlivening the public sphere. The wise men and women of the government need to ask: When there is a democratic protest against a law passed by Parliament, who draws the red lines, where, and at what cost?

Chakshu Roy: Over the years, poets, students, and even a village have been booked under the sedition law

Rihanna and Greta prompt an MEA outburst — and a hashtag firestorm

SIMRAN JEET SINGH: The Farmers' Protests Are a Turning Point for India's Democracy


Reflections of an American living in India...

Popular resistance to undeclared Emergency// Ghazipur Border: Rakesh Tikait के लिए यूपी -हरियाणा से रातों रात गए किसान

Samyukta Kisan Morcha distances itself from violent elements / Farmer leaders accuse Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu of instigating protesters and leading them to the Red Fort

Manu Kaushik: Before India Breaks Its Promises / Dushyant Dave: SC Should Have Declared New Farm Laws Unconstitutional / Republic Day Tractor Rally: Tear Gas At Singhu Border

India's protesting farmers pay homage to the 143 farmers martyred in their movement and reject Centre's offer to stay farm laws / 42-year old Haryana farmer dies by suicide at Tikri border

Satarupa Chakraborty: CJI's Remarks on Women Farmers Are an Assault on Human Agency and Constitutional Rights / Pratap Bhanu Mehta: SC’s order on the farm bills is terrible constitutional precedent, bereft of judgment

Agenda for Social Democracy

Discussion on Indian Agriculture and the ongoing Kisan agitation

Navsharan Singh: A million reasons to march

Jairus Banaji on the Indian corporate strategy of subordinating farm households and family labor

STATE OF RURAL AND AGRARIAN INDIA REPORT 2020. By the Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies

Jairus Banaji on the Indian corporatist strategy of subordinating farm households and family labor

Navsharan Singh: A million reasons to march

Aruna Roy: All citizens should stand with the protesting farmers. At stake is India’s food self-sufficiency and sovereignty

Discussion on Indian Agriculture and the ongoing Kisan agitation

Amit Bhaduri: Faces in mirror held up by farmers’ protest

Deb Mukharji - A Himalayan lesson, and about time

Ramachandra Guha: Gandhi said RSS was ‘communal with a totalitarian outlook’ – and that’s still true

Noam Chomsky: Internationalism or Extinction (Universalizing Resistance)

Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?

Ramachandra Guha: Supreme Court must reflect on its calling as defined by the Constitution - and the direction it is taking

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

Giulio Regeni murder: Egypt rejects naming of its agents as suspects

Book Review: 'Secrecy World' by Jake Bernstein

Supreme Court lays emphasis on protecting personal liberty

Tavleen Singh on government ministers suddenly defending press freedom / Arfa Khanum Sherwani: I’m a Journalist, That’s Why I Don’t Stand With Arnab Goswami

Avay Shukla: Acts Of God And Follies Of Man

Is all this too much to ask?

Colin Gonsalves: Refusal of bail to Sudha Bharadwaj is based on inadmissible evidence

Pratap Bhanu Mehta: The loneliness of Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, Sudha Bharadwaj tells a disquieting tale

Samjhauta Express blast case verdict: ‘Who will answer for death of my five children?’

Jailed and Harassed Former IGP Darapuri, 76, Shares His Ordeal

Prem Shankar Jha: The Shadow of Haren Pandya’s Case Lies Long Over Justice Arun Mishra

Nikhila Henry - Ex CJI Gogoi's RS Nomination Calls All His Judgments Into Question, Says Legal Expert

‘This episode is going to haunt SC in years to come’: Justice AP Shah on CJI sexual harassment case

A whiff of evil

Popular posts from this blog

Haruki Murakami: On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning

The Almond Trees by Albert Camus (1940)

Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism

Rudyard Kipling: critical essay by George Orwell (1942)

Three Versions of Judas: Jorge Luis Borges

Goodbye Sadiq al-Azm, lone Syrian Marxist against the Assad regime

A Message to the 21st Century by Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997)