02, Feb 2020 | CJP Team
In wake of back-to-back instances of armed men discharging their weapons on peaceful protesters, first outside Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMIU) and then at Shaheen Bagh, where a majority of the protesters are women, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) have come together in solidarity with the peaceful protesters.
We reiterate that protesting peacefully is a constitutional right of every Indian irrespective of their religion, caste, gender or ethnicity. Let us not forget that Article 19 of the Constitution confers not just powers of free speech (Article 19(1) (a) and association (Article 19(1) (c) but also the right to assemble peacefully without arms (Article 19(1) (b).
However, of late, many people affiliated with right-wing supremacist organisations, including the ideological progenitors of the ruling disposition, have made a series of derogatory, hateful and inflammatory statements against these protesters. The statements are designed to incite violence against a group of people who have remained steadfastly committed to non-violence!
The attacks on the protesters, as well as the inflammatory speeches that incited these attacks, violate several serious sections of the law. Hate speech violates Section 153 (a) (b) (c) and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as Section 295 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC). These speeches and violent attacks also violate Section 307 (attempt to murder) and Section 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Both, CJP and AIUFWP, have been at the forefront of several peaceful movements where people have come together to demand their rights. The most notable among these was our campaign to restore Forest Rights to Adivasis and Forest Workers in line with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006. This movement was led by several women human rights defenders, many of whom were incarcerated by a vengeful regime only because they peacefully protested a violation of their rights.
We therefore express solidarity with our sisters in Shaheen Bagh, the students who are holding peaceful protests in university campuses across the country and the countless activists and ordinary people who are exercising their democratic right to protest what they feel is unjust and unconstitutional.
We also urge the government to take all necessary measures to ensure that peaceful protesters are not harmed in any way. Finally, we demand that the perpetrators of hate speech and the resulting violence be dealt with to the full extent of the law.
Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, CJP
Ashok Chowdhary, Roma Malik, AIUFWP