‘Yogi Govt Tactics Can Break Samajwadis’ Bones, Not Our Resolve’

Dilip Kumar Pandey, 27, president of Samajwadi Student Association, Mau, alleges that BJP won Uttar Pradesh by polarising people and manipulating EVMs

I have been associated with the Samajwadi Party for the past 10 years. I had joined the movement when I was just 18. A year after joining the party, in 2012, it formed the government in Uttar Pradesh under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav ji. In those five years, he brought major developments in the state.

But all his development works were undone when the BJP came to power. The state has been set back by at least 25 years in terms of progress. In this election, we tried our best to win the people’s trust. We aimed to bring back the glory to the state.

In our manifesto, we focused on youths, education, jobs and farmers. We wanted to corner the government on these issues in which they failed badly.

And the response we got during election rallies and roadshows was immense. A sea of the crowd that was turning up to listen to Akhilesh ji was the vindication of his popularity and the change people wanted to see.

ALSO READ: ‘Women Safety Worsoned Under Yogi Rule In UP’

We tried our best to win the elections but we failed. Probably, the BJP was able to polarise people on Hindu-Muslim issues. Or they managed to manipulate the EVMs. I don’t see any consolidated reason that made us lose the elections. I also seriously doubt the neutrality of the election commission. The elections are no more fair in this country. The entire country witnessed how EVMs were illegally ferried in lorries and were captured by our workers. The BJP has manipulated the entire system.

But, this failure has not broken the SP workers rather strengthened us. We are Samajwadis. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but they will not be able to crush our determination. We work among the people and for the people. It’s because of our continuous efforts, the party performed very well in the elections.

Our seats have gone up from 47 to 125. In 39 seats, which we lost, the vote margin was less than 2,000. Similarly, there were around 90 seats where the margin was less than 5,000 votes. The vote share of the party also rose from 22% to 32%. If you consider the postal ballots, 51.5 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the SP alliance.

We are now preparing for the general elections in 2024. The BJP has failed in every respect in governance at the Centre also. They can’t control inflation, they don’t have any foreign policy, China has intruded into our territory and this list goes on…

We believe that our leader Akhilesh Yadav ji will have a bigger role to play in the fight against the BJP at a country level.

Akhilesh ji has a vision for this country. When you meet him, you’ll become his fan. We believe that he can pull this country out of the current problems.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

High Timewomen Safety Became An Electoral Issue

‘Women Safety Hasn’t Improved, But Worsened Under Yogi’

Raveena Nijjar, a 26-year-old employee with a software group in Noida (Uttar Pradesh), says it is high timewomen safety became an electoral issue

I have been catcalled, molested and harassed at public places, not once but multiple times. This is not just my story but the story of every woman out there in India. But this story becomes more horrible for women when it comes to Uttar Pradesh.

I am a 26-year-old girl, who works in a software company in Noida and consider myself strong and independent. I think I am brave and project myself as one. Despite this outward self-assurance, there’s deep down a constant fear of being harmed — molested, kidnapped, raped — when I am alone out there on the road.

I have seen BJP electoral campaign which speaks about women feeling safe in the state under Yogi Adityanath rule. I beg to differ. Instead of improving, the situation has only deteriorated in the past few years. There’s been continuous rise of crime against women and the intensity of the crime has been increasing each passing day.

You open the newspaper and you see horrible stories of crime against women splashed all over — raped for protesting against sexual advances, burnt alive for dowry, acid poured for refusing proposal… the list goes on. If you further focus at the place of the news, you’ll see the state of Uttar Pradesh where a majority of such incidents are happening.

On top of this, the saddest part is the attitude of political parties towards our safety. It’s bizarre and outrageous to make such claims that the incumbent government in Uttar Pradesh has addressed the issue of women safety in the state.

ALSO READ: The Monk Who Sold Hardline Hindutva

Though the recent claim by the current government that UP women can go out at night without fear is not even close to the truth, this can be a point that women should not let go. If a political leader has talked about it, women should come together, rally around this and press for it in this election in Uttar Pradesh. We don’t need such lip service; we need real safety.

Our political leaders are far from reality on the ground. I believe that it’s time for women in Uttar Pradesh to hold political parties accountable and demand safety for themselves. We should make it an election issue now. High time.

This country is talking about increasing the participation of women in the workforce. But this participation will only increase when the government addresses the core issue of women safety. I work at night shifts and the shift ends at an odd hour, when the entire road is deserted. It’s every day’s fear for me and other girls to reach home safely.

I have spent some time in other states like Karnataka (in Bengaluru) and Maharashtra (in Mumbai). As a woman, I have felt safer travelling around there. But, when you land in Uttar Pradesh (in Noida), you suddenly feel many pair of eyes chasing you. However, the situation is better in cities compared to the hinterland of the state, where the horror stories of crime and injustices against women can send shivers down your spine.

As told to Md. Tausif Alam

Life Safer for Women in UP

‘Yogi Didn’t Change Policemen, He Changed Policing’

Shruti Gupta, an independent Chartered Accountant in Lucknow, says initiatives like emergency response and pink booths have made life safer for women in UP

I am a Chartered Accountant and till about a few years ago, I was working with a private company in Lucknow. Three years ago, I started my own firm, along with my husband (also a CA) and feel good about taking that decision. What caused this transition and gave me the confidence to take the plunge is directly associated with the law and order situation of Uttar Pradesh in general and Lucknow in particular.

When I was an employee, my daily concern was to wrap up work in time and reach home before it was dark. Even though Lucknow is a cultured city, traveling late for a woman alone caused concerns. Since accounts is stream where, several times in a year, workload get heavy, it would be stressful. This affected work and family both.

I always thought it would be better to start one’s own independent business but everyone in the family and friends circles advised against us. For, it would mean dealing with unwanted elements, even paying up extortion money to avoid unpleasant incidents.

However, two years of Adityanath Yogi taking over as Chief Minister and we could see a change in the situation. Crime rates dropped and there was a marked improvement in the law and order, be it organised law-breakers or petty street incidents. I would say that CM Yogi didn’t change the police staff but he changed the policing.

One particular incident on a late evening during lockdown sealed my decision to start my own accounting services setup. On that day, despite the lockdown, an important work warranted our physical presence in the office. By the time our work was wrapped up, it was dark and no scope of finding a public or private vehicle to return home.

ALSO READ: BJP Did Good Work In UP, But Also Polarised Society

We had heard of Yogi Govt initiative of emergency helpline 112 but were apprehensive about it, having seen how state services function in Uttar Pradesh. Yet, I took a chance and called the emergency response line.

Much to my surprise, a polite lady answered the call and patiently took down my details. I was told that help was on its way and the lady sub-inspector, Reena Choudhary, also gave her personal mobile number in case of any emergency. And lo, soon enough a PRV (Police Response Vehicle) van arrived at our office with female cops. I was dropped home with a request to avoid violating Covid curbs in future.

The same year, 24×7 Pink Police Booths, to assist women in distress emerged in the city. Such progressive steps were unimaginable in Uttar Pradesh. I needed no further persuasion to set up my own accounting firm. Having worked in the sector for three years, I could generate a respectable client base and, a few hiccups later, we soon reached a break-even point. From there, it was easy to turn corners and now I am happy to see a stable structure in place.

I sincerely want to thank the new dispensation in Lucknow to give the courage and confidence to a woman to start on her own. As I mentioned earlier, the change was not brought about by transferring of police personnel and placing one’s own people in place, as was the norm in earlier governments, but by changing the policing system. With a vigilant police presence in the city, there is no scope for miscreants. It is heartening to see women in khaki guarding the nook and corner of Lucknow on swift-moving pink scootys.

The stress and silly mistakes that came with it are now a thing of the past. I have a much relaxed work atmosphere and there is peace of mind. Parents and relatives, who were opposed to the idea of launching a business venture in UP, are happy and satisfied now. Discipline flows from the top and this is what we saw in last five years.

As told to Rajat Rai

The Monk Who Sold Hardline Hindutva

This is indeed a diabolically crass crossword tangle, juxtaposed within the terribly tangled twists of UP politics. The absurdity of this bad theatre unfolds the incestuous dilemmas of a typically clichéd Catch-22 spectacle, and though much of it is behind closed doors, the neon lights are out blinking green and red. With extreme Hindutva and the power play of the RSS-BJP and Sangh Parivar as backdrop, and a rising Samajwadi Party with a formidable alliance on the other side.

Anything can happen in this thriller, the end seems unpredictable, and that is why the excitement and the suspense.

For the first time since 2014, the BJP and RSS are feeling “unsafe” in Uttar Pradesh. And this is the reading on the spot, on the dot, at the epicenter of the Hindi heartland, by seasoned journalists based out there (and not in Delhi), and who have faced the brunt of the mobs since the black day of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya. Not only the BJP, it seems both Yogi and Modi are feeling unsafe, insecure, shaky, jerky, stuck on a sticky wicket.

And herein lies the obsessive infatuations of power play; Season One of this Soap Opera is out there, free of cost, for all of us to see. Including for the politically sharp UP voter, more addicted to the underbelly of caste and power politics, then on the nuances of the political economy of development. That is why what it is and what makes UP the king-maker in Delhi, and also the worst state in terms of the Human Development Index. But no one cares a damn, neither the establishment, nor those who are toiling down there, in the invisible margins of ‘history from below’.

The first clue of this dark thriller replete with catharsis and anti-catharsis was given by Amit Shah. Call it a Freudian Slip, it indicated the prophetic fatedness of power. He said that Yogi’s victory in UP in these assembly polls will pave the way for the victory of Narendra Modi in 2024! Thus is the interwoven complexity of victories and defeats. That is, if Yogi loses now, Modi too must lose three years later. That is his fatedness. But if Yogi wins, then, what happens?

That is the clue which no one can predict. Either way, it seems a double whammy for Modi. Bad prophecy and bad faith and bad breaking news multiplied three times over.

The BJP, Yogi and Modi are unsafe in UP because they can see the rapidly shifting electoral sands, and they just can’t be sinking sinking drinking water. Yogi reportedly desperately wanted to contest from Ayodhya. He wanted a national profile and thereby become the new Hindutva Hriday Samrat. Obviously, the top brass in Delhi hated this idea. And no one knows what the top brass in Nagpur or Delhi’s Jhandewalan want or think – they being so secretive!

The clear indication is, as a hardened journalist from deep inside the Hindi heartland said, Yogi has become a bone in the throat of the Sangh Parivar, especially Modi. They can’t swallow him, nor they can throw the bone out. The RSS, which originally seems to have propped him up from nowhere, seems to be finding itself in the same dilemma – much as they tried to find another extremist Hindutva icon to replace the ‘Acche Din Messiah’ at the Centre. That is why this Catch-22 scenario.

When Yogi was first promoted during and after the last assembly elections in the state, journalists would wonder what to do with the press release he would routinely sent – he was holding no official position in the BJP. He was a BJP MP from Gorakhpur, head of the sprawling and influential Math, and much more far-right of even the BJP. He simply had no locus standi whatsoever! Nor was he a mass leader in UP or elsewhere. So why promote him?

ALSO READ: Hate Machine Is Legit, Centre Mute

Yogi’s promotion was thus taken with a pinch of salt across the BJP, as well as in the secular media. His consequent actions therefore were predictable, inevitable and proved the real worth and meaning of this man. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. From the encounters, to the brutal assaults on peaceful anti-CAA protesters, to unleashing the Romeo Squads against young couples. And the burning pyre in the night of a girl violently brutalized in Hathras, barricaded from all sides by the repressive state apparatus, was seen as a sign of how a regime can turn so short, nasty and brutish.

So those who thought that Hathras depicted the final truth, had to only wait for the third surge of the killer Delta epidemic, even while the health system totally collapsed in UP, and dead bodies started floating on the holy river, with the sandy shores of Ganga full of dead bodies buried hurriedly with tattered clothes flying as miserably tragic signposts. So much so, dead bodies were being cremated in parks and public spaces, and huge fences were quickly erected outside cremation grounds in Lucknow to stop reporters and photographers to capture the mass tragedy.

And, yet, an ad campaign was soon unleashed apparently costing crores. The same tactics – turn the truth topsy-turvy, tell a lie a million times so that it appears as the truth, camouflage the bitter reality and tell the world how lovely it all is. It kind of triggered a sick taste in the mouth even as the cremations continued and so did the mass mourning, in UP and across India. That sick taste continues to remain, and will continue to haunt Yogi, Modi and the BJP in the days to come.

The Gorakhpur Math, locals say, started in as a secular monastic Shaivite mode, close to the Bhakti ethos, assimilating all currents and respecting all communities and religions, almost treading on the same path as the wisdom of Kabirpanthis. The Nath cult was universally tolerant and secular. The turn towards extremism came with Mahant Digvijay Nath participating in the sacrilege by installing idols at the Babri Masjid, joining the Hindu Mahasabha and contesting elections. He was also one of the accused in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

His rise and fall was followed by Mahant Avaiydanath, the guru of Yogi Adityanath, both ‘Bisht and Thakur’, who turned the original Nath philosophy upside down and pushed it into hardline Hindutva, even more extreme than the softer, moderate line followed in the early days by the Jan Sangh, with leaders like Atal Behari Vajpayee at the helm. The muscle-flexing and street power they hold in Gorakhpur with huge property in their grasp, with the aggressive vanguards of the Hindu Yuva Vahini calling the shots, is well known in the town. Yogi is a product of this ethos. Indeed, associated with the BJP as a winning candidate from Gorakhpur, he is not really a die-hard BJP or Sangh Parivar loyalist. That is another dilemma for the party.

The situation thereby is complex: Modi is apparently not with Yogi, and Yogi is apparently not with Modi. And not only that, even backward leaders like Keshav Chandra Maurya, the current deputy CM, and several MLAs, are apparently not with Yogi. Maurya is eyeing the CM post for long. Hence, there is a hidden rift within rift within the fragile fortress, and a possibly simmering implosion. Truly, when it comes to UP, anything can happen. 

Come what may, as of now, the BJP is on a sticky wicket. And the ground below its feet seems to be slipping. Surely, as Amit Shah so prophetically predicted, perhaps, paving the way for 2024.

Muslims Continue to Suffer State Apathy

‘All Parties Same For Muslims, But No Riots Under Yogi’s Watch’

Mohammad Saleem Riyazuddin, 40, director of Al-Barakaat Public School in Meerut, says while Muslims continue to suffer state apathy, Yogi can be credited with preventing any communal flare-up in last four and half years

There cannot be any comparison between the earlier governments and the current government as far as Muslims are concerned because they all are same. Muslims have always been treated as a vote machine by previous governments. The regime changes but the story remains the same.

As the Yogi Adityanath government completes 4.5 years, we can complement him for at least one achievement: that there has been no major communal riots across the state. In each such riots prior to 2017, Muslims were at the receiving end physically and financially. Apart from isolated incidents of attacks due to religious identity, the government has succeeded in preventing any communal flare-ups, thus saving many innocent lives.

Muslims are always used as a political tool in UP. Previous governments sought votes citing right wing fanatics but didn’t do much for the development of our community. In the current regime, the situation is no different. There is a lot to be done in the field of education, health and general well-being of the minority community across UP.

Yes, there is a sense of uneasiness due to the statements of the state and Centre government leaders. The writing is on the wall: decisions like the CAA and NRC were taken side-lining a particular community and every Muslim understands this. Apart from this fear, nothing on the ground has happened which can actually worry us.

ALSO READ: ‘Muslims In UP Are Uneasy With Yogi At Helm’

The financial health of Muslim community, which is largely involved in small and medium businesses, has been in shambles due to lockdowns, due to Covid-19. I run a small school where children mostly from the Muslim community study. They don’t have facilities to opt for online classes and their academics and our finances both badly suffered during pandemic times.

Those running big schools can survive with online classes, but here, the parents of the students don’t have such facility due to their poor financial backgrounds. The governments must understand this. The situation of the community has remained the same as it was in the previous governments apart for the sense of fear which the right wing people spread, nothing much has changed in last 4.5 years.

The community also needs to understand the current political scenario and stop being just a vote bank. We shall focus on development and future of our children rather than being a political tool for certain political parties. The children need good education; the Muslim localities need better healthcare unit, hygiene and infrastructural development. The poll promises are forgotten after a government comes to power.

Having said that, the only solace in Yogi rule is that no communal riots took place, even though a sense of insecurity remains. Currently, survival in post-Covid times is the main concern in the community. Many businesses have shut. Many students have stopped going to school to help their families. We would want the governments to focus on this.

Muslims Under Yogi Adityanath Rule

‘Muslims In UP Are Ill At Ease With Yogi At The Helm’

Mohammad Afsar Saifi, 29, a welding and fabricating business owner at Pilakhuwa (Hapur, Uttar Pradesh) says there is palpable uneasiness among Muslims under Yogi Adityanath rule

There was an uneasy calm when we first heard in March 2017 that the BJP has chosen Mahant Yogi Adityanath to be the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He had made fiery speeches in the past and hence the minority community was generally apprehensive.

In the last four and a half years of his rule, the same sense of fear, uneasiness and the risk of a communal flare up has constantly been there, even though there has never been any untoward incident in my locality. I feel it is his duty as the chief minister to work towards allaying this fear.

I am a fabricator. My earnings have improved over the last four years, despite a breakdown of business during Covid-19 lockdown for several months. But financial wellbeing has not lessened out anxiety about our safety. As elections are drawing near, members of my extended family and community are afraid of what will happen if Yogi is re-elected as the state chief minister.

I personally don’t think much about it as I am the one who goes out and face the world to earn bread for my family and so far I have not faced any single case of discrimination which my community people have been thinking.

Yet, my family members cannot vote for him as the perception still reigns among our minds that he is a Hindu hardliner. Largely, this idea is being used as a political tool also in both the communities. Polarisation of votes on communal lines suit all politicians. Yogi’s detractor will naturally fuel our fear factor to gain Muslim support and organize votes against him.

ALSO READ: ‘Misinformation On NRC Is Rife, Muslims Are Scared’

Many people talk about an improvement in the crime situation under his rule and that the mafia lords have been tamed. But, frankly, to someone like me who is from an economically weaker section, I cannot feel any difference as far as the law and order is concerned.

There are certain apprehensions which are still in our mind about the image of the chief minister. Apart from whatever happened during CAA-NRC protest and other isolated incidents, we feel there is a lack of inclusiveness as our community is largely missing from the policy brought in by the Yogi government. Sometimes we feel left out, but at the same time, we think that we have spent last 4.5 years in the same apprehension when nothing untoward actually happened.

Sedition Law – A Colonial Gift For Savage Rulers

Section 124-A under which I am happily charged, is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.
Mahatma Gandhi, after being charged with sedition by the British, 1922.

What is Section 124A?
Dr Binayak Sen, when charged with sedition in 2006-07, by the Chhattisgarh government.

Some things just don’t change. Thomas Macaulay, a notorious symbol of the British repressive State apparatus, first drafted the sedition law in the early 19th century. It kept coming back in different forms in the decades following, including re-enacted and used more potently by the rulers of post-colonial ‘free India’. Macaulay drafted the original law to stop, control, imprison and break the morale of the revolutionaries and freedom fighters struggling to end British rule.

This draconian law was used to suppress them and send a chilling message to all concerned to watch out before they shout even a slogan against the white masters, and the Queen, or utter, write a word, or sentence, or text or draw an image which might amount to ‘treason’ or rebellion against the government or establishment of the day, or an outright instigation in what the British perceived to encourage a potentially violent uprising. Even peaceful dissent could be construed as illegal and thereby seditious.

ALSO READ: Colonial Era Sedition Law Must Go

When it comes to repressive regimes, this one is a free-for-all against any form of dissent considered dangerous by sundry ruling establishments. Hence, it could be a mythical slogan which might have never occurred, or a cartoon or text, or, even an innocuous play or drama enacted by school children in an obscure school in a small town. Such as the one in Bidar.

A small school in Bidar in the BJP-ruled state of Karnataka is a classic example of how brazenly wrong, heartless and absurd can the law of sedition become, especially in the hands of a regime which seems to have made communal polarisation and hate politics its daily mantra, while making the Muslims and the minorities its main target day in, day out. That is the increasing perception now around the world.

A play enacted by the students of a school came into scrutiny of the police, so much so that the little children were questioned several times by the police. The principle and mother of a little girl has been arrested accused of sedition! The lady is a single mother and the child is now with a friend, even while most children are traumatised and terrorised, as a ruthless police seems relentless in continuing interrogation inside the kids’ classroom.

Even in some of the worst historic excesses around the world interrogation of little school kids for performing in a play was never heard of. This is a new low not only for India but for the world.

ALSO READ: Anti-CAA Protest Organiser Booked For Sedition

The closest such a xenophobic interrogation can be equated in contemporary times is only in the massive detention centres/prisons/reformatories in Xinjiang in China where the local Uighur Muslim minorities, in tens of thousands, are imprisoned and ghettoized, in their own homeland, by the totalitarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party. It is now widely reported and confirmed with evidence that the young and old, including little girls and boys, school kids, are being forcibly indoctrinated with Han Chinese ideology, including the Xi Jin Ping variety of communism, in violation of all fundamental rights of humanity and religious freedom. Why is democratic India competing with a totalitarian regime?

A week ago, on a cold early morning in Azamgarh’s Billariyagunj, at 4 am in the morning, Yogi Adityanath’s notorious police entered a small tent where women were sleeping. They were peaceful protesters against the CAA/NRC. The police used tear gas, pelted stones, beat up men and women, including one old woman who was hospitalized with serious injuries. The police generally went berserk. There was no reason for the police to behave in such a crude and inhuman manner, but, in the Yogi regime, this is becoming a norm in UP. There are unconfirmed reports that several individuals have been slapped with the colonial era sedition cases, etc. One wonders what freedom was about if colonialism’s excesses were to be continued after the colonialists left!

Earlier, the UP Police killed over 22 people in the protests against the CAA/NRC, including innocent bystanders who had nothing to do with the protests. Hundreds of otherwise innocent people have been charged with cases, including asked to pay huge sums for the destruction of public property. In most cases, there has not been an iota of evidence. And Yogi gave an open call for “revenge”. There seems to be a new meaning to ‘dharma’.

The cops had apparently entered homes after midnight in small towns, beaten up residents, mothers and daughters, broken windows, doors, TV sets and furniture, and generally spread terror and mayhem in western UP. Locals alleged that some cops even looted the homes, including one home where two educated daughters were meant to get married.

Is this the new normal in UP? With some ray of light from the justice system, the lower courts in town after town are discharging the accused who have been charged with false cases. But it does not seem to deter the UP Government.

Meanwhile, Yogi can come to Delhi and repeatedly sayt that if “they” can’t understand ‘boli’ (talk), surely, they will understand the language of ‘goli’ (bullets). This, after three cases of gun-toting men dangerously stalking Shaheen Bagh and Jamia in Delhi. Predictably, with the Election Commission looking away, and even the Delhi chief minister being branded as an “anarchist and terrorist” by top BJP leaders, it is a grotesque carnival of bad language and inflammatory rhetoric.

However, when it comes to the BJP, they appear to be protected by divine law. The cops and the administration seem to work in remarkable synthesis with rabble-rousers. For instance, they have still not identified the masked goons of the ABVP who went berserk with iron rods on that bloody evening in JNU on January 5 with what appears to be the tacit and overt backing of the Delhi Police. The world saw with alarm when e one madcap Hindutva fanatic, Rambhakt Gopal, made a deadly public spectacle in Jamia with his country-made pistol shooting a journalism student on his palm – the bullet could very well have hit his chest. What were the police doing?

Compare this with a TISS student in Mumbai who shouted a slogan in support of Sharjeel Imam. Surprise, surprise, she has been charged with sedition. Surely, most people who have heard Sharjeel’s ramblings, don’t agree with him. However, to slap sedition charges on him is an abuse of the law, especially when compared with the manner Yogi, Anurag Thakur and Pravesh Singh in Delhi have been allowed to go scot free. If the TISS student can be charged, then surely the entire crowd which shouted ‘goli maaro saalo ko’ with Anurag Thakur leading, should also be booked.

Clearly, there are too many blatant contradictions smacking of injustice and lack of fair play in the manner the colonial era law on sedition is being applied by the police and various governments. Indeed, even the Supreme Court had earlier interpreted that the freedom of thought, unless it instigates violence, is not seditious.

The only crime of Dr Binayak Sen has committed was that he chose to work among the poorest of poor in Chhattisgarh. Only when several noble laureates, academics, artists, actors and writers from all over  the world, and people, petitioned, campaigned and protested on the streets, that he was given relief. But, he had to suffer imprisonment and trauma for more than two years on cooked up charges of sedition etc.

The charge of sedition is not used selectively on individuals, as on Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and later on Dr Binayak Sen, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.  It seems common. Yet not a single false sedition case seems to have been proved or has stood the test of truth in a court of law; only the harassment and the torture continued, apart from the attack on individual reputation and social demonization.

The chargesheet against the January 2016 cases against the JNU student leaders is yet to be filed. Undoubtedly, this will also fall flat in a court of law for lack of evidence. And, yet, BJP leaders, including its top functionaries in the government, never tire of demonising the entire university of JNU.

Significantly, earlier, in a collective punishment, hundreds of peaceful fishermen protesting against the nuclear installation at Kudankulam were charged with sedition. Tribals in Jharkhand, seeking autonomy, have also been charged with sedition.

It is time this brazenly unjust and colonial law of sedition, used arbitrarily and randomly against all concerned by an insecure and bitter regime with no evidence, should be dumped in the garbage can of history. It does not belong to a modern, secular democracy. As Mahatma Gandhi had said, this provision in the Indian Penal Code has no purpose other than violating the freedom and liberty of a free individual and lawful citizen of a free country. When will India be free from the shadow of colonialism and its proteges?