National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy and other activists today condemned filing of sedition charges against nearly 7,000 villagers protesting against Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu and said the government is losing its tolerance for dissent.
"The hallmark of an intelligent society is its ability to ask questions. If I am in doubt, I have the right to ask questions. A simple act of asking questions is treated as sedition here,” she told reporters at a press conference organized by Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP).
She added that the government has no business in clamping down on protests and added that such actions threaten the very fundamentals of democracy.
Roy said the words 'sedition' and 'treason' are used casually these days and one cannot term all methods of protest seditious, and added that there were no proper discussion on the nuclear plant.
She also flayed allegations of the protest being funded by US NGOs and said she herself had the experience of seeing local fishermen donating one-day wages, beedi workers donating one-tenth of their earnings and shopkeepers contribute.
“You can run a school or a leprosy institute on foreign funds. You cannot fund a protest. To me this allegation does not hold water," Roy said referring to allegations by Union Ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde and V Narayanasamy.
CNDP's Praful Bidwai claimed that police have filed hundreds of FIRs naming 55,700 people over a period of time out of which 6,918 face sedition charges. "This is manifestly ridiculous. There is not a single incident of violence," he said.