Combat Corruption, Resist Repression!
Save Democracy, Save India!
On 26 June 1975 the then Congress government imposed the infamous Emergency, suspending all civil liberties, muzzling voices of dissent, jailing opponents and attempting to throttle democracy. This June, 36 years since that black day, we can experience all the symptoms of an undeclared Emergency.
Once again, democratic protests are being outlawed. Spaces of protest are being declared out of bounds. Peaceful protestors are brutally assaulted and evicted, even in the national capital. People’s movements against corporate plunder and land grab are facing intensified repression. Workers’ strikes are declared illegal and their basic democratic right to form unions of their choice is met with victimization and repression. Voices of conscience who challenge state repression and corporate loot are branded ‘seditious’ and jailed. Mass movements against corruption are branded as a threat to democracy in order to justify repression.
Almost every month, there are fresh revelations of huge scams involving a nexus between ruling UPA Ministers and private corporations. The oil scam revealed by the CAG is the latest. The Government, in the dock for unprecedented corruption, black money, plunder of the country’s natural resources and drain of the public exchequer, is seeking to silence public anger by intimidating people’s protest. Following the brutal police assault on sleeping protestors at Ramlila Grounds in Delhi, UPA Minister Kapil Sibal declared, “Let this be a lesson to everybody.” In this declaration we can hear the footfalls of Emergency. This is the Congress-UPA’s open threat to all forces of struggle against corruption, all those who cherish and defend democracy.
At the same time, the ruling class ‘opposition’ cannot offer any credible resistance to either corruption or repression. BJP-ruled states such as Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are notorious for some of the worst instances of corporate plunder of natural resources, and for severe repression on people’s resistance and crackdown on democratic rights. Be it Forbesganj in NDA-ruled Bihar, Bhatta Parsaul in BSP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Jagatsinghpur in BJD-ruled Odisha or Jaitapur in Congress-ruled Maharashtra, people’s movements against corporate land grab and forced eviction are being met with the same naked police brutality and bullets.
While the Congress-UPA Government has declared war on democracy, the ruling class opposition’s complete bankruptcy on the question of combating corruption and repression has been exposed. It is up to the people of the country to build and sustain the movement against the all-pervasive rot of corruption and the all-out assault on our freedom and democracy.
This year, remembering the Emergency and people’s resistance to it, let us pledge to throw off the yoke of repression and demand democracy.
• Let us demand that the draconian laws like Sedition, AFSPA, MCOCA, CSPSA and UAPA, which should have no place in an independent and democratic India, be scrapped!
• Let us declare our defiance to all attempts to muzzle the voices of protest! Let us resist and defy each and every attempt to ban popular protests and place the spaces of protest out of bounds!
• Let the rulers know that people’s aspirations for liberty, for democracy, for rights, cannot be silenced by batons or bullets!