Friday, the 30th January turned out to be a day when the Kerala state machinery and its lawless police brazenly demonstrated yet again that they can’t for once uphold the law of the land while dealing with political dissent of any nature. If post-1947 India have demonstrated that successive governments at the centre or the states used its police and the state machinery for targeting political rivals from different political combinations of the day, it is incriminating to note that all the governments that occupied power throughout the last 68 years have been unequivocal in maintaining the state of permanent emergency for tackling political dissent of the people!

On the 30 January 2015, the Kerala police and the special branch arrested Jaison Cooper in Ernakulam from his work place and Adv. Thushar Nirmal Sarathy from Calicut while he was addressing the press about a protest programme to be held there the following day against the increasing violations of the fundamental rights of the people in the state. At the same time, the police raided the residences of Thushar Sarathy, Advocate Manuel Joseph who is a people’s activist, Ms. Jolly Chirayath, convener of the Women’s Collective, and a artist activist. From the residence of Thushar Sarathy the police took away several case files without even bothering to record the list of the ‘seizures’ that they have done. Even the search was conducted without any warrant being shown to the custodians of the residences. As increasing instances of impunity have become the hallmark of the police and investigating agencies in the Indian subcontinent with the Kerala police refusing to be different, one can only foresee a motivated police out to incriminate, frame, those who are critically looking at the policies of the government. For the police, the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the constitution of the largest democracy seemed to, for every practical purpose, remain in permanent suspension, all in the name of ‘national interest’, ‘national security’ and last but not the least, that weapon of mass destruction—‘development’.

The preparations for the vilification and then framing of civil rights activists, public intellectuals and people’s activists had been laid well in advance in Kerala with a so-called ‘look out’ notice issued purportedly by the police with photographs of most of the prominent civil rights activists and people’s activists published in it. Adv. Thushar Sarathy’s name was also there along with other prominent civil libertarians from the state who were alleged to be working for or in the interest of a proscribed organization the CPI (Maoist). When there was a public outcry against this as a deliberate attempt on the side of the state to clamp down on people’s movements, the police and the administration including the home ministry went on a defensive mode neither denying nor accepting the veracity of such a notice.

But by then the media vilification of such activists had already begun making the grounds ready for the witch hunt. That this is nothing less than a witch hunt of those standing in favour of the poorest, deprived and discriminated majority is evident from the statements of the police officials as they make heavy weather of the literature ‘seized’ from the residence of Thushar. The most fascist way of incriminating someone is for his/her thoughts and the Kerala police make no bones about the fact that Thushar uses the literature to spread the ideas of the CPI (Maoist) which is a proscribed organization. Needless to say that Adv. Thushar Sarathy has been charged under Sections 10 and 13 of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act while Jaison Cooper has been put under Section 13b of the same. It is being reported that Jaison Cooper has been put in police custody for the next 6 days.

That Thushar has been quite vocal about the rights of the labourers, adivasis, Muslims and other deprived and discriminated sections makes him the most sought after target as this government in Kerala or for that matter the Narendra Modi led government in Delhi are one when it comes to turning their back against the interests of the people. Apart from being the secretary of the Kerala chapter of CRPP he is also the secretary of the Janakiya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam (People’s Human Rights Forum). Jaison Cooper is a prominent blogger and also a people’s activist who has been vocal about the rights of the people. Civil rights activists being the conscience of the society as they mirror in their acts of solidarities the anguish and concerns of the vast sections of the masses that has to be silenced at any cost for the powers that be in their forward march to open up the resources and wealth of the people in the interests of private capital.

Development in the age of globalization, liberalization and privatization has become a question of ‘national interest’ though it is increasingly becoming clear that this is nothing but interests of the big corporations—domestic and international. Development has become a question of law and order. Those who talk against this model of development are anti-nationals. And hence are a subject of law and order. That many of the issues raised by Adv. Thushar and Jaison are also questions to safeguard the rights guaranteed in the constitution of India doesn’t matter as long as they come against the interests of private capital—domestic and international.

It is important that all democratically inclined people of the subcontinent raise their voice against the penalization of dissent and aspirations of the people. It is important that we all join hands and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Jaison Cooper and Thushar Nirmal Sarathy here and now! We need to be in vigil to safeguard the rights of the incarcerated to be not tortured or their right to silence be not violated as the police will force confessions on them. We need to condemn the brazen attitude of the state which brutalizes the lives of people’s activists by subjecting them to the inhuman treatment of laying siege to their places of stay under the garb of search without even a search warrant. We should demand stringent action against such police officials who are always ready to throttle the basic rights of the people all in the name of security.

In Solidarity, SAR Geelani– President

Amit Bhattacharyya–Secretary General

Sukhendu Bhattacharjee–Vice President

Sujato Bhadra- Vice President

MN Ravunni– Vice President

PA Sebastian—Vice President

Prof. P Koya–Vice President

Rona Wilson –Secretary, Public Relations

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