26, Nov 2018 | Teesta Setalvad
It’s been a nearly 17 year old journey. That began with a determination to negotiate our courts after the hate filled fires that lit Gujarat in 2002. The experience was both unique and challenging, its insights strengthening our resolve to use the learning to forge ahead, within the field of human rights protection, expand and grow.
The fact that, despite a cynical and vindictive state, CJP achieved what few have — convictions of powerful perpetrators — the fact that those cases are still being steered by our team, the fact that the Zakia Jafri case will soon be heard before the Supreme Court, is evidence if any were needed that we are here to stay. That none of the brazen and crude efforts to derail us and malign us, false cases, raids, threatened custodial torture and incarceration, have worked. CJP has dug it’s heels in, fought back with multiple actions on the ground. We have not been browbeaten. We are here to stay.
Last 26 November, Constitution Day 2017 we effected a re-launch, defining our present areas of work under Four Pillars:
Minority Rights (encompassing various minorities; religious, caste, ethnic, gender and sexual minorities)
Freedom of Expression
Criminal Justice Reform
The defence of human rights defenders is pivotal to this work and CJP is at the forefront of this battle. Hate Speech we believe is an abuse of the freedom basic to any democracy.
Already, our redoubled efforts and fresh campaigns have made a lasting impact.
Our efforts to free Chandrasekhar Azad from incarceration under NSA, free Sokalo, Kismatiya and Sukhdeo — HRDs batting for Forest rights under the law of 2006-2007– have borne fruit. We will continue our efforts to help rid these defenders of malicious and false prosecutions.
Assam is battling a humanitarian crisis of huge dimensions. A dedicated core team of 50 leading a wider, 500 strong team is providing legal aid and guiding Indians to ensure they are not excluded from the Claims Process (of the National Register of Citizens, NRC). Over the last two days the unimaginable happened: 10,000 claims forms in faraway Baghmari (Biswanath district) were filled. Over five hundred community volunteers joined us in this inspiring work. CJP s Toll Free Helpline Number and the CJP NRC Assam App are technological tools aiding our work.
Targeted hate crimes led us to form CJP in April 2002. Today the climate of hate threatens to engulf us, yet again. CJP, with its awe inspiring experience of the past dozen years, shall not back down.
Whether it is KHOJ our education for plurality in India programme that is dedicated to dispense constitutional values of reason and dialogue among our young, whether it is training our citizenry to withstand rumour mongering, hate and bloodletting through establishment of Mohalla Committees, pro active and positive action is as crucial as the defence of our rights in courts. A special Hate Hatao App will be available soon to ensure close monitoring and tackling of hate speech and writing.
All this and more is possible because and only because of our growing support from donors and friends of CJP.
On this Constitution Day we urge you to give of yourself generously and join the good fight. It is one that we must eventually, win.